Saturday, August 30, 2014

Banapple Pies and Cheesecakes at Il Terrazzo

The quaint favorite among many dining patrons of all walks of life is something that eludes me for one, parking along their two branches in Katipunan is horrendous. And two, the place is always jam-packed and my aversion to swarming crowd just didn't help me entice to saunter around. 

Luckily, it was one of those days where we have nothing to do but take a leisurely week-long rest. So we headed off to Il Terrazo to have our fill early that morning. That way we can be assured of our seats. Luckily though, I found out that that branch is not really that crowded. Or probably the entire place(mini mall) is. 

The place is Banapple Pies and Cheesecakes. Entering, one will immediately mesmerized by the vibrant hues and esoteric interior that is both whimsical and buoyant, slightly bordering on the feminine side. The bar displays cakes and pastries that will immediately make you mouthwateringly crave with endless intensity. 

But unlike other casual dining places, in this place, you have to order at the counter, and this is what we got. 

Chicken Breast Parmigiano-- tender fillet of chicken breast encrusted with a Parmesan crumb mixture, topped with a rich stewed tomato sauce and melted mozzarella, served with glazed butter carrots. 

And mine is an all-time favorite. 

Hickory Smoked Barbecued Country Ribs-- extra tender country ribs grilled in hickory smoke, glazed with homemade hickory barbecue sauce and served with corn relish. This is what I usually order for a take out. 

Saying that the place is teeming with virtually anybody from all walks of life because for students they have relatively affordable prices, for professionals, a quick gastric stuffing before or after a day's work, for an athlete, a gargantuan serving, and for elderlies, a classic traditional, non-conforming taste. 

Frequently Asked Question

In one of my speaking engagements, someone from the audience asked me what most people ask in the majority of my talks. So I said, it's about "why do they care." He was surprised because it's not about something that is drawn out from the abysmal recesses of scientific perplexities. It's not about whether or not proton is stable. It's not about why the Higgs exist or why does the top quark interact strongly with Higgs than how the electron does. Or where does high energy neutrinos coming from. Or why is the universe mainly made of matter and not anti-matter. Or why does B-Mesons decay a tad slower than an anti B-Messon. 

The question about "why do people care" is philosophical rather than empirical. And this is the same question most legislators rationalize the budgetary weight between scientific research against infrastructure. The question is itself a reason of our state of being, as it is to our state of nationhood. That's the reason why we only have .01% funding on research as opposed to 2% in any of our Asian neighbors from total national budget. That's the reason why our intellectual workforce tends to make an exodus and work for other countries in exchange of a well funded scientific endeavor and top of the line research facilities. That's the reason why economy has been relatively slow as compared to Malaysia, Thailand or Vietnam. That's the reason why most of our household products are from China, our clothing apparels from Vietnam, our hygienic products from Thailand or Korea, our basic commodities from our Asian neighbors. And that's similarly the reason why most of our country's energy source is derived from foreign supply. Further augmenting the case, that is the reason why science as an engine of progress, and technology as an accelerator of economy, never took off in our homegrown development.

I bet our public school system is still teaching obsolete modules of academic resource. I bet they still teach old textbooks that says Atom is the smallest unit of matter. And that Quarks and Leptons are far from their grasps. Or that there are only three states of matter- Solid, Liquid or Gas. And Plasma, Bose-Einstein condensate and Dropleton are not yet within their realm. Or maybe their visual aids still include Pluto in the planetary roster. 

We produced a wealth of artists, singers and sportsmen, who help funnel cash flow to the economy, but we also need scientists to build our own nation of intellectual capital. We need excellent urban planners, we need IT professionals who does not only know how to design but code, we need doctors in the biotech research, we need agricultural scientists to ensure abundant and safe produce from our countrysides, we need business leaders who does not only speak business but script programs, we need industrialists who are not only good managers but good technology-enablers as well. 

Reckoning from it, the question therefore about "why do they care" is not a question rather than a hint(or subtle declaration) of indifference. It's not about asking why do they care, it's about devaluating altruism and never care at all. 

And we mustn't. 

Tong Yang Shabu-Shabu & Smokeless Grill at SM Megamall

In my frequent visit of Tong Yang Shabu-Shabu & Smokeless Grill(mostly in Jupiter Street though), this is the only time that I have to pay a subPhp500 for a grand smorgasbord experience. And probably one of the cheapest at that(some of them are Don-Day, Red Crab, H&E Rockstar, Something Fishy, CCA Kitchen by Cravings, Dulcinea, Celina's to name a few).

For the gourmand in us, they unveiled a Weekday Lunch Buffet Special Promo Eat and Drink All You Can for only Php399. Before the promo wanes at Aug 16, the culinary vulture in me yearns a fervor burning to try it out. 

Buffet window is 11AM to 2:30PM, and although I am already at the 7th in the waiting list, there's no stopping me now. 

The soups I ordered, in twofold set, Sinigang and Spicy, are a bit bland so you really have to know how to mix it with their existing condiment. 

And here is what it is now.

Demure breakfast.

On for lunch.

And more. 

And the no-holds-barred grilling. 

Ready to eat dishes to stuff while still grilling. 

And finally. 

It's a race against the clock as they are about to close for their lunch window promo, so not in the pictures are the salads, Halo-halo, and ice cream concoctions I made(separately). Not only do they offer refillable juices, they also have a draft beer.

They offer Chinese and Japanese delights like sushi, maki, tempura, dimsum and dumplings. Heat up the pot with your choice of six kinds of shabu-shabu soup base-- chicken, Filipino sinigang, Korean Kimchi, vegetarian and the spicy variety of sate and Taiwan mala. For your grilling delight, they have shrimps, crabs, sliced meats, lobster balls among many others to choose from. 

Samsung Galaxy Camera: An Android-powered digital camera

As smartphones gradually becoming like cameras, it's inevitable too that in some point of space-time continuum, cameras will also become like smartphones. And here's the one to that stint. 

A paragon of innovation, Samsung has once again unveiled its latest offering in the world of shutter sphere, the Samsung Galaxy Camera. It's debut make people ecstatic on its capability for having a real camera sensor, a large 16.3 megapixel monster paired with a killer 21x zoom lens. 

Armed with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean mobile OS, one already is hinted an idea that it can do not just "shutterbugging" but it can immediately share and send pictures through its 3G and wifi implementation. But let's see what else on its sleeve:

For a started it comes with two batteries for a really quick draw whenever you are in the middle of a shooting mode. An 8GB internal memory is supplemented by an expandable microSDHC option. 

ISO sensitivity in full resolution includes auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. Filters that one may enjoy using has auto, daylight, cloudy, fluorescent H/L, tungsten, and custom. Recording modes that you can choose are Smart Auto, Program, Aprture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Casual(Beauty face, Best face, Continuous shot, Fireworks, Landscape, Night, Panorama, Sunset, Macro), Smart Pro(Action freeze, Light trace, Rich tone, Silhouette, Waterfall) and Movie. 

The 4.8inch touchscreen LCD is handy enough for you to tinker around its camera application. Although in most situations, Smart Auto is a default choice to many, there are also two specialty modes that you can choose. One, named Casual, has a few common sense mode for portraits and landscapes with innovative extras(e.g., Best face lets you take group shots, firing off five frames, then you the best faces for everyone in the shot). The other, Smart Pro, essentially translates shooting concepts into P&S mode without sweating for the best configuration since it's already preset(e.g., Light Trace, Action Freeze). 

And the reason why one should get an Android camera is the ability to readily share the pictures via a plethora of applications installed like Paper Camera, Camera Zoom FX, Pro HDR Camera, Fast Burst Camera, Instagram, Cymera, Little Photo, Retro Camera, Vignette, and everyone's favorite, Camera360. 

Overall, it's a pretty decent camera device but those who are thinking of buying something that has a compact megazoom with wireless feature, may also want to consider Sony Cybershot DSC-HX30V or the Samsung WB850F or better yet, just use an Eye-Fi SD Card. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

TWG Tea Salon and Boutique, Resorts World Manila

Fresh from the red carpet launch of the TWG's Red Lantern Tea Mooncake Collection on the first week of August, we went to the TWG Tea Salon and Boutique, Resorts World Manila to experience the intricately crafted tea-infused Snowskin and traditional Chinese mooncakes. 

TWG, which conveniently stands for, The Wellness Group, is a destination of delight, a hub of fine tea craftsmanship, and a journey of sensations. First established in Singapore in 1837, this veritable institution has always been a hallmark of luxurious concepts of tea making, distribution and retail, with exquisite tea rooms to boot. 

