Las Casas Manila

Las Casas Manila

So much of our future lies in preserving our past. ~Peter Westbrook~

Aside from food, Jen and I shared our love in exploring new places and travel together as far and as much as we can. Anything new to us. She had been requesting from me for years to bring her to Bataan, at “Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar”. However, we’ve been busy lately and when I discovered that there’s an extension of said place somewhere in QC, I am thrilled to inform if she’s okay into venturing to this one that’s nearer, for now.

So up we went one Friday, and reveled in its’ own version of preserving and restoring one of the old manors in Quezon City – Casa De Juico.

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They converted the place after being sold to Jerry Acuzar: The owner of San Jose Builders, it is complete with a boutique hotel and a restaurant by one of Asia’s Best Female Chef: Margarita Fores.

After the attendants with pleasing demeanor took our food choices, we wandered around the place with its’ classic ambience and took pictures (a lot) while Jen is checking from time to time if our food is already served. We were starving as we arrived there at almost 2:00 pm.

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We were ushered by two smiling faces and directed us to the dining hall and let us choose where we want to be sitted.

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I definitely enjoyed chosen spots which they call Instagram worthy. Little did Jen know, I’ve spotted some favorites since I already saw them several times from Instagram. =)

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the kiss
A version of “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt .

So here’s what we’ve got: Spaghetinni con Mariscos (Seafood pasta), Callos (Ox tripe, Chorizos and garbanzos), Tres leches (a slice of chiffon cake topped with smoked coconut and dried mangoes and jackfruit) for dessert and red grapes shake for me (which I so loved) and yellow mango shake for Jen. She loved her pasta as it is thinner than usual, they used Spaghetinni, my Callos were made of slow-cooked to tenderness tripe.  

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We also had Huevos con gambas, for a starter. It’s hard-boiled egg topped with prawns relished in paprika.

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This wheel of cheese is part of their buffet offer, it’s called Parmeggiano Regiano, it’s known to be the “King of Cheese”, it’s so tasteful, gritty and lactose-free too. The cheaper version, is known as “Parmesan” cheese.

It’s just one manor, unlike the one in Bataan, there are more than 20 Casas there, but just this one brimmed our phones with pictures both inside the place and outside as well, I actually enjoyed more the “Al fresco” feel. You wouldn’t know how much I belong to it. The trees, the grass and all. =)

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For a different experience, visit Las Casas Manila and it’ll stir your senses until you realize that you’re heading to Bataan the soonest you can. =) Either places, I’m sure, you will enjoy. =)

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You can make reservations thru: 866-8500 and 0917-711-3714. They’re open from Tueday to Sunday from 11am to 10pm. Las Casas Manila is located at 134 Roosevelt avenue, San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City. You can also check them out at: https://www.facebook.com/LasCasasQC/

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Top 10 Locally-made Products I am so proud of

Top 10 Locally-made Products I am so proud of

“Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it.” ~Bob Dylan~

I just noticed that most bloggers I follow creates top 10s of their own, maybe it wouldn’t hurt if I come up with my own list too. =) I think it’s just best that I start with my most favorite local products in our country, the Philippines.
I do not have the capacity to do it per category, this is just in random, those first things that came to my mind:

1. RINA DESIGN 

Photo grabbed from: https://www.facebook.com/rinadesignmanila/

I have been using her memo pads back since 2005, I was still working at a theme park then and I’m surrounded with every creative thing I could think of, I thought my memo pads should be fun and cute too. =)

2. MESSY BESSY                                           

Photo grabbed from: http://messybessy.com/

The moment I discover their hand sanitizer, I have been using it for the longest time. They’re not just very effective, sweetly scented, all natural, very handy, but they also
do their stuff with a cause. A portion of their sales goes to an institution and that means a lot to me. I have been using their linen sprays a lot too. Yes, because it’s lavender.

3. THEO & PHILO

Photo grabbed from: https://theoandphilo.com/

I discovered these unique chocolates from Gourdos, one of my favorite stores in ATC, and instantly loved it. Especially when I found out that it’s an all Filipino (owner & origin)product. They are neatly and casually packaged, if you’re going to get them as gifts, you can just easily tie them with a nice-colored ribbon and voila, the recipient will surely love it. You will be surprised by their flavors, that’s why they’re fearless:
– dark chocolate with calamansi
– dark chocolate with green mango and salt
– dark chocolate with chili
– dark chocolate with ginger & mint
– dark chocolate with pili nut and pinipig (rice flakes) to mention a few. You wouldn’t believe, there’s also “Turon” and”Adobo” flavor.

