Friday, May 27, 2016

Buillon Chartier, the oldest and most popular Brasserie in Paris

I was quite intrigued by Buillon Chartier, the oldest (and most popular) Brasserie in Paris. I have read about it before, if I'm not mistaken, under Good Value Places to Try in Paris, because they are known for value, but I heard that there is always a long line, and the food was just so-so, so we never attempted to try it for ourselves.

However, on our last trip to Paris, we read about Buillon Chartier again from Sofia's Paris for Kids book, you can read more about that here, but what sealed the deal for us is that it was just a few minutes walk from our hotel, and we just arrived from Florence so lunch was quite late at 4:00pm so we though this meant that we wouldn't have to line up for a table.

It does look like a blast from the past, and we though this
meant, no lines... hooray.
But it just meant, there was a shorter line.
I think they just needed to get organized, because it moved
quite fast.
The place is really known for Good Value, so both tourists
and locals visit it. The soup of the day still costs €1 only.
Just to give you an idea, not even bottled water at any Paris
restaurant is that cheap!
The place is big and bustling. Where they stick different people together to
maximize table space. Just like a big cafeteria, in the olden days in Paris,
because the place has character too, if you know what I mean.

I read an old review of David Lebovit on Buillon Chartier which you can visit here, and since he is such a credible French Foodie, if this place is good enough for him, then it's something I definitely wanted to try, but following his advice, we stuck to the classics.
Ady had 6 escargot (€6.60) to start and I had the foie gras (€7),
both dishes too good 
for anyone to get wrong.
The starters were served so fast, you'd think they had loads of them ready, which is just dished out as customers arrive, since it is a big place, and they only have a few starters to choose from.

Ady and I both ordered Steak Frites, playing it on the safe side. I think the fries from McDonald's are better, which may be because the fries they served us could have been sitting in the kitchen together with the pre-prepared starters, but that is just my theory.
Ady ordered hers Medium Au Poivre (with pepper gravy) and her steak
was cooked so much better than mine.
I ordered my mine medium, with herbed butter, and it was a bit overdone.
Pink in the middle, tough every where else. tasted quite good though.
Anything with that much herbed butter is bound to taste good.
The classic Chartier experience includes the waiter
writing out your bill on the table. Seriously. Hahaha.
Anyway, it was a good meal for  €36!

We couldn't have had that that kind of food anywhere else, at that price, plus we got the experience of getting a taste of the past with our dinner as well. It's a place worth visiting at least once, or more often if you find yourself in the area. It is very near Opera and the shops on Boulevard Haussman. just saying.

Buillon Chartier
7 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, 
75009 Paris, France
Open everyday
Reservations not accepted, be ready to queue during peak hours

Friday, May 20, 2016

Earth Kitchen

I've always wanted to try Earth Kitchen, but I haven't had the chance to try it until recently, when we visited their branch at BGC. Jem and I met up to celebrate my birthday, another one of those belated birthday dinners, which I just got around to blogging about. 

We enjoyed the Watermelon and Rocket salad (Php 270), which combined
refreshing watermelon, pili nuts and white cheese.
I wonder if they offer this when watermelon is not in season.
The Mushroom Soup (Php180)  with was good and earthy.
I thought the Braised Bacon (Php530) was overrated. I expect my bacon to
be either salty and bursting with flavor or crisp, this was neither.
Though it was an okay dish for pork.
I really liked the Uni Negra (Php390) or Squid Ink Risotto with Scallops.
Best friend catch up date. Missing Tim.
But glad Ivan gave up his basketball game to join us, because squid ink
lipstick suits us all. Hahaha.
Glad we had a chance to order the Beef Bulgogi Soft Tacos (Php280).
This was also yumm...
And since we were celebrating my birthday, I asked if they have free
dessert for the celebrant and they gave us Pastillas Ice Cream!
I would order this next time.
The only surprise was the bill... Is that 71,000?!?
Hahaha... well it wasn't, but it caught us by surprise.
Parang Just for Laughs or Wow Mali lang.

Excited to eat here more often when we move to BGC. just saying.

Earth Kitchen
U205, Bonifacio Highstreet, 
7th Avenue Bonifacio Global City, 
Taguig, 1634 
Metro Manila

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sofia at the Leaning Tower of Pisa... not Pizza!

My hilarious daughter was so excited when I told her we could do a side trip to visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa! She literally thought we were visiting the Leaning Tower of Pizza.

We took a flight from Paris to Pisa, in transit to La Spezia. Since we have done it before, it was easy enough to take the bus to do a round trip transit visit to Pisa again.

It was just a bit of a challenge taking good photos with no obvious photobombers.
Where's the Pizza Mom?
Our only sort of acceptable group photo.

Enough snaps on this sunny day, we might not be able
to use our ticket again on the return bus.
Yah, the only hassle is dragging your luggage, but
they are quite useful as a tripod/gorilla-pod stand.
Passing the Arno River. Hi Pisa, Bye Pisa! It was great as usual.

