Oilily: Not just kids’ clothes anymore

I have known about Oilily for quite some time.

When Gia was a little girl, I would buy cute colorful age appropriate dresses for her in the Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets. The Woodbury Commons was not only the place where I was able to secure my first retail job, it was (and still is for many) a great place to go for awesome designer goods at a fraction of the retail prices.

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Oilily stores can be found in ATC, Upper Ground SM Mega A, and Megamall Fashion Hall.

So, because Oilily had an outlet in “The Commons” (as those of us who grew up in the area would call it) I became familiar with the brand. What I never knew was that the brand had arrived here in Manila,  with different products than I was familiar with from Gia as a toddler. In fact, I didn’t know that Oilily made accessories like this at all! So much so, that when my friend Janice of Mommy Mundo invited me to explore the newly opened store in Megamall, I originally thought I would be able to shop for clothes for Gellibean!

Oilily patters and colors are distinctive. They provide a little background into the Dutch company.

Oilily patters and colors are distinctive. They provide a little background into the Dutch company that has been around for 50 years. (Fall Winter Collection 2014)

Much to my surprise she corrected my misconception by explaining that Oilily also made accessories, handbags, wallets, lunch bags, and even laptop bags! Umbrellas, phone cases, and overnight bags, all have the same quality and craftsmanship that I had come to understand all those years ago through clothing I bought for Gia.

Even their phone cases have that distinctive Dutch design.

Even their phone cases have that distinctive Dutch design.

Because I have been wanting to go out of town for a weekend get away with Nino for some time, I really had my eye on some of the overnight bags. They were big enough that we could probably fit all of our things with plenty of space for a weekend get away for two. We all know that Moms and Dads need to get away for some alone time.

How cute are these patterns? They look perfect for a beach outing.

How cute are these patterns? They look perfect for a beach outing. This was part of the newer collection. Honestly, it’s hard to choose just one.

I was even surprised to find these lippies! I loved the container! As a kid I had lippies like this in different ice cream flavors! It brought back childhood memories :-)

These super cute lip balms can fit perfectly in my kit for my purse.

These super cute lip balms can fit perfectly in my kit for my purse.

Oilily has scents that are light enough for your little girl, and others that are good for you to wear. Again, I love the packaging for this scent.

Oilily has scents that are light enough for your little girl, and others that are good for you to wear. Again, I love the packaging for this scent.

And I LOVED this lunchbox. I just wanna sing "It's a small world after all..." when I see it!

And I LOVED this lunchbox. I just wanna sing “It’s a small world after all…” when I see it!

I learned that Oilily not only offers something for all occasions and every need, they provide a quality product that is fashionable and fun. It’s easy to find the new collections in the store because they group the bags together by season and collection. It was really easy for me to find a style and pattern in almost every display that I liked.

If you would like to check out the patterns, styles, and accessories for yourself you can see the latest styles at any of the Oilily branches.

Check out Oilily on Facebook and Instagram

Search for the JUSTICE Girl

Young girls love to go shopping.

Usually Gia shops with her Dad. It’s like their bonding time together since my bonding time with her is usually in the kitchen, or doing girly girl things like getting our hair done or being pampered in the salon.

One of our new Fab Finds in Gia’s list of stores to have fun in is JUSTICE

 

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Fun tees and tanks are part of the athletic line. Justice also has running shorts and yoga pants.

My friends back in NY have been telling me about Justice for years. Their daughters can do major damage in the store if left to choose on their own with out any budget. It’s a place where tweens and teens can go to find colorful, fun, appropriate clothing that is comfortable.

One thing I have never felt comfortable with is dressing my girls in clothes which are not age appropriate. I do not have to worry about that when I walk into this store.

One thing I have never felt comfortable with is dressing my girls in clothes which are not age appropriate. I do not have to worry about that when I walk into this store. Revealing clothes and young girls do NOT go hand in hand in my book.

I knew Justice was here in Manila, but was only recently made aware that we have a branch right here in Alabang Town Center. It’s not often that I leave Alabang (especially, if what I need is right here) but I was recently invited to learn more about the brand and the special offers they have for girly girls a couple of weeks ago. Since I wanted to learn more about the brand to see what all the fuss was about, I trekked into Makati to meet up with some of the SoMoms at the Justice Glorietta store.

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Each collection is displayed all together. This makes it easier for the girls to mix, match, and layer the different pieces to complete their own styled look.

Brand Manager Mariel shared how Justice launched their flagship store here in Manila in March 2013 in Shangri-La Edsa Mall, and how the brand has opened up two succeeding stores in Alabang Town Center and Glorietta. With sizes ranging from six to twenty, it’s easy for girls to have fun shopping in the colorful shops. I can see girls as young as 7 or 8 years old having a ball choosing from the many different styles. Their clothing, however, isn’t limited just to the younger girls. Because the sizes go all the way up to 18-20, even your teens can choose from the basics and athletic wear if they aren’t to fond of the fun patterns and designs.

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Over lunch at Spaghetti Factory, Brand Manager Mariel Avellana shared some of the new and exciting developments coming to all three branches of Justice for all the girls out there who LOVE this brand. it was a quiet lunch with Cai, Patty, Mariel, Milette, Tina and myself. 

 

JUSTICE J-CLUB REWARDS CARD

Frequent shoppers will be able to avail of a special J-CLUB card which will entitle the card holder to special sales, discounts, and sneak peaks at new lines and season must haves. Card bearers will also have access to special mall and school Fab Fairs that are planned through out the metro. 

I like this collection. It's funny, I was never really super patriotic about wearing the stars and stripes while I was living in NY. BUT, now? I love wearing and accessorizing with them!

I like this collection. It’s funny, I was never really super patriotic about wearing the stars and stripes while I was living in NY. BUT, now? I love wearing and accessorizing with them!

All  you have to do to earn this magical discount card is purchase a minimum of five thousand pesos (single receipt) worth of Justice apparel or accessories at any of the Justice stores (Alabang, Shang, or Glorietta) for this all access pass that will also allow you to enjoy Birthday Promos!

All Justice stores have a board where sales associates post girls that they take pics of who are perfectly accessorized and styled in JUSTICE gear.

All Justice stores have a board where sales associates post girls that they take pics of who are perfectly accessorized and styled in JUSTICE gear. This NEW SEARCH FOR THE JUSTICE GIRL takes this concept and just puts it out there on social media as well…but with prizes!!!

Of course I spotted some cute OWL accessories :-)

Of course I spotted some cute OWL accessories :-)

SEARCH FOR THE JUSTICE GIRL!

Aside from their launching of the J-CLUB Rewards Card, Brand Manager Mariel, also shared that they will be running a special contest over the course of the next six months. Contestants simply have to take a pic in their favorite OOTD complete with their Justice gear (layered, coordinated and accessorized!), print it out, and bring it to any JUSTICE branch to enter for a chance to be crowned THE JUSTICE GIRL! 

I liked that the sale items were really marked down. It makes it easy to build on outfits with basic tanks and tees.

I liked that the sale items were really marked down. It makes it easy to build on outfits with basic tanks and tees.

In a day and age where we enjoy posting #selfies, #ootd’s, and using hashtags to identify well known brands, this contest is right up your girl’s alley! But remember, the important thing here is to print the picture and BRING the copy of the pic INTO the store of your choice. After you bring the picture in, check out the JUSTICE Facebook page to see if your pic has been added.

JUSTICE is not just about clothing. They have shoes, pajamas, accessories, and novelty gift items. I loved the journals they had too. I always had a diary as a kid. My Dad would give me a new journal on my birthday every year.

