Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vertu: Patek Philippe of Phones

I passed by The Shang to meet up MobilityReel before we head off to Linden Suites for the Azzurro Bar & Bistro for the cocktail night. Look what I have found. Vertu Ascent Collection. I forgot the name of a jewelry shop. Have you ever thought why these phones are not retailed at cellphone shops, only at upscale jewelry shops?

These array of phones might not get the bells and whistles of a typical consumer, especially that the price is concealed. No fascinating electronic features, no jaw-dropping applications, just a typical PIM(personal information management) and media player functions.

But outside, it has one of the best legacy components ever used in a consumer product as far as material science is concerned. It has a synthesis of stainless steel, ceramic, sapphire crystal and liquid metal alloy, precision engineered to give the quality of its class. The sapphire crystal has been used in prominent watch companies to produce scratch resistant watch frontage, much like the one being used in my watch right now, while liquid metal is an amorphous atomic element touted to be three times the strength of titanium.

Back in the time(year 2000) when Nokia 8210 is still the highest end of the phone in the market, I instantly began bewitched and beguiled about Vertu. A fellow technology journalist friend told me that even their metal is of an airplane grade quality.

I said I began falling in love with, until I was stunned by the price. It costs half the price of a brand new sedan.

Azzurro Bar & Bistro: Cocktail Night

Last night was a cocktail night for us. Sounds like an unfitting drink concoction for the hard and resolute gentleman in us? Nah, the three of us were there to optimize a deal we grab from a groupon voucher. We're a deal smasher, a predator in the culinary symbiosis, an opportunist in the economy of consumerism. We are breed of human beings that will make business owners change their mind and regret why they ever came up with that promo.

The place is Azzurro Bar & Bistro, seated at the second level of Linden Suites by Swiss-Bel Hotel International. The place is divided into two sections: the restaurant for the non-smoking and the bar for the smoking guests.

This is not my first dip in the Azzurro scene. I was at their Millennium Hotel, now called Somerset Millennium Makati, with some colleagues of the publication that I used to work for before, but that was around 2004. It was one of the best fine dining restaurants for me, at that time.

Azzurro serves the metro's finest Mediterranean and European cuisines with a twist for the adventurous tongue and discriminating palate. Food served at the bar includes Buffalo Wings, Chicken Sisig, Calamares, and Beef Salpicados. T

There were only three free flowing cocktails served that night: Illusion(Php350 + 10% SC), a mixture of vodka, malibu, midari, and cointreau, Maitai(Php150 + 10% SC), a combination of rum, lime juice, orange curaco, and syrup, and Screwdriver(price is not in the menu), comprising vodka and an orange juice.

We rounded up all the variants and then we stick with the Illusion for a better value. Yes, that's only Php350 per pax for an endless flow of all of it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

CCA Kitchen by Cravings: Revisited

This is not the first time that I was here, in fact I was here countless times that this has become my casual hang out whenever I feel like treating myself for a hearty meal.

My first visit was chronicled here which is technically a courtesy meal ℅ my bride-to-be friend who now is already a dotting wife.

CCA Kitchen is a spin off of Cravings which is incidentally a resident restaurant of the premiere culinary institution, Center for Culinary Arts(CCA), taking pride on their celebrity chefs and culinary luminaries like Tristan Encarnacion, Rosebud Benitez, Danica Sotto, Janice De Belen and Cristine Bersola.

I noticed that they serve more salad verities during week ends, probably because of the higher volume of mall's foot traffic.

This afternoon was one of those recreated moment where I ordered the same thing, Sunday's Roast Best Chicken(Php320 + 10% SC) and a whole gustatory engorgement from the salad bar and soup section.

This time, their salad bar also include a Pesto Pasta cooked in Basil oil. Lucky find.

My company, MobilityReel ordered a Chicken Tandori for just Php335 + 10% SC, a curry treated chicken in barbecue stick.

My expectation from them is skyrocketing, for one, they charged high tuition and school fees, so I expect that they must have dished out better academic training and management discipline as far as culinary arts is concerned.

Fazoli's Italian Food... Fast

All malls that Sunday were literally full, from movie houses to restaurants. We were at Robinson's Galleria, SM Megamall, and Shangrila Mall, until we decided to drive off the way either to Resort World or to Eastwood City. The rain that day impedes traffic flow almost to a halt, as tire traction was hugely diminished due to slippery road conditions.

