Chinese New Year at Mandarin Oriental



Lucky New Year Dishes
Lucky Dishes to welcome the Year of the Water Dragon


Chinese New Year at the Mandarin Oriental Manila has become a tradition for many. I’ve been once – we were ringing in the year of the sheep. Then days after I gave birth to my first daughter. Too much partying haha. I haven’t been back since. But I remember it clearly – the rituals, dragon dance, fireworks, mini parade.  Very festive.

This year that annual celebration will take place on the eve of 22 January at 10pm. To usher in the auspicious Year of the Water Dragon, Master Joseph Chau will again lead the ceremonies and rituals to augur luck in 2012. There will be dragon dances, traditional dotting of the eyes of the lions, and a 10-minute fireworks display. An eight-course Lauriat dinner, the first lucky meal of the year, follows at midnight at the elegantly decorated Ballroom. Tickets are PHP 2,988 net for adults and P1,588 for children.

Other offerings – a Prosperity room package which starts at PHP 6,888++ for an overnight stay for two, and includes international buffet breakfast, a PHP 1,000 dining credit in any of the hotel’s restaurants and a PHP 500 spa voucher. And Tin Hau’s homemade tikoy is also available at Rockwell from January 15 to 22. Is it true that tikoy has to be given to you by a Chinese friend for it to be lucky? Hello, friends. I need all the luck I can get.

If you don’t make it to the grand celebration, there’s always Tin Hau from Jan 23 to 29. In keeping with Chinese custom, the hotel’s master chefs annually lay out menus filled with dishes symbolic of wealth, good fortune, and family unity. With various culinary interpretations and sumptuous ingenuity, the Chinese restaurant’s team headed by Executive Chef Hann Furn Chen has created prosperity menus showcasing dishes that bring luck and harmony.


Poached Hong Kong  Chicken with Ginger Sauce
Poached Hong Kong chicken with spring onion and ginger sauce. A chicken dish is important during Chinese New Year, as eating chicken is considered healthy. The rooster’s crow is a good start to the day; likewise, eating chicken is a good start to the year.


Wok Fried Shrimp in XO Sauce 2
Wok fried shrimp with X.O. sauce. Also considered lucky are dishes that are golden or reddish in color. The cooking method of deep frying symbolizes Gold among the Chinese and serving a golden deep-fried dish, such as Wok fried Shrimp, is representative of abundance in wealth for the coming year.


Five Happiness Combination Platter
New Year’s five happiness combination platter: B.B.Q. suckling pig, roasted pork asado with honey sauce, marinated jelly fish Szechuan style, golden fried shrimp mousse and black moss rolls and crispy fried anchovy with spicy plum sauce.


The New Year’s Five Happiness Combination Platter is a barbecue combination of roast duck, chicken, pork and jellyfish. It is a symbol of a bountiful harvest for the coming year. The combination of different ingredients also symbolizes the gathering of friends and relatives for the occasion of Chinese New Year. Noodles, of course, are a staple on the menu as they are representative of a long and harmonious life.  In the Chinese language, the words “fish” and “profit” are homophonic to each other—they sound the same, and so eating steamed fish during Chinese New Year means more profit for the coming year.

For more information on Mandarin Oriental, Manila’s Chinese New Year activities, call the hotel on 750 8888 or email



Some thank yous



Here are some of the new things I received from brands/companies over the holidays. There were many more but I wasn’t able to photograph every single gift. I will try to post them in the future. So to everyone who sent goodies, thank you so much.


I wasn’t able to photograph all the beautiful wrapping. Why are the Holidays like that? Everything is just magnified and overloaded, it’s hard to focus and give attention to one thing. Every single item was wrapped with so much care.


My sister in law Isabelle sent the most original wrapping. She printed photos from our last family vacation and taped them on to kraft paper. Then she tied gold string around them (I bought the string for her in Market Market and sent them to NYC). I love these thoughtful personal touches.


The Estee Lauder team sent me this set from their Michael Kors collaboration. I love it! Perfect palette for everyday makeup. And the little pouch is so glam!


Curl enhancing products, gift from Alex Carbonel of Studio Fix Greenbelt. My favourite is APE. I spray it mid-day or in between events or places. It gives my hair a natural-looking bouncy wave. The label says “after-party spray.” The Moroccan Oil is very good too. Just use a little bit. It’s good for any hair, whether permed or not. Potion K is like a curl-enhancing lotion to be applied on wet hair.


VMV sent me this gift pack, for babies. They do everything so well – from merchandising to graphics and packaging. I have yet to try their products.


This LAMY fountain pen was a gift from Bong Rojales and Rossy Yabut of Heima. I love fountain pens! And this one’s so light.


You know me and tote bags. This was sent to me by Amina Aranaz. I love the mix of material she used – leather, shell, hardware. You can find this bag in Aranaz stores in Greenbelt and Rockwell.


Evita Peroni
Evita Peroni sent me this hair elastic with a leather flower. It works as a ponytail holder or headband. Or a bracelet.


This wasn’t a Christmas present. It was something we earned. But we only got the cards over the holidays.


As regular clients of CIBO, I can’t tell you enough how wonderful it is for our kids to be members of Club Bimbi. There are so many freebies and fun stuff. One time they had “make your own pizza” for kids! And it had spinach which the kids ate. Ask any CIBO branch about applying for a Bimbi card. It’s open to all kids under 13.




