Royce’ for a fave Superhero

27 05 2009

ROYCE’ CHOCOLATES remind me that there need not be a special occasion to give someone special something special.  Yes, it’s true that there are so many reasons in this world to give gifts – but I have to say that the best is to give gifts for no reason at all.

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Royce' Chocolate gift bags for a favorite Superhero!

And for one of my best Superhero friends – a chocolate lover at that – I couldn’t help but get some of the best Royce’ Chocolate varieties ever.  These are the ones that I myself really adore… and devour!  Hahaha!

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Royce' Milk Chocolate Bar

 

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A peek into one of the gift bags revealed the Royce' Milk Chocolate Bar!

As the ones I’m sharing here were gifts, I didn’t get to take snapshots of the actual chocolates.  But the packaging are too pretty to not take photographs of.  So, here they are!

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The Royce' Nama Chocolate in Champagne "Pierre Mignon"

I’ve long raved about the unparalleled pleasure the touch, feel and taste of nama chocolates give.  Not to mention the teasing, lingering chocolate notes that they leave on the tongue.  But I have to categorically declare here just how unprepared I was for Nama Chocolate in banana, their latest seasonal offering at their Greenbelt 5 kiosk, coming at the heels of strawberry about a couple of weeks back.  After savoring my first block of this generously cocoa powder-dusted confection, the skeptic in me recoiled at the thought that I had unwittingly deprived myself with so much pleasure all the time I cringed at the idea of throwing bananas and chocolate together in the blender for a refreshing smoothie snack!

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The Royce' Nama Chocolate in "Banana" (seasonal)

Unfortunately, I don’t have shots of my other favorites – the Nama Chocolate in Strawberry (seasonal), “Bitter,” and “Au Lait,” and the Rum Raisin Chocolate Bar.

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Aren't they the prettiest?... Yet another shot of the Nama Chocolates!

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eNTeNG’s 25

10 04 2009
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Totally unrelated to this post. Haha! Just dug this up during the week-long break. Taken on a dinner-out with Friendship and Mother.

 

UPON MY friends’ prodding, I signed up for a Facebook account.  But it didn’t take a long while for me to figure out one thing – I couldn’t keep up with Facebook!  To my friends, I’m almost always the one they will name when asked as to who among they know is the most relentless – nagging even!  But when I got on Facebook, I realized I couldn’t really stand being on the receiving end of a “poke” or a “tag.”  Talk about getting a dose of my own medicine!

 

But if there’s one thing I think I could succumb to, it’s making this random list of 25.  (I’ve been told that being “tagged” to do this on Facebook has spread like forest fire in the dry Outback.)  Things “random” appeal to me.  I even made a category here just for my own “random musings.”  Hahaha!

 

So here it is, my list of 25 random things – yes, 25 things I love! – mostly about food.  They are in no particular order (again, “random”!).  I just have to sort of count them down from 25.

 

25.    I have a very weird snacking habit.  I can devour a whole pound of cooked ziti pasta.  Yes, you read it right – just cooked pasta WITHOUT any sauce.  On other days, I would munch on bunches of fresh coriander.  Clearly, popcorn is not my idea of snacking while watching my favorite TV shows.

 

24.    Unlike, most people, I adore in-flight cuisine!  I particularly love Singapore Airlines’, especially whenever they have their chef specials right around the holidays.  Air India still makes the best curry for me (I had second helpings!).  And Philippine Airlines will always be memorable to me.  I gained appreciation of – and long-standing romance with – enoki (winter) mushrooms on board one of their flights.

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Some of the in-flight menus I have saved through the years.

 

23.    I collect in-flight menus.  But I politely ask the attendants first if I could keep a copy before I stash it away.  Another would be room service menus.  Again, I’d ask first before I keep anything!  And oh, I keep all my restaurant receipts too!

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Yet another shot of the in-flight menus.

 

22.    My favorite salad green is arugula.  I like its slightly bitter, peppery taste and its succulent, slightly thick fleshy leaves.  So I always get SaladTime’s “Arugula & Mixed Greens.”  For some reason, I couldn’t find what is commonly known in the U.S. as “garden rocket” or even what Chef Jessie Sinsioco refers to as “micro-arugula.”

 

21.     When I read somewhere that Aga Muhlach’s personal chef would make him an all-eggwhite omelet as part of his diet, I started to make the same – my own version, my own recipe! – for one of my best friends who happens to be a health buff.  Mine would call for provolone cheese and fresh white button mushrooms.  Unfortunately, I still couldn’t find provolone locally!  So I’d settle for the next best thing – the Australian COON Light & Tasty 25% Less Fat Shredded Natural Cheddar Cheese!

