My New Favorite Cupcake

Ever since the cupcake frenzy hit Manila, my go-to was Cupcakes by Sonja. Every time my husband would be in the area where their first branch is located, I would ask him to bring some home. I was thrilled when they opened a branch in the Mega Fashion Hall of SM Megamall. I would be able to have my fix more often, or so I thought.

Numerous other cupcake stalls have opened in Megamall. I had heard of GIGI Cupcakes, but they were in Eastwood and I hardly went there. This afternoon, the kids and I found a stall of GIGI Cupcakes in Megamall. They offered a variety of different colored cupcakes, all of them very tempting.

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We got the Salted Caramel, Chocolate and the Red Velvet cupcakes. Each cupcake costs P50, although there are other flavors which cost more. They were very delicious! The kids and I were very happy with our choices. It is now our favorite cupcake place.

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Saturday Morning At The Breakfast Table

After dropping off our son at his frisbee practice, we went for breakfast at The Breakfast Table. The Breakfast Table is one of the many restaurants along Maginhawa St. in Quezon City.

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I like the decor of the place. The color scheme of blue and white reminded me of Mykonos. The restaurant is small, but it doesn’t feel cramped because of the high ceiling and white walls.

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Their menu shows a lot of breakfast options. Aside from the ones printed on the menu, they also offer a “build your own breakfast” menu. Here you can choose which kind of rice you want (plain, sardine, coffee or garlic rice), how you want your eggs cooked (fried, scrambled, boiled, salted or poached), which main dish you will have (Tuguegarao/Vigan/Cabanatuan/Chicken/Baguio longganisa, tocino, danggit, pusit, bangus tinapa, daing na bangus or beef tapa), plus a side dish. Each item is priced individually, so you can have more control of your choices. I like this kind of menu, so we can have exactly what we want and not waste anything. We ordered the Vigan and Tuguegarao longganisa plus the pancake. I also had the TBT cooler – a refreshing drink made with calamansi, tanglad, pandan, malunggay and muscovado. It was a welcome relief from the summer heat!

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The pancake was huge! It was fluffy and not too sweet. I just wish they offered a side of bacon or sausage to go with it. The serving size of the longganisa, on the other hand, was too small. Only two small pieces per order. We had to ask for an additional order of longganisa, which my husband and I shared.

The food was okay. Prices are very affordable. Parking can be a problem, like with most establishments in Maginhawa Street.

Revisiting Makati (Part 2) – Dining Around

Makati is known to have a lot of good restaurants so we were very excited to try out some of them. Our first stop was Lulu for dinner. We almost didn’t find it. We used Google Maps to locate it but the address it gave us was wrong. It turned out to be on the next street instead. Anyway, we found ourselves in Lulu in time before the dinner crowd came in.

Ambience was great – lovely place for a date. They had an open kitchen design, so you can see your food being prepared and hear the chef calling out what dishes need to be done. Service was good, too. We ordered Caesar Salad, Lulu Burger, Lulu Pasta and the US Certified Angus Beef Bolognese. The bolognese was excellent, very tasty. The salad and the Lulu Pasta were mediocre, not bad but nothing great either. The burgers were disappointing. The center of the burgers were raw and the burgers had that raw taste. Not a very good way to end our day.

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For breakfast, we went to Pablo, which was located on the ground floor of the Picasso. We ordered the Bangus with Rice, Chicken Adobo Flakes with Rice and the Sardines in Oil with Rice. All these orders came with eggs the way you want them. From the buffet, you could get cereals, fruits, cheese, deli meat, salad, bread and fruit juices. Not too many choices in the buffet. We found the food to be of average taste. Serving size for the bangus and sardines were quite small. The adobo flakes had a burnt taste. Again, quite a disappointment.

Later on that morning, we went to the Salcedo Saturday Market. What an interesting place! There were so many stalls to choose from, with a wide range of cuisine available. There were homecooked meals, specialty food, fresh produce, flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables. We would have wanted to buy some of those dishes but we didn’t have the proper storage to prevent spoiling. We did try out the ice cream. We were choosing between Carmen’s Best and Adam’s Seriously Good Ice Cream. Unfortunately, the flavors we wanted in Carmen’s Best had already been sold out. So we ended up with Adam.

