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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Vanilla Cupcake Bakery: Great food, great place

It was on one weekday afternoon when my good friend in the office decided to give me a "merienda" treat. God bless her. :-) Since we would have to go first to a bank on Quezon Ave. corner Sct. Albano where she had to make a transaction, I suggested we go to Vanilla Cupcake Bakery on Mother Ignacia St. Trusting me wholeheartedly 
when it comes to food, she readily obliged. Haha!
 It was my second time at this very lovely and highly Instagrammable restaurant but the first was at the Trinoma branch. The one on Mother Ignacia is even prettier! Once we stepped inside, my friend and I immediately felt good and happy to be there. We then placed our orders, after which I started clicking away with my camera, forgetting about hunger with the dollhouse-like charm all around us. 


Mismatched chairs in pretty prints


Lovely lamps and chandeliers all around


Spiritual and inspirational messages on the wall


On one side, the wall is a big montage of patterns and designs.



Not too long afterwards, it was time to eat and we marveled at such
 beauties again - our food and my drink - which were all lovely-looking 
in the way they were served.

'A Shrimp-y Situation'
Despite the quirky name, you just have to take this dish seriously. My friend chose this for us to share. I admit that initially, I wasn't very happy over her choice because I disliked the first seafood marinara that I had in another restaurant some three years earlier and haven't forgotten about it. But I had a change of heart when I tasted this one. It was sooo good! The sauce had the perfect balance of sweet-sour-salty tastes and bathed every strand of al dente pasta. Every mouthful would flood the taste buds with a delightful 
burst of flavors. Both my friend and I were blown away by 
how luscious this shrimp pasta was.

'Famous Chicken Sandwich'
Chicken spread, lettuce, egg, -- these filled our delightful sandwich that was served with potato wedges with a creamy-slightly sour dip. It went so well with the pasta and indeed 
filled our happy tummies.
Strawberry Shortcake
A visit to Vanilla Cupcake wouldn't be complete without having one of their heavenly-looking cakes and cupcakes. With the many lovely variants on sight, choosing dessert is the one difficult thing about being at Vanilla Cupcake. Thankfully, our choice was great - striking the perfect balance between sweet and sour. And the sweetness wasn't even too much and quickly overpowered by the sourness of the strawberries. My food buddy and I shared this slice of strawberry cake that gave a happy ending to our afternoon meal.


Cappuccino
My friend had a can of Coke to wash down the food while I, as usual, had coffee. I went for 
this artful cup of deliciously bold cappuccino. 

A frenzy of mouthwatering desserts



Meanwhile, more of the interiors:

           I'm sure this would look good hanging over our dining table at home.


Lookie here! Even the restroom could make anyone love to hang around.

Huge menu outside

What greets you when you arrive

Vanilla Cupcake Bakery on Mother Ignacia St., 
South Triangle, Q.C.

Vanilla Cupcake Bakery proves that good food and great ambiance is a surefire formula for a successful restaurant business. For what better way is there to have a relaxing time with a friend than to eat tasty food in a cozy, lovely place? A lot of foodies like me 
have this concept of one good time!
If any of you, guys, haven't been at Vanilla Cupcake Bakery, hurry and be there to see how delightful it is to the senses. Aside from the Trinoma and Mother Ignacia branches that I've been to, there is also one at UP Town Center, Eastwood Mall, Alabang Town Center, BGC, Glorietta 3 and 4 and also in Subic, Zambales and Baguio City.
Happy eating!

Monday, June 19, 2017

'Out-of-this-world' coffee and more at Artesania MNL Cafe

My daughter and I went to lunch on Maginhawa St. in Quezon City last week. I was happy and excited to be back in one of my favorite places under the sun! It was my first visit this year to this well-known "eat street" (What took me so long? I wonder now.), and this time, we decided to try Artesania MNL Cafe. 
This resto, as the name implies, doubles as an artsy place, where diners who love to doodle and color can whip up a masterpiece while filling their tummies. But while I do love art and would sometimes draw and paint, I wasn't at Artesania 
because I wanted to sort of destress by engaging in these. I wanted 
to see for myself its Instagram-famous "galaxy coffee"! 
But since it was lunchtime, food first before coffee. 
Our orders:

Vegetarian Pizza, P230. 
Pizza at Artesania is thin-crusted, which I love for that crackle under my teeth. It's not greasy too! I chose this veggie pizza for the added health boost.

