Saturday, August 5, 2017

Tres Cuisine at SM North Edsa

Last summer, my sister who is a US-based nurse, came to the Philippines for her yearly vacation, and stayed all throughout those two weeks in her friend's condo unit in Grass Residences. Since this condo is located at the back of SM North Edsa, we frequented that mall and ate at various restaurants there. The night before she left for the US, we chose to have a despedida dinner at Tres Cuisine at The Block.
This restaurant that serves Filipino and Spanish cuisine has been in existence for 
about five years but it was our first time there. Hopefully, I could be there a second time soon because I loved most of the dishes that we ordered 
plus the attentive and efficient service.
What we had:

Main Dishes:

Classic Beef Kare-Kare-Kare, P393.
This is the dish Tres Cuisine is mainly known for and it didn't disappoint. The nutty sauce was flavorful and with the right consistency. The beef and tripe slices were tender. But of course, the "bagoong" or shrimp paste completed the overall taste and satisfaction this popular Filipino dish brought. Why is it called Kare-Kare-Kare? Because there are three steps to enjoy it (yup, you have to work a little. Haha!). First, pour the sauce, which is served separately, into the dish, then sprinkle the ground peanuts all over. Lastly, drizzle some chili oil, 
which is of course, optional.

Crispy Pata, ala carte, P623. (only P33 on promo)
    Who could resist ordering this for just P33 if your bill reaches P1,500? Certainly not us! We took advantage of Tres' promo and enjoyed this 
crunchy, savory delight that brought us pure porcine pleasure. 
Sinfully delicious if you're like me who's on maintenance BP meds!

Classic Bagnet, P243.
Didn't get to taste this but the kids said they loved the crackle of the pork skin.

Sinigang na Salmon sa Miso, P363.
 Something to balance the diet that dinnertime. Fish! 
   The hot, sour broth was very comforting.

Pancit Canton, P283.
It was a pleasant surprise to be served fried chicken with your order of pancit.  
How nice! A complete meal in itself.

Calamares, P233.
Another seafood dish to balance our diet. The kids loved this one both 
as pica-pica and "ulam" (viand).

Ensaladang Talong, P153.
I was a little excited for this but was a bit disappointed that it was too mushy and soupy. I would have loved it without the watery texture.


Birthday Mangoes, P153./slice
Loved this one for the rich mango taste without being too saccharine.

Fruit Salad, P93.
Nothing so special about this: canned fruit cocktail mixed with cream 
and accompanied by two wafer sticks.

Leche Flan, P83.
This was really good! Creamy, milky and firm, not soggy or overly soft. Yummy!


Calamansi Juice, P103; Fresh Green Mango Shake, P123. 

Tres Brewed Iced Tea, P93., Fresh Ripe Mango Shake, P123., 

Tres Cuisine offers an impressively extensive menu  and even has a number of variations to some dishes. Their Kare-Kare-Kare, for instance, comes in several varieties like Grilled Sugpo, Crispy Beef, and Crispy Pata. Hhmmm..interesting! I wonder as I write this why we hadn't thought of ordering these unique kare-kare versions. Anyway, servings are for sharing, making Tres an ideal place to bring family and friends. There are even two function rooms for 20 and 40 people - ideal for celebrating occasions. 
Try Tres Cuisine, folks!
Happy eating!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Get your durian fix at Blugre Coffee

Some people don't like the smell of durian. Some also don't like its taste. But in South East Asia, durian is  known as the "King of Fruits", never mind if the stench causes it to be banned from airplanes and hotels. While I don't find durian smell offending, I don't like to eat the fruit raw. Durian candies, cake and yes, coffee(!) are an entirely different story, though, because I absolutely love them! 
That's why when I learned about Blugre Coffee from a friend who is based in Davao, who also told me that this cafe was soon coming to Manila, I got so excited! Blugre, according to my friend, is a popular cafe in Davao that serves coffee, tea and desserts containing durian. The info about a Manila branch was relayed to me sometime in December 2016 and Blugre Coffee indeed opened a branch near Malacanang earlier this year, 2017. Since then, I've visited three times -- twice alone, once with my daughter.  What do I like there? Well, the food and drinks as well as the friendly service and ambiance: wooden tables, cozy couches, no loud music. 
These were what I've (and we've) had so far:

Bangus meal, P150
On my first visit last February, there wasn't any rice meal available yet and I was happy to know on my second visit that it's already on the menu. This bangus meal was what I had as I didn't want meat this particular day. Everything on my plate was good - the garlic rice, fluffy egg, fresh veggies and the perfectly fried but non-greasy milkfish. With all washed down by a perfect cup of latte, it was one 
very satisfying meal that I had.

Carbonara, P185.
My daughter had this, her dinner, as we came one evening after church service. While she loved it for being creamy and delicious, she wasn't very happy over the serving size.  
She wished there was a lot more. Hehe...

Chicken Pesto Panini, P175.
This, in turn, was my dinner then. I loved that the bread was fresh and the chicken pesto filling was really good -- packed with the right amount of flavors from basil, poultry and spices. And then, there were potato chips on the side, most of them going to the daughter. Tee-hee.