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For my all-eggwhite omelet, I first saute the sliced Tuscan Fields fresh white (or Swiss Brown) button mushrooms in 100% pure canola oil (or light extra virgin olive oil).

 

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I couldn't find provolone. But this does just fine!

 

20.    My dream all-eggwhite omelet recipe would be made out of, of course, eggwhites, fontina cheese, chives, and shaved fresh truffles (from Italy)!  Yummy!

 

19.     Growing up, my favorite local chocolates were Serg’s “Mocca” bars, Goya’s block chocolate, and Ricoa Flat Tops!  Too bad, I don’t think they make Serg’s anymore.

 

18.     Among imported chocolates, I intensely love Godiva (their boxed sets are really pretty); Leonidas for their pralines and truffles; and, ROYCE’   for so many things!  Among their variants – that I have tried and shared with Superman – I particularly love the NAMA CHOCOLATE CHAMPANGE PIERRE MIGNON, NAMA CHOCOLATE AU LAIT, NAMA CHOCOLATE MILD COCOA, NAMA CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY, Pure Chocolate (Venezuela Bitter & Ghana Sweet), Coffee Chocolate, Prafeuille Chocolat Coffee Chocolate, and PotatoChip Chocolate.

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All the way from the Greenbelt 5 store...

 

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...to a superhero's desk!

 

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For sentimental reasons, I've kept the wrapper of my very first Royce' chocolates, handcarried from Singapore!

 

17.      I’m particularly proud of my chicken tinola.  I make my chicken broth the same way chefs Jessie Sinsioco, Gordon Ramsay, and Tyler Florence would make theirs.  Friendship calls me the “sabaw” king!  If I don’t have the time or the ingredients to make my chicken broth fresh, there’s always Swanson.

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My chicken tinola up close. Postscript: I just had to cook this right after I made this post! Haha!

 

16.     Like Superman, I love macarons de Paris from BIZU PATISSERIE, in pistachio, coffee and caramel flavors!

 

15.     Of all media personalities, Daphne Osena Paez is the best food “critic.”  I mean, I trust her.  For me, nobody has come close to how she would account, describe, or share her gastronomical experiences on the now-defunct show “F.”  I guess it’s in the combination of her (palpable) sincerity, facial expressions and enunciation.  Oh, and the fact that she has got to be one of the smartest personalities to grace the boob tube ever.

 

14.     The best “spice” I’ve ever put on a bowl of Chinese noodles is ground green tea leaves.  I forgot the name of the dimsun place.  It’s a kiosk inside the Hong Kong International Airport, near a big book store.  From where I would sit, I’d see Starbucks directly below.

 

13.     I love New York Cheesecake from KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUTS®.  It’s their doughnut shell loaded with cheesecake filling and topped off with cream cheese icing and a very generous “dusting” of graham cracker crunch.  Spider-man loves it too, as well as the blueberry cheesecake.

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A box of six Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The one on the bottom left is the New York Cheesecake I love so much!

 

12.     The Good Earth Tea Room makes the best chicken chow mein and black mushrooms with beancurd casserole.  Their duckquitos (roast peking duck with onion leeks and hoisin sauce in taco shells) are so worth coming back for!

 

11.      I get my tom yum goong (hot and sour shrimp soup) fix at tHAI AT SILK at the Serendra Piazza.

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The elegant place setting at Thai At Silk.

 

10.     I’m not a huge sandwich fan.  But whenever I would decide to have one, it would only be one of three.  The roast beef sandwich at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (first had at the Alabang Town Center branch).  The crabstick sandwich at The Soup Kitchen (first at Glorietta 5).  And, the farmer’s ham ciabatta at Delifrance (first at the NAIA Terminal 2).  Superman finds the last one particularly fancy when I described it to him.  It’s actually slices of ham and brie cheese with an iceberg lettuce leaf in ciabatta bread spread with a raspberry dressing!

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One of my (so far) three favorite sandwiches – the crabstick sandwich at The Soup Kitchen.

 

9.       The Danish butter cookies that I’ve never forgotten were of a brand called “Oxford.”  It was a gift.  I wasn’t able to find it anywhere.

 

8.       Brother and I would often pretend that we had officical business at our apartment’s admin office in the U.S. just so we could get our hands on the free Otis Spunkmeyer oatmeal cookies.  We’d shamelessly swipe off everything in sight (Haha!).  They later caught on.  Talk about being caught with our hands in the cookie jar.  Haha!

 

7.        Other people’s signature dishes that I love to bits are Mother’s adobo, Sister’s tortang talong, Therese’s barbecued baby back ribs, and (again) Therese’s pot roast.

 

6.       The one recipe I’ve been  meaning to try – for the longest time – is Rachael Ray’s Boeuf Bourguignon (“Beef Burgundy” or simply, beef in red wine).

 

5.        My most memorable past-midnight cravings were for Hainanese chicken rice.  I’ve had it twice at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, and once at the Diamond Hotel Manila.  Makati Shangri-La’s was way better.  And more special too as they didn’t really have it on their coffee shop menu.  I wrote the chef a thank you note.

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One of the Makati Shangri-La receipts. Hainanese Chicken Rice at 11:39PM! They punched it in as "open food" because the lobby lounge / coffee shop menu didn't really carry it! I wrote the chef a thank you note! To date, it has got to be the best I've ever had!

 

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Room service for Hainanese Chicken Rice at 11:51PM at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.

 

4.       I get my cupcake fix only at – wherelse?! – Cupcakes BY SONJA.  Here in the Philippines, Sonja L. Ocampo is still the one and only cupcake rockstar!  Of her creations, my favorites are Bunny Huggers Carrot Cake, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Valrhona Flourless Chocolate Cake, Red Velvet Vixen, Choco Cream Cheese Swirl, and Pumpkin Sweet Spice (seasonal).  Spider-man adores the Bunny Huggers.  Superman likes them a lot too!

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A stack of Sonja's pretty cupcake boxes. When Sonja learned I was blogging, she had her staff put this out, and even told me it was okay to style the cupcakes for my pictures. Such a nice lady!

 

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This box of four went to Superman. A serious chocolate lover like this superhero likes the melt-in-your-mouth flourless Valrhona chocolate cake cupcake a lot!

 

3.       I still mourn the demise of the cookie dough flavor of HÄAGEN-DAZS®.  I love BEN&JERRY’S cookie dough too.  I’m just not sure if it is available locally.

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I've kept these through the years – the boxes of the first (ice cream) snacks I've ever had in a moviehouse abroad! See – Ben&Jerry's!

 

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Cookie dough is really my favorite. But on that first night, this had to do. Not bad at all really!

 

2.       I make the time to cook for someone.

 

1.        I still eat Cerelac!

 

 

 





What goes on inside a bag of Royce’?!

10 03 2009

ROYCE’ declares proudly on their stylishly stark indigo blue-and-white paper bag:

 

              CHOCOLATE

AND COOKIES

By breaking down old customs and producing consistently original items,

we are pursuing a new level in chocolate enjoyment.

                Our artisans make the finest in premium chocolate.

 

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A big bag of Royce' chocolate treats for Superman!

 

And I couldn’t agree more.  No wonder, I have been coming back often to their Greenbelt 5 kiosk.

 

Royce’ sells Royce’ – I mean, it doesn’t need to spend on big-time advertisement.  But one thing that I do find all the more appealing is how they put together their two-counter display on what little space they have beside Adora.  Probably an homage to their Japanese origins, the beautiful boxes of chocolates are arranged ever so cleanly – not a single one is astray.  Very minimalist, I should say.  And one more thing.  For some reason, I find the frosted panels of the refrigerator doors so luxurious.  I feel like those panels hold guard to a wonderland – a chocolate factory, if you will – that could open to me at around 540 to 580 pesos a pop.  Okay, you may be saying that that is too much to pay for chocolates at these times.  But believe me when I tell you, these chocolates really are worth every cent you are going to pay for them.  As what I believe when it comes to Cupcakes By Sonja, there’s no way around paying for the highest quality ingredients, craftsmanship and talent…  than to really pay for what they are worth.

 

And I guess the perceived “luxury” of these chocolates pale in comparison to those offered by the eight high-end wristwatch stores surrounding it.  So, you can say you’re not really being unreasonably indulging!  Hahaha!

 

I’m kind of surprised that the dynamic duo manning the kiosk remember me from the week before.  That is just so reflective of the customer orientation and service that these service personnel most likely imbibed from the principles of whoever brought here Royce’.

 

This time, I asked for – yes – a box of the Nama Chocolate Champagne Pierre Mignon.  And, of the many other choices, the Prafeuille Chocolat Coffee Chocolate.  They carefully and meticulously packed everything and put them inside their big paper bag that just speaks volumes of the kind of chocolate enjoyment that is promised to lie inside.

