Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ritual at the Collective

A food intermission, a place I think is worth taking a look at is Ritual at the Collective.  The funny thing is that I heard about Ritual through a post on the Bespoke Man blog on a Google search for shaving brushes in Metro Manila.  Owing to my somewhat eccentric nature, I recently began shaving with double edged razors - you know, the one your lolo used to use, the one that took razor blades instead of cartridges.  I would tell you why but that is a long story I doubt you really want to hear but if you do post a comment and I will tell a little story.

Back to my point, I have heard about the Collective for some time but I thought it was a collection of hipster bars for some reason because of the weekly events at B-Side.  I never went because that place in Malugay St. Makati was still car parts central in my head - for you youngsters that entire complex used to be the Banawe St of Makati, all the car accessories shops were there.  So my quest for a shaving brush (nobody has these anymore for some reason) took me to the Collective a few Saturdays back.

In case you haven't read the links I placed, Ritual is an organic everything shop that carries food such as the famed Black rice (highest fiber content in rice), red rice, brown rice, coffee, chocolates, craft beer, seasoning and organic soap, moisturizer and so much more.  Organics interest me because I have very sensitive skin and my baby sister had recently suggested that I completely cease using any commercial product to alleviate my allergies.  Interestingly enough, have you ever read what goes into products nowadays?  It looks like you can make high explosives from a shampoo.  Half the stuff I cannot pronounce or determine its use and it cannot possibly do me good to have all those chemicals on my face anymore.

They had shaving soap which is soap infused with clay that foams to a thick lather if you use a shave brush.  However they very sadly for me did not have the shave brushes Mr. Bespoke had found there

 Very nice collection of soaps.  About 150 pesos average for 100 grams vs 250 in Lush, which I hear isn't organic and feels like I will come out of the store with lungs coated in wax

 Shelves stocked with organic food and cosmetics, try the cold pressed Barako Coffee

 They even have hair tonic

I was with my dear and my beloved baby sister.  The women went on a shopping spree, the products at Ritual boast of very impressive packaging and you would swear its imported by looks alone.  Pricing isn't bad, you pay for quality and for the lack of economies of scale.  You really cannot compare the cost of producing soap by hand vs factories of Safeguard.

Heck, I felt like shopping, they even had hair tonic with a bald man on the label.  I didn't know if it would add hair to my head but I tell you, right as I was thinking about it some dude enters the shop and buys one.  Heavenly providence indeed.

Ritual reminds me of those grocery stores you see in the movies and I bet that is what they were going for.  Packaging is simple but beautiful and you feel a tinge of simpler times of a high end sari sari store if you will because Ritual's products are high end versions of your basic necessities.  Stuff like sugar, soap, rice, bottled sardines and even unprocessed salt.  On another odd note, those of you into aquariums that salt is what you need for medicating freshwater tanks, you are not supposed to use iodized salt.

Adding to the feel good atmosphere is knowing that if you buy you are supporting local industries such as small scale coffee, chocolate and rice producers.  It also seems to be a launch pad for new products such as local craft ale.

The rest of the Collective was snoozing, its interesting but a lot of places were closed.  The restaurants do look inviting but we had just had lunch but there is a mochi ice cream place there and it was very good.

A very cool experience but sadly no brush.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Shrimp Bucket, Fort

The Shrimp Bucket is located in the Ground floor of the Grand Hamptons Building Tower 1, 2nd Ave corner 31st St, BGC, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.  I happened to pass by it during its construction and it looked very interesting.  It opened a while back but we did finally end up trying it on a Lenten Friday night.  It’s not easy to find but its near La Girolle and very close to Burgos Circle. 

 The Menu

If you eat in Shrimp Bucket naturally you should order the Shrimp Bucket ( no shock there, if a restaurant is named after a dish then that is what you should order there).  But guess what?  The shrimp doesn’t come in a bucket, oh no it doesn't.  It comes in a clear plastic bag and so do the mussels.  The reason is that you choose a flavouring and then the shrimp or mussels are shaken with their sauces in the bag just like Potato Corner fries!

Our full order, the French Lemon Pepper Butter Sauce on the Mussels and the highly recommended Salty Eggperience sauce on the Shrimp plus an order of their fish and chips.

The bucket is for just for the discarded shells.  As I said, the shrimp doesn't come in a bucket although it does in other places like Bubba Gump in the case of one of my favorites there, the Bubba Gump bucket of boat trash (check out this pic of it). 

