Travel

Magical Nomz at Wizarding World of Harry Potter

The Harry Potter theme park at Universal Orlando had just opened last June 18 and I so badly want to go. Not only because I’m a theme park junkie, but this feverish want need to go is mostly because I’m a massive Harry Potter fan.

I’m the kind of fan who reserved her books months in advance, lined up excitedly in the bookstore at opening date (even with a reservation), locked up in her room on the first day to finish the book (coming out only for meals and bathroom breaks), discussed it with fellow Harry Potter nerds, read the book again exhaustively over the next week, and discussed it even more extensively the weekend after.

You did what? That’s.. sad.

Teasers of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter had been first leaked out as far back as five years ago, with the website showing just a splash page of the opening date. And now five years later, fantasy has come to life. The magical world of Harry Potter has been replicated for us Muggles to experience IRL!

Landmarks such as Hogwarts, Honeydukes, Three Broomsticks, Ollivander’s, among many others are now attractions at Universal Orlando, Florida. What is interesting to note, is that they made sure that the food served in the park have actual references from the books. The menu has been designed specifically for the park, and food items were concocted based on the descriptions in the books (and all of them have J.K. Rowling’s approval!).

Like this one-

Butterbeer

Butterbeer at Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Butterbeer is mentioned fairly often in the Harry Potter books. Harry and his gang always have some when they’re in the Three Broomsticks (and that time where they held a meeting in Hog’s Head). And although it isn’t alcoholic, it made Winky the house elf, quite drunk and out of it. I imagine it to be something like our very own Cali Shandy- non-alcoholic, fizzy, and underage kids get it when they’re in bars.

They’ve recreated this drink and those who’ve tried it say it tastes like shortbread cookies and butterscotch. Mugglenet.net describes it as a chilled mug of bubbling amber liquid topped off with a white fuzz. “It was thick, then rich, then cooler and thinner at the bottom.”

Pumpkin Juice

The Pumpkin Juice comes in a nice souvenir bottle.
Pumpkin Juice is a pretty common drink in the Harry Potter series. It is served with every meal at Hogwarts, Harry even brought a flagon for Sirius when he was hiding in his animagus form and had nothing to eat but rats. Wesh.com says- “Think apple cider meets pumpkin pie. It’s made of apple juice, pumpkin puree, apricot puree and a few other ingredients. The drink is a great balance of sweet and tart with a bit of a Chai-like spice. It is sweet, smooth and refreshing.”

Strawberry and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

You may wonder if this was in any of the books, as I did when I first heard about it. Reviews say it can be found in Prisoner of Azkaban, while Harry was walking with his friends along Diagon Alley. I checked, it was indeed mentioned, although briefly. The Strawberry and Peanut Butter Ice Cream is getting surprisingly a lot of note. The numerous praises for it read “The flavors blend together just perfectly!”, “It surpasses any ice cream with peanut butter.”, “It’s like magic!”, “Freakin’ delicious!” and “It’s too die for!”. This one is definitely something to look out for when you visit the park.

Other Treats

Clockwise from top-left: Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Breakfast at Three Broomsticks, Honeyduke’s Acid Pops, Shepherd’s Pie, Chocolate Frogs, and TongueBurner’s Tooth Splintering Strong Mints

Other notable food choices are: The Great Feast (a huge platter good for four to six people that consists of four big pieces of chicken, four slabs of ribs, many cobs of corn, seasoned vegetables and potatoes), Cauldron cakes (spongy, chocolate cake filled with gooey, chocolate-y fondue with a chocolate handle), Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips, among many others. Also fun to try are the sweets and candies from Honeydukes like a recreation of Chocolate Frogs (which of course do not jump or behave like a frog in any way) and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

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There seems to be a wide variety of ingenious and well-thought out food selections at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando in Florida that it makes my mouth water just reading and writing about them. Too bad the Philippines is a million miles away from Florida, it’ll take a while before I can actually visit the place and try out Butterbeer or Chocolate Frogs. In the meantime, I’ll fatten myself up with everyone else’s pictures and stories!

*all the pictures are not mine, they were ganked from the Internet

Noms

Chocnut Wars – Choc*Nut vs. Hany

If you’re Pinoy, I bet you’ve already tried these bite-sized, peanuty, chocolate candy bars at least once in your life (if not, shame on you ^_~). These candies have been part of many Filipino childhoods, it was most definitely part of mine. I remember buying chocnut every afternoon from the sari-sari store near our house or from the school canteen when I was a kid. Up until now, I still get some every once in a while, specially since I transferred to an office where they’re readily available.

Choc*Nut or Hany?

Nowadays, there are many brands to choose from, they vary only very slightly in size, taste and texture. This post will be an attempt to compare the two more popular brands today- King Choc*Nut and Annie’s Hany- and conclude which brand is the best.

Heft (1 point)


Hany is visibly bigger.

Took side-by-side photos to compare their size. While they’re of the same height, you can clearly see that there is a significant difference in the length and thickness. Choc*Nut is thinner, but it is longer while Hany is short but it is pretty thick. By the feel of it, Hany seems to be noticeably heavier than Choc*Nut. (Edit: The packaging says that Hany is indeed heavier at 12g as against Choc*Nut’s 10g)

Hany wins! (Choc*Nut-0; Hany-1)

Texture (1 point)

I’ve had more than ten of these bars yesterday to properly do this. Choc*nut was a bit drier and grainier; it gets a little messy when you bite into the bar. Hany was moist, chewy and much more compact. Funny, in the picture it looks as if it’s the other way around.

Hany wins again! (Choc*Nut-0; Hany-2)


Side by side.

Taste (3 points)

Now this is where the difference counts the most, yes? Any two things can be similar but there would be nuances that can make an entire world of difference. In this case, the dealbreaker is the sweetness. Hany is sweeter. Much, much… much sweeter.

What we love about the chocnut of our childhood is the peanut-y/chocolate-y taste that we grew up with. Choc*Nut perfectly fits the bill. Hany, being super baduper kaduper sweet, unfortunately masks this peanut-y/chocolate-y taste, instead, the sweetness overpowers its supposed flavor. Also, as pointed out by an officemate by the name of Bernie, Choc*Nut doesn’t have that unpleasant sweet/sour aftertaste that Hany leaves you with.

Choc*Nut wins! (Choc*Nut-3; Hany-2)

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In the end, it’s still a matter of preference. A lot of people (my officemates) like (are addicted to) Hany but for me, Choc*Nut is still the best. Nothing beats the original!

Which wins the chocnut war for you? Choc*Nut or Hany?

Noms

Nothing Beats SEx on a Rainy Morning – A Sinangag Express Review

When the boyfriend asked me to go with him to get his new monitor from a store somewhere at BF Parañaque, I asked him if he knew where to find it. And when he said it was right next to Sinangag Express along Aguirre Street, I perked up right away. The thought of a warm sinangag meal on a rainy morning always cheers me up.

Sinangag Express, naughtily nicknamed SEx, is a commercialized tapsilogan with branches at select locations in different cities. There are two branches just in BF- the one along President’s Avenue and the one we went to, along Aguirre Street.



The Menu

The dining area was dimly lit, which was fine because we were there in the morning when there was light outside. They also had no airconditioning, but the place was cool because it just rained and there was a light breeze. But the tables and chairs were nice and solid and didn’t feel like a typical fast food joint.

For lunch, we ordered the classic Tapsilog (p60) and the mouth-watering Special Pares (p75). Let’s start off with the-

Tapsilog


The classic Tapsi

Tapa + sinangag + itlog = a classic combination that will forever be a favorite. SEx’s tapsilog is a delicious set, their tapa is nicely seasoned, the rice is soft and garlicky and the serving size is pretty good (bigger than Tapa King’s). And it only costs 60 pesos a meal! Rating: 5/5

Special Pares


Special Pares (p75)


Enticed by the huge streamers outside with blown-up pictures, I ordered the Special Pares without looking at other menu choices. There was a pretty big bowl of soft sinangag rice topped with fried chopped garlic and onion that came with a smaller bowl of minced beef. The rice was good, soft and garlicky, just like sinangag should be.

The beef was soft but it was too stringy, I was expecting it to be served in chunks just like regular pares. It was also too sweet and a tad too oily and it didn’t have that sesame seed-y taste that I associate with pares. Perhaps it was because I expecting it to taste differently that I didn’t like the dish so much. Rating: 3.5/5

All in all, it was still a nice visit at Sinangag Express. Good food, cheap prices, big servings, friendly staff, clean environment. Sums up to a pretty good dining experience for me.

Noms

Budget Meals – Big Daddy’s (BIG) Chicken
If you’re in Greenhills Shopping Center and you get some major hunger pangs but you have just a hundred pesos left in your pocket, I suggest you look for Big Daddy’s Chicken for a cheap and satisfying big meal.
This was my situation last weekend after window-shopping at Greenhills tiangges. I was looking for a place to grab a quick dinner when their sign, the brightly lit orange logo that had ‘CHICKEN’ in huge block letters, easily caught my attention.

Taking a quick look at their menu assured me that this was a place well within budget, so I promptly got a tray and decided on what to order.

Big Daddy’s Chicken’s sign says HELLO! EAT HERE!

Big Daddy’s Chicken serves huge slabs of chicken (or pork) chops coated in crispy golden breading together with rice and soup. As a twist, you can choose one of these as flavoring for your chicken- spicy, lemon, nori or plum (yes, the fruit).

I like my food with a bit of a kick, so I decided to get the spicy flavored chicken with rice and soup (p85). I was debating with myself whether to try out the plum flavoring (just because it sounded so weird) but in the end I stuck with spicy.

Perfectly spicy!
The first thing you notice when you get your plate is the giant slab of chicken chop. From the picture’s angle, it doesn’t look too big but trust me, it is. The chicken is fried to a golden crisp and I liked the spicy chili powder they used (reminds me of the chili flavoring from Ersao– another fast food joint I want to revisit).

See that big chicken slab?
Here’s a picture of a different meal- the original chicken with pasta (p90). The pasta wasn’t anything special, it’s your typical spaghetti noodles in creamy white sauce. While the unflavored chicken was also good, I still prefer the spicy flavored one.

All in all, it was a yummy and very filling meal for less than one hundred pesos. Sulit!

The idea for Big Daddy’s Chicken came from Taiwan’s famous street food called Ji Pai. These are huge pieces of fried breaded chicken chops that can be bought from food carts along the streets for cheap. It turns out that the ones from Taiwan are even bigger, looky-


Taiwan’s famous Ji Pai are insanely huge.
Noms

Delightful Desserts at Caramia Gelateria

Instead of going for the usual coffee to cap off the night last Saturday, we decided to get some gelato ice cream from Caramia Gelateria inside Amici Restaurant along Tomas Morato. We made our way along the restaurant-lined street which was busy as usual, bustling with cars and people at quite a late hour, finding Amici near the landmark circle of scouts.


Happy counters at Caramia Gelateria
Caramia Gelateria, which is the gelato ice cream shop inside Amici, is always, always a joy to visit. Their walls are brightly colored, their cake and gelato ice cream displays make the place feel like a happy little party, and their staff always have ready smiles. You can’t help but be cheered up no matter how gloomy you are.

Here’s what we got:

Guiltless classic-

The classic pistachio gelato ice cream
This is a classic favorite. Pistachio flavored gooey, yummy gelato ice cream (p65 a scoop). It was of course, delicious. Did you know that gelato ice cream has a lower fat and sugar content than regular ice cream? This means less guilt and more ice cream!

Ice cream cake-

Cara Mia’s Banana Blast
This looked so good on the display that we just had to try it. It looked very pink and brown to me, so it was kind of unusual that it was called Banana Blast (p95).

It turns out that this ice cream cake is made of chocolate, strawbery, and banana gelato topped with strawbery and chocolate syrup. It’s a gelato banana split! I liked the combination of the 3 flavors, and the zing that the syrup gives. It took a good long while to finish this one, savoring each bite takes some time.