JUSTICE is not just about clothing. They have shoes, pajamas, accessories, and novelty gift items. I loved the journals they had too. I always had a diary as a kid. My Dad would give me a new journal on my birthday every year.

The criteria for judging the photos will include the following categories:

  • Social Media Shares and LIKES (So, once you see your pic on the Facebook page, ask your friends to share on Twitter and IG, and like!)
  • Fashion sense and Style
  • Uniqueness and Creativity
Even accessories for sisters! HOW CUTE is that?

Even accessories for sisters! HOW CUTE is that?

At the end of each month, a finalist will be chosen. Each finalist will receive Php3,000.00 worth of gift certificates for a shopping spree in the JUSTICE branch of her choice. In addition to their own shopping spree, each monthly winner will be able to STYLE a mannequin in the JUSTICE store of their choice!

At the end of six months, all six finalists will compete against each other for the crowning glory of THE JUSTICE GIRL. This grand prize winner will receive the following:

  • CROWNING TITLE OF THE JUSTICE GIRL
  • Php 15,000.00 worth of G.C.’s to spend in any JUSTICE branch
  • Php 5,000.00 worth of G.C.’s from Naturalizer
  • Php 5,000.00 worth of G.C.’s from Florsheim
  • Staycation package at The Linden Suites

How much FUN will it be for the winner to go on this shopping spree!!! Complete with a staycation na! Good luck girls!! Can’t wait to check the FB page for all your different takes on style and fashion with Justice as your guide :-)

Cai, Patty, Brand Manager Mariel, Tina, and moi

Cai, Patty, Brand Manager Mariel, Tina, and moi

Gia really had a great time picking out some workout gear that she can use during practice, even Gelli and I had some fun too! Thanks Justice!

Meow!

Meow!

 Look for new deals and specials on JUSTICE’s Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram accounts :-)

 

Happy Birthday Gellibean

It’s been three years since I gave birth to my last baby.

Our whole family waited in anticipation for the arrival of our newest member.

Our whole family waited in anticipation for the arrival of our newest member.

I wasn’t prepared for her diagnosis at birth. Or rather the suspicions due to “markers for Down Syndrome,” as the doctor said, when she spoke to me and Nino.

Evangelina stayed in the hospital longer than we first thought she would due to the fact that she had duodenal atresia.

Evangelina stayed in the hospital longer than we first thought she would due to the fact that she had duodenal atresia.

 We prayed she would be alright after confirming that she needed corrective surgery due to duodenal atresia.

Daddy was there to welcome baby girl just like her siblings before her.

Daddy was there to welcome baby girl just like her siblings before her.

Nino was so fully present at this time. His faith in God was so much bigger than mine. His love for our daughter and for our family helped bring me through… 

In Fight Mode: The more I held my baby girl, the more I wanted to fight for her...

In Fight Mode: The more I held my baby girl, the more I wanted to fight for her…

Without realizing it, I automatically put all these limitations on my daughter the moment I heard the words “Down Syndrome.” My perception of what Down Syndrome was, was so far from what I now know as our reality. I need to forgive myself for those first few days…even for those first few weeks and months. I was incredibly ignorant of what her extra chromosome was all about. Even now…I know that I still have so much more to learn about who she is and who she can become…the same way any parent would learn about their own typically developing child who is about to turn three years old too.

I remember this day. I sat on the sofa thinking about whether or not she would be strong enough to hold her own in a world that can sometimes be cruel and unforgiving. As I cried, Gelli picked her head up and looked at me...as if to say " I'm a lot stronger than you think, Mom."

On this day, I sat on the sofa thinking about whether or not she would be strong enough to hold her own in a world that can sometimes be cruel and unforgiving. As I cried, Gelli picked her head up and looked at me…as if to say ” I’m a lot stronger than you think, Mom.”

But, I have a confession.

I have a lot of regret about the first few weeks of Evangelina’s life. 

I was extremely happy to finally bring my daughter home...but I was also extremely nervous. I felt like a new mom all over again because Gelli changed the playing field on me.

I was extremely happy to finally bring my daughter home…but I was also extremely nervous. I felt like a new mom all over again because Gelli changed the playing field on me.

I wasted far too many tears, and worried about far too many “What If’s?”

I wish I knew then what I know now.

I was all over the place with guilt, fear, anger, and sadness that I didn’t see the tremendous gift I was given. I worried about her health, people accepting her, what school she would go to here in Manila, and whether or not she could stand for her Ate as maid of honor if and when she would get married. (Doesn’t that sound a bit crazy?)

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Gelli in tree pose. Gelli and I did yoga together when she was just an infant only weeks out of the hospital.

I cried because I thought my eldest daughter would some how lose out on the sisterhood I envisioned for her when we found out we were having another girl.  I cried because I thought she wouldn’t be able to do things for herself. I cried because I thought my daughters wouldn’t be able to call each other up when they were older with their own families and share recipes and giggles on the phone. I cried because I thought my youngest daughter would have so many limitations. 

“The only limitations you will ever have are the ones you put on yourself.” -Kristinna Habashy  (or in this case…the ones I put on MY own daughter…)

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Oh baby girl…if I only knew then what I know now.

I cried a lot.

I still cry a lot. 

But my tears are different three years later.

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The difference? I cry when I’m happy, when I’m grateful, and when I am reminded that God is Good. Parents with children who have special needs have said it a thousand times over in so many different ways. This kind of parenthood changes you in a way that being a parent to a typical kid cannot. It’s the shift in perspective…It’s the realization that we are all connected…that it’s more than just THIS…

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Gelli’s first modeling gig. Thank you Buding for asking us to be part of your feature in Working Mom. Thank you Stan Ong for these lovely shots.

So, today we will celebrate Gelli’s birthday. She’s given us three beautiful years of milestones in her own time, a fresh perspective, an incredible love, countless smiles, and more than we could have ever imagined. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have challenges in parenting Gelli. We do.  This is why the milestones and the small victories are all so worth celebrating!

Instead of me telling you about the gifts we have given her, I thought I could share some of the gifts she has given me.

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Gelli is Daddy’s muse. I love this shot he stole of her one morning when she was just waking up with a smile.

It’s good to be organized!

Gelli has given me the gift of organization. It’s important to be organized so that I can take care of my daughter and set all of her doctor’s and therapy appointments. She has instilled a diligence in keeping  appointments AND because of that, I am more organized in general. (Although I still sometimes feel like something falls through the cracks every once in a while.)

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Understanding Unconditional Love

Gelli has given me the gift of unconditional and pure love. I received this same love from my three big kids…but Gelli’s love is just a little different…as is my love and devotion to her is just a little different too. I celebrate the differences of all of my children and I am able to love them each in the way that they need me to.

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The Gift of Prayer

I understand the power and gift of prayer. Never before have I prayed with my children the way we prayed when we desperately wanted her to come home from the hospital after almost two weeks in the PICU. It was a teary impromptu moment that I will never forget.

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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

I finally understand the meaning of  “The Big Picture.” So, often I have been caught up in the details and things that aren’t as important as I once thought. The idea that I shouldn’t “sweat the small stuff” is my new philosophy.

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Our Support Network

I have a new found appreciation for all of those people that love and care for our family. For some reason the fluff, a.k.a. the people that didn’t matter as much, have fallen to the wayside. They have slowly eased their way out of my life and I can see that those who love and want to be with us have a deeper sense of love, commitment, and level of caring for our family. I hold these loved ones near (and far) oh so close to my heart. 

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The Gift of Happiness

I finally understand the meaning of “choosing to be happy.” With all of the terrible things that go on in the world I understand that finding happiness can be in the littlest of celebrations and milestones that many people take for granted. 

