Saturday, December 31, 2016

A blessed 2017 to all!

In just about two hours as I write this post, we will all say goodbye to 2016 and leave behind all the joys and tears that came with it, and welcome 2017. On a personal note, I am doing this with a somewhat heavy heart because of a still unanswered prayer, but at the same time, I'm hoping and trusting God that the coming year will be one of breakthroughs. I know deep in my heart that whatever happens, whatever is in my future, He has gone there before me so I have no reason to fear. Didn't the Lord Jesus say "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world (John 16:33)"?. Praise Him! I will continue to be confident because I know that God is faithful to His promises. I urge everyone to welcome 2017 with a trusting heart, praying ardently until God decides it's the perfect time to grant our requests. 
Happy New Year, friends! 
God bless everyone. 

(Thank you for this photo)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Have a merry, yummy Christmas!

I know you are all in the thick of preparations for Christmas lunch and dinner, busy cooking your family's traditional Yuletide dishes. I could almost smell the lechon, ham and queso de bola, fruit salad, chicken relleno and other special food being prepared in your kitchens! In my family, it's morcon that's the star of the holiday spread because my mom slays it! And she makes morcon only once a year which makes it doubly special. Us siblings really look forward to having our mom's very special dish either 
on our Christmas or New Year's Day table.
But on the days leading to Christmas, I enjoy taking pictures of those cute Yuletide desserts in restaurants. They're not just too lovely to eat, 
they are also yummy! 

Clockwise from left: Christmas cupcake at Amor Bakery; Chocolate cake at Urban Cafe; Chocolate cake at Costa Coffee

Merry Christmas, folks! I hope you're all having a wonderful celebration with your families, partaking of special and sumptuous food. But don't get too excited with eating and opening gifts! Remember Him whose birthday we're celebrating: Jesus! Praise and thank Him today for the gift of eternal life and all the blessings He is showering us with. 
Happy eating!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

St. Marc Cafe: My new chill-out place

I'm not sure if there really is a saint named Marc (spelled this way, I mean, because the apostle Mark's name has "k" as the last letter) but I find it a bit odd to name a restaurant after him. Well, you name a school, a funeral parlor or a church after a saint but I think it's not a usual name to call a cafe. But apparently, somebody in Japan thought it was the best name for his (?) business and thus, opened St. Marc Cafe in 1987. It became such a big hit that it now has over 350 branches in Japan alone. In 2014, St. Marc Cafe was brought to the Philippine shore by the Suyen Group and to date, there are already six branches in the country, all in Metro Manila.
I had been passing by St. Marc Cafe at SM North Edsa and Robinsons Place Manila for too long and drooling over the most beautiful display of desserts I've ever seen (I know they're faux food but they look so real and delicious!), before I was finally able to go inside and eat and drink. I'm happy I finally did -- and three times at that in a single week! On Sunday last week, I was with my son and three days later, with my office group of friends so aptly christened "Kain Club". Then that Saturday, 
I went solo after running an errand.
These were my/our orders on those three occasions:

Sepia Nero, P320.
This pasta may look gross for some people, but it tasted really good! Squid gave it it's beautiful black-as-night color but the flavor from the seafood was just an undertone and there was no unpleasant fishy taste. If there was, the zing from chili reduced it to a miniscule. I sprinkled more parmesan cheese into the pasta and mouthed a forkful of it with a piece of the halved baby tomato and my taste buds went partying! I so loved this Sepia Nero because not only was it delicious, it was also a departure from the usual pasta with cream or tomato-based sauce served in many restaurants. And yes, it comes with a piece of a rather rubbery but tasty garlic toast, and is filling enough for lunch or dinner. I've had this pasta dish twice 
and I won't mind having it a third time.

White Fish Katsu Burger, P245.
Want a healthier burger? This one's a perfect choice if you're cutting down on red meat or avoiding it altogether. And there's a lot of shredded cabbage for a bonus of vitamins and fiber. What's more, each bite into this sandwich is a heavenly treat! The fish katsu is perfect - crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, and flavored just right. There's also mayo 
and cheese for added delight.

Carbonara, P300.
Two of my friends ordered this. I asked if it was good and they both nodded in agreement. The dish was topped by a raw egg and one has to break the yolk and mix it into the pasta while it's hot and not yet "cooked". By the looks of it, I know this is one delicious plate of carbonara.  

Bacon Cheese Croissant, P75.
My boy, who loves croissants, ordered this and it's just the way he loves it -- crusty and flaky. 
I loved it too!

Chicken Teriyaki and Vegetables sandwich, P150.
When I was with my friends at St. Marc, I shared this, the Sepia Nero and dessert with my bestie. Not an outstanding sandwich but we were quite happy with it. I never thought chicken teriyaki would make a nice sandwich filling.

Egg and Ham Sandwich, P150.
This was another friend's order together with a plate of Sepia Nero.