Insignia of wellness.

A week ago we had a chance to roam around and took pictures of the place while the wife's brother is picking his favorite tea blend delights. 

Vivid interior. 

Cans of tea. 

Epicurean array of different colors, sizes and shapes. 

Some are readily packed for you.

Some goodies you can buy as gifts. Or reward yourself. 

A euphoria of colors. 

The writing.. rather, the enchantment is on the wall.

Cans of signature tea blends and small pots. 

Lovely tea pots and more.

Handmade patisseries and macarons. 

Fine tapestry of delights when dining inside. 

Inside, you will be carried by the impeccable display of elegant samovars, brass weighing scales you first found in the physics class, fine marble floors only Italy can offer, and a hardwood classic tea counter only five star hotels can usher. 

TWG also serves signature tea-infused savory dishes and hand made patisseries, placed under a stack of decorated platform with nostalgic furnishings, accentuated by fine bone china, crisp linens and vases of brightly hued exotic colors. 

Acer Chromebook C720: Almost a nirvana of Chromebook

Hailed from the C7 Chromebook line, the latest iteration of Acer Chromebook, the C720 may not have the bells and whistles of being the flashiest laptop, but is definitely worth coveting in its thinner, sleeker and lighter chassis. If you're looking for a far more stellar power and killer functionality of a tablet but less cost and complexity than a full-pledged PC, then the Acer Chromebook C720 might just be on top of your wish basket. 

The ceremonial unboxing starts…

….now.

Slapped with a Haswell-based Intel Celeron 2955U processor, 4GB of RAM and an integrated Intel graphic card. Booting up is relatively good at 7 seconds and wakes from sleep at 2 seconds. It comes close to a technological nirvana had it been because of its meager 16GB SSD Storage, however it too is complimented by the 100GB Google Drive Cloud Storage.

Also, it's highly dependent on a wifi network and can't be truly stand-alone as it has no 4G LTE implementation. 

11.6inch at a 1366x768 resolution and a hefty battery of about 6hours, I'd say it's good enough for a Chromebook category. 

With it, you can have rafts of outstanding features like those inside the pack of a Google's ChromeOS. Browsing the internet(not just the real truncated mobile version) is a already a given, but what is under the hood are the online marvels you can get from the OS, anytime, anywhere email(even offline version), streaming entertainment, cloud capability, collaboration tools, among others. And because the browser is fully functional, you can have an array of good selection of plug-ins, can visit Flash-based sites with nary a crash or slowdown. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Yabu: The House of Katsu at SM Megamall

From its inception in the 19th century Japan, people from across the globe had been  clamoring about katsu with tenacious gusto. Katsu, a short term for Katsuretsu, which means "cutlet" is a de facto classic Japanese dish and a default yearning for those who wanted to have something crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, you can even slice it through your chopsticks.

This is where Yabu: The House of Katsu, the Philippines' only authentic Katsu haven, seek a standing ovation from the culinary sphere, with its fine array of signature Katsu. 

Obviously for a restaurant like this, an accolade isn't too far off.

Some of its specialties are even trumpeted at the restaurant facade. 

Condiment. Never start your plate without it. Did you notice the piggy?

Green Mango Shake to compliment with what's in store for us. 

Like a ceremonial concoction before you stuff yourself, a bowl of sesame seeds and a wooden mortar is provided. Grind it, pour and mix it with kits sauce. 

Hire and Seafood Katsu Set.

It's a piquant mix of pork and seafood, Hire, Black Tiger Prawn, Cream Dory, Scallop, Eggplant and Pepper. 

Chicken Katsu Set-- because the gourmand in me is asking for an unlimited rice, miso soup, Japanese pickles, unlimited cabbage with sesame dressing and a bowl of fruit. 

It's a soft chicken fillet covered in golden panko and fried for crispy goodness. It's so soft, you can even cut it with chopsticks.

The face of a happy dinner. 

All things Katsu in Yabu is done with meticulous attention to quality and an artistic whip. The ABC of cooking starts from its fresh produce. Sourced from its partners locally, they are delivered fresh and never frozen, not mentioning the best meat there is. Yabu prides itself on one of its produce, a centerstage of Kurobota premium pork which is a "Kobe beef of the pork world", pink and heavily marbled, making it as succulent as a juicy that it even literally melts in your mouth. 

They also have other things to boot, like pork loin, pork tenderloin, chicken and seafood cuts that will surely make you dip, taste and enjoy. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Atom Smashers Academy

Lately I was accepted for the first ever CERN Class in the Philippines piloted at the National Institute of Physics. For those who have been a sleepyhead in the world of science, CERN, which in English stands for European Organization for Nuclear Research, is an institution whose objective is to  operate the world largest experiment(and equally largest machine), the large hadron collider located at the northwest suburbs of Geneva Switzerland, along France-Swiss border. It is a mecca of physicists where it employs 90% of the world renowned physicists,  science luminaries, and if not Nobel Prize awardees, mostly Nobel laureate. It's also a cradle of the world wide web and other scientific breakthroughs of our times, e.g., Positron Emission Tomography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, grid computing, etc. 

There were 500 or more applicants and only about a hundred were chosen. The demographics is widely diverse as some belong to the energy sector of physics, applied physics, medical physics, physics academe, etc. 

While most lessons anchored on heavy and advance mathematical abstractions, that didn't wane the sparkle of interest in the audience. Most of us are physicists. I am the only one who belonged to the astrophysics sector, and while astrophysics is my field of specialization, topics of the same nature is already relatively a walk in the park for me. 

Higgs has been one of the most relished points of discussion in class, and while it somehow framed the completion of the Standard Model, there are still questions left unanswered and to that, I wrote an article of where post Higgs science is heading. I wrote an article about it, mentioning other fascinating stuff of science as well, e.g., Dark Matter and Dark Energy to which I have been invited as a resource lecturer in several occasions by different science centers, massive Neutrinos, quantum gravity and String Theory. 

Most of the experimental physicists though, such as the lecturers, suspend their beliefs on the String Theory which is a good thing to keep the balance between experimentation and theoretical postulation. And it's easier to debunk a theory than to prove of its existence. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Melting Pot Cafe in Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur revisited

No we don't stride Malaysia year after year. But this consecutive year has been loaded with Asian sojourns that we have not only accumulated wealth of experiences on other cultures but also amassed miles with out flight points. 

Malaysia has been close to my heart because of its brooding industrial installations without compromising the lush greeneries. It's a bustling metropolis where you can still see monkeys scamper close to skyscrapers, boa constrictor slithers across six lanes and hawks freely loitered around aerial vastness with other birds. 

And whenever we are in KL, Concorde Hotel Kuala Lumpur has been our favorite home away from home. 

So let me take you once again to their famous dining scape at Melting Pot Cafe and see how it has been the last time we were here

This time we roamed around the pool side and the spa and wellness rooms. 

Assorted bread. 

Spanakopita, Greek cheese triangle. 

Croissants, Danish pastry and more. 

Made of rice. 

Cereal mates. 

Cereal porn. 

Bread mates. 

Salad tops. 

Radish something? 

I devoured them as they are. 

Pair it with your bread. 

Salad tops. 

Top it on your porridge. 

A good morning meal. 

Ham, chicken version. 

Delicious even if it's chicken-based. 

Shanghai roll. 

Another sausage made of chicken.

Soba?

Hash browns?

Grilled tomatoes, good for the skin according to BL, that's why she's dermatologically radiant. 

Dimsum paradise. Why not, KL used to be proliferated by Chinese settlers during olden days.

Sioplets.

For those who are into super spicy, make sure you top this. 

If these are chicken, how do we call these? Corned Chicken? 

Chicken, delish.

I shouldn't be surprised if their pork and bean doesn't contain pork for as long as it's labeled just beans, unlike our can of pork and beans only contains one of two square slices of pork like it's a needle in a huge pile of haystack. Although on the other hand I am not really into pork. 

I don't think it's "carne norte"(ground beef) since they don't eat cow and pork here, so it must be chicken norte?

Veggies. Make sure you have one of these, it's good for digestive purposes.

Remember that Oreo commercial when you dunk oreo into a glass of milk? Well, you can dunk Pitta bread here. 

Close to home. 

Chicken with curry sauce. 

Fruit medley.

Different fruit juices. 

Nothing much has changed. It's still a consistent wide array of choices and because we are having a hard time finding for a perfect dining spot outside the hotel, chances are we tend to gastronomically hoard the fusion cuisine at the buffet. Yes, as adventurous as I am when it comes to taste, there are still Asian entrees that I couldn't understand and can't eat. 

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