Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Va Bene Pasta Deli: Fresh Pasta Goodness

"That right by the corner place serving great and authentic Italian food" is how I'll describe Va Bene Pasta Deli. First, it is situated inside a gasoline station which is perfect for hiding a quaint restaurant. Second, it is run by an Italian Chef who once headed Mi Piace in Manila Peninsula. Third, the food is really awesome. Hence I couldn't agree more to the name of the place: Va Bene, which means"Very Good!" in English.

The Place

I read the place opened in late 2010 and selfishly, I am happy to know that it hasn't gone mainstream yet. It's always nice to have your own little secret. Since the time it was recommended to us by friends, we've tried dropping by the place numerous times but the actual dinner happened only on Valentine's Day: it's either the place was full or it was a Monday when they close the restaurant.

Va Bene is not a fancy restaurant. It's a small place with casual ambiance that can fit around 50 diners. It is dense that private conversation may be impossible; the other table will most definitely hear your discussion. Due to its proximity to an exclusive subdivision, it won't be rare to find some well-heeled crowd.

The Food

Their website proudly heralds that they're the only place in town which serves fresh pasta in all their dishes. Nothing boxed! The menu is also straightforward. A few appetizers, some main course, around 5 desserts and a short list of drinks. It's not difficult to order once you have decided what you want to eat.

Complementary bread  is served once you've placed your order. 

It comes with fresh tomato, olive oil and some herbs. 

A good replacement to the typical olive oil-balsamic vinegar dip. I like the flavors of the dip married with the crunchy texture of the tomato. 

Pasta in cream sauce (Php380)

Of course, a fresh pasta order should be made. Organic eggs tagliolini with portobello mushrooms in white cream sauce and truffle oil.

Tagliolini is the cylindrical version of tagliatelle pasta. Due to its rough texture it is great with thick sauces. The fresh pasta has indeed a distinct rough texture as compared to the boxed ones which usually glides smoothly. This is done al dente so no issues there. It is also more wheaty-tasty than your regular pasta. The sauce is awesome. I can't taste the egg but I suspect it contributes to the mild creaminess of the sauce. Also, the flavors are very subtle, mainly dominated by the mushroom and truffle oil. I recommend this.

Arbori Risotto with Rosso di Puglia Wine, Italian Sausage and Radicchio Salad (PhP 550)

When i laid my eyes on the plate I was looking for the sausage and salad but I couldn't find them. 

There were just bits and pieces on the entire rice plate. Fair enough considering I ordered risotto and not sausage. I can't remember the flavors but I do remember that the rice was done to perfection and that it was good too. 

The only issue I got with the dish is how it is presented. Parang biko lang. It can still be improved.

Strawberries A La Milena (PhP 190)

Marinated strawberries in balsamico with vanilla ice cream.

The strawberries are crispy and bigger than the Baguio variety we can buy from the supermarket. I also like the sourness of the strawberries with the balsamic vinegar. I think sugar is added to the marinade to temper the taste. Of course, vanilla ice cream completes the sour-sweet mix making this dessert great if you crave for something sweet, sour and unique. I also recommend this.

Iced Tea (PhP 190)

Brewed iced tea with fruit juice. 

I find the mix too fruity considering that I like my tea to taste like tea.

In Summary

1. With its neighborhood restaurant feel, the place is perfect for casual dining with family and friends and anyone who can enjoy good food. It can also be a date place with your special someone as long as you are not expecting for an all the way fancy experience.

2. Food is great in an authentic and non-commercial kinda way. I can say it can be my best Italian restaurant in Manila. Person A is not so sure. We both agree that we still go for Amoroma if forced to choose between the two. I can say it's worth a go.

3. Price slides to the expensive side but considering it's in Makati and the quality of the food, I can report it is competitive.

Va Bene Pasta Deli
2/F Petron Gas Station Dasmarinas Village
Pasay Road cor. EDSA, Makati
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M.; 6:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Snapshots of One Little Girl

I dug up three interesting photos from Person A's low-resolution pocket camera.