We were left with a rational choice which was Eastwood. So after getting a few errands, we dined in at Fazoli's Italian Food... Fast and foisted on their Happy Father's Day promo which is a steak cooked at your doneness and served with a glass of wine.

Fazoli's is an alternative quick service restaurant, anchored on a semi-Italian bistro and thematic tapestry, and specializing on their signature submarino sandwiches and salads pasta and pizza.

Although the restaurant boasts of a refillable soda and bread sticks, their bread refill service were extremely slow. I have learned the trick from MobilityReel that the way to circumvent it is to repeatedly go to the counter, bring your plate and ask for at least four sticks. So if you don't mind doing this hubbub, you'd live and leave the place full.

But at the price point, I couldn't complain. I only paid Php250 for my steak meal set that includes Cabernet Sauvignon wine.

And, I'd like to mention a belated happy to my cousin Junette Anne Cabrera Dimco(in the pic) whose birthday fell on the same day as mine.

Elan Cafe: Waterfall Dining Experience

It was raining like crazy. An afternoon with bedtime weather. But since I never had a taste of my birthday, together with my college room mate, we stormed the urban landscape amidst gushing rain.

The stop is Elan Cafe, a cafe and dining haven seated right at the abode of Greenhills Elan Hotel Modern.

Our reservation that day was just at the cafe. Elan Cafe offers sumptuous continental cuisine where one can enjoy dining with the refreshing waterfall. Although quite different from what Bellagio Hotel Las Vegas's choreographed water feature, the feeling is still there. At the brethren of Elan Cafe's waterfall are a school of fishes swimming in their pleasure, giving a magical sight of amazement. We were of course seated right beside where the waterfall is.

Although for a Php600 peso price(their Father's day special promo coming from a Php1,200 original price), I would rather say that Dad's has more selection to boot. However, for a non-gargantuan few, they have got what will make a gastronome full.

The menu include Szechuan Veggies, Kumpao Chicken, Spareribs with Tausi, Steamed Fish Fillet, Moussaka, Pan-Fried Mexican Veggies, Roasted Potato with Herbs, Filleto Miale with Tomatao and Cheese, and my face, Roasted Mediterannean Chicken. They also have a dessert corner which includes Buchi, Taro Cake, Peach Mango Panacotta, Creama Catalana, and a lot more. The chef can also prepare you a pasta from your choice of noodle and ingredients. I choose a Carbonara.

Aside from the courtesy cake ℅ Father's Day promo, during our meal, the restaurant manager serenaded us with Father and Son by Cat Stevens. I am not a Cat Steven fan but the lyrics seared my heart, "Find a girl, settle down, if you want you can marry, look at me I am old but I'm happy". Asked why there is only one cake in our table, we said that it's good than having none since both of us are still a bachelor. Hahahaha.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Alone again, naturally

Despite my frantic effort to change my Facebook profile to July 18 instead of June 18, some people still have gotten it right. I don't celebrate my birthday normally, and as far as I can recall, there were only two occasions that I did, my Merchandising Department in Avid at the Dampa, Paranaque and my Dakila friends friends in Avid at the Jacks Loft, Eastwood. I never had any recollection of it being celebrated when I was a kid.

Probably it is also the reason why I have grown and looked a bit older than my age because I skipped my childhood. I even look older than my older brother, and has similarly a serious demeanor. Although I can crack my maarte jokes at some occasion.

It was okay though. I never had any lingering letdowns with it. After all, being stuck into childhood doesn't get me to places. One thing that I really was after of is independence. And there I am. Reaping the rewards of my wishes, I am in my sought-after solitude.

Midlife crisis? I have gone past with it. It's because I don't live 60years. Unknown to my family, I am diagnosed diabetic since college. They only knew it when I stepped in my thirties.

What I wanted to do? I wanted to live in a foreign land. Perhaps New Zealand, where the breeze of fresh air meets the urban lifestyle, where there are only few people, even fewer than their domesticated livestocks, particularly sheeps. If not, Turkey and Azerbaijan would be just fine.

