Coffee and Clocks: A "UCC Clockwork" Review - 3rd Wave Coffee Shops in Manila

UCC Clockwork has some of the most Instagram-worthy dishes, and it’s something you have to visit if you’re on the lookout for pretty food to add to your feed.

Snow Ice Treats: A Hobing Review

Bingsu is a popular Korean dessert composed primarily of ice shavings, topped or mixed with various ingredients such as fruits, beans, milk, and nuts.

Carnivore Craving: A "Yoree Korean Barbecue Dining" Review

I was glad that it was going to be a smokeless cooking because we still had to get back to work and we didn’t want to come back smelling like we were the ones barbecued.

A Reply to Sean Ellis' Love Letter: A "Metro Manila" Review

Normally, good visuals with a great story is hard to come by in a time of poverty exploiting indie films. Yet, this time around, not only was it a great story, but visually stimulating as well.

Bayan o Sarili: A "HENERAL LUNA" Review

Tarog's feature is a masterful "work of fiction based on facts" that's needed to be seen by everyone who considers himself a patriotic Filipino.

How to Cook Vigan Longganisa

What they say is true – Vigan Longganisa really is one of the best longganisa there is. I’m talking about the legit ones that actually came from Vigan. I’ve already tried countless longannisa here in Manila being marketed as “Vigan Longganisa” but none of these still come close to the authentic product.



I recently spent a long weekend over at Ilocos (more about that in future posts), and obviously, part of the itinerary was to go on a foodtrip. Ilocos is known for their Empanada, Bagnet, and Longganisa, which we oh so eagerly looked for during our trip. Of course, I didn’t pass the chance to take some with me home for pasalubong.

What we bought was Jeanni Piamonte’s Vigan Longganisa. It’s package already provides detailed instructions on how to prepare it the right way. Allow me to share with you how I cooked my take-home Vigan Longganisa (according to the suggested cooking instructions), which turned out to be oh so good!

Cooking Procedure:

1. If preferred, separate the longganisa pieces by cutting them with scissors. 
2. Pour the entire pack of longganisa in a pan and add just enough water to cover the longganisa. 
3. Prick the longganisa with a fork, cover, and let simmer over medium heat. (It’s important that you prick so the meat juices don’t get trapped inside the longganisa skin. I forgot to prick them before cooking and the water inside the pieces squirted when I poked holes while cooking! Be careful)

4. Allow water to simmer until evaporated, leaving the natural oil of the meat. 
5. You may add a little bit more oil if preferred. Constantly turn the longganisa pieces until brown all over. At this point it would start to smell good! 
You can tell I'm new to the kitchen by how messy my work is.

6. Serve hot. Best had when dipped in vinegar.
And just like that I’ve become a Vigan Longganisa fan. It was garlicky, meaty, and not too sweet. I wish that I brought home more :(

For more recipes and stories about our travels and foodtrips, please subscribe to my Youtube Channel, and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Spicy Korean Pork Adobo Recipe (Prepared with the De’longhi Multifry Multicooker)

You can tell how much I love adobo by the number of articles I’ve been posting about it recently. Doesn’t it blow your mind knowing how a few basic ingredients can actually turn into something so good, that it has become iconic in the Pinoy culture? If you ask me, Adobo should be the “Pambansang Ulam ng Pilipinas” (that is if it’s not yet the one).


The beauty of adobo is that Filipinos can come up with lots and lots of versions of it, yet it still keeps its uniquely Pinoy identity. One example is the Creamy Chicken Adobo I posted a few weeks ago, which surprisingly is also pretty good.

Now, allow me to share with you another unique Adobo recipe (courtesy of my foodie buddy: Emon), which brings your usual adobo to a whole new level of goodness by adding a simple Korean Twist. 

I present to you: the Spicy Korean Pork Adobo!

This version of Adobo is made spicier by adding Gochujang Sauce – a Korean condiment made primarily from red chili peppers. Preparing this simple yet tasty ulam was made even easier with the De’Longhi Multifry Multicooker. We simply had to set-up the correct settings and we were cooking in no time!


