03 May 2014

New Hazelnut Macchiato & Caramel Crunch Cake at Starbucks

I have been in and out of Tagaytay since Holy Week and now, Labor Day weekend. It is scorching hot in other parts of the Philippines this summer but Tagaytay manages to remain breezy in the afternoon and still Christmas-like cold in the evening.

Walking distance from our second home is Starbucks, Robinsons Summit Ridge. They have a nice alfresco area which begs a hot handcrafted beverage like this:

Hazelnut Machiatto (ma-ki-a-to)

The delicious, multi-layered Macchiato begins with milk steamed until it's stretched and smooth to bring out its natural sweetness and is topped by a dense, creamy foam. Then rich espresso is poured over and through the foam, where it mixes with the milk and creates a brown mark on top. Finally, the barista signs their work of art with a sweet drizzle made with a mix of brown sugar, butter, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and a slight hint of salt.

It's not my usual drink (Green tea latte) but I wanted to try something new. Plus, instagram posts about it intrigued me, add the machiatto banners inside Starbucks.

For me, the machiatto is like a dessert and coffee in one. The "crosshatch" caramel on top of the foam is delightful. Especially when it gives you a foamy mustache!

Iced Hazelnut Macchiato

The drink below the foam is still serious in giving you a kick in the afternoon. It is challenging to find a dessert to match this already sweet & tasty beverage.

I also tried the Iced Hazelnut Macchiato and I prefer this over the hot version.

Suggestion to Starbucks: I hope they serve hot Machiatto in glass as seen on their posters. I asked for this from the barista but my machiatto ended in a mug.

This looks so much better! :)

For my Labor Day weekend Starbucks visit in Tagaytay, I discovered their new Salted Caramel Crunch Cake. Every hardworking person deserves a slice of this!

A sweet and crunchy meringue sandwiched between moist vanilla sponge cakes. Finished with salted almond butter cream and topped with a dollop of cream.

I happily asked for a slice to go, but my son ate most of it. All I can remember is it's similar to Sans Rival but so much better. So today, I returned for another serving which I'll happily enjoy after this blog post :)

Until the next long weekend!

16 March 2014

Guide to Wine Pairing at Spiral Sunday Champagne Brunch

The famous Sofitel's Spiral Sunday Brunch is now aptly called Sunday Champagne Brunch. It costs around P3,623 for adults and P1,842 for kids. The welcome upgrade to a "Champagne Brunch" happened early last year following a refurbishment of the Spiral.

In this post, I'm not going to pretend I'm a wine expert. I enjoy wine but have no idea how to pronounce most of their names or what food they go with. I let my tastebuds decide and I'm not sure if this is acceptable to wine elitists. So, I enjoy wine in places I'm comfortable in. Last year, I stayed in a club room with access to Sofitel's Club Millesime where they have wine appreciation and cocktails from 5pm onwards every night. From then on, I knew that Sofitel and wine appreciation in its rawest (and unpretentious) form are synonymous.

To enjoy this wine experience during the Spiral Champagne Brunch, here are my humble tips to get the most out of your P3,623+

1. Select your approach - do you want to focus on food with wine, or wine with food? I suggest try the unbeaten path of pairing wine with food.

2. Choose the atelier or cuisine you want to focus on - Asian, Western, and the Desserts. The order is up to you. You will discover the each cuisine will also go with a different wine group. This leads us to number 3.

3. Look for an in-house sommelier - a sommelier is simply put, a wine steward who will know best about the wines being offered in Spiral and what food they go best with. Do not hesitate to call/summon them to your table. They won't expect you to pronounce Gewürztraminer flawlessly or know what it is. This is why Spiral engages sommeliers to assist diners with pleasure.

You can also look for the French wine experts Tanguy (tang-gee) and Mathieu (matthew, photo above). The friendliest and most passionate about wine I've met in Sofitel. I knew I was in the right place when Mathieu said it's not the ability to pronounce wine and memorize their classifications, but the ability to enjoy the taste and discovering which wine you enjoy best.

4. If you know the kind of wine you like or a variation you want to try, you can also take the route of asking for its availability and for pairing recommendations.

