Monthly Archives: September 2015

Pinoy Fast Food and Wine Pairing


I’ve been addicted to Pinterest lately (thanks to P, who introduced me to it and got me hooked).

As I wasted spent an hour looking at wine-related pins, I found one that involved fast food and wine matches.

I pored over the chart and realized, hey… It’s up my alley, and goes with my advocacy of promoting a casual wine culture.

Thing is, not all the fast food chains (or particular wine labels) in the list are available in Manila.

So, in the interest of embarking on a new adventure, I’m planning to do a series on what Pinoy fast food you can pair with different wines that are readily available.

Disclaimer: For the sake of my health and some research, I will only attempt one per month.

Let’s start with an easy one: Chowking. Chowking is the quintessential Pinoy go-to fast food joint for quick, slightly “filipinized” Chinese food.

chinese and riesling

Chowking and Riesling

Theoretically speaking, Chinese food (which is essentially what Chowking is supposed to be) goes well with light, sweet white wine. I tried Chowking’s kangkong with bagoong, lumpiang shanghai, “Chinese”-style fried chicken, and pancit with an affordable German Riesling.

The result was spectacular. The light, crisp, sweet Riesling highlighted the subtle but numerous flavors of the Chowking food.

What do you suggest we try next? Cheers!

Une Cave de Rêve


Located in the penthouse of W building (BGC), Le Jardin boasts of a gorgeous view of the city, scrumptious, unpretentious French food, and glorious boutique (not famous, but beautiful and unique) wines.

Their wine selection is a wine nerd’s dream: They are selected by their French sommelier, whose intent was to have one-of-a-kind, exquisite wines for Le Jardin.

Here are a few of my personal recommendations:

lj - nicolas

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Chardonnay

First, I was immediately blown away by their inclusion of Nicolas Feuillatte. A little known Champagne label in the Philippines, it is amazing to have without shelling out “big name” prices. My personal pick is the Brut Chardonnay, with its beautiful, creamy texture that makes it resilient enough to pair with an entire meal (if you’re feeling like having a bubbly evening).

blanc LJ edited

Le Vignoble de Saint-Jeannet Cuvée de Prestige Pressoir Romain Blanc

Le Jardin’s interiors immediately evoke images of Provence, and a great way to keep in theme is to order a bottle from the region. I highly recommend a bottle of Le Vignoble de Saint-Jeannet Cuvée de Prestige Pressoir Romain Blanc. It’s quite a mouthful, but I promise that this surprisingly delightful wine from an unusual region is interesting… A back story: Saint-Jeannet is a mountainous region within Côtes d’Azur, made out of a grape called Rolle, a cousin of the Italian Vermentino. It goes well with almost any food because of its robust structure, but I recommend trying it with Le Jardin’s Filét de Merou.

If that doesn’t make you feel like a glamorous Hollywood star from the 50’s vacationing along the French Riviera, then… Well.

lj - beaune edited

Mongeard Savigny 1er Beaune

As a personal bias, my husband and I decided to relive our trip to our first vineyard by having a bottle of Mongeard Savigny 1er Beaune. There’s a phenomenon (in my opinion, anyway) that involves a wine from a specific region always smelling like the place it came from. Such is the case of this wine; whose earthy, old world interpretation of a Pinot Noir reminded us of our tour (see here). It is divine with the Coq au Vin.

lj monb edited

Château Vieux Touron Monbazillac

For dessert, have a Château Vieux Touron Monbazillac. The long-lost brother (often disowned) of the famous Sauternes (some books will say Monbazillac is part of Bordeaux, some wouldn’t) makes an excellent dessert wine that won’t require you to break the proverbial bank. This liquid gold is a must-have with any of Le Jardin’s desserts, but I love it with their crème brulée.

I know it sounds cliché, but don’t take my word for it. Make a reservation through +63917-8176584, or check out their website at They are open during the following times:

Monday: 4pm to 11pm

Tuesday to Saturday: 7:30am to 11pm

Sunday: 7:30am to 3pm

I actually like lunch more because the cityscape looks prettier. If you’re hesitant to do a wine flight for lunch, you can always tell yourself: It’s always wine-o’clock somewhere. 😉




Hello, my name is Gail and I’m a carnivore.

Which is why I was beyond thrilled to find a new restaurant along Makati Avenue named Woody’s Texas BBQ. They serve mouthwatering, fall-of-the bone ribs, sinfully delicious brisket, and tons of other beautiful meats.

Besides the classic beer pair (and Woody’s has a pretty decent selection of beer), it is essential to try out their alcoholic slushies. People can choose from the classic margarita slushie, a rum coke, or the long island. All of the slushies are refreshing, slightly lethal (hic!), and excellent with the menu.

