Sunday, June 25, 2017

Chocolate review: The Freefood Co. Coco Dolce 65% Dark Chocolate

We picked up a few chocolates at the Philippine products and souvenirs section of Rustans at the Shangri-la Mall in Mandaluyong. Among those were a couple of bars from The Freefod Co. We have tasted one of their Coco Dolce line but it was their milk chocolate with rice crisps.

Coco Dolce 65% Dark Chocolate
Details on the chocolate are at the back of the box.
Here's a description of how the chocolate is produced using traditional methods.
Nutrition information and information on the maker

This chocolate retailed for 245 PHP (about 4.93USD) at the Rustan's Department Store. We came upon it as we had a quick stop to get something for a friend we were meeting for lunch. We thought that he would like some Philippine chocolates as he was vacationing here from the US. The chocolates come from Davao but we thought it was less refined in taste and texture compared to the Malagos chocolates we enjoy. Freefood is a young company as it was established in 2013 (according to the info on the box). It's a promising venture and there's certainly room for improvement. Perhaps they can benchmark against the really good chocolates abroad in terms of taste and texture? If they are are already doing it, I would suggest that they get more taste testers. Again, my point here is for them to at least be par with Malagos, which I believe is already there in terms of taste and texture.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Seifuku, Gil Fernando Ave., Marikina City

We have eaten at Seifuku several times but that was when we were still residing at a subdivision nearby along Marcos Highway. We have not dined or lunched there in more than 3 years. And so when my father expressed his wanting to eat Japanese food, I took him to Seifuku where I knew they had a good selection in their menu. Earlier, Tatay had lunch with my brother at a ramen restaurant. He enjoyed it but wanted to order others like sushi and sashimi, which the ramen restaurant did not offer in their menu. Unfortunately, my brother could not make our date that Friday evening so we'll probably be coming back at Seifuku so he'd know where he and his fiance can enjoy good Japanese food in Marikina.

Quick menu for their ramen promotion
The main menu is quite thick as the restaurant offers a lot of choices for those wanting to enjoy Japanese food
Sashimi and sushi are usually popular and we usually order salmon sashimi, which is our favorite
The menu contains a definition of the name of the restaurant as well as its short history in Marikina City.
Shake or salmon sashimi
Interior showing their display of spirits
Their kurobuta katsu was good though not as good as Yabu's or Ginza Bairin's
Their bento box was also good and should satisfy one's cravings for Japanese food.

We will definitely be back for lunch or dinner at Seifuku. They offer good food at reasonable prices for a full service Japanese restaurant. I think they are currently the best bet for Japanese food in the area outside of the Teriyaki Boys in Sta. Lucia and SM as well as the mainly ramen choices at Tamagoya.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Vietnamese dinner - Part 3

I interrupt my series of art postings with a retro topic. I was checking how many drafts I had waiting to be completed when I noticed there seemed to be one missing from the more recent ones I started writing. It turned out I left out one draft from way back in 2013 so this is like something I started 4 years ago that I now will try to finish. This draft was written when we were still residing at our old home in lower Antipolo.

The photos show the step-by-step process for making Vietnamese spring rolls. The Clairvoyant learned this together with a couple of friends while on vacation there.

Herbs and cabbage are carefully placed on the wrapper, which is made of rice
Rice noodles
Ingredients for the Vietnamese dishes
Beans sprout are washed in running water
Bean sprouts or toge
Ingredients for the spring rolls
Rolling the fresh spring rolls
Plating for the spring rolls. Those flowers are made of tomatoes.
The dip for the spring rolls with floating flowers made of carrots.
I asked the Clairvoyant if she could remember how to make the spring rolls and she said she probably has her notes from their Vietnamese food lessons stashed somewhere. We hope to find it soon and be able to enjoy some homemade spring rolls again soon.

A living room centerpiece by Manuel Baldemor

A major piece in our collection at home is one by popular artist Manuel Baldemor. We had wanted to own one of his classic pieces before but couldn't afford to buy even one of the smaller paintings we had seen at galleries featuring his work. He is perhaps one of the most in-demand artists despite the price tags on his painting. The loud whispers state that he seems to be an artist who's highly likely to become national artist one day. He certainly is prolific but the value of his painting continues to rise.