A shot from a pseudo-narcissistic angle.

Demonstrating my "I can catch a fly using a pair of chopsticks skills" aka "Gutom lang yan, kid" shot in Little Tokyo.

Taking the one big, happy, yellow fellow named Kal-el for a ride.

That's all.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Waistline and Electricity Correlation

If my waistline

were a pipe

It will be 12 inches in diameter. This fact is based on my belt cinched to my size.

It will have a thickness equivalent to that of a schedule 80 pipe - accounting for the fat layer.

It can accommodate more or less 5 megawatts of steam flowing at 150 psig. That's enough to provide electricity to 25 households which consume 200 kilowatt-hour of power each month.

Not bad, not bad at all my dear waistline.

Yeah, because I've got nothing better to do on a Friday night than measure and correlate the diameter of my waistline.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lenten Abstinence

Today marks the start of the Lenten Season. Lent is the 40-day penitential preparation of Christ believers - through prayer, penance, and self-denial - to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus. Fasting and abstinence are widely observed during this time of the year. 

A friend texted me some insights on fasting: "We who are beginning the season of Lent must consider why this fast is kept for 40 days. We become sacrificial victims, like Christ who is in fact put to death, and yet lives. A pleasure-loving body has drawn us to sin and fasting for 40 days is similar to dying without leaving this life and slaying in us our carnal desires. We look forward to Lent as a means to unite again with Christ - to open our hearts as the Lord of all creation desires to come to us."

Pretty intense and I am becoming preachy. HeheFather Jboy Gonzales has a blog entry on the rules of fasting and abstinence.

So what carnal desire am I giving up this year?

I considered giving up chocolate but I already did that last year. Plus, Person A just gave me a bag full of my favorite chocolate 2 days ago.

Para sa batang malnourished na pwede ng ipadala sa Africa. 

Given that I was able to complete the fast, it wouldn't be much of a challenge to exercise control for 40 days.

I also thought of giving up coffee. 

I scratched the idea for 2 reasons. First, I look like this every morning at work.

To explain, I work up in the mountains of Laguna but I live in Makati; so every single day, I wake up at 4:30 in the morning, take the shuttle to work at 5:30, sleep 'til the van arrives at work 6:42. Hence, I most definitely  need the caffeine shot so my mind will be up and running by 7AM. In a way,  I need coffee to earn a living. Second, I also completed a 40-day coffee fast when I asked for guidance on a decision that I have to make. I know in my heart that I can easily accomplish it.

Out of the blue, an idea hit me: why not give up Facebook? 
That's over a month of no access to the social network that has been my main tool for stalking people. Uh-huh! Although silently, I lurk in each of your Facebook page and keep a record of all your dalliances. Haha! If I need to stalk someone, I have a structured way of researching which involve getting information from Facebook and even checking the person's FB friends . Before you accuse me of being a creepy stalker, one should understand that I find joy in knowing tons of information - useful or not. I find satisfaction in researching and storing information that I can pull out from time to time especially when I need a conversation piece. It is important for my social skills, you know. 

Weird, ole me.

The idea of giving up Facebook for the next 40 days feels perfectly right. Admittedly, I will miss the spike in my blog views every time I herald a new entry on FB. I won't be in the loop who broke up with whom, who hooked up with whom and who got engaged. I might miss gossiping about the latest status messages or viewing the profile pictures that are sometimes bordering narcissistic.   I might not get the messages that have become so convenient to send via Facebook, given that almost everyone goes online every day. Most especially, I will painfully pine for the cute toddler and baby pictures that I always "liked".

On the brighter side, this will be a step for me to give up the not so good behaviors I developed through the use of social networking sites, i will also keep the relationships more personal and oh, I'll finally get to update my mobile's phonebook - after 9 months!

I am interested to know what you are giving up this Lent.

Do Share! -(",)-*wink*

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Don't Believe in Make-up: Face Moisturizer Edition

Remember I told you that I don't believe in make-up? Thank you very much for your positive reception to that post, it got a decent number of comments.  Let me continue the series with the night face moisturizers I swear by.  I am in no way an expert on beauty products but I can tell you that I consciously take care of my skin: lots of fruits and vegetables, at least 3 Liters of water a day, and if I have the money, I don't scrimp on beauty products.

My daily regimen consists of cleansing, toning and moisturizing; right after I shower in the morning and just before I go to bed at night. Among the products I smother on my face, night moisturizer is my favorite. Moisturizer is considered the cornerstone of good skin care. It forms a barrier between the skin and the environment and at the same time allows moisture to be locked in. Given the number of moisturizers available in the market, the key is knowing what your face needs, match it up with an active ingredient and be patient (it takes at least 8 weeks!) to see its effects. 

That's my face very raw at 6PM: with 5 hours of sleep, after a day at work and nothing on. I am good with it. 

According to research, ingredients like ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol help keep moisture and repair the skin's protective barrier. 

If you're moisturizing sensitive skin, salicylic acid, feverfew, chamomile and aloe vera can help soothe irritated or inflamed complexion. Hydroquinone, kojic acid, cucumber/licorice/mulberry extracts alleviate blotching and spotting as does glucosamine.

On anti-ageing: Peptides rev up collagen production, boosting firmness and smoothing wrinkles. Vitamin C is needed by skin to make collagen. Antioxidants like idebenone, Vitamin E, coenzyme Q and green tea may help prevent wrinkle-formation. Btw, retinol is the most highly regarded ingredient that treats wrinkles.

I like taking care of my skin. I want to have good skin 30 years down the road and there's nothing like going out with no make-up on yet having the best glow, smooth and blemish-free skin. I do get pimples easily so putting make-up is never an option. Below are a run-down of my favorite night-time moisturizers. I haven't tried a lot but I already like the effects of these products on my skin so I don't bother looking for other products. 

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer (~ PhP 1200)

According to the packaging the moisturizing effects are continued beneath the surface layer leaving the surface area soft and the other layers nurtured. The consistency is not too light and not too heavy, although it usually feels oily after application. However, once you let it sit through the night, the skin feels supple and oil-free in the morning.  What I like about this product is it makes my skin baby-smooth and has that fresh face look to it. This is actually my favorite.

Mario Badescu Hydro Moisturizer with Vitamin C (Php 1250)

Its main function is hydration so dry-normal skin will benefit from this. Although I suspect, oily skin will also find this product great considering that it's greaseless. I consider this a light formula and since I don't have a primer at home, so when there's a need, I double use this as a primer before I put on foundation. It actually works! It pretty has much the same effect on my skin as Kiehl's: you actually feel that your skin has sufficient moisture lock in without being too oily. The texture comes out perfect! The reason why I like the former is I find this a little bit expensive than Kiehl's. 

Body Shop Vitamin E Nourishing Night Cream (~ PhP 500, when it's on sale)

It's marketed as an antioxidant which repairs skin cells as you sleep. Among the products I use, this feels heaviest on my skin, which kinda gives a good feeling if you need intense hydration. In the morning, the skin is smooth, supple just a little less than how the 2 products work for my skin. The reason why I get this is it's much cheaper than the other 2 (when it's on sale!) and I like to rotate products once I consumed a bottle. 

A 60-mL bottle, used once day lasts me 4-6 months. I say, not so bad. Also, if you ever try getting these products, ask other samplers from the sales associate. -(",)-*wink* Freebies are great and you also get to try other lines.

If you ask me, night cream does wonders to my skin. Of course that's in combination with other products and regimens that I do. And again, I'll say this I believe that great skin comes from within: good products, lots of water, exercise (sweat cleanses out impurities from your pores!), proper diet with lots of fruits and veggies, and a good disposition. I am an advocate of all these and mind you, they usually trump the best products in the market.

Greenbelt 5 
Mall of Asia

Mario Badescu
Rustan's Department Store
Makati, Alabang, Gateway Mall Cubao

Body Shop
Major Malls in the Country

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kids, A Lesson on the Philippine Economy

Something serious for tonight.

A video by explaining in simple terms what happened to the Philippine economy in 2011. 

I came across the video from Randell Tiongson's blog, which I just followed. He gave a talk at work on investments. Interesting and inspiring. It helps as well that it was a stand-up comedy show with finance and investments as the topics. 

Tomorrow, we'll go back to regular programming: food, travel, beauty and all absurd things that I fancy.  


P.S. I believe in spending less than what you earn, investing your income and gaining financial freedom. I also believe in having a nice pair of Louboutin with a Chanel bag to boot. Probably in a thousand years. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

History's Sweetest Love Letters

In the spirit of St. Valentine's Day celebration, Time Magazine featured History's Sweetest Love Letters. Nothing like sweet words in ink and paper to express the feelings you have for your special someone.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine were married for 56 years and wrote to each other whenever they were apart. Winston wrote this letter to Clementine on Jan. 23, 1935, while she was traveling abroad:

“My darling Clemmie, in your letter from Madras you wrote some words very dear to me, about having enriched your life. I cannot tell you what pleasure this gave me, because I always feel so overwhelmingly in your debt, if there can be accounts in love…What it has been to me to live all these years in your heart and companionship no phrases can convey.”

Charles Darwin, author of Origin of Species, wrote a pros and cons list for getting married, and eventually decided to propose to his first cousin Emma Wedgwood. The couple had a happy marriage, producing 10 children. Charles wrote this note to Emma just a few days before their wedding in 1939:

“How I do hope you shall be happy as I know I shall be. My own dearest Emma, I earnestly pray, you may never regret the great and I will add very good, deed you are to perform on the Tuesday: my own dear future wife, God bless you…"

President Ronald Reagan wrote several love notes to his wife and eventual First Lady, starting when the couple first met. Nancy compiled some of his letters in her book I Love You, Ronnie. He gave her this note on Valentine’s Day in 1977:

“Dear St. Valentine,

I’m writing to you about a beautiful young lady who has been in this household for 25 years now—come March 4.

I have a request to make of you but before doing so feel you should know more about her. For one thing she has 2 hearts—her own and mine. I’m not complaining. I gave her mine willingingly, and like it right where it is. Her name is Nancy but for some time now I’ve called her Mommie and don’t believe I could change.

My request of you is—could you on this day whisper in her ear that someone loves her very much and more and more each day? Also tell her, this “Someone” would run down like a dollar clock without her so she must always stay where she is.”
I've written my fair share of love letters and this has been well reciprocated.


Ang Mga Liham ni Ernesto

These have come in so many forms: cards, post-its, letters, table napkins, receipts, hotel stationeries and even documents left in my computer. I randomly pick a card and re-read them from time to time. One of my favorites is the daily letters he made when he was away for a month. *kilig* Hopefully, one day I get to share these letters with my kids and grandkids. Nothing like good old-fashioned gesture to express "It's Valentine's Day Every Day".In other words, A for a-ffort!

So how's the V-DAY? We made it special like the way you did. 

If you haven't expressed it yet, it's never too late to grab a paper, buy a flower, give that chocolate or sing that song. 

After all, everyday should be St. Valentine's day.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

You're My Sunday

Inflating balloons and witnessing anything that flies in Clark consumed all the energy I stored up the entire week. The early morning spectacle of blowing up balloons and letting them fly made my heart flutter that we will definitely be coming back next year and hopefully get to experience more.

It's no surprise that once I reached home I just had a quick shower,  curled up in bed and clocked in 10 hours of sleep! Weekend luxury. Like most things this week, I had an off-routine Sunday which is usually "me-day" at home. Instead, I found myself googling for the best pancake in town at 7:30AM. According to an online site, Apartment 1B has one of the best pancakes and waffles but it was closed. 

