Sunday, May 1, 2016

Get your fix of yummy baked goodies from the newly opened Bellefleur by Beatrix in Greenhills

Beatrix, the maker or should I say baker behind the yummy pastries of Bellefleur by Beatrix, has been a popular home baker for several years now. I remember blogging about their Lemon Meringue Cupcakes in 2013, which you can read about here.

Since then, I've seen their posts on Facebook of beautiful cakes, cupcakes, breads and other treats, and they look so yummy they make me drool. I am so happy they finally opened a shop in Greenhills, at the newly opened 8 Missouri complex near Chili's and Starbucks, at the same complex where Craft, the popular new Ice Cream place, Dohtonbori and Shrimp Bucket is located. It's just so much easier to go to a shop and see what's available then to order from a home baker.

My sister brought home a selection of goodies last weekend, but I was so excited to see what they were selling that I also passed by on my way home from work to see for myself what I they had.

I was so happy to meet Beatrix the baker for the first time,
because I love the stuff she bakes.

They have a well curated selection of goodies, and while we haven't tried everything yet, we do have some favorites.

We absolutely loved the Dark Chocolate with Sprinkles Cupcake. The combination of the icing and moist dark chocolate cupcake really hits the spot, because it's not too sweet.
The Cupcakes were Php70 for Individual Cupcakes,
Php60 each for Box of 6 or 12.
They also have Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes (with yummy buttery icing)
and Red Velvet Cupcakes.
They also have a selection of not too common offerings and I must say,
these are things that will keep me coming back for more.

Maple Bacon Cinnamon Bun (Php90)
I was intrigued by the thought of Bacon in a Cinnamon
Bun because I can't resist anything salty-sweet that is
pulled off well.
I had it for breakfast at work the next day and I loved how a full strip of
bacon was coiled into the bun. I started allocating it to have some bacon
with every bite. Yumm...

Pull-Apart Soft Load (Php100)
I bought the Pull-Apart soft loaf for my daughter because she loves
soft bread, but I ended up eating it myself. Hahaha.
This was my breakfast in the car, 2 days after. The bread was still soft.
but I lightly toaster it to melt the truffle cheese that I topped it with.
Another clear winner! I think this will also taste good topped with strawberry
jam for another salty-sweet win!

Smores Brownies (Php60)
Another favorite of ours is the Smores Brownie. We love eating this for dessert, because we just remove the paper, put it on a plate, pop it in the microwave for around 30 seconds (or until the marshmallow starts to expand), and Voila! You have a freshly baked dessert of semi-gooey marshmallow on a warm moist brownie that sits on a yummy graham cracker crust.   

Calamansi and Cheddar White Chocolate Chip Cookie (Php50)
This one was such a winner that I ate it all, so I had no photos for the blog, then I craved for it, so I had to ask my sister to pass any buy us more. It's a big chewy cookie, where the calamansi provides a refreshing twist that's not too strong to be considered tart, and the cheddar bits are a pleasant chewy surprise that balance the white chocolate chips.

It was nice meeting the Bellefleur crew when I dropped by.
Hello Carol, Kim and Beatrix :)
I loved my goodies, thanks for letting me into your shop for the photo op.

Their prices are very reasonable, because the quality is good.  Though keep in mind that they don't have any seating, so you can buy your dessert to enjoy at home, or wherever you plan to grab coffee. 

I can't wait to go back for more smores, and dark chocololate cupcakes, and maple bacon cinnamon buns, (because I already have more cookies) and I want to try more stuff too of course.  Good thing, Bellefleur by Beatrix is on the my way home from work. just saying.

Bellefleur by Beatrix
8 Missouri St, San Juan, 
1503 Metro Manila

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Only got a taste of Bali, Must come back for more

I had to go to Bali for work last month, and I must say, that short visit, just left me wanting for more. The timing was less than ideal, since it was just a few days before I had to fly to Europe. Otherwise, I would have been tempted to extend for pleasure. I've been to Bali before, close to 10 years ago, but if memory serves me right, I only got to visit the beaches.