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The gift of being empowered

I am empowered. Yes! Believe it or not, my daughter empowered me to stand up for what I know to be right and true and good in this world. She has inspired me to fight for her and all children like her. 

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The Gift of My Voice

I found my voice. I write. I share parts of her story and parts of my story with other parents. I find joy in this sharing. Gelli’s birth has enabled me to help other parents who are new members to our special club.

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People who really CARE

I have met incredible people. Doctors who are so good at what they do. Therapists who care. People with varying abilities. Parents. Children. Adults. All who share parts of themselves with me and Gelli. And it truly is incredible. I will continue to navigate the unchartered waters with many of these people as my mentors, guides, and my friends as Gelli continues to grow. 

Even two years ago, I didn't know all I know now. Oh Gellibean, you have given me so many gifts.

When you were one year old, I didn’t know all I know now. Oh Gellibean, you have given me so many gifts.

The gift of togetherness

I’m part of something bigger. I know that “We are all in this together.” This basic yogic principal is my mantra. I am more compassionate and empathetic. I am not as quick as I once was to pass judgement. I’m patient. Kindness is so much more important now. As a family, we look forward to meeting up with other families like ours too!  Both DSAPI and Best Buddies have given us the opportunity to share our cause and our LOVE for Gelli.

At two years old you taught me just how generous people can be...another lesson that brought me to tears.

At two years old you taught me just how generous people can be…another lesson that brought me to tears. To this day I am grateful to your Tita Kathy for all of these beautiful photos. She isn’t the only one who made your 2nd birthday extra special, there were many people involved in making your celebration just perfect.

I’m so looking forward to more of your birthdays, Baby Girl.

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I LOVE YOU. 

 

 

 

Disney Live!

My friend Ivan is kind of like a Jack of all Trades. He does lots of different things from restaurants, night clubs, and now he is bringing much loved family oriented LIVE shows to Manila. I have loved all of the different (and very successful) establishments he has invited Nino and I to try out, even if some of the joints he has invited us to cater to a much younger crowd. (yikes!) When I have visited these hot night spots, I have been reminded how nice it is to be young…and how nice it is to be a little older and wiser as well. It’s a great shift in perspective, especially for this Momma who has been noticing a few more signs of the aging recently…

Disney Live! Presents Three Classic Fairy Tales will run from September 10th to September 14th.

Disney Live! Presents Three Classic Fairy Tales will run from September 10th to September 14th.

I had the pleasure of meeting up with Ivan in Hatch 22 with his business partners, Miles Roces, and Icel Argana. Together with Cai from Apples and Dumplings and Chessy from Young Mom Love we learned about Limitless Ventures’ new project geared towards families with young children. 

I will go back for these...

I will go back for this. #NYOB Not your Ordinary Benedict will have me coming back to Hatch 22 for a long time.

 Disney LIVE brings together all the Disney characters that we know and love. Some of these characters might even be characters that WE grew up with (think Snow White and the seven Dwarves) to the princesses that have grown up with our own children.

Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy take the audience through three different fairy tales by way of an enchanted story book.

Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy take the audience through three different fairy tales by way of an enchanted story book.

 The storyline begins with Mickey and friends in his attic. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy find a magical story book which takes them through Three Classic Fairy Tales  of courage, love and believing in oneself. While so many of the Disney Fairy Tales are universal, this production retells the stories of Snow White, Cinderella, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast in such a way that will dazzle the youngest viewer and inspire the greatest of grandparents.

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From award winning costume designers to amazing sets and backdrops which give depth to the story told on stage, the production company has made sure every detail will delight the viewer. Music and choreography help tell the story that the all international cast brings to life this coming September in the SM MOA Arena.

Some of the SoMoms were a bit worried that the show might be angled towards girls because of the princesses being given center stage. But I think everyone will agree that characters like Gaston make this story interesting too.

Some of the SoMoms were a bit worried that the show might be angled towards girls because of the princesses being given center stage. But I think everyone will agree that characters like Gaston make this story interesting too.

Can I tell you how super excited to bring my Gellibean to watch this show? Surely she will be dancing about and clapping her hands as we watch the amazing spectacle that Disney is know for with their stage productions. She is just about at the age where she understands who Mickey and Minnie are…and she even enjoys watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Junior. What’s better than that? We don’t even have to travel to get the quality and caliber of this complete stage production, because Limitless has brought it here to us.

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Tickets are being sold thru www.smtickets.com. You can easily click on the day and time that you would like to attend and choose your seats with ease. From now until September 9th, you’ll see that BDO Credit Card Holders receive a special discount from SM if you use your card.

Restrictions Apply.

Restrictions Apply.

But it gets better. If you are  interested in watching the show-and you want to receive a special #SoMoms discount you can call Limitless Venture’s own Sales Officer, Loida Manuel at+639157757770, +639989642590 and +632-2180651. Mention that you read my post and you can avail of a rate that differs from the regular published ticket rates.  

There are three shows to choose from on the last few days of their run here in Manila making it easy for those of us who like to plan ahead.

There are three shows to choose from on the last few days of their run here in Manila making it easy for those of us who like to plan ahead.

Nino and I were just having this conversation the other day. We were talking about how easy it is to get caught up in buying nice things for the kids…and by “nice” I mean not really necessary. Don’t get me wrong…I’m a lover of ALL things beautiful…but we were also saying how wonderful it is to be able to give our children EXPERIENCES…you know what I’m talking about? The kind of experiences that memories are made of?

For me...there is no price that can be put on the kinds of activities where memories are made.

For me…there is no price that can be put on the kinds of activities where memories are made.

Disney shows like these are things the kids will remember…I know because I remember my parents taking us to Broadway shows when we were growing up. Plenty of them. Specific ones. Memories that I hold close to my heart. I can remember the songs to some of the musicals and in one instance I even remember what I was wearing because it was one of my absolute favorite outfits at the time.

Chessy, Cai, and myself with Limitless partner Icel.

Chessy, Cai, and myself with Limitless partner Icel.

Are you as excited for this show to arrive in Manila as I am? 

Tara na! 

Easy Spaghetti Carbonara

I haven’t done a food post in a long time! (But don’t think that doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking!) You know me, I’m always in the kitchen and I’m always looking for inspiration while I’m there. If I’m not dancing around the kitchen with Gellibean, I’m jamming to Gia’s chosen radio station or Miguel playing DJ so we can crank out some Kitchen Goodness.

Today I want to share a super quick recipe with you that is a “go to” for the whole family because it’s creamy and super yummy. (and super easy to prepare too.)

I have always had an issue about feeding the kids raw eggs. REAL Carbonara…done the “right” way uses raw eggs yolks mixed right into the hot pasta with lots of parmesan cheese.  Since, I find it a little discomforting to give their tummies that (while they are still small) I have adapted the recipe I know and love for myself (and Nino) with some minor changes in the preparation that do not sacrifice flavor at all.

Simple ingredients for a simple dish. It's really simple to prepare too. Promise.

Simple ingredients for a simple dish. It’s really simple to prepare too. Promise. Even looking at this dish’s ingredients makes me realize what an affordable dinner it is as well.

Of course, while you are preparing all these ingredients you MUST make sure your water for your pasta is set to boil. I usually let my water boil away and then I throw in a handful of Kosher Salt. When I say a handful…I mean you really need to make the water salty. I think it is Chef at Home (You know the guy who looks like Aiden from Sex and the City?) who said, if you taste your pasta water, it should taste like the sea….SO YES…it should be THAT salty.

While your water is boiling, chop your onions and prep your pan. Set it to medium high and throw in your bacon bits. 