Let me know which one you like best. Cheers!


Long Island, Rum Coke, and Margarita (I evidently couldn’t wait to have the Margarita)

120: A Celebration of Fiestas Patrias


Note: This was written long before the recent earthquake… I asked a Chilean amiga whether or not to release this (might be in horrible taste), and she reminded me of something I already knew about their people: They are extremely resilient. Chile being part of the ring of fire, they are used to natural calamities, and are incredibly prepared (I was personally amazed at how they used Facebook to indicate they were safe, how their government managed to get people to safety in such an efficient and effective manner, resulting to minimal casualties). In relation to the celebrations of El Dieciocho, I’ve seen some news that it will be scaled down a little, but they will still go on. As my amiga said, “You know what, people there (her fellow Chileans) will probably just drink to forget… You should put that in the article.” 

So I did. 🙂

I realise that the article is timely… Today, not only is this post a celebration of their fighting spirit over 200 years ago to liberate themselves, but their irrepressible nature that resonates in today’s times.

In line with Chile’s Independence Day (or Fiestas Patrias, also called El Dieciocho), I decided to feature a wine that truly captures the spirit of the celebration: The Santa Rita 120 Carmenere.

A bit of history: Chile celebrates its Independence in two days, the 18th and 19th of September. The 18th commemorates the proclamation of the first governing body of 1810, and the 19th is a celebration of the “Day of the Glories of the Army”.

The 18th of September 1810 is also the beginning of the Chilean War of Independence, which lasted until 1821, when royalist forces were expelled from Chile; or 1826, when the last of the Spanish forces surrendered.

Nonetheless, war was still raging during the year 1814, when 120 exhausted Chilean patriots reached the land belonging to Santa Rita. The patriots were weary after an extensive and difficult battle for Chile’s independence, and sought refuge in Santa Rita’s cellars.

Today, these cellars still make beautiful, everyday drinking wines in honor of the patriots, aptly called 120.

120 bottle

From Chile to Manila! Special thanks to the wonderful marketing team of Future Trade Inc., Mr. Eric Kahn and Ms. Kristine Tayag

For a truly Chilean celebration, try having 120 in the quintessential Chilean grape, the Carmenere (more info on the grape here). It goes divinely with lamb, aged cheese, chicken, stews, and tomato-based pasta.

For a truly Chilean feast, pair it with easy-to-make empanadas (I recommend this recipe from the wonderful people of QueRicaVida). While it’s easy to buy one from a few restaurants in Manila, I must say that nothing comes close to the authentic Chilean ones. The dough is soft, and the filling is wonderfully hearty.

Santa Rita’s 120 wines (Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc) are found in leading supermarkets nationwide.

Santa Rita also has sophisticated, beautiful higher end labels. The Reserva, Medalla Real, and Casa Real are available through Forth & Tay (+632 826-1067, or

But if you feel like celebrating in Chile (I hear the parties involve so much alcohol), book a trip and join in the revelry (Chileans are so hospitable, warm, and kind… It’s impossible not to join the fun). These are just a few of the sights you can see in Santa Rita’s property:


The gorgeous mountains serving as an impressive background to Santa Rita’s entrance


Magnificent gardens, lush greenery


The many things this vine must have seen…


Love, Lake, and… Ducks!


Beautiful church erected for a wedding held in the property many years ago


The famous underground cellar of Santa Rita

santa rita

(l-r): Medalla Real Chardonnay, Floresta Sauvignon Blanc (coming soon to the world market, so honoured to be one of the first to try it), Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon, Pehuen Carmenere, Bougainville, and Casa Real

No wonder it was the perfect haven for the 120.

Let me give you another number worth noting: They are now celebrating 205 years of independence.

To our amigos and amigas in Chile, salud to your spirit!



It’s #100daysbeforeChristmas!

I’m not the type to jump on the “Christmas in the Philippines” bandwagon (we have the longest Christmas season on earth, starting September 1, lasting until Three Kings the following year).

That’s just because, in our home, we treat everyday like it’s Christmas.

Naks. 😉

You feel it in the air though.

No, global warming is a reality, so gone are the days when Manila weather has the capacity to transition from hell to breezy… That’s not what I meant.

I mean, you feel it through a favorite Pinoy foodie pastime: FOOD STALLS. There seems to be so much more of them during the Christmas season.

A fine, festive example was The Gourmand Market held in BGC.

By festive, I mean they totally decked out the place with autumn leaves (no, we don’t have autumn here, but we have severe humidity…!).

I went around the stalls looking for something to write about when I stumbled upon the Cask & Company booth.