Good thing UCC Glorietta 3 Park has its doors open for early campers. I started with brewed coffee. 

It's perfect even without sugar and milk. It is strong and has a sweet after taste without the acidic undertone of most blends. Why do Japanese do most things perfectly? Based on my research, Japanese coffee are  getting attention because of the slow-drip process that is employed while brewing, resulting to a unique cup. I say I'll be crossing the street to get mycoffee fix, I love this like I love Cake Club's Winner Caramel coffee! Try it!

Here's the bacon-waffle fix I rolled out of bed for. 

I imagined stacks of pancakes with whipped cream and strawberries but it was not in the menu and I am hungry, so I settled for the next best thing. It made me happy.

Here's the plate from across the table. Spanish omelette (with beef and some veggies) and fresh toast. It's also heavenly.

Yep, I got an early date Sunday morning! A great way to kick off St. Valentine's week. If you ask me, I say everyday has been Valentine's day for me the past 7 years. Yikee! 'Cos I am mushy like that.

With the leisurely breakfast, I leafed through 3 magazines. I always do that while waiting for my food.

We dropped off the grocery to get my detox stash: I ate too much red meat the entire week that I can only eat "dahon-dahon" (read: fruits and veggies) the rest of the day. Our interesting grocery find: grape tomato, jamaican pepper and sweet banana pepper. 

As of 2PM: I've consumed 2 bars of chocolates. Fail.

How did we end our sweet morning? We heard mass together. We were early so I decided to recite my Marian devotion... because Person A raised one of his eyebrows when I said I'll kill time playing Temple Run. Hahaha! 

Running in circles is addicting. That, I can tell you.

I can get used to this. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Childhood I Never Had

I am about to make a confession. 

At 26, I don't know who Shaider, Bioman and Voltes V are.  To be fair, I know they're Japanese anime when I was a kid but that's about it. Nothing more. And the list can go on, by the way: Transformers, Daimos and oh please include Batibot. I heard about Pong Pagong. Don't ask about Ate Sienna and Kuya Bodgie, I just googled their names.

Being a child of the late 80s and early 90s, this can be considered a crime. 

This fact never fails to amaze my friends. 

I know Cynthia Luster, though! And I follow Villa Quintana. Idol ko rin si Donna Cruz. That should earn me a slack card.

Oh, I am also familiar with Teletubbies. That's because I watch it with my nephews. I suspect this started my fascination with the British accent. 

I didn't watch much TV as a child and hours were burnt reading books, playing in the yard with my cousins, piano lessons and ballet classes.

I turned out fine. At least that's what I believe in.

I am interested what your childhood is like. -(",)-*wink*

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2012 Philippine Travel Tour Expo

Have you planned out your vacations for 2012? With a number of long weekends and a few more holidays that can be optimized, I say file that vacation leave, pack up your bags and hop on a bus, boat or plane.

Life is too short not to experience the world!

Allow me to share the 2012 Philippine Travel Tour Expo on February 17-19 at SMX Convention Center. It's one of the biggest travel sale in the country organized by the Philippine Travel Agencies Association and Department of Tourism.

This year's theme is One Stop Shop to the World.

I've been to one a few years back and the offers are very decent. Major slash down on vacation packages in top-tier resorts and destinations. I remember the plane ticket prices from major airlines are also on sale.

Aren't you excited?

The line up of exhibitors include the following. I see participating institutions from Japan, China and as far as South Africa? 

Exhibitor Profile
  • Travel Agency and Tour Operator (Philippine and foreign based)
  • Local Tourist Office / Organization
  • National Tourist Office
  • Airline
  • Cruise Liner / Shipping
  • Hotel
  • Resort
  • Theme Park / Entertainment
  • Travel Products Supplier
  • Food / Regional Delicacies
  • Health and Wellness Services
  • Culinary Schools
  • Estate Company / Developer
Admission fee is PhP 50. 

I will be looking for a couple of destinations (hopefully they're on sale!) and score some roundtrip tickets going home. 

