Sunday, July 25, 2010

Off to Discover New Cities!

I'm off on my next trip, and I think this trip can change my top ten favorite food cities. This time, I'm checking out Taipei, Taiwan (which I'm anticipating will make it on my top ten list) and Guilin, China and it's surrounding towns. I'll be back in the beginning of August. Until then, I'll be uploading mobile pictures on my Facebook and Twitter pages featuring the foods I'll encounter during my trip.

Here's my current Top Ten Favorite Food Cities:
1. Hong Kong
2. Madrid
3. Tokyo
4. Bangkok
5. New York City
6. San Francisco
7. Paris
8. Ho Chi Minh City
9. Los Angeles
10. Manila

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Night with Ernst Loosen at Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino

After receiving another email about a wine night, we again jumped at the opportunity to dine at Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino. This time, we would get to meet the winemaker, Ernst Loosen! We first tasted Dr Loosen Wines when we ate at the Peninsula Hotal in Shanghai. We instantly fell in love with the wine, and we had high hopes for this evening.

Overall, we left more than impressed with both the food and the wines! Chef Laudico's cuisine can easily make waves, and even bring Filipino cuisine to a respected mainstream, if it were in food cities like San Francisco or Manhattan. Loosen's wines paired so well with the food! It's great to find wines that can be paired with Filipino cuisine. And, it was so great spending time and conversing with the winemaker himself. We were so impressed that we even made plans to visit his wineries in Mosel Valley in Germany.

Here are pictures of the wines and the cuisines. Place your cursor over "Notes" to read more about each picture.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

Wine Pairing Night at Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino

Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino has definitely turned into one of our favorite restaurants. We received an email from their mailing list regarding a Wine Pairing Night. We jumped on the opportunity! The wines were all French, a part of the Sommelier Selection. The food was excellent, as we had a nice variety with the four course pairing menu; and the wines paired nicely with each course.

Here are pictures from our Wine Pairing Night. Don't forget, place your cursor on "Notes" to read more about each picture.
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brunch Buffet at Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino

For a weekend lunch, my parents and I went back to Chef Laudico's Bistro Filipino. Each time we go, we get more and more impressed with the creations, the taste, the presentation, and the execution. In my opinion, he's like the David Chang of the Manila. He's setting the trend and inspiration for modernized Filipino cuisine, much like how Chang has been in the forefront for modernized Asian bites these days.

The brunch buffet is so generous for 788PHP. You get to order (as in a buffet, but it's made fresh to order) from the menu which puts together most of the main menu in half portions. Plus, there are silogs (Filipino breakfast that has meat or fish with rice and an egg). The portions allow you to order a lot and have a variety of plates for lunch. I can't wait to build up an appetite again and go back!

I just took a picture of the silog and the desserts I ordered. If you want to see examples of the other dishes, click on the first link in the paragraph above. Also, place your cursor above "Notes" to read more about each picture.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Dim Sum

When you go to a restaurant for a specific craving and the food is just average, you are left with craving that food even more. That was the case for our dim sum craving. So we ventured to Peking Garden in Greenbelt 5. Unfortunately, we found it to be another average dim sum meal. With all our traveling and fondness for good quality food, we do set our standards and expectations high. We're looking for quality, fresh ingredients, and authenticity (though there are those chefs and restaurants where creativity successfully modernizes authenticity). I loove food, but I'm also a conscious eater with my health and weight in mind - I'm not going to waste my calories for average food.

Here are pictures from our meal:
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dim Sum Buffet at Li Li

I've learned that the term "buffet" here does not necessarily mean that food scene where all the dishes are laid out in the restaurant (and get cold, mushy, oily, and whatever else). Here, several restaurants offering buffets, as in you can order from the buffet menu and they'll make it fresh to order.

Whenever I have a craving for Chinese food (and it's usually for dim sum and not for the entree dishes), I try to patiently wait until my next trip to Hong Kong. Sometimes, though, you just can't put off a craving - especially when you find out other people in your household have been craving it, too.

To fulfill our cravings, we went to Li Li at the Hyatt. It's built a reputation for having solid Chinese cuisine. Unfortunately, for the afternoon we went, it was kind of disappointing. On a non-food related note, I really didn't like that this table next to us moved to the sitting area throughout their meal to smoke. The sitting area was open to the dining area. I guess this is food related because the smell of the smoke affects your sense of smell to eat. They need an enclosed smoking area if patrons really need to smoke during the meal. As for the meal itself, a lot of the dishes were just decent and not spectacular for our palates. We left the meal wondering where we could go to really fulfill our cravings.

Here are pictures from our meal:
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Monday, July 19, 2010

Meals at Home

After going on trips and frequently eating out, it's really nice to have that balance and cook some fresh homemade meals. You know the quality of all the ingredients and you can control the amount of ingredients.

Here are a couple picture from an "Italian Night In":
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Here are a few pictures from our "Hainanese Night":
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Friday, July 16, 2010

A Day in Bohol!

When Alvin and I first started talking about traveling around the Philippines, we had Bohol and the Chocolate Hills in mind. It was only until we arrived in Cebu that we started looking at private tour packages to guide us around the island. The rates were all so different but provided the same itinerary. So we emailed a few companies that had quality-looking websites (if they could set up a nice website, we figured that meant they'd provide a quality tour). We ended up booking a tour with Green Earth Tours. For one price, we were provided with hotel transfer, roundtrip ferry, tour guide, driver, entrance fees, and lunch. A fantastic deal! And, our tour guide was excellent! Karen was so well-informed of the history and culture of Bohol. I highly recommend this tour, and ask for Karen!

Here's a slideshow from our whole day tour of Bohol! Place your cursor on "Notes" to read more descriptions of each picture.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cebu Lechon in Cebu!

While planning this trip, I had anticipated at eating lechon would be one of the highlights of visiting Cebu. And, boy, was I right!! Eating lechon goes right up there with snorkeling!

I asked some locals for their advice for where to get some lechon. Right away, they pointed us to CnT Lechon. Thank you for a great recommendation!! We were soo ready to eat lechon that we ordered one kilo (and we were only two small Asians)! And yet, we found a way to finish our plates! It's not just because we were hungry, it's because it was that good!

No wonder Anthony Bourdain proclaimed that his best pig was in the Philippines, specifically Cebu! On our last day, we tried going to Zubuchon where I read Bourdain went, but we ended up at a food stall where they sold take out packages by the kilo. Zubuchon is actually just these food stalls and caters to whole lechon orders, not a restaurant. In any case, it seems as though I really am stalking Bourdain - Cupertino, Bale Dutung, here in Cebu...where to next, Chef?

Here is a slideshow of our Cebu Lechon in Cebu! (Place your cursor above "Notes" for more descriptions)
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Desserts for Dinner

After an afternoon of eating, we decided to have desserts for dinner before heading back to the hotel for the night. On our first night we came across Cafe Laguna in the Ayala Center. The atmosphere looked inviting and clean, and the menu selection was native with plenty of great food photos. Since we chose to eat at Hukad on our first, we decided to try out Cafe Laguna this time around.

We chose a couple of lighter desserts to end our day of eating. Both were fresh tasting and nicely presented. Presentation really enhances the enjoyment of eating.

Here's a slideshow of our desserts:
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Spanish Cuisine in Cebu

After an enjoyable afternoon of snorkeling, we were hungry for dinner! The options at the hotel weren't really too appealing for our stomachs that night. So we ventured across the street and tried out a nice looking Spanish restaurant, Hola Espana. What a nice find! The atmosphere was like a Spanish tapas bar and the food was comforting after a day out.

Here is a slideshow of our meal:
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Taste of Cebu

Our first meal in Cebu! For an early dinner, we explored the Ayala Center and went around to see which restaurant's menu would win us over. With an appealing menu selection of Cebuano cuisine and with my cousin's recommendation in mind, we decided to try out Hukad.

Hukad was a decent place for a cheap dinner. The menu nicely represented a great selection of Filipino and specifically Cebuano dishes. We were seated when the restaurant was half full and left when the restaurant had a long line out the door. The service was on the slow side, though. Some of the dishes were slightly overcooked, but our stomachs were still pleased at the end of the meal.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Snorkeling in Cebu!

If you travel out of Manila and to a beach or an island, you have to try out a water activity - even if it's just wading in the warm, crystal clear blue and turquoise waters.

After reading our guide book we saw that our hotel had a dive center, Scotty's Dive Center. We checked it out when it first opened and reserved a banca (a classic white wooden Filipino boat) for the afternoon to head out to Hilutungan Island, about a 20 minute ride from Mactan. The island is a protected marine sanctuary off of Olango Island, where the reefs were once endangered by fishing fleets. What an afternoon! We enjoyed being on the boat, swimming in the warm waters, looking at the coral, and being surrounded by so many fishes!! From a food standpoint, it was fascinating to see some of the fish that I find in the market swimming all around me! The parrot fish had their own unique colors and the pompano were huuge! I'll admit there were a couple times when I had a craving for sashimi for dinner...

Here's a slideshow of pictures taken out on the water:
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Friday, July 09, 2010

Sighting-Seeing Around Cebu

It was our first time visiting Cebu, so sight seeing was mandatory. Cebu is one of the most significant ports in the history of the country. It is where Ferdinand Magellan landed in 1521 to spread his missionary. In 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi claimed Cebu and the Philippines as a colony of Spain. In fact, Cebu City is the first Spanish settlement, in 1575, in the Philippines (Manila was marked seven years later).

So with all this history in mind, we set out to see the major landmarks. But first!..We visited the Alegre Guitar Factory. Cebu is also known for its guitar making. I already have a fantastic rich sounding American-made acoustic guitar, so I wanted a small local guitar to add to my collection. I ended up buying a Lawaan (local Filipino wood) acoustic guitar!
Following our visit to the guitar factory in Mactan, we crossed the bridge and headed to two major sites in Cebu City - Magellan's Cross and the Basilica of Santo Nino.

