Tag Archives: Coffee

L’art du partage (The Art of Sharing)

Standard

Anthony Bourdain once said in his Paris episode of The Layover, the biggest mistake anyone could make (and a surefire way to have a terrible Parisian holiday) is to over-schedule. I made that blunder several times before, which admittedly caused me to fall out of love with the city.

My first trip was in 2012 when I was wide-eyed and touristy, forcing myself to accomplish all the “must-do in Paris” items from a stereotypical guidebook (I climbed the Eiffel Tower and saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre). It made for great photos, but it was a “meh” experience. I had a succeeding trip that I called “disastrous”, which happened when I over-scheduled my itinerary in a similar fashion. My third trip was equally catastrophic, because we decided to cram two days’ worth of activities in one day.

That’s when I gave up. I got tired of Paris. I enjoyed the vineyards (and the people) in the wine regions of France, bien sûr, and saw Paris as just a means to get there. In fact, when I got invited to join one of my culinary BFFs/occasional client/partner in crime for all things gastronomy in Paris to do “research”, I looked at is as simply that: Research. Work.

Oddly enough, that’s when I fell in love with Paris all over again.

resto-de-philippe-et-jean-pierre

Restaurant de Philippe et Jean Pierre, 7 Rue de Boccador, Paris 8e (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)

It happened like this: Given that my friend would spend most of his time working in one of the best Parisian restaurants, Restaurant de Philippe et Jean Pierre, I had most of my days free.

That’s when I decided to truly embrace Bourdain’s advice and do as little as possible in Paris.

Oh, and eat and drink my way through the city.

2016-09-18 13.13.30.jpg

But first, a café (near the Butte Chaumont park) to spend a few hours like a flâneur

Paris offers endless possibilities to fully immerse oneself in their food and beverage culture: One can live like a flâneur in cafés that have been around for hundreds of years, explore markets for amazing food and wine paring options, or sample endless amounts of epicurean delights…

But what is the key to understanding Paris’ love affair with food and beverage? Is it through immersing oneself in their rich culinary history that somehow seamlessly blends with an eagerness to push the envelope? Is it through the appreciation of their amazing technical and artistic skills? Is it through accessing beautiful fresh ingredients and authentic, regional wines, found anywhere from a neighbourhood Carrefour to an artisanal cheesemonger?

Personally, I think the answer lies somewhere in the art of sharing. As with everything else, the French have a lovely translation for the act of sharing that just rolls off the tongue: “Partager”.

collage chez papa.jpg

A carefe of Cahors and a Magret de canard from Chez Papa (our favourite branches are in Madeleine and in Bastille)

I came up with this theory after re-evaluating all my favourite moments in my Parisian trip… There was a time when I took my friend to one of our family’s best-loved restaurants for French comfort food (and thus letting him in on our little Parisian secret): Chez Papa. We split escargot, tripe, and their signature magret de canard with a carafe of Cahors (an appellation in southwest France famous for strong, red wines).

collage maison de truffe.jpg

Truffles and Champagne and Rose, oh my! Maison de la Truffe, 14 Rue Marbeuf, Paris 8e

 

We also shared this discovery: A restaurant that served different interpretations of truffle, Maison de la Truffe. We had a risotto with truffles, and the richest, prettiest foie gras terrine. We paired them a rosé (as a nod to the warm weather), and their house champagne… Then left room for dessert in the form of truffle ice cream. Granted, in books, none of these are classic food and wine pairings, but it all turned out so good. Afterwards, as a welcome respite, we decided to treat ourselves to ice cold Martini cocktails along the Seine.

drunk on the seine.jpg

Yup, it’s possible to drink along the Seine

On our way to a house party, we saw the tail end of an event along the street. It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever seen: We saw locals having a blast sitting along the road, doling out glasses of impeccable white wine and shells upon shells of oysters to their friends.