Turon is a famous and a favorite of most Filipinos for snack. It is like fritters: sweet bananas with some lancas wrapped in flour wrapper and deep fried with brown sugar.

While Adobo is also a famous authentic dish among us Filipinos, it is pork or chicken (or both) stewed in vinegar and soy sauce with lots of garlic. It is cooked slowly and what makes it special is when the timing of cooking is just so right. Some would include pork livers to make it more flavorful and tastier.

4. BLUE KITCHEN

Photo grabbed from: http://www.thebluekitchen.com/

I love breakfast. I love “tuyo” (dried fish) with tomatoes and sunny-side up eggs on fried rice. However, I’m having a hard time removing the fish bones. And when I discovered this, I’m now settled having it for breakfast anytime. =) And they have one of the best salted-chips I’ve tasted. =)

5. GOOD SHEPHERD UBE JAM

Photo grabbed from: https://www.facebook.com/goodshepherdbaguio/

I think every Pinoy knows about this addicting Ube jam from Baguio. Each time I visit their place, the queue is usually that long. You can simply have it as dessert or you can also use it as bread spread just like what my late dad is doing. I tried it on pandesal too. =) Try the caramel Alfajor too, it is so heavenly.

6. NAMI LEATHER

Photo grabbed from: https://www.facebook.com/NAMI.leather/

There are a lot of artisans here in the Philippines manufacturing leather products. Nami is one, I like their design, the texture of their leather and their customer service, they’re very prompt in all your queries, does it in all professionalism, I think my next bag will be coming from them. =)

7. PILI-ANI
https://piliani.com/

Photo grabbed from: https://www.instagram.com/piliani/

The moment I saw Pili-Ani, I immediately and carefully read their page and I am very impressed with this new product, the substance that they put to use, the glam of its’ packaging, and not to forget, their choices of colors!

8. ENSAIMADA from UNIVERSAL BAKERY, SAN PEDRO, LAGUNA

Photo grabbed from: http://yerduaassenav.blogspot.com/2013/01/universalensaymada.html

I wouldn’t want to miss something that is originally made in my hometown. It is one of the softest I’ve tasted, with just enough butter, cheese and sugar. But there’s a tweak! It has bacon bits that amplified its’ over-all taste. I usually pair it with Coke (when I was still drinking it), or pineapple juice, it is nice with pancit and pasta dishes too.

9. PAPEMELROTI

Photo grabbed from: https://shop.papemelroti.com/

Papemelroti equates college days for me. My pen, my notebooks, my pouches, my stationery, my little boxes, knick knacks of all kinds, came from Papemelroti. By the way, It’s name was taken from the owner’s name – Patty and her children:

This shop exudes that country-feel by using recycled papers on most of their products, so that brown thing emanates the feel of rustic or rural or vintage, beautiful, feel-good stuff and yet simple. It is inspiring to see them not stopping to innovate through the years.

10. CARMEN’S BEST ICE CREAM    

Photo grabbed from:https://www.carmensbest.com/

When I learned eating frozen yogurts, it had really replaced the fire in my belly for ice creams. Not until discovering Carmen’s best. It is truly tempting. It is how real ice cream should be.

SARI-SARI STORE BOUTIQUE

This is where I shop when I as still studying in college. It is just sad that they weren’t able to flourish as expected or last like the other shops at the time. I especially loved the
theme. It is very classy, elegant, used black and white to dominate the whole interiors which extends to its’ products. I have bags, blouses, dresses, tops, wallets, name it, scrunchies, a lot.

They’re packaging is so lovely, it comes with a postcard showing off some of their products, the shopping bag is sealed with a very nicely designed sticker too. They actually came up with a sister shop too: The Black shop. I hope they
will resurrect or something like theirs will show up in the market soon. It’s like a local Kate Spade during the 90s.

We had it at HEAT – Edsa Shangri-la Hotel

We had it at HEAT – Edsa Shangri-la Hotel

“It is lovely, when I forget all birthdays, including my own, to find that somebody remembers me.” ~Ellen Glasgow~

Each year, we usually celebrate our birth month in different places due to our busy schedule, Jen used to call it our month-long celebration.

This year, our last celebration was at Heat Restaurant. Heat stands for Healthy Eating and Amazing Treats.

It is located at the lobby level, Tower wing, 1 Garden way, of Edsa Shangri-la hotel fronting the huge swimming pool, so each time guests passed by our table in their swimming gears, I am no longer surprise.

