Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Revisiting CIRCLES EVENT CAFE at Shangrila, Manila


To tell you the truth, I am not much for buffets. It is just an accepted form of greed and overindulgence over food  that may not be all that good to begin with, in short an open invitation for indigestion. However, I see the usefulness of buffets. It is great for a large group of people who have no idea what they want to eat or have varied tastes.

When one thinks of good selection of main dishes, well laid out food stations, attractive setting, small portions of appetizers and desserts... we immediately think of CIRCLES... At Circles, the food stays hot and rarely overcooked. There is a high turnover/ replenishment because it is so busy. Our plates were taken away in a timely fashion... and most important .... their staff is very courteous and helpful.

My eldest son Tommie and his wife, Maite invited me to have lunch with them at CIRCLES. I haven't been there since the last time it was renovated and I had heard so many people talking about it ... I decided to go and have lunch there. The Shang ( short cut for Shangrila ) is consistently rated as one of the top hotels in the city, and they had renovated their casual - coffee shop. I vaguely remember the old look  as a tasteful but somewhat tropical-themed room with a coffee shop....when I told that to my son he immediately said..." Mom, that was a long long time ago!!! " ... Today the interiors today are a lot better... they used dark wood, glass and accent lights and a lot of orange accessories... it looked very chic and sleek!

The food has improved quite a lot.

The most populated station is the dessserts which Shangrila is famous for... actually this is also my favorite station when I go to buffets.. I take a look at the dessert station first before I decide on what I am going to eat. There were local desserts like banana turon (  sliced banana with a sliver of jackfruit deep- fried in spring roll wrappers ), bibingka ( native rice cakes ), sago at gulaman ( sweet tapioca and gelatin ), and ginataan ( coconut milk  stew ).

There were also a vast variety of bite-sized cakes , pies, mouses and puddings; a few hot dessert options like strudel and bread pudding and a ice-cream and halo-halo ( preserved fruits and shaved ice ) station. There were also a small variety of SUGAR - FREE desserts. My son decided he will have halo-halo for dessert... It was so good!!

Yes, Circles is still pretty good, definitely a top option as far as the buffets go. The price is quite steep for the average pinoy, but possibly worth it. So if you have a large appetite, want quality selection , or have a celebration... it would not hurt to stop by the CIRCLES for a good meal.


address: Circles Cafe
              Shangrila , Makati
              corner  Ayala Avenue and Makati Avenue

Monday, December 28, 2009

discovering Thailand.... part 14 Bangkok -WAT PHO - The home of the Reclining Buddha..

WAT PHO or Wat Phra Chetuphon as it is generally known to the Thais, is mainly famous for its Reclining Buddha Statue. It is the largest Wat in Bangkok and technically the oldest too. It was built 200 years before Bangkok became Thailand's capital. However, today the Wat today bears no resembleance to that originally constructed because it was completely rebuilt by Rama I when the capital was moved to Bangkok.

As you enter the  grounds of Wat Pho... you will see a small temple where there are smaller Buddhas... Buddhas of happiness, fortune and marriage. Before entering this temple you will see a big brass GONG -- which you have to strike as you enter.

This highly impressive gold plated reclining Buddha is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, and it was designed to illustrate the passing of the Buddha into nirvana.

The feet and the eyes are engraved with mother -of -pearl decoration. The feet shows 108 characteristics of the true Buddha. The picture above are the details of the sole of the feet of the Reclining Buddha.

As you enter the temple where you find the reclining Buddha you will hear a distinctive sound... something like bells ringing... I went to look where the sound was coming from.. I saw the sound that I was hearing was not bells ringing but people putting coins on little brass containers. You can buy a handful of coins for 50 Baht -- and the Thai people believe that when you drop coins in these brass containers -- you will have good luck..

In the large grounds of Wat Pho contains more than 1000 buddha images, most of them come from the ruins of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, the former capitals of Thailand.

Wat Pho is also famous as Thailand's first university and it is the center for traditional Thai massage. To get a traditional massage here costs 150 Baht for 30 minutes and they have herbal massages for 350 Baht an hour. If you want to experience traditional Thai massage, this is probably the best place available and is highly recommended, though be aware that it is not exactly a gentle experience. They also have foot reflexology massages which is 250 Baht for 45 minutes.

I watched a cultural show where young students dressed in their colorful national costume performed for the tourists. They were very good !!

Wat Pho is opened every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. There are guides that can be hired at the entrance for 200 Baht. But if you ask me, you really don't need one ---- I just wandered around the grounds and took my pictures of the Wats and the Buddhas.

I hope I can go back to Thailand... there are more sights I still want to go to..... I hope you liked the photos of Thailand... Till Then......


Friday, December 25, 2009

Aubergine Restaurant and Patisserie....

Have you heard of AUBERGINE Restaurant ???

My son Iggy and his wife Cris invited me to have dinner with them at Aubergine in the Fort. Since they knew I love GOOD FOOD they told me I ought to try out this restaurant... Actually they  had tried this restaurant earlier ... I think it was the dinner for the parents of Cris... I tried to ask friends if they have heard of this restaurant and what I was told it was rated as one of Asia's TOP 20 Restaurants in 2009.

