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a treat @ the Chef’s Table

To celebrate my bestfriend’s birthday last May 20th, I decided to organize a simple dinner get-together with our good friends at Chef’s Table in Fort Bonifacio, Global City. I have heard so many good reviews about the unique place and the great food so we decided to check out the resto and see what the hype was all about.

Chef’s Table serves exquisite Filipino cuisine by the celebrated Chef Bruce Lim who graduated from top notch culinary Le Cordon Bleu in London. In the Philippines, he is more well-known for his cooking and travel show in the Asian Food Channel, Tablescape: Life on a Plate which he hosts together with celebrity, Angel Aquino.

                                           

While enjoying our food, a bald and jolly fellow approached our table and checked how our dining experience was so far. Dressed in an unassuming cargo shorts, crocs and a shirt with large Filipino print at the front, we couldn’t have guessed it was Chef Bruce talking to us already! In this photo, Chef Bruce gamely posed with his son (lil master chef) and birthday girl, Issa,

  

What I found most interesting about the place is the open kitchen set-up. I felt like I was in a studio in a live epsiode of the Master Chef or Hell’s Kitchen as we watched the “bald chef’s” (inspired by Chef Bruce, ofcourse) prepare the fantastic dishes right before our very eyes.

                                       

Even the beverage and bar menu had a Filipino twist. I tried the Chef’s Star (Php 150) - a blend of fresh mangoes, heavy cream and lemon grass extract topped with black gulaman.

For starters, we tried the Fried Pusit (Php 230), hot-oil blanched squid on a bed of butterhead lettuce served with green mango salad and the  much raved about Roasted Tomato Halaan Soup (Php 210), fresh halaan steamed in lambanog combined with a rich roasted tomato puree. Both had a nice interesting taste and texture to the palate. However, I find the serving small for its price and can be shared by only 2 persons.

For our entree, we tried a mix of vegetables, meat and seafoods.

Salted Eggs and Minced Pork (Php 120) is simply their version of the tortang talong garnished with salted eggs. It was tasty but a bit dry for my taste. Although after a quick fix of ketchup, the plate was empty in seconds!

One of the group’s favorite was the Braised Liempo (Php 350), pork belly slowly braised in a sweet spiced humba sauce served with stirred-fried mustasa. We just couldn’t get enough of the tender meat and the sweet and salty taste. Although again, I find the serving small for its price. We had to order 2 dishes for our group of 6.

Another recommended dish that we tried in the menu is the Chill-a-fino (Php 550),     a Chinese style steamed lapu-lapu on a bed of filipino ube mash topped with pechay. The taste was not as extraordinary as it looks but it was indeed an interesting combination. I actually enjoyed eating the mashed ube (taro) as a substitute to rice.

Being a sweet tooth, you can probably guess that my favorite part was ofcourse the dessert. A slice of Mango Cheesecake (Php180) was served compliments of Chef Bruce for the birthday celebrant. The rich and creamy cheesecake topped with fresh mangoes and butterscotch sauce was just heavenly!

                         

Birthday girl Issa still looking young and radiant. I can bet anyone for a mango cheesecake they couldn’t guess her right age :)

     

Finally, good food never fails to make us smile and giddy.  Look at us - we’re one happy bunch after leaving Chef’s Table :) Thanks Chef Bruce for a wonderful dining experience!

Chef’s Table is located at:

Unit 106 The Infinity Tower 26th Street The Fort Global City Taguig, Philippines

telephone399-18-88

Dining Hours: 12 NN - 2 PM | 6:30 PM to 12 MN

BBC’s Toughest Place to be a Bus Driver is a touching documentary about the harsh reality of living in a third world country like the Philippines…

reminds me how very lucky and blessed I am to be living the life I have because despite the many challenges that i face, it is couldn’t be any tougher than a life of a Manila bus/jeepney driver!

Torugpo Festival

One of the things that the Philippines is famous for and has drawn countless tourists to the country are the celebrations of  various Philippine Festivals. Almost every city has its own festival usually associated with its patron Saint. I have witnessed several colorful festivals already from the Panagbenga “Flower” Festival in Baguio City, the Pintados in Tacloban City and the Sinulog Festival in Cebu but none has taken my breath away (literally) than the Torugpo Festival in the very hometown of my mother, Carigara.

Carigara is  small town in the northern coast of the Leyte Province with a population of 47,000  people. Each year during the Holy Week, this small town comes alive with the practice of its rich tradition and culture.

