Visita Iglesia and The President’s Tea House

I spent Maundy Thursday together with Nanay visiting churches or what they call Visita Iglesia. This is a popular tradition in the Philippines during Maundy Thursday, during which people will visit church/churches and do the Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross. This is done to recall the sufferings of Jesus Christ during the last few hours of His death.

holy cross

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My kind of mix: Chicago Mix of Chicago Popcorn Shops

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Chicago Popcorn Shops, Mall of Asia

Tucked away from the busiest part of Mall of Asia, at the 2nd Floor of the Entertainment Mall, is one popcorn place waiting to be discovered. We are not aware what Chicago Popcorn Shops is, we only intend to check out if Team Manila has restocked their Eraserheads t-shirts. But the interesting and classy facade of Chicago Popcorn Shops made us pay the store a visit. And boy are we glad, Jeff and I were treated for a free sample of their freshly popped popcorn, “It’s the Chicago Mix, cheese and caramel popcorn combined, our bestseller!”, the storekeeper proudly announced. I popped the cheese-flavored one first, it’s surprisingly cheesy and the popcorn is soft. Next, I tried the caramel, it’s sweet and crunchy! The storekeeper told us that it’s best to pop the 2 flavors together, so Jeff and I obliged. This is where the magic happened, the marrying of the sweet and salty flavors is surprisingly just right. Nothing overpowers the sweetness or the saltiness of another. This is far better than Kettle Korn’s, it’s beyond compare as a matter of fact.

chicago popcorn shops4

Chicago Popcorn Shops tools of the trade

Chicago Mix of Chicago Popcorn Shops is like a gourmet popcorn. You can tell that they don’t scrimp on ingredients. According to the storekeeper, they don’t use cheese powder in their popcorns, they use melted cheese. The caramel popcorns don’t stick but each are perfectly covered with caramel.

chicago popcorn shops7

One tin of Chicago Mix, Php 280

We left the store with one tin can in tow, priced at Php 280. We’re advised to bring the empty tin on our next refill to get the discounted price of Php 200. What’s great is that we can customize our Chicago Mix, we can have it 70% caramel-30% cheese. In our case, we had 50% caramel-50% cheese.

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pricelist

chicago popcorn shops3
sizes available

The tin is now empty after 2 short days, I can’t stop munching on it. The tin is on its way to the Chicago Popcorn Shops MOA on Saturday and I’m thinking of getting two tin cans at once. This gourmet popcorn joint did not disappoint.

Chicago Popcorn Shops
2nd Floor Entertainment Mall (near Team Manila)
Mall of Asia

I heart Pepper Lunch!


Jeff and I left early from work at 2 pm and headed to Ortigas area to meet someone. But before we head to San Miguel Avenue, we were on to our target at the lower basement of Shangri-la Mall, Pepper Lunch! Yes, you read that right, Pepper Lunch opened its second branch aside from Powerplant Mall in Rockwell. We intended not to eat lunch at the office to savor our first taste of Pepper Lunch.

Pepper Lunch in Shangri-la Mall


The store is well-lit and spacious, there were 3 or more group of diners inside Pepper Lunch.We were greeted at the entrance and led us to the counter where we chose our orders. Knowing what to order, from bloggers’ recommendation, we ordered Beef Pepper Rice (Php 235) and Salmon Pepper Rice (Php 312). Each meal comes with drinks but they also have ala carte meals which is a bit cheaper.


A few minutes later, we already heard the sizzling sound and true enough, the Beef Pepper Rice was served. The server offered to mix it for us but we declined because we took photos of it first. It’s piping hot, smoke comes out from the plate and I can smell the peppery taste. I’m starting to feel hungry, soon enough, my Salmon Pepper Rice was served. I am almost tempted not to cook my salmon because I can see that it’s fresh and the salmon is in its most pink color.

Beef Pepper Rice (Php 235)

Salmon Pepper Rice (Php 312)


What’s exciting about Pepper Lunch is you get to cook your own food your way! Make it well-done, medium-rare, it’s your call. “Sizzle it your way!” Season your meat or fish with the honey brown sauce or garlic soy sauce according to your taste. Another secret is to mix it immediately after serving, at the center of the plate, there’s a surprise butter sauce, spread the love all throughout the rice and the veggies. Be careful though, the plate is heated up to 260 degrees Celsius so be careful when mixing.

instructions on how to cook your steak

4 steps to yumminess:
1. You can cook both sides of your steak on the plate as the beef is raw.
2. When the steak is ready, please put a steak sauce (Amakuchi or Karakuchi/Honey Brown Sauce or Garlic Soy Sauce) on it.
3. You can place the cooked steak on vegetables so that it will not be overcooked.
4. You can also cook the vegetables on the plate. Then you can taste it with a steak sauce (Amakuchi or Karakuchi).

