Enjoying Zen Zest’s Sparkling Sugar fragrances

Zen Zest Sparkling Sugar - Vanilla Ice CreamHave you been to a Zen Zest kiosk lately? They’ve launched a new line of fragrances, body butters, and body polishes based on sugary goodies, and my mouth is literally watering with the recollection of the four variants, collectively known as the Zen Zest Sparkling Sugar collection.

My favorite of the lot is the Vanilla Ice Cream variant. Cathy spritzed herself with some of that and I just wanted to eat her up. There’s something in vanilla that’s just inviting. According to the bottle, there’s vanilla bean and milk in there, and it just drove me nuts. I wanted to eat her up!

The other three Zen Zest Sparkling Sugar variants are (in order of my preference) Key Lime Pie, Watermelon Sorbet, and Cherry Cheesecake. All four smell delicious, and aren’t so badly priced, so I don’t have to take out a few payday loans to afford the whole collection.

Surprise! Organic lettuce is cheaper!

Cathy, Nathan, and I were out shopping at SM North EDSA when I decided to pass by the organic area of the vegetable section. A few minutes earlier, I popped a PHP62.00 200-gram bag of mixed greens from Dizon Farms into my cart for the lemon butter tuna salad with capers I was planning to make myself tomorrow night for dinner.

I then picked up a bag of the organic lettuce and was surprised to see that the hydroponic lettuce cost just a little over PHP40.00 for 200 grams! Furthermore, it was a nice Romanian lettuce, fibrous and flavorful, unlike the usual mixed greens mix which doesn’t have much color and texture.

If you like salads, don’t be afraid to buy the hydroponic lettuce. It’s just as good, if not better, than regular big farm lettuce, and as it turns out, it’s even cheaper!

Jack ‘N Jill Pic-A rocks my world!

Jack ‘N Jill Pic-A first entered my world two Thursdays ago, May 30. My officemate Teri and I did a snack run at Market! Market!, and I recall it surprised me to find a Jack ‘N Jill snack that was so large. It is large. 180 grams of pure snacky goodness! I tried it and was instantly hooked.

What I love about Jack ‘N Jill Pic-A is that it’s a delicious combination of three terrific Jack ‘N Jill snacks: Nova (our local version of Frito-Lay’s Sun Chips), Tostillas (Doritos), and Piattos, which has no international equivalent. It’s like Frito-Lay’s Munchies, which has Sun Chips, Doritos, and Rold Gold pretzels, which is fine because me no likey pretzels. There are two variations of Jack ‘N Jill Pic-A: BBQ Overload, which is the one I tried, and Ultimate Cheddar.

Unfortunately, since that Thursday, I had not been able to find another bag of Pic-A. Market! Market!, SM Hypermarket, Mercury Drug, Rustan’s, nothing. It had been almost two weeks! Then, this morning, at 2AM, during an early morning snack run with Cathy – McDonald’s Shake! Shake! french fries, Chicken Nuggets, and a double cheeseburger – I found it at 7-11 Banawe!

Jack N’ Jill Pic-A retails for PHP34.75 at Market! Market!, but I bought it at 7-11 for PHP44.00. Well worth my money. I LOVE IT.

Twilight and Tempura Caterpillar Roll

Night before last, I drove my wife Cathy to meet up with her best friend Jenna. Their objective: talk about Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. My objective: to order a Tempura Japanese Grill Caterpillar Roll!

To you uninitiated, the Caterpillar Roll at Tempura is a sushi roll containing unagi (eel), cream cheese, and mango, wrapped in rice and nori, and rolled around wasabi powder. That’s why it’s green on the outside. The explosion of textures and flavors in the mouth, from the spicy burst of wasabi to the creaminess of the cheese to the sweetness of the mango, made even more delightful by the saltiness of the soy sauce – Kikkoman, of course – and more wasabi…

Cathy and Jenna talked for an hour and a half about Edward and Bella. Me, I just enjoyed my Caterpillar Roll from Tempura Japanese Grill along Timog Avenue. It was a good evening.


Mario’s Sunday brunch is a delightful treat for family and friends

Cathy and I had the pleasure of meeting up with friends at Mario’s Restaurant in Quezon City to sample their delicious Sunday brunch buffet. The spread was one of the best buffets in Manila I’ve ever had, thanks to the following:

1) A mouthwatering cochinillo. Cochinillo is basically a roasted suckling piglet done to crispy perfection. Served with a variety of sauces, including the traditional Filipino lechon sarsa, this was the highlight of the buffet.