The photo doesn't give justice to how beautiful this painting is. It is our largest painting at home measuring about 3 x 2 feet without the frame. We believe it is a very good investment and it currently is a main feature of our living room. It is not as dominating though as our bookshelves across from it, which also has our collections of books and souvenirs from our trips here and abroad.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A family of three by Norma Belleza

Another work of art is one that graces our living room and definitely one of our favorites in our small collection. This oil painting by Norma Belleza depicts a family of three among fruits and fishes. It is a typical scene in many of the artist's paintings. We got this one within about a year after we had moved to our new home away from the flood-prone area we used to reside at. We like to think that the painting also expressed one of our most fervent wishes. That is, we had wanted to have our own child for a long time. Little did we know that at the time we got the painting that our daughter was soon on her way. :)

Our daughter loves looking at this painting. And she always points to the child being her with her Mommy and Daddy. She also likes to identify the different fruits in the painting. I like the painting for its bright (happy colors) and the Filipino features on the persons in the painting. It currently is grouped with the Antonio Ko and Amador Barquilla paintings I wrote about in previous posts here.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, C5/McKinley

Once a week, our daughter attends Kinder Musik. We usually leave our home early so that we will not be hampered by traffic along our usual route. We always pass by the roadside Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL) just after the Shell service station across from the Korean Embassy. This is along the northbound side of C-5. We finally got to go there last Saturday as we were quite early for school and wanted to have a snack prior to her lunch time class.

Counter and staff
You can choose a nice comfy chair or opt for a table at the side where you can catch up on work.
A view of the second level, which looks perfect for people looking for a more private place to meet or perhaps work.
Another photo of the interior

This CBTL is the coziest we've gone to. The staff are accommodating and even brought our food and drink to our table instead of the usual self service in their other branches. I wonder if they don't usually have a lot of customers considering their location or perhaps it was just that we were there on a Saturday morning rather than a workday.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Jeepney by Amador Barquilla

It seemed appropriate for me to acquire a painting with the jeepney as subject. The jeepney is an iconic vehicle in the Philippines and a transport mode that has often been called the "King of the Road." I fancied one by Amador Barquilla in another auction for charity more than 2 years ago (we got the Antonio Ko earlier this year). The scene is distinctive of the jeepney, which is depicted here as filled with passengers. People are on the roof or hanging at the back (sabit), which are common sights especially in the rural areas. I like this painting, too, because the colors are so vivid and I am amused by the way people are illustrated, each apparently doing one thing.

This is the second painting with the jeepney as subject that we have acquired. The first one is an oil painting by a popular Cebuano artist. I will write about that in a future post.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Art work by Antonio Ko, Jr.

I remember the Clairvoyant first showed me a painting by the late artist Antonio Ko, Jr. when we were newlyweds. He had this series of bouquets of different colors that we liked so much we said we'd like to have one in the future. That future was not an immediate one as we couldn't afford to buy one despite what seemed to be reasonable prices for a piece. It took us about 14 years to finally own one.  We acquired it through a fundraising auction where my bid finally prevailed after a suspenseful process. The online stage ended with bids too close to call so that the painting went to the live auction stage. We couldn't attend the live auction but fortunately a good friend was there to place our bids. And here is our prize:

The oil painting is framed on antique wood that complements it perfectly. The photo doesn't do the artist's work justice as it is a complicated piece with so much texture that is a testament to the excellent brush strokes applied by the artist. It now hangs prominently in our living area at our home. It is beside another oil painting by Norma Belleza that we acquired earlier. I will write about other works we have acquired over the last few years including one from an artist who's paintings we admired and we had only dreamed of owning before.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Chocolate review: Villars Dark Orange

Another chocolate that I remember getting at the Cocoa Tree shop at the airport is one from Villars. I had almost forgotten this chocolate and was pleasantly surprised seeing a bar of their dark chocolate with orange at the back of the refrigerator.

Villars Dark Orange
Details on the chocolate at the back of the box
The bar claims to have 50% minimum cacao. The orange is stated to have been sourced from Southern Italy.
Nutrition information.

This chocolate retailed for about PHP 250. I think that's fair for a very good chocolate in a 100g bar. The chocolate is just about right in terms of the mix of bitter and sweet, with the sweetness mainly coming from the candied orange peels.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Melendres in full bloom

The melendres in my parents' home is in full bloom. The flowers are bunched into what looks like pom-poms. My mother gave us melendres on a pot as a housewarming gift and we transferred it to a larger pot so it can grow bigger.

Melendres in full bloom with my parents' home where I grew up in the background.
Close-up of the flowers
Flowers just starting to bloom at our home. This came from the same tree at my parents' home.