2016-09-11 19.30.25.jpg

…or along the road. 

food-collage-nataraja

It’s better to drink with good food (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)…

nataraja

…and with good company (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)

The house party we went to was hosted by people my friend met in Manila. It was an awesome night where opinions on culinary philosophies, tastes in music (where I learned about Wintergatan, a Swedish folktronica band), food, and wine were exchanged. I knew I was in the ultimate spot in Paris because that’s where I had some of the best home cooked vegetarian food I’ve ever had in my life (I’m not too fond of vegetables, but the way they prepared and cooked the food was amazing). We had wine (as one should in France) paired very casually (with none of the frills of making sure they paired accurately with the food). Plates were cleared to make way for delicious cheese… Followed by artistic and delectable pastries from one of the evening’s guests, famous pastry chef Gaétan Husson.

market

Versailles Market

versailles-market-the-aftermath

The feast we prepared from our Versailles Market finds

Speaking of people my friend met in Manila, we also spent one morning in the Versailles market, where we were shown how to shop in a real French marché. I know I’m not talking about Paris anymore, but amazingly, it only takes less than an hour away via train from Paris to get to Versailles… It’s totally worth the travel to purchase some of the freshest produce, the best cheese and charcuterie, and to choose from a large selection of regional wine. We decided to grab some roast, figs, cheese, cold cuts, and a Monbazillac (my cheap alternative to a Sauternes for really strong cheese).

collage - steak.jpg

A feast of thick, juicy steak, paired with a bottle of Pavillon du Glana Saint-Julien, Le Flamboire, 54 Rue Blanche, Paris

Cheese is so ingrained in French culture that they even have an expression for the appropriate consumption: “Pas de bon repas sans fromage”, which roughly translates to, “It’s not a good meal without cheese”. This is something I learned over dinner in Le Flamboire with someone my teacher (and friend) told me to seek out in Paris. Over some of the best, well-cooked steak I’ve ever had (thick as the side of a dinner fork), a bottle of Saint-Julien (in celebration of my return from Bordeaux), and delectable desserts, we swapped stories about how one’s mother’s cooking (whether it’s mousse au chocolat or kare-kare) is universally the best. He also taught me the “correct” way of eating crème brûlée (one should daintily break the crust first before taking a small bite).

 

“They are friendly, the French. They surround you with a civilised atmosphere, and they leave you inside of you, completely to yourself.” – Gertrude Stein, Paris France (1940)

So, what is the secret to understanding French gastronomy? Ask the French, they are more than willing to share it with anyone keen to understand and appreciate. Find someone to share a meal with you and talk about it… Or even listen to a vendeuse as she explains her charcuterie to you (she will most likely let you taste some). The key is to slow down and indulge your senses… In doing so, I discovered, not only did I fall in love with Paris all over again, but with life as well.


Special Thanks:

  • My buddy, Chef Jonas, for sharing Paris, photos, and friends with me (see him on the Lifestyle Channel in his show Chef Next Door, or spot him around his restaurant, Le Jardin, in Fort BGC)
  • Babette Isidro of Jeron Travel
  • Renato S. Dollete, Food and Beverage Manager of Etihad Airways
  • Tim and Justine for opening their home to us
  • Claire for showing us around her hometown
  • Eméric for sharing a beautiful meal with me 
  • Chia for taking me on an epic Parisian adventure

Korean Style

Standard

After several events, parties, deadlines, meetings, homework, chores, and appointments, I found myself in a major state of burnout a couple of weeks ago. It was the type of burnout where I seriously shied away from the outside world (more so than usual) and wanted to live like a hermit for a couple of days.

So, like a responsible adult, I fixed my schedule to avoid any and all human contact, and searched for entertainment the best way I knew how: iFlix and Netflix.

After looking around for what seemed like an eternity, I decided to forego the usual western TV series and documentaries and try out a Korean drama.

Yes, my name is Gail, and I watched a Korean drama (with English subtitles, of course).

Backtrack: I never had any interest in Korean culture and entertainment. I think it was because the first Koreans I’ve met in Manila weren’t the nicest people… Those encounters left a bad taste in my mouth.

I only began to give it a chance when my husband started working for a Korean company. I started meeting really nice Koreans who taught me their brand of indulgence: cheap and effective beauty products (I have yet to meet a Korean with bad skin), amazing Korean food (although I have yet to figure out where they put them, they’re so skinny!), and Korean drama.

Korean drama is how Latin Americans treat their telenovelas: Everyone has a favorite, and watching them is almost a religion. In fact, given Korean technology (and their breakneck bandwidth speeds), a lot of these dramas are made available online and accessible to anyone with a smartphone.

Which brings me back to my original story: To chill out, I decided to indulge myself in a nice Kdrama, put on a much-needed facial mask, and, because I’m a beverage geek, drink something totally Korean.

 

aloe vera_Fotor

Refreshing Aloe Vera Juice from Landmark Supermarket

 

Aloe Vera Juice

I heard of Aloe Vera for hair, but never as a beverage. The drink tasted like really sweet candy and promised to decrease bloating. Online research produced conflicting studies (some studies say too much of the stuff can pose health risks, others say it’s great for detox), but the cute bottle and refreshing characteristics were enough to make me want more.

acafela_Fotor

Acaféla Bottled Caramel Macchiato from Landmark Supermarket

Bottled Coffee

Honestly, I got this because of the bottle and the wordplay on acapella. It was a choice between this flavor and a dark coffee, but I was craving for something sweet at the time. This did the trick… The caramel flavors were the roasted, creamy kind (my favorite).

 

soju_Fotor

The Korean staple, Soju

Soju

I heard about Soju when Chad was hunting down a store to buy some for his Korean officemates. I heard of it again while I was watching a Kdrama, where I discovered… Man, Koreans love (and get drunk on) Soju. It’s as readily available in South Korea as San Miguel is to us. Essentially, it’s a distilled beverage containing ethanol and water, made from rice, wheat, barley, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or tapioca, and is consumed neat. The alcohol percentage varies from 16.5-45% ABV… Which makes it quite potent.

If this isn’t enough, some people turn them into Soju Bombs: Similar to boilermakers, a shot glass of Soju is dropped into a pint of beer and is consumed fast.

 

plum

Plum Wine, available in Kang’s Salcedo Village

Plum Wine

While shopping around for Soju, I discovered this bottle of plum wine. It’s made out of maesil plums (which are bottled along with the alcohol). It’s popular, cute, and is about 14% ABV. It’s sweet, fragrant, fruity, and packs quite a punch. There’s a premium gold edition, which has a smoother, more elegant texture to it. Personally, I couldn’t drink this on its own, it needs food (preferably Korean, of course!).

 

That being said, excuse me while I return to my self-exile vacation, while I enjoy what’s left of my Soju, Japchae, facial mask, and Kdrama. 😉 Let me know your favorites. Geonbae!

Follow Us!

Standard

29 March, Tuesday, 11:30pm, Manila, after a haphazardly prepared dinner with a nice 2005 Saint-Emilion and good company, I’ve finally decided to be a wee bit more public about the blog and create an Instagram account.

There’s not much photos uploaded yet (I’m slowly posting stuff during my free time), but the current content may be familiar to people who have read previous entries of the blog.

Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/2shotsandapintofficial/

instagram

It’s OFFICIAL! Instagram: @2shotsandapintofficial

Here’s to hoping it becomes a good source of #drinkspiration. Cheers!

 

What Happens in Baguio…

Standard

…Shouldn’t stay in Baguio.

Before I alarm some of the friends I went to Baguio with (I promise I won’t talk about your seven levels of inebriation in this article), let me explain.

Apart from the fact that it is really and truly the ultimate summer capital of the Philippines (yes, there is a place in our tropical archipelago that goes below 20C!), Baguio is also one of the finest places in the Philippines to go for a major food trip.