Carbonara, P290. 
I let my daughter choose our pasta, which was good for sharing, and she picked the white sauce spaghetti. We both loved this one for its creamy-and-rightly-seasoned goodness. There also was a lot of meat in the pasta - not just tiny bits but long strips of pork. This carbonara was as yummy as it was filling. By the way, it's called "Love me tender" on the menu 
and you know what? It isn't a bit hard to do.

Galaxy Cappuccino, tall, P115. 
Who wouldn't fall for such a beauty as my cup of cappuccino? I certainly was mesmerized and wholly captivated by the swirl of colors and those glittery stars! My dilemma was how to finish my coffee without ruining the barista's work of art. Thankfully, with much care, I was able to successfully preserve the beauty till my drink was down to the last sip. Don't think this one's all beauty, though, 'coz it tasted great, too - bold with an undertone 
of sweetness from the milk. 

Peach Mango Iced Tea, P105. 
My daughter's thirst-quencher which she described 
as mildly sweet with a sour hint.
Pop-up menu. How cute is that?

                      Inside and outside Artesania MNL Cafe which is at 
             #140, Maginhawa St., Sikatuna Village, Diliman, Quezon City


So, is Artesania MNL Cafe worth coming to? Yes! I could even actually be back. I've had Galaxy Cappuccino, I'll have Galaxy Latte the next time around. 
See you this part of Maginhawa, folks!
Happy eating!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Buddy's for your Quezon cuisine cravings

I first blogged about Buddy's five years ago, but my interest in it was rekindled by a visit to the branch on Timog Avenue in 2016, more than four years since the last. And since that July day, I've lost count of how many times I've gone back either with friends or family. Buddy's, to state the obvious, has become one of my favorite restaurants, primarily for the good food offered at pocket-friendly prices to beat.
Buddy's specializes in cuisine native to Lucban, Quezon. All roads lead to this town on the 15th of May each year when the colorful Pahiyas Festival is held, drawing huge crowds of local and foreign tourists. Buddy's first opened there in 1985, 
making this restaurant 32 years already!
Today, there are already 14 stores -- 4 in Quezon province and 10 in  Metro Manila -- proof that traditional dishes from Lucban are such a hit for people in the metropolis. Who could resist pancit habhab, hardenera and longganisang Lucban anyway? Certainly not me! These dishes are on top of my list of favorite foods firstly because I'm a native of Quezon and secondly because they taste really good and are indeed crave-worthy. 
Anyway, these have so far been what we've tried and loved at 
Buddy's Pancit Lucban and Longganisang Lucban:

Pancit Lucban, P209. (good for 2-3 persons)
Hands down, this is the winner at Buddy's. As you can see, there's lots of meat and veggies in there. Unlike in some restaurants, they don't hold back on "sahog" at Buddy's, giving diners maximum eating pleasure. Don't forget to pour in some vinegar onto your plate of pancit Lucban, which is also called pancit habhab in Quezon. This noodle dish is traditionally served on a small piece of banana leaf and one eats it "habhab" style, where he or she gets the food with the mouth.

Longsilog Lucban, P130.
My favorite all-day breakfast! These sausages from Lucban are savory, not sweet; a bit fatty but the yumminess is worth all the cholesterol! Don't worry, there's achara (pickled unripe papaya,) to balance everything out.

                                           
      Hardenera, S, P127.
Lucban's own version of meatloaf is the perfect "ulam" (viand) to go with rice. It's savory but with a  saccharine tinge. Every bit is bursting with flavor but the downside is that it could be cloying after a while so there's the tendency for one to not eat much of hardenera.