 

Postscript:

Superman’s friends (and he of course) just loved them!  I think it was the Nama that they started with.  It actually happens to be one of Superman’s favorites.

 





Three things new and exciting in Makati

9 03 2009

JUST WHEN I thought the Makati commercial center – the duo that is Glorietta and Greenbelt complex – has plateaud, I realize I couldn’t be any more wrong.

 

I’ve been meaning to write down here the three things that have lately really aroused my curiosity about Makati.  It’s only now that I got down to it.

 

And surely, with a consumer like me whose curiosity has been piqued – and more importantly, whose feelings lend itself vulnerable to parting with hard-earned funds (only when it feels right!) – retailing stays alive in the midst of (drum roll please…) the recession.

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Right across SM (and Hotel Inter-Continental Manila) is the brand new glorietta 5.  I would consider it to still be on its soft opening stage.  But suffice it to say, just like the other Glorietta “installments” before it, Glorietta 5 is brimming with promise.  And the fact that it is a stand-alone one, a bulding all its own, only means to me that it could take a greater liberty with its store line-up and any other offerings.  The first store alone, the one to the right of the entrance I went in, is Alexis Jewelers.  And through the years, I’ve had great experiences getting timepieces from this store.  I roamed around the premises and I couldn’t help but feel giddy as a kid as I pointed at soon-to-open stores that have already made me swear to keep coming back.  I actually went there to have my regular “Hearty Vegetable Soup” fix at The Soup Kitchen.  Unfortunately, it is one of those soon-to-open stores.  I think there was a show later in that day as people were busy setting up a stage and doing sound checks.

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Getting my fix of “HOT KRISPY KREME ORIGINAL GLAZED NOW” used to really feel like a chore.  My options then were very limited.

 

The one in MOA (such a chore to go to!).

The one in Megamall (such a chore to go to!…  but not when I’m meeting up with Batman!).

The one at Bonifacio High Street (okay, not really a chore…  but when I’m there, Cupcakes By Sonja wins!).

 

So I had to thank my lucky stars the very first moment I noticed that KRISPY KREME DOUGHNUTS & COFFEE finally opened a branch in Glorietta 4!  I was so ecstatic that I ended up hoarding boxes upon boxes.  Of course I got one each for Spider-man and Superman!

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And rounding up my trio of new must-go-to places is – of course – ROYCE in Greenbelt 5!  I know such chocoholics who have been rejoicing over this good – no – make that, great news!  And, as I had said in a previous post, ROYCE’ chocolates will make for a really thoughtful gift to any serious foodie you know.  And depending on just how important this person is, one box may not be enough!  Whenever I see the Royce’ store – whenever I go there – I am always reminded of some of my closest friends.  Friendship – because she was the first one to introduce me to Royce’.  Partner – because she has always brought me boxes (and more boxes) of Royce’ whenever she vacations from Singapore.  Spider-man – because eventhough he has cut chocolates from his diet, he is willing to allow a little room for Royce’.  Batman – because I have been meaning to buy him some!  And of course, Superman – because he is such a chocolate lover (though it doesn’t show) and is such a very appreciative person!

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The joys of Royce’

3 03 2009

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nakikita ko yung stall nila sa greenbelt5.”  (I see their stall in Greenbelt 5.)

 

With that line yesterday, Superman beat me to the punch!  I was so excited – gushing even – when I was sharing with him the news that Royce’ has finally opened a kiosk at the posh-and-happening Greenbelt 5 mall!  It kinda put my excitement to a screeching halt.  It sort of put a damper on my “flash report.”  But it is Superman we’re talking about here…  so I don’t mind the damper at all.  Hahaha!

 

The kiosk, which sort of serves as the “stateline”  between Greenbelt 1 and Greenbelt 5, is located right beside Adora.  And this outlet – the first of its kind from when the Rockwell flagship store opened – is so much more convenient and accessible!

 

So definitely, I finally paid the store a visit, and short of hoarded everything I could get my hands on.  And to say a huge THANK YOU to Superman who technically clued me in on where exactly the store is located, I threw in a couple of items in my loot.  I got him a box each of the NAMA CHOCOLATE CHAMPANGE PIERRE MIGNON and Pure Chocolate (Venezuela Bitter and Ghana Sweet).

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From the photos you shall see that Royce’ has such beautiful paper bags.  And since some would be gifts, they packed them well, accenting the bag with their signature gold sticker and their very own gold ribbon.  Nice touch, right?!  And yes, they do meticulously pack the nama chocolate with the ice gel packs and insulating inner wrap.

 

Fabulous!  And…  yummy of course!