We tried their buffet for a slightly late lunch (conflict of schedule it is), so we have very limited time bonding and consumed our food like were frenemies. I was telling her that “Hey, I can cook this!” but she says we need to just enjoy eating the more that we were not the ones who got tired preparing it.

This is what we’ve had:

No soft drinks for me. And i really liked that bottomless iced tea.
Should I be awkward with that rice? =)
Especially when Jen opted “no rice” instead.
But she had lots of these.
And some Japanese food too…
While I savored the greens..
And the hakaws!
And of course the sweet treats!
I especially loved this blueberry ice cream topped with unlimited walnuts…=) Of course I took advantage, walnuts is one of my favorites just like pistachio.
Jen isn’t much of a sweet tooth, though she truly enjoyed scooping from the dessert station.
This is what she actually wanted, but we can’t make it for dinner time, she had to work and I have to be home before 7pm, curfews nowadays isn’t only for teens…

So we will just have to set another date for Jen’s lobsters.

While I indulged on the sweets.

If you want to try this gastronomic treat, you can book a table thru:

Phone: (632) 633 8888
Location: Lobby Level, Tower Wing
Operating Hours: 6am – 12 midnight (Mon – Sun)
Dress Code: Smart Casual
Smoking Policy: The hotel’s designated smoking area is located at the 2nd floor, beside the tennis courts.

 

 

Like a child at 14 Four Cafe

Fourteen Four Cafe

“Every Summer, like the roses, childhood returns.” ~Marty Rubin~

I’ll always love blogging. =)

For my “I am blogger” photo. Credits to: http://www.freepik.com/

14 Four cafe logo courtesy of: https://www.facebook.com/14FourCafe/

As a child, I grew up in my parents’ house with a huge lawn where I play hide and seek with my cousins, with my dog and with my papa. I incurred scars in my knees because I wanted to run faster than our dog. I put mud in my mini cooking plate and let it dry for a day so we will have a cake the morning after.

I miss that huge lawn, we took care of dozens of love birds and I remember waking up with their chirping calling out my mom as if announcing that it’s already feeding time. My dog’s name is Tsandu. It is taken from a character’s name from my father’s story line in Filipino comics way back mid-70s. He was an illustrator. An artist.

In that lawn, different kinds of plants are grouped in corners. Some pots are even painted in varying colors. There is a huge star apple tree that gives shade to the whole area making it an ideal place to relax in our green 4-seater garden set. In some corners, you’ll see huge lava rocks which my papa brought home when we went hiking in Mt. Mayon. Along with over-sized sea shells which he also brought home from several beaches that we’ve been to. The other side of the house is with roof because it is where our garage is. You will often hear the likes of Frank Sinatra, Matt Monroe, Elvis Presley serenading you in a humid afternoon. He is fond of Tchaikovsky too. During weekends, my parents invite relatives to have barbecue with us.

I really look up to weekends. When my mom starts preparing pre-sliced pork and marinate them, I get so excited. At the main entrance, a realist painting, (a wedding gift to my parents by my uncle who happens to be an artist too, he’s a known painter during the 70s) will welcome you. If you’re a stranger , upon passing by that house, you would have guess that it is owned by some sort of an artist. And it is. My papa was popular then, I see him being mobbed by people asking their comics to be signed by him. I was just a spectator admiring him from afar.

I had to plot this specific day trip with Jen and travel for hours to reach a very similar place. Jen hadn’t sleep yet, she just came from work, and I’m thankful that she easily gave in to my whims. This place really brought me back to that time while I was still a child. When I first saw it, 14 Four Cafe being tucked in the vicinity of Tanay, Rizal, brought me to memory lane. Since we are from the South, it was really difficult for us finding it, as we are not similar to that place.

Some drivers doesn’t even know where 14 Four Cafe is. And finally, when we reached it. I felt like a child once again. I roamed around instantly without even informing the attendants who pleasantly welcomed us of the instruction given to us when we reserved a table for two as they do not accommodate walk-in guests. Visits are limited too, which is an advantage since they can better taking care of guests unlike when it is peak, attendants will be so busy. Their service, since guests are limited is more personal.

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Now I know that 14 4 is the # of their house.
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I captured some millennials enjoying their stay as well.

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Ironically, even if we found it hard to locate, guests keep coming. The house, more so, the whole place speaks for the artist who owns it. It is owned by Nikki Sambile, a designer. His father, who happens to be an artist too (like my father), showcases his furniture collection on this same place too.