If there is one thing that surprised me about this trip, it was the realization that Bali as an island was quite big. It's known as a tourist destination, with so much to offer. Just a trip to Ubud, in the mountain-side was already an hour away from the airport.

We stayed at the Plataran Ubud Hotel and Spa for the first few days of our meeting, and we were in this wonderful place surrounded by rice fields. I never realized how peaceful or how beautiful that would be.
Yummy Rosella Tea with Chia Seeds as Welcome Drink

The rooms have a nice view of the pool overlooking the rice fields.
View from the Room
View of the rooms from the pool.

They also have a smaller pool and a gym on the other side, again beside the rice fields.

I wasn't able to enjoy the hotel much, because I was rushing to attend a Silver Jewellery Workshop right after I arrived from the airport.
Make My Own Jewellery - Bucket List - CHECK
More details in a separate post.

We were also able to squeeze in a Balinese Massage. I don't remember the name of the place we visited, but again it was beautiful. We had our massage in huts, right beside the rice fields (again!) hahaha.

The Spa Rooms had a bit of a rustic feel to it. But it was very relaxing, complete with an option to take a shower after the massage, if you just manage to figure out which bottle is the shampoo and which one is the body wash. If you mix it up like I did, you'll just end up feeling like the oil is still there even after showering three times.

We finished our massage just in time to catch the sunset.

Another Bali Highlight, which I think I remember doing during my first visit was to have a seafood sunset dinner by Jimabaran Beach.

I am not really a seafood fan, but let me tell you that I think this was the best seafood meal I have ever had. Hahaha.
These clams were so good, I think I managed to finish a whole platter all
by myself.
Best Clams Ever. I think it was generously seasoned with Bango and Butter.
The food is not only exceptional, the place is very beautiful too.

Sadly, we moved to Nusa Dua, just in time for me to catch an early flight back home.
I would have really enjoyed spending time here.
This just means I will be back.

See you soon, Bali! That was a lovely teaser, but definitely not enough. just saying.

Plataran Ubud Hotel and Spa
Jl. Raya Hanoman Pengosekan, 
Ubud, Kec. Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia

Silver Class at WS Art Studio 
Jl. Raya Silungan,
Lodtunduh – Ubud

Grand Nikko Nusa Dua Bali
Jl. Nusa Dua Selatan, Benoa, Nusa Dua, 
Kabupaten Badung, Bali, Indonesia

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lady M Crepe Cakes in Singapore

Last time I was in Singapore, Tim and Fredy took me to Lady M for dessert. I didn't really expect much, because Fredy managed my expectations by telling me it was overrated, but very popular nowadays. I was willing to try it, with the ulterior motive that I may be able to squeeze in some shopping time, and I was right!

It seems Lady M opened recently in Singapore, as part of their Asian expansion
 and it seems they are popular in New York (but I haven't heard of them).
They're famous for the Crepe Cakes, and it comes in different flavors.

We arrived just a few minutes shy of closing time and the timing was great because they still let us in to order, and they didn't really pressure us to hurry up and go.
It's big and looks quite hip from the inside. You need to enter from the
second floor.
We had the Matcha Crepe Cake which was excellent, and I wanted to try
the Strawberry Mille Feuille, which was not a best seller, and wasn't really
worth the calories.
This is their menu. They have exclusive cakes per
branch, and special cakes for the month.

I thought it was quite good, but Fredy was quick to point out that we didn't have to line up to get a table. He said, there normally is a long queue, which makes the place overrated since it's not special enough to line up for. I guess I will agree with him, because their Mille Feuille was really bad. Hahaha, so come at closing to be safe, and just order the crepe cakes so you can enjoy your Lady M experience, and when you see it in New York, this time you can decide if it's worth lining up for. just saying.

Orchard Central Shopping Mall
181 Orchard Road, Orchard Central
#01-27 & #02-07
Singapore 238896
Opening Hours:
Daily 11am to 10pm
Telephone +65 6509 3673

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Paris for Kids (aka Sofia's Paris To Do List)

I had an ulterior motive for planning a trip to Paris with Sofia. I want her to fall in love with it as much as I did. The last time Sofia visited Paris, it was only for the weekend, so I don't think it did the place much justice, especially since one of the things she remembers is that I kept feeding her Pain Au Chocolat, and she was hungry for real food (aka McDonald's) when we got back to London. You can read about that weekend here.

