CITY OF DREAMS – Manila

City of Dreams – MANILA

“Happiness does not completely depend on comforts or opulence. Even a pauper can be happier than a prince.”

Aptly named, City of Dreams – Manila is such a place literally like a dream coming true for most Filipinos. Almost everything are gilded, brightly colored carpets, huge planters, extravagant chandeliers, framed advertisements, name it, Hollywood like. It’s like placing both of your hands over your mouth to keep a shriek more so giving it away – “Oh my God!” It is so world class!

I might be a little exaggerated for the simple fact that I haven’t been to New York or Las Vegas or Hollywood. So this city is still dashingly new to me. It was a grand experience.

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Cool!

The staff are friendlier than I expected. I assumed or under estimated them to have the swag of working in a fabulous work place such as this.

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The boys!

And I stand corrected. From the concierge, the entrance staff, at the restaurants, inside the casino which is as early as lunch time were pumped with action, there are a lot of players then and guards manned every corner which includes calling my attention for taking pictures since it is not allowed, I’m sorry I didn’t see any signages anyway.

And even in the restrooms, the staff were there for you with a ready smile on their faces. The restrooms are mildly scented, liquid soaps can be dispensed with a sensor and from wall to wall, it is immaculately clean.

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Ms. full length mirror!

These only shows that everyone are all well-trained staff and I can’t help but be amazed that maybe most of them had the chance to see and meet and greet the world renowned actor Robert de Niro. Not just him but Leonardo Di Caprio and Martin Scorcese.

Isn’t it amazing that someone like Mr. God father would be willing to invest and put up a fab business in our country? I can’t really wait to see the place in my own eyes. And yes, it is fabulous.

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Fretwork dividers..

It felt like home, the attendants literally are very vigilant and would attend immediately to your needs. I was able to take pictures of the whole place without hindrances, the staff would even pause upon knowing I am trying to capture something.

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Paris, the head waiter was kind enough to enumerate the food that we’ve had since I do not want to give them the wrong names and yet, since there’s a lot of them. I still forgot the others. They were also kind enough to take our pictures (although some are blurd! Oh well!).

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Happy tummies..
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=)

The food were served hot and right there in front of us in less than 10 minutes. Yes, I timed it. We opted to go “Ala carte” and foodie buddy chose Italian while I decided to go Japanese. Our beverage, carrot juice for me and orange juice for Jen, which are still unsweetened. So we were then provided with sugar packets (washed and white) and a cup of syrup as well. Of course I opted to have the syrup. My carrot juice is heavenly.

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Au naturelle..

This is what we devoured on.

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The first maki is to die for.

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Jen would want to try the poker, however we promised ourselves to go back and try the buffet. It is from 11 to 230pm, served daily. As I still have another mission to accomplish that day. You will be awed by the creativity of their presentations, the kitchen is visible, it is like wandering in the set of iron chef.

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Liver spread…
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“Feels good” in Japanese…

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Or we can also try the other line ups of restaurants:
– The Tasting room

– Nobu

– Crystal dragon

– Noddl8

– Erwin’s Gastrobar

– Wave

– Red ginger and more

We had ours from “The Cafe”.. It attracted me because of their deep purple upholstered seats…=)

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Bought some cookies too…

Yes we intend to go back. As we strongly believed that sometimes we deserve something grand. A once in a while treat for ourselves after a weeks’ hard work. A little luxury that won’t hurt that much.

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Perhaps the sweetest thing about it is that sharing posh moments with people close to your heart. I hope to bring my son and my mom here too… Being here is like a celebration of being alive and having the chance to see beauty at its’ finest. Till then COD!

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My son calls this the golden egg…=)

City of Dreams – Manila is located at:

Asean Avenue corner Roxas Boulevard, Entertainment City, Parañaque 1701, Manila, Philippines

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Crawled our way to “CLAW DADDY”…

Crawled our way to “Claw Daddy”..

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Reminded me of a restaurant in Gensan with a crab on their logo too..
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Where’s my spoon?

As often as I could, I would try to write about every experience (s), at every chance. Like when I eat out, or saw a movie, read a book, discovered a new place, a new artist, heard a new beat, found a new spa, the list is endless.

It might sound silly, but even unlikely topics, I try to wrote.

Someday, I see a book being published written by moi. It’ll include funny and unique stories about life and love in my entire 40 something years.

Last week, as usual, my foodie buddy craved for Bubba gump. We often dine there but that was years ago.

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At Bubba gump years ago..

