Thursday, February 19, 2015

Another year more blessed, another year wiser and another year of more travels

The title makes it sound nice, but in reality, I just turned a year older today (UK time) or yesterday (Philippine time).

I haven't had a chance to reply to all the greetings I received and I'll get to that, but I just want to write this post of thanks to everyone who really went out of their way to make me feel special.

A special shout out to the following...

Thank you to my team, also known as my kids at work.
They surprised me with brunch, posh balloons and stolen roses a day before
my birthday.
Really the  Best Team Ever! You make me really proud to be part of our team.

Then today I got another surprise, from the CMDLT, in the middle of "one of those will-this-meeting-never-end days" that conflicts with more meetings that you also absolutely need to attend.
Hectic much, but the cake was yummy and thanks for the flowers Mykee!
and thanks for the Photo Clint!

Then, I was called to go to my other meeting because it was starting ASAP - which was false alarm, because my office babies (yes, I attract people who like to eat!) gave me another birthday surprise.
Thanks for the false alarm Der!
And thank you babies for your well-thought out emergency Otis to the rescue
gift basket! In fairness, your gift also reminds me of you! Hahahaha.
Hello - Jelly Belly Judger JV!

This week has been super hectic at work because I'm really looking forward to going on vacation (thus the blogging at 1:48am pretending that I'm already in London where it's only 5:48pm so I can get a head start on the jetlag) so I was really happy to leave the office - and work for 6 days and spend quality time with my family before flying off.

I've been wanting to try Duck & Buvette (D&B) in Shangri-La for a long time now, but I've never gotten a chance for one reason or the other, so when Cardinal Tagle exempted Chinese-Filipinos from fasting and abstinence on Ash Wed, I told my family that this was really where I wanted to eat.

D&B is owned and run by Chef Jacq - a really close friend from HS until
we drifted apart, HS small issues I don't even remember. Anyway,
I bugged her for a reservation and we were really impressed with the food.
Duck Confit and the Beef Burgundy for the win!!! and everything else was good too - at very reasonable prices for the quality you're getting I may add, it definitely deserves a separate post for another day when I have had enough sleep.
If you pass by D&B and you have no plans of eating, just grab one of their
Macaron Ice Cream desserts instead. Home made and also so good
Jacq sent Sofia the Strawberry Choco (Feb Special) and we all loved it.
We missed you Tim!!! Walang taga ubos ng matter of pride cake!!!
Yes, lower right photo by Jem caught Sofia attacking the icing. 

I have a few more hours left of my birthday on London time, but it's actually Chinese New Year already in the Philippines.
Round Fruits - Check!

Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous Year of the Sheep!!! and with that, I will end by saying this blog is going on vacation!
This year I'm saying good bye to my favorite Samsonite luggage.
I can't say no to bright pink luggage that is 4kg lighter.

You can follow me @coleysjustsaying on Instagram if you're interested in stalking my adventures in...
London - where I can't wait to have a Traditional English Breakfast
Lyon, which is known as the gastronomic capital of France, which I'm excited to visit for the first time
And Paris - where I always feel at home.
I'm really excited to start my birthday and Chinese New Year with a trip to my favorite places. I hope this is a sign of more blessings and more travel to come. just saying.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Shea Lotion Bars

Do you remember the time in University when Business Management students need to come up with a business project and they normally come up with products that are sold in school? I used to love shopping in school during this season because there are normally a lot of interesting ideas.

Some even become a full fledged business, like the Kusina Klassics Kalamansi Squeeze that my sister's friends started as their school project. It's now available in selected supermarkets, bazaars and online stores. I couldn't find their website online, but I was able to find them on a Japanese website selling for ¥514 which you can visit here.

I guess, if you have a good product, at the right price, it doesn't matter what age you are or what capital you start with. If you persevere in selling your product, you can make it big. And to think, I bet you just started out trying to get a good grade.

It's been quite awhile since I've come across products sold by students as part of their projects, but I've come across one recently that I think also has a lot of potential.

Shea Lotion Bars
You can moisturize with no mess.
It's easy to apply, and not sticky or greasy at all.

They are quite affordable at Php150 (I think!) a bar, and they come in really cute packaging. My best friend gave me one, after I used hers and liked it. If I discovered them before Christmas, I would have hoarded a lot to give away as gifts. But I guess, they'll come in very handy as well to bring along on summer outings. just saying.