Durian Bar, P85.
This small piece of dulcet heaven bawled me over! It was really good! The sweet flavor from durian was present in every bite and morsel - not subtle nor overpowering, just perfectly right. Even the after taste was very pleasant, leaving only good memories after the last bite. Its texture was a toss between pudding and cheesecake - not too soft but a bit firm and a little rough on the tongue. For me this was such an unforgettable piece of dessert - sinful but not causing any regret!

Durian Coffeecinno, P160.
This was my ultimate reason for coming to Blugre because I so love durian coffee. As this is what Blugre is known for, I had high expectations -- which were sadly, not met. There was a lack in durian taste and that was a let down. I could taste chocolate, which I don't really need in my durian coffee. There also was a bitter after taste that lingered 
for some time.

Dutertea, Tall, P160.
This durian tea floored me, though, and redeemed Blugre for me. Strong durian taste 
and just a little sweetness. Loved it!
                                          Cafe Latte, Tall, P110.
I so loved this cup of joe that might as well be the best latte of my life! The coffee packed a lot of punch! It was full-bodied with a clean finish. Unforgettable!

Strawberry and Cream, Tall, P140.
My daughter's drink, which she said was sweet and good and refreshing.

Inside Blugre Coffee
                There's a function room for group gatherings and meetings.

   Blugre Coffee at Malacanang Compound, Jose Laurel St., San Miguel, Manila.

Head over to Blugre Coffee, guys and try their unique offers especially the durian-infused drinks and desserts. Don't take my word for the Durian Coffeecinno - people have different tastes and opinions, anyway. Here in Metro Manila, there are two other stores aside from the one in Malacanang Compound -- at BGC and Club Manila East. Oops, the latter isn't Metro Manila anymore but at least it's closer than Mindanao where there's more Blugre Coffee branches. 
Happy eating!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Today's Word: Romans 8:28

Saddled in problems and feeling like there's no end to your sufferings? Many people are in similar situation, even Christians at some point in their lives. Before I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I felt exactly the same way as I was encountering troubles both in my career and personal life. But glory be to God, all changed when I was born again and started hearing and reading His Word. No, not all my problems were solved at once, but the Word filled me with hope and gave me wisdom and guidance on what to do to eventually be able to have those problems resolved. 
One of those first Bible verses that I learned as a baby Christian was Romans 8:28 (And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose) and it instantly became one of my favorites. I remember watching the 700 Club Asia on TV and Pastor Peter Kairuz sharing about this beautiful verse. He said that for a person who loves and worships the Lord, all things - both the good and the bad circumstances in his life - will all end up for his benefit. What words of comfort! I cried with tears of joy as this verse touched my heart and gave me hope that all troubles I was then going through would not compare with the happiness they would result in in God's perfect timing. 
Be encouraged and blessed. 

(Thank you, Digital Bible for this photo)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Cafe Adriatico Express: Goodness that lasts

Last May when I was at SM North Edsa with my two older sisters, we decided to have merienda (snacks) at Cafe Adriatico Express located at The Block.
Cafe Adriatico is an established restaurant in Malate, Manila, where it opened in 1979. It is now called Cafe Adriatico Premiere, maybe to differentiate it from the mall branch, which, I guess, offers a shorter menu. This is just one of a number of similar establishments under the LJC Group of famed restaurateur Larry J. Cruz. The other restaurants owned by the group are Bistro Remedios, Cafe Havana and the more contemporary Fely J's Kitchen, Abe and Lorenzo's Way. Cafe Adriatico 
specializes in Spanish, Filipino, and Italian dishes.
Anyway, when we were at Cafe Adriatico Express, both of my sisters went for palabok while I had the black pasta. We also had pandesal with kesong puti, 
and brewed coffee to wash everything down.

Pancit Palabok, P255.
This, I read somewhere (in the menu, I guess?), was one of the bestsellers at Cafe Adriatico and my sisters really loved it. 

Black Squid Pasta, Regular, P275.
My choice turned out to be wise. This dish, despite not getting a high grade in the looks department, tasted really good! I love squid to start with, and I commend the idea of making it a main ingredient for a pasta dish instead of simply turning it into viand. The flavor of squid is strong without the fishy stench or taste, and adding parmesan cheese 
brought out the best out of this dish.

Kesong Puti with Pandesal, P165
We had two orders of this, which were originally served with hot chocolate. We asked that the drinks be changed into coffee, though. The pandesal was big, fresh and tasty. But I wished the slice of kesong puti was bigger because there wasn't enough to fill up the two pieces of bread. 

Brewed Coffee
I was happy that Cafe Adriatico serves really good coffee. It was aromatic and bold. Also, it's served with milk, which I prefer over non-dairy creamer.

I'd always held an image of Cafe Adriatico as a restaurant for the old rich of Manila. I'm glad the management had decided to open a branch in one of the most patronized malls in the metropolis to reach out to more people of varying social standings. 
Despite the idea of "reaching out", Cafe Adriatico, to my humble opinion, has done well maintaining the high quality of its food. I know because I had dined at the flagship restaurant in Malate many years ago with two of my "bestest" of friends. I don't remember what exactly our orders were but I do recall loving the food and having a great time.

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.

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!