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I want these chairs in my garden too. =)
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Photo credits: https://www.facebook.com/14FourCafe/

Can you imagine that I traveled all the way from Laguna just to have this vegetarian dish? It is Veggie Quesadilla with pesto soaked tomatoes, shitakes, melted mozzarella topped with garlic crema. It has grilled eggplants too and nachos on the side. While Jen, still full from our real lunch on our way to Rizal (2pc. chicken please! lol!), had something light and sweet. She had Amaretto French toast. She chose it because of the toasted almonds. She was overwhelmed with the whipped cream though.

Lighter meal for us.

It was funny that they have Milo to offer as drinks. It really reminded me of my childhood days. I was a Milo kid then.

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I ❤ Milo! =)

I would even eat it alone scooping portions continuously.

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Table for two?=)

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Nope, I actually visited because I needed an inspiration. Being an artist myself, I have to see others in that same niche too.

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An artist’s imagination is infinite.
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Rustic type of a faucet and its’ basin.
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This is the showroom of Stick designs. http://www.14fourcafe.com/location.html

Get the feel of it and be inspired instantly!

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I am not that happy with this photo. We were not able to capture all the colors behind me.

Which surely I did! We don’t even want to leave and hoping to stay longer, however, like I said, it took us almost half of that day traveling.

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So, we left after relaxing in one of the couches al fresco, wondering if we can make time to really come back. Maybe.

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Siesta – afternoon nap.

ps

They’re a favorite of those whose about to wed too, for pre-nup photos. =)

14 Four Cafe is located at:
144 Magnolia Lane, Gregoria Heights Subdivision, Bgy San Isidro
Taytay, Rizal

For reservation, you can call them at: 0999 888 0144

A whimsy and quirky place in Lubao, Pampanga

Prado Farm – A whimsy and quirky place in Lubao, Pampanga

“Seeing how beauty and functionality have been coaxed out of chaos, perhaps accounts for the sense of magic that one feels for Prado Farm”. ~Mariel Francisco~

It is a rare occurrence that I get to find things that are new to me. Things that inspire, fascinate and drive me to move forward. Even slowly but surely getting where I want and who to be.

Over the years, I have explored in my own little way and maybe more in the coming years if I can afford them already. A few friends inspire me too, pushes me to my limits because they know and desires seeing me making my big dreams come true.

They knew what’s it like how to place random items together and uncover a new-born artistry. They don’t just know how, they feel it.

Targeting a place somewhere in Bulacan, as I do my research, I went farther north and landed to a farm in Lubao, Pampanga. Thanks to fellow bloggers, they unveiled to my senses a place that arrested my attention.

I researched further if those who wrote about it are professional photographers as their photos are really amazing and soulful. It reminded me that it takes two to create beautiful pictures. Someone who’s got the eye for it, and the subject itself. I didn’t include a modish dslr, cool tripods/ monopods or even gargantuan lenses. All it takes are young convivial hearts that are unafraid, seeking and lovers of fun with their up-to-the-minute mobile phones. And voila!

So their photos brought us one weekend to Pampanga. A few hours travel by bus and we reach our seasoned and whimsical destination.

Prado farm is located at Siongco, Prado in Lubao, Pampanga. It is strategically situated in the main road and can easily be spotted if you have your own vehicle or just riding a bus.

The gate that’s made of old gas tanks was the only thing that I wanted to see in my own eyes, but Jen introduced me to several Instagram photos that there’s a lot more to it. Seriously, I don’t know what inspired the owners but the place is a mixture of anything which results into a very bewitching place.

I even got a vintage coaster which has a “1930” stamped to it. There’s a lot of grizzled items but they’re a bit pricey. Just to get there is sufficient to me already and to shop is something I candeal with another day soon.

I must say the 5-hectare farm is truly a “wander and wonder” thing to me.

The Facade

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The Souvenir Shop

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The Blue House

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The Old Train Station converted into a Museum

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On our way to the Yellow house

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The Yellow House

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On our way to the Hotel

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I opted not to visit the pool as like a mermaid I might plunge into the water instantly, rather, listed in our bucket an overnight stay with them soon.

Junk architecture, sustainable designs, vivid colors, a vast flora, unique innovativeness, organic food, a set of artworks here and there that are literally surprising, country and vintage feel, a place that brings you back in time, giving you feelings of incredulity yet reckon that they are real right there in front of your eyes. All quirky and whimsy. =)

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If you want to visit the farm, their address is: Km 94 -95 Jose Abad Santos highway, Prado Siongco Lubao, Pampanga. You may call contact them at: 0920 903 0964 and you can visit their website too: http://pradofarms.com/