Crepusculo at Antonio’s Tagaytay

 

 

Antonios

 

It has been a while since Patrick and I went out on a Friday night, let a lone a Friday night in Tagaytay. But if there is one person who can drag me all the way there, it would be Tonyboy Escalante, chef and owner of Antonio’s. Tonyboy and his wife Agnes have been our friends since they were just starting to plan Antonio’s. We met through artist Popo San Pascual and Tita Sonya Garcia of Sonya’s Garden many years ago, when Patrick and I were just planning our wedding. Popo did the flowers in my wedding and his mom was my caterer. Tonyboy would tell me stories about his plans for his place. Of course since then Tita Sonya and Tonyboy have grown both their little cottages into restaurant empires and respected brands.

Last Friday May 27th, Tonyboy celebrated his birthday at Antonio’s Tagaytay in collaboration with Hennessy and Porsche. In attendance were his close friends from his hometown in Bacolod, Manila, and Tagaytay. It was like a reunion of sorts for us, the Tagaytay-Alfonso people. Yes, one day I will live there too. I hope.

Happy birthday, Chef Tonyboy! We are so proud of all you have achieved. Thank you for your friendship and generous spirit. More blessings to you and Agnes!

 

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Raclette station

 

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Raclette with french fries, marbled potato, gerkins, cocktail onions, chili flakes and paprika

 

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A staple at any Antonio’s event – Steak Tartare

 

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Beef Skewers

 

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Oyster station

 

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Prawn skewers spiced with lemongrass

 

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Burger Sandwiches with bbq sauce and caramelized onions

 

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Arugula lemon drop

 

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Manolet Escudero, Agnes Escalante, Baba Escudero, and Paul Henares

 

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Isabel Lozano, Eric Diaz, Tonyboy, Jinggoy Buensuceso, Wataru Sakuma, and friends.

 

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Popo San Pascual, Tonyboy, Tita Sonya

 

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Louie Ysmael, Claudine Trillo, Ian Dy

 

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Patrick and I with Tita Sonya

 

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Steve Mago and Pia Guanio

 

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Edu Manzano, me, Tonyboy, Maui Obrero, Timmy Obrero, Jun Obrero

 

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With Franco Tommasi of Villa Girardi wines

 

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Agnes Hechanova Escalante and Mitchie Yulo

 

For more info on Antonio’s visit www.antoniosrestaurant.ph

 

 

Secours Populaire Francais Thanksgiving Dinner

 

 

french dinner

 

Last December 13th, I hosted a dinner for the dignitaries of Secours Populaire Français. I didn’t host like an emcee, I played “hostess” — like I organised the dinner party. Danny Rayos del Sol (the real host), president of  Mirasol Outreach Foundation Inc. (Mofi) had asked me to put together a thanksgiving dinner celebration fit for a First Lady and a top figure in the French political scene. It was the Holiday season. I was doing the APEC Chair auction. Traffic was insane. Most restaurants were already booked. And then I remembered the most perfect place to have this special dinner would be at the Maria Luisa’s Garden Room at the Makati Garden Club. I called the restaurant’s Ms Susan Fernandez and right away she prepared a wonderful plan for this very special dinner.

You’ve seen in my 2015 retrospective, that Sophia’s trip to France was rather unforgettable. She participated in Secours Populaire Français’ summer camp for French and foreign children in Gerardmer, France. Sophia and three other children were chosen by Mirasol Outreach Foundation to represent the Philippines. You may read about it here.

In December, the leaders of Secours Populaire Français came to the the Philippines to inaugurate the newly rebuilt school they had generously funded in Busuanga, Palawan after Typhoon Haiyan damaged it. Sophia and I could not attend the Palawan events due to her school midterms and my UNICEF obligations. So I focused on putting this fabulous dinner together for our French guests and local foundation partners.

Here’s the story, in pictures.

 

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From Busuanga, the team flew back to Manila. We met at the Peninsula Manila. From L-R, Mofi’s Danny Rayos del Sol and Amy Loste, SPF president Julien Laupretre, DepEd secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, Valerie Trierweiler, Riza Muyot, SPF national secretary Ismail Hassouneh, me, and Chari Trinidad.

