Coffee Shop Saturday: Gift Avenue Cafe

I think I found a really nice coffee shop to hang out.

I’m browsing through my IG, when I saw a post about this new coffee shop in Gateway Mall in Cubao called Gift Avenue Cafe. Since I frequent Cubao and that mall due to my long commute, and because I was a little pissed off about something,  I decided to check it out today.

What brought my attention to this coffee shop is their nicely designed lattes, and that there are other knick-knacks (jewelries, stationeries, planners, art sets, etc) that you can buy from them, aside from coffee and snacks.

However, being familiar with the mall, I’m not sure where exactly in the ground floor they are located. Good thing I asked the guard where they are, I got to figure out their location (They are right next to BDO).

It’s a small cafe, quite homey in my own opinion. It’s not as crowded as the well-known coffee shops in the area, so there are a lot of available seats. I chose to sit at the table right next to their gift shelves.

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There’s also a lounge area with a nicely painted and hand drawn wall. I wanted to sit at that side, but there are some people in that area, and my social anxiety kicked in again. The lighting is very nice, and I like the design of their ceiling lamps.

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I ordered the Hazelnut Latte and Classic Sansrival. I like how nutty the sansrival is, but I had a little problem scooping the bottom part of it. The sweetness is just right.

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The latte is also just right. It was not too sweet and not too bitter. It suits my tastebud.

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I actually liked how the latte complimented the sansrival. I think I found a really good food combination with these two.

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Although I had a short stay here, I enjoyed the atmosphere, as well as the food. I think this will be my new favorite hangout.

 

 

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Choco Diaries: My Favorite Choco Candies

Who doesn’t love chocolates? Unless, of course, if one is allergic to it. I admit, I’m a chocoholic. It’s may go-to food when I’m hungry, when I’m stressed and when I need to stay awake.

Over the years, there are brands or types of chocolates that I have come to love. Most of them are the ones that I include in my grocery shopping list, others are the ones that I request from friends who go abroad. Here are some of my faves.

Cloud 9

This has been my favorite ever since I was young. It is a classic. It was my companion during sleepless nights during my finals. The combination of chocolate and nougat made this chewy concoction a hit for me.

Image grabbed from topten.ph

Big Bang 

Not the K-pop boyband. Big Bang is as classic as Cloud 9. It’s like Cloud 9, except that instead of peanuts, you’ll get rice crispies. Recently, they added a new twist to this chocolate, and they now have a blueberry and cheese flavor.

New find #bigbang #bluberryandcheese

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Dutch Treat

This is the chocolate that doesn’t break my budget. At Php 30 (well, at least here in Montalban), you can buy a pack of 12. It has the kind of sweet that kids would love. I love how the krispies makes this a little crunchy.

Peborit #chocodiaries #foodgram #foodgrammerph

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Dual Choco

What I like about this chocolate is the surprise inside – it’s peanut butter (me thinks)! This is like the small and cheap version of Reese’s. This chocolate reminds me of the candies I used to buy in the mall back in 2005-2006, where they set the price by weight.

Dual choco #chocodiaries #keisieats #foodgram

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Caramilk

Ahhh… the gooeyness goodie that is Caramilk. I always always buy a bar of this whenever I stop by the grocery store to buy dinner. Caramilk is life for me. I love that when I take a bite of this rich and milky chocolate, golden sweet caramel oozes out of this treasure. I sure hope my friend would bring me back some a couple of this when he comes home from Canada.

Rolo

If Cadbury gas Caramilk, Nestle has Rolo. One of the chocolates that made me sane during my stint in Canada. It’s like Caramilk – inside is the golden delicious caramel that drips down when you bite it. If you make me choose between the two, I will choose both.

Dont mind the Reese’s bar

Rolo not only comes in bar, it also comes in time round candies like below. Still, it’s filled with caramel.

Mini rolo #chocodiaries #sonyxperiac3 #xperiagraphy #xperiatography

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Meiji Choco Baby

Let’s go Japanese this time. Choco Baby is one of those Meiji chocolates I really like. These babies come in tiny bits, and you can’t help but take a bite after another. Soon after, you’ll find yourself with an empty box (?). Seems like the smiley face on this chocolate candy has a hint of caramel.

It's been a long time since I had one of this baby #chocobaby #chocodiaries

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Venus

Honestly, when I first saw this in 7-11, I thought this chocolate is expensive. But I was wrong. It was very affordable! The one I got, which is Toffee flavor, has a toffee or caramel inside the milky chocolate sqaures. It’s like Rolo, but cheaper. They have other flavors too, which I have yet to try.