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It’s always a good experience every time I visit Caramia Gelateria. Besides gelato ice cream, their gelato cakes are also delicious, affordable AND healthier than regular ice cream cakes! ^_~ You can check out the price list and descriptions on the Caramia website. Next birthday party I’m going to, I’m bringing one of these!

Etc.

Get a Free Whopper Jr. at Burger King!

The promo has been running for a couple months already, but this is a heads up, just in case you hadn’t heard of it yet. From April 30, 2010 to April 29, 2011, Burger King will be giving away a FREE Whopper Jr. every time you get a Whopper Jr. Combo Meal and upgrade your meal to large fries and large drink.

The combo meal costs 130 pesos and the meal upgrade is an additional 40 pesos. A total of 170 pesos for two Whopper Jrs, 1 large fries and 1 (very) large drink. That’s a meal good for two right there. Great deal!
Noms

GB3’s Kitchen is Totally Underrated

On date night, after walking around Greenbelt 1, 2 and 3 and checking out all the restaurant menus, my date and I settled on an old favorite. We found ourselves settling in for a nice evening at Kitchen in Greenbelt 3.


The table setting and the service water bottle.

That’s their service water bottle on the left, laced with mint (I’m not so sure if they’re actually mint) leaves. On the right is the table setting, with unusually large utensils. I spent a good amount of time arranging and rearranging the assortment of table knick knacks for photos while waiting for our order.

For starters-


Breadwinner

The breadwinner includes four pieces of lightly toasted bread and assorted dips. I’m not familiar with their fancy names, so I’ll just attempt to describe them. The red dip is tomato based with clumps of tomato and some seasoning in it. The green one had the texture of pesto, it looked like crushed basil leaves with herbs in oil. The mustard colored one is mushrooms in oil. And lastly, the yellow one is grated cheese. The serving size was on the small side but it tasted good. Rating: 3.5/5

Main course-


Undercover

My date ordered the Undercover. This is basically chicken pandan with pandan rice and sweet chili sauce to taste. It was total pandan overload because he paired it up with bottomless pandan iced tea. Good value, huge serving size, great texture, fantastic taste. His rating: 5 out of frickin’ flippin’ 5!


Ribbit


I ordered what they call the Ribbit. From the name, you’d think it’d be frogs but the dish is actually deep-fried pork ribs seasoned in garlic, salt and pepper with pandan rice and a side of mixed vegetables. The serving was so large that I had to take half of it home, but it tasted so heart-stoppingly good. I paired it up with mint iced tea which was a bit on the sweet side rather than minty. The meal was delicious, but it was kind of unhealthy. My rating: 4.5 of 5.


Dessert-

And no meal would be complete without dessert, and because we were full, we decided to share. We ordered what they call Going Bananas.


Going Bananas and the uniquely presented bill

The description on the menu which read something like- bananas packed in graham cracker crusts topped with a swirl of cream -sounded promising. When it arrived, it looked like it would be super sweet, like those cakes you can get at coffee shops. It was a delightful surprise to find out that the middle part is actually (very) chilled bananas with no cream or sugar, but the graham cracker crusts were enough to sweeten it. It wasn’t expensive too, about 80 pesos an order. Rating: 5/5

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If I were to choose one word to describe Kitchen over at Greenbelt 3, that word would be ‘subtle’. From their logo, the simple letter ‘K’, to their minimalist gray restaurant interior, to their friendly but never overbearing staff, to the tasty but not overpowering flavors of their food. But make no mistakes, subtle doesn’t mean Kitchen is dull, bland or boring. Quite the opposite, actually. I can honestly say that Kitchen is one of the better restaurants (and affordable too!) I’ve been to, ever.

Meals are about 200-300 peseos per person, but these are huge meals, and each plate is good for sharing. They have great service, good ambiance, fantastic food, large servings and reasonable prices.

Total Rating: 4.75 of 5

Best restaurant reviewed as of yet, at a reasonable price. Great nomz!

*again, I am sorry for the very grainy photos, used my phone’s camera. I always don’t have the good camera with me when I go to places worth taking pictures of. -_-;

Noms

Iloilo Treats – Barquillos, Biscocho, and Bañadas

While I have never been to Iloilo, it has already etched a place for itself in my heart because of its well-known pasalubong goodies- biscocho and barquillos.

A friend who shall remain nameless (clue: her name starts with an ‘M’ and ends with ‘arie’) recently came back from a trip to Iloilo and gave me a bagful of lovely Iloilo treats from Biscocho Haus.


Here they are: Iloilo’s well-known biscocho, barquillos, and bañadas

Oldies but goodies-

Biscocho is what Iloilo is most known for, and Biscocho Haus makes the best of them. For those of you who have not tried biscochos yet, that’s a shame, these biscuits taste like toasted bread smothered with butter and topped with sugar, only crunchier and tastier. I’m kind of ashamed to admit it, but I can finish nearly an entire pack in one sitting.

Another treat that they’re known for is the barquillos (this is my mom’s favorite). Sure, you can buy a pack off the rack at your nearest grocery store or ice cream shop. But they wouldn’t be as good as Biscocho Haus’ barquillos, nope. These barquillos are wafery (they melt in your mouth), they’re just the right kind of sweet (they’re perfect), and they’re great with (pistachio) ice cream. I tell you, they’re fantastic.

Something new-


Bañadas- giant pacencias

This time around, my friend whose name starts with an ‘M’ and ends with ‘arie’ added a new treat- Biscocho Haus’ bañadas. I was halfway through the package before I remembered to take pictures (they were delicious~) They’re like pacencia biscuits, only lighter, crunchier and five times the size. That part of my heart that belongs to Iloilo has just become bigger, I have added this to my favorites list.

When I set foot in Iloilo someday, expect me to be bringing back home boxes of all of these yummy treats.

Etc.

Chicken-All-You-Want at Max’s Restaurant!
Max’s is celebrating it’s 65th anniversary and there will be a month-long chicken fiesta! Starting June 17 up to July 17, Max’s Restaurant will be offering a Chicken-All-You-Can promo. For only 165 pesos, you can avail of this fantabulous anniversary offering and eat all the chicken that you want and can!
I’ve always been a fan of Max’s best-selling chicken and this, for me, is an awesome way to celebrate 65 years! Thank you, Max’s!


Dude on the poster is kinna cute. Anyone know who he is?

Terms and Conditions:
1. Chicken will be served in quarter pieces, and parts will be based on availability.
2. Add P39.00 for bottomless Pepsi Softdrink.
3. Promo period is from June 17 – July 17, 2010 and from 6 PM to 10 PM only.
4. Promo valid for dine in only. Not available for take-out, delivery and bulk orders.
5. Cannot be combined with other offers. No sharing. No Leftover. Chicken will be served after each piece has been consumed.

Source: Manila Life

Noms

Bulla Fruit ‘n Yogurt Popsicle is Refreshingly Healthy

You know how yogurt ice cream has been the fad last year? Along with fun runs, yogurt ice cream gained a lot of popularity last year within a short period of time and this resulted to a number of yogurt ice cream shops sprouting in many corners of the Metro. And I’ve been on this we-love-yogurt-ice-cream bandwagon for a while now (The White Hat being my favorite). Generally, I like the tangy taste of yogurt, be it a drink, creamy, or the frozen kind.


It was this box that caught my eye.

Last weekend, I had just arrived at Podium and was in the mood for something cool and refreshing. This box sitting atop a shelf at Dippin’ Dots caught my eye. Actually, the detail in the green circle that reads “97% Fat Free” caught my eye. Upon further inspection, the box also claims that these yogurt popsicles were made with real fruit and have no artificial colors or flavors. Healthy fun food! I hurriedly got one.


The yummy Bulla Fruit ‘N Yogurt Strawberry popsicle.

Boy, am I glad I did. It was soooo goood! It had that tangy taste that I look for in yogurt, the flavor of the fruit (strawberry in this case) was clearly evident but not overpowering, it’s 97% fat free with no artificial colors and flavors, it didn’t melt as quickly as soft-serve yogurt ice cream, and best of all, you can get this for just Php50 a pop!