A Very Scent-Sational Menu

Monday, August 30, 2010

Today's a holiday you guys. It's no work for me though, since I guess most of my clients decided to be laid back today.

On the other hand, it was pretty and proper for me. Donning a (very) little black dress, slipping into leopard print wedges, and totting my usual humongous clutch which holds half of my life, I sped off to the Rigodon Ballroom of the Manila Peninsula Hotel for a very interesting event. Along with the members of the media, including some of the country's most influential bloggers, I was there to witness the launch of Downy's perfume series.

If you've seen the ads, the new Downy Perfume Series has an advanced, touch-activated Perfume Microcapsule technology, which places the blend of perfume oils within the Downy formula. These capsules slowly release more fragrance when rubbed or touched. So everything smells good even way after we get our clothes from the laundry.

For this blog however, it was interesting to note the menu, which included some of the ingredients of the perfumes in the Downy Perfume Series, of course not meaning pouring soap on the food.

Upon registration, I was welcomed with Rose wine. This I find most addicting, I think I had four of this during the entire duration. What's good too was that I didn't feel like I was seeing exponential numbers of everything around me, and I was able to answer questions without slurring.

As a refreshing non-alcoholic treat, we were given red iced tea, which was infused with apple.

For soup, we had Pumpkin soup with coconut cream and coriander.

Appetizer was Smoked citrus-scented Atlantic salmon with petit mesclun greens with orange mustard dressing. The salmon melted in my mouth and the orange provided a refreshing contrast with rich fish like smoked salmon.

The main course had Honey Glazed chicken breast. On the sides, we had vegetables which I think were infused in herbs plus Jasmine rice. I love jasmine rice. Screw the fact that my dress was skintight. The rice went straight to my tummy. It was a great compliment to the honey and ginger. I finished off the vegetables first, since I love veggies and I totally drowned my chicken with the sauce.

For dessert, we had chocolate fondant with berry compote and vanilla ice cream. Vanilla ice cream or any ice cream for that matter is an uh-oh to me, you all know that, but it went absolutely well with the chocolate, which I finished up to the last crumb. The berry compte provided a tart contrast to the sweetness and richness of chocolate and ice cream, two of everyone's favorite comfort foods. We all know from my previous post how chunks of fruit could be annoying to puréed things. The cute little scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream rests on a sweet peanut brittle cup, by the way.

So how do these ingredients relate to the all-new Downy Perfume series?

Here we go. Let's start off with a little discussion on the red variant, which is Passion.

Passion was described as "sweet and vibrant". Passion incorporates what we would call sugar, spice, and all things nice - French pastries, flowers, and fruits. Hence we've got apple, raspberry, and vanilla, which were exhibited in our dessert and drink. Apple blossom, freesia, and vanilla make it to the top and middle notes, and fresh mulberry and cedarwood are in our bottom notes. Remember how the scent of apple pie reminds us of home? Or how chocolate would make us feel good after a bad day? Same idea.
The purple bottle, Attraction had a very fresh and alluring floral fragrance. Attraction is inspired by nature hence we've got the bouquet of different flower notes like jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, and iris. It sort of fades to a soft musk, tube rose, and wood fragrances for the bottom notes, for a floral and oriental blend of fragrances. Among the two, it was Attraction that my friends like, since the scent is fresher than the warmer one of Passion. In our menu, we got the Jasmine in our rice and Rose in our wine as representatives of this fragrance. Jasmine and rose are interesting variants to food. Rose ice cream and pastries have this distinct exotically interesting taste, sort of something intriguing that you can't put your finger which it is. Jasmine rice is usually my choice in Thai restaurants, giving an interesting twist to a plate staple, South Beach diet begone.

Quite interesting, really, how they incorporated fragrance components to food, and vice-versa. I', sniffing my passion-scented red shawl right now, and I do smell a hint of apple. As I type this, I'm craving for warm apple crumble with a scoop of nonfat vanilla ice cream

A Road Trip To Success with Chowking

Usually events sorta require us to dress up and look good. However, an invitation from Chowking advised us to wear comfortable clothing and discouraged us to wear expensive watches and jewelry. Interesting. So last Thursday morning, in a black tank top, jeans, and my trusty sneakers, I met up with some of my friends and we boarded a shuttle to take us to a Chowking branch in Sunshine Boulevard in Quezon City where we were given survival kits after we registered.
The survival kit contained a towel, antibacterial hand wipes, a bottle of water, a poncho, umbrella, paper, pen, and antibacterial hand gel. I was intrigued as to what we would be doing in a few minutes. Would we be doing an obstactle relay? Scavenger hunt? And where would we be going? I was assured though that it was perfectly okay to bring cameras and in fact, we were encouraged to do so so we could capture this event.

