It never ceases to amaze me when we manage to get parking at SM Megamall during the holiday season. It only works when we leave the house and get there 15 minutes before opening time, and just wait in line at the entrance of the parking building. At any other time it is practically impossible to find parking, and impossible to escape the traffic around the mall.

We were there today, because my brother-in-law and sister wanted to eat lunch out, and I needed to buy shoes.


We decided to go to Makansutra, a Singapore/Malaysia-style hawker food center on the second floor of Building A. It just opened last September. We figured that this was organized by the same people behind the recent World Street Food Congress in Manila (K.F. Seetoh’s group). There are about 12 stalls offering various foods. We chose Malaccan-style laksa from Donald and Lily, oyster omelette and fried black carrot cake with dilis (dried fish) toppings from Ah Tee, mee goreng from Alhambra Padang, and duck kway teow from Jin Ji.


Sorry, no pictures of the laksa. We were too hungry, we ate it already.


Oyster omelette.


Fried black carrot cake with dried fish topping.



Mee Goreng



Duck kway teow.


The laksa was all right, but I’ve had better versions. It had yellow egg noodles that tasted of baking soda (I prefer rice noodles). It had a medium spice level – spicy, but not too spicy that you can’t drink the broth. The duck kway teow was served with a cinnamony broth on the side. The kway teow noodles were a little bit greasy, but in a nice comfort food way. The sambal served with it elevated the flavors. The mee goreng was just ok, again, we’ve had better. The best of all the dishes we ordered were the oyster omelette and the fried black carrot cake. They were delicious and full of umami. We washed it down with sugarcane juice (a PhP500 purchase entitled one to a glass of sugarcane juice for an additional PhP20, and there was another promo where you could get the juice buy one, take one for PhP150). It was funny how all the food just vanished. We practically inhaled it.

We’ll be returning to Makansutra. The prices are about fair for the size of the dishes and the airconditioned mall location. There are lots of other dishes to try!

Photos by Joy Abara.

Daily Prompt: Vanish



Till Westermayer from Freiburg, Germany, Bremer Klaben-01, CC BY-SA 2.0

On a whim I bought a fruitcake from the supermarket yesterday. It wasn’t to give away; I specifically bought it to eat. It’s the early days of Christmas, but I didn’t want to wait until we were inundated by holiday foods, to be able to appreciate the boozy, nutty, glazed-fruity goodness of a good fruitcake. Obviously I hadn’t had a good fruitcake in years. Our friends have sort of stopped giving away fruitcakes because 1) the fruitcakes were probably being re-gifted endlessly, or 2) the fruitcakes weren’t very good. The last time we were gifted a fruitcake, it was a beautifully decorated one from Cafe France which had a horrible texture. I hated it. To prevent us from being given the same thing the next year, we had to drop heavy hints that we appreciated another delicacy for a change.

I wanted a fruitcake like the ones we used to have when we were children. My father’s former secretary used to bake them, and we received one every Christmas until she got married and moved away. I loved the naughtiness of eating rummy cake when I was too young to drink alcohol. Bernie’s fruitcakes were rich and dark, and DRY. No crumbly wet messes of improperly aged fruitcake. That was my gold standard for fruitcake; the memory of it would echo in my mind each time the holidays came, and I would crave the taste.

So did the supermarket fruitcake measure up? Thankfully, it did! It was not as dark as I thought it would be, but that’s a minor quibble. It was DRY, the glazed fruit were evenly distributed throughout the cake matrix, it smelled good, and the texture of the cake was just right. It was nicely priced, too. I’m sorry there are no pictures. We demolished that cake in two sittings. I’m going to buy another one next week.

Daily Prompt: Echo


Today I went with friends on a coffee safari.  No, we didn’t hop from one coffee shop to another!  We were invited to a coffee-tasting at a friend’s home.  The coffees, however, came from exotic locales – where the best coffees grow.


I had no idea my friend Dante was a member of a local coffee club.  As you can guess, he doesn’t have coffee at coffee shops because he enjoys making his own at home.  He has a collection of coffee gadgets, ranging from grinders, to roasters, to French presses and espresso machines!  He buys international single-origin coffee beans from a trusted source, and only roasts 250g of beans at a time.  He grinds his beans just before making his coffee, in order to take advantage of the beans’ freshly-released flavor and aroma.