Adam’s Seriously Good Ice Cream was just that – seriously good! We had a hard time choosing which flavor to get. Adam was there to make the sales pitch (not that we needed any convincing). He explained how they make their ice cream, what makes them different, and how they use only the best ingredients for their ice cream. We got the First Lady’s Fantasy (“the best sugar-free chocolates sweetened with organic coco sugar and  bit of honey”) and the Ambassador’s Butter Cream (“a rich buttery cream with pieces of home-made almond brittle candy”).

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Both flavors were absolutely delicious! They more than made up for the disappointing food choices we’ve made recently. I hope they find more distributors soon – so we can have a follow-up fix 🙂

Our last meal in Makati was at Bugsy’s Bar and Bistro. It was also walking distance from the Picasso. We had the Buffalo Wings, Buffalo Tenders, Bugsy Siegel and some mashed potatoes to go with them. The chicken was good – flavorful with just the right amount of spiciness. Not too oily, too, compared to other versions. The steak was okay, a little bland but still okay and reasonably priced too. It was large enough to split into two orders. The mashed potatoes were nothing great.

Revisiting Makati (Part 1) – Staying At The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences

It is not very often that we go to Makati, the country’s financial district. But my daughter needed to be there on two consecutive days – one for their Technical Dress Rehearsal and another for their actual performance. The timing was also bad – my husband couldn’t drive, it was a payday weekend and there were numerous sales in almost all the malls in Metro Manila. So we decided to stay overnight at the Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences. It was the only place within walking distance to and from RCBC Theater where my daughter’s rehearsal and performance were going to be. Fortunately for us, Deal Grocer offered a room there at a discount.

I like the overall feel of the Picasso. There is art everywhere. There are paintings by the corridor. There is even an art gallery. We got the Malaga Studio and asked for an extra bed for our son. The room had a queen sized bed, a small kitchen, a study area and a balcony. The Deal Grocer voucher we got included P300 purchase from the minibar and breakfast for two at the Pablo (their ground floor restaurant).

The room is spacious, even with the addition of an extra bed. Temperature of the airconditioner was just right, a welcome relief from the blistering heat outside. The art was evident even in the trash can and key card. Wi-Fi was pretty good, you just needed to get the username and password from the front desk. Water pressure in the bathroom was good too. One thing about the bathroom, though – there are no doors to provide privacy for the shower and toilet areas, just one door for the whole bathroom.

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Other great things about the Picasso were location and service. It is within walking distance from a lot of restaurants, convenience stores, and the Salcedo Park. They also provide a shuttle service to many of the Makati malls. Everyone in the staff provided excellent service.

We were very happy with our stay at the Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences. We would gladly return if we need to be in the area again.

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The Chocolate Cakes of UCC Vienna Cafe

Most of this summer’s afternoons were spent waiting in The Podium while my daughter attended her workshop in Children’s Musical Theater. I found myself in UCC Vienna Cafe where the room is cold, the Wi-Fi is fast and the cakes are superb. I’ve had the pleasure of trying three of their chocolate cakes.

The first one I tried was their Chocolate Ganache. It is described as “moist chocolate cake, gooey chocolate filling, rich dark chocolate ganache icing”. I would describe it as smooth and not too sweet. The moistness of the cake, the softness of the filling and icing – I wanted something hard or crunchy to break the monotony.

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The next one I tried was their BTS Cake. This one had layers of chocolate cake, cream and dulce de leche caramel. I am a big fan of caramel. Chocolate + caramel = what’s not to like? Of the three cakes i tried in UCC, this one was my favorite. It was absolutely delicious! Others might find it too sweet, but I just love the combination of chocolate and caramel.

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The last one I had was the Xanadu. This one had “crunchy meringue base, chocolate cake, cream, chocolate mousse enrobed in dark chocolate ganache”. The Xanadu has been described as one of the best chocolate cakes in Manila. It was okay, I guess, but not as great as I had expected. Personally, I liked the BTS more.

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I loved the cakes in UCC. There are still others there that I want to try. The prices are on the high side, but the cakes are really good.

Photo credit: All photos from karenskitchen.com.ph