Alicia Sy’s Eat Out Now

 

 

Around this time last year, I got a call from Alicia Sy inviting me to brunch. I’d met Alicia a few years ago through my good friend Katherine. Most of our interactions had been about mommy stuff and occasional dinner celebrations. I had always noticed her attention to detail and fine taste. Really fine taste. At brunch, she told me of her decision to get into writing and the publishing industry full time. That was less than 12 months ago.

Now she is Town & Country Philippines’ Lifestyle Editor and a regular contributor at Elle Decoration Philippines, Yummy and Women’s Health. She just launched  her own blog at Spot.ph and she just released her first restaurant guide book – Eat Out Now. Whoa! All that! And I’m glad we were able to find time to have brunch with Katherine yesterday before picking up our daughters from school.

 

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Here’s Alicia preparing salad for our dinner, with friends Sasa and Katherine. Contrary to her column and book, we were actually Eating In.

 

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Alicia’s kitchen is the happiest place on earth. I want her to adopt me.

 

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Like I said, attention to detail. This salad – everything was perfect.

 

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Eat Out Now! 115 Manila Restaurants We Love

 

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The guide book contains essays from other food experts – JJ Yulo, Joel Binamara, Erwan Heussaf, Cyrene de la Rosa, Sanjeeb Gopaldas and Noel Ermitano.

 

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Eat Out Now! is a great guide to the best places to dine in Manila. It is organized well – categories, price points, location – and includes hole-in-the-wall eateries as well as chichi fancy restaurants.

 

Eat Out Now! 115 Manila Restaurants We Love, available at newsstands and bookstores for P250 through Summit Media.

 

 

Organic & holistic food

 

 

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This was lunch at home a couple of weeks ago. Had some left over New York steak from The Farm Organics from the night before. So this was already reheated. And guess what? The beef was still soooo tender! This meal was a hodge podge but it all tasted so good together. The vegetables are all from Hindy Tantoco’s farm in Sta Elena. Our girl cooked it the way my mom taught her “laswa” and it was perfect – alugbati, okra, kangkong, eggplant, shaved green papayas. The pickled mangoes were made by our tita/neighbour. I loved pickled mangoes. On the side, pink peppercorns and coarse sea salt from General Santos.

 

Hindy sent me a thank you package from Holy Carabao holistic farms. Lovely!
All these goodies are from Holy Carabao Holistic Farms. If you went to Balik Bukid, you’d know how beautiful and happy this farm is. I feel healthy just looking at the photo of fresh produce. Haha.

 

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The Farm Organics sent this New York steak over to my house when I won their impromptu contest on Facebook. Their question was – guess which billionaire eats The Farm Organics beef? And I got it right. Wild guess. I’m a huge fan of The Farm Organics beef – it makes a huge difference in taste (and in my psyche) that we’re eating organic grass-fed beef from local farms.  For info on where to buy The Farm Organics, like their Facebook Page. They also do deliveries.

 

On days when we can’t access these premium products, we shop in the local markets near our house. As much as possible we buy local vegetables. Sometimes they are more expensive and much smaller (like onions, pechay, garlic, tomatoes) but I still prefer local than imported. At least they’re not genetically modified food stuff. And markets have fresher produce than groceries. I’m still on the lookout for healthier chicken. I’m really concerned about the hormones issue. But then again we eat bacon like there’s no tomorrow.

How are you guys managing to keep your choices healthier? Share tips please…

 

 

 

The Farm Organics

 

 

At a recent dinner party my friends and I discussed food and produce. My friend only eats and cooks free-range chicken. I should really do this because I’ve read too much about how commercially grown chicken has too much hormones and anti-biotics.

Then I asked my other friend about fish. He has a fish farm. I asked why all of a sudden, there’s too much Dory fillet in the frozen section of the supermarket. I don’t even know what dory fish looks like (Pangasius) nor where they come from. And why are they relatively cheap. So then he went on and told me about the possible risks of Dory and of farmed Tilapia. He says pick red tilapia over the regular black ones. So now I’m conscious and more paranoid.

I’m not here to discredit the aquaculture and poultry industries. For the record, I eat meat, poultry and fish. I try to make healthy choices for me and my family but we are not totally organic-eaters either. I buy local vegetables – onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, pechay etc. even if imported ones are bigger an cheaper. I wish all grocery stores identified where their produce comes from. Isn’t that mandatory? We avoid processed food (no bright red hotdogs and no instant noodles) except for the occasional corned beef and SPAM (bad!) and choose slow food 94% of the time (yes, 6% of the time I buy fried chicken in fast food restaurants). No one’s vegetarian here. I’d say we’re a normal average family in terms of food choices.

While I have yet to discover a healthy choice of chicken and fish, I’m glad I found organic beef. My friends Tom and Tanya Favis sent us some steaks to try at home. And since trying it, we are now converts. The Farm Organics is available at The Landmark Supermarket Makati and Trinoma, and Rustan’s Makati, Forbes Park San Antonio, Edsa Shangri-la, Shopwise Libis and Echomarket.

 

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Quite the unusual gift from Tom and Tanya Favis. They wanted me to try organic beef from their farm.

 

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It was tender and perfect!

 

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This is their Rib-eye. They also have New York and Tenderloin. Plus the regular cuts like cubes, mechado, nilaga, sukiyaki, ground beef and more.