But for now, here I am, cholesteroling an el cheapo combo meal in a food court. In my birthday, alone again, naturally.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"We are going to steal the Moon" - Gru of Despicable Me

I wasn't able to do justice on what is supposed to be the most awesome spectacle this year as far as astronomical phenomenon is concerned. I forgot to bring my camera so I have to use my cocky phone camera to snap photos of the recent Total Lunar Eclipse.

My colleagues at the scientific community were at the AstroCamp SM Mall of Asia dishing out series of public lectures and offering free telescope viewing of this marvelous nocturnal object in the sky. There were few broadcast stations doing interviews. Sadly I was embroiled into something that I couldn't join the gang in spreading out scientific literacy about this once-in-a-blue-moon(or rather red moon) phenomenon. Well, there is one this coming December so hopefully I would be able to join them by then. If not, then I have to wait until 2014 for the next total lunar eclipse.

Even if solar eclipses happened quite sparsely, making it a precious celestial rarity, I still prefer lunar eclipse because I can't usually stand the scorching heat of the Sun, blame it on my maarte tendencies. Secondly, even if one has to use solar filters, there is still a meager risk damaging to the retina. Plus, I'm a night person.

The Lunar Eclipse happened just this morning is one visual treat of its kind. It is the century's one of the longest lunar eclipses, next to the one happened last July 2000 when it lasted around 107minutes as compared to 100minutes for this recent eclipse.

The Moon, eerie as it became, turned bloody red. The Moon's discoloration(generally into reddish hue) is caused by the dense layer of the Earth's atmosphere where sunlight passes through it before reaching the Moon. Shorter wavelengths gets scattered into the air molecules, thus longer wavelengths prevail.

Now I overheard some people at the back where I stood at asked, "are there some effects of the eclipse as far as personality or mood change is concerned?" Well none has been found yet, at least scientifically. But we know that the Moon stressed tidal bulging on the Earth, causing tides, and some slight(almost negligible) tectonic activities. The Earth is 75% water, human is also 75% water. So the word lunatic might have some significance after all, but then again, not substantially studied and experimented yet.

So there you go folks, it wasn't Gru of Despicable Me trying to steal the Moon. It was a Total Lunar Eclipse.

Max's Chicken-All-You-Can: Man vs Chicken

It's a race to the clock for some, it's a race to beat our previous record for us.

Max's Restaurants once again unleashes their famed Chicken-All-You-Can promo last year. This time with a slightly differentiated price of Php199 that includes one glass of iced tea or any soda of your choice. But one can opt to upgrade their drinks into for just Php28.

If I am not mistaken, it was around Php160++ last year, without inclusions.

The promo stretches a one month run, from June 10 to July 10, 2011 starting from 6PM to 10PM, just as it was last year. Max's didn't learned its lesson last year for having had cuddled vicious cutthroats of the dining table. Yes, I am one of them. I think eating buffet has become my second profession.

Our group, composed of two, stormed Max's Restaurant Tiendesitas. First group is a Carlo-Nico-Gene triumvirate. Second group, me and MobilityReel. The first group had to be there first so they can reserve seats for us while we are still embroiled in a meeting. Once we are there, the first group has to leave to continue our undertakings in the office.

Then comes the chicken genocide. The first group downed 11.5chicken parts combined, while us 13parts despite our number. I wasn't able to beat my record last year, I was sort of icky(that's the closest English translation I could find for the word "umay") during the last moment of my bites.

It was a disappointment that their chicken refills took like 5min or more while we are able to finish one chicken part for a minute or even less. That was how lightning fast we are in this kind of scuffle. Of course, my MobilityReel doesn't want to overindulge as he still has a basketball game a day after. So yeah, he was spared for not optimizing his gastronome.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

X-Men: First Class

I read comics a lot to fill in the missed TV episodes of my fave animation while I wash the dishes and my brothers are watching TV(middle child syndrome exasperation, bwahaha) One of them is "The Uncanny X-Men". And as if it ends there, with the advent of internet infrastructure, I downloaded all X-Men series I could find in Torrent.

That brings me a brimming pride to profess myself as a comic purist. So when we watched the X-Men: First Class, I couldn't help but notice some inconsistencies with the comic vs the movie version.

Although I must say that the movie was executed well and as if rewriting some comic part isn't difficult enough, they have proven that a change although leaning towards commercial mainstream is sometimes cinematically pleasant.

