Monthly Archives: November 2015

Stocking Stuffers, Christmas Shopping, and Christmas Bazaars

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Coming Soon: Locally Made Stocking Stuffers!

We apologise for being AFK too long… Holiday madness in our family has begun. Christmas Shopping, Christmas Bazaars, oh my!

Here is a little sneak peek into one of our amazing proudly Pinoy beverage finds in one of the bazaars we have gone to.

Disclaimer: None of us were paid to feature any of the items. 😉

Spectre – Shaken, Not Stirred

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Chad and I are huge fans of James Bond (evidently).

I’m a big fan of Connery Bond for his suave sophistication and 60s charm, as well as Brosnan Bond (I grew up in the 90s, and he’ll forever be 90’s Bond to me).

Our family, however, is most fascinated by Craig Bond… I think I’ve mentioned it before in a previous entry. Kidding aside, Chad’s dad looks so much like Daniel Craig (especially when Craig gets cranky) that it freaks us out whenever Craig Bond has romantic trysts with his Bond girls (it must be said though that Monica Belucci looks amazing in Spectre).

That being said, I realize that over the years, I’ve written about James Bond in the contexts of Tempranillo and Champagne, but never in relation to his signature drink, the martini.

I found this incredibly sacrilegious for a 007 fan, so let me rectify the situation by writing about the legendary martini.

Martinis have always been associated with sophisticated parties, which is why I think the author Ian Fleming decided to incorporate the cocktail into his creation’s lifestyle.

Traditionally, martinis are classified as follows:

  • Dry (traditional) – 6 parts gin, 1 part dry vermouth, stirred, garnished with an olive
  • Dirty – Made the same way as a dry martini, except with a bit of the olive juice added to the mix
  • Perfect – Made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth

Over the years, Bond’s preferred drink has changed from the traditional dry martini of the pre-Craig Bonds, to a Bollinger, to (controversially) a Heineken.

Now thanks to a deal with Belvedere Vodka, the Vesper Martini. I personally haven’t seen either a Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano in Manila, but the ingredient may be substituted with a citrusy aperitivo.

I prefer this martini recipe:

 

martini ingredients

Ingredients for a Lemon Martini

Ingredients:

  • 3 parts gin
  • 1 part vodka
  • A small splash of vermouth
  • Half a lemon
  • Ice

Procedure:

  • Slice a small sliver of lemon. Set aside.
  • Put together gin, vodka, and ice in a shaker.
  • Add a small squeeze of lemon.
  • Shake then strain into a martini glass.
  • Use a slice of lemon as garnish.

 

martini glass

Voila!

How do you like your martini? Cheers!

 

*pour ma professeur formidable et Monsieur Connery/Bond

Go Tell It On The Mountain

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This month marks one year since my trip to Chile. It was admittedly one of the best moments in my life… The people, nature, weather, food, wine, and the mountains were so memorable and amazing.

I was looking at the trip diary I made, and I wanted to share an excerpt of it here:

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Gorgeous mountains and vineyards in Chile

 

“Breathtaking.

 That’s all I could muster after an exhausting 26-hour flight (excluding a 6 hour layover in Dallas) to Santiago, Chile. For a nanosecond, I marveled at how a city girl like me could be rendered speechless by the sight of the Andes, which greeted us like heavenly angels as we touched down.”

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Breathtaking Montes Vineyards

So, what’s a wino doing, rambling about mountains? In Spanish, mountains translate to Montes, and I figured talking about the beautiful highlands of Chile is a great way to set the mood for talking about Montes Wines.

With the same overwhelming emotions that I had landing in Chile, I felt awestruck as soon as we got to Montes Winery: Vineyards as far as the eye could see, and a zen-like feeling was everywhere (explained by the feng shui that was involved in designing the winery).

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Wine tasting conducted by Jorge Gutierrez

During the visit, I was privileged enough to join a wine tasting participated by wine aficionados from different parts of the world. We enjoyed a powerhouse Montes lineup, wonderfully presented by Jorge Gutierrez, Montes’ enologist.

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Another day in the office

The Montes showcase included Outer Limits, a brand that boasts of a selection of wines made in such an unconventional manner, producing divine Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cinsault, and the delectable Carignan Grenache Mourvèdre (simply called the CGM). Gutierrez also presented the famous Montes Alpha line, which included a revamped, significantly more elegant 2013 Chardonnay.

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(L-R): Outer Limits, M, Purple Angel, Montes Folly

We were then treated to a Montes Alpha M, a phenomenal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot (which I could not stop raving about on my technical notes, punctuating my descriptions with “beautiful” and a smiley face). I fell in love with the 100% Shiraz Montes Folly (so much that I had to buy a bottle to take home).