At the function room, we were finally briefed as to what's going to happen. First, we were told that Chowking would be undergoing major revamping, like the new logo and an addition to their menu. Also, we were shown who the five new brand ambassadors of Chowking are. And this is where we found out what this is going to be. Chowking takes us to their humble beginnings, as to where it all started. Apparently, these five ambassadors have something in common - they had very humble beginnings before their own success stories.

When we boarded the bus, we journeyed somewhat southbound then the bus stopped at a gas station. Then, someone familiar came aboard.That's Jericho Rosales (eeee!!!!!!!) on board the same bus as we are. Behind him are some of the members of the security team that was hired to ensure our safety. Who doesn't know Jericho Rosales right? With his endorsements, movies, and TV shows? But who really was Jericho before he was the leading man of primetime TV? He told us that we were going to where he was before. He started out as a fish vendor in Farmer's Market in Cubao. Yep, you got it right. He helped his mom sell fish in the market plus he took on several odd jobs before joining Mr. Pogi in Eat Bulaga, which was the start of his career.

And here we are in Farmer's Market in Cubao, with dozens of fans screaming at Echo as he shares, now to everyone that this in fact, used to be where he worked. His former office, he would say.

After this, he lets us on a treat. We go right in the heart of Farmer's Market where he demonstrates what he used to do then - cleaning fish.
He shows everyone how it's done.... from removing the scales up to the entrails. Everything he does without fidgeting, and without gloves. Just like how he used to do before. Sanay na sanay, and I see no sign of him being grossed out or anything. It was quite amazing that when some celebrities make a 180-degree change with their personalities as soon as they hit the level of success, we have a person like Jericho Rosales who still remains down-to-earth as he is. I've heard that he never forgets the people he gets to talk to. He's the type of guy too who would pose for a photo-op when a fan approaches him at the mall.

After that, we were journeyed again this time to a center for children. Before that, we had a private audience with the second Chowking ambassador, CNN Hero Of The Year, Efren Penaflorida, Jr or Kuya Ef to his students.

Efren was born and raised in the slums. His father was a tricycle driver and his mom a housewife. Despite the lack of funds, he still strived and completed both elementary and high school through scholarships.

Efren shared his knowledge too with streetchildren. He created a "pushcart classroom" where he would teach the streetchildren during his spare time and his materials were actually in a pushcart. That he does while receiving two college degrees with take note - the highest honors. Anyway, he took us to one of his centers but before that... there were these pushcart classrooms set up, which we pushed towards the center where some of his students await.

Efren finally introduces us to some of the volunteers who also teach the kids during their spare time and the kids themselves who welcomed their Kuya Ef. The kids sang and danced with the media before we all distributed the school supplies, which were gifts to them.

We left for the next and final stop, and also we had an audience with the third Chowking ambassador, Kim Chiu.

Kim tells us her experience at the PBB (Pinoy Big Brother) house, and she jokingly tells us that she wanted to be seen on TV and so she tried out for PBB and up to now, she still sees herself on TV. The cute chinita girl back in PBB then has now become a celebrity. However, before PBB Kim was just a shy girl living a very simple and modest life. PBB was the turning point in her life. After winning, we all know the rest is history. Kim is in billboards, print ads, magazine covers, commercials, tv shows, and the big screen.

We arrived at Plaza Ibarra where Kim joins her onscreen partner and former PBB housemate Gerald Anderson where they give us a little taste of what it's like to be in the PBB house and gave us a challenge... to finish an entire box of Chowking chicharap as a group. It was quite a challenge though, since there were a whole lot of it in the bag. Yet I still had the same appetite during lunchtime when we were served Chowking's Tender Beef Broccoli Lauriat, the newest addition to the menu:
I guess beef with broccoli is one of the most iconic Chinese dishes there is and travel all over the world, you see this as a staple in every Chinese restaurant menu. The lauriat here actually costs Php 125 if you buy it and it comes with pancit canton, chicharap, fried dumpling, buchi, plain rice, and drink. You could also order it a la carte (Php 99 with drink). Despite the fact that I devoured an entire box of chicharap a few hours before, I was able to finish this too.After that, we were joined by all four Chowking ambassadors - Jericho Rosales, Efren Penaflorida Jr., Kim Chiu, and Gerald Anderson as they shared more of their experiences on the road to success. The fifth ambassador, Bea Alonzo, who started out as a beauty pageant contestant before becoming one of the finest actresses today wasn't able to make it due to her jampacked schedule but she left a message for everyone.

The event ended at around 3 pm when we all headed home. I was pretty tired from the journey so I decided to go straight home after the shuttle dropped us off. Guess nothing is impossible. We'll never know when the fish vendor in the market would soon become leading man.