This time, I told Sofia to prepare a list of what she wanted to do in Paris, by researching on the internet. This is what she came up with, together with some things we added as we discovered them during our trip.

1. Eat Pain Au Chocolat
She didn't mean for all meals, unlike last time. But even Sofia knows, the best Pain Au Chocolat comes from France, and you can't go home without having one.
Pain Au Chocolat - CHECK! This was our first
meal/snack while walking around Montmartre.

2. Visit the Eiffel Tower - during the night
Eiffel Tower from Trocadero
(currently under construction, so limited access to go closer to the tower)

3. Visit the Eiffel Tower - during the day
Eiffel Tower from Champ de Mars (via Bus 69) We caught the Eiffel Tower
 on our last day. Photos taken at 7:30pm just before sunset.
4. Disneyland Paris
Because the last time we went all we did was stand in
line and ride the train. You can read about that disaster here.

5. Museum National D'Histoire Naturelle at Jardin des Plantes
This one was quite tricky, because based on Sofia's research she knew she wanted to visit the Natural History Museum in Paris which was located in Jardin des Plantes. The tricky thing is there are several museums (which all charge separate entrance fees) located at Jardin des Plantes, and we had to figure out which one she really wanted to visit, which has the one with the dinosaur bones.

Our first time at Jardin des Plantes. The big building at the back seems to
be the main museum, Grande Galerie de L'Evolution.
That's not what we wanted to visit.
Someone was coincidentally dressed for the occasion.

The museum we wanted was the Galeries d’Anatomie comparée et de Paléontologie, it's the one closest to the entrance if you arrive through Gare d'Austerlitz. Entrance fee is reasonable at 7€ for adults, and free for those under 26 years old.
Sof had blast, even going around to take her own photos. You can download
the app if you wish, but going around is entertaining enough.
Proud of her free ticket, but since she's exactly like me, she couldn't
leave without buying anything from the museum store. Hahaha.

6. Champs Elysees for Kids 
This wasn't really on Sofia's original list, she only had 5, but she had so much fun, it made the final cut.
Kids can do the crab dance.
But the real highlight is visiting the different car showrooms that line the famous Avenue. They surprisingly are very interactive, and have a lot of activities for kids. We only entered two, but I also saw a few more which we can visit next time.

Le Rendez-Vous Toyota at 79, Avenue des Champs Elysées, 75008 Paris
You can visit their website here.
They have coloring pages for kids, as well as interactive games to check
your reflexes, in addition to the show room ofcourse!

If you thought that was interesting, we found L'Atelier Renault at 53, Avenue des Champs Élysées
75008 Paris, even more interesting. You can visit their website here
They have an activity where you power Twiggy (the car) through jumping.
You can do it yourself or compete with someone.
They level up coloring as well, because after you decorate your car,
you can scan it and see it run through the virtual tracks.
They also have a big screen, and if you go closer, also a screen down below.
Then they have the usual showroom where you can enter the cars, a shop
where you can buy the miniature ones, a photo booth and
a restaurant/cafe (not in photo).

We were able to do everything on Sofia's original list and more, but as we were waiting to board our flight to Pisa, we saw this really cool Paris for Kids Guidebook in English from the Orly Airport, so we had to buy it to prepare for our last day back.
Best Guidebook for kids, if I may say so myself.
I even learned some new things about Paris.

Our last day of vacation, after the Pisa, CinqueTerre and Florence legs of our trip was a bit stressful.
Our flight from Florence got horribly delayed due to a water leak on the plane, where it took them forever to decide that we were safe to fly, but no one was allowed to use the toilets. All I could think of was it was good this did not happen had we taken the flight the next day because that would have caused us to miss our flight home and bring on a lot more stress.

Sofia had a new Paris To Do List after reading her book, but first, we went for a really late lunch at 4:00pm.