The best was saved for last: The Montes Purple Angel. Made from Chile’s signature grape Carmenere and a hint of Petit Verdot for structure, it was a dark, red fruit and dark chocolate symphony that made me think of angels singing a hallelujah chorus in the background…

Maybe it was the multitude of angels decorating the place, or the fact that the mountains give you an altitude that brought visitor closer to the heavens. Whatever it was, Montes to me perfectly bottled up all the wonderful emotions I associate with my Chilean adventure.

What is your favourite Montes Wine? If you haven’t decided on one, check out any Ralph’s wine store (I personally decided to relive the Montes trip by buying myself a bottle of Outer Limits from one of the Makati branches). Salud!

Moving On

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amsterdayum

Beer Adventures in Amsterdam

 

I admittedly found it a struggle to begin my article on Amsterdam. A lot of things were swimming in my head and were causing me to keep stumbling over that infamous “writer’s block”: APEC issues, the terrorist attacks, the fact that my last article was admittedly a pretty heavy one… Would a blog entry on our experiences in Amsterdam be untimely, insensitive, or inappropriate?

After a couple of beers, a conversation with one of our French friends, and a James Bond marathon in the heart of APEC lockdown central (that is, Makati CBD), a phrase hit me: MOVE ON. I feel like that phrase sums up everything I need to start this particular piece.

One of the definitions of “move on” in thefreedictionary.com is “to go or cause (someone) to leave somewhere”, and on an incredibly shallow note, that’s precisely what we did in October: We left Paris for Amsterdam.

Another definition (which I personally like) is “to put a difficult experience behind one and progress mentally or emotionally”. When we did our research about things to do in Amsterdam, the first suggestions that pop up online involve incredibly opposing things: The Anne Frank House, followed by the legendary “coffee shops”. It’s a poignant evidence that Amsterdam has moved on from the aftermath of a devastating war (for which they were leveled) and have now “progressed” and “evolved” into one of the happiest countries in the world, known for embracing multiple forms of leisure activities.

An activity that appealed to the beverage nerd in me involved a beer tour with Urban Adventures. Sean was an amazing tour guide, showing us a different perspective on beer and the Amsterdam drinking scene. He introduced us to a hip microbrewery (Bier Fabriek is legendary for making delicious chicken, which goes well with their craft beer), the concept of seasonal beer brew (the autumn beer with notes of pumpkin and cinnamon in Beer Temple was divine), a proeflokaal (Wynand Fockink) that makes their own liqueur (Sean also showed me how to properly to drink one), and a shop that sells and supports small businesses in Amsterdam (with special emphasis on microbrewers).

Admittedly, prior to the tour, I found it challenging to wrap my head around beer (a lot of varieties and brands exist our there). After a couple of hours of talking to Sean, I learned to approach it from a point of preference. It seems so simple yet complex at the same time, but so far, it’s working on my end. Sean’s enthusiasm to get information on his favorite drinks out there, without the intimidating technical terms, or shoving snobby opinions on anyone, was contagious.

Am I moving on from wine to beer? In terms of evolution, I’d love to. I am eager to progress in my little beer knowledge… The best part of this is, the best way to learn is through “research”.

Wine and beer geek… It does have a nice ring to it.

What is your favorite beer? Cheers!

My Paris

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I first fell in love with the concept of Paris around the same time I started learning about and watching Audrey Hepburn films. As an adolescent, Audrey’s roles epitomized everything I wanted to be: beautiful, elegant, sophisticated, and stylish.

I looked at the common denominator of my favorite Audrey films and realised… It was Paris. I loved her transformation from a dowdy bookworm to a glamorous model in Funny Face. I adored her plucky character in Love in the Afternoon. Her amazing scenes around Montmartre while clad in Givenchy’s finest for Charade were fantastic. She was absolutely adorable paired with the dashing Peter O’Toole in How To Steal A Million. Paris When It Sizzles showcased her comic abilities (without losing an ounce of poise or the Givenchy dresses).

Bien sûr, my all time favorite Audrey Hepburn movie has always been Sabrina. It mixes several of my favorite things: Food, style, language, and the idea of Paris.

I use the terms “concept” and “idea” for this part of my story because I am talking about a point in my life when I didn’t have much money, and when any idea of traveling to Paris was out of the question. Paris, back then, was an aspiration.

Fast forward several years later… I began to develop a preference for wine, studied it, and taught it to people who listened (or otherwise). I fell in love with Chad. Changes, changes… Through it all, Audrey Hepburn’s Paris stayed in the back of my head. I bought books about her, including one that had her favourite Parisian places. I made it a point to own DVDs of her movies that were set in Paris, just to keep my hope alive.

