Sunday, June 30, 2013

Skydreamer Dines in Cebu: Manuel's at Parklane

This is a very late post, but on Father's Day a couple weeks back, we celebrated it at Manuel's restaurant in Parklane. This is probably our fourth, fifth visit and I can never complain. For only P550, you get treated to an international buffet that's worth every penny. 

For Father's Day, their buffet was P650 per person and they gave out a glass of free red wine to the fathers dining there. Except for my husband, who was not offered any - I noticed that every "grandpa-looking" guy in every table got a glass, but in ours? We had none. Nobody even bothered to ask if we were our child's parents. Obviously, Parklane, some fathers do look younger than most. Just sayin'.

Now it goes without saying that their food is great; however, do not expect the same level of quality as Marriott's or Marco Polo's. You do get what you pay for - in this case, still totally worth it. I have said this before and I will say it again - Manuel's has the best spread for budget hotel buffets out there (IMO).

This is what you get for your money:

Manuel's Parklane Buffet
Cold Cuts and different kids of salad

Manuel's Parklane Buffet
Fresh oyster
Manuel's Parklane Buffet
Fried Dimsum and Tempura with various sauces
Manuel's Parklane Buffet
Sushi, Maki, Sashimi - li'l sister's favorite!
Manuel's Parklane Buffet
Grills, Pasta, Lechon - my husband's favorite
Manuel's Parklane Buffet
Main course - right smack in the middle of it all
Manuel's Parklane Buffet
A very lonely crepe, halohalo, gelato station
Manuel's Parklane Buffet
Fresh Fruits - my son's favorites are here!
Manuel's Parklane Buffet
Assorted Sweets - my favorite
I enjoyed it, yo (says my 1yr old toddler)
Will I go there again? For sure!
Try it and let me know what you think! xx

Parklane Information:
Address: Corner Archbishop Reyes, Escario Avenue
Contact Number: 234 7000
Website: Parklane

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Best Blog Awards 2013

I'm nominating a few blogs that I always enjoy reading to answer Noelfy of Noelimits. She is one of my favorite bloggers from Spain and is traveling all around the world - she is living the life I would have wanted in my 20s. I love her blog because she's always so positive. She has a lot of dreams and she's not afraid to act on them. She has traveled in more countries than anyone I know, and she's one of the most beautiful people in the blogosphere. Noe, thanks for including me in your nominations. You are adorable!

Noe awarded me, along with other bloggers, (post here) to make other blogs be known to others out there and maybe even help new bloggers.

So here's a list of my favorite blogs, the ones that I don't fail to read every time my blogroll updates. These blogs are all related to food, or travel, or motherhood.

The Londoner - Rosie is one of the most famous bloggers in the entire world, and I adore her food/fashion/lifestyle blog. She mostly blogs from London, but she also travels frequently.

We have Aars - Alli is from America and mostly blogs about her family and adventures with her son as a stay-at-home-mom. She makes it sound so glamorous and amazing and she constantly inspires me with her monthly theme of activities for her son.

Jin Loves to Eat - Jin's blog is all about her food adventures everywhere she goes. Her blog is absolutely amazing, and she goes to a lot of places all the time.

Food Wanderings in Asia - Jo-ann's blog is also all about food and travel. She takes amazing pictures and writes excellent reviews. She's primarily in Cebu.

The Exaggerated Zeal - Fred has just started blogging and his concept is also all about food. Check him out because he has a really good blog going on.

The Vanilla Housewife - Jhanis' blog is all about her adventures as a working mother. She's sharing her "roller-coaster ride of domesticity" through her blog.

Babe for Food - Justinne is one of the more popular bloggers in Cebu. I always enjoy her posts about secret places to eat in Cebu as well as her vlog series, The Cooking Fashionista.

So these are my most favorite blogs of all time and they all deserve the "Best Blog and Versatile Blogger" award. If you have your own favorite blogs, share them with a post like this. Don't forget to include the picture and who nominated you. Once again, I was nominated by Noelfy of Noelimits. She was nominated by a Spanish blogger, Galipon.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Skydreamer Eats: Tuna Aglio Olio Pasta

One of my goals last year was to learn how to prepare 12 dishes - that's one dish per month; however, because of my demanding schedule I wasn't able to fulfill that. This year, instead of being specific about this goal, I just placed a line - "try my hand at being a domestic goddess like my mom." Already halfway of 2013, I can't say if I am on my way to being a mommy wonder but I'm definitely more confident in the kitchen now than last year.

