Monthly Archives: October 2014

Boracay in Beverages

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Earlier this year, I bet my entire reputation as an educated alcoholic to a nice lady in Rheims that Boracay is THE best beach on earth.

OK, I know I promised I would never turn my site into a travel blog, but as I sought inspiration from the gorgeous sand and sunset of Boracay, it hit me: One can actually talk about Boracay with its beverages.

First, let’s start with the obvious staples: San Miguel Beer, its cousins Red Horse and Gold Eagle Beer in varying sizes, and the ripe mango shake… In my opinion, these are tourist attractions in their own right.

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Thai Basil’s Pineapple Basil Pleasure

Now, each of the dozens of bars in Boracay would normally have their own cocktails. While I wasn’t able to try every single one for this trip (three days of non-stop drinking will kill anybody’s liver), the legendary Weng-Weng from Guilly’s is something I can remember (okay, barely… I blame it on the alcohol). For my trip last week, I made an amazing discovery in Thai Basil restaurant in D’Mall. The cocktails are signature concoctions of Suzy, a fabulous German lady whose artistry translated to these one-of-a-kind beverages. I instantly became a huge fan of their creamy, refreshing Pineapple Basil Pleasure. This drink is made out of pineapple, basil, coconut, almond milk, and ginger. Yum!

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Jonah’s Mango Fruit Shake

Speaking of shakes, Jonah’s Fruitshake has always been a LEGEND in Boracay since… Well, forever. Adding to the charm of their many variations of fruit shake flavors is that they continually serve it in little recycled water bottles. I normally have the strawberry mango flavored one every time I visit.

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Lakas ng Lakan

Of course, Boracay isn’t all about staying sober (I’m sure party-philes reading this entry are about to doze off). Interestingly enough, they have launched a premium version of the proudly Filipino liver-killer/memory-eradicator lambanog. Banned in some countries for questionable distillation methods, this only-for-the-brave, 90 proof alcohol is distilled from pure coconut nectar. This premium lambanog is aptly named “Lakan”, after the Philippines’ pre-hispanic tribe rulers. And why not, the strength of the Lakan can equal the strength of this alcohol.

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Singing “Mr. Brightside” in a Karaoke Bar

For the even more adventurous, do try to join the PubCrawl groups every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. This tour gets you in 4 bars and 1 club, 10 free shooters, a shirt, a shot glass… All you need to have good, drunken fun in the beach party capital of the world (and meet friends). You can log on to their website at http://www.pubcrawl.ph for more details.

So there you have it, Boracay as told through drink glasses. Let me know your other amazing Boracay beverage adventures. Cheers!

Oktober!

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A few things I get excited about in October: Oktoberfest, Halloween, and my birthday.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type to get all giddy-happy about my birthday. In fact, the people closest to me know I detest attention and am afraid of surprises. I just thought, however, that with all the wonderful beverage-related presents I was given this year, it was worthy of a thank-you post.

My husband has been unhappy for not having proper (nor sufficient!) wine glasses at home. He has expressed frustration with the fact that I am a wine professional with no decent wine glasses.

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A Pauillac and Riedel Glassware (Bacchus)

So he decided to give me a set of Riedel glasses for my birthday and a nice Bordeaux to use them on. I have discovered that proper wine glasses can make a difference with the quality of the wine you drink. The more subtle aromas and flavors open up more with nice glasses.

Kind of like a coy woman being wooed like a proper lady.

These are expensive stuff so should you decide to get some, be careful.

Sorry Debbie, this means you can’t come to our place before I have them hidden away. Hahaha…

The wine Chad gave me was a Pauillac with a Baron Philippe de Rotschild on the label. Pauillac is a region in the left bank of Bordeaux… Which brings us to my…

SPOILER ALERT!

Figuring out what is in your bottle of French wine can be a little perplexing at first… After all the French will not put names of grapes on their better quality bottles.

The trick to figuring out your Bordeaux reds is knowing where it lies on the Gironde, the river that runs through the region.