 

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I had invited Inquirer Lifestyle to meet and have an interview with France’s former First Lady Valerie Trierweiler.

 

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My girl at 12, talking about her experience as a delegate to Copain du Monde. She wore a Just G lace top, Uniqlo skirt and she borrowed my Joyce Oreña necklace. She also added a tiny bejewelled headband. (She styled herself.)

 

In Busuanga, Palawan, the SPF dignitaries and Mofi representatives witnessed the inauguration of two newly constructed buildings for the Concepcion National High School (CNHS) and a 200-sqm Busuanga Multi Purpose Hall. Because of the new facilities — eight classrooms, a 120-square-meter fully equipped library, and fully functioning toilets and water supply – enrolment has tripled in the last year.

 

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In Palawan, SPF president Julien Laupretre, SPF Moselle president Marie Francoise Thull, SPF national secretary Ismail Hassouneh, Valerie Trierweiler, and SPF Fed du Lyon president Sebastian Thollot.

 

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Julien Laupretre and Mofi’s Danny Rayos del Sol with former Senator Ping Lacson, who was heading the government’s efforts for rehabilitation of Haiyan/Yolanda affected areas.

 

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Julien Laupretre handing out goods to the members of the Busuanga Weavers Cooperative Association.

 

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Students of Conception National High School.

 

So, you see, we really had a lot to be thankful for. SPF is a French non-profit organization set up in 1945. Its aim is to fight against poverty and exclusion in France and throughout the world. It brings together people of all views, circumstances and origins who wish to live in solidarity. SPF has been responding to emergencies around the world. When Sophia was at Copain du Monde in Gerardmer, she was in camp with children from Nepal, Haiti, Japan, Israel and France. SPF’s contribution to the Philippines came immediately after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged much of our country.

And it was appropriate to end 2015 with this beautiful celebration at Makati Garden Club to honour our French donors and partners.

 

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The garden was beautiful that evening.

 

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When I entered Maria Luisa’s Garden Room, my heart skipped a beat.

 

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The set up was just so lovely.

 

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Three out of the four moms of Mofi — Mafe Jayme, Amy Loste and me. Who knew arranging the seating arrangements would be so complicated.

 

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Our sommelier for the evening, Edouard Vauthier provided the perfect pairing of wines from AWC.

 

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Secours Populaire Francais Makati Garden Club
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Secours Populaire Francais Makati Garden Club

 

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Patrick with SPF’s Julien, Ismail, Marie Françoise and Sebastien.

 

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And in our table, with Valerie Trierweiler

 

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I did the rounds…

 

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And checked on the kids’ table.

 

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Danny with Copain du Monde kids. There were speeches, songs, and presentation of gifts.

 

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Our girls sang a few pop songs, a cappella.

 

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Our dear Marie Francoise. She’s the president of SPF Moselle, the region where our kids went to camp. We spent a day with her in Paris.

 

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Our boys from the Copain du Monde Philippine delegation Nico Yambao and Joaquin Jayme.

 

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Valerie is so sweet to Sophia.

 

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Flashback to August of 2015, Valerie randomly picked Sophia and danced with her to the tune of Rihanna’s Diamonds but in French. After the dance, she took off her necklace and placed it around Sophia’s neck.

 

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Our heartfelt gratitude to Maria Luisa’s Sandra Fernandez and sommelier Edouard. And to SPF, we are very grateful for the immediate assistance and generous contribution given to the communities in Busuanga. Maraming salamat.

 

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With the real hostess-with-the-mostess Sandra Fernandez.

 

 

 

 

Food intolerance test

 

 

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A few months ago, I took the Food Intolerance Test at Hi-Precision Diagnostics. I was curious to find out where I stood in the food scale not because I was feeling sick or I had symptoms, but because I wanted to have the information so that I could make informed choices.

Food intolerance is your body’s abnormal reaction to certain foods which can manifest itself in a number of ways. Some people will have one symptom such as severe headache whilst others will be unfortunate to experience irritable bowel syndrome, migraine and skin or respiratory conditions. Unlike the immediate reactive sysmptoms of food allergy, food intolerance symptoms often appear hours or even days later.