You had me at Pisco…

They had me with what was written on their board: PISCO. I haven’t had a proper Pisco since Chile, and my mental self’s tongue started wagging… I had to have one, and I had to post it on Facebook.

Happiness is finding someone who imports Chilean Pisco in Manila and can make a mean Pisco Sour with it.”

#millenial #nuffsaid

bittermilk 3

Yum. Absolute YUM.

They also have a fabulous set of cocktail mixers, which includes whiskey sour (in bottles) called Bittermilk Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour.


Special thanks to Mishi and John!

Cask & Company has a massive selection of liquors. For the curious alcoholic, follow their Instagram account at @caskandcompany or email them at

Speaking of Chilean Pisco and countdowns, we are counting down to one of the biggest celebrations in Chile, happening Friday. 😉

See you then! Salud!

Now And Then: Drinking Habits of the #TitasOfManila


In classic “ladies who lunch” style, I decided to have lunch with a couple of my friends a week ago.

One of the ladies has been a friend of mine for years; our mutual love of food and wine brought us together. Celebrations, weddings, tragedies, a pregnancy, a sudden desire to live healthier, and several Shanghai trips later (all while drinking copious amounts of alcohol) further cemented our friendship.

As we mulled this over with water (water!), I felt particularly sentimental comparing our lives then and now. My friend was due to give birth that week, which got me thinking… Our lives have certainly changed.

This is, of course, not a sentimental “diary” blog.

I decided to talk about this sudden bout with melancholy because I realized, we are officially #titasofmanila, even with the way we drink.

Take myself, for example. When I started drinking, I didn’t like beer or wine (although my first booze was a glass of Rioja). It involved my friends coming over with some “concoction” that involved rum, coke, and other forms of alcohol in an effort to be “experimental”. Needless to say, it tasted like c**p, and some of us ended up puking in the bathroom.

My next foray with booze involved the classic college staple: beer. Beer binges normally happened after course cards in a back alley “carinderia” near our school (which has since closed). That place just raked it in during course cards, with cheap beer catering to heartbroken (“That’s it, I’ve earned a PhD in ANMATH…*sob*”), raging, (“I FAILED MY CLASS WITH THAT F****** PROFESSOR! AGAIN!!!”, ) or ecstatic (“We passed our thesis! We’re gonna f****** graduate! WOOHOO!!! Cheers, dude!”) students… Complete with sizzling sisig.

After I graduated, I ended up working for hotels, where after dinner drinking was the norm. The same formula applied: cheap is good (we would pool our tips for pulutan and bottles of GrandMa). This was when I learned to use gin and calamansi to cure a cough (click here for more details).


Pre-“tita” staples (clockwise from top right): Patron Tequila, Bacardi Rum, Coke (for rum coke, of course), and beer

I then started frequenting clubs. I was young, I knew promoters, and I would drink anything they put in front of my face (in heels and a teeny-tiny dress). My metabolism was off the hook, and I would drink colorful cocktails and down shots like it was nobody’s business.

Then, I started teaching, which made me paranoid about running into students in a club. That ended my clubbing days.

I got older (“mature” is relative), fell in love, and got married.

This is when I got serious with wine (so much so that I studied and traveled for it). I earned better money, no longer fit in the teeny-tiny dresses, and started being useless in the morning after an evening of bingeing (or just staying up after midnight, disco nap or otherwise).

I started to prefer quiet lunches and dinners. I found loud music to be too much. I went through a phase of not understanding this generation’s EDM (and caught myself calling people in their mid-20s “this generation”).

I started loving gorgeous whiskeys/whiskies and beautiful wines (with the appropriate food to match). Coffee (strong, not necessarily fashionable) became a necessity.

That’s when I realized, man. I was a full-fledged member of #titasofmanila.

I compared notes with my fellow titas (ladies in our thirties), and these are some of their “before and after” drinking habits (names have been changed):

  • Samantha
    1. Before: Copious amounts of beer during college
    2. Now: Quality wine, tons of water, and spritzers (during pregnancy)
  • Clarice
    1. Before: The under PHP100 bottle of vodka (it was perfect for a college kid on a budget to get wasted on)
    2. Now: Quality wine in quiet environments
  • Stan (a gay friend, still a tita)
    1. Before: Spirits. TONS of spirits.
    2. Now: beer, provided there is the perfect food to pair (granted, he has the metabolism of a 10 year old)
  • Monica
    1. Before: Whatever booze you put in front of her (she also “partied like a rock star”)
    2. Now: Wine (with a particular preference for a good Barossa Shiraz), and unique stuff from her travels
  • Belinda
    1. Before: Partied until 6 am three times a week, with countless gallons of cocktails
    2. Now: Clean living and alcohol-free after she took over her family’s company

Are you a member of the #titasofmanila? If yes, welcome to the club. How has your drinking habit changed? Cheers!