Not bad for a start ! It was opened 3 years ago. It is where the students of ISCAHM Manila ( International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management  ) goes for on-site training. ISCAHM is a world - class training center where dedication and close ties with to the hospitality industry  are the hallmarks of teaching and learning. This school won the No. 1 Culinary School Award.

Here is what we ordered :

for starters they gave us complimentary appetizers which is Brine Tuna and Deep Fried Feta Cheese on mango dressing... How did they know I love cheese??? I found the combination of Feta Cheese and Mango very unique!

Assorted salad greens with  prawns and raspberry - truffle dressing. They also offer other dressings to go with this dish--- walnut-sherry vinegrette or yogurt dressing.

I ordered King Prawn Bisque soup with seafood cannelloni which I thought was great!

My son and his wife ordered Wild mushroom soup which they liked a lot! it was served with bread croutons and truffle espuma.

Grilled Australian lamb chops and pan roasted lamb loin.... It was served with rosemary jus, eggplant caviar and goat cheese ratatouille.. The lamb was cooked right and it was very juicy. I enjoyed the goat cheese ratatouille ..

Australian surf and turf ... it had grilled lobster tail ( which was cooked very well unlike other places where the tail is usually OVER COOKED and sticks to the shell ), Australian Mulwarra beef tenderloin which melts in your mouth. It was sauteed with wild mushrooms and ... the piece de resistance seared duck foie gras!! So yummy!!! It also had rosemary - potato gratin and assorted veggies too as their sidings. I think you should all try this dish when you eat there. The waiter will ask you how you want your tenderloin cooked -- i opted for medium -rare since Iggy told me it was a big dish and I might not be able to finish it all by myself.

The only downside to this talked about restaurant is their SERVICE.... it takes too long for them to serve the dish!.... and the night we went there... the whole restaurant was jam-packed since it was Christmas Day dinner. Although they had a set menu for that evening we decided to go ala carte!  Another tip --- you should RESERVE before going there ---- it is usually full.

Aubergine is opened at 10 am to 12 midnight. Online reservations must be made at least 3 hours prior to the requested time.

Kudos to Chefs Stefan Langenham ( Aubergine's Executive Chef ) and Samuel Linder ( Aubergine's Sous Chef ) !!

BON APETIT and Enjoy your next meal!!!!!!!!

Address: Aubergine Patisserie and Restaurant
               32nd and 5th Building
               5th Avenue corner 32nd Street
               Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City
               Telephone number: 856  9888

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Our First Family Christmas Celebration....

May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!

Christmas for my family isn't anything fancy. We get together as a family and do away with all the frills. My only requirement is REALLY GOOD FOOD!...

This year we all decided to celebrate our first Christmas dinner in my daughter-in-law's house since her place was more spacious than my home. One Sunday dinner we all agreed on a color scheme which was Black for my eldest son's family, gray for my youngest son's family and I would be in a color that would stand out .. I chose red..

After 2 weeks planning what to serve on Christmas Eve... We all decided to have an early start to set up the camera equipment and food on the table.. I wanted it to be a POT LUCK dinner wherein my children will prepare at least two dishes each...

I asked my eldest son to prepare the pica-pica and some wine. My youngest son decided on the main course and dessert, and I brought in the main course.

In case you are interested in ordering some of the goodies we had on our Christmas dinner -- I will post the contact numbers/ and prices to make it easier for all of you.

Here are the food we served on Christmas Eve:

My youngest son ( Iggy ) and his  wife ( Cris ) brought 3 dishes to share... a spinach-stuffed tomatoes, the best carrot cake I have tried .

They ordered from February Homemade Cakes and Treats... contact person is Tintin Sevilla ( 926-0041 or 0917-790-8967 ).  You can call at least 2 to 3 days in advance. They have pick-up points in Quezon City, Ortigas and the Makati pick-up point can be arranged.

" Red Temptations " ( it is a spinach-stuffed tomatoes dish )... costs PHP 525 for 8 pieces.

" Orange Fever " ( carrot cake ) - PHP 700 for a 7-inch cake

Arugula Salad with a secret " IGGY Dressing " which was prepared by Iggy himself.


Maite, my older son, Tommie's wife prepared the hors d'ouvres which was a cheese platter and something new... CAVIAR PIE...

Cheese Platter

This one is so yummy!!! You can order it from Melissa's Caviar Pie. A small pie ( 4 inch pie is PHP 1,200 and a bigger pie 6 inch pie is PHP 2,200 ).

Telephone number - 383-2832 or 0927- 550-9072.
address: 1211 Acacia Road
              Dasmarinas Village, Makati

and I brought ...

" Bagnet " ( roast pork ) with the special sauce " Lasuna " ----- which consists of liquid shrimp paste ( bagoong Balayan, chopped spring onions and little red onions ). The Bagnet is ordered from Ilocos , PHP 450 per kilo.

Chicken Relleno which I ordered from Lydia Lerma ( 0917-440-5106 ). PHP 950 for a large chicken.

Baked Apple Pie PHP 950 for a 9-inch pie. I got this also from Lydia Lerma.

There is still time to order for your New Year's Eve dinner...