Check out the video below to learn the step-by-step process of preparing the Spicy Korean Pork Adobo (please turn up the volume and watch in HD):



For those who prefer to read, here is the quick and easy recipe:

SPICY KOREAN PORK ADOBO RECIPE (Using The De’longhi Multifry Multicooker):

Ingredients:

  • 1 kilo Pork
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Soy Sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Black Pepper
  • Crushed Red Peppers (optional)
  • Gochujang Sauce


Procedure:

1. Put pork inside the De’Longhi Multifry Multicooker pan 
2. Turn on the Multicooker and set the Cooking Programme to PAN. This programme cooks in much the same way as a saucepan, and is great for braising, boiling, and even lightly frying meats.  
3. Adjust the degree of cooking to three bars only (the default setting of PAN is at 4 bars). 
4. Set the timer to 25 minutes. 
5. Close the lid and wait until the timer stops or until the pork is lightly brown. Don’t worry about having to mix around the meat because the De’Longhi Multifry Multicooker’s paddle automatically mixes the food. 
6. Take off the cooked pork and set aside. 
7. Sauté garlic and onions until brown (again, the paddle does all the work). Add back the pork you set aside and let the flavors seep into the meat. 
8. Add soy sauce, vinegar, and black pepper to taste. You can add crushed red pepper if you want it spicier. 

9. Allow the soy sauce and vinegar to be absorbed by the meat. After a few minutes, you can now add the Gochujang Sauce.  
10. Let the paddle mix the food until the sauce becomes thick and meat is reddish. 
11. Tadaaaa! Your Spicy Korean Pork Adobo is now ready for serving.
See? Easy peasy. It’s amazing how we only needed to push a few buttons and simply throw in the ingredients one by one and we ended up with a dish that’s oh so mouth-wateringly good! I’m telling you, the De’Longhi Multifry Multicooker works wonders!

There’s a whole bunch of recipes online that you can prepare with the De’Longhi Multifry (yep, there’s an app for that). I’m looking forward to making some dessert!

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Blind but Badass: A "Don't Breathe" Review

When a desperate thief steals from a blind man in order to give her sister a better life, whose side will you take?


This is one of the moral dilemmas presented by Don’t Breathe, a home invasion thriller by Evil Dead director Fede Alvarez. Simply put, the film is about three young burglars who break into the home of a blind army veteran rumored to be keeping $300,000.00 worth of cash. Not long after they have gotten inside the house, they realize that they may have underestimated their target, and that there may be other dark secrets hidden inside the house other than the money they’re looking for.

Don't Breathe Trailer



I wasn’t expecting much from Don’t Breathe given that it wasn’t really making much noise online (probably because of the fact that Train to Busan was creating a much louder buzz last week). Surprisingly, it turned out to be a really good suspense flick that will make you hold on to your seats.


Imagine a home-invasion movie except that the roles are reversed – instead of the invaders preying on the homeowners, tit’s the man of the house who hunts down the trespassers. The supposedly victim of the crime turns out to be more than capable of defending himself despite his disability and the fact that he's outnumbered. What follows is a gripping cat-and-mouse chase with lots of heart-stopping close encounters and fairly decent fighting sequences.


The film effectively plays around with our primal fear of getting caught, reinforced by claustrophobic scenes which include an impressive long take that gives you a clear view of the labyrinth of a house that the main characters would be trapped in. It’s a thriller in every sense of the word. The occasional jumps scares weren’t many, instead, what we have are gripping chases and several intense scenes where our young burglars try to make as less sound as they can so as not to be detected by their predator’s heightened senses.


But much more than action and the suspense, it’s the moral ambiguity presented by the movie that would keep you disturbed even after you have already left the cinema. Normally you wouldn’t take the side of burglars but in some way, the movie makes you hope that they get what they came for and escape safely from the house. On the first half of the movie you’ll feel torn knowing that it’s so wrong to steal from a blind man (stealing in itself isn’t right in the first place), yet why do we hope that they get out alive? Why aren’t we cheering for the handicapped guy when he’s only defending himself from kids who want to steal his money?


This dilemma was one of the best things about Don’t Breathe. It keeps the audience thinking, it keeps them engaged, and it makes them question their own moral judgment.

Until we get to a downer.

At some point in the movie there will be some sort of twist that eventually establishes our blind army veteran as the bad guy. The gray areas are now back to black and white, and the film suddenly spoon-feeds the audience, helping them decide who to root for in the movie. The film’s appeal coming from the moral dilemma it once had is all thrown out of the window, and suddenly it’s become nothing but a teen-slasher movie. It’s also at this point that you’ll realize that several of our main characters are only cardboard cutouts, and we don’t really get a good background other than the stereotypes that they’re supposed to represent.


Nonetheless, Don’t Breathe is still a bunch of fun! True, there are a few notable flaws here and there but it still definitely delivers as a suspense thriller. There’s also a hint of a sequel towards the end of the film but given the rather awkward way that it was presented, maybe it would be wise to manage our expectations.

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SM Hypermarket Celebrates Streetfood Festival



Streetfood has a very special place in the Pinoy culture. Filipinos can come up with lots of creative ways to re-invent food and turn it into delicious yet affordable merienda that you can easily buy from vendors outside school, in canteens, and some are being peddled inside offices!

Bananas for example, can be turned into maruya, banana cue, or turon. Barbecue can also come in many forms like isaw, betamax, adidas, etc. And who would forget the different kinds of “balls” that we oh so crave for – fishballs, squidballs, and kwek-kwek?


SM  Hypermarket has probably recognized the cultural and economic appeal of streetfood to many Filipinos, since it recently launched its very own Streetfood Festival – an annual celebration that features many of our Streetfood favorites which highlight the rich culture of everyday Filipino food. This year, SM Hypermarket has partnered with Unilever, Nestlé, San Miguel, Alaska, Del Monte, P&G, CDO, Frabelle, Farm Fresh, and Bounty Fresh to bring much-loved streetfood into the malls and to their customers.


Mila's Crispy Home Fry


Cebu's Original Lechon Belly

Grateafy Waffle Delights


The Festival’s grand launch was held last August 31 at SM Fairview, and will be having more road shows on the following dates and venues:

September 9 - SM Valenzuela, 
September 23 - SM Bicutan
October 14 - SM Molino
October 20 – SM Mall of Asia (Grand Finale)

If you’re planning to visit, I would recommend that you try SM Market’s Turon with Langka. It’s only Php 15.00 yet it’s huuuge and siksik na siksik with fillings. Yum!

The best part is that Chef Boy Logro will be holding a cooking demo in all the roadshows, so you can also learn to prepare your own streetfood delicacies at home. To make things more exciting, specially bundled packs will be available at select SM Hypermarket branches from September 1 to October 20, which will contain raffle coupons to win Php 100,000.00! The grand raffle draw will be held at the SM Mall of Asia roadshow, where celebrity guests will also be present.


Looks like I already have an idea where I’ll be having my next food trip!

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Cutie Cooking: A Sunnies Cafe Review

Stylish and classy are the first two things that may come to your mind when you visit Sunnies Café. The laid-back interiors and the Instagrammable dishes in their menu seem to have “Millenial” written over them, which is probably why this seems to be the crowd inside the restaurant every time I pass by it on my way to work.


The pictures of Sunnies Café’s dishes that I’ve been seeing online all look pretty and tempting! I had lunch there with my office buddies a few weeks ago and here are some of the dishes we had:

Crispy Tacos – Php 270.00


This was surprisingly good.  Fried quail eggs sit on top of asada steak and cilantro cream sauce – all blanketed by homemade Parmesan taco shells. The simple ingredients worked so well together, although I wished that each taco had more stuff in them.

Eggs Benny (with crispy bacon) – Php 260.00


This is slightly different from the usual Eggs Benny that I know because instead of muffins, the poached eggs and crispy bacon are perched on top of a crispy potato nest (imagine potato fries shaped like noodles). It would have been okay but the downer was that the hollandaise was too overwhelming for my taste, especially that the the eggs, bacon and fries were already tasty on their own.