Here's a slideshow of pictures from our day of sight seeing. Place your cursor about "Notes" to read the captions:
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Note: For my Google Buzz Readers, the slideshows don't work on Buzz. To check out the slideshow, click on the Foodicles link to connect you to the site to see it.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa in Cebu

Following our unforgettable and pampered two nights in Boracay, we flew to Cebu to continue our trip! We stayed at Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa. Coming from Boracay, we set our expectations high...and we were disappointed because of that. It was crowded throughout our stay. We waited over two hours to check into our rooms, too. Granted, we arrived early; however we were told our room would be "ready soon." So we waited around and two hours later we were antsy and frustrated. If they had told us we were going to wait two hours, that's fine. We could have used the sunlight to go explore the city. But, no, waited because we relied on their word. Because of our first impression, it took us a gradual few days to enjoy our stay. Overall, the rooms were on the older side and in general the resort wasn't anything too special, especially for being a "five star resort." We eventually enjoyed ourselves at the resort as the crowds died down, especially at night.

The resort, which felt more like a hotel because of the building for the rooms, also had private beaches and a pool area. At night, the beach was so pleasant without the crowd and with the cool night's breeze. On one night, we even caught the last half of their cultural dance show. Ever since college, I love watching Filipino cultural dance performances! It was great seeing foreigners all being entertained, too.

After four nights and on our last morning, we even spent a few hours at the Chi Spa. A nice spacious facility and a great relaxing massage!

Here's a slideshow of the pictures we took during our stay at the hotel:
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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Eating at the White Beach!

When a local and a tourist think of Boracay, they first associate the island with the infamous White Beach. These days, the White Beach is known for being a tourist hotspot - filled with stores, restaurants, bars, and people.

On our last night in Boracay, we decided to check out this infamous White Beach to see what it was all about. The resort shuttled us to D Mall, one of the main shopping strip areas along the commercialized beach. Walking past the stores and restaurants, we finally hit the beach. The place is definitely picturesque especially with this huge wide strip of white sand, but you could feel the density of people who had been walking all along the beach throughout the day. Adding to the crowd of tourists were also peddlers constantly coming up to us trying to sell whatever they had.

Here is a slideshow of some sights along the White Beach:
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We walked along the beach and by the beachfront restaurants looking for a place to eat. Along the way, we saw some fire dancers, which we had heard was another attraction here at the White Beach. They were performing in the middle of the beach and in front of The Sand Bar (I can't find a website for it, but it's basically right along the beach and it's hard to miss especially during the fire dance performance). Because of the performers and the enticing menu, we decided to eat at this restaurant/bar/lounge. What a great decision! The atmosphere was modern, we had the front row seats to the beach, and we were eating grilled foods - which is perfect for beach cuisine.

Here's a video of one of the fire dancers performances:

Here is a slideshow of pictures and captions from our memorable dinner:
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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Eating at Shangri-La's Boracay Resort & Spa

As soon as we arrived at the resort, we did not want to leave. And we didn't leave until our last night. So for one night and two days, we completely enjoyed the resort and all it had to offer.

On our first day, we enjoyed three different restaurants and bars around the resort. Each had a nice, relaxing resort comfort, while providing fresh and healthy tasting foods. It was a great welcome to the resort, to Boracay, and to our vacation.
(In the mornings, we would enjoyed the breakfast buffet, which I forgot to take pictures of...I guess I have to go back for that...)

Note: When you see each picture, place your cursor on "Notes" for some more descriptions about each photo.
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Monday, July 05, 2010

Shangri-La's Boracay Resort & Spa

A two night getaway from the city to the beach! My best friend flew in from Hong Kong for a much needed vacation. We both flew out of the noise and pollution of our respective cities to bask in some fresher air. With high recommendations, we stayed at the beautiful Shangri-La's Boracay Resort & Spa. What an unforgettable stay!

Prior to this trip, I had only been on one other beach getaway vacation three years ago - to my childhood state of Hawaii. (When I travel, I usually go to bigger cities looking for culture, history, and food.) When I lived in California and took a beach vacation (mostly to San Diego), I would usually visit the beach in the morning and stay downtown at night to enjoy a nightlife. So the resorts in Oahu, Maui, and Kauai were my reference points. The Grand Hyatt in Kauai was the best beach resort I have seen. Now, this Boracay resort is my mark.

The layout and the architecture are both well-thought out and beautiful! The trees and the waters on the beaches and in the pools are endless! The facilities fulfill the five-star qualifications. And above all, the service and the staff truly fulfill the five-star qualifications! Each and every one of them go beyond that "Filipino hospitality." They make you feel like a VIP with their warm friendliness and willingness to help.

I highly recommend this resort if you are going to Boracay. It is a getaway that provides peace and serenity with luxury and comfort.

The Property
As soon as we arrived at the resort, we did not want to leave! We spent most of our three days and two nights at the resort enjoying the facilities and clean, luxurious comfort.
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The Room
We checked into a beachfront room which was so spacious and clean. On top of that, we also had a balcony with a gorgeous view of the beach right outside.
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The Beach
Aside from its facilities and staff, the resort also stands out with its private beaches. Boracay is known for being a party place. This resort stood away from that noise and crowd pollution. Each day and night we enjoyed walking and sitting on the resort's two beaches. On many occasions, the beaches felt like they were exclusively ours.
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