We had, in order:  Peruvian, Ethiopian dry-process (where the coffee berries dry in the sun naturally, as opposed to wet-process where the berries are hulled and the beans are dried separately), Jamaican Blue Mountain, Panama La Esmeralda Gesha and Ethiopian Harar coffees.  Plus an Ethiopian dry-process Americano (1:1 espresso and water).


Dante used the hand drip coffee method.  I was wondering if the ceramic dripper was available locally, and found out it was being sold at Craft Coffee Workshop along Broadway Ave. in New Manila, Quezon City.  It’s also available in different sizes , along with other coffee accessories, on

The coffees all had a wonderful aroma, each different from the other.  The aroma of the ground coffee was much stronger than that of the whole roasted beans.  I wish I had taken tasting notes, but I don’t know the terms.  Dante arranged the progression of flavors in terms of complexity and body.  I guess it would be like how a sommelier arranges wines to complement a dinner.  We tried each coffee black, then with some muscovado sugar, then with non-dairy creamer.  All the coffees were very good, but the Jamaican Blue Mountain and Panama La Esmeralda Gesha were particularly delicious.  Sublime.  (Jude, to me:  “So, did you hear the choir of angels yet?” With my mouth full of coffee, all I could do was nod and smile.)

Yes, we had a LOT of coffee, in small cups, not the big American-size mugs.  We were served pan de sal (soft breakfast buns), with our choice of filling – butter, strawberry jam, peanut butter and Spanish-style sardines.  We also had a lot of water on the side, to cleanse our palates.  You would think that all that caffeine would render me into a quivering mess, but I checked my hands and they didn’t shake.  Dante explains that when coffee has been made properly, you get the flavor of the coffee without too much of the caffeine.  To prove his point, he served me and Christine an Americano each, made of the Ethiopian dry-process beans.    My sixth coffee, but in a tiny double espresso cup.  I felt extraordinarily alert, but I felt great!  No palpitations.


Of course, this isn’t something I’d do on a daily basis.  I don’t think I’d ever get to experience that in a commercial coffee shop, or even in a hotel.  It was such a treat (thank you so much, Dante)!  I learned so much about coffee that I never knew before.

I like to support Philippine coffee bean producers.  My usual coffee at home is Arabica from the Cordilleras or Liberica from Batangas (“barako”), so Dante suggested I try the local coffee brand Monks’ Blend.   It’s produced by Benedictine monks from the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.  We have an active Philippine Coffee Board, so maybe one day I’ll work my way through the different local coffees, which I see being sold in organic weekend markets, food trade fairs and sustainable lifestyle stores like Echo Store.



When our American friend Tom said he’d finally visit the Philippines last August, Carlos immediately organized a trip to the province of Pampanga, complete with a ten-course lunch at Claude and Mary Ann Tayag’s restaurant, Bale Dutung.


“Bale Dutung” means “house of wood”.  If this house looks somewhat familiar, it’s because it was featured in Anthony Bourdain‘s Philippines episode on No Reservations.  Here’s the Pampanga clip on Youtube, showing artist and chef Claude Tayag‘s restaurant.


Mary Ann Tayag welcomed the seven of us warmly.  We had to call ahead and reserve, so the Tayags could put us together with another small group in order to make the 12-head minimum.  We chose the “Anthony Bourdain menu”, which referred to an all-Kapampangan lineup of dishes.  As each dish was served, Mary Ann would annotate, explaining the origins and flavors of each dish.


A salad of wild ferns and tomatoes topped with half a soft-boiled egg.


Grilled chicken buttons (it’s the behind, folks!) with brown rice.


Quail stewed in soy sauce, garlic and vinegar (adobo), with egg pan de sal.


Lechon (roast pork) taco.  Each diner is served only one ( in order for them to be able to appreciate the rest of the ten-course meal properly), but the fixings are buffet style.


Beef bone marrow.  You get a wooden popsicle stick to scoop out the delicious marrow with, plus a straw to help you get all the juices.


A thick guava-flavored soup called “bulanglang”, featuring “ulang” (large river prawns).  There’s a small serving of plain rice inside the banana leaf package.


Seafood kare-kare (a stew with peanut sauce).

The courses I didn’t photograph were the appetizers (crackers and three dips made of homemade herb pesto, “taba ng talangka” or crab fat, and “balao-balao” or fermented rice flavored with shrimps); the coffee and dessert (maja blanca with corn and young coconut).