I can’t determine what makes my order so delicious…. is it the fresh salmon? the perfectly cooked Japanese rice? the sauce? the patented sizzling plate? or the pepper perhaps? I don’t know, maybe it’s the excitement of preparing your own dish and seeing it transform from uncooked to perfectly cooked. I would give Pepper Lunch a perfect score in the taste department.

yummy!


As for its price, it may not be that affordable but this is because all of their ingredients are imported. The unique experience also adds to its charm. Another food adventure for a food-lover like me. Check out their menu below:

Pepper Lunch Menu


Pepper Lunch has branches at Power Plant Mall, Rockwell and Shangri-La Plaza Mall.
Website: http://www.pepperlunch.com.ph/

Another frozen yogurt place: Red Mango, Trinoma

Remember the very first time I tried frozen yogurt at White Hat? After that, I became a frozen yogurt lover. As much as I wanted to try Lulubelle’s, it’s too far from where I live and work so I just settled with White Hat. But as frozen yogurt becomes more popular, Red Mango enters the scene. Red Mango is popular in the United States and I’m sure it will also be a hit in the Philippines.

Red Mango signage
Red Mango opened its branch at the 3rd Level of Trinoma, in front of Toys R Us and Fitness First. Of course, this frozen yogurt lover can’t wait to try it and so we went. I was surprised to see that they have Green Tea flavored yogurt, but they also have the original one. They also have Yogurt Smoothies, organic coffee and tea and waffles.
treat yourself well… yogurt is good for you!


I had a 6 oz. Green Tea yogurt, for the toppings, the lady in the counter suggested that grapes and crushed Grahams goes well with Green Tea yogurt. Jeff ordered Kiwi Yogurt Smoothie. A 6 oz. green tea yogurt is Php 120, the original flavor is Php 115. Just add Php 20 for 1 toppings, Php 30 for 2 toppings and Php 40 for 3 toppings. Yogurt smoothies are Php 125.
6 oz. Green Tea frozen yogurt with grapes and crushed Grahams

Kiwi Yogurt Smoothie

Red Mango’s yogurt is creamy, I can’t taste the tartness that I expected for a yogurt. The combination of crushed Grahams and grapes was a hit for me. The Yogurt Smoothie is more delicious when you mix the dollop of yogurt on top. In comparison, White Hat offers more variety for toppings while Red Mango is limited to fruits and cereals. For the taste, I think both of them are a winner! Try them for yourselves.

The big siomai at The Big Little Store at Gilmore

The Big Little Store at Gilmore

I want to share with you a little secret, I found a Chinese restaurant that serves yummiest siomai in the most unassuming place, inside Gilmore IT Center. Gilmore is a haven for desktop and laptop computer shoppers because prices of computers are cheaper compared to malls. Many of us might think that going to Binondo is the best bet for Chinese dimsums and delicacies such as siomai. I thought so too, but when my husband, Jeff, and I visited Gilmore at Quezon City, we discovered and tasted our now favorite siomai at The Big Little Store at Gilmore. Jeff is not adventurous when it comes to Chinese food or any other cuisines so we ordered the safest in their menu, their siomai.


4 pcs. siomai for Php 56.00

At Php 56.00 per order, it has 4 huge pieces that surely filled us up. We poured chili sauce and soy sauce much to our liking, we like it spicy! The siomai has bits of mushrooms and shrimps in it that’s why it’s more tasty. One order is truly satisfying.


we want it spicy!

We will be visiting Gilmore again next week and I plan to try their fresh lumpia and other dishes. I hope they’re as good as their siomai.

The Big Little Store at Gilmore is located at the ground floor of Gilmore IT Center.

How to get there: Ride the LRT Line 3 (Purple Line), alight at Gilmore Station and walk towards the Gilmore IT Center.

A new dessert haven for chocolate lovers, Heavenly Chocolates

After enjoying our Italian food at Bellissimo, we decided to cap the evening with dessert. And so we headed to the newly opened dessert place along Roces Ave. called Heavenly Chocolates, which I learned from Shopcrazy.com. The place is quiet and relaxed, perfect way to enjoy your drink of hot choco or cold chocolate drinks. Before we even get to order, the attendant gave us free taste of the Sachi Nama chocolates. We were given bite-sized chocolates that we immediately ate and boy, had I known that the chocolate was this good, I could have eaten it little by little to savor the flavor of the chocolate. The texture is so smooth it melts in your mouth quickly. The texture reminds me of Meiji Melty Kiss chocolates. I wasn’t able to take pictures of the Sachi Nama chocolates because even my officemates munched them at once. They sell these chocolates at Php 350 per box and they come in different variants too.

inside Heavenly Chocolates


Heavenly Chocolates menu

Each of us ordered different drinks, one ordered Dark Chocolate hot drink (Php 80) and the rest of us ordered the Rated R21 drinks (Php 135), Mexican Mocha and Marula Malt, which contains chocolate liqueur.

sinful Dark Chocolate

refreshing cold chocolate drinks (Php 135 each)

I liked the taste of Mexican Mocha over the Marula Malt. Mexican Mocha has a deep chocolate taste while Marula Malt is on the sweet side and not too chocolate-y for me. The owner is generous enough to give us samples of the chocolates that will be arriving in their shop soon. We immediately picked each chocolate pieces we forgot to take photos of them first (oops!). We were given a dark chocolate and milk chocolate variant. I preferred the dark chocolate because I find the milk chocolate a tad sweeter for my taste.

dark chocolate and milk chocolate pieces


We were eager to try their Chocolate Pasta but it’s not available at that time. Their specialty cakes will also be available soon so this place deserves another visit and hopefully, they’ll be in full blast to serve all things chocolate.

Heavenly Chocolates
Roces Center, Roces Avenue, Quezon City
just near Taste of LA Cafe
Contact nos. 6662208 or 0915-7882105

One cozy afternoon at Bellissimo Ristorante

Bellissimo

It’s a Friday and we left early from work, we decided to have a snack/early dinner along Tomas Morato. We are craving for pasta so an Italian restaurant comes to mind. At the corner of Scout Castor corner Tomas Morato is a sign pointing to Bellissimo Ristorante (a restaurant owned by Cesar Montano), just beside Pen Pen Restaurant. We headed to a pathway that leads to the restaurant, upon opening the door we were greeted by the waitress and lead us to our seats.

Bellissimo’s bar


Cesar Montano’s paintings at the second floor


The restaurant is cozy with wooden tables and chairs, a homey ambiance for an Italian restaura
nt. We were given the restaurant’s menu, clueless on what to order, I asked the attendant of their house specialty and she said that it’s the Spaghetti alla Pescatore, a tomato-based pasta with seafoods. Our officemates ordered their second specialty which is the Spaghetti Aglio Olio, an olive oil-based pasta with seafoods. While waiting for our food to be served, the attendant suggested to check out Cesar Montano’s paintings at the second floor. They also served our complimentary bread while waiting along with the tomato sauce and pesto at the side. I wished they served it with Parmesan cheese too but it’s okay, the pesto sauce is good!

Complimentary bread at the restaurant

Spaghetti alla Pescatore

Spaghetti Aglio Olio


Our pastas have arrived and the hungry foodies that we are, we immediately dig into our own pasta dishes. The pasta is perfectly cooked al dente, the sauce is seasoned very well and a generous amount of parmesan cheese on top. Seafoods in the Spaghetti alla Pescatore are mussels, shrimp and squid. I like that the pasta has an ample amount of sauce so that I can truly savor the dish. The Spaghetti Aglio Olio is served with clams and mussels. It has a hint of spiciness because of the chili flakes on it but this dish is really superb. Bellissimo’s pasta dishes are good for two persons
and are priced from Php 200-Php 350. We thought of ordering pizza after the pasta but we decided to make room for dessert. There’s a new dessert place for chocolate lovers along Roces Ave. corner Tomas Morato, just the opposite side of Bellisimo, so that’s where we’re heading and will be the topic of my next post.

Bellissimo Ristorante
105 Unit E & F Scout Castor corner Tomas Morato, Quezon City
Contact No.
376-5746
*Wheelchair accessible, kid-friendly and good for groups

Something for your sweet tooth: Goya Dark Mint, Goya Black & White and Meiji Melty Kiss

A recent trip from Watsons got me overwhelmed with new goodies particularly in their food/chocolates section. You see, when buying toiletries at Watsons, I always end up buying more than what I planned to because of the temptations you see around. And this time, I gave in to everybody’s weakness, c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e-s!


Meiji Melty Kiss


1. Meiji Melty Kiss – I was really surprised to see that Watsons already have Melty Kiss. I first tasted this melt-in-your-mouth-goodie when I was in Hongkong last November, 2008. I literally flipped over the racks of chocolates in some stores in Hongkong only to find them in Mannings store at the airport. I brought 4 boxes home and devoured all of them in the shortest time I can remember.


Individually wrapped Melty Kiss


Anyway, the chocolates are individually wrapped so you can control yourself when eating. The chocolate renders an addicting smoothness to the mouth as it slowly melts. It’s not too sweet that’s why you won’t notice you already ate a lot. The downside though is its price, when I bought them in Hongkong, one box costs around Php 80-90. Watsons are selling these for around Php 120 per box.


Goya Black & White


2. Goya Black & White – If you love dark and white chocolates, then this one’s for you. Goya lets you enjoy the goodness of both worlds. The dark chocolate is good, not the bitter type that leaves a sour aftertaste in your mouth. I’m not a fan of the white chocolate though, I can’t taste anything. Perhaps it lacks the sweetness and the milky taste I’m looking for. What’s great is the price, it’s only Php 23.95 per box and the box contains 9 dark/white chocolates.


Goya Dark Mint is love!


3. Goya Dark Mint – This is my best find! Another one from Goya, this brand has really improved since my childhood days, and I’m loving what they have concocted so far. Chocolate with mint variants are seldom seen in local brands. That’s why when I have a craving for mint chocolate, I resort to imported and expensive brands. But now, I can satisfy my craving with the impeccable goodness of dark chocolate and mint at a very affordable price. The mint is not overpowering the dark chocolate, you know that there’s mint but you’re still eating chocolate and not a mint toothpaste flavored with chocolate. One box costs Php 23.95 only and contains 9 pieces of round chocolates.

Rave: Magnolia’s Choco Chip Cookie Dough


Summer heat is always making us crave for something cool to make those hot afternoons bearable. And ice cream is the cheapest escape for kids and adults alike, be it dirty ice cream, gourmet or store bought.

I’ve always been a fan of Magnolia ice cream. I love their Chocolate and Strawberry flavors. Their Limited Edition Choco Berry Truffles is good too! Now, I sooo love their Choco Chip Cookie Dough ice cream which reminds me of Ben & Jerry’s and Sebastian’s ice cream. Choco Chip Cookie Dough is vanilla ice cream blended with cookie dough and sprinkled with choco chips.

I will choose this over Sebastian’s Choco Chip Cookie Dough because Sebastian’s ice cream is too sweet for my taste. Magnolia’s is way cheaper than Sebastian’s too!

*photo taken from http://www.sanmiguel.com.ph/Articles.aspx?ID=1&a_id=642

Sidetrips in Aklan (Sampaguita Gardens, Ramboy’s, Bagobos)

When you’re in Aklan for your Boracay trip and you have time to spare, visiting Jojo’s Christmas Cottage at Sampaguita Gardens in New Washington, Aklan is well worth it. It’s a 10-minute ride from the Kalibo Airport. The highlight inside the Sampaguita Gardens is Jojo’s Christmas Cottage. In here, the motto is “Everyday is Christmas”. The cottage had its share of media exposures and was featured on some of TV shows like Rated K. The cottage houses “Precious Moments” doll collections and various Christmas trees in all forms, themes and sizes. Souvenir items like handicrafts, T-shirts, trinkets and other Precious Moments knick-knacks are sold here.


Jojo’s Christmas Cottage at night

Sampaguita Gardens is sort-of a Mini-Disneyland of Aklan in my opinion. It also has a Thai Spa, Thai-inspired Mr. Butcher’s House, hotel, butterfly garden, coffee shop, function hall and the Oriental Flavors Restaurant for your fine dining experience.

Restaurants:

To taste the best Lechon Manok in Aklan, go to Ramboy’s along the hi-way of Numancia, Aklan. For Caticlan-bound visitors, you can’t miss this place since public transportation always pass this route.


Ramboy’s, Numancia, Aklan

Just beside Ramboy’s is another restaurant called Bagobos. We had our dinner at this place on our first day. We ordered Crispy Pata and Sisig, the Crispy Pata is delicious. But service is really really slow, I’m warning you not to eat here if you’re looking for a quick bite.


Bagobos, Numancia, Aklan

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