Thursday, December 31, 2015

New dawning

In just over two hours as I write this, year 2015 will be part of history. The present chapter of our lives will be closed for good, sealing with it both the joy and pains that would soon become mere memories. How are you ending 2015? With gladness and hope or with sadness or regret? I do hope you will bid 2015 goodbye with hope however heavy your heart feels. Every new year, and in fact, in every new day, God gives us an opportunity to do better than yesterday, 
if we allow Him to lead us into the right way - His way. 
Remember that God loves you and wants you to experience His immense and faithful love in the most profound way. Begin the coming year by seeking Him and experience His transforming power in your life. See for yourself how the Lord can bring you 
promotion, prosperity, peace and happiness.
Have a blessed New Year! 

Sunrise in Tambobong Beach, Dasol, Pangasinan, Dec. 31, 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Today's Word: Isaiah 7:14

Today, we celebrate one of most important occasions in the lives of Christians - the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. For me, Christmas and Resurrection Sunday are the two most important celebrations for these are the greatest proof of God's love to mankind. As I ponder on the birth of Jesus, I can't help but be in awe of the deep and everlasting love of God the Father - that He let His only Son to live on earth as a human being, to suffer and bear our sins so that we may be saved. Indeed, no other love could be greater than that! 
 I hope people would reflect on the message of Christmas and not get lost in the sea of merriment that the occasion brings. Nowadays, Christmas has become highly secularized and commercialized. People have put the emphasis on material things (gifts!) and holding and attending parties rather than on the true spiritual meaning of the celebration. 
May I suggest that we read Bible passages on the birth of Jesus and share this story with our children, who may think that the occasion is only about receiving and unwrapping presents and eating lots of festive, delicious food. As we wind down tonight, let us 
spend time reading God's word and then thank Him for His great blessing - the birth 
here on earth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
Merry Christmas! 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas for the palate

It's that much-awaited time of the year again - Christmas! I bet everyone's now busy preparing the Noche Buena spread. I know what families are having - it's kinda easy 'coz it has become traditional for Filipino families to have lechon, morcon, pancit or spaghetti, ham and queso de bola, fruit salad, leche flan and ube halaya - on their table at Christmas. In our family, we try to prepare something different each year with my grown up kids now doing the planning and cooking. Hehe.. Come New Year's Eve, however, it's my mom who prepares the yearly star of the Media Noche spread - beef morcon! My mom's the best, I promise! 
In some restaurants, "limited edition" Christmas-themed food and drinks are offered to make diners feel the cheer of the Yuletide Season. Regretfully, I only started to scout for them a few days ago due to the busyness of December (you know, gift-shopping, preparing the home, attending Christmas parties plus working on year-end reports in the office!) Some of those Christmas food and drink offers, I've had and taken a shot of. 
Here they are:

Christmas Ube Flan Cupcake at Costa Coffee
I fell in love with this cupcake the moment I set my eyes upon it at Costa Coffee in Robinsons Place Manila. Isn't it captivatingly lovely? Sadly, I was disappointed at its non-distinct ube flavor and dry texture. It failed to awaken my taste buds though it indeed was a pleasure to look at. With that beautiful Christmas tree top, this cupcake is a sight to behold!

Bumbong Smoothie at Ka Tunying's Cafe
This smoothie truly carries the Pinoy stamp as it has Puto Bumbong, which is the traditional kakanin for Filipinos at Christmastime. The elongated, purple, sticky native cake is a favorite snack among those attending the "Simbang Gabi",  which are actually dawn, not evening masses in Catholic churches. Stalls selling puto bumbong as well as bibingka (also a native cake) are a familiar sight in the vicinity of churches in the Philippines starting 
the 16th of December until the 24th.
At Ka Tunying's Cafe in Quezon City, you can drink instead of eat your puto bumbong. And it has the authentic taste of the kakanin, much like you're eating it, only you can slurp it with your straw. This festive drink has "krema" powder, muscovado sugar, coconut and of course, puto bumbong. I loved it as it was deliciously creamy and just mildly sweet. Yummy!

Santa Mocha Cupcake and Snowman Strawberry Cupcake at Amor Bakery

Amor Bakery is that lovely, rustic bakeshop on Espana Blvd. near UST in Manila that offers so many kinds of bread and cake plus coffee and milk tea. For the holidays, they came up with Christmas-themed cupcakes topped with round chocolate drawn with familiar Yuletide characters. I loved the one with mocha icing. The cake, which is actually Japanese cheesecake, is soft, moist and fluffy and the icing is yummy although it's just a bit sweet, thankfully. 

Christmas Sundae at Dairy Queen

It was love at first sight for me for DQ's Christmas Sundae. How lovely -- an edible, cold and sweet Christmas tree! Below the green frost are three layers of treat - strawberry ice cream, crushed Oreo cookies and chocolate ice cream. It's the perfect in-between shopping indulgence!
Santa Claus donut at Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme offers six Christmas doughnuts and the Santa is my favorite -- lovely to have with a cup of brewed coffee to warm up 
on a cold December day.
Salted Caramel Chiller also at Krispy Kreme 
Krispy Kreme also offers this Yuletide Season the Salted Caramel Chiller. 
I ordered this for my daughter and she loved it, 
though it's too sweet for me.