       

The Torugpo Festival is held every Black Saturday at Brgy. Camansi, Carigara, Leyte. This festival showcase an exciting joust between native carabao’s called “the sungayan”, between two horses called the “paaway” and a cockfight called “karambola”.

               

The festival started some 200 years ago with a contest of strength between carabaos called called torugpo, from the root word togpo, which means matchmaking in waray. During the time of the Spanish Colonization, It was originally held during Good Fridays as a sign of rebellion by the locals to the Friars. It was later on moved to Black Saturday upon the request of the Bishop as not to disrupt the solemnity of the ocassion and distract the parishioners in their pious observation of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross.

      

During the fight, two carabaos are pitted against each other as they try to lock horns and push against each other until one gives way and run, with the winner in pursuit.

          

                             

Each year, the festival continues to attract hundreds of specators and tourists despite the violent nature of the sports and the issue on animal welfare. Surprisingly and sadly, it has even earned accreditation from the DOT and the support of the LGU.

                         

This year while on Easter vacation at my hometown, i braved the scorching heat and the muddy fields to witness this exciting event. It was held in an open field on top of a hill surrounded by coconut trees. Since there were no barricades to separate the spectators from the bull and horse fight, the people themselves form a sort of arena while others look for more strategic (and safe) places to watch including cimbing bamboo and coconut trees!

     

Over the years, the festival has evolved to not only a match between carabaos but between horses and fighting cocks, too.

               

       

In the “paaway” between two male horses, a mare is ushered in first to provoke the fight. Mind you, it is not for the weak hearted as the fight could get really violent with alot of kicking, stomping and yes, even biting!

                               

In the spirit of fun and festivities, the festival included some games for humans, too! There was the traditional “Palo sebo” wherein contestants race to climb up a slippery bamboo and retrieve a prize on top of the pole. The spectators enjoyed watching the contestants slip down one by one. Finally after several attempts, one local made it for a cash prize of Php500 :)

The Circus is coming to town!

I’ve always been fascinated with the circus and how it brings all things magical to life. I’ve read about the famous Cirque du Soleil a few years back and have always dreamed about watching one of their enchantingly whimsical shows. Cirque du Soleil, which literally means “Circus of the Sun” is a troupe of extremely talented and artistic performers recognized all over the world for their creative and exhilarating  performance. Every show of Cirque du Soleil seeks to evoke the imagination, invoke the senses and provoke the emotions leaving the audience simply at awe after every performance.

My first Cirque experience was during a vacation in Macau with my mom and aunt last September 2009. Ofcourse a trip to Macau wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the grand Venetian Hotel. I got even more excited when I found out that Cirque du Soleil Zaia had a permanent show at the Venetian. I knew I just had to watch it! All of a sudden I felt like a kid again. The last time I had this feeling was when I first went to Disneyland in HK and I was already 24 then! 

As soon as the lights went out and the stage came to life, I was transported to the fantasy world of Zaia. Zaia tells the story about the dream of a young girl who journeys into space on a strange, yet familiar voyage of self-discovery. As she travels, she encounters the beauty of humanity and eventually brings it back with her to share with the inhabitants on Earth.

The show had 10 incredibly breathtaking acts of dance, movement and aerial acrobatic from dancers on chinese poles perfectly balancing on globes, the leaps and jumps on the huge trampouline that seemed to defy gravity to the spectacular flying trapeze with performers flying across the stage in perfect timing and fluid movements. What I also remembered was the motor balloon which flew all over the theater giving the impression that you’re not merely a spectator but actually part of the wonderful and enchanting world of Zaia.

At first I couldn’t believe it when I heard that Cirque was actually coming to Manila! Cirque du Soleil together with Hoopla Production and the Manila Hotel will be staging the production of Varekai in Manila from June 22 to July 10, 2011 and what’s even more exciting is they are actually going to build a circus tent - what they call the Big Top - where the show will be held. It’s just like how I’ve always imagined it from the movies!

Varekai sets the stage against a captivating forest inhabited by whimsical and enchanting creatures. Deep within this forest begins the absurd and extraordinary journey of a young man.

The word Varekai means “wherever” in the Roman language of the gypsies. The production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai.

With 13 amazing acts of pure artistic talent and choreography, this is one show that is definitely not to be missed! See you soon at the Big Top!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain
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