Happy travel shopping!

February 17 - 19, 2012
9 AM - 8 PM
SMX Convention Center

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mamma Mia: My, My, Why Can't I Resist You?

I am a Mamma Mia fan that includes both the movie and the musical. That doesn't make me unique. In fact, 50 million people have counted themselves fans of the musical which opened in West End in 1999. And by the way, the movie was the highest grossing film in Britain until Avatar. That's how good it is. What I like about the franchise is its ultimate feel-good packaging plus the fact that you can sing to all the songs that the actors are belting. That comes from a child of the 90s who has boy band and grunge marked all over her face. How much more if you are a child of the flower power generation? I bet the musical would mean so much more to you with the flared pants and the platforms overload. 

My love affair with Mamma Mia started with the 2008 movie, it was too heartwarming for me that I sang all the songs for at least a week. I even offered to watch it again with Person A since he was away from civilization when it was shown in movie theaters and gave my Mom a DVD of the movie. I consider it the ultimate Mom-daughter bonding film.

With its month-run in Manila, Person A thinks its worth scraping off some cash for a Mamma Mia date night. Armed with an ABBA-induced high from playing the soundtrack half a day before the show, off we trooped to CCP on a Saturday night. We arrived an hour before curtain opens giving us ample time to park the car and grab quick dinner. Mind you, it was quick dinner since most restaurants are packed and order time took 20 minutes! If you want a leisurely dinner, be at the CCP complex 1.5 hours before, have dinner beside the bay and this would give you ample time to order coffee at Starbucks where some of the casts hang out before call time. Shhhh.... that's our little secret.

This is us while waiting for our Japanese dinner . 

Sex(a)y british accent heralds the start of the show. Mamma Mia is set on a Greek Island of Calicos where 20-year old Sophie is to get married in a day. She is single-handedly raised by her Mum, Donna, who runs a taverna. Sophie doesn't know who her dad is but she invited three men to her wedding whom her Mum had ... dot, dot, dot with ... the time she was conceived. And so the fun starts with ABBA hits sung all throughout the story. 

Sara Poyzer (Donna) and Charlotte Wakefield (Sophie) play the mother-daughter tandem. According to Person A, he likes Sara's portrayal best. My favorite among the Donna and Sophie's numbers are Mamma Mia, Honey Honey... all of it.

Presenting the dashing dads! Sam, Bill and Harry. 

I think everyone would agree that Donna and the Dynamos is one of the highlights of the show. My favorite is their Super Trooper performance and Rosie's Take a Chance on Me number.

Kate Graham (left) plays Tanya while Jennie Dale (right) plays Rosie. Rosie provides the most comic relief.

I can't help but sing during the entire show. I was holding back a bit considering I had to watch my theater etiquette. It was awesome, worth the price you paid for. There's a three-song concert at the end of the show. Wait for that, the whole house was on their feet and singing to the songs. 

Before I summarize this post, there's an interesting ad in the CCP lobby.

Is it coming to Manila? Person A is excited. He's an Andrew Lloyd Webber fan!

Time to save up folks.

In Summary

1. If theater, ABBA and feel good shows are your cup of tea, Mamma Mia is for you. This show is best shared with family and friends. I watched it with the significant other and we immensely enjoyed it. One of the best shows to take your date this V-day.

2. As for the best seat in the house, buy the best seat you can afford. We are only willing to shell out for the Parterre Box (~ PhP 3500), it was elevated and at the back of the hall but you still get a good view (a bit far though) and there's privacy. There were only six of us in the box and we got the two front seats so all is good.

3. It is also best to head out an hour and a half before the show to give you time to park and have dinner  in the CCP complex.

January 24 - February 19
Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo
Cultural Center of the Philippines

Ticket prices are as follows and can be bought at the link above.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 
PhP 7000, 6000, 5000, 3500, 2000, 1000

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday
PhP 6000, 5000, 4000, 3000, 1500, 750


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...