Strawberry Ginger Jam: Sugar and Spice, Very Nice.

Monday, August 23, 2010

After my shoot yesterday with my Buhay Baboy friends Ram and Jho, Jho and TJ dropped Ram and I off at Eastwood Mall. Ram went to cab it to Valle Verde since he'll be attending a party there when I decided to stay over at Eastwood Mall. Last I was here was after doing makeup for Legally Blonde and I like this mall since it's such a pet-friendly mall. I spotted a really cute chowchow puppy and a million shih tzus bobbing their way. I didn't know that every weekend, there would be this little food fair at the second floor. I browsed a bit to see if there's anything that caught my interest and I re-discovered this stall that sells homemade jam. I didn't know the name of the brand but I've tasted some flavors at the Ultimate Taste Test a few months ago. I did remember getting a leaflet, which I somehow misplaced. Anyway, going back to present time, I saw the stall and recognized the jars which look like the old-fashioned jams I see in vintage postcards. Stuff that remind me of checkered aprons, country homes, Ann of Green Gables series... you get the idea.

The name of the stall was Green Babes In The City and they distribute the jams I was looking for. They also sell cheese, sardines, bottled laing, and veggie chips They also have organically grown green produce like dressed whole chicken, eggs, and meat. Nothing like the home-cured and homegrown foods from gramma's backyard eh?
I found out the name brand - The Fruit Garden - and these are homemade jams were made the old-fashioned way with real fruit and real ingredients. - nothing fake or imitation . Old-fashioned way meaning, sugaring and boiling and all that. They use an original French homemade recipe, those that have been passed on from generation to generation. Again, it's like gramma making fresh jam for you and spreading it on your toast.

A bestseller was the Strawberry Ginger.. It won me over since at first it had that sweet-tart strawberry flavor then a kick of spicy ginger taste. She also made me try other concoctions. I decided to go with her personal favorite though and bought a bottle for the house.

This bottle costs Php 140 for one. It's great for Christmas giveaways but I guess I'll be stocking this up at the ref a lot, among 2 other flavors I find interesting - strawberry mint and mango lavander. The mango lavander had a really well, cute flavor. It feels like a spa in my mouth and I love this with biscuits and earl grey tea.
Normally, I'm not a bread person. I prefer rice over bread anytime, but I could make quite an exception with this as the spread. Aside from the fact that it's all-natural and cooked the very traditional way, spread it on bread and look at the consistency:

Fruit is pureed and it's just jam. Commercial jams actually have these strawberry chunks that I find annoying since it ruins the momentum I have when I spread it on bread. This one just glides right there. Okay, it may not be like 100% smooth due to the presence of some fruit fibers, but it doesn't have like that glob of fruit making the consistency chunky instead of fluid. This is the type of jam I'd have over ice cream, cereal, yogurt, or just dip my finger or spoon in. Since it's preservative-free, it only lasts for like a few weeks or so, but I don't think they'll last that long on me.
In fact, normally I'd get bored with bread but I had four slices of bread with milk tea for breakfast. You know what's great? Strawberry ginger jam tasted great with Conti's chicken empanada too. The ginger part blended well with the chicken fillings.
So what's my opinion on the other flavors? The strawberry mint was interestingly mellow. The mint came from chopped mint herbs so you get a sweet and tart but refreshing flavor instead of something that tastes like strawberry juice mixed in mouthwash. Mango choco and mango vanilla would be for those with a sweet tooth and for those who would want to reminisce a fun night by the beach they have something for you: Pineapple coco rhum.
Do I have to go all the way to Eastwood for this? They have several locations as it appears on their website and they're even available at the airport. You could also order from Green Babes in the City (greenbabesinthecity@gmail.com) or at the website. The Fruit Garden jams have various distributors all over Metro Manila when I saw the locations and they also have in Cebu. I was able to pinpoint a few locations down south for this as well as in Makati.
Okay... now I feel like doing a Joey Tribbiani now attacking a bottle of jam with a spoon. :P

Chicken-All-You Can Burpday with Max's (and new dishes too!)

Max's chicken has been iconic for almost all of us and I have yet to see someone who has not attended a birthday, baptism, wedding, and/or function in Max's. Their fried chicken paired with Jufran banana ketchup is treat to anyone and the meat is tender we have to keep coming back for more. Max's invited a few bloggers last week to celebrate with them as a way of saying "Thank You" for years of patronage. For that night, they resurrected the recently-concluded "Chicken All You Can" only for us. Yay! And who wouldn't resist to the limitless Max's fried Chicken?
I like Max's fried chicken fresh and juicy and piping hot as it arrives at my table.