Then, Chad and I got married in December 2011. As a surprise, he gave me the gift of a lifetime: a trip to Paris. We had to postpone for several reasons (one of which was my need to finish my WSET), but eventually, he gave me Paris.

When we got there in May 2012, I realized… Paris wasn’t anything like it was in the Audrey Hepburn movies. It was dirty, people didn’t smile as much as they did in the movies, there were so many petty thieves (also not present in the films), “bonjour” and “merci” only got me condescending looks from the locals, and people didn’t walk around decked in Givenchy.

It was BEAUTIFUL. It was REAL. It was ALIVE.

Paris was so enchanting that Chad and I vowed to come back (and take a side trip to a European vineyard) every year.

Over the years, we have basked in the sense of history around the Champs Elysées and the Louvre (my all time favorite painting will always be the Wedding at Cana). We went up the Eiffel Tower (like a tourist). We went through Les Catacombes, got books from Shakespeare and Co (which introduced me to one of my favourite authors, John Baxter), ogled at masterful Impressionist paintings in Musée d’Orsay, marveled at the majesty of the windows of Sainte-Chapelle, traced famous graves in Père Lachaise and Les Invalides, walked up and down the Seine, and most importantly, drank and ate.

Paris is the capital of the country renowned for mastering the art of food and wine. Chad and I have spent many glorious hours living the flâneur lifestyle, drinking a café or a carafe du vin in a restaurant, preferably with delectable fromages, patisseries, crêpes, and/or escargots (we always find something amazing along Boulevard Saint-Germain).

I guess the reason why I wrote about this is because I needed to both explain my disdain about the recent terror attacks and unload my grief. The need to explain stems from people thinking, “you’re a Filipina, you have no part in what happened” (the French have always made me feel at home and welcome in Paris and in the countryside), “what about (insert other country here)?” (as was stated above, there are more reasons for me to feel an affinity for/at home in France, and I feel the same about places like Hong Kong), and “but you didn’t study/live in/spend enough time in Paris” (I don’t think someone needs to spend every waking moment of his/her life with someone or something to love it, but, as Chad and I have discussed, given the opportunity, we wouldn’t mind relocating to France if his job calls for it).

I grieve because the Paris I know is such a multicultural haven for anyone… A Filipina foodie/wino like myself is accepted there as much as the likes of Lost Generation, or a person of Islamic faith. For extremists to use their warped notion of “god” (thanks to Singapore’s very welcoming mosque, I learned that real, authentic, true Islam is one of the most generous religions) to terrorize and murder people living the typical Parisian life on a Friday night (enjoying les vins, musique, and le sport) is just barbaric and sick.

The French (and France) I know of are strong, resilient, brave, and very proud. There is a high probability that, just to shove it in these demons’ faces, they’ll continue to find ways to make everything beautiful and joyful. They will go on, in a united front, enjoying life, freedom, and the art of a good drink with gastronomic delights.

When I had Chad look this over before I posted it, he told me that the ending seemed tapered off… I agreed. The thing is, I’d love to leave it that way, because I don’t think that this is the end for Paris (or the Parisian lifestyle, or their ideologies). 😉

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*We stand against hate, discrimination, senseless killings, terrorism, suppression of freedom, and harmful ideologies. We don’t ask anyone to pray for (insert country here) or otherwise, we ask for people to contribute whatever they can to make this a peaceful, united, loving, free, joyful, and safe world. 🙂 

Accio Butterbeer!

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One of the things people know about me is my extreme geek side. I am a history buff, a beverage nerd… And I can talk to anyone about certain fandoms for hours… Marvel Superheroes, Jane Austen, Downton Abbey, and of course, Harry Potter.

Chad knew I love the Harry Potter series (I’ve watched and re-watched the films, read and reread the books, dreamt of what butterbeer tastes like, and was among the multitudes who got disappointed with the way Chamber of Secrets was translated into film), which is why, as a birthday present, he decided to get us tickets to the Harry Potter Studio Tour.

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Awesome Diagon Alley Shot!

A fair WARNING to those seeking to go on the London Harry Potter Tour: #SPOILERALERT!!!

Halfway through the tour is this cafeteria that serves several unhealthy food items (burgers, hotdogs, etc). I was willing to skip it until I saw what I’ve been looking for: BUTTERBEER!!!

After I posted it on my personal account, tons of friends started asking me what it tasted like. Is it alcoholic? Does it taste like beer? What is it?

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Butterbeer!

I apologize for having even more #spoliers, but… It’s cream soda. It’s very similar to the old Coca-Cola cream soda (I’m not too sure if they still produce it, but I’m positive I had some when I was a kid) FLOAT. The vanilla ice cream on top of it was deliciously thick and creamy.

Childhood fantasy unlocked.

What’s your magical childhood fantasy beverage? Cheers!