 The Salted Egg sauce was very, very good.  I think its mashed itlog na pula in lots of butter.  I enjoyed it so much that I would spoon it as sauce on my rice.  Everything was very good, for those who are calorie concerned, well, the secret to any restaurant is really butter on everything.  The sauces in Shrimp Bucket are no exception.  If you want to lose weight then its best to not get sauce in which you will miss out here.  The fish and chips are great not Fish and Co levels but quite good.

Here is another blog with a review to Shrimp Bucket.  My thoughts exactly, another alternative to Dampa!  Click on the next link if you want to know what other Seafood Restaurants are swimming around.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My thoughts on Kenny Rogers

I love Kenny Rogers.  Something about the original citrus infused skin and supposedly "healthiness" of it makes me want to eat it everyday.  And it comes with sidings or at least my automatic choice, "solo b" has two.  Sadly there aren't as many as during its hey day but I still have it the odd times I am at the Duty Free.

Its been awhile since I have had Kenny Rogers but my girl having decided to get on the silly quest of losing weight I decided what better than to have Kenny Rogers Roast Chicken.  To maximize the experience, we walked there from our meeting place in the office, about 5 kilometers.  That is how serious we were about fitness.

Having gotten to Kenny, the weird thing is, I don't remember it being so expensive.  The Solo B was about P200 now.  Is it me or is the price stuck to my head still P120?  Maybe this shift from self serve to sit down has added to their costs or perhaps the move to sit down was to justify the price increase?  Regardless, I was quite surprised at how much it is now with the only added value was the food being served to you at your table.

The thing is, your P120 now still gets you awesome stuff at other chicken places.  My other perennial favourite is the Pan Chicken at Pancake House, matter of fact the only thing I ever order when I am there.  You get two large pieces one huge cup of rice and their delicious and thick gravy.  No drinks but you can be served water at Pancake House.   KFC my other chicken favourite is P125 for two pieces and a coke!  This is the “Fully loaded meal” description from their site  boxed meal with your favorite Original Recipe or Hot & Crispy chicken, KFC's signature gravy, a hearty serving of creamy mushroom soup, any regular fixin, brownie, steamed rice and regular drink.
But Kenny Rogers is healthy!  You may argue that but if is to be believed….

1/4 Chicken With Skin (Kenny Rogers Roasters)
Serving Size: 1/4 chicken with skin, Calories: 480, Fat: 0g, Carbs: 0g, Protein: 0g

VS the other “K”
(No ¼ chicken so lets do the math)
Original Recipe Drumstick (Kfc)
Serving Size: 51 gms, Calories: 120, Fat: 7g, Carbs: 3g, Protein: 11g

Kfc Thigh (Chicken)
Serving Size: 1 thigh, Calories: 250, Fat: 17g, Carbs: 7g, Protein: 17g
= Calories 370

Really?  170 calories more for Kenny?  So much for the roasting being a good way to save on calories.  The chicken is also much smaller. 
I was quite full because of my two sidings but the thing is with the size of the chicken elsewhere I would have been full too.  I guess every so often its ok, but Kenny Rogers is still fast food to me and fast food should be cheap.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Uncle Cheffy's "Smoked Pork Bacon"

Valentine's is done and so its back to regular programming, not that you should treat your woman (or man) any differently, technically every day you should treat her as if it was Valentine's.  However, Mr. Seiko Wallet has something to say about keeping up the celebration and so post Valentine's is a period of austerity for most of us.  

 Me wiping the blood, ahem, ketchup from my wallet post valentines.

As much as I love Mc Do, seeing the post Valentine glow on my sweetheart made me postpone hitting her with a harsh dose of reality, after all we both had a hard day at work.  She knowing that I had just spent for Valentines was hesitant to suggest where to eat, we were in El Pueblo and there were quite a few choices, none of which appealed to me when lo and behold a waiter of Uncle Cheffy was passing out flyers.

Not bad, the fish tocino for P120

There is something about all day breakfast that appealed to me, pancakes for dinner?  Who has heard of such a thing?  It is like dietary blasphemy.  So we walk around for a bit and then decided to heard for Uncle Cheffy.    It was early evening and the same guy who gave me the flyer was our server.  I excitedly pointed to the smoke pork bacon with vegetable omelette and rice thinking that I was going to get thinly sliced Vigan bagnet one of my absolute favorites, “Ser, wala na yan, breakfast menu kasi yan”.  I stared at the flyer completely abhorred by the statement, seeing no specified time for the serving of the breakfast delights I turned and said “pero ser, kaya pumunta kami dito”.  The waiter unperturbed smiled and headed to the kitchen to return announcing that they will accommodate us.  I too breathed a sigh of relief as their regular menu was priced higher than my post valentine’s budget allowed and I am the type who is too embarrassed to walk out. 

It took a bit long to get our order, about 15 minutes in a relatively empty restaurant.  The waiter told me that Tuesdays are a dead day – which is why he was passing flyers.  Lo and behold, my “smoked pork bacon” was indeed smoked pork bacon, a generous enough serving with my eggs which looked scrambled and not an omelette and fried rice.  The fish tocino looked well like cream dory fillet in tocino sweet sauce, I wasn’t even willing to try it but my lovely companion said it was very good.  

Old habits die hard, I tear into the bacon before I take my picture

My girl's fish tocino is the picture of restraint

Was I disappointed?  Not at the least, the bacon was P190 and the tocino was P120 so I spent P310 partly because we had tap water.  Bacon is bacon, bacon is always good and bacon and eggs is most definitely always good.  The main take away of this meal is "never assume" if you want Vigan Bagnet best to ask if the "bacon" is bagnet.  Cheers!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

La Girolle, Fort the weekend after

Ah now for our La Girolle experience.  Makati was packed as can be, long lines of cars dotted EDSA and all the inner streets of Makati for the crazy event which is lover's day.  It took my four times the usual amount of time from my office to my dearest's place but that didn't bother me much for we all knew that was going to happen.  No need for excuses if you are prepared.  I picked her up and off we were to our 8pm sitting at La Girolle.  La Girolle is not that easy to find, it is off the beaten path in Burgos Circle, being in the Blue Sapphire building's second floor (exact address: 2/F Blue Sapphire, 2nd Avenue Corner 30th Street,
Bonifacio Global City, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig) and not on the first floor like its many rivals for diner's pesos.  Parking in the area can be hell during the day but luckily the office crowd was gone, no doubt not wanting to spend another second near anyplace they work.  We parked without issue and walked a bit, there is valet parking at the front of the Blue Sapphire building but I don't like entrusting my ride to valets.

We were quickly seated, entering the restaurant you notice all the tables broken up into seating for two, ages were mixed some were older, some younger but all had this weird smile and stare of adoration for the one they were with, I sure hope they keep that up all year.  On to the food.

The menu seemed reasonable considering what we were getting.  I realized that naturally fine dining uses more premium ingredients.  Heck, if you are expensive you better be worth the premium.

Amouse Bousche - Palette awakener or welcome dish.  I didn't take a picture, I haven't gotten the hang of taking a picture of everything I eat but when I have pasta and cream I like bacon and not caviar, fishy cream is not a match to me, but heck, my girl enjoyed it.

Norwegian Salmon, delicious, I usually never order salmon unless its smoked.  but this I greatly enjoyed. 

OMGosh!  Mushroom soup!  Did I ever mention I grew up with Campbells mushroom soup as an occasional treat? I have never ordered mushroom soup in a restaurant, it had to be part of a set but my gosh, mushroom soup with truffle oil!!!!  Its like the inception of mushroom, mushroom in mushroom and it was absolutely delicious! 

 My main, duck breast, best duck I ever had, absolutely no toughness or gaminess   I was extremely happy with it and the portion was not bad!

The Hokkaido scallops and foie gras of my date.  It was good, she gave me a taste, just not enough for me.  Heck I am a man and need my meat!

Our shared dessert, three chocolate dishes.

I like La Girolle, it is upscale, has excellent service, great interiors and a very good selection of wine, we brought our own though.  Joel, the manager is extremely helpful and is very knowledgeable with wines.  I can't really say I observed more since I was googly eyed and focused on my date, it was Valentines after all. But I will say I recommend La Girolle, its worth trying and coming soon is their Bistro in the Fort Strip.  Keep tuned!
Another French restaurant suggestion which I will soon write about is L'eau Vive
Other fine dining restaurant listings for the e yellowpages.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Dinner at La Girolle, Fort

Today is Valentine ’s Day, the day of love and although I shudder and abhor the crass commercialism because of all the things I am expected to do and buy today no guy really has a choice but to abscond and bow down to the societal pressures brought about by the great marketing machinations of hotels, restaurants, candy makers, chocolatiers, hallmark and all other purveyors of things deemed “romantic”. 
Nobody wants the one they love to be without the things everyone else has.  That in mind I decided last week, mind you a full week to see where I could book a romantic dinner. 

The thing is with Valentine’s is that most restaurants really have us guys by the throat, they can change their prices, change the menus to special Valentine’s sets and we really have no choice.  Figuring I would be paying through my nose anyway  so being the miser I am I wanted to maximize my buck so I made a list of what I thought are romantic fine dining restaurants in the Fort and Makati.

Massetto is nice, romantic, has great wines because one of the owners owns Premium Wine Exchange, the thing is, their location is a killer with typical Makati traffic so it would be absolutely brutal with Valentines Makati traffic.  Matter of fact it would be pretty much the same with any restaurant in Makati whether near the mall or not.  Hotels are simply out of the question, too posh, costly and I’m sure further bombardment of all things you should be buying, hotels are the department stores of Valentines.  Moving on.   In the Fort, there is the Goose Station which I have never been to, Aubergine which is hit and miss to me and I haven’t been there in years. 

I decided on La Girolle, a French restaurant run by Chef Ian Padilla who actually worked in several Michelin Star restaurants in New York and Paris according to their website.  That alone is enough to pique my interest and reviewing their valentines menu which I requested, they have a six course dinner with wine for P2,500 a person, net.  I have always been intrigued with French cooking, a friend of mine who lived in Paris told me that Pinoys have a tendency to get fat there because the food is so rich in butter and cream, you are supposed to have a bit of everything and be all good, but we Pinoys are of course “LAMON” hehehehhee.
It’s a welcome relief after browsing the La Girolle Fort site to see that Ian Padilla still cooks out of the cookbook of classical French cooking with modern improvements.  I like the statement, no shortcuts, shorteners or what not.  If something needs to simmer for hours and hours then it shall.

I will let you know how it goes tomorrow.  Happy Valentines!

Read part 2 of La Girolle here.

check out,

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Battle of the Subs: Subway VS Quiznos

Like my title?  I don’t think I ever mentioned that I am a history fanatic.  My title reminds me of the “Wolfpack” or the German Submarine or U Boat Fleet that terrorized the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea during World War 2.  Now that that is out of the way….

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to eat in both Subway, the long standing sandwich restaurant (bye bye Oliver’s but you were too expensive) and the new sandwich place, Quiznos.  I would eat in Subway every so often not because I didn’t love it but because our Filipino penchant for everything rice and not much want for wheat or sandwich meals have driven Subway down, less branches and what not.  Oliver’s was a tad pricey for the same thing although I liked how you could add hard boiled eggs to your tuna sandwich (KIDS! please try that at home!  It is delicious).  Quiznos is the new kid on the block having recently opened its first branch last December in Bonifacio at the ground floor of the Parkade building. 

Subway and Quiznos have virtually the same business model Both offer sub sandwiches with three choices of bread – whole wheat, white or parmesan.  Both offer virtually the same sandwich options in terms of fillings – chicken, turkey, deli products.  Both offer Lays brand chips and a softdrink.

The differences?  Quiznos is locked to Pepsi products while Subway is Coke.  Price is a big difference too, my sandwich of comparison is the “Italian” which has salami, vegetables, peperoni and cheese.  Its 99 pesos for a six incher at Subway and 125 pesos for a five incher at Quiznos.  I tend to do the math and my vote goes to Subway, because at Quiznos you get roughly 20% less sandwich for 25% more pesos, ridiculous. 

Another thing is, Quiznos has a a lot of calorie bomb sandwiches while Subway has healthy options.  I don’t know, Subway just tastes better to me, from the bread to the ingredients to the vegetables. 

Proof that people agree with me is that on Sunday 7pm Quiznos was relatively empty and Bon Chon next door was packed to the rafters.

I do like Quiznos though, I loved in when I was in the US and the execution here isn’t bad.  The sauces and what not make for meatier or heartier options.  Its just that the pricing is off considering they have to unseat the king.  When I am eating healthy or for value I will choose Subway.  Heck, they even had a dude who lost what? 50 pounds on Subway? 

Hail to the king Subway!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Savory Sweet Bella - Go for the burger!

Sweet Bella Café

Strolling through Greenbelt 5 yesterday night my girl and I were looking for a place to eat.  We were actually semi arguing and in times like that you had best be ready to spend a bit more to make things better.  Going through the list of restaurants there had not given us any ideas so we walked past all of them in the most eastern wing.  First was Felix, partly owned by Richard Gomez, well, neither of us were that impressed having eaten there separately in the past so we trudged on.  Next was Zuni and its delicious steaks however we weren’t willing to spend so much.  Then was Sweet Bella Café by the owners of Melos steaks.

I would always see the Sweet Bella Café branch in Burgos Circle at the fort and always associated the name with their macaroons and other desserts.  Glancing quickly at their oversized display menu I thought that this was reasonable enough to try at least once and so I beckoned to my girl to sit inside.  It was not that warm that night so she wanted to sit outside until she saw the flocks of mosquitos buzzing around the oblivious souls already there.  Not to disappoint her, I insisted we sit outside anyway under the protection of an electric fan blowing our flying friends away.

Looking through the menu, we settled on a grilled vegetable for her since she was on a diet.  I still don’t get how anyone could eat something like that, grilled peppers and onions on bread should only be done on pizza and accompanied by copious amounts of peperoni.  I ordered the Salad Nicoise for us to share and the Café Monster Burger for myself.  The Café Monster Burger is P395 and not P550 as on their website   Which is good at I am not sure I would pay anything a hair over P395 for a hamburger.

I am not going to talk about the veggie sandwich as I didn’t try it.  The salad nicoise was delicious but you can’t really go wrong putting that together, heck, I can’t cook but I bet I could make it.  What I am writing about is that dang burger.  Its big, about 1 third pound topped with cheese, a fried egg and onions and let me tell you, it is delicious.  I ordered it medium rare and it was so full of flavour from head to toe meaning the bread and all the toppings and that heavenly meat were all having a party in my mouth.  This is far better than the foie gras burger at Lusso next door.

Shocking shock, but go here for the burgers, their macaroons are ok but the burger is exceptional and at P395 not that bad.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chick Boy - Midnight Food Run

Chic-Boy, Chicken at Baboy (not pwede sa chick, pwede sa boy) is the new Dencio's restaurant sprouting around the Metro.  Its not that new, I believe it started in 2009 but it quickly gained momentum because of its very reasonable prices for its rice meals.  I had eaten there previously just once.  My second time was just last Friday and let me tell you why.

My girl was attending a posh party in Rockwell, the type that simple me would never be comfortable with, not to mention I was invited only at the last minute.  The thought of having to deal with a lot of people I don't know and cannot relate to for hours on end sent shivers down my spine.  The idea of making “beso” strange women and gay men, shaking hands with so many people whose names I wouldn’t remember in five minutes – as if they would remember mine, makes me cringe and I deferred accompanying my girl and I knew that she would have a better time without me as these were here friends and crowd anyway.  I always assume that if she could get there then she would have a way home.  Boy was I mistaken.

Long story short, I had to pick her up at past one am, as I mentioned about me, I am not a gimmikero, lakwatsero or what not.  I wanted to stay home and sleep early so I could hit the gym first thing.  I found myself driving out in my house clothes- ratty shirt, gym shorts with no underwear at that.  I pick her up from Rockwell and lo and behold she was starving.  Because of the incredible pressure to possess supermodelesque figures it seems that the females in the party were eating servings the size of what I would feed a month old baby.  I sort of understand how my girl bowed to peer pressure and ate like a maya bird herself in the midst of all the semi anorexia, bulimia and what not around her.  The thing is, her appetite sometimes rivals my own so as soon as she saw me she said “lets eat”.  This was at 1:15 am.  I am in a ratty t shirt, gym shorts and we are in Makati.  Which Makati restaurant would be open to having me in my current state?  My girl gave suggestion after suggestion of places I wouldn’t be caught dead in with what I was wearing.  “Guwapo ka naman” did not convince me in the slightest way.  Makati just doesn’t go uber casual the way BF Homes or Quezon City does, so where to go?  Eureka!  Chic-Boy in Jupiter!

Ah, going to Chic-Boy is a delight, I love Pinoy food!  If you read about where I have been recently, this place is like fresh air to me.  The wafting smoke reeking of pork fat burning is like breathing perfume to my soul.  I love Cebuano style cooking with the kick of lemon grass in nearly everything giving it that perfect slightly sour note.  Must try there are the Cebu Lechon Liempo and Cebu Lechon Manok.  The other items like sisig are so so in my opinion.  Everything is good enough but the Lechon Liempo and lechon manok are what would make me come back.  Not a bad alternative to eating in Mc Donalds or Jollibee in the middle of the night!  Prices are good, 155 for the lechon liempo meal with a drink, soup and unlimited rice.

As I am not that much of a rice eater and what more at nearly two in the morning I looked at the hidden ala carte menu.  Aha!  I ordered the liempo lechon, half a lechon manok, sisig, two plain rice, two beers and a bottled water for 400 pesos!  Brilliant huh?  Had I ordered meals I would have paid about 450 with no beer and with rice I wouldn’t eat.  I forgot to mention that, there is beer in Chic Boy!  That made it easier to bear that I was out in public without any underwear on.

Visit their website for branches, or heck franchise one if you have a location: