Lately, I’ve been seeing super cute doughnuts on my social network feeds. I initially thought they were the Despicable Me Minions and got super duper mega excited, but upon closer inspection, they were actually Monster University’s monsters in sweet fried dough form. Not that that’s not a bad thing, the idea of Mike and Sulley doughnuts is frickin’ fantastic!
Monster University, soon to show in local theatres, is a prequel to the groundbreaking Monsters Inc. of old. Back in 2001, Monsters Inc had me staring in wide-eyed wonder at the movie screen at the amazing 3D animation of various creatures and a buncha’ fur. It’s one of my favorite cartoons of all time that as an adult, I bought myself a Sulley stuffed toy from Disney Store (are you judging me?). I’m just happy that the kids of today will get to see the adorable monsters back in action.
Krispy Kreme has joined in on the fun and released a Monster University line of mini doughnuts in six monster flavors, namely Sulley, Mike, Randy, Terri Terri, Art, and Squishy. I honestly don’t care what the flavors are, what really matters is that they are cute. Gotta get some soon!
P.S. Dear sirs and madams of Krispy Kreme, please to make Despicable Me minions doughnuts in due time?
Are you in the mood for coffee? No? Well, I am. It must be sad not to like coffee for it is a magic drink (it’s true, it’s true). Lately, I’m never NOT in the mood for coffee, it’s almost worrying. It’s like caffeine has barely any effect on me anymore. That’s not such a bad thing, it only means I can have all the coffee I want and still sleep through the night like a baby. Which is what I did on my second night in Davao.
A week ago, I was in the colorful city of Davao to attend a cousin’s wedding. Right after the reception, which was a full buffet spread, a group of Davaoeños, some Manileños and I headed to this coffee shop called Cafe Firenzo. Initially, I was planning to get just coffee but then there was a cake chiller in full display filled with various nommy looking sweets and a gelato ice cream freezer with a buncha sweet looking coolers.
Obviously, we had to try some despite the full tummies. Unfortunately, I don’t have their names and prices because I forgot to take down notes but I personally recommend the Lavazza cheesecake, I think it’s called. It’s a moist and creamy number with the scent and light flavor of wonderful coffee. In the picture above, it’s that cake below the blueberry cheesecake (everyone knows what that looks like, right?). The rest were okay, but nothing too spectacular, imho.
Because my benchmark for a good coffee shop is their cappuccino and because it was near midnight, I had to try Caffè Firenzo’s. It was pretty nice. The coffee was smooth and strong without being too bitter and the cup had a decent amount of foam to top it off, like a good cappuccino ought to be.
A lot of desserts!
Open fairly late.
Cushy and comfy couches.
The name reminds me of the Harry Potter centaur Firenze (that’s a good thing!).
Some cakes were meh.
A bit out of the way for locals.
3 bacons! Conveniently located across a hotel (the one we stayed at), Caffè Firenzo is a perfect place for a nightcap after a tiring business trip or a day about town. They have good coffee and a nice selection of entrees and desserts offered at average prices.
Address: G/F Damosa Business Center, Angliongto Road, Lanang, Davao
“Sugar and spice and everything nice” is what little girls are made of, according to an old nursery rhyme. If the author had been to Stacy’s, he probably would’ve said the same thing about the cute little diner at Bonifacio Global City. The sign bearing the restaurant’s name in simple script outside barely gives you an idea of the pastel themed candyland that lies inside.
The little store transports you to a picturesque scene that could’ve come straight from a movie set. White wicker chairs, pink kitchen appliances, baby blue aprons, yellow dandelions, and mint green decor, “dusty” classic books and various memorabilia along with the perky staff dressed in a mix of pastels all together in a little space makes for a super cute ambiance.
As soon as you are ushered to a seat, a server gives you the menus with a bright smile on her face that you cannot help but smile back (Or be worried at what she’s planning behind your back. I kid!). Usually, your party is given a mug-ful of mixed munchies on the house. The pink mug filled to the brim with popcorn, marshmallows, and topped with pink pretzels all fall in line with the diner’s look and feel, not a one breaking the pastel theme.
Stacy’s prides itself for serving good old comfort food. Here are some of their noms-
Irish Beef ‘N Taters is made with 100% corned beef chunks sauteed in onions with a hint of malted beer. It comes with two poached eggs over freshly baked wheat pandesal, or if you wish, a cup of garlic fried rice. This dish is a winner, feel good breakfast food at anytime of the day is always okay in my book.
Stacy Jones is one of their signature dishes, it is your basic tapsilog spiced up a la Stacy’s. Made with US beef sirloin tapa and slathered with fried garlic. It comes with a couple of eggs (you can choose how the eggs are cooked), caramelized tomatoes and garlic rice. Comfort noms at its finest!
Bluebell Farm’s Beef Casserole is not on Stacy’s online menu, I’m not entirely sure why. Our cute server said this was one of their specialties. Slow-cooked, melt-in-your mouth beef ribs with a tasty tomato-y sauce are served in a personal pot and a cup of heart-shaped white rice. Almost like pochero without the banana or a watery beef mechado. It reminded me of hot homecooked meals during Sunday family lunches. It almost feels like home, except for the fact that you can’t get a second serving. The serving size of this particular order is a bit too small that we had to order a third dish.
What makes Stacy’s stand out is their attention to detail. A pink mug of complimentary assorted munchies is served to you as you look through the menu. On your table sits a vase with a fresh stem of yellow flower. The servers go out of their way to make you feel welcome. The rice that is served with their meals are shaped in a heart. The milkshake comes with an environment-friendly striped paper straw. With the receipt comes a couple of nostalgic butter ball candies (which incidentally almost killed me as a child). All these little things add up to a pleasant dining experience.
Super cute interior.
Feel good food.
Limited menu choices.
Staff perkiness is borderline ominous.
3.5 bacons! Dining at the Stacy’s branch in Bonifacio Global City is truly a pleasant experience. For the cute ambiance, good service, attention to detail, and yummy comfort noms, they deserve a fair amount of bacons.
Address: Rizal Drive, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Contact Details: (02)
When an officemate mentioned that there was a newly opened coffee shop at McKinley Hill, I was excited. I’m always on the lookout for coffee shops that aren’t too mainstream. I’m not a stranger to these coffee shops but sometimes, I feel as if they’re more about being status symbols than serving actual good coffee.
Black Canyon Coffee is a welcome new addition to the row of restaurants at the ground floor of Tuscany building. This coffee shop first popped up in Thailand in 1993 and have since expanded all over Asia.
After an event at Enderun, we were looking for a nearby coffee shop to cap the night. I didn’t know where Black Canyon Coffee was but we gamely set out to look for it after the hype I built up in my head since hearing about it. Apparently, it is just a few meters from Enderun and the very first establishment you’d see if you’re coming from the main entrance (not the one from C5) in Tuscany, McKinley Hill.
It was fifteen minutes before closing time when we got there but the crew kindly ushered us in, informed us that they were out of ice, and gave us menus. Since we didn’t have much time left, we settled on tea and ice cream.
The tea arrived prettily in a pot with a saucer big enough to hold a cup of letter-shaped biscuits (we tried to spell ‘bacon’ but couldn’t) and a mug that has their tagline “A drink from paradise.. available on earth.” printed on the inside. It’s a nice touch, imo.
The ice cream sundae came next. Called Tin Roof, it is a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream sprinkled with peanuts and topped with whipped cream, some chocolate syrup, and a couple of pretzel sticks. The contrasting flavor of salty peanuts and pretzels countered the sweetness of the ice cream quite fantastically. I really, really liked it.
Because we were one of the last customers in the shop, we quickly finished our noms and hauled our asses out of there. They have a ton of other nommy-looking things on their menu, I’ll get there earlier next time and try them for sure.
ADDENDUM: We finally were able to try the noms at Black Canyon Cafe (and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves). Here’s what we think:
This stir-fried signature Thai noodle dish is a staple in all Thai restaurants. Despite its popularity, many restaurants can’t get this delicious dish right. Black Canyon’s version is everything it’s supposed to be- nutty, slightly tangy, flavorful, and hell-raisingly spicy. I adored it.
Bagoong rice, or Shrimp Paste Fried Rice is also a staple dish in many (local) Thai restaurants. Black Canyon gives this dish justice. Theirs has more meat than others and can actually be a full meal for one.
The Green Chicken Curry was a tad bit more watery and a helluva lot spicier than I bargained for. I’m a fan of spicy noms, with a pretty high tolerance for them but this particular dish had me and the date end up like this lady (watch the video, it cures any kind of blues)-
Thankfully, our drinks soothed our suffering burnt tongues and the meal ended on a bright note.
Now I won’t bother putting up our regular rating system yet, because I don’t feel like I’ve had enough noms to rate the place. Instead, this is more like an FYI for you guys to try it if you’re in the area.
Tasty Thai noms are tasty.
Bagoong Rice has more meat than usual.
The staff are welcoming and attentive.
There are a bunch of entries, drinks, and dessert choices.
Not too easy to get to.
3.5 bacons! Black Canyon Coffee has a lot of noms on their menu and they are super tasty and pretty worth it. They also double as a coffee shop. If you’re into good Thai noms and good coffee, you’d probably find something to like here.
Black Canyon Coffee
Address: Ground floor, Tuscany building, McKinley Hill, Taguig City
Contact Details: (02) 355-5755 loc 119
When you walk past the row of restaurants along 2nd Avenue at night (the same street where Chicken Charlie is), it’s not difficult to spot Kebabers, a recently opened kebab stop in BGC. Maybe it was just a one off but that night, the resto’s exhaust was blowing enough smoke out to the street to fog the surrounding area, it almost seemed like special effects.
Not that that would turn us away, we quickly headed inside to try out their kebabs, finding ourselves in line with a handful of others. The lady at the counter asked us if it was okay for us to wait for fifteen minutes for our food. We placed our orders and was handed one of those vibrating number things with a cartoon of a middle eastern man.
For starters, we got what I thought were cheese sticks- Chili Fingers they call it. It was a jalapeño pepper scraped of seeds and rolled in a thick-ish egg roll wrapper. Since these things are normally deep fried and since they told us there’d be a bit of a wait earlier, I was expecting it to get to me piping hot. It arrived surprisingly at room temperature. It tasted alright, just a bit cold.
After that lackluster appetizer, I was hoping for happier main meals. One of their best sellers is the Cheese Kebab. You can actually choose from beef, chicken, or fish but chicken’s always a safe bet, so we got the chicken version. You can choose between getting two or three nuggets, I mean Cheese Kebabs. The plate also arrived cold. Again, if you ask me to wait for my noms, I will think you have many pending orders and serve mine to me tongue-burning hot. Not that I like burning my tongue, but you get what I mean, right? It reminds me of breakfast nuggets, if it’s a good or bad thing, you decide.
We also got a Double Up! Keema, which is made of ground beef sautéed in tomatoes and onions and served on top of rice. There’s a single version but we opted to get the double, it costs the same as a 3-piece Cheese Kebab and is not much bigger. It’s a simple dish that lacked any distinctive kebab flavor. It was.. ‘aight, for lack of a better adjective.
The biggest disappointment that night was that the food got to the table cold. I mean, that’s probably the easiest thing to offer your customers. Have me wait but give it to me hot enough to warm my belly. Microwave it for all I care so long as my food’s warm, actually. I probably wouldn’t mind other negatives.
Food arrived cold.
Dining area is small.
2.5 bacons! Kebabers meals are alright but they need a bit more oomph and value for money to be considered a good dinner option. Overall, it’s not a bad alternative to McDonald’s from time to time.
Address: 31st Street corner 2nd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Contact Details: (02) 355-5755 loc 119
How far would you go for bacon? I don’t mean morally, because we know some of you would probably sell your unborn child just for a whiff of that sweet cured pork belly meat. What I mean to ask is, how far would you go physically, like distance-wise?
Well, not too long ago, my sister asked me to take her out driving, so she can practice her skills behind the wheel. We wanted bacon, like we always do, so we decided to go to Poco Deli at Kapitolyo.
It doesn’t seem so far, does it? We do just live in Makati. But since we were practicing driving, the whole point of it was to just cover distance. Instead of making a bee-line to Poco Deli, we made a few stops first. Passed by Waltermart, then we picked up the ladyfriend, Mel, from Parañaque. From the good ole’ south, we went Poco Deli. You might be thinking there’s a Poco Deli branch at Ayala Triangle and there are a bunch of good quality delis between Parañaque and Makati. We didn’t have to drive all the way to Pasig. You’d be right, but again, the point was to just drive far for bacon. That was the goal.
Upon arriving at said classy deli resto, we were told that there was no more bacon in stock. NO MORE BACON. It was because their supplies are being divided between the Kapitolyo branch and the Ayala Triangle branch. You can imagine how I reacted to that.
The city of Lyon is the third largest city in France, next to the country’s capital Paris and Marseilles. The land is divided by two great rivers, the Saone and the Rhone, which gives the city a very unique look. Lyon is also famously known as the gastronomic capital of France. The city boasts of numerous restaurants, also known as ‘bouchons’ (don’t ask me how to pronounce that), that offer a smorgasbord of dishes that’s sure to satisfy any craving you might have.
For many months, I called Lyon my home away from home and luckily got to know the ins and outs of the charming city. It seems like fate for someone like me (= fat) to have been assigned to work in a city like this. In a city peppered with bouchons tempting you with all the wonderful smells wafting from their kitchens as you walk past, eating in seems like a waste of a meal. Picking one restaurant to go to from all the choices available to you is another dilemma altogether (this could be/could have been remedied by Zomato, if they already had a database for France).
Like any city in France, and most of Europe, bread is a major player in this city. Breakfast is heaven if you live near a bakery where the scent of freshly baked breads with (loads of) butter is sure to entice you to wake up early. Croissants, pain au chocolat, chouquettes, les amandes and baguettes are typical breakfast breads and are available at your corner bakery store. I (almost shamefully) recall that period when, like a child, I refused to eat anything but pain au chocolat for breakfast.
If Filipinos love their rice, the French love their bread. Breads are not only breakfast noms, they’re eaten throughout the day as well. One of their staple sandwiches is the Croque Monsieur or Madame, depending on your gender preference (I kid). I wrote about it in detail on this blog awhile back. You can read about it here- Croque Madame at the Louvre.
Breads can also serve as an appetizer, you’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that does not provide a basket of bread on your table. I adore rice to death but I grew to love breads as a part of most meals in France.
Speaking of appetizers, it is almost customary to have a at least a three-course meal. Except in McDonald’s of course, which you already know from reading this post from long ago- McDonalds of the World: Royal Bacon in France. In Lyon, and perhaps for most of France, a meal is not complete without an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert, sometimes adding an extra dish of cheese or two in between to make it a four/five-course dinner.
Although salads are usually served as an appetizer, the famous salad from Lyon aptly called Salade Lyonnaise can be, and usually is, served as a main entree. Although it has a lot of greens, I don’t think this can be classified as healthy, as the greens to bacon ratio is almost at 1:1. If you order a Menu Lyonnaise from any restaurant, usually a three-course set meal, one of them would surely be the Salade Lyonnaise. Best paired with a glass of wine (like everything else in the whole wide world).
The French also have unusual tastes, but none of them are as crazy as the ones Pinoys cook up- balut, isaw, and betamax to name a few. Like in Manila, it is not uncommon for the French to eat snails, although they call it escargot. Another specialty is Cuisses de Grenouille à la Provençale, or frog legs sautéed in butter. Yet another unusual favorite is foie gras, or fattened liver of a force fed goose, usually served as a pâté. Okay, I take it back, the goose liver is just as crazy.
Admittedly, I’m not as adventurous in exotic noms as others are, and don’t try as many weird noms as many do. But of those I’ve tried, I truly enjoyed the foie gras pâté. It is rich and creamy rather than pungent, and far less liver-y than the more common chicken or pork liver pâtés.
The first time I had lunch with a few French colleagues, they told me about the beef bourguinon. I’ve heard of it before but honestly never bothered with it, it is generally French beef stew and we have plenty good ‘uns in Manila. When they told me that it takes hours and hours to cook it over really low heat, I was amazed how some people have the patience to cook that long. Later on, I forced asked my mom to cook it when she came over to visit me (hehe).
Cubes of beef shank is marinated with potatoes and carrots in a sauce of garlic, onion, tomato paste, red wine, and a bouquet garni (a bunch of herbs usually with bay leaf, parsley, and thyme). It is then cooked veeerrry slowly over low heat. After several hours, you get a tasty stew with melt-in-your-mouth hunks of beef. It is excellent with a heaping cup of soft, white rice (it’s an Asian thing).
In Lyon (as it should be everywhere), dessert is an integral part of every meal. Fast foods, restaurants, and even home-cooked meals are never without dessert. There are always a lot of dessert options wherever you are- be it a bowl of fruit, a cup of yogurt, some chocolate mousse, or tiramisu.
Whew! If you get to this part, I’m giving you Internet cookies (and bacon). It couldn’t have been easy to read that extra long story.. and it isn’t done yet.
I just want to tell you a little about coffee and wine in Lyon. We know that France is especially known for their wines, and rightfully so. I’m no wine connoisseur but their wines are wonderfully smooth and strong. A huge selection (and number) of wines is usually found in groceries and in most restaurants- in Lyon, drinking wine is as common as drinking a glass of soda.
As is coffee. Although Pinoys are no strangers to coffee, in Manila it is more of a choice if you want to have some or not. We usually drink a cup in the morning to shake off the sleep, or after dinner, to help with digestion. In Lyon, drinking coffee after a meal is already a given. All meals are capped with a cup of coffee, and it is almost considered weird if you don’t.
Although the French have a reputation for being kind of rude and not very hospitable, from experience, it’s not as bad as the stereotype. In fact, it’s not bad at all. If you’re traveling to France, all you need is to know to say ‘bonjour’, ‘bonsoir’, and ‘merci’ in the proper French accent and with a smile, and you’re all set. In Lyon, find a good ‘bouchon’ and sit back, break bread, sip wine, and enjoy the scenery around you . Make sure you visit Lyon in December when they celebrate Fête des Lumières and magnificent light displays are all over town. It’s a gorgeous city (and only a couple of hours away by train from Paris) with gorgeous people and gorgeous noms.
The trend in the fried chicken world these days is going the way of Korean fast food. Although classic fried chicken will never fade away (I will always love you, Chicken Joy), we’ve made room for the crispy, soy-flavored, spicy kind of fried chicken. Another one called Smoper Chicken has popped up, not unlike the rest. Or is it?
Having the least number of branches (just a one, if I’m not mistaken), it is the least mainstream of all of them. Smoper Chicken has created its own following, however. It has gained popularity among the working class of Bonifacio Global City as a go to chicken joint, it’s that place you go to for lunch or after hours or just when you need a fried chicken fix without having to ruin your weekly food budget. I’m lucky enough to be working within walking distance to this place, and it’s easy to get their chicken. So I did.
140 bucks is enough for a meal of two chicken pieces plus rice. These are two large pieces (cuts of yours choice), more than enough to satiate a large appetite. Besides getting to pick your chicken, they also give you the option to slather your chicken with their sauces or just have it on the side, to be able to control the amount of sauce you put on your chicken. It’s a really nice plus, methinks. The chicken is nice and crispy, and the sauce is tasty. To me, it tastes different from other Korean fried chicken. A good kind of different.
Here’s how they describe their chicken-
“Crispy, golden brown, tender and juicy, choice chicken cuts, batter-dipped in our own recipe, deep fried to perfection and glazed with a choice of our mouthwatering special sauces. Original sauce made from 17 varieties of fresh vegetables or glazed with Garlic-Soy sauce. For the bold and daring, dare to try glazed in a sweet-hot and spicy fiery sauce.”
Now isn’t that irresistible?
They not only serve chicken, Smoper Chicken also has other staple Korean offerings such as Japchae (p150), Bulgogi (p150), Samgak Kimbap (p85), Patbingsoo (p150) and local favorites including Chicken Skin (p75), and Chicken Popcorn (p125) among others.
Large chicken pieces.
Option to choose chicken cuts.
Option to choose to get the sauce on the side.
3.5 bacons! Smoper Chicken is a good alternative to other chicken choices. They give enough flexibility for customers to get the fried chicken they want at a reasonable price.
Address: 26th Street corner 4th Ave. One Mckinley Place, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Contact Details: (02) 846-3424