                                                 Bulalo, P163.
The food to comfort anyone anytime! Buddy's sure knows how to not only satisfy hunger but to also give rest to the weary and well, some happiness to the lonely, through its bulalo with its comforting hot soup and tender chunks of beef. This one's the perfect order when you're coming in tired and famished.


                                           Pork Sisig w/ rice, P163.
My kids' all-time favorite "ulam". And Buddy's makes it really mean! The smokey and just rightly salty flavor is present in every spoonful. Indulge if you aren't worried 
about blood cholesterol. Hahaha!


                                Sizzling Beef Steak with rice, P193.
Our family is used to the home-cooked Filipino "bistek" which has quite a lot of soy sauce that gives the dish a dark color. Buddy's beef steak, however, comes with a gravy-like sauce, so I would say it's a go-between the Pinoy and Western versions. This one's a great ulam too, with the beef thinly sliced and really tender.

                                        Chicken Barbecue, P165.
My youngest kid, a true blue chicken person, went for this and I wasn't a bit surprised. He liked the plump chicken and its sweet--smokey flavor.

                                          Pork Barbecue, 2 pcs, P170.
Pork barbecue is never wrong at mealtime. Up the enjoyment by pairing it with java rice at Buddy's. Polish the taste buds by eliminating the "sawa" 
factor with the achara on the side.

                                              Lumpiang Ubod, P87.
Lumpiang Sariwa is one of my favorite vegetable dishes and I'm glad it's served at Buddy's, which makes it perfectly. The veggie slices still come with a bit of crunch and served with the right amount of sweet-garlicky sauce.


                          Buddy Pizza with Longganisang Lucban and Kesong Puti, S, P145.
It's quite unlikely for a Filipino restaurant to include pizza on it's menu but there's something laudable at Buddy's​ - the diversity. This pizza is still very much Pinoy, however. And very Quezonian too, mind you, as it has longganisang Lucban as well as kesong puti as toppings.

Spaghetti, S, P70.; L, P95.
I got curious with the poster at the Fisher Mall store saying Buddy's spaghetti tops Spot.ph's list of the Top 10 in the metro so I ordered it one time for my daughter and for my youngest son on another visit. It was really good! It's Pinoy style so it's quite sweet. It's also saucy, meaty and packed with flavor, you won't stop eating till the last bit on your plate. I even also liked the crunchy toasted bread served with the spaghetti.

 Buddy Burger, P57.
My daughter had this with spaghetti. Nothing so special about the burger though she admitted the two went well with each other. The things young ones 
love to stuff themselves with!

 Palabok Special, P95.
This pancit variant is my favorite and on top of my perrenial crave list so I eagerly ordered it for merienda on one afternoon visit. Sadly, I was disappointed by it's dryness. I wasn't going to throw in the towel for my favorite pancit, however, and I ordered it again on one of my succeeding visits. I was glad that this time, there was enough sauce to cover all of my palabok. Talk about redemption!

Pork Barbecue Jr. P45.
I ordered this to go with my palabok. It was really tiny! Well, it only 
lived up to its name extension. Hehe...

Halo-Halo, P85.
My friend's sweet refreshment. Whether it's summer or not, Pinoys love halo-halo and Buddy's knows it very well and wouldn't go without​ it on its menu.


 Budin, P65.
Budin is how we call cassava cake in Quezon. At Buddy's, they serve delicious budin -- not too sweet and perfect for dessert and merienda.


Sago at gulaman, P40.
This is my kids' favorite drink here in Buddy's -- sweet and refreshing!