Been wanting to buy this one but I thought it was expensive #chocodiaries #foodonmybed

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Meiji Apollo

These little chocolate cones come in blueberry and strawberry, but I guess the most common here is the strawberry. What I love about this is that it’s not that sweet, and it tastes more of strawberry than chocolate. You know life is good when you open a box of this, and you smell the scent of this strawberry-infused chocolate.

In threes #meijiapollo #chocodiaries

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Choco Power

Another 7-11 find. This is rather difficult to eat. It’s like melted chocolate inside the tube, and you need to push it to the top (like what you do with a toothpaste), and then suck the chocolate. The difficult part is when there’s a few more choco liquid remaining inside, but you can’t push it to come out. Still, one of the good chocolates I found.

Dark choco version of chocolate power… like thus one better #chocodiaries

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Aero and Cadbury Bubbly

It’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. No, just kidding. It’s hard on the outside, but soft inside, just like me. I love sinking my teeth into the bubbly inside of this chocolate. It is light, crumbly and velvety. However, Cadbury has the richer chocolate and less crumbly. What I like about Aero though is it’s different flavors. Just like the strawberry flavor below.

Flat Tops and Curly Tops

I seriously have no idea what’s the difference between the two. They both tastes the same. Maybe it’s because flat tops is flat and curly tops has a curly swirl on top? Still, this is a childhood favorite. If I want pure and decadent milk chocolate, without any add-ons like nougat, nuts or rice crisps, I go for this one.

Image from tsikot.com

Image from topten.ph

There are a lot more chocolates that I love, but I’ll discuss it on another day. How about you, what’s your favorite chocolate candy?

Coffee Shop Saturday: Kopi Roti

Back when I was working in Makati, when I needed an iced coffee fix and I don’t have money to buy Starbucks coffee, my go to place is Kopi Roti. It’s just a stone’s throw away from my office – all I have to do is just cross the street.

What I liked about Kopi Roti is that their drinks are very affordable. It has that kick that could make me awake throughout the day. Their food is affordable as well, that’s why most of the time, I prefer to buy here than the other expensive  coffee shops.

Sadly, when I moved to another company, I was not able to got to buy nor taste their coffees again. Having an acid reflux made it difficult for me as well. Although there are a few branches of Kopi Roti near my previous place, I wasn’t able to visit it because I don’t always have the time.

I realized that their Tomas Morato shop is near the building where I pay my house amortization is. And so, I decided to pay it a visit and get a taste of my favorites.

I  ordered their Set B1 Meal, which is coffee and kaya toast. I changed the coffee to Iced Choco, since I need to sleep when I get home. Aside from that, I also ordered their french toast, with a side of kaya jam and butter. I wanted to order kaya puff, but unfortunately, it was not available during that time.

I've been craving for this for five years now #kopiroti #kayatoast #frenchtoast #kayajam #keisieats #foodgrammerph #foodgram

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The taste is the same as I remembered it. The french toast is soft and fluffy. I love the kaya jam so  much. It has the right amount of sweetness. It does pair well with their french toast. I remember asking the staff a few years back  if they sell the kaya jam, but unfortunately, they don’t. In case they do, I’d probably be buying a jar of it.

French toast with kaya jam #keisieats #foodgrammerph #foodgram

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The kaya toast, on the other hand is on the borderline of soft and crispy. The combination of the toasted bread, butter and kaya jam is superb. Although some of the slices has more butter than kaya jam, nevertheless, I enjoyed the toast.

I've been craving for this for five years now #kopiroti #kayatoast #frenchtoast #kayajam #keisieats #foodgrammerph #foodgram

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The iced choco capped  off my meal. It just has the right taste  of chocolate, and it’s a good way to cool off.

#keisieats #foodgram #foodgrammerph

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Overall, I enjoyed my meal here. I feel so nostalgic as I tasted the food, as it took me back to my 20s, when I was starting in the IT industry after a career shift. Kopi Roti gives you a good taste of Singaporean coffee, and some of  its food without having to break a bank.

Payday Lunch: Slammin’ Mini Burger + Omakase + Carousel Creamery

After the hot air balloon fiesta, my best friend asked me if I wanted to watch a movie the day before Valentine’s day. And since I am on vacation leave, I agreed. We planned it as our Valentine’s day, since we both don’t have dates for that day.

We met at the Promenade in Greenhills. Since she message she will be late, I decided to get something to eat first since I didn’t have any breakfast. I chanced upon Slammin’ Mini Burger. I’ve been seeing them in Instagram before, and I’ve been wanting to get some of their burgers.