You can visit their Facebook page
just message them to order.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Four Seasons for the Best Roast Duck in Bangkok (Boneless Pa!)

One of our new favorites, a newly discovered restaurant in Bangkok is Four Seasons, recommended by my friend Jay, famous for their Boneless Roast Duck.

Interestingly, Four Seasons originates from London, and since I really love Chinese food in London, I agree with Uncle Joel (who we used to visit all the time when he and my aunt lived in London) that London really has the best Chinese food, much better than China, but I must admit, Hong Kong comes close.
The UK Financial Times edition has declared Four Seasons to have
the best roast duck in the world!

Before we left, I did my research, and I saw that the Four Seasons branch in Siam Paragon doesn't accept reservations, and they're quite popular because they serve good food and their pricing is reasonable.

Siam Paragon is around a 15-20 minute walk (through a short cut alley) from the CentrePoint Hotel where we were staying (you can read about our stay here) and we planned to arrive early because we knew it might get crowded.
We arrived before 7pm and we already had to wait in line for an hour!
There were 5 of us which automatically put us on the queue for big tables,
and they only had 5 of them, so since we were 5th or 6th in line, it was a long wait.
The restaurant is right across the Harrod's booth.

Sofia got hungry while we were waiting in line, so I decided to take her to After You, a dessert place also recommended by Jay, so we could have dessert before dinner. It's a good thing we decided to do that too because there was also such a long queue at After You that ordering their famous Honey Shibuya Toast to go is the only way to enjoy without waiting forever again!
I was quite impressed at their packaging. There was one
bag of dry ice for the ice cream and cream, while the freshly
cooked toast was in a separate container and had its own bag.
It's a bit difficult to share with Fi though coz she only wanted to eat the
toast, so I had to eat my Honey Shibuya Toast on Ice Cream.
It was still yummy despite the lack of ambiance.

By the way, if you want to enjoy the best Boneless Roast Duck in the world without queuing for a table, you can also do what we did at After You. I considered convincing the parents to do this, but it seems like such a waste to picnic on good food in a cramped hotel room just because I was impatient.
The take out counter is at the back of the restaurant. You'll see it if you go
to After You.

Since we were waiting for an hour, we already knew what we wanted to order as soon as we got seated.
The restaurant is not too big, that's why you have to wait long, and only the
center tables are for big groups. The lady at the reception took pity on us
and squeezed 5 of us in a table for 4 so we could already eat.
We ordered a Full Roasted Duck. I was definitely worth the wait.
Quite affordable too at 1,180Baht.
I think a half duck is 680Baht and a portion is 380Baht.
My dad, who is quite set in his ways, and has his own
favorites, who normally just humors me when were travelling
really loved this place.
I agree that it's the Best Duck in the World that I've ever tried.
The meat was so tasty and juicy, and the skin was so light and crisp.
Some of the other dishes we ordered were also good.
Crispy Pork Belly (served with strong mustard)
Yang Chow Fried Rice with big pieces of fresh shrimp
These are the dishes I personally did not like.
Morning Glory (Kang Kong) with Shrimp Paste
I found this too fishy for my taste but Papa and Auntie Celit liked it.
I found the Salt and Pepper Squid too tough and way below standard
compared to their other dishes, but Mama finished it anyway.
The carnage.
Food Coma
This is now definitely on my must eat list in Bangkok. I just need to make sure I convince Ady that their other dishes are good, or that duck is really chicken duck - which is how I got Sofia to eat duck (when she said she didn't eat duck) when she was much younger.

If I remember correctly, I was convincing Sofia she eats chicken duck when we were eating in a Chinese Restaurant in London's Chinatown, and she loved it. You can read my post on that here

To further my claim that London has the best Chinese food, you can also read my post on Royal China at Raffles here, one of my favorite weekend dimsum places in Singapore, that also originates from London. So therefore I really think it's true. The best Chinese Food is from London. just saying.

Four Seasons
Location: Floor G, Siam Paragon
Mass Transit: BTS Siam
Hours: 11:00 – 21:00 daily
Phone: +66 (0) 2610 9578

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sofia's (Dear Diary) version of our weekend in Bangkok

Since we were just going to Bangkok for 2 days, I decided to provide Sofia with an incentive to earn shopping money contingent on good behavior. I agreed to give her 500Baht for the whole trip if she does not misbehave (translated to mean - that if she gets given 3 warnings to stop what I think is not good behavior - she's out). Our scheme is very simple, 2 warnings or less - she keeps everything she buys and any leftover money. If she gets 3 warnings, she returns all her unspent money to me, and everything she's bought will be mine too. I also used this scheme when we went to the states 2 years ago and it always works. 

