Thursday, March 31, 2016

A wonderful family lunch at Casa Roces

My family recently celebrated my brother's birthday at Casa Roces. My mom had been wanting to try this place for a while so I thought this was a good choice for us to try it for this special occasion.

Located at the corner of Jose P. Laurel and Aguado Streets and just right in front of Malacanang Palace, Casa Roes is another residence-turned-restaurant, similar to La Cocina De Tita Moning which  is just a block away. This restaurant has a colonial, Old Filipino feel to it, with its interesting floor design, beautiful wooden furniture, and Filipiniana memorabilia such as a bust of Jose Rizal and a sarimanok.

The restaurant is named after Joaquin "Chino" Roces, who was the founder of the Associated Broadcasting Company and the Manila Times. (I assume this used to be his house.) A statue of a newsboy holding up a Manila Times paper stands in the middle of a small pond at the entrance of the restaurant, reminding guests of the contributions of this legendary Filipino.

The menu of this restaurant was specially prepared by Cravings. There were so many items on the menu that looked interesting so we decided to over-order. After all, if we couldn't consume everything over lunch, we could just take the leftovers home (which is exactly what we did).

While we ordered the standard Paella Valenciana (P565) - you can't really go wrong with this - I wanted to try something different as well. I also ordered the Paella Morcilla (P500) which is creamy paella rice with Morcilla Iberica and roasted squash. This was a really good choice and I'm glad I got to try something new.

Paella Morcilla (P500)

We also got a couple of appetizers, including the Oyster Mushroom Frittura (200). I'm a big fan of mushrooms so I would this to be a wonderfully delicious and addictive starter. It comes with slightly spicy marinara sauce but it is good with or without the sauce.

Oyster Mushroom Frittura (P200)

While everything we ordered was really good, my favorite main course was quite possibly the Pollo Iberico (P800 for a whole chicken). This dish is very well-seasoned and cooked to perfection. Its flavor profile is different from other roast chickens I've had. (Too bad my photo is a bit out of focus.)

Pollo Iberico (P800)

Not everything on the menu is Filipino or Spanish-Filipino. The Oven-baked Salmon Wellington (P460) is a salmon fillet stuffed with Boursin cheese in flaky pastry crust and served with a spinach lemon cream sauce. This too was pretty exceptional.

Oven-baked Salmon Wellington (P460)

We also tried the Berenjana Casada (P300). This cheese gratinated baked eggplant is prepared with homemade Spanish tomato sauce and a balsamic reduction.

Berenjana Casada (P300)

Almost everyone was stuffed at the end of lunch but I still wanted to try at least one dessert. The obvious choice for me was the Malacañan Frozen Souffle (P415). This frozen lemon custard souffle with dark chocolate flakes, pistachio nuts and lemon lavender sauce was stunning. It is quite possibly one of the best desserts I've had, with the flavors and textures of its different ingredients complementing each other perfectly. I remember thinking after having this dish that I wanted to have it again. It was an incredible way to end a fantastic meal.

Malacanan Frozen Souffle (P500)

Apart from these, we also had several other dishes, including Baked Laing dip, Grilled Pork Ribs, Pinakbet with Bagnet, and Lengua. You can check out the full menu here. Since it was my brother's birthday, we also got a full Chocolate Sans Rival (P850) for us to take home. The cakes here are actually quite reasonably priced.

After lunch, my grandmother wanted to see what was on the second level so one of the waiters very kindly took her up (I followed shortly after). There are many rooms here. If you want to have a private function, you can book one of these rooms (or in fact, you can book multiple rooms or even the entire floor or restaurant).

Our lunch as Casa Roces was a truly memorable one. The food is amazing and the service is superb. The Old Filipino vibe gives this place a very cultural atmosphere, making guests enjoy a important part of history while still feeling very comfortable and welcome. While it is on the expensive side, I strongly recommend this place and I will certainly be back here in the future.