2) The dessert spread. I kept returning to the dessert spread even before the appetizers, thanks to the unbeatable dessert troika of an unbelievable chocolate fountain that one could dip several goodies into, including marshmallows and pretzels; an impeccable bread pudding whose delightful sweetness and cold temperature, I kid you not, makes it one of the best desserts I’ve ever had despite its criminally boring name, and Mario’s signature canonigo, which was irresistibly light and wonderfully sweet without being cloying.

3) Oysters Rockefeller. Cathy and I love oysters, and we’ve had oysters at some of the places that tout themselves as the best oyster places in town, including Rockefeller and Via Mare’s Oyster Bar. Compared to the oysters at Mario’s Restaurant Tomas Morato, forget it. No contest. Some of the best oysters in town. (Well, Capisce along Meralco Avenue also has some pretty awesome oysters in their selection.)

4) Potato balls! I didn’t think I’d enjoy these babies so much, but OH MY SWEET LORD, this must be what heaven takes like! Not oily at all, with the right mix of butter and cheese and… ahhhhhh.

Mario’s Quezon City is located at Tomas Morato corner Scout Gandia in Quezon City. Contact numbers are 415-3887 or 372-0360. Do go! It’s so worth it, at PHP475/head.

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Kashi Go Lean Protein & High Fiber Cereal

Product: Go Lean Protein & High Fiber Cereal
Producer: Kashi Company
Local Availability: Rustan’s Supermarkets; Landmark
Price: PHP237
In a Nutshell: Generally good; crunchy; not very sweet
My Verdict: A more-than-decent addition to any organic food lover’s breakfast selections, but select

Part of my fitness goals is to encourage the consumption of healthier, preferably organic food in my family. My daughter Nicki is on the organic food diet full time, thanks to Earth’s Best baby foods, but my wife Cathy, my son Nathan, and I still have to make a greater effort to eat healthier.

I picked up Go Lean Protein & High Fiber Cereal from Kashi Company after I finished my box of Nature’s Path Optimum Power cereal, which is still tops on my organic breakfast food favorites list. Go Lean is a lightly sweetened mix of crunchy fiber twigs, crispy soy protein grahams, and honey-toasted 7 Whole Grains and Sesame Puffs (the unique selling point of Kashi is how it incorporates seven whole grains into every one of its products). Just one serving of Go Lean supplies 40% of my daily fiber needs and 20% of my daily protein needs. For someone on a diet, this is a great help.

How does Go Lean Protein & High Fiber Cereal measure up? In general, it’s quite good. Texture is varied, with a good crunch. Without dried fruit, its flavor is relatively one-dimensional, so I actually mixed a bit of Nature’s Path Heritage Granola with Raspberries in there to add some fruity dimension. I’ll probably go and pick up some dried fruits later to make it even more special.

I’ve told my officemates Lean and Ross that my breakfast food is now hamster food. LOL I don’t think that’s a problem. Lifestyle/Diet changes are usually hard to implement at the start, but once you get going, the results will definitely be worth the effort.

I want pictures of you eating balut!

Two separate articles – on Cracked.com and Wired.com – and a good spot on Fear Factor have identified the Philippines’ ubiquitous balut as one of the most curious yet terrifying foods on earth. The majority of Filipinos heave a collective What?! in disbelief.

Wired.com defines balut as duck eggs that have been incubated until the fetus is all feathery and beaky, and then boiled alive. When served hot with rock salt, balut can be a delightful, albeit messy experience! Eating balut essentially consists of four steps:

1) Crack open shell. Sprinkle rock salt, and slurp out the ‘soup.’

2) Peel away shell shards. Depending on which side you’ve opened on, feast on either yellow yolk or duck fetus.

3) Feast on the remaining parts of the egg, sans shell. Your call whether you’d care to eat the rather tough white part.

4) Wipe hands, drink soda or beer, and burp loudly to signal your appreciation of the balut.

Balut is delightful! Looking at the list provided by Cracked.com, I find myself even more repulsed by Iraq’s pacha, which is boiled sheep’s head (served whole, that’s right), or Italy’s casu marzu, a sheep’s milk cheese infested with fly maggots that, upon ingestion, can pass through the stomach undigested to breed in the intestine, causing vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Compared to these two, balut is awesome! Well, to each his own, I suppose.

If there are any balut lovers out there, I dare you to send me some photos of you eating balut! I have some pix of me eating balut,right after the jump. (Pic, by the way, from My Sarisari Store.) Continue reading “I want pictures of you eating balut!”