Ironically, her office is a just a few blocks away from Bubba gump in Makati. Playing sweet, she doesn’t want to dine there without me. So, we planned to do it the day that I am attending some exhibits somewhere in Manila.

That we will have an early lunch at Bubba gump, and she will accompany me to the exhibit(s). Okay, done deal.

Come Friday, something occurred in the morning though not a something like “I’m moving heaven and earth”, I failed to meet her for that early lunch. I just had to do an errand. Yes, just an errand but took me away from our plan for the day. Oh, some days.

So we headed right away to the exhibits (duty first before pleasure) and had lunch at almost five in the afternoon.

We wandered at Mall of Asia with nothing specific in mind out of hunger. Ahahaha!

Oh, we were eating soft pretzels in the cab (it was, as expected, traffic!) So we weren’t that hungry at all.

My duty was tinkered and here comes our chase for a place to satiate our stomachs.

We landed on that block at Mall of Asia where different sorts of restaurants are lined-up. Each has ambulant attendants showing you the menus and will convince you to try dining at their place with their usual spiels (Isn’t it hard-selling?).

Out of more than a dozen places, we trim them down to three choices. We are already hungry and we still managed to scrutinized our choice as to where we are going to eat (big time!).

So here are the three choices:

Sarsa Good ambiance. Good presentation. Though its’ Filipino cusine. We’re Filipinos. Anything else?

Claw Daddy Good interiors. Offers pizza and pasta (Jen’s bet).

New Orleans –  Has a “create your own pizza”. Hmmm. Looks like we’re ending up here. Steaks, ribs? Jen, we just had ribs, right???

And then, our feet led us to Claw Daddy. We were eyeing Bubba gump in the first place right?

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Survival of the fittest!
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Oh, very green! Is there really a green crab?

Ironically, we ordered for pizza and Hickory chicken with rice. Pasta and rice equals carbo overload.

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I loved the sauce!!! And the purple cabbages! ❤
2 pizzas
One for me, and one for Jen!
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Mine has 5 kinds of cheese on it!

So that’s why the ceilings are full of Italian denotations.

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Italy! ❤

I enjoyed the interiors of Claw Daddy at MOA (Mall of Asia). Is it really the biggest in Asia? I mean, that mall?

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Loved the interiors!
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Found another mural…(–,)
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The Americas!

I even asked if the owner loves Light houses as I’ve seen a lot. According to the waitress. She has no idea.

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lighthouse

 

This is intriguing too. The waitress in all fairness did her best to describe it. Though maybe since I am hungry, all I can remember is that they are from sardines cans, which I found very creative too.

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Very creative!
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Ring ring!

After a few minutes, we were already smiling, fed and full. (–,)

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Happy tummy! ahahaha! ps Yes, I gave in to Pepsi! ❤

ps

We had our food in less than 10 minutes. The meat of chicken is so tender, and the barbecue sauce is heavenly. I forgot to ask if it’s home-made or bought, so what’s the brand? The pizzas’ crust I must assume is home-made, tasted like Mediterranean Pitas! (–,)

Till then Bubba gump. Thanks Claw Daddy for feeding us well!

BOON TONG KEE…

Boon Tong Kee Singaporean Restaurant

Our hungry tummies brought us to this Singaporean restaurant in MOA since most restaurants there, we already tried in the past years.

We ended up burping from this Chinese/Singaporean restaurant where we satiated our cravings.

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Some clippings on the wall..
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Since 1979..

Shopping gets so tiring and we ended up like hungry wolves and didn’t have the luxury of choosing where we really want to dine and upon being sitted. Our fingers are crossed hoping that we made a good choice.

To start, we were served a very hot bird’s nest soup. We were waiting for a free tea too though there was none. Ahaha! Freebie junkies! (–,)

The usual condiments are there. Boon Tong Kee is famous for their expertise in creating variants of sauces. Chili sauce, a nice soy sauce, oyster sauce and calamansi are readily available. I remember my Chinese uncle who taught me how to prepare an authentic Asian chili sauce, all I can recall are the chilis, peanut butter and Hoisin sauce. I bought them I haven’t made one since papa and I aren’t fond of chilly sauces.

Here’s what we opted to try:

Hakaw – steamed shrimp dumplings (which is best in Hap Chan and Gloria Maris)

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Yum yum!

Char Siu honey-glazed pork

(Slices of ham smothered with sweet syrup)

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Sweet ham..

Signature boiled chicken

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For my foodie buddy!

And Yang chow rice.

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We consumed this bowl that’s good for 3-4 persons!

Said rice is good for 2-3 persons and we consumed it. We must be very hungry! Ahaha!