Casa Roces
Casa Roces facebook page -
1153 JP Laurel cor Aguado St. San Miguel, Manila
Telephone nos: +632.735.5896, +632.488.1929
Mobile no: +63917.550.9743

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Awesome music video: Runnin' (Lose It All)

This is a stunningly incredible video. I first thought it was made with special effects but apparently, the man and the woman in the video are expert free divers and they doing everything you see here. Unbelievable! I can't even begin to imagine how they do this. Here's an excerpt from the wikipedia page: "In order to achieve the effect we were after we had to film in the middle of a fast, deep and quite dangerous current through a lagoon, this gave us the forward momentum you see in the film. They didn’t use tanks for air so everything you see in the film was done holding their breath, sometimes up to six minutes at a time. I still can’t quite believe how they do it. No CGI was used. Quite something."

If you still don't believe that free divers Guillaume Néry and Alice Modolo actually did this, check out their behind-the-scenes video. This is now one of my all-time favorite music videos.

video uploaded in youtube by NaughtyBoyVEVO

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Passport renewed

I finally renewed my passport. It expired early last year but I didn't really have any plans to travel abroad last year or even early this year. As such, it wasn't a big deal that I didn't have a valid passport for maybe almost a year. In any case, I made use of some time off late last year to finally schedule an appointment at the DFA and work out the requirements. In fact, I made a mistake in understanding the requirements because I thought that a birth certificate was needed even for renewals. Apparently, it isn't. You just need your old passport and the filled-out form (plus photocopies of these requirements and the payment). In any case, that was also the first time I requested my birth certificate from NSO online and I have it say, it was really easy and straightforward.

I ended up spending maybe a little more than an hour at the DFA satellite office but it was quite comfortable and you could see that the line was moving at a good pace. I didn't choose to pay the Express fee of P250 since I wasn't in a hurry and in fact, I claimed my passport a few weeks after it was supposed to be ready for pick-up. (I also didn't choose the delivery option since I wasn't sure where I would be when my passport was ready - whether in the office or at home - so I thought it best to just go back to DFA). Now that I have my passport, I have started making plans to take my first international trip since 2013. Should be fun. :)

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Royal Piccadilly Restaurant and Cakery

I first discovered Royal Piccadilly when I was looking at deals on Cashcashpinoy. There was an offer for a dozen cupcakes at a pretty good discount and I got a couple of those. Very shortly after that, I saw another offer for this same restaurant in Metrodeal: P200 for P400 worth of food. I decided to get a few vouchers of that as well, which allowed me to try a few different dishes.

When I saw the menu online, the first thing I wanted to try was the Bangers and Mash (P240). The sausages were a bit smaller and lighter than I expected but they had good flavor.

Bangers and Mash (P240)

I matched that with the Choco Lava Cake (P145). It was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with some chocolate chips and drizzles with a bit of caramel sauce. I have to say that I really loved this dessert. For only P145, I found this to be very good value for money. I will try this dessert again soon (even without the discount).

Choco Lava Cake (P145)

On a succeeding trip, I wanted to get the Beef and Gravy Pie but I was told that all pies were out of stock that day. Too bad. I instead chose the Beef Osso Bucco (P450). This one, I really did not like. I am not sure if I just got bad luck that day but the meat in my dish was too tough, most likely because it was overcooked. I am normally a fan of this dish but I won't be trying nor recommending Royal Piccadilly's version.

Beef Osso Bucco (P450)

On my most recent trip, I still wanted to get one of the pies but unfortunately they were still unavailable. I expressed my disappointment to the waiter and it seems that the pie recipes are in the process of being changed which is why they haven't been available. I ended up choosing the Grilled Pork Belly (P395) which was one of their specials, which I guess means that it isn't officially part of their permanent menu yet. This dish wasn't exactly British or European - in fact, it felt very Filipino - but it was really good. I'm not sure how the pork was marinated but it was very flavorful and cooked very well.

Grilled Pork Belly (395)

The Royal Piccadilly is located on the 2nd floor of the Petron Station along Katipunan. You can park in the Petron gas station but if you run out of parking space, there are several more parking slots in the basement. If you have your parking ticket validated, your first 1 or 2 hours are free (I can't recall exactly because I never took more than 1 hour). The restaurant doesn't have service charge so the price on the menu is what you pay. The service is friendly so you may want to tip a bit more generously given the lack of service charge. The price range is decent and the food is quite good for the most part so I am pretty sure I will be dining here again in the future, even without a discount. I just hope I get to try their pies soon. :)

The Royal Piccadilly Restaurant and Cakery
2/F Petron Katipunan, Katipunan Ave. cor Mangyan Road, Quezon City.
Tel #: (02) 4353109
Operating hours: 10AM to 10 PM Mon-Fri, 7AM to 10PM Sat-Sun

Sunday, March 27, 2016

More hodgepodge

Earlier this year, I had an incredibly interesting and very memorable experience. My cousin invited me to the joint birthday celebration of his kids (four of them all happened to have birthdays that were all within 30 days of each other, what are the odds?) and since one of them was my godson, I made sure that I could go. The theme of the party was Star Wars and people were encouraged to come in Star Wars-themed outfits or maybe even in costume. Now I bought a Darth Vader costume from Amazon a while back so I thought that this party would be a perfect opportunity for me to use it. I arrived at the party a bit late but when I got there, apparently, I was the only one in costume. Everyone else just had Star Wars t-shirts on and/or they had light sabers. Because of that, my costume turned out to be a pretty big hit. So much so that a special intermission was suddenly added to the program so that each of the kids could have individual and group photos taken with me on stage. I am really pleased that I decided to wear a costume to that event because it seemed to make a lot many kids - and even their parents and guardians - just a bit happier that afternoon.


I had a bit of a scare recently. I thought I lost my Oakley shades. They are normally just in the car but when I was looking for them one night to prepare for an out-of-town trip, I couldn't find them there. I've had these shades since maybe 2006 and I've used them a lot because I like the fit and the orange lenses make me look a bit more sporty and outdoorsy. I was really upset about losing them but I thought that they had served me very well for a decade and I have loads of pictures taken while wearing them. Just when I thought I would never see them again, one night, while I was fixing my room, I saw it at the bottom of a paper bag which had a lot of other random stuff in it. Whew! I used them immediately after I found them although I have noticed that the inside of the lenses have been scratched a whole lot. I am guessing this model is no longer available which is a shame because I really like them. But if I find I really good substitute, I may just retire these shades (or use them a whole lot less).


Talk about a really belated Christmas reunion. My college groupmates and I weren't able to meet up last December due to conflicts in schedule. So when Anna said she would be coming home early in 2016 and she had a free night, we all met up at Estancia Mall in Capitol Commons. (I have now been to this mall a couple of times.) We had dinner at Spice and Cleaver (I love this place). We ordered really heavy food, including steak, various sausages, chicken, and mashed potatoes. It was a bit embarrassing though because we really ordered a lot of expensive items and as it turned out, Gary treated us all because his birthday was right around the corner. We told him that we should have dessert and then it would be our turn to treat him and his family. We moved to Craft Coffee where I had coffee (I was too full to have dessert). While all the adults were engaged in conversation, I actually ended up spending most of the night talking to Wacky, Gary and Winnie's son who was with us. Apparently, I am pretty decent and having long conversations with kids who don't really know me because I managed to keep Wacky entertained the entire evening.


I got to play a couple of new games recently. I am very familiar with 7 Wonders, which is quite possibly my favorite tabletop game, but I had never played the expansion packs yet. My friend had the two sets - Leaders and Cities - and we got to try both that night. We first played the Leaders expansion pack and I won both times. When we moved to Cities, I ended up choosing a city that would probably have been very good to use in a multiple player set-up but as there were only three of us that night, it was almost like my advantage was negated and I got a very low score. Still, these expansion packs added a different dimension to 7 Wonders and they change the game play just enough to make things a bit more interesting.

I also got to play Stone Age. This is quite an easy game to learn. I won one of the two games we played, but I guess this was mainly because one of the players made a couple of strategic errors early in the game that allowed me to gain a strong early advantage. I have another game day planned soon and I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Ted Neeley sings Gethsemane

I thought it would be appropriate to post this today as it is Holy Thursday. One of my favorite songs from a musical and quite possibly one of the most difficult to sing, Gethsemane is from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar and it portrays Jesus' anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane before being crucified. While many have performed this song extraordinarily well, in my opinion, Ted Neeley in his older years sings this song better and more emotionally and passionately than anyone else. (Ted also portrayed Jesus in the film but I think he got a lot better as he got older.) Check out this astounding, goosebump-inducing performance (Ted was already in his mid-50s here and he is still so on point and his range is just spectacular).

uploaded in youtube by Jay Mantis

Monday, March 21, 2016

Movie Watching 2016

I missed a couple of films that came out earlier this year, including Deadpool. Interstingly enough, the first two movies I saw in 2016 are animated films that feature anthropomorphic animals.


photo from

This Disney movie is easily one of my favorite films in recent history. With its detective thriller storyline that features the ever-popular you-can-be-whatever-you-want-to-be motto, Zootopia sets itself apart from most other animated films with its themes of prejudice and discrimination. As if that wasn't enough, it shows how anyone can easily make judgments about others, even when they don't mean to and even if they have been victims of discrimination themselves. I'm not alone in my admiration of this film. It currently carries a 99% fresh rating in Rotten Tomatoes and many critics have called it one of Disney's best films. It is incredibly smart and well-written, the characters are very well-developed, the animation is top-notch and the imagery is stunning. Oh and its theme song Try Everything by Shakira is also really catchy. :) Zootopia is now one of my favorite animated films of all time and I can't wait to get my hands on the DVD when it gets released.

Kung Fu Panda 3

photo from

Of all three Kung Fu Panda films, this is the one I enjoyed the least. SPOILER ALERT: stop reading here if you don't know to know more about the movie. The animation is still incredibly vibrant (there is that one scene where you can see each individual hairs on Po's and his dad's bodies and I was just thinking, wow, that must have been very complicated to animate). Watching it, I felt a bit underwhelmed. I thought the storytelling of Kung Fu Panda 3 could have been done a bit better. I mean, it wasn't clear how Po figured out how to master chi when in fact it was the rest of the panda community plus Po's adoptive dad and Tigress who actually discovered how to use chi save Po's life. Furthermore, whatever little storytelling the movie had felt a bit rushed. It's still entertaining to watch as it is visually stunning and it has a lot of laughs and fun moments but I do think that this movie is mainly for young kids.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

We almost lost our dog

There was a bit of a panic at home recently. I was hanging out with a couple of friends when I got a text from my mom saying that our dog was missing. Apparently, he went out of the house when my brother opened the gate to drive and my nephews said that our dog hadn't come back in more than an hour which never really happens. I suddenly had flashbacks of the time that our other dog went missing and never came back. I tried not to think about it since there was nothing I could do anyway. My mom said that they drove around the neighborhood looking for him but they couldn't see him. They even asked the guards in our subdivision for help.

After some time, I got a text from my mom saying that one of my nephews finally spotted him. It seems he was going around the neighborhood with a female dog and this companionship kept him out for a lot longer than we were used to. He didn't go into our house immediately after my nephew saw him but after about an hour more, he was safely home. While technically he didn't really get lost, I'm just really thankful that our dog is still with us now.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy International Macaron Day at TWG

I read online that because of International Macaron Day (yes, apparently this is a thing), TWG was offering a promo for their macarons. I thought the promo was that you could buy 1 box of 6 and get 1 for free on March 20. But while I was in the mall earlier today, I passed by TWG and asked about it and I was told that the information I had was not accurate. Apparently, you can buy their macarons at P30 each (instead of the usual P55) and today, March 19, was the last day of the promo. In fact, the promo should have ended yesterday but TWG decided to extend it. As such, I decided to get a box of 24 for my family.

There were only eight flavors that were still available so I decided to get three of each. The flavors I got (from left column to right column): Napoleon Tea and Caramel (black), Noel in New York Tea and Red Velvet (dark red/maroon), Earl Grey Fortune and Chocolate (beige), Singapore Surprise (yellow), Red Balloon Tea (rose red), Grand Wedding Tea, Passion Fruit and Coconut (purple), Brothers Club Tea and Salted Caramel (dark brown), and Silver Moon Tea, Vanilla and Strawberry (pink).

As if that wasn't enough, I decided to get a small box for myself as well LOL. I could have taken some of the macarons from this box that I intend to give to my family tomorrow but I decided it is better to give them a full box so I got a box of 6 for myself.

I guess this makes up for the time I wasn't able to buy macarons from TWG during their anniversary promo (it was the same set-up with macarons at P30 each). Thankfully they extended it. I suddenly remembered my free macaron from Bizu last year and it was also in late March. As a fan of this French confection, I should take a mental note of International Macaron Day since there always seems to be some promo at this time.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel

I stayed at Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel during my short stay there for a variety of reason. I wanted to stay in a beachfront hotel that had lounge chairs on the beach because I planned to spend a lot of time just laying around at the beach while enjoying shakes and reading a book. I also wanted to stay in Station 2 so that I would just be a short walk away from a variety of restaurants. I wanted a hotel with a pool. I also wanted to stay in a really nice hotel, even if it meant that I would spend a lot more.

Boracay Mandarin ticked all the boxes, and when I saw that it ranked very high on Tripadvisor (it is #7 among hotels in Boracay as of this writing), I decided to stay here. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

I booked a Deluxe room through agoda. When I checked in, I was told that a deluxe room doesn't normally come with a view of the sea but mine came with a partial view. Cool!

Upon entering my room, I could tell why this hotel is rated very highly. It seems to have been designed to make guests feel very welcome and have a completely relaxing stay. It comes with a queen-sized bed and a double bed. At the far end of the room, there's a wicker chair with with leg rest. While it is only 25 sqm, it feels a lot bigger and more spacious than that.

As if the comfortable space inside the room wasn't enough, my room came with balcony.

Since a beachfront location was a requirement for me in my hotel selection, I made sure to enjoy just lounging about at the beach. (I did write previously that I got to read a book during this trip.) The views from my beach chair throughout the day were of course pretty awesome.

I also made sure that I enjoyed the swimming pool. The Boracay Mandarin pool is not very big and it isn't deep either but it suited my needs perfectly. The cool thing about this pool is that there are partially submerged lounge chairs at one corner of the pool.

Thankfully, each time I hit the pool, this area was vacant so I was always able to sit there. Here's the view from these chairs:

All in all, my stay at Boracay Mandarin Island was superb. The service is great, the room is very comfortable, and the location is perfect. I completely understand why it is so highly rated and I may just stay here again the next time I visit, even if it is a bit on the expensive side. If you want to stay in a good hotel during your Boracay stay, I definitely recommend Boracay Mandarin Island Hotel.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

[Boracay] Don Vito

Don Vito is where I had my first meal in Boracay. I was a bit tired when I checked into the Boracay Mandarin and I didn't really feel like walking so I ended up just having a late lunch in the main restaurant of the hotel. I ordered the Don Vito Fettuccine with Chicken (P340). Pretty decent portion size and the flavor was not bad. (You can also get this dish with shrimp instead of chicken.)

For dessert, I had the Mint Chocolate Cake (P150). Personally, I thought this looked a whole lot better than it tasted. I think the chocolate part of the cakes was like a crumbly chiffon and texture and density-wise, it didn't work very well with the mint. The dollop of ice cream on top was pretty good though.

Don Vito is also where I had my breakfast (it was included in my room rate) and I thought the selection of breakfast items was pretty good. So while my lunch in Don Vito was just okay, I did enjoy my breakfast here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

[Boracay] Cafe Del Sol

As if my heavy dinner at Epic wasn't filling enough, I made my way to Cafe Del Sol (which is also at D'Mall) to have coffee and dessert. And add a few more pounds. :)

There's a large selection of desserts and sweets here and it took me a while to decide what to get. I knew that I didn't want something too heavy since I was still pretty stuffed.

I ended up choosing the Torta Del Sol (P150), with its interesting checkerboard design. The verdict? It was just okay. The waitress did tell me it was a buttercream dessert but I didn't realize just how, er, "buttercreamy" it would be.

Of course, I was still able to eat the whole thing. :) I paired it with a mug of Cafe Americano (P110). In retrospect, I think the Mango Crepe Indulgence would have been a better choice for me (I was choosing between those two desserts before opting for the one with chocolate). Nevertheless, I do think that Cafe Del Sol is a good place to enjoy coffee while you are in Boracay.

Monday, March 07, 2016

[Boracay] Epic

Epic is a pretty popular place in Boracay because of its location (right at the entrance to D'Mall), its great food, and the fact that it switches to club mode at night.

I worked up an appetite by spending a couple of hours in the sea and in the swimming pool of my hotel and since I had a relatively light lunch, I was pretty famished by dinner time. As such, I decided to order a starter and a main course.

For my appetizer, I got for the Croquettes (P240). These ham and gruyere cheese bites are served with an aioli dipping sauce. Not only was the portion size quite big, the croquettes were delicious! I had to force myself to stop eating them because I wanted to leave room for my main course. I took half of this appetizer back to my hotel and when I ate my leftovers a few hours later, they were still realy good!

For my main course, I had the Bangers and Mash (P360). This sausage and mashed potato combo is perfect comfort food for hungry tummies. And the portion size is pretty solid too.

My dinner at Epic was really good and thoroughly satisfying, which isn't really surprising since the menu was created by Chef Carlos Miguel who has made a name for himself with many popular restaurants in Manila (Draft, 71 Gramercy, Opus). I definitely recommend this place to anyone who wants to enjoy a good meal in Boracay.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

[Boracay] Lemoni Cafe

I had breakfast in Lemoni Cafe the last time I was in Boracay in 2011 and I remember enjoying the food here. As such, I decided to pay this restaurant another visit. Lemoni Cafe is located right smack in the middle of D'Mall.   

I had a very late lunch on my second day in Boracay but even then, I still wasn't extremely hungry (maybe it was the heavy buffet breakfast combined with the fruit shakes I had). As such, I decided to get something a bit light and risotto seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I ordered the Grilled tiger prawns, spinach, coconut risotto (P650). This dish is on the expensive side of the menu since most other items were on the P300-500 but oh wow, it was so worth it! This was probably the best meal I had in my short stay in Boracay.

I didn't feel like having any dessert afterwards (and strangely enough, I didn't feel like having coffee either) but they do have a wide selection of cakes, pastries and other baked goodies. This place is also perfect for fans of breakfast food because they have an all-day breakfast section in their menu.

Apart from the food, what I love about this restaurant is the atmosphere, Two of its sides are open, giving it a very airy and inviting atmosphere. Its bright green and white color theme make the place feel more comfortable and refreshing. I will definitely visit this restaurant again the next time I am in Boracay.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

[Boracay] La Cozina

La Cozina now stands where the Greek restaurant Zuzuni used to be. (Zuzuni is still around, but now just as a boutique hotel.) Located at the point where Station 1 and Station 2 meet, this beachfront restaurant now serves Spanish-Mexican fare.

I was thinking about getting the Baby Back Ribs but since I knew I wanted dessert, I decided to get something which I felt was a bit lighter. I instead ordered the Pork Belly Porchetta Tacos (P250). They were pretty good although I did find the fat in the pork belly a bit too, er, fatty (I was hoping they would be a bit more crunchy).

Since it was a warm night, I decided to get a glass of sangria. The menu indicates the price of sangria by the pitcher but the waiter told me that I could order a glass. I think the glass cost about P200 and a pitcher costs P650.

I had initially planned to order the Mati Sin for dessert. This is a flourless chocolate lava cake that was part of the Zuzuni menu back in the day (and it was also in the menu of Mati, a Greek restaurant in Rockwell about a decade ago). This dessert is tremendously good but after having my tacos, I felt that maybe the Mati sin would be a bit too heavy for me. I decided instead of get the Churros Con Chocolate (P164).

Each order contains 6 churros and thick and rich chocolate sauce. I partnered it with Long Black coffee (P80). These churros were really good and the chocolate sauce was absolutely delectable. It was too bad I was full already because I was only able to eat half my order (I obviously took the rest back to my hotel but when I had them a few hours later, they weren't as good anymore as they were when they had just been prepared.)

The menu of La Cozina is quite limited and personally, I preferred when it was still Zuzuni and served Greek food. Nevertheless, it was still a satisfying meal and the service was good.