I did some styling for Metro Home



A few weeks ago, I spent an afternoon at Ito Kish’ store in Nicanor Garcia St, Makati. Our friend, Carlo Tadiar asked us to do a spread for his magazine, Metro Home. The idea was to ask three designers to set up the same exact table and corner. Carlo invited me, Ito and Miguel Rosales. I tried to say no and stalled as long as I can. Busy was an understatement. But eventually it pushed thru and we had fun while doing it.


Metro Home1
And how the opening spread looks like. Yes, I included a Daphne chair in the background.


I chose to do a tea party setting – something young, playful and feminine. I was thinking of my kids while choosing my items. These photos were taken using my Olympus PEN EP3. I was playing with the art filters.


It all started with this set of stackable square plates. I found them in Dimensione. Loved the Palladian architecture details printed on them.


Then I saw the grass-like place mats. So instead of doing something ultra modern and architectural, I went the playful route.


And I couldn’t not have these. Fell in love with the print and packaging of these precious soaps in Dimensione. I had to have them in the photo. So I set them up like little petit fours on a cheese plate from Alessi (I couldn’t find a cute cake plate).


These bears are actually nylon eco bags. I thought they’d be good party favours. Here they are leaning on my whimsical teapot from home.


And I was running out of ideas and needed some colour so I picked up these playful glasses also from Dimensione. The napkins are actually waffle fabric tea towels from Ito Kish store. I just folded them to make them look like napkins.


Then I thought it needed more softness – so I brought out my Cath Kidston tea set.


And to pull everything together, I placed little bolster pillows on the back of each chair. Luckily Ito had some floral pillows in his store.


Here’s the current Metro Home issue. It’s also available digitally on Zinio. Support, support! It’s a great issue. Lovely country homes.



Holy Carabao



It’s that time of the year again. I’m sure some, if not most, of you have started your Christmas shopping or at least have made the lists. Don’t look at me because I’m a procrastinator. I like sharing gift ideas though. Here’s something from Hindy Tantoco. Hindy, we’ve known as designer and creator of Culte Femme. She has since taken a sabbatical to focus on family and other creative pursuits while living in a beautiful farm. She really lives in a farm – cows, horses, chickens and all. I love her home.

This Christmas, again, Hindy is taking orders for her pro-Pinoy, pro-organic, pro-wellness, pro-yummy and pro-happy gift crates called Holy Carabao. These are great for friends, family, business colleagues and teachers on your Christmas list.


Bowl of Greens P995 + VAT
Salad is the new fruitcake. Show them how much you care with something healthy, revitalizing and not re-giftable. Fresh, scrumptious salad for two.
Includes: our signature Holy Carabao wooden crate; a wooden salad bowl; bamboo tongs; organic/biodynamic lettuce, micro greens, sprouts and cherry tomatoes — wrapped in a sealed bag with FreshPicks® ethylene absorber to ensure postharvest freshness for a longer period.


Flower Power Pots P695 + VAT
Flowers aren’t just for Valentine’s. Blooming gifts will bring love (not war) long after the 12 days of Christmas. Peace out.
Includes: our signature Holy Carabao wooden crate; two terracotta pots wrapped in cheerful farbic; two varieties of live, planted blooms in rich, living, organic soil.
You may substitute flowers with organic herbs like Tarragon, Basil, Oregano, and Dill for P875
You may also specify the flowers you prefer. For example: Poinsettias. Prices subject to change depending on flower variety.


Click, click to see MORE Holy Carabao options…


Chef Stevie’s Vietnamese menu




During our trip to India, my food friend was Steven Villacin. He’s so adventurous, ofcourse, being a foodie and all. Our first meal was breakfast. I was seated beside him and we tried everything. I was surprised that I liked the salty masala buttermilk. He said it was an “acquired taste.” The salty milk was just all wrong to him. It had herbs floating on top too, like a mojito. For me, it neutralized my tongue. It had been burning from all the curry and chutneys I was trying.

Stevie, as everyone fondly calls him, used to work in the financial industry. He ended his high-powered and fast-paced career and went for what he truly loved doing. Cooking. He put up a food order/catering business called Chef Stevie’s and made a name for himself with his specialty, Hainanese chicken rice. This has been my never-fail pot luck contribution at most parties.

Last Saturday, Stevie and his cousin Claudette CV Travel, the travel agency that put together our fabulous India tour, treated us to Chef Stevie’s new menu. We had an awesome lunch at home. Patrick is now expecting something like this every weekend. Good thing I have Chef Stevie’s number on my fave list. Haha.

Warning, viewing food photos past midnight can make you hungry.


Fried Shrimp Lumpia with Bacon served with Sweet Chili Sauce – Php1,200 for 50 pcs. (minimum).


The kids loved this!!! And so did I.


Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce. One order consists of 15 pieces for Php1,050. Additional pieces are charged at Php70 per piece


I felt healthy eating this. I kept getting reminded that everyone I met in Vietnam was slim.


Oriental Chicken Salad with Hoisin Dressing. One order consists of 2 half size deep pans (11 3/4 in. x 9 3/8 in. x 2 9/16 in.) for Php1,700. Chef Stevie currently does not accept half orders since not a lot of people order this. It’s perfect for a big lunch. Ours lasted three days! It also comes with crispy noodles for sprinkling on top.


To order Chef Stevie’s Vietnamese menu or his famous Hainanese Chicken Rice, +63906-508-4155