I can go on and on about how amazing and fresh the vegetables are (we were lucky to have sampled them straight from the farm!), or how yummy Good Shepherd Ube is (any Pinoy child of the 80s has been dragged to the convent kicking and screaming, only to be sated by a spoonful of their legendary strawberry jam)… But this being a drink blog, I would like to highlight (nay, capitalise) on my ultimate Baguio discovery: Baguio Craft Brewery. It’s the first craft beer brewery in the city, with the brewing equipment in plain sight, a variety of IPAs, dark beers, fruit beers, and great food to pair them with. The brewers (with a reputation of intense attention to detail coupled with an incomparable fun-loving vibe) are always on hand to share this experience (and their amazing passion).

entrance.jpg

The sign of good times… 😉

I have heard about these legendary craftsmen ages ago through one of my chef friends, and since then, I made it a mission to take a trip there myself when I had the opportunity.

I finally had my chance over a week ago when a group of my chef and foodie friends decided to go up to Baguio to explore farms, which included a trip to the brewery.

After climbing up to the restaurant, basking in the spectacular view, and enjoying the borderline Rastafarian music (the duo could do a mean acoustic Bob Marley), I was thrilled to meet Chris Ordas, self-proclaimed “Thirst Prevention Officer and Chief Executioner” of Baguio Craft Brewery (his vibe and ultra-unique facial hair, a requirement for the upper echelons of the brewery’s organization, is perfect for his “occupation”).

jonas, chris, eddie, genghis

Brewskies with Friends (L-R): Chef Jonas Ng (Le Jardin Manila), Chris Ordas, Ed “Steady Eddie” Bustos (Food Creator and “Director of Awesome”), Genghis Khan Enrique (Fun Foodie Friend)… We were told that the fancy facial hair was to further distinguish themselves and their beer. 😉

It seems like I’m writing so much about the people behind the BCB, but it’s impossible to separate them from their beer… Their restaurant/tasting room/brewery alone just resonated with their vibe and friendship. That’s how they got started in the first place: a group of self-proclaimed “raging alcoholics” decided to brew perfect beer in Chris’ garage in Canada (which included Arnold Miguel, Head Brewer and “Ex Moonshiner”; and Alex Basa, “Head Receiver”… Best occupations ever IMHO). In 2013, armed with fervour, mad brewing skills, and the belief that there was a lack of beer choices in the Philippines, Chris, Arnold, and Alex quit their jobs and put up The Tasting Room at Baguio Craft Brewery.

beer on tap

A multitude of choices for their beers on tap

baguio

Six-pack beers in native packaging (with funky tags!) for easy transport back to Manila, and witty shirts

Some of my favourites (according to classification):

  1. Dark Beers
    • Kraken – A Baltic Porter with sweet, malty notes and hints of roasted coffee and toffee (which, after a couple pints, made me want to cry, “Unleash the Kraken!”… No? #nerdhumor)
    • Stout Crusader – A beautiful, rich, heavenly, creamy Russian Stout that I ended up treating as a dessert and a bartender/chef friend used to make a fun beer cocktail
  2. IPAs (India Pale Ale)
    • Pugaw – A wordplay on Ifugao (a mountainous landlocked area in our Nothern Cordilleras and home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Rice Terraces), this is a “beginner’s trek” into IPAs (and an excellent showcase on what the Ifugao people are all about: earthy and richly complex).
    • Message in a Bottle – An intense black IPA with an excellent roast
    • Hop Attack – A beautiful Double IPA with an elegant bitterness that definitely begs for food
  3. Fruit Beers (note: unlike some brewers who make fruit beers by injecting fruit syrup to their beer, BCB uses the actual fruits during the secondary fermentation, hence they end up with the essence of the fruit infused in the beer instead of a crude, slap-in-the-face fruit flavored beer)
    • Lagud (Strawberry) – Because Baguio is famous for their strawberries. Think strawberry cream in beer form (yum!)
    • Ripe (Passion Fruit) – A sharp, tangy fruit beer excellent with greasy bar chow
    • Keywheat (Kiwi) – I’ve never had Kiwi beer before but I am a big fan of the fruit… So, kiwi? Check. Beer? Check. Happy.
  4. Other Beers:
    • Rolling Fog – I admit to having a predilection for German wheat beer, but the subtlety and elegance of Rolling Fog just blew me away.
    • Englishman in New York – An American Pale Ale with caramel notes seamlessly blended with herbal undertones (a favorite of a friend of mine, he kept insisting I try it… “This will change your life”, he said. It did)