You also have the option to have Norwegian Smoked Salmon instead of bacon, which would then make the dish cost Php 360.00

Crab Fat Rice Bowl – Php 250.00


This is one of the more affordable, yet more sinful options in Sunnies Café’s menu. This is basically veggie omelette served over crab fat fried rice. Not bad and the serving was actually pretty generous too.

New Yorker  - Php 370.00


One of my buddies ordered the New Yorker because it sounded so good in the menu. However, when it was served to us, it turned out to be slightly underwhelming primarily because it’s apparently a deconstructed smoked salmon sandwhich. Would have turned out better if they just served it as a sandwich if you ask me.

Sunnies Risotto – Php 370.00


The Sunnies Risotto was the one on top of mind when we were choosing our orders because its pictures in the posters was just so appetizing. It’s a cheesy dish made of grand padano cheese, caramelized bacon, and sous vide egg on the risotto, made more flavorful by homemade gravy. This would be a good option for cheese-lovers but not being slightly indifferent towards cheese, this didn't make it to my favorites list.

Surprisingly, what I liked the best among our initial orders was the Crispy Tacos. The rest of the orders were either too cheesy or too creamy or too foreign to me. But hey, that’s just personal preference.

Of course, we wouldn’t miss the chance to have a taste of Sunnies Café’s desserts! We opted for the Sunnies Funfetti (Php 290.00), which is basically milk-soaked sponge caked served together with whipped cream and vanilla bourbon ice cream.  Birthday sprinkles added more color to this creamy delight.


I personally liked the Funfetti – not too sweet, nor overwhelmingly creamy. The fact that it’s a photogenic dessert is also a plus!

***
I guess the selling point of Sunnies Café would be the “Instagram-worthiness” of their dishes. Not everyone may be able to appreciate the taste, especially with diners like me who are more inclined towards Asian cuisine.  There’s no question though on the effort put into the beauty and presentation of each item on the menu.

Sunnies Café is open from 11am till 11pm on Sundays to Thursdays, and 11am till 12am on Fridays and Saturdays.

Sunnies Café

BGC High Street
B3 Unit 748 Bonifacio High Street, BGC, Taguig City
 (02) 949 2251

SM Megamall
2nd floor, Bridgeway, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City

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Blood and Brains: A Train to Busan Review (Spoiler-Free)

And you thought your MRT commute was hellish.

South Korea offers their own take on the zombie apocalypse genre with Train to Busan – an undead thriller / family drama flick which I would choose over Brad Pitt’s World War Z anytime.  Just when I thought I’ve already had more than enough zombie films in my basket, this one comes along and re-ignites my appreciation of the genre.

Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) is on a train to Busan to grant his daughter’s wish to see her mother on her birthday.  However, not long after the train has departed, several passengers start attacking other people on the train, biting and infecting them until they become flesh-hungry zombies. Determined to protect his daughter, Seok-woo works with other passengers to survive inside the train until they get to a station where they can get off to safety.  But how much is he willing to sacrifice to ensure his daughter’s survival?

Train to Busan Trailer



I may not have given the film justice with the short plot I came up with above, but believe me when I say that Train to Busan is a must-see. I’d even go so far as saying that this is one of the best zombie flicks I’ve seen in years.


I believe where the appeal of Train to Busan comes from is the fact that the film’s plot does not revolve on survival alone.  A pinch of family drama and ethical dilemma was also thrown in to move the storyline forward, so it’s not really just jump-scares and zombie chases that keep you glued to the screen – there’s also that tear-jerking display of love and sacrifice for a loved one, as well as the thought-provoking dilemma of whether what you would have done if you were in the situation.


I guess we can say that Train to Busan has the gripping thrill of World War Z as well also the heart and drama of The Walking Dead.