The perfect companion to bottomless chicken is none other than banana ketchup. Would you believe that I finished 1/4 of the bottle for my first piece?
Yeoh first experienced Chicken-All-You-Can in his hometown in Naga. Rice would be our perfect companion to neutralize and desaturate our chicken. In moderate amounts of course.

After we stuffed ourselves with chicken, this is what's left of the pieces. They're not called sarap to the bones for no reason. Combined, we do not reveal how much Max's chicken we had.

Aside from treating the bloggers to Chicken All You Can, Max's also introduced to us two of their new dishes. First up is binagoongang baboy with manggang hilaw shreds on top. It wasn't too salty and I like the contrast the manggang hilaw gives. In fact, I'm glad there's manggang hilaw in the first place. What's bagoong without that, come on? The thought of manggang hilaw and bagoong makes me want to get the nearest green mango.

Another dish is their chicken caldereta. Caldereta got me smiling from ear-to-ear. I can't cook the dish from scratch but I love it and I would go to anyone who could cook a mean spicy pot of it and thank that person for lifting the sunshine notch a good ten miles. This caldereta is no exception and with Max's chicken, I had to keep lunging for this and Yeoh had to stop me.
Group photo-op, as you could see, all the bloggers are happy, full, and content.

It was a happy birthday for Max's Restaurant and with the banana ketchup bottle almost empty (I prefer soaking my chicken in ketchup and chili), I left with a happy smile too. (Note to self: Vegan for two days) . Thanks Max's for celebrating your birthday with us.

Me and My Big, Fat BoNa Muffin

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's my day off. I have no shoot or work and it's a weekend. Whoopeee! So one Saturday, I was just at BoNa Westgate after a low-salt lunch at Teriyaki Boy at South Supermart. Okay, this wasn't such a dead day since I had to go to St. James the Great to fix some papers as well. On days like these, I just like to relax.. no makeup and no glam. So out comes the big t-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops. Usually, I'm seen all girled out but nothing beats a day when I just don't want to worry or care about how I look and just enjoy a day where I'm not working instead of bawling that I have nothing to do.

I really missed BoNa, practically since I'm at Makati or QC most of the time and the only BoNa branch there is is so out-of-the-way (Westgate). Tin and I like the old one at BF where we meet before heading off to shoot since it's quieter, smaller, and easier to reach if you're not driving. Tin told me they have a new site already in the BF area still. I sure hope so.

After ginger tea, I wanted their freshly-baked pastries. The girl in the counter told me to wait for the chocolate-banana muffins which are currently being baked. Once they were done, I ordered one.They smell good. :) Freshly-baked muffins get me high and crazy.That's a big muffin. :) A big, big muffin. Took me an entire afternoon to eat it because unlike commercially-produced muffins, this one's big, heavy, and full of real ingredients. :D

Early Morning Affordable Breakfast at Rodic's

Saturday, August 7, 2010

I had an early-bird client today at QC and since I was in the QC area anyway, decided to stop by the main campus of my alma matter. While my client and I were talking, she was like "Omigod, you're going to Rodic's!" It's still quite famous apparently for their tapsilog, a popular spot among students and faculty and apparently (in our case) UP alumni.

Rodic's is a tiny snack bar tucked in at the U.P. Shopping Center in Diliman along with the bookstores and photocopy centers. Do not expect a fancy setting like your neighborhood fastfood. It's just plastic monoblock chairs, fans for ventilation, and a little narrow staircase to the second floor. It was a morning crowd for early-bird students who needed to get some photocopies done, parents buying sandwiches for their kids (it was UPCAT time when we went there), and a few joggers.

Yes, dears Rodic's setting is canteen-style, alive and kicking since 1949. Everything's clean, of course, which I like. The simple atmosphere could just make me go there in my field work uniform of shorts, big t-shirt and tsinelas with messy pony bun and glasses.

A tapsilog meal costs only Php70.00. As soon as I placed my order, the food was ready to serve even before we took our seats.

One bandehado-full of real rice, real meat, and fried egg right in front of me. Unlike some tapsilogs where there's more litid than meat, we have soft, sweet, flaky meat just like corned beef. It was really cool mixed with the rice and it even tastes better when you mix in the vinegar and onions. I had wolfed this down in minutes down to the last rice grain and meat bit.

That's my plate after breakfast. Imagine, what I would usually spend for one meal for breakfast I get for two (drinks included, no house water here) at Rodic's. It was a busy morning for Rodic's though, considering there were students too and parents coming in as they waited for their kids taking the UPCAT, but the service was amazingly fast. The meat was sweet and soft, not something I'd have to wrestle with just to get to bite-sized pieces.

Will I go here again? If it were not so darn far I would. But yes, If ever I'm in the QC area again during this hour I'd go for Rodic's tapsilog anytime.