Don’t take my word for it. Baguio Craft Brewery is located in the RKC Building, 120 Marcos Highway, KM 4 Baguio City.

strawberry wine.jpg

Saccharine sweet strawberry “wine”

After partying it up with these perfect craft beers, I highly recommend indulging in some of Baguio’s renowned strawberries in their spirit form. It’s sweet and packs a mean punch.

john hay collage edited

Camp John Hay Coffee Plantation

tea and coffee - edited

#hoarding healthy stuff after all that alcohol

The following day, it is imperative to sober up with some coffee. Baguio has a wide selection of affordable coffee… I had to take home bags of Irish Cream, Arabica, and Civet Cat coffee beans. It’s also worth noting that John Hay (the best place to get a cottage for the ultimate Baguio trip) actually grows their coffee beans. I also had to get the turmeric tea I found on the way up to Good Shepherd (after all that beer, I needed a healthy ANYTHING).

batirol.jpg

The “Morning After” Traditional Hot Chocolate from Choco-Late de Batirol

When all is said, drunk, and done in Baguio, it is imperative to stop in for a quick brunch in Choco-Late de Batirol garden restaurant. It’s the ultimate “morning after” place. They have interesting items on their menu (tocinong kalabaw was quite adventurous), but they’re legendary for their traditional hot chocolate. It’s thick, rich, and so artisanal that the texture is still grainy, it redefines “hug in a mug”.

Whether it’s a gastronomic, alcoholic, or foodie adventure, Baguio has a lot to offer. Whatever people are after, there are many options that are a far cry from the Baguio of the 80s (with an excellent TPLEX that cut down the once 8-plus hour trek to about 3.5 on a good day). Note to self: Make another trip, stat! Cheers!

On Leaving Hearts and Holidays

Standard

It takes nothing short of a huge miracle to get a severe introvert like myself out of the house (my friends are amazing for putting up with me… Thanks I and K). Severe introverts take so much comfort in silence and routines that the idea of spending the holidays in a place we’ve never been is petrifying.

This is exactly what I was thinking, as I struggled with a massive panic attack in the last couple of days leading up to our trip in San Francisco.

Normally, Chad and I have a tradition of counting down to Christmas by watching old holiday films (“It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Eloise at Christmastime” are some of our favorites). We would wait for midnight to open presents, eat a snack, drink some wine, and marvel at how I’ve transitioned from horror movies with my brother to proper Christmas flicks (Chad hates horror movies, but my brother and I shared a strange sense of macabre during Christmas).

This is followed by yet another countdown for the New Year in front of our window. Our high-rise faces the fancy subdivisions a few blocks away (they try to outdo one another with fancy fireworks on new year’s eve). We would toast at midnight, eat 12 grapes (a tradition from Chad’s family), laugh at the thought of people inhaling firework residue in some crowded place (we’re quite antisocial that way), then brave the streets (which by 1 am would resemble a warzone) to meet up with friends in Chihuahua Makati Avenue (now Woody’s).

I was comfortable with the routine. I loved it.

Fast forward to Christmas of 2015. I was mentally kicking and screaming in NAIA as I waited to board the plane (then again, maybe the fact that NAIA is consistently one of the worst airports on the planet had something to do with my anxieties). I proceeded to do what any wino would do: knock myself out with the free wine on board Philippine Airlines (not the best stuff, but it had to do) and hoped my apprehensions would not transform into some form of rebellious angst.

Luckily, things totally turned around when we touched down in chilly San Francisco.

Maybe the efficient airport did it? The lack of traffic or pollution? The fact that my in laws were feeling the festivities and the massive post-holiday sales? Whatever it was, the festive mood was both intoxicating and infectious, like a delicious virus spread through lethal cocktails (I had to relate it to something intoxicating and infectious, so humor me).