For your cheat sheet:

LEFT BANK = CABERNET SAUVIGNON
RIGHT BANK = MERLOT


The left bank is made up of the following regions:

Medoc
Haut Medoc
St. Estephe
Pauillac (which is where my bottle is from)
St. Julien
Margaux
Graves
Pessac Leognan

The right bank, on the other hand:
St. Emillion
Pomerol (home to the legendary Petrus)
Fronsac

So, if you see St. Emillion on the label, you are holding a predominantly Merlot bottle. If you see Medoc, it’s a predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon.

Baron Philippe de Rothschild is a label associated with a prominent, historical banking and wine making family. They refuse to attach their names with anything less than splendid wines, so regardless of the price, it is bound to be decent. Added trivia: They have fabulous collaborations with wine houses in different parts of the new world (my favorite being the Almaviva from Chile), so be on the look out for these.

I have friends who are after my health. Like I posted before, I make a conscious effort to try and find ways to be healthy despite the amount of alcohol I consume. I also know that I have no discipline to work out by myself, hence I need workout buddies.

Like any health-conscious group of people, my workout buddies think I drink too much a lot.

No I don’t. 😉

Anyway, in an attempt to make me drink something healthier, they gave me the largest, loveliest TWG gift basket I’ve ever seen. The teas are interesting, and I love that they are all loose leaf (snobby purist alert!) too.

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TEA!!!

The Love Me Tea made me think of a love potion and an old Cardigans song from the 90s (yes I seriously dated myself there). Made out of lime blossoms and verbena then canned in a fiery pink container, it is the ultimate girl’s tea.

The Jasmine Queen Tea made me imagine Beyoncé drinking tea… It’s not a peon’s green tea for sure. It’s a richer, earthier version of green tea with healthy Jasmine infusions. Added bonus: Dieters swear by green tea to help boost their metabolism.

Now… Kung Fu Panda. And all Si Fu’s moves. In the temple.

Yes, we are still talking about tea. That’s what I thought to myself when I saw the Miraculous Mandarin Tea in its dark red container. It is a beautiful black tea with sharp fruits, tempered with hints of sweetness. Woozah!

Funny enough, they decided to give all these in Draft, which is famous for their draft beer (see the correlation?). For that night, I had the Paulaner Oktoberfest beer.

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OKTOBERFEST!!!

Oktoberfest is a widely-celebrated beer fest in Germany. It is amazing to watch Germans get so drunk on vast quantities of beer, schnapps and Jaegermeister in their Lederhosens. Great fun all around!

Lastly, being the introvert that I am, I decided my birthday would be best spent with my husband on a date. Chad decided to take me to the revolving restaurant in Eastwood. Nothing is more interesting than getting dizzy with booze in a slowly spinning restaurant (not for the vertigo-stricken).

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Gruner Veltliner in the Revolving Restaurant in Eastwood

What I loved about that night (apart from Chad’s company) was the wine. For the longest time, I have been trying to look for decent Austrian Gruner Veltliner in this town, and voila! This restaurant has one. See, Gruner Veltliner is good because it’s one of the more food-friendly wines. Very versatile to pair, it goes with anything… Including the sea bass I had. It has the texture of a Chardonnay with the tart acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc. Beautiful notes of celery and lentils compliment the honey and citrus flavors.

So to everyone who greeted me, wished me well, kept me in their thoughts, and gave me fabulous drink-related presents, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart which runs like a V8 and my liver which is shot to oblivion. Here’s to drinking with you soon. Cheers!

On Clubs…

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Wine clubs, that is. I feel too ancient to even be seen in a club at this rate. 😉

Dictionary.com defines the word “club” as “a group of persons organized for a social, literary, athletic, political, or other purpose”. I’ve seen so many of these… In fact, if you grew up in Manila like I did, certain Catholic schools (like mine) required you to join one.

Clubs, of course, are better enjoyed if you are willingly with a group of like-minded, pleasant company (and not forced by a class adviser). But what are the options for an educated alcoholic like myself?