These bacon bits from Pure Foods are super affordable as well. I started using them as topping for salad and even in my quiche. Then I realized I can use them for pretty much any dish which I would chop my bacon up anyway.

These bacon bits from Pure Foods are super affordable as well. I started using them as topping for salad and even in my quiche. Then I realized I can use them for pretty much any dish which I would chop my bacon up anyway.

Fry until crispy then remove from the pan. But LEAVE those bits of goodness right where they are...

Fry until crispy then remove from the pan. But LEAVE those bits of goodness right where they are, and then add the onion. Salt and Pepper your onions, please.

Whenever you are cooking mushrooms I have learned that you have to have your pan on a super high heat. Mushrooms lose all their water if you cook them slowly. 

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I have yet to deglaze the pan! But look at those little bits of bacon goodness. We LIKE those bits… a lot…

Next add your frozen peas.

Next add your frozen peas. Again, remember to Salt and Pepper every step of the way…

I have never forgotten about those bits of goodness. After I added just a little butter, I used a ladle full of the pasta water  to deglaze the pan because I want those bits and pieces of toasted goodness on the bottom IN MY SAUCE!

I have never forgotten about those bits of goodness. After I added just a little butter, I used a ladle full of the pasta water to deglaze the pan because I want those bits and pieces of toasted goodness on the bottom IN MY SAUCE!

If you don’t want to use pasta water and you have chicken stock on hand, you can use that too!

After you have deglazed the pan, you can add your crispy bacon bits back into the mix.

After you have deglazed the pan, you can add your crispy bacon bits back into the mix.

Next add the cream. Ideally, if I had FRESH cream in the house I would have preferred to use that. But since I had Nestle in the pantry I just add a little milk to the sauce because the Nestle is quite thick...

Next add the cream. Ideally, if I had FRESH cream in the house I would have preferred to use that. But since I had Nestle in the pantry I just add a little milk to the sauce because the Nestle is quite thick…

Set your pasta aside after you toss it in some olive oil.

Set your pasta aside after you toss it in some olive oil.

If there is one thing that bothers me when I eat pasta like this, it’s not having enough saucy sauce.  I have figured out a way that even if you are the last to eat (like Gia is because she comes home so late from practice) you will still have enough sauce to coat your pasta. 

For this dish…instead of just throwing all the sauce over the pasta in big serving bowl, I plate each serving. I toss the pasta IN the saucepan, coat it up nice and good, and then I serve it in each bowl. It’s also a good way for me to gauge how much the kids are eating too. I do this from time to time just to change things up for them.

This is also the time that you want to have your small saucepan boiling your water with a tablespoon or so of vinegar so you can poach your egg for the top of your pasta.

Using my handy dandy tongs, I toss each parcel of pasta in the sauce. Then I top with a little MORE sauce once it's in the bowl.

Using my handy dandy tongs, I toss each parcel of pasta in the sauce. Then I top with a little MORE sauce once it’s in the bowl.

If you have help in the kitchen, then this is a good time to ask for assistance. While I’m plating the pasta, I usually ask my helper to poach the egg and nestle it on top of each bowl of pasta. We have practiced and mastered this whole routine quite effectively. I like good team work in the kitchen. (Anything to make my life easier!)

Top with your poached egg, Salt and Pepper. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Top with your poached egg, Salt and Pepper. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Easy Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves 5
Easy Spaghetti Carbonara can be thrown together in as long as it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta for this dish
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. -one white onion chopped
  2. -bacon chopped or bacon bits
  3. -frozen peas
  4. -fresh button mushrooms cleaned and sliced
  5. -heavy cream
  6. -one slab of butter
  7. -one ladle of chicken stock or salted pasta water
Instructions
  1. Saute the bacon until a bit crispy on medium high heat and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, saute the onions until translucent, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Turn the heat up to high and add the mushrooms, then the peas.
  4. Add the chicken stock to de glaze the pan, and add the slab of butter and mix carefully.
  5. Mix your bacon bits back into the pan and then add your cream. Salt and Pepper again.
  6. Toss your pasta in your sauce, and top with a poached egg.
Poaching the Egg
  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil with a couple of tablespoons of vinegar.
  2. Before you add your egg that you have broken into a small bowl already, give the water a swirl creating a whirlpool effect in the small pot.
  3. Slowly slide the egg into the water being careful not to break the yolk.
  4. Lower your heat to medium high and use a slotted spoon to retrieve your egg from the water and place on top of your pasta that is in your pasta bowl.
Momma 'N Manila http://www.mommanmanila.com/
 

 

 

Kessaku Alabang

Awhile back I was invited to a local Japanese restaurant just a stone’s throw from our place. I have been enjoying the invites to these local establishments so that I can judge for myself if it’s a restaurant that I would like to go back to and visit together as a family, or even visit it with Nino on a date night. 

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The added advantage to accepting invites to reviews is making NEW friends! This particular day was super fun because although it truly was a busy day for me where I was working on lots of new and exciting things, I felt like the lunch break that we were on was like a lunch “with the girls,” (and the “boy” ‘with owner/partner Donny of course) where we talked about everything under the sun!

We started with an amuse bouche of Kani Salad.

We started with an amuse bouche of Kani Salad.

Even though this was my first time to meet Guia, and B’ley, it was as if we were old friends catching up. I was pleased to hear that another friend whom I had just met would be joining us as well. I first heard of Rina through another friend Jane, so I kinda felt like I knew her. So much so, that when we met at the Oilily event a week earlier we hit it off as well. Thanks Guia for the invite!

And then Donny sends out this! It was DIVINE. Unagi with Foie Gras Sushi FTW!

Donny sends this out first! It was DIVINE. Unagi with Foie Gras Sushi!

Kessaku is located in Commerce Center right across from Acacia Hotel. It’s easy to park downstairs, and while the mall is still not yet fully open there aren’t any parking charges. I think that might be changing soon, though, so if it does, you’ll pay a small fee for the convenience of parking downstairs.

Tempura Bento

Tempura Bento. I love that they also offer the salt and lemon as a dip. Not many restaurants do this. I particularly enjoy the salt and lemon when I’m indulging in Uni Tempura.

Guia introduced me to Donny Elvina who is one of the managing partners that brings  Kessaku which means”Creating Masterpiece” to Alabang. Apparently, this group has a string of successful restaurants that cater to many different palates whether you are craving comfort food with burgers and dogs or Japanese food done right. Munchtown is another resto which Donny is involved with, in Greenhills and is in collaboration with Chef Robby Goco. I would also like to check out Jozu Kin, which is in Burgos Circle. 

Steak Bento

Tenderloin Bento Box 

Through our conversations, I learned that Donny also coaches Mixed Martial Arts. Believe me, when I tell you that this was such a fun lunch! Meeting new people and learning new things is always top on my list! Donny even coaches his son in MMA…we shared a few stories how it is to be your kid’s teacher.  It’s quite funny when you get parents talking about their kids…we can go on and on and on…(and we did.)

When you visit a new resto with new people, you also learn new things...like

When you visit a new resto with new people, you also learn new things…like the different angles you can shoot from and how natural light is always best for food shots.

B’ley even shared that back in San Francisco, they reserve the tables by the windows (with natural light) for bloggers! It made me think that maybe I should request a table by the window in a restaurant when I know I want to write about my experience.

We even got to talking about a certain etiquette that follows what bloggers do. (The conversation made me even more aware of my manners!) We talked about when eating together in a situation like this, how important it is to wait for everyone to take pictures first, and how it’s also nice to see when other bloggers offer simple courtesies to one another.  (Remember how I think we are all in this together? It’s kinda like that same principle once again.) The conversation helped me realize that even in my effort to be helpful and serve my new found friends I was a little clumsy…I think it’s just easier to pass the food so everyone can serve themselves…(Yes, that was a note to self.)