Today, I'm sharing a recipe that's super easy - even first time cooks, wannabe chefs and instant-ramen cooks can make this without fail. You only need four main ingredients - your pasta of choice (obviously), a can of tuna, 5-7 cloves of garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

First, cook 200g of pasta according to package instructions. Once your pasta's cooked and ready, drain and set aside.
Next, and here's the easy part. Mince your garlic, and saute it in a non-stick pan with about 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Wait until your garlic is fragrant (always love the smell of garlic and oil). Add your pasta and toss. Add your can of tuna (I used Century Tuna) including the oil. Toss until all your pasta is covered in all its oil goodness. Taste.
Check if it needs salt and pepper. Sprinkle some to taste.
Turn off the fire at this point and serve to your family.
Don't forget to add some shredded parmesan cheese (you can get some at Metro Gourmet in Ayala Center Cebu); or you can shave some fresh parmesan if you prefer. Either way, try to use real and fresh parmesan instead of the ones sold in green bottles at the supermarket. There is a huge difference in taste, trust me.
I'm not a cheese snob, but I cover the basics - parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, emmental, etc.
Anyway, back to the point.
The best thing about this recipe is that it's so versatile. Do you want to add more garlic? You can definitely do that. More tuna? Some chili flakes? You want to add a few basil leaves? No problem. Really depends on the taste you're aiming for.
Here's a picture of my finished product:

tuna aglio olio pasta
Tuna Aglio Olio Pasta
Try it and let me know what you think! xx

Friday, June 21, 2013

My Sonshine - You will not always be this small...

Good morning everyone,

I rarely make a personal post, but I feel like sharing a little bit about my life.

I am a mother to a wild and adorable chubby toddler, Seth. He lights up my world. Every little thing he does is nothing short of magical, and I am amazed at everything he can do. At 1 year and almost 10 months, he is very independent. He rarely cuddles up, but the smallest trigger of anything foreign to him would move him to tears and hiccups, and that leads to a lot of cuddling and hugging.

Right from the start, he has stolen my heart and he is my little world. I gladly gave up any semblance of social life I had before; even beauty trips to the salon have been foregone just so I can spend more time with him. Every night when I leave for work, it pains me to kiss him goodnight and leave him and my husband to sleep. I want to be on that bed with them, dreaming dreams. I wish I could get a stable job and work from home so I could be with him more, but there’s just nothing out there for someone who knows nothing about coding, wikis, and being a virtual assistant. Even then, if I get a job working from home, I know I’d be at home but I still won’t be able to leave my work behind when he cries so it’s kinda still the same.

When I get home from work, it’s still in the wee hours of the morning so I would cuddle up next to him, just smelling him and kissing his hair, savoring these moments while he’s still small and needs me often. I would wait until he wakes up so I can give him his morning milk and water. We would talk for a few minutes – well, I’d talk and he would respond with his baby language. After a bit of that, he would usually look for his daddy by saying “daddddyyyyy” and looking at my phone. We’d give him a call so they can talk for a couple of minutes. We’d play a bit after that, just him and me and his toys.

I’d then reluctantly open our bedroom door so I can prepare his breakfast – usually rolled oats with brown sugar, or pancakes, or eggs and tomatoes. While his nanny feeds him his food, I would go to our little kitchen and prepare food for lunch. I sometimes let him “help” me with the veggies and it delights him when he gets to do that. He’s a curious little one, and if Mama is holding a wooden spoon, then he needs to hold one too. Once I’m done in the kitchen, it’s usually time for me to sleep. I only get to spend a few hours with him in a day and I wish I have more time. Sometimes, when he would like to stay with me in my room while I’m sleeping, I let him in and let him play with my iPad next to me. I just tell my nanny to come inside if he starts crying and wants to do something else, or if it’s time for his bath or morning/afternoon snacks.

I do my best to balance things – my son, my husband, the rest of my family, my career, my friends, my life, myself. It’s not easy. Most of the time I get overwhelmed, and I know that if there’s something I will always put first, it’s always my little family. My career can be on hold, and I’d rather remain stagnant and hide behind my comfort zone – not because I’m lazy, but because I don’t have the luxury of time to spend more hours away from my son.

from Pinterest
I know it won't always be like this. Someday, he won't need me so much anymore. Someday, he will start talking back to me and there will be days I'll get mad at him for something really major. Someday, he won't want to be seen with me in public in his teenage years, and someday he will start his own family and be his own man. But for now, this little boy is all mine to hug, to hold, to teach and to mold. He is mine to cherish, because yes I know, he won't always be this small.