I lucked out when my husband and I were invited to join the La Mascota fan club dinner in Titania, Yakal.

Backtrack: I met a couple of lovely gentlemen during some of my wine lectures. Consistent attendees, they were passionate about the nitty gritty details of each topic. This always guaranteed an interesting, intelligent, strongly opinionated conversation (my kind of people).

After a glorious night which involved them bailing me out of pronouncing German terms (thus preventing me from twisting my tongue more than necessary), they talked about La Mascota wine (and their club) with such gusto. It intrigued me enough to accept their invitation to one of their regular dinners.

My husband and I enjoyed ourselves in the company, conversation, delicious food (courtesy of their in-house Cordon Bleu chef)… And the wine.

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La Mascota is available in Titania stores and Rustan’s Supermarket

La Mascota is a fabulous, consistent 98 point (Robert Parker) wine from Argentina, using the country’s signature red grape, Malbec. It has rich, rounded flavors of blackberries, prunes, and rich preserves (very wonderfully new world). It is well polished around the edges, with aromas of violet and a whiff of spice.

Added bonus for cheapskates like myself: Can you believe a bottle of this fantastic wine costs under two thousand pesos in Titania?

Admittedly I was momentarily awestruck when the legendary Tita Trillo joined us during the dinner. See, I like wines with a story, and each wine Tita carries are like her babies… And like a doting mother, she knows the story and history of each one. Amazing woman.

Another organization dinner I had a blast attending was the Chaîne de Rôtisseur’s Kaiseki dinner. Chaîne dinners are often thought to be so formal (well, maybe for the induction nights), but the BYOB (bring your own bottle) Kaiseki dinners are awesome. Normally held in a hotel’s Japanese restaurant, the dinner consists of multiple exquisite courses of Japanese food, bottles of wine and sake shared between you and the people you happen to be in a table with (or beyond, if a guy from the other table feels generous). Conversations range from food, wine, business, media, the DLSU basketball game, and hormone tea.

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Clockwise from the top: LOADS of booze, Grace Koshu wine from Japan, Sake with gold flecks

The recent one we attended was held in Umu, Dusit. A fun drink find for the night was a sake with golden flecks in it, not unlike a Goldschläger. Another one was a white wine from Japan, which a seatmate of mine and I agreed could be the love child of a Sake and a Chardonnay. Also, in keeping up with my experiment on Burgundy wines and Japanese food (an advice I picked up from Beaune), I brought a Chablis, which one of my seatmates swore went well with the food.

Wine indeed is best shared with good company. Here’s to you finding your own good bunch of drinking buddies. Cheers!

Glad to be Wrong

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I love learning new things… I love it enough to embrace learning from mistakes and having my misconceptions shattered.

OK I realize I’m beginning to sound melodramatic (I blame it on the alcohol!), so let me explain.

I’ve been on a mission to educate people that affordable wines can be good too. It’s one of the reasons I started seriously exploring Chilean wines… I rarely had a need to shell out so much money for an enjoyable one. Plus, I can easily get them from wine shops and supermarkets.

But for the longest time, I have written off the Manila supermarket staple, Santa Carolina, as cheap, “acceptable”, supermarket, Christmas gift basket wine. It was its reputation, and I clung to it like it was biblical truth. That being said, I admittedly never bothered to revisit the label.

Yes, I didn’t realize that I have been an unconscious wine snob.

The label, however, sure showed me.

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I was introduced to their mid-high range, the Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia. This Reserva produced a Cabernet Sauvignon of such elegant, robust texture. It had hints of mint enveloping the blackcurrant flavors in what I could only describe as a warm, fuzzy embrace. It does cost about three times their entry level varieties, but for under a thousand pesos, I still don’t need to break the bank for a bottle (or two).

Added trivia: This Maipo wine actually won a gold medal in the Exposition Universelle of Paris in 1889. So you know the wine has history to back it up.

So yes, I am Gail, I was a wine snob, and I am happy that this wine has showed me the error of my ways. 😉

What other wines surprised you? Cheers!