Katsu

Tonkatsu Bento Box 

B’ley shared that she just moved back from The States. We also talked about the differences and similarities between mom bloggers and food bloggers. I had a little chuckle because I felt completely ill-equipped when I realized I was the only one using my iPhone for food shots and everyone brought out their DSLR!  We got to talking about how you can ACTUALLY take pretty good photos with your iPhone if you edit your photo with some inexpensive apps. Hopefully, she will put together a class and teach me (and some of my momma friends) how to take better pics with my iPhone but in the mean time I think I should take out my DSLR next time I get an invite from these ladies. He he he he he…

Chicken Terriyaki Bento

Chicken Terriyaki Bento

Donny really wanted to highlight the bento meals that are only offered during lunch. I have always loved ordering from the bento menu whenever I go to a Japanese restaurant because you get to taste a little bit of everything without having to order all of those dishes separately. Each of the bentos were done well. The portions were generous, tasty, and the sushi and sashimi was fresh.

Would you believe I still had room for dessert after we ate?

Truth:  I always have room for dessert.

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Green Tea Tempura Ice Cream. I know many people who love green tea. I am not one  of them, but I still tried this dessert…well, because…it’s DESSERT!

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Vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two vanilla wafers. This dessert is by Louie-Luis.

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Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee. 

FTW

Crispy Banana with Mango Ice Cream and Chocolate Syrup. Yes, please. Seconds. Now.

Thank you Donny for hosting our lovely lunch where I got to learn a bunch of new things :-) Will definitely be bringing back the hubby for a date night. Thanks Guia for the invite! Pictured L-R: Moi, B'ley from Blogalag, Donny Elvina, Guia from Food Reviews Manila, and Rina from Rina's Rainbow.

Thank you Donny for hosting our lovely lunch where I got to learn a bunch of new things :-) Will definitely be bringing back the hubby for a date night. Thanks Guia for the invite! Pictured L-R: Moi, B’ley from Blogalag, Donny Elvina, Guia from Food Reviews Manila, and Rina from Rina’s Rainbow.

And because we were both going to be in the same place at the same time…Look who I got to catch up with!

And how awesome is it that I got to run into Anna and Raymond from Pink Wasabi?

And how awesome is it that I got to run into Anna and Raymond from Pink Wasabi?

I placed an order with Anna earlier in the week because I knew I would be entertaining later that same afternoon. Her Kashimaki is perfect with tea or coffee and totally impresses guests when you serve it! (I wanted to impress my guests :-) hehehehe.

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Kessaku Alabang

Ground Floor,

Commercenter Building,

Filinvest Avenue, Filinvest Alabang

1781 Muntinlupa City

Phone:  (02) 403 3445

kessakualabang@gmail.com

Mon-Sun: 

11am-2:30pm

5:30-10:30pm

 

 

Pink Wasabi

1535 Joshua Street

Jordan Plaines Novaliches

Quezon City, Philippines

0947-865-8634

mypinkwasabi@gmail.com

http://www.mypinkwasabi.com

 

Tus Clay Pots and Skillets

 
The interiors are earthy and rustic. With substantial chairs and crosscuts of different trees

View from the Top: The interiors are earthy and rustic. I like the accent wall with cross sections of different trees

My friend Jane knows all the right places to eat. I love asking her about places to go that are near by and I love visiting these recommended establishments even more so in her company. We have come to grow and nurture our friendship into more than just our first label of New Found Friends, and we have grown into a fun little circle with neighbors, Patty and Joei. We like to eat out and explore joints here in the South with each other and on occasion with our partners too. 

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After seeing Jane’s recent post on Instagram where she held a calzone the size of an entire cutting board from TUS (like so much bigger than anything I have ever seen before) I had to ask her where this place was and how the food was!

 

LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT CALZONE!

There is an area upstairs that is a bit more private. I imagine having a small get together in this area. Its big enough but still cozy.

There is an area upstairs that is a bit more private. I imagine having a small get together in this area. It’s big enough but still cozy.

She is always very quick to share information and dishes to try and through her kwentos she mentioned that Krsna and Kai had just come out with some breakfast dishes that we all might want to try together. 

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TUS’ means “YOURS” in Spanish. Potato Onion and Cheese Frittata served with buttered toast

 As you well know, brunch is my most favorite meal of the day, especially if it’s a leisurely brunch on a Saturday or Sunday.

OMG. This was my favorite dish of the day besides the cookie of course.

OMG. This was my favorite dish of the day besides the cookie of course. This perfectly seasoned Pulled Pork is slow cooked (as pulled pork should be) and topped with a house made slaw that complimented the flavors and spices of the pork.

 Truth: My weekends have not been leisurely approached since I have encouraged my children to involve themselves in sports. This means we are usually at sporting events bright and early leaving little time to take time out for brunch…

This Spicy Beef Gozleme had just the right bit of kick and spice balanced with cheese and garlic. Gozleme is a savory tradition pastry dish made of hand-rolled dough that is filled wi

This Spicy Beef Gozleme had just the right bit of kick and spice balanced with cheese and garlic. Gozleme is a savory traditional pastry dough that is hand-rolled and filled with different types of ingredients.

But this day, we made a point of it. And I’m so glad that we did!

Tus is right in the neighborhood and it’s easy to park. After meeting Kai Sason and Krsna Algenio, I did a little bit of research and learned that they are really from the south. This is why they knew they had to open their very first business together here in Alabang…

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Egg Salad and Asparagus sandwich served with pan seared tomatoes and basil on the side

Chef Krsna sent out a bunch of breakfast and brunch dishes for us to try. I can honestly say I enjoyed all of them, but I DID enjoy a few more than others.

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The Hot Chicken Sandwich with Jalepenos is a pan seared chicken fillet topped with romaine lettuce, cheese, and red onions. I like that the jalepenos are served on the side so you can determine just how much kick you would like.

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Is there anything better than spinach and bacon together? Pictured here is the Bacon and Spinach Frittata. The word Frittata is derived from Italian and roughly translates to “egg cake.”

If all the kids were with me, I know they would enjoy the entire pitcher of this yummy Pineapple Float.

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Delicious as it was, I would probably give my kids a choice as I always do. I don’t like them to indulge in too many sweets at one meal. This means that I would ask them if they want the Pineapple Float OR the Chocolate Cookie…I think having both during the same meal might mean sugar overload.

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Bacon and Egg Skillet comes with buttered toast, a roasted tomato and a healthy serving of beans.

All breakfast skillets are served with egg, roasted tomatoes and baked beans. You have a choice of toast with butter, plain rice, or their signature steak fat fried rice. Keep in mind if you want to go for breakfast that it is only served until 10:30 am.

 

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These guys…I love that they have found a friendship of their own because Jane and I enjoy spending time together! Thanks guys :-) We love you for it!

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Tus’ half baked cookie is their signature dessert. Ask anyone who has had it and they will tell you it is a “MUST HAVE” when you visit.

 Tus’ Clay Pots and Skillets is a great neighborhood restaurant that I would definitely visit again. I think the next time we go back, I will be looking for that CALZONE!!!

Thank you Chef Krsna and Kai for having us! We are looking forward to bringing the whole family back real soon.

Thank you Chef Krsna and Kai for having us! We are looking forward to bringing the whole family back real soon. 