Repeated and continuous digestion of these foods may cause inflammatory reactions in the intestines causing incomplete absorption of nutrients your body needs.

 

My kind of afternoon. Drawing temporary tattoos and tasting new menu of @pinorestobar #pinojupiter. That quinoa salad with berries is a winner!
I don’t have a problem eating “healthy food.” I always try to have a balanced meal. But after I turned 40 I realized that my body reacts a certain way to certain food. There are things that I totally had to stop eating, like shell fish and farmed fish, because my body just outright rejects them. I wanted to know what are the other food items I should be staying away from.

 

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The test was simple. I had my blood extraction done at home. This is an optional service that Hi-Precision Diagnostics provides at an additional cost. I didn’t need to fast.

 

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I had the chance to visit Hi-Precision Diagnostics main laboratory in Quezon City. There were three floors of diagnostic labs. This is where the blood gets studied.

 

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The Food Intolerance Test measures immunoglobulin antibody count for specific foods; the numbers are actual antibody counts with 30 or more labelled in red as highly reactive and between 23 and 29 inclusive as milady reactive marked in yellow. Based on my results, I should avoid cow’s milk, cola nut, egg white, pea, wheat, casein, brewer’s yeast…. I can’t go on. It’s still making me sad.

 

After a few weeks, I got my results. Then I met with the nutritionist of Hi-Precision. She explained what exactly happened. And what those numbers meant. She also provided me with a complete report with suggested options for my new gluten-free life.

I’m telling you now that I most probably won’t be able to completely eliminate all these red and yellow warning items — especially all the wheat, potatoes, oats, barley. I feel like there is nothing left except quinoa. Oh my. So it’s going to be a struggle. I don’t want to be a sad, deprived person. I love bread too much. I may not be able to go totally gluten-free. But I will definitely be more mindful of these types of food. I will be taking baby steps. And hopefully one day, I can quit cold turkey.

I will try, though, to go dairy-free (except for the occasional good cheese). I’m saying goodbye to lattes and cappuccinos. I’ve started to use non-dairy creamer again (aghast!).

And like with anything in life… it’s all okay in moderation.

 

The Food Intolerance Test at Hi-Precision Diagnostics is on a special discounted price starting today, February 1 to March 31, 2016.

For more information, visit www.hi-precision.com.ph or call 741-7777 or 0922-8906664

 

 

Italian Goes Local

 

 

When I decided to move to the Philippines, I had eight Canadian friends visit me during my couple of years. That was eight different times I had to show off the Philippines. It was easy. I was an avid scuba diver then. So we went to different dive sites and islands. In my first visit back to the Philippines, I extended what was supposed to be a three month trip to eight months. I fell in love with the country. I travelled all over from Zamboanga, Davao, Cebu, Palawan, Boracay all the way up to Luzon. Though I haven’t seen Batanes yet, I felt I had seen more of the Philippines than an average Manila girl did.

I’ve been here long enough to consider myself a real local. So now when we get foreign visitors, sometimes my husband and I find ourselves at a loss for places to show them. We have been so jaded. Manila is not exactly the easiest city to love. So when I saw photos of my friend’s visiting-Italian-friend (Antonio) enjoying the things we’ve already forgotten, I got nostalgic about why I moved to Manila in the first place. It’s about the people and the many layers of things to do and see. It’s about local food and our culture of hanging out with food and drinks. It’s our very animated spirit. These are the things that make us endearing to visitors. We make up for whatever we lack in services and architecture.

Antonio was originally from Italy, but he’s been working in Bangkok for a few years. And according to him, he’s “been working but not quite living.” He says in the years he’s been in Bangkok, he’s barely experienced anything. So he decided to take off a few weeks to discover and eat his way through Asia — the sort of thing we did after university, except Antonio already has a job and he’s not your typical backpacker.

Antonio’s travels (which, coincidentally is the name of his social media accounts) focuses around Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta. I’m sharing with you some of the highlights of his Manila trip where he met new friends. These like-minded foodie people showed Antonio some of Manila’s best restaurants to taste and try real local food.