Here are some inconsistencies that I noticed:

1) Alex Summers(Havoc) is supposed to be the younger sibling of Scott Summers(Cyclops), not the other way around

2) Darwin belonged to an Omega mutant, a higher class of mutant along with Jean Grey and Iceman, so I was a bit disappointed when he just died in a snap

3) I noticed a less-than-stellar bond between Xavier and Magneto, unlike the older Xavier and Magneto in the X-Men 1 and 2 movie

4) Azazel and Raven Darholme(Mystique) ought to have an intimate relationship but in the movie, they don't seem to know each other. That intimacy, in fact, brought along Night Crawler, their love child.

5) Moira is Scottish and not American, as opposed to the movie. And she has an erratic, on-and-off relationship with Banshee. Also that part was never shown.

The movie is good, and I couldn't help but notice the HOTNESS of Mystique.

Starbucks logo: Reborn

January of this year was received by a flurry of comments regarding the revamped Starbucks' logo. Months have passed, this move didn't really take a toll on a worldwide scale. Although I am more of a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf person than Starbucks, I couldn't avoid meeting some of my friends at Starbucks especially that hay have outlets at every nook of the metropolis. Yes, Starbucks for me is just like a Jollibee of the coffee shops.

The design trend is leaning towards a minimalist mold, shredding all the unnecessary elements. Or that is what they(Starbucks marketing/brand management) thought. More than just a redesign, this is their bold attempt of saying that they have reached such heights of ubiquity globally that their logo is enough for people to recognize them, a lot like what Nike and Apple accomplished.

It may be good branding move if they have, in the first place, chosen a right logo. But how do you explain a siren(or was it a mermaid?) slapped into a coffee cup. It may represent an irresistible and seductive coffee quality but for a regular coffee drinker, it doesn't mean anything but a tuna company or a pearl shop.

Starbucks has undergone lots of product diversity as with branding absurdity. Remember that they have launched Starbucks Via last quarter of last year? An instant coffee that is supposed to taste like freshly brewed coffee? Starbucks is poised to reposition the franchise towards the consumables besides coffee. And they are aiming at new channels of distribution too, supermarkets, online sales, mobile stores, carts, etc.

Yet this may also suggest that people are buying Starbucks coffee not because of the taste and quality but because of their brand, as there are several better premium coffee out there, thus they will have to make a huge fuss about a redesign of the logo. More than just a marketing DNA, this has become a juridical personhood, a statement of growth. Hopefully for the better.

Thank you Honey for modeling. Have a happy trip in the US.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Creative juices

It has been quite a while that I haven't blogged for the reason that I only have the guts to disclose to some of my very few friends. I never even thought that I would blog again. Thanks to the two most beautiful women in my life next to my Mom, they're Katey and LadyE.

Katey, a professed geeky fashionista who possess an uncanny sixth sense in wardrobe wizardry. Yes, she has that innate talent to pull off splendid clothes perfectly. And just like me, a lover of lifestyle devices as well.

And LadyE? Who would have ignored her culinary and cosmetic caliber. Ask about make up application tips? The do's and don't's? Which make up brands? From Shu Uemura to Sheseido, from Bobbi Brown to BeneFit, from Clinique to Clarins, from Laura Mercier to L'Oreal, from MAC to Mary Kay, she is the goldmine of information in this resource. In fact, her enterprising spirit leads her to Hyphen Store, a store of just about any kikay gurlash must have.

The common denominator of these two? ART. They've got the inexhaustible creativity to pull off in each of their chosen endeavor.

Speaking of artistry, you know for a fact that I don't have a formal academic foundation on digital art, but here I am, designing a whole gamut of tapestry for my friends, from wedding to baptismal invitations, from logo to website lay out, from T-shirts to tarpaulins, from menu to magazines, from prenuptial to photo booths. I essentially have my own design portfolio already, one that I didn't expect I would end up having. I may have predicted a career trajectory in IT and astronomy, but not in this sphere of profession that is almost overly saturated by digital designers and multimedia authors.

Lately, I was asked to design a photo booth for a friend's son's first birthday held at Active Fun SM North EDSA. And that picture that you saw is the finished product.

P.S.: And boys, both Katey and LadyE are already engaged.

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