Well, it won't be very long before Noche Buena as I write this post. 
Merry Christmas, folks and happy eating! 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Quezon City Food Festival 2015

The Quezon City government held last Saturday the 2nd QC Food Festival on the whole stretch of Maginhawa St. - today's food haven in northern Metro Manila. It was such a big hit, with the area flocked to by people in groups - some coming with families, some with their barkada. Comparing with last year's edition which was the first ever in Quezon City, I personally think that the 2015 event was more festive because Christmas was in the air (last year's was held in October) and more stalls were lined up on the road, all the way to the end of Maginhawa St. before Elliptical Road. The whole stretch was closed to motorists by the way, so people including us, walked from end-to-end to enjoy the festival. Not only food were on sale but also lots of clothes, bags, shoes 
and various knick-knacks and bric-a-brac. So people who flocked to this foodie haven not only got to enjoy filling their tummies but also doing some Christmas shopping.
These are some of the scenes I caught with my camera:

A sizeable crowd queuing for churros con chocolate at Sancho Churreria's stall 
Yummy churros!
Many restaurants put tables and chairs on the roadsides.

Calesa minus the horse outside Provenciana Restaurant. 

I was a little surprised to see Silantro, a well-known restaurant in Pasig City serving Mexican food, on Maginhawa. It was one of the more crowded stalls during the festival.

Street art.
Just one of the many stalls selling barbecue that day.
Many balloon vendors were there, too.
We spotted some foreigners among the crowd.
Sweet things always draw me close.
Hmm..bagnet paella!.
A number of street performers added fun to the occasion.

This caught my attention, too - AlDub items on sale. Haha!
Tables and chairs inside a 'bahay kubo' in front of Nuezca Cafe.

Live performance by bands was set in the evening
People line up for nitrogen ice cream
Liquid nitrogen being poured into ice cream mix. 

Stall selling 'Christmas food'
Puto bumbong.
Food was practically everywhere that day on Mahinhawa and anywhere you set sight, there's something that makes you want you to go buy and eat. Sadly, we weren't up for food-tripping then as we had just come from my brother-in-law's wedding reception and thus, stuffed. I just didn't want to miss the festival and see how it would go this year. Well, we did eat and drink 
a little, at StrEAT Maginhawa Food Park.

Left: Spiked Cookie frappe from The Lost Bread; Top right: Cucumber Lemonade and Bottom right: Spam egg waffles, both from Egg-it Asian Street Food inside StrEAT.

I could say that the 2015 Quezon City Food Festival, like last year, was a huge success based on the number of both participating businesses and the crowd. And with the festival having been made a yearly event by the local government, us foodies are sure to 
look forward to future editions. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Maginhawa St. Gastronomic Walk # 10: The Lost Bread (Finally found it!)

If you're a foodie who's fond of reading food blogs and surfing the internet for new places to eat and food to try, it's very likely that you've seen it - that ethereal, almost surreal-looking drink (milkshake to be exact) topped with a cloud of white-as-snow cotton candy. Some people have had much fun posing with this highly "Instagrammable" cold treat called The Carnival that I finally came face to face with it when my kids and I went to The Lost Bread recently. 
The Lost Bread is inside StrEAT, which, in case you're not in the know of, is a compound along Maginhawa St. in Diliman, Quezon City, where you can find around 10 stalls selling all kinds of food ranging from Mexican nachos and burritos to Vietnamese spring rolls, Turkish shawarma and burgers. We had just come from Casa Quesadilla a few blocks away and proceeded here stuffed 
with our Mexican favorites. Yup, we were here 
at StrEAT just for the frappes. 
And we ordered:

The Carnival, P120

Once you've finished eating the cotton candy on top of The Carnival, you find another treat to munch on before slurping your milkshake -- caramel popcorn! And because this milky drink has caramel, it's super sweet! 
Well, that's coming form a diabetic who has gotten used 
to the taste of sugarless (not sugar-free because
they use artificial sugar) drinks. Haha!
The Campfire, P120.

This one's got crushed graham crackers and drizzled with chocolate syrup plus a hint of Kahlua - a coffee-flavored, sugar-based liquor. See that small plastic tube protruding on top? That's where the alcohol is - squeeze it to release the Kahlua into the frappe. Meanwhile, a huge roasted marshmallow, the reason behind the name (campfires are the best occasions to roast marshmallows and hotdogs aren't they?), crowns this milkshake. 
Two of my kids ordered this and loved it. 
Doughfee, P99.

Of all that we ordered, this one's my favorite. Well, I didn't order anything for me 'coz sweet drinks are bawal but I tasted all of them. Just a little sip! Hehe..The Doughfee is coffee-based, that's why I loved it, only it really was sweet, as everything else was. I was a little disappointed with it, though 'coz it was supposed to be topped with a donut hole (a Munchkin) but they'd ran out of it, I was told at the counter. Sob..sob..   

 Spiked Cookie, P99.

This one's coffee-based, too but it's also alcohol-spiked and topped with a chocolate chip cookie plus more chocolate chips dotting the whipped cream. Like The Campfire, Spiked Cookie also comes with a mini-plastic tube containing liquor, only this time, it's Bailey's. My daughter loved it but didn't squeeze out the Bailey's. She had this, by the way, on our second visit to StrEAT yesterday, during the Quezon City Food Festival. 
(I'm doing a separate post on it)
Cotton candy being done for The Carnival.
What a beauty!

If you want fun and delicious milkshakes, look no further! Just don't expect to find any bread here at The Lost Bread, though, 'coz it's really been lost. Hahaha! Well, I asked one of the crew about it and she told me they really used to serve French toasts but it's been scrapped from their menu. Take heart, though, 'coz they're coming back in their upcoming restaurant. Yup! You heard it right! The Lost Bread is having another store, this time housed inside a building only a few meters away from StrEAT. The building's still under construction at present, but the crew lady told me they're gonna open it by January. Isn't that great news, The Lost Bread fans? 
Well, see you all there in 2016!