Their place is clean and there was no music because there is a wall-mounted TV showing a late noon show, the temperature isn’t so cold and isn’t so hot, it is just right and we were comfortable asking for this and that and that and this because their staff are very friendly and attentive and speedy or maybe we were the only customer at that time. It is off peak. But the Manager is vigilant enough to ask us how was our dining experience. It couldn’t be a “5” since there is nothing special about them, just meeting expectations from an authentic Singaporean restaurant.

Eating out more than the usual is sometimes a necessary luxury. We do  not need to spend an hour in the kitchen to prepare our food. Some reward for a hectic week.

As a blogger, my list to try and visit is endless. It’s just that I have to prioritize my foodie buddy’s cravings. Our next stop is that “Eat all you can” dessert buffet somewhere in Quezon city – “Love desserts” and probably drop by at “Dolcelatte” too as recommended by my soul sissy. I also told her to try “Rubs” or “La Taquiera” first before we raid the unlimited desserts. We’re going farther soon I guess. While for now, We went back home with happy tummies. Please note that I am not a Food blogger, because I blog anything under the sun, it is just that I am a foodie and my bff is and my family and my soul sister is and my son is, so I might as well share the experiences via this blog.

Contis, It is!

CONTIS Bakeshop and Restaurant

The first time I tried dining at Contis was at their pilot branch in BF Paranaque at President’s Avenue. I was not yet a blogger then. I just had blueberry cheesecake and had black gulaman and sago. I also took out some cream puffs and chicken pies to bring home as “pasalubong”.

Over the years, they conspicuously made a name in the Food and Beverage industry. I have read a lot of blogs about Contis. Maybe it’s time I write mine. I specifically favored their cakes and pastries. Not so much on their meals. I even bought a whole Mango bravo before for my boss. It was her birthday.

However, I prefer the blueberry cheesecake.

contis bb
(–,)

Over this:

Chicken roulade..

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Chicken roulade with saffron rice..

During Christmas, much as I want to buy their cake for my family, their branch near my place is swamped with their loyal customers. I ended up buying my Noche Buena dessert from another cake shop.

My cousin and I have been craving for Kare-kare, and recalling Contis brought our feet to their branch in Macapagal. It’s the nearest to our place at that time.

The interior design of this branch is cushy. The huge hanging lamps spoke for themselves as the focal point of the place and the array of displays of kitchen items added a special touch to the whole place. I must say Contis has grown big.

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Huge lamps!

Nowadays, I noticed that kitchens of most restaurants are now visible to its’ patron. Said transparency allows us to be confident how well and organized they prepare the food of our choice.

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We had our favorite Kare-kare for my cousin

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There you go cuz!

and Gambas y champinon al ajillo.

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Gambas!
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Been loyal to their potato salad eversince…=)

It is shrimps, garlic and mushroom in oil for myself. We ordered their bottomless iced tea as well and macaroni salad for dessert.

The Kare-kare’s shrimp paste is something that made it special for without it, it isn’t Kare-kare at all. I like the tripe, though the beef shanks I guess needs more minutes to boil. I had a hard time pulling off the meat from the bones and my cousin was even teasing me to use my teeth to pull them off. Yay!

All in all with the great ambiance, utilizing terracotta as color motif, it was a good lunch after all. =)

PS

Adding up to their more than a dozen stores in the Metro, they recently opened a branch at Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City. The good thing there is, it’s just a stone’s throw away from our office. =)

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This logo has been copied by a lot. Very reminiscent.

By the way, The brain behind is Chef Carole Conti Sumulong.

Happy eating! =)

Courtesy of: https://gayecrispin.wordpress.com/category/good/
Courtesy of:
https://gayecrispin.wordpress.com/category/good/

What is behind the walls of Intramuros?

The Walls of Intramuros

“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t it is a part of a tree.”~Michael Crichton~

There will come a time when our best appreciation of the past more so of history and art can come only later in our lives. Mine came during my mid-30s. Although my father has exposed me to several galleries as early as my childhood days, brought me to a few shows at the PICC (Philippine International Convention Center) and CCP (Cultural Center of the Philippines) with my mom (who will just sleep from the beginning up to the end of the show). Introduced me to the most famous painters of all time (from his library). That was our world then.