 
Tus’ Claypots and Skillets
D1 Westgate Center, Filinvest
Alabang, Muntinlupa City
+632 8283178
 
Breakfast @ 7:00am – 10:30am
Lunch @ 10:30am – 2:00pm
Dinner @ 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Lunchbox Ideas

I love packing lunch for the kiddos. 

Truth:  There was a time that my kids didn’t want to bring lunch. They would complain and say that none of their friends brought lunch anymore to school and that it was just easier to buy something in the canteen.

Fortunately, they see the love and care that I put into their food everyday and they have come to appreciate the effort. Gia has often said that her friends remark on her lunch, how healthy it is, and how lucky she is that I still enjoy packing her lunch for her. I’m so grateful for that shift in her prespective, because it has even rubbed off a bit on her brothers as well.

I thought I would share some of my favorite lunches to pack for my kiddos, so that you might be inspired to change up what you are already packing in the lunch boxes for your kids. One of my biggest challenges is finding inspiration in what to pack for the kids. I look to other mommas for inspiration, whether it be simple recipes or even creative additions to make the kids’ lunches a little bit more interesting.

If you do pack lunch, then I’m sure you have a favorite container. Our favorite containers are Easy Lunchboxes. They are easy to store, east to reheat, and easy to clean. I LOVE EASY. (Remember, I’m a mom of four.) EASY is necessary! Our favorite drink containers are Klean Kanteens

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Couscous, garlic and butter fried pork chops, Goober Peanut Butter and Chocolate spread on Home made bread with fresh fruit. This Israeli Couscous pack from Trader’s Joes is so good. It’s easy to make and can be made in the morning so that it’s fresh when I pack the kids lunch boxes. I found it at South Supermarket. I’m so happy that I’m seeing more and more easy to prepare items there!

On this day, I was totally inspired to recycle the leftover quinoa I had into little patties for the kids. B'ley from Blogalag posted about them on her blog here. I just changed them up a little. They came out really good.

On this day, I was totally inspired to recycle the leftover quinoa I had into little patties for the kids. B’ley from Blogalag posted about them awhile back. I just changed them up a little, but they came out really good.

I try to balance what I give the kids. Usually, there should be a protein, a carb and a combination of fruits and/or veggies. If I was able to bake then I will include a sweet treat for the kiddos as well. But not something that has too much sugar bc it's hard to go back to learning and sitting at a desk if you are all pumped up with sugar.

I try to balance what I give the kids. Usually, there should be a protein, a carb and a combination of fruits and/or veggies. If I was able to bake then I will include a sweet treat for the kiddos as well. But not something that has too much sugar bc it’s hard to go back to learning and sitting at a desk if you are all pumped up with sugar.

We love Sheperd’s Pie. This is a simple recipe using the ground beef, celery, carrots and a bit of tomato paste. Top it with the fresh mashed potatoes and the kids are super happy. I just had to wait a little while before the aluminum foil containers cooled a bit so I could place them in the containers. On this day, I made the ground beef mixture before hand, and then the morning of, I made the fresh mashed potatoes, baked while I was making brekkie, and then packed in their lunch boxes.

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Sausage, tomato, and artichoke pasta leftover from the night before and fresh garlic breadsticks made from day old home made bread. Citrus teacakes usually go in the lunchbox when I have had an order and there are a few pieces left over.

It’s actually pretty easy to pack lunches if you plan properly. I know that when I make pasta for dinner the night before, the leftovers will double as lunch. Even as a family of six, we can’t finish a whole pound (or 500grams) of pasta, so it’s a good system that makes my life easier if I bring out the lunch boxes when clearing the table for dinner. I put the pasta directly into the containers and store in the fridge so all I have to do in the morning is heat them up, and then fill in the dessert and fruit compartments.

Gelli's snacks can be even simpler. Just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can keep her happy. I learned after packing this lunch that she definitely did NOT like applesauce.

Gelli’s snacks can be even simpler. Just a peanut butter and jelly sandwich can keep her happy. I learned after packing this lunch that she definitely did NOT like applesauce. Sandwich cutter used here is from Pampered Chef.

Sandwich cutters make everything fun. I picked up all my sandwich cutters from the Bento Mommas. I also really try and put as many colors in the lunch as possible. On this day I did well with the variety of colors.

Sandwich cutters make everything fun. I picked up many of my sandwich cutters from the Bento Mommas. I also really try and put as many colors in the lunch as possible. On this day I did well with the variety of colors.

I use lots of tools and small appliances in the kitchen to make my life easier. This quiche maker is perfect if I have pre cut the crusts. It's a big to do when I make pie crust here...I have learned that I need to put my rolling pin and board in the freezer so that my crust stays flaky.

I use lots of tools and small appliances in the kitchen to make my life easier. This quiche maker is perfect to use if I have the pre cut crusts already in the freezer. It’s a big to do when I make pie crust here…I have learned that I need to put my rolling pin and board in the freezer so that my crust still stays flaky in the Manila heat and humidity.

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I haven’t tried making other pies yet with this contraption but I bet it would make a mean mini apple crumb…

I try to make it a little interesting for the kids when they open their lunchboxes. I learned from my friend Kaye from Bento Mommas that you can write on the skin of a banana with a toothpick.

I try to make it a little interesting for the kids when they open their lunchboxes. I learned from my friend Kaye from Bento Mommas that you can write on the skin of a banana with a toothpick.

Or you can invest in these little Lunch Box Notes. You can get them over at Nurture Nook. Thanks Janice-you know me so well :-) These come in very handy!

Or you can invest in these little Lunch Box Notes. You can get them over at Nurture Nook. Thanks Janice-you know me so well :-) These come in very handy!  I think I need to pick up some more!

It's also easy to do quick lunches in the morning if you have the basics in your fridge.

It’s also easy to do quick lunches in the morning if you have the basics in your fridge.

Most times, I will have two or three different pasta sauces in the freezer or fridge at one time. When I make a batch of fresh pesto, it’s usually way more than we will use for one pound of pasta. I think I saw somewhere on Pinterest that you can freeze pesto in an ice cube tray and just pull out cubes based on how much pasta you have on hand. Pasta pesto, sliced and fried sausage and a pretty checkerboard apple make this lunch fun for the kids but hearty enough to keep them going all the way till the end of the day. (Other easy to make and freeze sauces are marinara, meatballs with gravy, and bolognese.) Creamy sauces are hard to freeze-so I usually make those on the same day I will pack it in the lunch.

Sometimes the kids are very specific, and they request certain dishes in their lunch box.

Sometimes the kids are very specific, and they request certain dishes in their lunch box.

Sometimes, the night before school, if the kids really enjoyed dinner they will request to make sure what goes inside their lunch box. On this particular day, I roasted a bunch of veggies as a side dish for dinner that night.  Gia requested that I make a roasted vegetable creamy soup the next day for lunch since it had been so rainy…that was very easy to do. I just warmed up the veggies with some garlic, onion, and cream, and then I put it in the blender. Add buttery garlic croutons from day old bread and they were happy!

When I talk about appliances that make my life easier, I can’t forget to mention my bread maker. I picked up my bread maker at the suggestion of a good friend. We have this place we like to go to for deals and steals. It was the best investment I ever made!  We have experimented with all types of breads and the kids really enjoy the idea that their bread comes from home on those days when it’s included in their lunch.  

This being said, I also hate to see things go to waste. So-if we have some bread or crusts that haven’t been sent in the lunch box, it’s very easy to butter, toast, and turn them into croutons, or garlic sticks, bread pudding, or even bread crumbs. Waste not…Want not…

Sometimes, I'm tired. Sometimes, I just throw some pizza in their lunch boxes with fruit and call it a day.