The meal took us four hours to consume!  It was amazing how we could all still stand up at the end of it all.  Claude visited our table and signed the books we bought.  He and Mary Ann co-authored the book Linamnam, a regional food guide to the Philippines (Anvil Publishing, 2011).  Claude also styled Kulinarya (A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine), by Glenda Rosales Barretto.

Was it worth it?  Foreign visitors and locals who aren’t too familiar with Pampanga cuisine (like myself) can definitely check this menu out.  Some of the dishes were known quantities with a distinctly Pampanga/Tayag twist.  Some, like the balao-balao dip and the guava-redolent bulanglang, were exotic. If that doesn’t strike your fancy, there are also other menus to choose from.  I truly enjoyed Mary Ann’s entertaining and informative spiels, and learned a lot about Pampanga’s rich history and culture through its food.


What to do after an afternoon of eating?  We decided we all wanted a richer dessert, and went all the way to Kabigting’s a few towns away in Arayat, for white halo-halo (with pastillas milk candy instead of ube jam)!

Thank you, Tom, for visiting the Philippines, because if it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t have thought of going on this Pampanga food tour!


I’ve bought Theo & Philo artisan chocolates three times in the last month alone.  My family and I end up enjoying it before I even think of taking photographs.  The Green Mango & Salt bar above is the remaining bar in my stash.  It’s my favorite flavor:  unique and very Filipino in taste.  The pretty packaging proclaims: “By the Philippines, For the Philippines, Of the Philippines.”  What’s not to like?

I found out about Theo & Philo from my friend and neighbor Karlo, via Google+.  He recommended I get it from Echo Store in Podium, which sells sustainable, eco-friendly, proudly-Filipino products.  Now I am a sucker for quality local products – I comb trade fairs for products like this.  The website says the cacao is from Davao and the sugar, from Bacolod.  I just HAD to try it.

On my first purchase, I chose Dark Chocolate and Labuyo (chili) flavors.  The Dark Chocolate was of very high quality.  It had depth, and a delicious, bittersweet flavor.  The following day we tried the Labuyo.  It was Dark Chocolate with an appealing, spicy end note which everyone (with the exception of my 6yo niece) enjoyed.  Apparently it’s one of the bestsellers in the Theo & Philo lineup of flavors.  On my second purchase a week later, I got Milk Chocolate and Green Mango & Salt.  I’m not a very big fan of generic milk chocolates per se, but was glad that this version had a high cacao content and wasn’t very sweet.  The Green Mango & Salt was a happy surprise.  There were dried bits of green mango interspersed with occasional rock salt crystals in a Dark Chocolate matrix.  I loved the contrast in flavors and textures!  On my third purchase a couple of weeks later, I bought TWO Green Mango & Salt bars, and one flavored with Barako coffee.  Embedded in the Dark Chocolate were crushed bits of roasted Barako (Liberica) coffee beans.  Crunchy-gritty, with the full flavor of coffee.  Another winner!

They make wonderful gifts, don’t they?  Christmas is coming and I’m already thinking of who to give them to.  I’ve posted about them on Facebook and by now a number of my friends have tried them too.  I’ve already given some balikbayan friends a selection of flavors.  In fact, I’m looking for Calamansi and Ginger for my next purchase.  Echo Store doesn’t always carry all the flavors (it depends on the delivery, and of course some flavors are more popular than others), but you will be able to find them in these stores.  Each bar is PhP 95, and so worth it.

I’m so happy with such a quality product – it’s definitely worth our support.


I’m not affiliated with Echo Store, but am a regular customer.


Previous: Every Exhibit Has A Story

After the Ayala Museum, we all proceeded to Max Brenner in Greenbelt 3 for pastry and some special hot chocolate. How special? Roland and Ma’am Odette had the Venezuela Dark, I had the Trinidad White, while Ricky and Ma’am Letty had this utterly luxurious and exotic Ecuador chocolate with orchid oil. Almond selected a restorative peppermint tea.

They have this white porcelain earless cup with a pointed lip from which you are encouraged to sip. All the chocolate drinks had these tiny globules of yummy fat floating on top like you’d see in chocolate eh. Ricky let me taste some of the Ecuador, which struck me as only faintly sweet upon first touching the tongue. The sweetness developed in the middle of your mouth, and later I detected the faint perfume of orchid oil (vanilla, identifies the Max Brenner website) which had a long finish in the back of the tongue. Not to everyone’s taste, but definitely to mine! (Note to self: order it next time.) My Trinidad White was yummy, but a bit too rich for me. It brought back all childhood Christmases past,with its dairy velvety-ness and buttery richness laving all over my tongue. I guess the best way to enjoy it would be to take a long sip, let it fill the mouth and senses, before swallowing slowly. And in between, sips of lifesaving water.