 

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The Farm Organics also has a gourmet line that includes ready-to-eat roast beef.

 

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Here’s what it looks like when you take home the Ready-To-Eat Organic Roast Beef with Mushroom Gravy. This is available at Landmark Makati, Landmark Trinoma and The Farm BF Homes Paranaque. For delivery, call 403-9130.

 

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And here’s the local pasture where the cows are raised with no antibiotics and no added growth hormones. The Farm Organics beef “contains more Vitamin E and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which supports our immune system and helps fight cancer. Both the Omega-3 fats and CLA in grass-fed beef actually reduce the risk of heart disease.”

 

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For more information like The Farm Organics on Facebook.

 

 

Carlo

 

 

I love it when my friend Carlo Tadiar, editor in chief of Metro Home magazine, invites us to dinner at his house. He always hosts the most interesting dinner parties with the most engaging guests. Unlike most hosts (myself included), Carlo doesn’t have his food catered. He cooks everything himself. I always leave with a beautiful impression of a life of good taste and great style.

On Easter night, we had dinner at Carlo’s place. He had outdone himself again. The food was perfect – gazpacho, braised pork ribs, steamed fish, perfectly cooked shrimps and my favourite, “sosyal” na pinakbet.  Unfortunately I don’t have good food photos because I was too focused on eating. Here are some of the photos I managed to take.

 

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Carlo’s living room with flash. I don’t like flash. So the rest of the photos are of the low-light, no-flash kinds. Pardon my unsteady hands. Blame it on the wine.

 

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Carlo and me without flash

 

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I saw this wall grow from being empty to the way it is now. And he says, he’s still not fished filling it up.

 

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I love his throw pillows.

 

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In my dream life I would want a wall full of curiosities like this. But it would be a battle with Patrick. He doesn’t like objects.

 

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Carlo’s collection of photographs. Each has story. I love how stylishly undecorated his house is. Everything speaks of his own personal taste and not of a professional decorator’s. Never mind the fact that he is the Editor of a home design mag.

 

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After dinner talks with writer and ballet instructor Cherish Garcia, furniture designer Gabby Lichauco, Ito Kish of Kish, Patrick.

 

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SC Vizcarra’s Rita Nazareno and stylist Michael Salientes.

 

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Carlo, fresh from the kitchen.

 

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Another part of his collection – naked Ken doll.

 

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I love bar carts. I’m still looking for the perfect one for our house.

 

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I loved the way he filled this table with… stuff! It was perfectly cluttered. When I texted Carlo a question about the method to his way of decorating, he said “Wala lang.” (Just nothing.)

 

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Matte porcelain little lamb (or is it a deer?).

 

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Beside the lamb, a bunch of glass terrariums. One of them had three birds perched on its rim.

 

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A garden gnome and brass lamp base.

 

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I will never look at candy jars the same way again.

 

Inspired.

 

 

Tourism Shanghai

 

 

Thank you for your feedback about my Shanghai stories. I hope you’re not sick of them yet. I’m sure you’re sick of my chunky jacket. Told you from the start, I wore this for 4 days! I brought some other more fashiony jackets, but I didn’t want to risk getting cold.

It’s interesting that some of you have said you’ve been to Shanghai but didn’t see it the way I did. I really don’t know what to say about that except that each of us has her own way of experiencing things. We chose Shanghai because we wanted an urban experience. I wanted to learn about another city. I studied urban planning in university and this probably the reason why I see things the way I do. We actually spent an afternoon at the Shanghai Urban Plannning Museum – where I made sense of it all. Obviously I’ll be posting about that too later. Yes I’m a nerd.

I’m glad we didn’t do anything too touristy. That would have killed our mojo. We have become so jaded because of how we’ve experienced some tours (like in Bali, our guide was obviously on commission) that my husband and I prefer to go to a city and explore it ourselves. Our travel agent Claudette Vitug of CV Travel gave us a complimentary private tour package if we wanted it. So we spent half a day going to must-sees. It was pleasant and our tour guide wasn’t pushy. We just did a quick round of the Oriental Pearl Tower (we didn’t go up), skipped The Bund because it was the location of our hotel, went to a silk making factory where they sold us silk duvets and we bought (because it looked interesting), and did a quick walk through YuYuan Gardens. The rest of the time, we explored the city on foot and by taxi.

 

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This is Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s very busy pedestrian shopping street. All the major chain stores are here – Uniqlo, GAP, Apple. We weren’t really here to shop so we just walked through. Luxury brands are taxed at a high rate in Shanghai, so take note of that. The only place I bought stuff were at Uniqlo, which will soon open in Manila anyway.

 

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It’s worth a walk through at least once to watch the many people and see how old colonial buildings are being used as shops.

 

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There was a building with a giant aquarium filled with sharks and beautiful turtles.

 

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Have I told you that turtles are my favourite sea creatures? (Gosh, I hope this tank wasn’t a promo for a restaurant.)

 

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Nanjing Road is to Shanghai what Champs-Elysees is to Paris.

 

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Part of our halfday tour was a quick walk through YuYuan Gardens. Hello globalization, Starbucks. There are hundreds of shopping stalls here. I had to buy a compact flash drive for my camera. My tour guide said, “Are you Filipino? Because you do not shop like you’re from the Philippines. You have to haggle. At least half price.” I hate haggling.

 

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