 

A jeepney ride

Every visitor must see and ride a Filipino jeepney. It is quite a cultural experience.

 

The colourful streets of Metro Manila.

The colourful streets of Metro Manila.

 

Like Antonio, I found it both amusing and disturbing to see people's laundry hanging out windows.

Laundry-drying, more fun in the Philippines.

 

In the Philippines, night food markets do really well. It's just a lot more comfortable when the sun is down.

Night food markets do really well here because of our tropical climate. It’s just a lot more comfortable when the sun is down.

 

Mercato, or any food bazaar or market, is alive with many choices. It is here where new food concepts are usually tested.

Mercato, or any food bazaar or market, is alive with many choices. It is here where new food concepts are usually tested.

 

The new Pinoy lechon - crispy pork belly roll at Mercato.

The new Pinoy lechon – crispy pork belly roll at Mercato.

 

Buko juice.

Buko juice.

 

This is a fascinating and truly Filipino activity - Arnis! Antonio tried arnis in Luneta.

This is a fascinating and truly Filipino activity – Arnis! Antonio tried arnis in Luneta.

 

Can't get any more Pinoy than chicken adobo. Here, Goto Monster creates their own dry version.

Can’t get any more Pinoy than chicken adobo. Here, Goto Monster creates their own dry version.

 

Antonio at Goto Monster

Antonio at Goto Monster

 

Antonio with his new friends in Manila at White Moon Bar, Manila Bay.

Antonio with his new friends in Manila at White Moon Bar, Manila Bay.

 

Our famous Manila Bay sunset.

I am a sunset snob because of our famous Manila Bay sunset.

 

The biggest bone I've ever seen in soup. The half-Ilonggo in me is salivating. I love Kansi.

The biggest bone I’ve ever seen in soup. The half-Ilonggo in me is salivating. I love Kansi.

 

Now I know where to go when I crave for Kansi.

Now I know where to go when I crave for Kansi.

 

It's always good to find a pocket of stillness in the chaotic city of Metro Manila.

It’s always good to find a pocket of stillness in the chaotic city of Metro Manila.

 

Follow Antonio Travels in Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Check out Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta through the eyes of Antonio. #italiangoeslocal

 

 

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

 

 

I’ve been meaning to share this Lemon Rosemary Chicken recipe for a while but never got around to organizing myself to take photos while prepping. I swear, I do not know how recipe bloggers do it – cook and take pictures at the same time.

This is one of the easiest dishes you can ever make. Prep time is like 5 minutes, as long as your chicken is thawed. And cooking time is less than an hour. My kids love this. It is a family favourite.

I found the recipe online when I was googling anything about rosemary. I recently succeeded in growing rosemary at home. The original recipe I found was here. But I tweaked it a bit.

My recipe does not have precise measurements (sorry). Here are the ingredients that you will need.

1 kilogram chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
2 to 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
juice of 1 whole lemon
2 to 4 tablespoons of Bertolli extra virgin olive oil
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Optional – vegetables like carrots or potatoes

 

 

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Rosemary

 

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Garlic

 

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Lemon, rosemary and Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

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Marinade

 

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 180C

2. Season chicken thighs with salt. Arrange on a roasting dish.

3, Mix all the ingredients of the marinade together – olive oil, juice of one lemon, chopped rosemary sprigs, chopped garlic.

4. Pour all marinade on the chicken. Make sure all surfaces of the chicken pieces are wet with marinade, though they don’t have to be soaked or submerged in the olive oil.

5. Put chicken and mixture in the preheated oven. Leave for at least 40 minutes. Check if the insides are cooked. Or if you prefer to brown the chicken skin, leave on for an extra 8-10 minutes.

Optional:
Marinate the chicken for one hour or overnight in the refrigerator
Brown the chicken in a cast iron skillet before putting it in the oven

 

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It is an option to brown the chicken with marinade and salt/pepper in a cast iron frying pan before baking. This gives the skin more colour and flavour.

 

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I transferred the browned chicken and marinade mixture into a deeper baking dish and added some potatoes and carrots.

 

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And here’s what it looked like after 45 minutes.

 

This dish is Lily approved. Promise, next recipe will be more precise.