You can read my post on how to see Pisa for less than €2 here, kids even ride for free. Now if only there was Pizza. Hahaha. just saying.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Torched Sushi from Minami Saki by Astoria - It's the Best Sushi Ever

I like Japanese food as much as the next person, and I'm not talking about the people who are gung-ho for Japanese food. I think it's just okay. But I must say, I was very impressed when my brother took us to Minami Saki, the Japanese Restaurant by Astoria in Ortigas Center. If I'm not mistaken, it's where Santis Deli used to be located.

We left the ordering to him because he was paying, hahaha. But I know he ordered Sushi.
What we didn't expect was for the sushi to come out looking this beautiful,
and it tasted so good too.
The torched sushi was literally a burst of flavors on
your palate, with the yummy cheese sauce, melt in your
mouth fish, then the refreshing taste of roe and fruit.
The baked oysters in papaya was also popular, and works on the same
concept of cheese sauce that's torched, but I am really not fond of oysters.
We ordered this yummy beef and mushroom dish that was off-menu,
because we saw it from the table beside us.
Then we had the usuals like tempura.
and seafood fried rice.
The coffee jelly dessert was a great show stopper too.

Over-all it was an excellent meal where the torched sushi was clearly the highlight. I can't wait to go back and have one order of torched sushi just for myself, but then I have to tell them to make it all tuna. hahaha. just saying.

Minami Saki by Astoria
Ground Floor, Astoria Plaza Building, 
15J Escriva Drive, San Antonio, 
Pasig City, 1600 Metro Manila

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Learn to make Silver Jewelry in Bali

Ever since I started designing my own jewellery, Jewellery by Coley, which you can read about here, I have always wanted to do a hands on course where you learn how to make Jewellery. I researched online and I didn't find a course that I could accommodate in my current life since I do have a day job, you know. Hahaha. 

However, I did manage to find something that caught my interest. In Bali, there are several classes you can take, where you are taught how to make your own Silver Jewellery, from design to execution, and the price of the course includes a certain amount of silver that you can use to make the piece that you design.

The only catch in my plan was that I was going to Bali for work, so with the given flight schedules and meetings, I had a very little free time. I actually checked the schedule of the different workshops and it was only WS Art Studio that had a class on Sunday afternoon. My flight was arriving in Bali at noon, so it was really cutting it close. They were really very nice though. I emailed them and told them about my predicament and they told me that I could just call them when I landed, and I could take a taxi directly to their workshop in Ubud which was roughly an hour away from the airport. Since I found out my hotel was also in Ubud, they told me to just call when I get to the hotel, and they would pick me up instead... by motorbike! 

Welcome to Bali motorbike experience!

The place was in the middle of rice fields, and they do classes for a lot of different Balinese Crafts, not just Silver Jewellery.

I was the only student for the day, so they didn't have any problem accommodating my schedule which was around an hour later than the normal class time.
Literally, inspired by nature.

The class also came with snacks, hooray, since I missed lunch.
The freshly cooked Banana and Pineapple Fritters were pretty good.

The first part of the course is to draw your design. They show you work done by other students, so you can see some pegs.
Only silver is provided, so you need to bring your own stones if you want
to use any.
I just wanted a simple open ring with two stones, so for me, Ayu just
measured out an estimated length on a sterling silver sheet.
This is Ayu. She does all the soldering while you watch.
She soldered two sheets of Sterling Silver together to make
it thick enough for the band of the ring.
Then she flattened it to make sure that it was properly
welded together.
Then the next step is filing the silver until it's straight and there are no sharp sides which can get uncomfortable for jewellery. You do a lot of filing in this class.

Then you can stamp your name or any message on your jewellery before you do the design.

I wanted the band to have a hammered texture look, so I had to keep pounding it with different blunt objects to get that effect.
Voila! Then more filing to get the band straight enough.

Then we created the holders for the stones. Using a strip of sterling silver, we had to make a circle which was just the correct size for the stones.
Borax is used as a bonding agent, which is washed off when the finished
product is ready.
We used silver wire, to hold the stone in place.
Welding the wire to the stone holders
Again more filing...
Then it was time to connect the stone holders to the band.
More filing...
Fits quite well too. I guess it really helps that the design is open.

When your design is almost ready, they clean the ring and remove all the Borax by heating it, then dipping it in acid repeatedly. Then the jewellery is dipped in soapy water and scrubbed.

If you are not using stones in  your design, the last step is the polishing and buffing.

Since we were setting stones, we had to do more filing, to make sure the holder was the correct height, then the stones were put in, with glue!, then the silver was filed again inward so help keep the stones in place.
Then more filing just to make sure it was all smooth
and pretty.
I love how it came out.

Ayu also offers other workshops, but best to check on her website.
Jewellery by Coley
Love Love Love
Thank you so much Ayu for your flexibility which allowed me to take this
class, and for your patience in teaching me and letting me take all the photos
I wanted.
The course takes around 3 hours, depending on the complexity of your design. I was very happy I was able to do this course. It was totally worth skipping lunch for.  just saying.

WS Art Studio
Lodtunduh, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia