Saturday, March 31, 2012

Unlimited cake challenge at Secret Recipes

The challenge: eat seven cakes within an hour. Can we do it?

half of the team ready for action
girls in their mean-guy pose, while ron acts girly for the cam 

We got Secret-Recipes-unlimited-cakes-and-coffee-or-tea-until-6pm coupons for only P199 (P950 value) and couldn't wait to take up the challenge.  The rules were simple: strictly no sharing and eat your cake as fast as you can, since we started eating at 5:00pm. 

Just look at all the cakes we had to eat!

five slices out of seven delivered
pretty girls + cakes = love love

ready for battle!

writers are all smiles

 My first cake was of course, chocolate. As early as now, I have to tell you it's the best out of all I tried.

moist chocolate cake was not as moist as expected, but it's okay
Wolfed the choco down in around five bites and ordered cake number two.

White Strawberry - light and tasted a bit medicine-y
Cake number three was called the Golden Nugget. The middle was rich and creamy, but I didn't really like the taste.

no gold in this Golden Nugget 
There were still four cakes to try -- Black Forest, Mocha Walnut, Cocoa Mocha, and Almond Coffee -- but I was already too "sugarified" to take in more.  

Challenge result:  FAIL at 3/7 cakes consumed. Boo. 

Unfortunately, we weren't too happy about the subpar service at Secret Recipes that day.  We made a mistake in printing one of the coupons, but the staff wasn't too helpful in improving the situation.   Yes, we knew the rules (coupons had to be printed out), but if I were the manager, I would have done something to make my customers feel better, especially since the restaurant's own database showed that we did indeed purchase the coupon.  They were also very strict about refills.  The waiter made sure I finished every drop of my jasmine tea (which went well with cakes, by the way) before I could have another cup.

No refills until I finished this

Good thing the sugar rush with my hyper officemates more than made up for this disappointing detail.   

girls girls girls girls :)

Just look at all our plates and imagine how full we were!  

I love this weird and geeky bunch of Marketing ninjas.
Secret Recipes is open from 10 am- 10 pm and is located at 5/F Shangri-La Plaza Mall, EDSA cor. Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong, Metro Manila.  For reservations and deliveries, call  02-6370367.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Chocolates from home: Theo & Philo Artisan Chocolates

When I was in high school, I tried eating green mango with chocolate and liked it.  My friends thought I was crazy.    I don't think they'd be thinking the same thing when they try Theo & Philo artisan chocolates.   Theo & Philo is distinct from other artisan chocolates because of its infusion of Filipino flavors, and no wonder because these specialty chocolates are Philippine-made.

The Theo & Philo story extols its homegrown ingredients; cacao comes from Davao, while the sugar is from Bacolod.  It's founder Philo Chua says:

"...each batch of chocolate is produced in small quantities (actually, it would be "micro" in industry standards) and overseen personally by people instead of machines. We take great care, time and effort to ensure that each step starting from the selection of the cacao bean to the final step of molding and packing, we are only offering the best we can offer."

Ching and I tried two unique flavors, Dark Chocolate with Siling Labuyo (Chili) and the best-selling Green Mango and Salt.

I love Theo & Philo's packaging
*thanks to Ching for the photos

Proudly Philippine-made

Don't expect a big chunk of chocolate though, as we did when we saw the website photos.  Each bar is only 1.3 oz but totally worth the foodie experience. When I first took a bite from my Dark Chocolate with Siling Labuyo I was thinking, what's so special about it? That is, until I swallowed and felt the slight kick from the chili.  The spice would leave your throat with a slight burning sensation that's -- you might find this weird, but I can't put it any other way--  surprisingly pleasant.

Any choco-lover would appreciate Theo & Philo 

I can also understand why the Green Mango and Salt is a favorite.  Even though I'm not a green mango fan, it became my choco choice too!   Believe me, green mango goes very well with dark chocolate. Ching and another officemate also gave it a thumbs-up.  So that's 3/3 choco-loving girls...a statistic boyfriends and husbands out there should seriously consider.

If you're looking for a unique gift, why not grab all eight flavors of Theo & Philo?

Theo & Philo is available in Green Mango and Salt, Labuyo, Organic Barako, Pili & Pinipig, Milk Chocolate, 70% Dark Chocolate and Calamansi flavors.  According to their Facebook site, there's also Dark Chocolate and Pandesal, although we didn't see this flavor when we went to the ECHO Store, Podium. Each 38g bar sells for P95.  Other stores are listed in the Theo & Philo website.

Read more on Theo & Philo:

For love and chocolate - The Philippine Star

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is a Selecta Magnum Moment Worth It?

Unilever's Selecta Magnum has teased curious tastebuds wondering if the relatively expensive ice cream bar is worth all the hype and hoopla.  As I mentioned in my previous post on the Selecta Magnum Classic, the Belgian coating is good, but the vanilla ice cream needs some work.  But that's just me.  Despite reviews of being overhyped and overpriced, the Magnum is still selling out on groceries and Mini-Stops that you just can't help but wonder what is it with this ice cream?

Selecta Magnum infographic by myManila
Overhyped and overpriced ice cream?

I'd like to think of the Magnum as a lower-level Apple product of ice creams.  It uses a  marketing strategy that  entices customers to actively seek out a brand because they believe it can fulfill the need (in this instance, the need to belong. haha.).  By marketing itself as the most expensive mass-produced ice cream, the Magnum creates in people the desire to know more about its value for money, causing a snowball effect that makes others want to identify themselves with previous Magnum taste-testers.   This reminds me of the iPod which people buy because they want to imbibe its "cool" vibe.  People don't want the iPod just because it's useful as an mp3 player (you can get way cheaper alternatives); they also want to acquire the status Apple products bring.  The Magnum is not a status symbol (some have even called it the poor man's Haagen Dazs), but in a similar way, people want to acquire something only the Magnum can give; that is, the feeling of being "in".  They've been asked, "Have you tried the Magnum?", and their interest is piqued the more they're asked that question.  They can't help but give in to the latest craze.   And this is actually pretty crazy behavior for some who have tried the pricey cooler.  But still, it works right?  I've seen people ask on Yahoo Answers if the Magnum is worth it and there are numerous reviews online entitled "Just Another Magnum Review" or something along that line.  But after reading all criticisms, you'd still want to try it for yourself.  Probably only the truly snotty Ben and Jerry's and Haagen Dazs fans will turn their noses at it.

You've got to admit that Magnum chocolate is more than your average Pinipig Crunch (which sells for a bit over P20), so I can't understand why people think its overpriced.  That said, the sucker for chocolate that I am tried the Magnum Almond.  Here's another shot of my pretty Magnum model:

Selecta Magnum Almond Model Ching who has a very inspiring blog called everyday sunday

I found this sweeter than the Classic, and though you can't expect it to be as amazing as the gelato I tried at Bar Dolci in The Fort, I still liked it and I'd buy it if I wanted something ice cream and something real chocolate. If you lower your expectations a bit -- its P50, not P150-- you will too.

So, are you going to give in or are you going to be left out?

In areas where the hype has died down, the Selecta Magnum Almond is available in all groceries and convenience stores.  Now I only have the Truffle to try. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Provençal Cuisine at Café Provençal

If you need a casual-classy restaurant that's not cloistering, try  Café Provençal  at Shangri-la Plaza Mall.  It's warm ambiance, filling food, and attentive service are great for an intimate mall lunch or dinner with friends or business colleagues.  

Staying true to its name,  Café Provençal's food has the taste of Provence. This means, expect a lot of garlic, aromatic herbs, and olive oil in their dishes. Olive oil is such an essential element in Provençal cuisine that an important book on Provençal food, La véritable cuisine provencal et niçoise (The Wonderful Food of Florenceby Jean-Noël Escudier states that the king of Provence is actually the olive tree. 

My friends and I were hungry and didn't go wrong with these dishes:

For appetizers, we had the Picasso Painter Palette which would gladly feed 3-5 people.  We also ordered two pasta dishes, but the Porto Fino was the one that stuck to memory.  It seemed like such a simple dish, but it drew in mildly surprised comments of "masarap" (yum!).

Picasso Painter Palette
calamares, parma ham, feta-tomatoes, smoked sausages, Caesar sampler and garlic mushrooms
Porto Fino
black olives, sundried tomatoes, virgin olive oil, anchovies, and parmesan cheese over our choice of penne
Pasta is of course, best complemented by pizza.  Here's the self-titled Cafe Provencale pizza.

Cafe Provencale pizza
shrimps, pepperoni, ham, mushroom, capers, olives, anchovies, garlic, tomatoes, mozzarella cooked on Italian pizza stone

How do you make a good old brownie more interesting?  Top it with creamy vanilla, choco fudge, whipped cream, and while you're at it, add a butterfly to complete the mouthwatering picture.  Our dessert was so lovely, it drew in a chorus of wows.  

beautifully done brownie

the caramel butterfly looked too elegant to eat

You can bet that we soon got over this brownie's loveliness.

Chris takes the first huge bite
My equally lovely friends and I are satisfied.

friends since high school

men with babies are love!
Chris, daddy Sonny, and baby Claire
Café Provençal is located at 2nd Lvl. Shangri-la Plaza Mall, EDSA corner Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong, Metro Manila.  It's open from 10 AM- 9 PM everyday.  For delivery (minimum of P500), catering, and reservations, call 02-6318046. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Selecta Magnum

My lunch treat for today -- Selecta Magnum Classic made with pure Belgian chocolate and filled with creamy vanilla. Well...they could still improve on the vanilla part, but the choco coating was yum!

My Magnum Model: Ching who blogs from everyday sunday

The recently-launched Magnum is currently the country's most expensive mass-produced ice cream at 50 pesos.  According to Selecta, it belongs to the impulse market category; that is, it's one of those products you buy out of impulse because of greed, urgency, fear of loss, or indifference.  I don't want to think about what my impulse purchase was borne out of.  I just know that this yummy cooler is perfect for the summer heat.

edit: As I told my best friend,I kept wishing that they had a "choco box" version of this..filled with orange, strawberry, mint, caramel, or coconut ice cream. Then you could order a box of different flavors. Calling Selecta!

Buy Selecta Magnum Classic, Chocolate Truffle or Almond from groceries and convenience stores.