7. Bouillon Chartier the oldest Brasserie in Paris, open since 1896 which has been popular ever since because they are known for providing decent food at a reasonable price. We actually read about this place in Sofia's book, but what clinched the decision for us to visit was it's location. It was less than 10 minutes away from our hotel in the Opera area, and we thought it was a good time to visit since they are known to have really long lines because they cater to both tourists who are curious about the place, and locals who are looking for a good value meal in Paris (which isn't that easy to find).  Bouillon Chartier is at 7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 75009 Paris, France, you can visit their website here.
Yes, they are busy even at 4:00pm, and we couldn't resist including a photo
of their toilet which is a replica of a Metro Station. Did you know that all
the Metro Stations have white tiles to provide more light for people reading
their newspapers? Thanks to Sofia's book for that tidbit as well.
More on the food on a separate post.

After lunch, Ady decided she was done sightseeing and opted to maximize our posh hotel instead, while Sofia insisted that we continue with her Paris To Do List even if it was already nearing 6:00pm.

To fully enjoy Paris, I convinced Sofia to walk down from Opera all the way to the Louvre (which should have taken us less than 20 minutes), except we kept on getting distracted along the way, which is half the fun.

Did you know that a lot of Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese Restaurants line the street that connects Boulevard Haussman to Rue de Rivoli? That's new to me as well, though I knew that I had to go to the 13th Arrondisement whenever I was homesick for Chinese food.

We passed our street on the way...

6. Pyramid du Louvre
In the book, Sofia read about the Louvre, and how it used to be a real palace where the King of France lived. We only had time to take photos by the pyramid, but next time we will be back to visit Mona Lisa. (Ideally on the first Sunday of the month so we can enter for free). 
With the Louvre reflected on Sofia's shades...
while waiting for Bus 69.

7. Take Bus 69 to most of the major sights in Paris (and if you bought a Carnet ticket - your ticket is valid for 90mins since it was first validated - just show it to the driver and you can ride again, so it's like your very own Hop On Hop Off bus all for the price of €1,41 per ticket if you buy a carnet)

We took Bus 69 from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, just in time to catch it before sunset, as pictured above (Number 3). Then from the Eiffel Tower we headed back to Notre Dame, using the same bus ticket, on Bus 69 getting off at Hotel De Ville.

8. Gargoyles at Notre Dame
We read from the book that the Gargoyles at Notre Dame were created to protect the walls of the cathedral from rainwater. Not something I would immediately think off.
Sof was a bit disappointed though that it was hard to see the Gargoyles
with the naked eye, unless you climb up. Good thing there were replicas
in the souvenir stores near the Seine.

9. Enjoy Paris at Night by the Seine
Not on the original list, but too beautiful not to add

10. Visit the Bouquinists or second-hand booksellers by the Seine. 
Sofia was looking forward to browsing to see if they had anything for kids, but they were already closing and packing up when we arrived. We will definitely do this when we come back.

Other bonus things we added to the list include...
11. Order a Beurre et Sucre Crepe (Butter and Sugar) from a street-side Creperie
This one is from the Creperie in Saint Michel. I also like the one beside
Centre Georges Pompidou.

12. Visit one of the old covered Shopping Passages in Paris, where ladies used to shop so they wouldn't get wet in the rain. Yes, this was also from the book, which we accidentally passed because it was close to our hotel (and next door to Musee Grevin or Wax Museum).
Passage Jouffroy runs between the Boulevard Montmartre to the
south and the rue de la Grange-Batelière to the north.

and I am sure, for next time, Sofia will say...
13. Eat at Leon de Bruxelles 
Multiple branches in Paris, visit their website here.
Sofia's favorite restaurant in Paris, she made us eat here twice!
Some tips, if you're a child, you can ask for a toy if they forget to give you one.
You can also order from the Kid's Menu. It comes with a drink and dessert.

I hope this post gave you ideas on what to do in Paris, when you visit with your kids. I found that the best way to do it, is to show them the options, in an easy to understand and interesting manner and let them decide. With a few more trips like this one, I am sure Sofia will soon love Paris as much as I do, if she doesn't already. just saying.

You can read the first post on our Paris Trip 2016 here to see the other things we did (more of shopping and eating actually.