Here's a wine appreciation cheat sheet for Spiral's Sunday Champagne Brunch:

Asian Ateliers

Brand: Craggy Range
Type: Sauvignon Blanc
Origin: New Zealand, 2012
Pairing: wanton soup, white fish, and seafood

Brand: AIX rosé
Type: Ros
Origin; Coteaux d'Aix en Provence 2012
Pairing: garden vegetables. scallops, grilled meat

Brand: Madfish
Type: Shiraz
Origin: Australia, 2009
Pairing: Hokien Mee, grilled pork, any red meat

Western Ateliers

Brand: William Fevre
Type: Chablis
Origin: Burgundy, France, 2011
Pairing: seafood, pesto fusili, fishes, white meat, and foie gras

Brand: Bouchard Père & Fils
Type: Pinot Noir
Origin: France, 2011
Pairing: pizza, red meat, and light flavored cheeses

Brand: Dourthe No. 1
Type: Rouge
Origin: Bordeaux France, 2011
Pairing: any red meat, Spiral burger, full flavored cheeses, and cold cuts

Desert Ateliers

Brand: Hugel & Fils
Type: Gewürztraminer
Origin: France, 2011
Pairing: fruits based dessert, puto bumbong, bibingka

Brand: Henriot
Type: Champagne
Origin: France
Pairing: chocolate desserts

If you ask me, I like the wine that is typically liked by the ladies. These are mostly flat and white wines that don't have strong acidity or that "alcoholic" taste. My experience is that these wines relax and makes me happy the most :D

My Top 3 Picks from Spiral's Wine Selection

1. Champagne Henriot - perfect start to any meal, it is very refreshing and clean tasting.

2. Dragon Fruit wine - surprise! Spiral houses local wines too. If you are lucky, they have this variant (I heard they are thinking about making it a regular) but if not, ask for other local wines just for experience.

3. William Fevre, Chablis - I like to enjoy this after the champagne because it's a little more concentrated yet still light and fresh. Best also for my salmon sashimi and other sushi.

I hope this post offered you some insights that encourages you to comfortably experience wine appreciation at The Spiral in Sofitel Manila. I want to end this by emphasizing it's not about your knowledge of wine but discovering what taste you like and enjoy.

If you found this post helpful, please leave me a comment below or share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter :)

merci beaucoup!

07 August 2013

Why you should get a Starbucks Card

I finally got my Starbucks Card! And as an avid fan of TV shows like Extreme Couponing, I am thrilled that Starbucks is allowing their patrons to earn points, freebies, and rewards from purchases.

Here's what you need to know: The Starbucks Rewards card is free. The minimum load is Php 300 and is consumable. The card does not cost anything at all. In fact, when you register your card online (and you should), you automatically get a FREE Grande handcrafted beverage plus a free slice of cake every year during your birthday!

So save-a-holics and freebie-holics, step one is to get the card and register it at

Starbucks Rewards Card launched in the Philippines

The card was just launched today and as an additional promo, when you load Php 1,500 you get Php 300 instantly. This promo is only valid  until Friday, so load up when you can and earn Php 300.

How to earn points:

1 beverage star for every purchase of any handcrafted beverage
1 whole bean star for every purchase of 250g of whole bean coffee
1 VIA star for every purchase of 12 pack Starbucks VIA Ready Brew

How to redeem rewards:

12 beverage stars = any Grande handcrafted beverage
10 whole bean stars = any 250g whole bean coffee
10 VIA stars = any 12 pack Starbucks VIA  Ready Brew

Don't forget that holiday season is coming up fast and having a Starbucks Card is the best way to get the most out of your visits, plus while collecting stamps for your Starbuck organizer! Makes perfect sense?

When you get your Starbucks Card, I suggest putting it in your wallet right away and bring it everywhere you go. You can't tell when you are visiting 1 of over 210 Starbucks Stores.

Starbucks Rewards Card launched in the Philippines

If you're a mom like me, you're probably guilty of escaping home and going to the nearby Starbucks to read your favorite magazines. Now you can turn your guilt into pleasurable rewards, ha! :D

Remember, your Starbucks Card is as good as cash. But with the online account, you are secured for when you leave your card somewhere or if somebody else takes it. All you have to do is to deactivate the card. You can load up to Php 10,000 and have as many cards as you want - they will all be synced into 1 account.

For more information and to rave about your Starbucks Card, visit

30 July 2013

Ultimate Food show: WOFEX Marketplace at SMX July 31 - August 3

The World Food Expo (WOFEX) is finally happening this week! It's a humongous expo that happens every year, and it only gets bigger this 2013.

Here is what you need to know: The event is happening in two venues. The World Trade Center and SMX Convention Center.Where to go? If you are looking for ingredients to buy, then head to the WOFEX Marketplace at SMX. This is what I intend to do.

However, if you are a serious trader i.e. kitchen equipment then head to the WOFEX trade at WTC.