When we got to my in laws’ house, we were greeted by some of the best things in the planet: a wonderful cold that a person who grew up in the tropics (me!!!) needed to get accustomed to (yay for fashionable layering!), an 80-something pound Golden Retriever (who needed to reconcile his actual size with how small he thought he was), and… Wine.

Our (adoptive) BFAM (Brother From Another Mother) gifted us with two bottles of wine: a Duckhorn Chardonnay from Napa and a Decoy Pinot Noir from Sonoma. Equally sublime, the wines represented some of the best in California winemaking… I particularly adored the Pinot Noir for its elegance and complexity.

12432582_10154194000482923_1533787125_o

Beautiful Wine on a Beautiful Christmas Morning

From this point, we basically ate, drank, and shopped our way through San Francisco.

 

ghirardelliandbuenavista.jpg

Best Non-Alcoholic Drink Finds Near The Wharf!

Must Drink: Hot Chocolate from Ghirardelli (richest, creamiest, thickest hot chocolate ever!), and Irish Coffee from Buena Vista (where the first Irish Coffee in America was made… Guests can buy ingredients from their gift shop, too). There’s a Peet’s Coffee wherever we looked… It’s heavenly (especially during chilly days), and my brother in law swears it’s best when it’s freshly ground (totally agree).

fairmontandpalace.jpg

Fancy Ambiance for an Equally Fancy Brunch!

ferry building.jpg

Ferry Building Food and Beverage Finds

Foodie/Wino Restaurants to Visit: Have brunch in Fairmont and The Palace Hotel (brunch is apparently a big deal in San Francisco… Expect free flowing Champagne or Mimosas!), then have a gastronomic feast in Michael Mina (seems pricey, but the food is absolutely worth it and the wine pairings were on point… Look for Claude for the most concise food and wine pairing explanation). Go to The Slanted Door for a delicious modern take on Vietnamese food, then go around the Ferry Building for foodie finds (Blue Bottle Coffee is a must try!).

shopping finds san fo.jpg

What A Haul!*

Must Buy: Chic insulated wine shoulder bag from Bed Bath & Beyond (for your fasyon BYOB needs), huge frou-frou coffee cups (Anthropologie), manual ceramic coffee drip (Sur la Table), spices (I loved the Pumpkin Pie Spice from Trader Joe’s, which is now a necessary addition to my morning coffee), and metal ice that wouldn’t water down a glass of whiskey (Brookstone). Look for funky-girly bar stuff (from sparkling wine inspired wallets to cute mugs) in Kate Spade.

Since San Francisco is a hop skip and a jump away from Napa, our BFAM one-upped his presents by taking us to Napa for a wine tour…

…which I will save for another article. 😉

So. Did I leave my heart in San Francisco? Surprisingly, I did.

Being the introvert that I am, however, I need to recharge (and get over my jetlag) for a week.

Coming up: Adventures in Napa.

Cheers!

Special shoutout to our family in San Francisco, thank you so much for having us in your home and showing us around your side of the world. You are infinitely amazing. Thank you to our BFAM for everything. To the P family, you were so wonderful to host us for a dinner; You are also welcome in our home whenever you’re in town. My home office smells divine, thanks to your Christmas present. 🙂

*Thanks S for the Kate Spade Stuff! You’re right, it’s totally us! Missing you from across the ocean!

Hermès Style

Standard

I know I’ve mentioned it in previous entries, but the holiday rush has really thrown our family for a loop. Our schedules have been insane with back-to-back parties, last minute work related matters, and errands to run before we leave for the holidays.

I finally managed to have a break today, which means I got to actually have some much-needed “me” time.

After watching the much anticipated and highly controversial Miss Universe 2015 (Yay, Pilipinas!), I spent the the rest of the day like any normal “woman with a plan” would: I had my nails done in our neighborhood nail spa, followed by a long overdue (9 months!) spa day.