Sometimes, I’m tired. Sometimes, I prepare lunch by buying items from the local bakery. From Bread Talk to Tous Le Jours and even Yamamoto in Makati, I am left with a plethora of choices when I visit these places on a mission for lunch the next day.

But even on days when I’m feeling a little lazy, there are so many near by bake shops that I can pick up a few pieces to put in the lunch box without feeling guilty. I try to keep it as natural as possible when I pack…but every once and while it’s ok for me to give them something that is store bought. Those are the days I try to make it up with lots of fresh fruit. In this pic above, they had kiwi, cherries, apples and grapes. It makes me feel less guilty about not putting forth so much effort.

Truth is…they like most anything that I pack for them. I push the envelope every now and then. I know this kid of mine doesn’t like carrot sticks so much….the other kid of mine says apples make her throat scratchy… and yet the other kid complains if the bread is not soft enough…I  know what they like, what they don’t like, and what they need to work in their diet. I want to make it easy on them, easy on myself, and of course healthy in the process.

After all, I know that I am building their future eating habits with something as simple as packing their lunch boxes now…

 

 

 

 

Pastor’s Gastro Pub

I love that we have foodie friends with the same taste. 

Jay and Nino were friends LONG before they met the loves of their lives.

In fact Jay and Nino spent many of their childhood memories on the weekends watching their fathers race. There is a long history that is there between the boys, so much so that when Claire and I met, we naturally clicked, and I am thankful for that!

When Jay was going to school in New York, (he graduated from THE Culinary Institute of America) we were able to get together a couple of times so he could hang out off campus, meet our kids (I think we only had two back then) and blow off steam from the rigorous scheduling of school and later in his schooling, the internships.  

TRUTH: I was so intimidated the first time Jay came to our house! I knew he was a CHEF! How could I try and serve anything without there being a tremendous amount of (self imposed) pressure for Nino’s childhood friend? I was so nervous that I knew I had to serve something so regular…so completely comfort…that I knew I couldn’t mess it up. If I remember correctly, I think I served Chicken and Pork Adobo. Nino and I used to play with the flavors of that dish…we would use different kinds of vinegar and even sometimes roast the garlic or caramelize the onions before stewing the savory pieces of chicken and pork, just to try and make the dish more interesting. I can’t remember if Jay liked it or not?!?

Well…flash forward. Jay and Claire have a little boy Rocco (my inaanak) that we love and wanna squeeze each time we see him, and together with their families they have opened up their first (of many, if I can be so bold as to predict the future) restaurant (s) that has the feel of an earthy, warm, yet modern Gastro Pub.

The exterior to the Pastors is simple and unassuming.

The exterior to the Pastors is simple and unassuming.

Pastor’s is located on Macapagal Avenue. It’s a hidden gem near The Senate Building, so if you are willing to take a ride out  from Alabang (like we are) it is surely worth the trip.  I see touches of Jay ALL OVER this restaurant. I can appreciate all the details, the efficiency, and the creativity that went into creating an atmosphere that is perfect if you would like to have a Sunday lunch with the family, AND at the same time also doubles as a great place to hang out with other couples, enjoy a beer or some mixed drinks and tapas that we usually love to pick on while we are sipping and chatting away…

Nino and Jay...still buddies after all these years. There is something to be said for a friendship that goes that far back. AND there is something to be said BRICK OVEN PIZZA!!!

Nino and Jay…still buddies after all these years. There is something to be said for a friendship that goes that far back. AND there is something to be said BRICK OVEN PIZZA!!! Jay explained that the bricks used are from ENLGAND!

We were so happy when Jay and Claire invited us for a full tour of their new baby. We made sure to squeeze it in between our responsibilities at home and Gia’s UAAP game which wasn’t too far away from MOA.

We started with Croquettas de Bacalao

We started with Croquettas de Bacalao, which were just the right version of creamy and crispy. I loved the fruity brewed tea served in a Ball jar…as in…I wanted to take the Ball jar and Iced tea with me!! It was so yummy, I had two full glasses! I know they brew the tea every day, and they throw in dried oranges which give it the light and fresh citrusy flavor.

Prawn Bisque

Prawn Bisque was savory and creamy, served with a toasted baguette.

If you were the type to just eat light, soup, salad and the croquettas are the perfect combo. Healthy. Filling. And a variety of flavors that all compliment one another. Caesars Salad with grilled chicken. One of my favorites.

If you were the type to just eat light, soup, salad and the croquettas are the perfect combo. Healthy. Filling. And a variety of flavors that all compliment one another. Caesars Salad with grilled chicken and Guanciale. One of my favorites.

LED Screens and a fully stocked bar can easily turn into a place that I know Nino can enjoy with the boys. Even more so, if they decided to take the wives along...we can sit at a table and enjoy our paella.

LED Screens and a fully stocked bar can easily turn into a place that I know Nino can enjoy with the boys. Even more so, if they decided to take the wives along…we can sit at a table and enjoy our paella.

I loved that Jay took left over pieces of the restaurant’s construction and incorporated them into the bar and the walls. It’s refreshing to know that Jay was concerned with repurposing these otherwise tossed aside remnants. Even the light fixture near the stage (where 2-3 piece bands, or comedians can perform) was cleverly repurposed mixing blades!

The newest thing in restaurant and home design is actually not new at all. Making the decision to be eco friendly using repurposed materials is now the "new" old thing to do!

The newest thing in restaurant and home design is actually not new at all. Making the decision to be eco friendly by using repurposed materials is now the “new” old thing to do!

Next came the paella. The trick to making this dish so fluffy is the rice. Jay shared that there are only two types of rice you can use in making this kind of dish. And yes-he only uses them because they are the best.

Next came the paella. The trick to making this dish so fluffy is the rice. Jay shared that there are only two types of rice you can use in making this kind of dish. And yes-he only uses them because they are the best. I enjoy my Paella Negra with a little Aioli. 

Chiparones Ajo, sauteed garlic baby squid with capsicum in olive oil.

Chiparones Ajo, sauteed garlic baby squid with capsicum in olive oil.

Truth: Of our awesome foursome…I’m the pickiest eater. This means when we are out on a date, Nino tends to poke fun at my pickiness. Jay and Claire like to explore different restaurants and dishes…just like Nino, good thing they like me so much or I might be left behind for my pickiness.

Why do I share that with you? Because for me to eat squid it usually has to be breaded and fried. In talking to Jay about this, he explained that if squid is cooked properly it most definitely should NOT be chewy. (I have shared before how much I have issues with texture-remember?) Well, this dish was so delicious. I made the effort to try at least one piece because I did not want to be “that friend” (You know that friend I’m talking about?) the kind of friend who didn’t eat what her Chef friend put out so lovingly from his new restaurant’s kitchen (with his own hands) and said “I don’t like it” even before I tasted it? 

So I tasted it…I loved it, and yes, I had more than the one piece I said I would have to be polite.

Rabo del Toro: Brasied Ox Tail, marble potatoes,  carrots and beans

Rabo del Toro: Brasied Ox Tail, marble potatoes, carrots and beans

This dish was the star of the show.

“Rabo del Toro is the kind of dish that empires are built on.” -Nino Aventajado

The meat on the oxtail was so tender that it could be cut with a fork. It fell off the bone, and was deliciously rich. This was the kind of dish that’s so rich and rewarding that it leaves a blend of deep flavors that can only be achieved by braising this dish for twelve hours. I think the next time I order this, I will also order a side of bread to sop up all that goodness after I enjoy the dish in its entirety.

Hand tossed pizza was just the right combination of crispy and chewy. Perfect for kids and kids at heart!

Hand tossed pizza was just the right combination of crispy and chewy. This is Rocco’s favorite :-)

How better to finish this meal which was so super filling then with Churros and Chocolate? After I had my Mochachino I was ready to go watch Gias volleyball game.

How better to finish this meal which was so super filling then with Churros and Chocolate? After I had my Mochachino I was ready to go watch Gia’s volleyball game.

But not until after I got some sugar (say it with me…SHOO-Gahh)  from this boy…

I may have wanted to finish my meal with something sweet and chocolatey...but this boy and his hugs are even sweeter than that. Love you Big Boy!

I may have wanted to finish my meal with something sweet and chocolatey…but this boy and his hugs are even sweeter than that. Love you Big Boy!

Thank you Jay and Claire Not just for touring us around your wonderful new restaurant and filling our bellies but for being such wonderful friends.

Thank you Jay and Claire Not just for touring us around your wonderful new restaurant and filling our bellies but for being such wonderful friends.

Pasto’rs Gastro Pub’s main dining room can sit 50 people. They have a private area overlooking the kitchen complete with an LCD screen that can seat up to 25 people comfortably. Dishes are affordable and done right.  The passion and purpose that these two have put into their restaurant is clear as day, which we all know translates into good food. I can’t wait to go back this weekend! Even Gia is super excited to visit.

Pastor’s Gastro Pub

Unit D 1&2 Hobbies of Asia Complex

#08 Macapagal Blvd. Pasay City

1300 Manila, Philippines

For reservations call 02-831-0073

Tuesday-Saturday 11:30 am to 3:00 am  

Sunday 11:30-10:00pm

Monday CLOSED

Il Ponticello

Every once in awhile I like to escape for a “Ladies Night Out.”

What does that mean? 

Usually, it means we are celebrating someone’s birthday. Or someone’s promotion. Or someone has some great news they want to share. Sometimes we don’t need much of a reason…and then sometimes it’s to see someone off as they begin a new chapter of their lives…

 

Il Ponticello (from what I hear) was a popular place to visit EVEN before it had been revamped and reinvented. Apparently, it is a popular place to meet up for drinks and to grab a bite to eat. But after some of the new partners had come in, and changed up the scene a little, it has been enjoying a reinvention of sorts. On some nights they have a DJ that you can hang out in the lounge and listen to. If you prefer a more restaurant feel, you can just sit at one of the tables in the dining room and order the Italian specialties complete with an Italian Manager running the place which has a new swanky vibe.

I was able to try out the resto with The SoMoms to see one of our Mommas off. She is leaving Manila (again), but this time embarking on a new adventure for her family in Los Angeles. I’m super sad to see her go because I feel like we were just starting to get to know each other, but her leaving also gives me another reason (besides my sister) to visit the west coast. 

So, watch out Jenny! I’m gonna come visit!

Visiting a new place with the SoMoms is fun no matter the reason. We get to catch up on one another’s lives, share milestones, and sometimes even share our own troubles and burdens. We all know that burdens become a lot more manageable when we share the load…even if that means just letting someone else know how much we are carrying. Most of the time we are sharing ourselves and in the process…learning from one another. I love how much I learn from hanging out with these ladies! 

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The minestrone had chunks of vegetables and lots of cheesy goodness. I liked this take on this Italian vegetarian soup because it was not tomato based.

By the time I arrived the girls had already had some drinks and appetizers and were well on their way to enjoying dinner. Nino was curious about the restaurant too, so instead of leaving and meeting up with his cousin, he decided to sit at another table and in the process made friends with the manager Guilio.

Pasta is LOVE. I love a good pasta dish. You can really tell if the restaurant knows their Italian dishes by ordering the simplest pasta dish on the menu. By doing this you can see if they know their tomatoes, (Pontis does) and if the pasta is al dente (and it was).

Pasta is LOVE. I love a good pasta dish. You can really tell if the restaurant knows their Italian dishes by ordering the simplest pasta dish on the menu. By doing this you can see if they know their tomatoes, (Ponti does) and if the pasta is al dente (and it was).

Since Nino wasn’t sitting with us, I kept visiting him at his table to snap pics of his order. He started with the Grilled Portobello as an appetizer, and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snap a pic or take a bite, but I did make it in time for his Flat Iron Steak. This dish is a steal at around four hundred bucks!

The Flat Iron Steak comes with a Parmigiano Reggiano topped salad and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

The Flat Iron Steak comes with a Parmigiano Reggiano topped salad and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Of course, Nino enjoyed his red wine with his red meat. It was fun to glance over every now and then seeing Nino and Giulio exchanging stories of the beautiful places we all have visited in Italy. In fact, it turns out that Giulio knows of the town where my Great Grandmother comes from, Catania, Sicily.

The STAR of the NIGHT was the Porchetta...

The STAR of the NIGHT was the Porchetta…

OH MY…The Porchetta…

Because Candy and I arrived a little late, we were able to ask the servers to heat up the Porchetta for us. It was a beautiful piece of tender, yet crunchy, piece of pork that was packed with flavor. When topped with the delicious sauce that comes as a condiment, it was even more balanced. I wished I could eat more than one piece.

Let’s not forget that Ponti is also known for serving up some really great drinks. While I don’t drink every night of the week…I sure do enjoy a nice cocktail. I tried three drinks that I would definitely order again.

The Ponti Spritz was light, fruity, and effervescent. It has a touch of Aberol and Prosecco. Perfect drink to start the night!

The Ponti Spritz was light, fruity, and effervescent. It has a touch of Aperol and Prosecco. Perfect drink to start the night!

I also loved the Nutellino. This one had Nutella, Cream, Milk and Vodka. You can have it with Grappa too if you like. It reminded me of a White Russian but even yummier.

I also loved the Nutellino. This one had Nutella, Cream, Milk and Vodka. You can have it with Grappa too if you like. It reminded me of a White Russian but even yummier.

This was a creamy shot of Frangelico with a touch of maraschino cherry juice. I liked the whipped cream on top...it reminded me of the shots I used to make back when I was in college.

This was a creamy shot of Frangelico with a touch of maraschino cherry juice. I liked the whipped cream on top…it reminded me of the shots I used to make back when I was in college.

Desserts served were the Tiramisu, Bread Pudding, and Panacotta with cheesecake bites, caramel and crumb topping. The Panacotta was my favorite. LOOK at the bits of vanilla!!!

Desserts served were the Tiramisu, Bread Pudding, and Panacotta with cheesecake bites, caramel and crumb topping. 

The Panacotta was my favorite. LOOK at the bits of vanilla!!!

The Panacotta was my favorite. LOOK at the bits of vanilla!!!

Of course we loved the drinks, we loved the food, and we loved the company. While it was a fun celebration it was also bittersweet because we knew that it might be a long time before we get to see Jenny again.

Thank you Steve for hosting The SoMoms “send-off” for one of our Mommas- Jenny Reyes.

We all know that Italians like to eat “Family Style.” If you think this post is interesting and you would like to try Ponti out, this might be the perfect opportunity. August 21 is a holiday and as a special treat they are doing a “Family Style” menu! Did you see that dessert? If it’s family style, I wonder if I can have more than one Zeppole? I haven’t had a Zeppole in years…. 

Il Ponticello

Looking forward to the next “Ladies Night Out” with the SoMoms…I wonder when we can tear ourselves away from house, home, kiddos again? I hope it’s soon!

Il Ponticello

Unit 203 2F Antel Corporate Center

121 Valero Street,

Salcedo Village, Makait

(02) 553-9971

Mon-Thurs: 11am-2:30pm   5pm-12:00am

Fri: 11am-2:30pm  5pm-2:00am

Sun: 5pm-2am