World Food Expo 2013

Unlike its trade counterpart, the WOFEX Marketplace is open to the public from July 31- August 3. Ticket price is Php 150. This is a serious venue to explore food trends, source ingredients for personal or small business use, and learn from the free on-stage cooking demos.

Important reminder: You cannot bring children to the venue. The crowd is thick and is not condusive for children's comfort. As much as possible, attendees are requested to leave as soon as they are finished with shopping to make room for other visitors. Yes, this is how packed WOFEX can be!

However, it's still a must-visit especially for people like me who are the designated "marketer" and "chef" at home. Apart from food shopping, I am keeping my eyes peeled for new recipes and business ideas. The organizers and partners are very generous in teaching. In fact, here's the line up of free stage shows for the WOFEX Marketplace attendees:

DAY 1 July 31, 2013 (Wednesday)

12nn-1pm No Compromise Cooking with Borges

1pm – 2pm Savor The Long Life Happiness

2pm – 3pm Yummy Dishes Made Easy!

3pm – 4pm Food Creativity by World Class Concepts

4pm – 5pm Gourmet-to-Go, A ScanAsia Cooking Demo

5pm – 6pm Difficult is Easy: Hassle-free Food Preppin’ with Breville

DAY 2 August 1, 2013 (Thursday)

12nn – 1pm Taste the Difference with Divella

1pm - 2pm Menu: The Magic of Cooking featuring Chef Ric Loteria

2pm – 3pm Everyday Food Made Better With Eden

3pm – 4pm Classic Touch by Chef Heny Sison

4pm – 6pm HRCAP-CATFABS Chefs Culinary Showdown

Day 3, August 2, 2013 (Friday)

10am-11am Sarap Super Q

11am – 12nn Cooking with Marca Chef

12nn – 1pm Yummy Dishes Made Easy!

1pm – 2pm Idol sa Kusina

2pm – 3pm Barista Choi Coffee Demo

3pm – 4pm Good Food Deserves Lurpak

5pm – 6pm Chute & Squeeze: Healthy Juicing Made Easier with Breville

Day 4, August 3, 2013 (Saturday)

11am – 12nn Everyday Creations by Chef Nino Logarta

12nn – 1pm Crumbled Goodness that Crisp to the Taste

1pm – 2pm Paella Arroz Caldo Toppings

2pm – 3pm Menu: The Magic of Cooking featuring Chef Ric Loteria

3pm – 4pm McCormick Foodservice Brings Passion to Flavor

4pm – 6pm Quick and Easy Cooking with Oster and KitchenAid

This is a lot of free knowledge not just for small business owners but for homemakers as well. Make sure you come prepared, and make sure you attend this year's ultimate food show! :)

Visit their Facebook page at

14 July 2013

There's Taho in my Starbucks!

My latest Starbucks journey was at Wan Chai in Hong Kong, but nothing really beats home. I feel like our local Starbucks knows me (and you) like the back of their hands. The beverages, food, service, and overall coffee experience is a clear reflection of what we locals want. And what do you know, they've even added taho in their frapuccino!

Starting tomorrow, 16 July - you'll experience this new and innovative twist on your favorite Starbucks drinks. Ask your barista for a tall Dark Mocha White Chocolate Pudding Frappuccino or, if you are a green tea lover like I am - ask for a Green Tea White Chocolate Pudding Frappuccino.

I had the pleasure of trying out these beverages before launch. They had the combined texture of chocolate chips, silky white pudding, and offered a very good mouth feel. Statistics are split, 50-50 between the two flavors.

I lean towards the Green Tea pudding frappe for it's Asian and healthy flavors. Most of all, it's cheaper by Php 10 compared to the Dark Mocha variant ;)

I wonder what Manong Taho would say! But I am guessing he'll give it a thumbs up. Our local vendor already invented chocolate taho that he sells in the afternoon. It's a fact, people can't get enough of it and how lucky are we that ther's a Starbucks version of our local favorite!

P.S. Starbucks doesn't call the secret ingredient taho, but  pudding which is more understandable for most people. 

By the way, don't be fooled at how the pudding appears as only 1/3 of your beverage. Once you slurp, everything mixes up in a perfect harmony, including the foamy whipped cream. For the benefit of serious pudding lovers, I hope our friendly braistas can soon allow us to customize the amount of pudding in our drinks : D

27 May 2013

Remington Hotel – Affordable Enjoyment at Resorts World Manila

Resorts World is one of those places that leave you wishing you could’ve stayed longer. The place is always a good place to play, dine, and relax – with new stores, attractions and events, it’s almost impossible to fit them all in one day (and still look chic and fresh).

One of the things I’ve learned over all of my hotel stays is that to make the most of somewhere, you have to sleep there! You bet, otherwise the travel time and fun is capped by the urging idea of traffic, getting home, etc.


If you think this will cost an arm and leg, there are hotels like Remington who is targeted to the smart, budget-savvy traveler (and party-goer). Here is a genuine review and experience of my stay and how Remington allowed me to enjoy Resorts World to the fullest. I hope this also serves as your itinerary for your next visit.

Remington Hotel is just across Resorts World Manila, it has a McDonald’s chain on the ground floor as well as a convenient 7eleven. Both are plus points for budget conscious travelers like me, and then the eternally hungry folks looking for a quick grub 24/7.

Dining at Resorts World Manila

Before checking-in, we dined at one of our favorite Japanese restaurants – Mr. Kurosawa. I went with my husband and this was the most relaxed dining experience ever. It was a good start to our Resorts World adventure and that is already one item out of our to-do/to-eat list. Don't forget to use your Resorts World Membership card to get a 10% discount on your bill.

After our early lunch, we walked to Remington Hotel. There were plenty of couches in the check-in area which is good if there is a queue. During our stay, all check-in desks were attended by staff and check-in was fast and simple.

We were given a twin bedroom in the 10th floor with a winning view of the NAIA3 airport. I’ve never stayed put so near airplanes before and I hoped this would cure my fear of flying. With this view, you’d think a room like this is super expensive.

Standard Room costs Php 4,200+

Back to the room, the furniture and amenities are pretty straightforward. I appreciate the minimalist approach and how it is compensated by unique floor amenities like a vending machine. What you’ll find inside the room: your twin beds, an expansive counter beside the window where you can work, a wall mounted LCD TV, a small bathroom complete with towels, toiletries, and complimentary bottled water. There’s also a spacious place for your luggage if you’re not traveling light.



There is no electric kettle and refrigerator, but with what we are up to at Resorts World – this is barely our concern and are happy to give these amenities a pass.

I pegged the room as a place to rest in between activities, to freshen up and dress up. Perfect if you have an all-nighter date or gimmick with friends. In our case, we were reliving our single days before our son Ashton :)

So after a brief siesta and watching a movie called The Maiden Heist, we decided to move on our next agenda – TWG Tea Parlor.

Afternoon Tea at TWG, Resorts World


TWG in Resorts World is not as packed as it’s brother in Greenbelt 5. Again, stress-free. How many times can we just walk to TWG from our bed right? Nothing really compares! For the first time, I was able to enjoy a Chic Tea Set in peace and my husband, a to die for Wagyu Burger Meal.

In true Resorts World fashion, we met up with some friends to attend an event that was also happening in Remington Hotel. Nothing really compares when you can drink all the Cabernet Sauvignon you want, I was in wine heaven. Too bad I was too full from TWG to enjoy the food.


Remington Hotel has its own bar called R Bar which is my type of place as it is well stocked with drinks, there’s some sports playing on TV screens, and very comfortable sofas that you can enjoy alone or with your friends. The lighting is always generous but soft. I don’t really like dark drinking places! I actually spent some alone time here after all the walking and talking. Heaven.


All of the time, I enjoyed the feeling of timelessness and Resorts World is a place that just never sleeps! On normal days, I would watch my favorite soap then sleep. But this was no ordinary day, this is a day that nothing compares with! But… I didn’t miss my soap. After the cocktails, I went up to my room to freshen up, help my stomach digest by drinking my wheat grass (really, after all the tea and wine I consumed), put my feet up and watched my soap opera.

Bar 360 at Resorts World Manila

Next thing I knew I was getting ready to go to Bar 360 at the Resorts World casino! If you do this normally and in succession, and if you are in the quarter of your life like me – you would be exhausted. But not with Remington Hotel.

Bar 360 is something I just discovered during my stay with friends. I always pass it by but never knew how fun it is to hang out here and watch the live performances. We enjoyed lots of good food like the Adobo pizza, tuna kinilaw, cheese sticks, and lots of other grub in the menu.


I am surprised at how affordable yet enjoyable the food at Bar 360 is. The mojito is also very good and you can easily order more than 2 glasses.