I ordered Bacon N’ Mushroom, Fries with cheesy dip and blue lemonade.

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I was ready to buy more food in case it didn’t satisfy my hunger, but I was surprised that I got full. The burgers were very filling, and it didn’t feel small at all! I wish all burgers are like this.

After the movies, we met her daughter, and decided to have early dinner at Italiani’s. However, we were not able to find it. We settled to have dinner at Omakase instead.

What caught my eyes were the big Japanese dolls installed on the walls. The place has a kawaii vibe in it.

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Kawaii doll

I’m not a fan of sushis and makis, however, there are some Japanese food that I really like. The only sushi I got to enjoy was the one from Kingsway Sushi in Canada. We ordered the Seafood Crepe Salad, JSC Platter, and okonomiyaki.

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Seafood Crepe Salad

I really enjoyed the salad. I like the texture of the tuna, crab, squid and shrimp. It’s very creamy, and the tuna tastes fresh. The serving is just right for the three of us, and it’s very filling.

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Okononmiyaki

Our next order is the okonomiyaki. To be honest, I only ordered this because I’ve been seeing this in Japanese movies and J-doramas. This is the part I got full. I only had one slice, and before I know it, I only have a few room in my tummy. It has an eggy, pancakey texture, and the taste is exactly how I imagined it to be – not sweet, and not too savory. It’s just right for my picky tongue. I didn’t manage to finsh a second slice of this, though.

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JRS Platter

Now, this one got us all really full. Although I don’t like sushi, I did quite enjoy the maki in this platter. I’m not a fan of their mayo sauce, as I feel it made the sushi much sweeter.

After we had our dinner, we decided to have dessert somewhere near. We wanted to have cake or ice cream, as we already had coffee before we watched a movie. We were supposed to go to Conti’s, but we found Carousel Creamery just outside Promenade.

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Just a portion of their many ice cream flavors

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It’s hard to choose from their 101 unique flavors, and ordering which ones we like is a big challenge for the three of us. We settled on 2 orders of Triple. Finally, we decided on the flavor of ice cream that we wanted to try.

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My best friend ordered Red Velvet and Mango Speculoos, her daughter ordered S’mores Wine and Chocolate Cookie Dough, and I ordered Maple & Bacon and Cherry Cheescake

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Mango Speculoos, S’mores Wine and Chocolate Cookie Dough

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Cherry Cheesecake, Red Velvet, Maple and Bacon

The ice creams were flavorful. It tastes exactly as what it’s named after. I liked the Maple and Bacon, because it tastes like pure maple syrup. The Cherry Cheesecake is filled with chunky cherries, and I could taste the cherry liqueur. There is really wine in S’mores Wine. We love how sweet and chunky the Mango Speculoos, and the Chocolate Cookie Dough tastes like the batter of the chocolate chip cookie.

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Banana Cinnamon, Baileys, Toffee Vanilla

We craved for more, so we ordered three more scoops of ice cream. Banana Cinnamon was too sweet. There is a kick of alcohol in Baileys. And the Toffee Vanilla was a surprise, as the combination of toffee and vanilla was just right.

We were very full and satisfied by the end of the night. We enjoyed our pre-valentines date. Who says you need a special someone to be happy on hearts day? All that matters to me is good food, and company of my best friend.

Payday Lunch at Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken

It’s been a long time since I last made an entry for Payday Lunch. Part of it is because we’re already back at the night shift (PST hours), and only fast food chains are open during our all-nighters. Big part of it is because we’re saving up more money.

And since it’s payday, and my high school best friends and I are meeting up,I decided to splurge for lunch. The restaurant I chose is Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken at Gateway Mall, Cubao.

I first tasted peri-peri chicken back in Canada. It was our first week of training then, and since we were still lazy to cook our own lunch, we join the rest of the Filipinos who were onshore back then for a lunch at Nando’s Peri-Peri Chicken.

Though there’s no Nando’s yet here in the Philippines, I’m thrilled to see that there’s a restaurant that serves peri-peri chicken that’s (almost) near my place.

From what I have researched so far, peri-peri refers to the marinade used for the chicken. It is made from crushed chillies, citrus peel, onion, pepper, salt, lemon juice, bay leaves, paprika, pimiento, basil, oregano, and tarragon. It originated in Africa, and was created when Portuguese settlers arrived with chilli peppers.

So going back to our lunch. The restaurant had a good vibe once you come in. It looked like you stepped into a Hispanic home. What caught my eye was the wall with the name of their six sauces on it.

Wall of Sauce

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The place is decoarated with mason jar lighting and red, figurines of chickens, yellow and green colored bottles. I wasn’t able to take a picture of the interior as I was too shy to do so hahahaha.

Since I was the first to arrive (as always), I decided to order an appetizer. I  ordered their Crispy Baby Squid.

Crispy Baby Squid #keisieats #foodphotography #foodgrammerph

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It is served with a wedge of line, marinara sauce and tartar sauce. I like how soft it is to chew. However, there is still a briny after taste. Although I like my seafood with tartar sauce, the marinara sauce is good combination, as it take away any of its after taste.

Once the girls arrived, we ordered our main dish. We decided to order their Chicken And Rib Platter for the four of us. It includes a whole chicken, half slab of rib, two side dishes (carrot and corn, and coleslaw) and four small bowls of java rice.

Today's lunch #keisieats #foodphotography #foodgrammerph

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The platter is also served alongside their six sauces. Honestly, I was surprised at how big the servings are. The bowl of rice is more than enough for one person.

Peri-peri chicken #keisieats #foodphotography #foodgrammerph

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Their chicken was large. It was soft to chew, and falls off the bone. I got the breat part, and while my friend complained about it being dry (maybe because she got the leg part?), I found it somewhat moist. I like how the marinade compliments the chicken. The marinade is not too overpowering and not too spicy. I tried the chicken with the six sauces, and our conclusion is that it tastes good with their chili choc’lit.

BBQ Back Ribs #keisieats #foodphotography #foodgrammerph

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As for their BBQ Back Ribs, I could say I was a little  bit disappointed with it. I’m not sure if they used the same marinade as the chicken, but I was expecting the bbq ribs to  be sweet, but it had a strong taste, which I believe came from the rub or the barbecue sauce. It is also soft and east falls off the bone, so that makes up for my disappointment.

Overall, I enjoyed my lunch at Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken. I’m looking forward to come back here, and try their other dishes.

Kitchen Misadventures: Banana Graham in a Mug

I have a lot of time in my hands, I know. Since I had almost a heart attack by eating too much fatty Tapa, I decided to have a change of diet and decrease eating rice, which I resolve that I would only eat once a day, every other day. So in between eating oatmeal and banana, I need to find a way to be more creative with them.

Since I’m craving for something sweet, and I want to eat a graham cake, I decided to do a Banana Graham cake in a mug.

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Luckily, I have the needed ingredients available. I used a single pack of Graham crackers, bananas, condensed cream and whipped cream.

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I crushed the Graham cracker first.I put a few pieces of it at the bottom of the mug. Then, I added a some condensed milk.

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I then added the sliced bananas and topped it with a whipped cream.

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Then I added the crushed graham crackers again and condensed milk. Then topped it with banana and whipped cream.

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I just repeat the process till it filled my mug.

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I could have chilled this one first. But I’m really hungry, and the condensed milk and whipped cream is chilled anyway, so I decided the eat it right away. So far, this is the tastiest and easiest food I ever made.

 

 

Kitchen Misadventures: Cheesy Cheese Sticks

I have no plans of celebrating Christmas this year. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t have plans to cook something for this occasion. I planned to do my carbonara, but this time, with just tuna and bacon, and not too spicy. Another food I had in mind to cook is my cheese sticks.

My cheese sticks has always been a hit during our team building, as it goes well with the booze. I also love how soft and chewy the cheese becomes when I cook it.

And so, I bought a block of cheese and some lumpia wrappers. I didn’t use a quick melt cheese, because as per experience, those would leak when I dip fry it. I chose a regular eden cheese.

First, I cut the cheese into strips so that it would be easier to roll it to the wrapper.

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I cute the wrapper into 4. Since it’s a circle, I made 4 triangular wrappers for the cheese strips. Then, I rolled 1 strip to the wrapper from the rounded side.Good thing the wrapper I bought doesn’t easily dry up.

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To close the wrapper, I had to dip  the pointed tip of the wrapper in water. I had to refrigerate them for a day so that it  would somehow retain it’s shape.

Then the next day, I (almost) dip-fried the cheese sticks until it’s golden brown.

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Here’s how it looks like when done.

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Works well with mayonaise and ketchup. Goes well as “pulutan”.

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Ingredients:

1 block Eden cheese

1 pack lumpia wrapper (the round one), cut into 4

Water for closing the wrapper

Oil for dip frying

Mayo and ketchup for dip (or any dipping sauce that you like)