But what makes Train to Busan more relatable is that it’s from the perspective of an ordinary man. We’re not following somebody who’s out to save the whole world from extinction or put an end to the outbreak once and for all. What we have is an ordinary father whose only goal is to keep his daughter safe. He doesn’t have badass gun-slinging skills or exceptional knowledge about the outbreak, but he does what he can within his power to survive – pretty much what I would have done myself.


Train to Busan is a wildly fun zombie movie that would make you hold on to your seats as well as try to hold back tears. It’s a thought-provoking movie that may also make you question humanity. As I left the cinema I asked myself: how much am I willing to sacrifice in order to survive?

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More than Foodstagram: Beautifully Taken Food Shots Using the Huawei P9


These days, it’s not just about having a significant number of followers on Instagram – your feed now also has to be well curated and stylized enough to look like a pretty portfolio. Being a food blogger, a huge chunk of the pictures on my IG feed are food shots, and given the fact that I’ve received several comments saying my pictures make them drool, I can pretty much say that I’m at least doing a decent job in taking these pictures.


Trust me, taking these pictures isn’t as easy as it looks! A lot of factors have to be considered – like lighting, the angle, the background – sometimes the food already gets cold just because it takes me too long to find the perfect shot (good thing my friends are patient and understanding enough to let me do what I do..lol).

The challenge is that I don’t always bring my mirrorless camera with me - that and the fact that not all restaurants have Foodstagram-friendly lighting. In situations such as these, I rely on my trusty smartphone in taking food shots. I’ve recently been using the Huawei P9, and I can confidently say that it levels up my IG game. Here are some of the food shots I took with the Huawei P9.




Each one’s “Instagrammable” don’t you think? The primary reason why pictures taken with the Huawei P9 have an impressive quality, is the fact that it has not just one, but two special cameras working together at the back of the phone.  These cameras are co-designed by Leica, so you can really tell that Huawei is serious about the quality of pictures taken using the P9.


Allow me to share with you a few tips on taking beautifully taken food shots using the Huawei P9:

Focus on Prominent Elements of the Food

In every shot, the background is just as important as the subject, but with food shots, you also don’t want the viewer to get distracted by having too much going on in the background. You want the viewer’s attention to stay on the food, so make sure that you focus on prominent elements in the subject.


You can use the Bokeh or blurring effect of the Huawei P9 to achieve the focus that you need. When on the camera app, simply click on the icon that looks like a lens on the upper-left tray. Then click on the subject that you want to focus on before taking the picture. The Bokeh feature works best in shooting subjects within 2 meters from you.

Find a Good Lighting

Natural light works best for food shots, which is why at restaurants, I prefer sitting near the windows where I can get better lighting for my pictures. However, not all restos have good lighting, and what about when you have to take pictures at night?

This picture was taken inside the restaurant using the Huawei P9. No editing was done on the brightness of the picture.
Huawei takes pride in the fact that the P9’s cameras work wonders even in low-light settings. The Leica cameras let in a lot of light (I believe the mochorome lens bring in a lot more light that the RGB one) – working together to produce sharp pictures even in darker settings.

Go Pro
The advantage of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, is that you can manually adjust the settings such as the aperture and shutter speed. Not a lot of phones can do this, but the Huawei P9 definitely can.


There’s a tray just right above the camera shutter button that you can swipe up to reveal the Pro Mode. From here you can manually adjust the shutter speed, ISO, exposure, focus, white balance, among others. When done properly, your food shot can have a quality similar to professionally taken pictures! This should be pretty helpful when your taking pictures of food that has some “motion” in them – like chocolate melting out of dessert, steam coming out of a hot pot, or oil bubbling up in the grill.

There’s a whole lot more to taking Insta-worthy food shots, but for those who aren’t professional photographers like me, it helps to have a smartphone that makes it easier for you to take beautiful pictures. 


Ever since I’ve had the Huawei P9, I’ve been using it to take food shots and build up my Foodstagram. If you’re like me who have already made taking pictures a part of my ritual before meals, but can’t be bothered bringing a DSLR all the time, you may want to give the Huawei P9 a shot (pun intended).

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