Thursday 28 April 2011

Spices: Bar Dolci

Around the Burgos Cirlcle, one can find a different kind of bar, a bar that caters for the sweet tooth-s. Instead of of serving alcoholic beverages, Bar Dolci serves different kinds of sweet temptations. I'm not a big fan of desserts but since it was my cousin's  ( treat, I gladly took part.

The place looks hip, alive and bright. Upon entering the store, it felt like being a 5 yr. old kid popping in a candy store. It was such a colorful place and with all the sweet goodies around the treats screamed "Take me, Lick me, Eat Me..!!!"

Bar Dolci

The bar serves different flavors of Gelato. A scoop would cost php120, two for php160 and three for php200.


What set Bar Dolci apart from other Gelato places are the unique flavors.

Flavors such as:

Thai Tea


White Chocolate Wasabi

After taste-testing almost every flavor available, my cousin selected Extra Dark Chocolate (women just love chocolates...), my two brothers selected Pistachio and I went for the quirky White Chocolate Wasabi flavor.

Three Scoops of Gelato

The Gelato was deliciously creamy and smooth. The Extra Dark Chocolate was divine, full flavored chocolate plus it was not intensely sweet. For a non-chocolate lover like me, I really liked this. The Pistachio tasted ok. The White Chocolate Wasabi is trully unique, some might get turned off but I liked it. When I took my first lick, the sweetness of the white chocolate  teased my palete then the wasabi flavor kicked in. I would have grin from ear to ear if the Gelato was spicy but it wasn't. Still, this was delectably quirky and unique.

The Macaroon spread was such an eye candy, it can be tempting to try every piece. A piece would cost php50 and if you buy four, you'll get another one for free.


After carefully selecting the flavors, we were all excited as we took our first bite. All of us were so disappointed, every flavor tasted the same. If you eat this with your eyes close, you won't be able to distinguish one flavor from another.

assorted flavors of macaroons

So far, I've only tried eating an alcoholic Gelato in Missy BonBon (Cagayan de Oro). Missy BonBon only has Bailey's Gelato while Bar Dolci offers a lot more.

Alcoholic Cocktail Gelato Popsicles

We initially got two, the Chocolate Contreau and the Tequilla Rose. I got so curious with the Guiness Beer that I had to get one. It was served in a popsicle tube container and you eat it with an ice cream spoon.

Tequilla Rose

Guiness Beer

All three has a tinge of alcoholic smell and taste. Among all three, I found the Guiness the most interesting one, since beer in itself is not sweet at all. The Guiness  Beer Alcoholic Gelato tasted sweeter than bitter. One thing that me turned off was that the Alcoholic Gelato Popsicles has ice crystals in it, it tasted more like an ordinary popsicle. If I were the owners, I would not sell this as Gelato popsicles but just popsicles as it is.

Chocolate Contreau

They also serve different Gelato cocktails in shot glasses.

Limoncello Cups

Pistachio Raspberry

I would definitely return to Bar Dolci and try out the other unique flavors of Gelato. As for the macaroons...forget about it!

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Spices: Azuthai

For the amount of Php 1,999, we got to have a nine course tasting menu for four plus a bottle of wine at Azuthai. The restaurant boasts of its Thai home-style cooking but the place exudes a very classy vibe.

The server asked us on how spicy we wanted our dishes to be, I am a spicy-loving creature (the hotter, the better) but since we invited our cousin (, we had to go mild. She has low tolerance for spicy things.  Since this was a tasting menu, all the servings were small but decent enough for four people.


We were presented two options for the wine. South African Sauv Blanc or Merlot,  the right choice for Thai food would be the white but since I'm not really too keen on South African wines, I decided to go with the Merlot to play it safe.

South African Tall Horse Merlot

There were two appetizers. The Pomelo Salad and Fish Cakes. The Salad tasted great. It has all the right ingredients and flavors that makes a good Thai Pomelo salad. Chunks of juicy shrimps, juicy pulps of sweet Pomelo and cilantro in a sweet, sour, salty dressing.

Pomelo Salad

The Fish cakes tasted ordinary. Nothing really special about this.

Fish Cakes with Peanut Dipping Sauce

The Satay Chicken was cooked well, though I would want it to have more of the char grilled flavor.

Satay Chicken

I have tasted a lot of Tom Yum Goong from different restos, Azuthai's version was good but not the best.

Tom Yum Goong

Im not sure what this deep fried chicken is. It was crunchy and topped with loads of garlic. Yum! I miss the chillies though.

Deep Fried Chicken Chunks

The Bagoong fried rice tasted superb. It was not as salty compared to the other Thai restos that I've been to..

Bagoong Fried Rice

Since my favorite Pad Thai place closed down years and years ago, Ive always been on a lookout for a nice plate of Pad Thai, I'm glad that Azuthai has ended the long search. It was presented in a very unique and nice manner, the stir-friend noodles are wrapped inside an egg.

Pad Thai

Among all the dishes, the Steamed  boneless Apahap fish with lime, fish sauce, garlic, corriander and chili was my favorite. The flavors basically described how Thai cuisine is. The sweetness, "citrusy" sourness, "fishy" saltiness, herby flavor of corriander/basil and most important of all the spiciness. I was spooning and slurping the sauce even after the fish was devoured.

Steamed Boneless Apahap Fish

 Thai halo-halo was served for dessert, it tasted simple and clean.

Thai Halo-Halo

I was disappointed that the tasting menu didn't include any type of curries since I'm a big fan of Thai curries. I took it as a sign that I should go back to this place. Azuthai is definitely a great resto that serves authentic Thai cuisine. One thing I'm not really sure about is how expensive each dish is and how big the normal servings are. Thai food is known to be affordable but it packs a punch of flavors. If Azuthai follows this general rule, it can make a run to be one of the best  Thai restos in town.

Address: Ground Floor Milkyway Building 
               900 Arnaiz Avenue (Pasay Road) 
               corner Paseo de Roxas, 
               Makati City, Philippines
Tel Nos.: 813-0671, 817-6252 

Monday 18 April 2011

Sights: CALAGUAS' Unspoilt Beauty

If there is a phrase to describe the Calaguas Islands, it is definitely unspoilt beauty. It epitomizes the phrase in it's truest form. No commercial establishments, no bars, no resorts, no restos, no noisy people and best of all no cellphone signal. We pitch up tent in Mahabang Buhangin (Long Sand) beach and this is by far the most beautiful beach that I have been to.

Going to Mahabang Buhangin is an adventure on its own. From Manila, I had to endure a 10 hour trip on a rented van going to Vinzons Port. From the Port, a grueling two hours of sailing on the open seas in a small bangka awaited. The waves were strong and I was drenched in sea water.

Then all of a sudden, an island appear on the horizon. The first thing I mouthed was "WOW!!!"

The finest and most supple sand touched my feet while the clearest crystalline water blinded my site. It felt like I was in paradise.

Just look at the ungrazed sand waiting to be stepped and laid on.

Since there is basically nothing to be found on the island, make sure to bring food and water. Pitch a tent up for a nice breezy afternoon siesta.

Sand Angels time....

An unforgettable place and experience. The photos and descriptions are not enough to describe Calaguas, it is something that one should experience first-hand. I pray and hope that It will still remain this way.

Travel Tips: Always check on the weather before heading to the Port. The boatman wouldn't agree to bring you to the island if the weather condition is bad. This may sound weird but if you get cold easily, bring a raincoat. Trust me, this will be a lifesaver. If you don't have plans to stay in the island, make sure to leave before sunset. The trip back to the port can be brutally cold.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Spices: Burger Avenue's Five Minute Burger Challenge / My Chilly Chanllenge

I am a big fan of the show Man vs. Food. The show is about a host, Adam Richman who goes all over America to look for Restos that has food challenges. Challenges that includes finishing enormous amounts of food in a given time or enduring the pain of eating the spiciest concoctions. When I heard about Burger Avenue, I knew I had to go there and take their challenge.

With Jim, Jon and Alain, we scampered through a rainy Saturday evening to Burger Avenue to accomplish my take on the Ridiculous Challenge. Downed a pound of burger under five minutes and get it for free.The Ridiculous Burger cost Php298

Upon looking at the burger it was very intimidating, the buns was almost as big as my whole hand, three gigantous layers of beef patties and cheese top with lettuce and tomatoes. Upon touching the wrapper the race was on, I had 5 mins to finish this monster of a thing. I was so psyche up on finishing it and no one would stop me from doing it. Chomping, chewing and swallowing every bits and pieces that I can. With Jim, Jon and Alain cheering me on, to my surprise that I finished it at the 3 min. mark. It was 3 mins of pleasure and pain, I've never eaten this fast before but oh yes it was a bliss. Burp!

Surprisingly even though it was a huge burger, the patties were still juicy and tasty. I enjoyed every bit of it and I will definitely go back. But next time around, I'll enjoy their burgers at a very leisurely pace.

Adress: A.Venue Mall, B.Valdez St., cor Makati Avenue, Makati
Tel No: 729-9108

I also came out with a Man vs. Food challenge dish. Fried Finger Chillies stuffed with Basil, Cheese and Bird's Eye Chillies. Spicy yet flavorful. Eat if you dare!

Fried Finger Chillies stuffed with Basil, Cheese and Bird's Eye Chillies

Spices: Charlie's Grind and Grill

I have heard a lot of raves about this place, some people even claimed that they serve the best angus beef burger in town. But there are also people who find this place overrated. One of them is my cousin, a burger purist, who likes her burger just as it is. No toppings or anything, she wants to taste the beef at its true form and flavor. ( When it opened its 2nd branch in Ortigas, I felt that it was my time to try it and see where I stand.

When I got there on a Saturday night, the place was packed, customers have to wait for an hour to get their orders. Aside from the Angus beef burger, they also serve Portobello mushrooms burger, fish and chips and cheese steak sandwiches. One thing that caught my eye was the variety of beers they have, there were beers from Asia, U.S. and Europe.

I read from that Charlie's has the best french fries in the metro. It claimed that even the fries went cold it was still crunchy. It was the thick cut french fry that I wasn't really a fan of. To taste if indeed the fries were still crunchy even when it gets cold, I left a few pieces. As i expected, the fries turned out mushy.

A bottle of Stella and fries
After downing half a bottle of Stella Artois, my burger finally came. It looked promising, the patty has enticing grill marks with cheese melted on top. As I took my first mouthful, I was expecting to bite into a juicy beef patty but surprisingly the meat crumbled in my mouth. It felt like eating small bits and pieces of ground beef. I automatically understood why some people loved it and why some didn't. The texture and consistency of the patty is different from what we are used to. As a whole, the burger tasted flavorful with the melted cheese, onions and tomato on top. It is the beef patty that got mixed reviews. Is it the best angus burger in town? I beg to disagree. I had better.

Black Angus Beef Burger wirh Fries - Php195

I also got to try the Portobello mushroom burger. I haven't tasted Portobello mushrooms before so I was excited in tasting it. I was disappointed when I saw how they prepared the burger, the mushrooms were covered in batter and deep fried. I wouldn't be able to taste the real flavor of the mushroom because anything that is covered in batter and deep friend would taste good. The burger tasted bland, the deep fried mushroom was under seasoned. I hoped they used more herbs and spices to make it more appetizing.

Portobello Mushroom Burger - Php195
Charlie's Grind and Grill
Address: RonArt Building, Ortigas Ave., San Juan City
Tel No: 477-5021

Saturday 9 April 2011

Spices: Bellini's

Hidden along the streets of Araneta Center lays Bellini's. A restaurant that serves one of the most authentic Italian meals around the metro. The resto resides in the quirky world of Cubao Expo, an area where you can find antique shops, a small library/book shop and different bars where the artsy folks hang out. Bellini's found the perfect place to set up shop, it gave the restaurant a novelty feeling.

Inside, the place has warm soft toned lights, a perfect place for a romantic dinner. Dinner would cost around 800 to 1,500 php., every centavo is worth it.

Wall mural of the Trevi Fountain

There are vintage wines on display. Some are empty bottles, some are still uncorked. Though I'm not sure if its for sale. Wine prices ranges from 900php and above.

Vintage Wines

The food was exemplary, all the dishes that I've tried has always satisfy my Italian craving.

The Foccacia was sprinkled with parmesan on top, the bread was crunchy yet still soft and moist inside. The dip was the typical olive oil and balsamic vinegar combination.

Foccacia Bread with Dip

The spinach ravioli in cream sauce with truffle oil was absolutely divine. Perfectly cooked fresh pasta dumplings with a tasty spinach and mushroom filling topped with proscuitto ham. With the aroma and taste of truffle oil seeping out from every bite, this was absolutely delicioso! You'll have an option for fresh pasta, always go for it. Nothing beats fresh pasta.

Ravioli Tartufo

The pizza-s has a nice crunchy yet chewy thin crust, the way how an Italian pizza crust should be. The resto has a huge selection of pizza on the menu, rest assured every one of them are of high quality. I suggest for people to order the large size pizza. It has a more Italian pizza feel to it, where the pizza kind of droops forward but still crunchy with every bite.

I'm not much of a dessert person but Bellini's Orange Cake is absolutely something to die for. Warm orange chiffon with orange marmalade plus the candied orange zest on top. The cake is so good!!!

Ive been to this place twice and intend to come back again and again and again. My favorite Italian resto in the metro. Life is indeed Sweet!

Bellini's : Life is Sweet

Address: Marikina Shoe Expo, Gen. Romulo Ave., Cubao Quezon City, Metro Manila
Tel: (02) 913-2550