To my son, I love you so much and I’m trying. I’m doing the best to maintain this balance and spend more time with you.

I’ll always be here for you. xx

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Skydreamer Eats: For the love of Avocado

Over the weekend, I bought a kilo of avocado at a nearby fruit market because they were selling them for only P30 per kilo (that's less than a dollar!). Avocado is one of my favorite fruits, and I love mixing it with sweetened milk and shaved ice.

Me being me, I checked other avocado recipes out there, and I found a couple that I wanted to recreate.

First, I tried making avocado pasta.
I first read about it in Rosie's blog and found other variations in Pinterest (which is my new addiction).

For my pasta, I used Del Monte's Pasta Italiana in Merienda Pack (175g), one big avocado, one strip of bacon, parmesan, juice of half a lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.

First, I cooked my pasta. Once done, I set it aside and sliced my bacon into smaller pieces. I then cooked it in a non-stick pan without oil to let all the oil out. While my bacon was cooking, I took out my avocado, opened it and mashed the avocado meat in a bowl.

After it's all nicely mashed, I added my hot pasta to the avocado and mixed them up. I added all the bacon, and tossed in a pinch of salt and a little bit of pepper. I also added just a little bit of the bacon's oil for flavor. Lastly, I added shredded parmesan and lemon juice. I gave it one more toss, took a not so clear picture from my ipod touch and served it to my son - and me.

Here's what it looks like:

avocado recipe
A non conventional way of eating avocado

Second: I tried making avocado salad based on Pinterest inspiration, but did not recreate it from any particular recipe. This is very easy to make and the entire preparation will literally take you less than 5 minutes!

I used one avocado, one tomato, a little bit of lemon juice, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

First, I sliced an avocado into thick strips, and sliced my tomato the same way. I placed that it a bowl and mixed it with shredded parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Check and see if it requires more parmesan or lemon juice and eat it all.

Here's what it looks like:

avocado recipe
Avocado Salad

Now, if you ever do try any of these two recipes and you've never eaten avocado other than with sweetened milk, it will definitely taste different, and for some it may be an acquired taste. But for avocado lovers out there, I'm sure you will embrace these recipes as I did.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Skydreamer Feature: Chedz Cakes in Cebu

You should know me by now, right? I love food and that includes great desserts specially if they're coffee based. So I'd like to introduce you to one of Cebu's best non-commercial cakes around - Chedz!

Can I tempt you with these amazing cakes?

classic cakes from chedz
Classic Cakes from Chedz

There were four gorgeous cakes in the box, and my favorite was their Cebu Mango cake. It was beyond delicious - it had a layer of mango and cream inside which made it more satisfying than the usual mango cake.

The cappuccino cake was my next favorite - surprise, surprise. The cake was great, I always prefer coffee based desserts, but the mango cake was better.

cebu mango and cappuccino cake from chedz
Cebu Mango and Cappuccino cake

My next favorite is their black forest cake. This kind of cake was my favorite back in college and I would constantly buy a slice from Ana Maria (in Dumaguete City). I loved it so much that my mom bought me one big layer on my birthday then. So anyway, my taste has obviously evolved from black forest to other amazing flavors. Chedz' version of black forest is different from Ana Maria's, but it's still great.

Last is their ube (yam) cake. Now, I'm not a very big ube cake fan. I love homemade ube halaya, but anything else ube flavored is just okay for me. 

black forest and ube cake from chedz
Black Forest and Ube

Check out their website and schedule a free cake tasting session now!

Chedz Cake Information:
Contact Numbers: 232-3239 and 231-1168
Website: Chedz

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Skydreamer Eats: Chili cheese pork rolls

It has been gloomy the past couple of days with rains and thunderstorms. There's no better way to perk up in this cold weather than a bowl of hot soup and chili.

To make a batch of these awesome chili rolls, you need some type of meat. I used ground pork, but you can also use beef or chicken. Whatever you fancy.
You also need spring roll wrappers and chillis.

filipino homemade chili rolls
Chili Cheese Pork Rolls
First, heat up your non-stick pan with a splash of olive/vegetable/canola oil.
Add meat, and season with salt and pepper.
Once your meat has browned, set that aside.

Prepare your chili by taking out the seeds.
Put the meat inside your chili and wrap it, along with mozzarella cheese, in a spring roll wrapper.

Fry it again in a non-stick pan with your preferred oil.

Serve with a hearty bowl of tomato soup. Recipe found HERE. xx

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Skydreamer Dines in Cebu: Lemon Grass

Fancy a Thai or Viet food fix? If anyone asked me that, I'd be the first to raise my hand. A few weeks ago, we went to Lemon Grass and I loved what we ordered specially their Pad Thai (it can definitely give Siam's version a run for their money).

Everything we ordered was really good, but their Jasmine rice was too dry.

Their prices are reasonable for the gastronomic adventure you will be able to take. The staff is attentive and polite. And did I mention their food is great?

Go and check them out at Level 1, The Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu if you haven't already.

jasmine rice from lemon grass
Jasmine Rice - it was a bit dry

Pad Thai - yummy (better than Siam's and Krua Thai's version)

Gai Pad Graprow (Chicken Stir Fry with Holy Basil)

Suon Nuong (Grilled Pork Spare Ribs)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Staycation: Mandarin Plaza Hotel

A couple weeks ago, we stayed one night at Mandarin Plaza Hotel because they had a pool and their room rates were the most affordable in town. We basically wanted to have a weekend to swim with our toddler because we haven't really introduced it to him yet. This hotel is really new, it's just right across Parklane and just a stone's throw away from Ayala. They're not fully operational yet; according to them, they're still on the "dry run" phase and will have their "soft opening" end of June. So, with that said, here's our experience.

When we got there, we were greeted with a wide lobby. They have enormous chandeliers that look like this:

gorgeous crystals at the lobby

They provided us with complimentary welcome drinks (four seasons juice) here:

leading to the restaurant

Their restaurant however, is not fully operational. They have a few selection in their menu that you can order for room service or eat ala carte at the restaurant, but they don't have a buffet yet. I hope they have an affordable international buffet soon that can rival Parklane's as they have the best budget hotel buffet in the city to date.

To the left, there's a long flight of stairs that leads to the third floor where the swimming pool is located:

Stairs leading to the pool
 They do not have a kiddie pool, and this small one starts at 3 feet and I think the deepest is 5 feet. In the morning, the pool area is really hot; in the afternoon, the sun won't hit anywhere in this area. Although it's sunny, the water is very cold for their pool is not heated. They also have a shower area, a restroom and a sauna here. You can use all of these services for free if you're staying here.


We stayed at the 6th floor, and we only got their standard room, which I think is called a Superior room if I remember correctly. You get two single sized beds; a flat screen TV (cable's not fully operational and they only had a few channels when we were there); free wifi (internet connection was not stable yet and we honestly could not go online while we were there); complimentary coffee (Nature Spring) and water. Their bathroom had a bath tub which was a nice surprise. They also have the usual complimentary toothbrushes and toothpaste.



If there's probably one thing I didn't like about the room, it was the fact that the two lights right above the beds were blinking the entire night after we turned them off and it was very inconvenient. We had a difficult time sleeping. We were too tired to call and have them fixed - besides, our son was already sleeping and we didn't want his sleep disturbed.

The next morning, we had breakfast by the pool, and again as they do not have a fully operational reataurant yet, we had to choose from their menu. They serve American, Filipino, continental, and also a "hearty breakfast" if I remember correctly wherein you get oatmeal. :)

Since they did not have any tables/chairs/lounges at the pool area, they set us up with plastic tables and chairs.

Bacon, corned beef, eggs and rice

testing the water

All in all, it was a pretty ok experience. The staff was very accommodating, friendly and attentive. They totally made up for the services/amenities not available in the hotel yet.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Skydreamer Dines in Cebu: Classic Savory

Today, we had lunch at Classic Savory's SM City Cebu branch. It was our first time to eat at this restaurant, and we chose it because at lunch time, it was the only place that wasn't full. There were only 2 other people when we went in. We just really needed a quiet place where we can eat in peace and savor our food, and most specially - a restaurant that has a kiddie high chair!

We ordered plated or combo lunches because we wanted to try several dishes without overspending. While waiting for our food to be served, baby boy got fussy and decided he wanted to play with the tablet. He got bored with it a few minutes later, and started playing with the paper placemats. Good thing our food arrived before he could throw a tantrum.

Savory Chicken with Crispy Fish Fillet

Quarter chicken, spareribs, turon

Savory chicken with chopsuey

Pictures of old Philippines on the wall - great conversation starter!

Classic Savory Information:
Located at 2F SM City Cebu, beside Pan de Manila
Their website: Classic Savory