I decided to really treat myself and try out the new-ish spa in our neighborhood: Hua Spa (Tordesillas Street). It was a little more expensive than most of the spas in the neighborhood, but I can vouch for the fact that it was worth it. They had eloquent and splendidly professional staff, amazing therapists, and…

rnr_Fotor

Amour Thé in an Hermès tea set

Tea.

The tea was not just the standard salabat served in some spa chains (I have nothing against salabat, but I’ve been dying for a change). They let clients choose from four varieties of TWG tea served in pretty Hermès tea sets. It felt like the epitome of luxury and relaxation.

To top it off, I had the best treatment ever: A coffee scrub. Apart from the anti-oxidant benefits (and caffeine jolt) coffee has, it’s awesome in removing cellulite. I don’t think I became a VS Angel with that one treatment, but I smelled fabulous, and my skin felt amazing.

I know this entry isn’t much, but I’m hammering out a very traditional holiday article in time for Christmas Eve (I just really needed the break today).

Let me know what you like to do on your down time. Cheers!

“Whatcha Upto?”

Standard

This was the message I got from a friend last week, after I seemingly dropped off the face of the earth.

Truth is, this year’s Christmas season has been unusually frenetic for our family… Unusual amounts of travel added a certain element of chaos to the usual holiday rush of Christmas presents/parties, which is the reason why I haven’t been around.

To answer my friend’s question, here’s what I’ve been “upto”:

 

Christmas Gift Giving

christmas shopping

Christmas Presents All in a Row

It’s that time of year when my home office evolves into a part restaurant/beverage consultant’s office, part French student’s study nook/library, part beverage blogger’s writing haven, and Santa’s workshop. I have shopped for, wrapped, and delivered as much Christmas presents as I could before traffic and even more travel happen.

Those looking to give wine or coffee for Christmas can look at my previous entries (here and here) for recommendations (I would like to add Wine Depot as a great wine source as well… Bulk buyers can be offered discounts, and the items they have on sale are pretty good).

 

Wine Dinner

tasting room - final

Good Dinner, Good Wine, Good Service…

 

I was fortunate enough to catch a break and attend a multiple course “Modern Basque” themed dinner in the Tasting Room. Each delectable course was paired with beautiful Spanish wines, punctuated by great company and stupendous service… All in all, it was a fabulous treat.

 

Cocktails and Presidents

elpidio and alicia - final

Chic-looking Sangria over Books and History

 

Chad and I attended the book launch of “Eldpidio and Alicia – The Love Letters”. Elpidio Quirino was the 6th president of the Philippines during the postwar reconstruction.

It was difficult to find literature on his wife, Alicia Syquia, who was killed (along with three of their five children) by Japanese snipers during the Battle of Manila in 1945. It was great to see their love story, and the life of the Filipinos during the American occupation, through these intimate letters.

The launch happened over cocktails on a Saturday afternoon in Ayala Museum (I highly recommend people to see their diorama on Philippine history). I couldn’t resist taking photos of the chicest looking sangrias I’ve ever seen.

 

Singapore

I had a great (albeit short) time in Singapore… Chad had a meeting, and I took advantage of Singapore’s massive holiday sales to shop for Christmas presents (and stuff for myself, of course). I just HAD to buy a Laphroaig PX (a tremendously smoky, slightly sweet powerhouse of a single malt Islay… Just the way I like it), and a bottle of Hibiki Suntory Whisky Master’s Select (a fruity Japanese whisky with the smoothest texture on earth).

whiskey final

Whisky Shopping!

On a non-alcoholic note, I did find a lot of liquor infused chocolates, and ended up getting myself an Amarula chocolate bar. 😉

amarula

Amarula Chocolate Bar #nomnoms

We also managed to catch up with some girl friends over coffee… I loved Coffee Club’s Aged Sumatra Mandheling. “Aged” coffee is made out of green coffee beans stored over time. This particular coffee has low acidity, extremely flavorful, and has quite the body.

sing - coffee (FINAL)

Aged to Perfection Coffee

What’s next on my agenda? Another trip out of the country, and part 2 of my “proudly pinoy” story arc.

Cheers!