Dedicated to I (my favourite #tita) & E + P, congratulations on your new angel!

Yay! Yay! Ladurée!


I love food, drinks, travel, the colour pink, and Sterling Columbian roses (thanks to that old Christian Slater film, Bed of Roses).

One of my favourite things in the world that combines food, roses, and pink is the rose macaron. I’m addicted to the stuff… I can gorge on that with tea or champagne (like a total Marie Antoinette).

The downside to my Rose Macaron addiction is the fact that only Ladurée produces that these days.

The upside is… They’ve FINALLY opened up a branch in 8 Rockwell.



Before I get crucified for featuring food (something very mainstream at that), note that Ladurée not only produces these gorgeous pastries… They also blend their own tea.

You know how I am with tea. 😉

For those who really want to live #LaVieEnRose, I highly recommend Ladurée’s Rose Tea. Made with Black China tea, Ceylon, and rose petals, it’s gorgeous with their Rose Macarons. Serve it in the Royal Albert 1960’s patterned tea set for a truly rosy afternoon.

I hope this makes you see this week through rose coloured glasses. Happy Monday! Cheers!

Intovert’s Day Out – Salcedo Edition


There are so many wonderful food places in Salcedo Village. A lot of articles and blogs have been written about it.

I’m a beverage writer though.

So, in the effort to seek inspiration for an article (yes, I went through yet another writer’s block), I decided to abandon my introversion for a day (believe me, it took a TON of effort), walk around the neighborhood, and research some decent places and beverages to drink in Salcedo Vilage.

It’s easy to write the area off as a wine mecca (there are at least five wine stores, and tons of restaurants serving wine), so I limited the research to non-wine.


Happiness = coffee, a fashion magazine, a cozy nook, and a tree-lined view

  • CBTL (Ground Floor, Four Seasons Building, Tordesillas Corner Toledo Street) – Admittedly, you won’t find anything different (menu-wise) in this branch versus the others… Except for the view. No matter what time of the year it is, it feels cozy enough to hang out in all day with a laptop or a magazine. I normally order their cappuccino. Bonus: Their spinach and ravioli pasta is actually pretty yummy.
  • Toby’s Estate (V Corporate Building, L.P. Leviste Street)I always find this place to be a touch Greenwich Village (with the industrial interiors)… I always order the Gibraltar (click here for a previous article). Always.

Just looking at this makes me feel healthier…

  • Wholesome Table (Infinity Tower, H.V. Dela Costa corner L.P. Leviste Street)I drink too much. I need to juice from time to time. They have tons of fresh, raw juice options (all the vitamins and minerals are intact!) for every need (feeling down? Feeling bloated? Feeling not-so-pretty?). My favorite is Be Alive (because I do feel like part of the undead from time to time). Have it in the restaurant, or take it home.
  • Terry’s Bistro (132 L.P. Leviste corner Sedeño Street) – Yes, they do have an extensive, appropriately priced, and smart wine selection. I do, however, encourage you to try their Sangria. It’s awesome with their Jamon Serrano, too!

Sweet Lassi from New Bombay (look for the kindly old Indian lady proprietress, she’s a sweetheart!)

  • New Bombay (Ground Floor Sagittarius Building, H.V. Dela Costa Street) – Really? Beverages in an Indian food restaurant? Yes, because Sweet Lassi. This yogurt-based drink is perfect with New Bombay’s palak paneer and They also have several flavors to choose from (I just prefer sweet).

clockwise, from top left: yay, they have beer on tap; salted caramel with rum, and a cheeseburger; shake flavours

  • 8 Cuts (Infinity Tower, H.V. Dela Costa corner L.P. Leviste Street)Really? Beverages in one of the best burger joints in town? Yes, because milkshake. Try their thick, salty, creamy Salted Caramel… Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try their Maple Bacon Vanilla. Want to feel like a high school kid again, and pretend to fool your folks into thinking you’re drinking something legit? Have it done Tipsy Cow style for an optional add-on of rum or vodka.

Salcedo is the ultimate hang out for food and drinks… Just be mindful of the fact that it’s still a residential area. Try not to be one of those unwanted “visitors” who severely devalue the area (litterbugs, catcallers, people lacking in situational awareness, etc.).


I’m absolutely sure there will be succeeding articles, because Salcedo is just that: dynamic, young, and ever changing.

What’s your favorite Salcedo drink? Cheers!