For our Bangkok trip, we were still in the airport, waiting for our flight, and Sofia already wanted to buy something using her pocket money from National Bookstore. She insisted on buying a super overpriced secret diary so she could no something on the plane was her excuse.
Since the overpriced diary was Php345!!!
She used 100Baht of her Bangkok money and Auntie Celit
added to it so she could buy her diary.

When we got to the airplane, I understood why it was so expensive. It comes with a secret pen that writes in invisible ink, which you'll only be able to read with the UV light (which is incorporated in the cap of the pen). Just imagine, writing is quite complicated too - because you'll need to use the light to see what and where you've already written. But I must admit, it is really quite cool.

While waiting for our turn to take off, Sofia answered some of the "Autograph Book" like questions. Then she decided to write her first entry.
For the record, Sofia wrote this alone, so she doesn't really
need an invisible code, because her spelling is enough
to throw off even an experienced spy.
When we finally took off - Sofia told me to take a picture
of Manila, because the view from above is great.
My smarty pants jet-setter daughter has figured out
she doesn't need blinders as long as she has a hoodie.
Day 0 Diary Entry Highlight
Sofia plans to go to Sun Star, her favorite store
to buy sharpeners.
Day 0 Diary Highlight
Sofia's sharpener haul. All bought from Sun Star.
You can read Sofia's post on Sun Star Wholesale Market here.
One of our Bangkok buys on Day 1 - was a keychain,
for all the keys to Sofia's diaries.
Diaries. You read that right. That's because they sell diaries in Sun Star, so of course we had to buy 3 to avail of their wholesale rate.
Diary Entry Day 1
Day 1 Diary Entry Highlight
Things Sofia bought from Sun Star (among others)
Sofia and Rainbow's Wacky Pose
Another Day 1 Dairy Highlight
Dinner at 4 Sesons (Four Seasons) where the little blogger likes the food
Boneless Roast Duck for the win!!! 

Here are some of Sofia's other Bangkok finds for this trip:
Trolli Gummi Rings! Much better than the Ring Pops from my childhood.
C for Celita and C for Coley
Photo directed and taken by Sofia's Just Saying
Mango and Sticky Rice Monster
Diary Entry Day 2

Sofia's Day 2 Diary entry for is about going home and playing with her yayas. She's really my mini-me. While we both really enjoy Bangkok, a day or two is just perfect for our weekend getaway. just saying.

You can read my version of our weekend here

Friday, February 13, 2015

Once Upon A Time Thai Restaurant in Bangkok (from Sofia's Lens)

One of my favorite restaurants in Bangkok for Local Thai Food in a nice comfortable setting is Once Upon a Time, in the Pratunam (wholesale shopping) area. You can read my post on it here

You can choose to sit outdoors because they have a nice Garden setting, but we always opt to sit indoors because Asian countries are normally very humid most parts of the year.

Sofia's standard order is always Chicken Pandan since she's not really a local
Thai Food fan.

Since I love Thai Food, I told Auntie Celita she could decide what to order for us and all the dishes she ordered were things Ady and I didn't try on our first visit, so I got to try more things, and everything was really good.
Roast Duck Red Curry cooked with Pineapple Chunks
Super  yummy! I noticed that the curry duck is meatier because they put less
extenders (or veggies camouflaged in the sauce).
Vegetable Pad Thai which was also very good.
And super winner Crispy Catfish and Green Mango Salad.
Happy Lunch that cost us only a little over 1,000 Baht.
We even had a little duck curry and salad leftover for Ma and Pa to try.

Aside from the Chicken Pandan, Sofia's favorite highlight is the mini-museum or gallery in the second floor, where you can visit rooms of a traditional Thai home (I presume). Sofia wanted to play tour guide for Lola Celita, and photographer for this blog. 

Taking pictures is serious business for Sofia.

I must say, her pictures are pretty good. She even focuses on certain subjects, and her framing is good too.
She even took one of me taking the picture above.
Photos by Sofia's Just Saying, my mini-me blogger wanna-be.

Once Upon a Time is truly one of our favorite Bangkok eating places. just saying.

Once Upon A Time
Soi 17, Phetchaburi Rd, 
Ratchathewi, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
+66 2 252 8629