Strawberry Heaven, P250.
I planned to skip dessert but my bestie ordered this and insisted that I share it with her. No regrets! This lived up to its name. It was heavenly indeed! First, we loved that it was just a bit sweet and the little sweetness that it had was countered by the sourness of the fresh (frozen?) strawberries. Also, the crunch of the cereals added much delight to eating every spoonful of this dessert that took our taste buds to Cloud 9!
Elvis, P150.
I wanted to say this was like a banana split in a cone but quickly, I realized it couldn't be because there isn't a trio of ice cream flavors. Anyway, my son enjoyed eating this one 
on a hot Sunday afternoon. 

Iced Cafe Mocha, P150. (M) 
A friend paired this one with carbonara and was satisfied with her meal.

Iced Matcha Latte, P130. (S)
I love matcha and this was no exception. It was refreshing and guilt-free for a diabetic like me because there was just a wee bit of sweetness in it.

(L-R) Cappuccino P120 (S); Matcha Latte P120. (S), Cafe Latte, P120. (S)
The cappuccino was my friend's but she wasn't very happy about it. I liked my cafe latte, though, but loved the Matcha Latte which was just a little saccharine and very creamy. I found out from that it landed at #9 in their list of Top 10 Matcha Lattes. 
To me, it's no surprise. This matcha is really good!

Iced Yuzu Tea, P170. (L)
My friend's drink which she loved and described as citrusy and refreshing.

St. Marc Cafe at the ground floor of SM City North Edsa Main Bldg.
Faux food but still drool-worthy!

Thumbs up for St. Marc Cafe! The food and drinks are yummy and out of the ordinary. The servers are friendly and attentive to our needs. The ambiance is very comfy and relaxing and remarkably quiet compared to other coffee shops, allowing good conversations and even reading, working on a laptop or studying. 
To top it all, there's free and fast wi-fi!
Visit the nearest St. Marc Cafe, folks and enjoy a relaxing meal 
whether you're alone or with company. 
Happy eating!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Merienda All-You-Can at Syudad by Barrio Fiesta

Wilcon City on Visayas Ave. in Quezon City is one of the places I frequent near our office as I often buy food and groceries there. There is a number of restaurants in this mini-mall -- some have the staying power while others have closed and given way to new business. Last month,  a Filipino restaurant opened there -- Syudad by Barrio Fiesta -- which replaced one that offered Japanese cuisine. One thing drew me to this new foodie place: the poster announcing it offers a Merienda All-You-Can 
at a very pocket-friendly price of P159.
 Who wouldn't get excited? 
Happily, the opportunity to try the afternoon buffet came swiftly. A niece who lives in Canada came for a long vacation, so I invited her to Syudad. We checked out the merienda buffet spread. I counted the dishes...14 in all. Hhmm..quite a lot! And everything looked inviting! Well, the food tasted really good and my niece and I both liked the ones that we ate (Not everything. I passed on the camote cue, sapin-sapin, mini-sandwiches, pork giniling and bread to spare myself of extra carbo and sugar). 
When I came back to the office, I immediately told my friends about Syudad and just a day later, our group went there to celebrate the birthday of one of us. Her treat! I found out most of the dishes were also served the other day, 
and there were just a few new ones. 
Here's the spread at Syudad's Merienda-All-You-Can which 
I took pictures of on the two days I was there:

Palabok and Fried quail eggs (more popularly known as "kwek-kwek")
Spaghetti and Ukoy

Pork giniling and loaf bread slices

Puto and Dinuguan
Tokwa't baboy and Goto
(L-R) Lomi; Chicken Sopas; Chicken Sotanghon Soup; Ginataang Bilo-Bilo
And well, these are my favorites:

Dinuguan, Kutsinta, Puto (2 kinds there) and Pork Giniling
The round puto was really good - soft and just a tad sweet. 
It was great with the Dinuguan!
Tokwa't baboy and kwek-kwek
The fried tofu cubes are perfectly done - crunchy on the outside 
but chewy on the inside. I ate them with lots of chili and onion and bathed in vinegar 
and soy sauce. Yummy!
Chicken Sotanghon, Ginataang Bilo-Bilo and Palabok
All tasty especially the ginatan (I had two bowls of this!) and palabok.
Chicken Sopas
Milky and comforting to the tummy. It would be good to eat 
this first if you're famished.

Try Syudad's Merienda All-You-Can, folks! It's really good at a price your wallet will thank you for. So sulit! And because it comes from the same company that owns the famous Barrio Fiesta, you are assured of the good quality of food. Bring your balikbayan family and friends and they'll surely be happy to have a Filipino merienda spread.
Happy eating!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Today's Word: Psalm 97:1-6

Do you marvel at nature - the stars, the skies, the sea - and be in awe of their Maker? I do whenever I'm at the beach or there's a full moon when I go out of the office at night. God's creation reminds me of His might and infinite power and moves me to give Him praise. All of His works also remind me that He reigns, that whatever is happening in my life, God is still the Lord Almighty and He is control. 
Are your circumstances difficult today? I would like to assure you that God is all-powerful and all-knowing and He can change your situation. He is by your side, listening. Pour your heart out to Him, seek His help. The Lord who made the heavens and the earth will turn your circumstances around, as nothing is too difficult for Him to do. 
Blessings for you today.