We also shared a fancy brownie. I have no idea what it was called since we promptly pounced on it, and in true Pinoy fashion, ping-ponged the last bite around the plate.

The first time I went to Max Brenner it was with the Justice League (the everyday heroines in my barkada) for the newly engaged Tim’s birthday two years ago. We’d had dinner somewhere else and decided to have dessert. Almond very cleverly arranged a surprise entry by Tim’s then-fiancee Eric, home early for Christmas via Hong Kong red-eye. We had a chocolate fondue, which I enjoyed but was not much impressed by. I think I was too busy laughing at Tim’s expression of incredulous joy when she saw Eric.

My estimation of the place has risen since then, after this visit. In my opinion this quality of hot chocolate shouldn’t be downed like it were Swiss Miss and you were in pajamas. First of all, it’s pricey (one could have a full meal for the price of one cup of gourmet hot choco), but I think what we’d ordered was well worth it. I’d been avoiding Max Brenner when it first opened precisely because I feared it would be the sort of place pretentious people like to casually brag about having been to (read: I can afford high-end chocolate! Also read: Been there, done that, now let’s haul my fashionable deconstructed jeans-clad ass off to the next hot new happening place!).

Now that the fashion panic has abated and the place has established itself, it’s actually attracting people in search of chocolate adventure. I think if I’m flush with a little cash and in need of some chocolate therapy, or just planning to celebrate with TDM, it’s a great place to go to. Once in a while.


Last Sunday Ricky and Almond organized a museum date-cum-reunion for all of us whom Ricky first met in Hanoi in 2006. Ricky had read my review of the Ayala Museum Gold of Ancestors exhibit, and suggested it would be a good reason to meet up.

Two years ago, Almond, Ma’am Odette and Ma’am Letty were all invited to present papers at an academic conference at the Vietnam National University in Hanoi. I tagged along, sort of masquerading as a fellow UP faculty member (“You are also from the University of the Philippines?” “Yes, but I’m not presenting a paper.” “You must attend the dinner and the water puppet show!” “Uh, ok, thank you!”). While they were busy practicing their presentations and networking with other participants, I quickly rebooked us from the first sorry-assed hotel we checked into, to the very comfortable but forbiddingly named Army Hotel. It was nearer the conference venue, and at USD35/night for a twin share, it was irresistible. I also planned some of our itinerary, as it was my job to negotiate with/harass taxi drivers and tour operators.

Ricky happened to be billeted at the Army Hotel as well. Almond and I first noticed him during the buffet breakfast, at which we already noted his hair and his fashion sense. It was Ma’am Odette and Ma’am Letty who confirmed the happy fact of his Pinoy-ness. Ricky turned out to be the visiting consultant at the museum near the university. Later on, at the steps of the VNU, we met Roland and the other Singapore-based Pinoy grad students who were attending the same conference. Roland also presented a paper.

We had lunch at Greenbelt 5, at Fely J’s (another LJC restaurant) on the second floor. It was a good thing we arrived early, as the place was soon fully packed. The menu is Filipino and Asian dishes served family style, with very reasonable prices. Check out the pork adobo with whole cloves of roasted garlic (yum!):

(I must apologize for the lack of focus in that pic. It smells and tastes more appetizing than the photo suggests.)

The other big winner of the day was the fried tilapia in sweet plum sauce shown here ready to swim off the plate and into our stomachs:

To accompany those we also had bangus belly sinigang (sampalok), ensalada ni nanay (red eggs, assorted vegetables and bagoong), ginataang gulay (squash, string beans, other vegetables and shrimps in coconut milk), and for dessert, “Claude’s Dream” (a generous scrape of soft, fresh buko meat on top of creamy macapuno ice cream surrounded by pandan flavored jelly):

All in all, a very satisfying meal (despite the slow – but friendly! – service).

We then proceeded to the Ayala Museum, where Ricky was able to get us discounted entrance rates (thank you!).

Next: Every Exhibit Has A Story


It’s been a while since the foodie group of the Herd met. Ria and Tjader were up from Davao, because of the World Cyber Games. So new mom Kathy, eager to see the outside world again, organized a dinner last Friday night. [Before this, the last time we met was at Cyma in Greenbelt 2 last year, where only Mike, Kathy, Dondi and I were able to attend. And before that, we were all at Isshin Ramen along Paseo de Roxas the year before: Jag & Imee (with the charming Soleil), Mike & Kathy, Ria and myself.]

We all met at Powerbooks, where Imee said staff were checking her out because of her copy of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight that she had brought for Kathy. We decided on Zuni , a Mediterranean restaurant & wine bar in Greenbelt 5. [The other restos along the same strip were Felix (nouvelle Chinois), and Myron’s Steakhouse.]

A Manansala painting of a carabao graced the wall next to our table. Ceilings were high, the place was warmly lit, people were in dressy casuals even though Zuni is considered fine dining. Imee had a very pretty beef carpaccio. Jag, Dondi and Esmi had a salad with roast chicken before moving onto their main courses. Ria had the Zuni salad, which looks like something I’d order if I returned there. Kathy had the beef tenderloin. Mike had French onion soup with lots of bubbly mozzarella on top before his main dish. I had the lamb rack in garam masala sauce (lamb curry, folks) with Cerveza Negra. Esmi ordered the Pasta Bolognese, while Dondi had the Chilean sea bass. Tjader practically inhaled his food so we didn’t realize he had already finished. The conversations just flowed.

In general everyone enjoyed their food, although Dondi found the sea bass on the bland side. Jag was thinking that Zuni, being a fine dining restaurant, shouldn’t serve the rice in a cup shape like they do at neighborhood carinderias. The salads all seemed like winners — fresh, zesty, beautifully arranged.

To clean up our palates, some of us had gelato from that stall in Greenbelt 3 (past Cafe Bola, near the escalators). Dondi had limoncello (I think) and I had nocciola. Dondi treated everyone to coffee at Figaro. Apparently he’s no longer with an ad agency, but does in-house work for a market-leader publishing firm we all know. While we were having coffee, Mike was in his element playing baril-barilan at the nearby TimeZone next to some trigger-happy little kids. The evening broke up at around 11pm, as people were eager to get back to their kids whom they had left with their parents.

Ria and Tjader will still be here for the next two months.

We really should do this again.


Our happy discovery on this trip was Lemoni Cafe in D’Mall. It’s included in the country’s top restaurants of 2007, according to Philippine Tatler. It’s the corner restaurant across from Bite Club and the D’Mall ferris wheel. Winners on the menu: the steak breakfast with fried eggs and roasted potatoes, the pork chops with roasted vegetables with a minty yoghurt sauce, the big breakfast with sausages and bacon, the seafood pasta, the fresh-baked wholewheat pan de sal and ciabatta, the baked lemon cheesecake, and the wonderful, wonderful Danesi coffee.

(Food photos taken with my JVC GZ-MG67u, a 2mpx CCD 20G hard disk camcorder.)

We enjoyed the food at Lemoni so much that we dined there three times and had coffee and dessert another time all within four days. The service was friendly and quick. Although at the last dinner, Chinne was craving for Andoks’ crispy pata. So we prevailed on the waitresses to allow her to bring it in. And while she was enjoying the crispy pata, the owner happened to be at the end table and noticed! He walked over and joked about how deliciously unhealthy it was. Chinne froze and had that sheepish aghast look on her face as she turned around to apologize. Jopet saved the day by mentioning the number of times we’d returned to dine, so Tom (an American engaged to a Pinay) said it was ok because the rest of us ordered and were repeat customers. He even mentioned that some people hang out there without even asking for water! We all congratulated him for inclusion in the Tatler list. To save Chinne’s reddened ears from further ringing, we hightailed it out of there. I went to get TDM a long-sleeved cotton camisa I had ordered from my suki vendor at the tiangge past Hey Jude. We later met the others at Cat’s Eye, our karaoke hang-out.

Jopet visits Cat’s Eye at least a couple of nights on each of his trips. Cat’s Eye is owned by a Korean married to a Pinay. His sister-in-law manages it and now knows Jopet pretty well. The last time we were there last October, people were just ordering beer and listening to us sing. And watching us dance to our own singing. We are that shameless! But we sound pretty good to begin with. We won’t win contests, but we like to have some campy fun. There are private rooms, but we sing only from the open bar, where it’s P30/per song. We each have a list of favorites, and songs that we like to sing all together. Chinne likes The Corrs and Patti Austin. I like Sergio Mendes and Heart. Jovic likes rock ballads from the 70s and 80s. Ryan likes OPM ballads. Jopet… he can sing anything, from Josh Groban to Ricky Martin, even to Beyonce re-arrangements. On our second night American visitor Angie and her cousin had fun singing “Proud Mary” and dancing with us. It was like we had gone to the gym and did aerobics for 3 straight hours. Our showstoppers? Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music”.