You’d think the night is over but the cinema was beckoning us to watch Iron Man 3. Diners like Stackers, Pepper Lunch, etc. were all still open. It’s just so fun here in a place that never sleeps! If you have difficulty winding down, head to the Spa at Resorts World like we did:

Our room looked even more attractive when we came back, with the city lights visible and the bed looking so clean and comfortable to sleep in. I slept like a princess who has fulfilled all her duties :)

Breakfast Buffet at Remington Hotel


The morning after, we treated ourselves to a buffet breakfast at the ground floor. R Bar looks so different during the day but the food remains delicious. The choices were reasonable with meat, fish, and pork. I especially enjoyed a Filipino breakfast of Tapa, Fried Rice, and Eggs.

Unlike major hotels, Remington wasn’t as crowded and I even enjoyed making new friends over breakfast. The place is very conducive to have conversations while digesting hearty food.


The service of Remington Hotel is worth more than you pay for. Everything was fast, it was very easy to make requests, and staff are all personable. One thing I would suggest is to revise their uniform hehe, but this is a very minor detail.


If you want some more amenities in your room, you can go for their newly launched premium rooms which has a min bar, a refrigerator, a small dining area, and a microwave upon request.

Overall, I really really enjoyed the Remington Hotel. It’s hard not to equate the hotel with all the activities and fun that can be had at Resorts World. They are all part of the luxury here and Remington Hotel makes it possible for more people to enjoy it.

04 May 2013

Ocean's Harvest Seafood Buffet at The Marriott Cafe

You don't have to be a scuba diver to appreciate underwater creatures, at M Cafe all you need to have is a hearty appetite!


Reminiscent of dampa style dining where you can pick seafood and see it cooked, M Cafe offers the same experience but with fresher and wider selection of seafood that will put your favorite dampa diner to shame. Really.

Sweet chili crabs

The best thing is, it's a seafood buffet! Pick and enjoy all the seafood your heart desires. Be warned that it is challenging to select from a wide array of fish, shrimps, mussels, clams, scallops, and lobster. Lobster? Yes!

Baked scallops are the first order of the day

This is from my experience dining at M Cafe on a weekday. Weekday buffets tend to be drab and not as exciting as weekend offerings, but that's not the case here. Aside from seafood, the seafood buffet is inclusive of M Cafe favorites like the Teppanyaki station, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, and International selections.

Photo 6 Sushi chefs ready to transform diner’s choice into fancy sushi or sashimi rolls

5 ways to make the most out of The Marriott Seafood Buffet

1. Make a reservation - it always pays to phone M Cafe and let their hospitable staff know your arrival time and number of companions. It's a must-practice if you want to feel "expected" and avoid the hassle of waiting for a table.

Nilasing na hipon, you can eat the shell too!

2. Grab friendly company - bring your friends, family, workmates, etc. This dampa style buffet is best enjoyed with a group. You might run out of ideas on the best way to cook your fish or lobster, your friends can suggest recipes like "nilasing na hipon" or "sinigang". All of which the chefs at M Cafe can concoct for your enjoyment.

I am not good at cooking seafood so I let my companions do the ordering. All you have to do is select the seafood, go to the designated stations and asked for it to be cooked your way. You will be given a number you can hang on your table. The food will automatically come to you - no hassle, no problems. Just eat! :)


3. Ask the chefs - M Cafe chefs are all helpful and can suggest their best recipes to treat your seafood with. I love how the cooked the lobsters in special sauce. They even shell it out for you.

Photo 5 Marriott Manila’s kitchen brigade manning the wok-fry station of the buffet

4. Save space for more - you can cross to other stations and treat yourself to Japanese or Chinese food in between fishes and lobsters. It's good to keep your palette interested during this time. I recommend having rice cooked in the Teppanyaki station for a different and more flavorful twist to go with your meal.


5. Dessert, save the best for last - I love M Cafe because they simply do not scrimp when it comes to dessert. M Cafe favorites are gelato, cheesecakes, and fresh fruits that cleans your palette after a heavy meal. I love it!


All that's left for me to wish is a glass of wine to go with the seafood. I settled for sparkling water, San Pellegrino which costs just Php 300+ for one bottle that you can share.

Or you can also order the Drink of the Month and get Mr. Lobster for free! He is so cute :)

The Seafood Buffet at M Cafe is a one of a kind experience for me. It has every bit I love in dampa restaurants minus all the stuff I hate about it - the crowd, bugs, smell, and noise. M Cafe is my go-to place for a relaxed satisfying meal that comes with exemplary service.

The Ocean's Harvest buffet costs Php 2,300 and happens every Friday and Saturday nights only. Visit Marriott Hotel on Facebook for more updates.

Catch you there :)