One of my uncle was a self-made painter too. Some of his works still hanging on our walls. While papa was an illustrator and had been in the top 10 list of the most sought after artists during his time. It was a time when illustrated comics are a staple to every house in our country.  Said industry died, at that time when modernization occurred when this used to be a very strong industry but took a back seat when internet went into the scene. It left my papa heartbroken (but that’s another story). The manner he expose Arts to me I thought then was enough. The bohemian blood runs in the family. 2 of my cousins are professional dancers (one of which was a beauty queen), another one is an Architect. And my mama took up Fashion designing. The last of brood with traces, was me, who took up Interior Design during the early 90s. Yet, it was papa whom I consider as the most influential human being in my entire life. I was his legacy. He didn’t fail to share with me his world.  They were illuminated by the music we’ve favored, the stage plays we’ve watched, the paintings on our walls, the books that we’ve read. Even in the food that we served, art is incorporated at all times.

Little did I know, that there was a certain hunger in me to personally capture “Art” face to face. Go out of my way to witness them in my own eyes just so to validate my father’s claim of how beautiful and special that world is.

Realizing this, I prepared my list. The first of which to take an actual peek is the historical Intramuros. It is located at the heart of Manila, tucked within stoned walls that’s estimated to be 15 feet high. It was meant to protect the Spaniards from the Japanese soldiers and eventually from the Americans at that time when attempts were made to conquer the land which originally known then as “Las Islas de Filipinas”.

Neighboring countries fought over the land, living proofs as to how enticing our mother land specially during her prime. Beauty that is still evident now.

I woke up early and double checked my itinerary for this particular day. It’s just a day trip anyway, still, I am usually excited. We reached the place afternoon. The welcome arch literally welcomed us and triggered our curiosity like telling us to proceed and discover what’s behind these walls.

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Our first stop was the walls itself. Visibly, they were made of pre-cast stones and a lot bigger than the usual that we see at present times, according to my college professor, the size of the block is an indication (if it’s bigger) that it was constructed hundreds of years ago.

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As nowadays, they utilize the smaller ones. I remember myself during college, if time permits, I visit my high school friends who were studying in Mapua Institute of Technology, Letran College and Lyceum of the Philippines (universities lined up outside the walls) and I passed by these walls several times and during then, I do not care at all. Now, it struck me, I imagined my country when she was still young and it gave me a kind of pride, and a kind of genuine concern recalling what she has gone through hundreds of years ago.

This city was the seat of Spanish sovereignty in the Orient for over 300 years. A pentagonal wall enclosing an area of almost 64 hectares. A lot has occurred within these walls from 1571 to 1946, but it was only in 1979 where restoration and development was given a serious thought by the government to create a monument to the Hispanic period out of it realizing its essence being part of the richness of our culture and history for futures genres to see.

We then headed to this Casa.

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Casa Manila

It’s a sort of museum that charges a very minimum amount for the maintenance of the place and to pay for the employees manning the museum.

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“I like the vintage door knocker!” =)

We were ushered to the sala, the bedrooms, the kitchen, the dining room, even in the comfort rooms. If I may use the word “cute”. I will. I find their comfort rooms cute. Ahaha! I was saddened that we were not allowed to take pictures of the Casa’s interiors. It’s cute for me as the way life was lived then, Art was in synch in all facets. I even saw a vintage watering can, condiments in the kitchen, but I was not allowed to take pictures of them as souvenirs. =(

My favorite part was the azotea.

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During then, events were held here. It just so happen that during our visit, there was an event as well. A wedding. =)

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Meaning, I can wave at my mom or dad or my siblings from these windows? It’s so cute!!!

Usually, the wedding is held in San Agustin church or Manila Cathedral and reception follows at this Casa. Now I kept dreaming of Crisologo street. The cobble stoned streets symbolizes the Spanish era.

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I especially like the sound of horses and their shoe against the cobble stones. And just in time I saw one.

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Hey Mister!=)

I am so excited I wanted to ride in one which we eventually did. They will charge you a hundred to bring you around the Intramuros.

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The “kutchero” (the guy driving the horse), brought us to the Manila Cathedral which brought me to a time when my papa and mama used to bring me here as little girl. As little as I was, I dreamt of being married there, it was so big, and a long train will look pretty while you are walking the isle of the church. Instead of a car sending me off, I’d choose the calesa! ahaha!

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Manila Cathedral at night…

We were supposed to have dinner at Illustrado, but luck wasn’t on our side, it was already closed when we arrived.

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Illustrado’s entrance…

We ended up shopping in the store in front of it. So in way, I was still smiling when we headed back home.

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Souvenir shop in front of Illustrado restaurant…

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Leaving Intramuros, the hunger is torturing me once more to keep learning. It is an endless thing anyway. My list still includes a lot from Manila. See you soon! (–,)