(Oy, we are such cam hams!)

On this trip we went back to Cat’s Eye three nights in a row. On the last night the wind and rain picked up, and a power outage silenced us too early for our liking. We walked home to Crystal Sand to eat Tostitos and chunky salsa and tried to figure out what songs from tv commercials we’d sing in a karaoke. The first that came to mind was “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” from our childhood. We ended the evening singing Paul Anka’s “The Times of Your Life” from that famous, tear-inducing Kodak commercial that starred the late actor Mario Montenegro. Which, incidentally, had won an advertising award for Jopet’s father! Imagine that.

Little did we imagine the violence of the weather that surprised us on the last night of our trip…

Up next — Boracay: Surviving Frankenstorm.


Sometimes food is the center of our universe. Whenever the gang and I go anywhere for vacation entire days are planned around food, rather than “more exciting” activities like riding a Banana Boat. Looking forward to meals alone is certainly exciting enough. Besides, we use more of our senses while eating, as compared to while riding on an inflated platform behind a speedboat, screaming your lungs out and falling off. And you even spend less on it!

During our Boracay stay we had comfort food at our island home, Crystal Sand in Station 1. By comfort food I mean home-style, for us who enjoy hanging out at the trellised dining area in front of Rm. 105. That’s where we can be found at different times of the day, sometimes as early as 5am, having coffee and watching people. Chinne likes to imagine back stories about people that catch her fancy, such as the foreign gentleman impersonating barbecued pork while clad only in tiny bile-and-orange plaid trunks. Or the Korean honeymooners in their his-and-hers outfits. Or speculating on who the Gumamela Man might be, with his native hat, glorious long black hair festooned with hibiscus, as he rides by on his racer bike. Comfort food might be Bicol Express, with some grilled tanguigue or callos.

One night we bought a couple of big fresh lobsters, and since we couldn’t really afford a lobster per person, the Crystal Sand kitchen made Lobster Thermidor. It was my first time to taste it. Not bad, but I prefer seafood plain steamed, if it’s that fresh. Still, we had an al fresco dinner in front of the resort:

Our other favorite breakfast place is Cafe del Mar, next door to Crystal Sand. They have this pancake breakfast, where the pancake looks and tastes like bibingka. They serve it with sausages and fruit, usually pineapple. I would gladly have it over conventional pancakes anytime.

Another favorite place is Happy Ongpauco’s Hawaiian BBQ (also in Station 1) which serves great babyback ribs, fantastic roast chicken with gata and garlic mussels to die for. We’ve tried the strange but yummy Spam rice on a previous trip. It’s the kind of thing you end up craving for after a night out at the karaoke.

We also enjoyed the food at Saneh’Thai restaurant (yellow pork curry, chicken stir-fried with fragrant basil, squid sauteed in garlic, and the ever-refreshing green mango salad). It’s the one opposite our favorite creperie Crepes St. Michel, which was unfortunately undergoing renovation. We were greatly disappointed at not tasting our favorite Nutella crepes — considering we found Cafe Breizh (where I used to have breakfast crepes filled with bacon, egg and cheese) closed down. Alas. Fortunately, there’s Cafe Breton here in Ortigas Center, but it’s not the same without the sand beneath our pedicured toes.

While we were having coffee and drinks at Cafe del Sol (a white Russian for the curious me, San Mig Lite for Chinne, coffees for the boys and this humongous biko-like rice bibingka) who happened to be there but Lorna Tolentino and the Fernandez brood! They were accompanied by the still-gorgeous Amy Austria, Tirso Cruz III and his wife, Jinggoy, and various alipores. And there were any number of Brazilian-looking models scattered around the place (I can’t tell anymore, but they’re all twice my height and half my width). Of course, Chinne the people-watcher was hard at work, while reporting to one and all via cellphone.

More food tripping in the next entry — Boracay: Lemon Cheesecake, Crispy Pata & Karaoke Overload. Thanks to Jopet and Jovic for sharing pix from their cameras.