Buddy's at SM City Lucena







Buddy's at Fisher Mall in Quezon City



Buddy's in Lucban, Quezon Province



Buddy's-Timog Avenue



With all the good food that I keep coming back for at Buddy's, I find one thing missing, though -- my elixir -- brewed coffee! I hope they would serve it soon. They have coffee on the menu, yes, but it's 3-in-1, which I'm not a fan of because I don't put sugar in my cup of joe. 
Still, I highly recommend Buddy's Pancit Lucban and Longganisang Lucban to everyone. I suggest you visit soon so as not to miss out on delicious food, especially those that are originally from Quezon. Buddy's is a great family food  destination, as most items 
on the menu are good for sharing.
Here in Metro Manila, they have branches in Kakarong, Kalayaan, and The Link  in Makati City; in Market! Market! and McKinley Hill in BGC, Taguig City; Tycoon Centre in Ortigas Center, Pasig City; and at Fisher Mall, Timog Avenue and Eastwood in  Quezon City. 
In Quezon Province, there's a Buddy's in Lucban, Tayabas and at SM Mall 
and Pacific Mall, both in Lucena City. 
Happy eating!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Tim Hortons: Lovin' this newbie

          There's a newbie in the country's food scene and I'm already lovin' it! It's Tim Hortons - a cafe and bakeshop that was founded in Canada by hockey player Tim Horton in 1964. As of the end of 2016, it already had over 4,600 restaurants in nine countries. 
           Last February, the first Tim Hortons store in the Philippines opened at Uptown Mall in BGC. Shortly after, another one opened at UN Square along UN Avenue in Manila. Soon, branches will also open at Eastwood, One Central in Makati RCBC Tower, Venize Grand Canal, The Link Glorietta, Net Quad BGC, Insular Life -Ayala and Blue Bay.
            Fortunately for me, the UN Avenue store is almost just a stone throw away from our church on Taft Avenue, so I've visited it twice since it opened.
   These were my orders:

Italiano Grilled Bagel, P180.
Loved this one. Lots of meat and veggies in between halved grilled bagel. There's ham in there plus pepperoni, onions, and greens underneath. Everything makes this sandwich super! I just know I have a new favorite that's tasty and filling.

    Crispy Chicken Sandwich Ciabatta, P140.
This would have been good, too, if only the ciabatta bread was fresh that time. I suspected otherwise because the bun wasn't as soft as I expected. The fried chicken breast filling was delicious, however, -- perfectly seasoned and fried to a nice crisp on the outside but tender on the inside. Lettuce and tomato slices bring this 
healthy sandwich to completion.

  Vanilla Dip Donut, P40.
For the love of my diabetic self, I didn't eat this lovely thing but ordered it solely to be photographed. I gave it to my son back at home. Well, I did take one bite just to find out if it was good and it didn't disappoint. It was soft, chewy and delicious, only a bit
smaller than other donuts.

  Potato Wedges, P60.
Fries here at Tims are cut in wedges, making them more handy and delightful to bite and chew on. The potato slices are lightly salted and even herbed I think because I could see teeny weeny bits of greens sprinkled all over them. They tasted more natural than their counterpart in fast food chains, so I could say I like 
Tim Hortons fries better.

 Iced Original Blend Coffee (S), P70.
I've had so many glasses of iced coffee in as many coffee shops and I could honestly say this one at Tims is the best ever! I'm not sure what makes it stand out but I could taste a hint of malt giving it a unique and distinct character. And though this cup of joe is iced, the boldness of coffee is still present, enough to make me happy with my caffeine fix and needed afternoon jolt. My only regret? I should have 
upsized my iced coffee!


Cappuccino, (M), P105.
Love, love, love! Need I say more? Even just the aroma of this cup of joe was pure bliss and comfort. One of the best cups of 
cappuccino I've ever had.


Menu


Inside Tim Hortons


Tim Hortons at UN Square, UN Avenue corner San Marcelino St., Ermita, Manila


I know it's a bit late but welcome to the Philippines, Tim Hortons. My arms (and well, mouth. Hehe...) are wide-open for you and I'm looking forward to many weekend afternoons at your UN Square store. 
Folks, come try the food and coffee here if you haven't and 
enjoy the goodness at prices lower than in most 
well-known coffee places in the metro. There's a variety of savory sandwiches to fill you up and saccharine pastries and donuts to satisfy your​ sweet tooth. To quench your thirst, there's smoothie, lemonade and tea, aside from coffee.
See you at Tim Hortons, guys! 
Happy eating!