Monday, September 15, 2008

Confessions of a chocoholic

Hi. My name is Meleen and I'm a chocoholic.

No, seriously.

When I was working in Advertising, I handled Hershey's as one of my accounts. When I first met the Client, they had a fishbowl filled with mini Hershey's chocolates on the table during our meeting. I told the Client I was a chocoholic. He just gave a polite smile, maybe thinking that I was just patronizing him. Ten minutes into the meeting, I had already gobbled seven mini- chocolate bars and was unwrapping my eighth bar. With an unbelieving look, he told me "wow, you are a chocoholic!." Told ya.

But I wrote to share about my new chocolate find. Classic Confections in Greenbelt 5.

Ever since I started working in Quezon City four years ago, I've really been out of touch with anything and everything in Makati. Not that I miss Makati that much -- the awful traffic and all -- awful is such an understatement. I keep telling people that if I probably add up the time I spent going to and from work in Makati for nine years, I must've wasted my life in traffic for at least 6 months.

But I digress.

Just a few weeks ago, one of my sisters and I visited Classic Confections. I've heard so much about CC in several food blogs so I decided to do some sister bonding and get some cocoa rush at the same time. I admit, I was a bit disappointed when I found out that CC only served desserts. I hadn't had dinner yet but since I was already there and didn't want to move to another location, I opted to just have cookies and coffee while my sister opted for some Hot Chocolate.

I wasn't able to taste my sister's hot chocolate but from the look on her face when she first sipped from her delicate little cup, it was a drink worth going back for. The cookies were ok, not too sweet and just the right fudgy-crumbly feel.

While waiting for my cookies, what also caught my attention were the sugar cookies on display. I decided to buy the flipflop design for our youngest sister and a soccer ball cookie for my son. But because my son decided to postpone eating the cookie the next day, his dad beat him to it. Awww.

Since I had read so much about CC's Nono's Chocolate Oblivion, I bought a petite version to try at home. One of these days, I'll try Meline's Chocolate Cake as well -- just because its name sounds like mine. Haha.

Aside from cookies, CC also offers mini cupcakes and other chocolate-covered goodies wrapped in plastic bags or pretty golden tin cans.

If you have a chocolate-themed wedding or would just like to give away something to munch on rather than a keepsake that might just be one of those "dust-gatherers," you might want to visit Classic Confections and take a look at goodies that you might like as your souvenirs. A little chocolate never hurt anyone...uh, unless you're allergic to chocolate. I'm so glad I'm not!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wedding dash

I haven't been playing computer games in a quite a while. My sister told me that there's an updated version of Wedding Dash, a cute game about a wedding planner/coordinator. This is the "cousin" of the famous Diner Dash where a waitress, Flo tries to serve several types of characters.

Of course, this one's just a game, but imagine all the game challenges happening in a real wedding --- I don't think there'll be wedding coordinator left in this world, unless you're a masochist. Imagine rowdy, drunk or demanding guests that you'll have to manage, or dogs and bees at a wedding, how about a cake that keeps wanting to tip over?

The fun part of course is deciding on the type of cake, flowers, food and honeymoon destination of the couple based on their preference. Like most wedding-related things, I love this game!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Magazine magnet

Wedding magazines, that is.

From my last count, I think I have around 30 books and magazines about weddings, maybe more. Magazines with wedding cakes, dresses, souvenirs, flowers. I never really intended to collect them, but ask any collector, that's how collections usually start. You buy one and you get hooked.

Now why do I keep buying wedding magazines if I already got married four years ago? And don't these magazines print the same thing for every issue -- gowns, veils, make-up, etc.?

I guess I just really like peeking into other people's weddings. I like looking at ceremony and reception set-ups. Everything's usually frilly and light and romantic -- even if the theme was goth or the colors used were darker than the cliche pastel palettes, love permeates through the photos and even goth can make you all giddy. :-)

Also, unlike new restaurants that I can easily visit or movies I can watch when I feel like it, I really don't think I can go to weddings everyday or even every year. I'm not a politician or a celebrity or goodness me, is there such a thing as a wedding critic whom people would like to invite to their wedding? Almost all of my first cousins and my closest friends are already married and it will be quite a while until the next batch of cousins start getting married. So, I resort to buying wedding magazines or when I'm not overly busy, I drop by wedding fairs. :-)

Posted here are the latest wedding inspirations I bought. Of course, nothing beats the sheer delight that a Martha Stewart Wedding magazine brings. I can gush all day looking at the pretty pictures. Martha's really great with details. Also, compared to our local magazines which have a gazillion ads -- yes, I know, there wouldn't be a magazine if not for the ads -- Martha's wedding magazines really bring out new ideas.

If I'm not mistaken, long before Wedding Essentials or Metro Weddings, Summit Media was the first local (premium) magazine to come out with a wedding magazine -- Cosmo Bride. This was discontinued after only two years (or was it three?) for reasons unknown to me. But hallelujah, this September, Summit Media will be launching Martha Stewart Weddings Philippines. Here's the write up I got (in verbatim) from the Summit Media site:

Martha Stewart Weddings Philippines to launch in September 2008

martha_stewart_weddings.jpgThe premiere name in wedding magazines is now in the Philippines: Martha Stewart Weddings. Summit Media has scored another coup by being the first publisher to launch Martha Stewart Weddings outside the United States.

Martha Stewart Weddings sets the standard for the bride and groom. The magazine takes the couple from the engagement to the honeymoon, inspiring them to imagine their ideal celebration, then giving them the information and advice they need to bring their vision to life. The magazine will provide the bride and groom all the details they can use to make their wedding day truly their own—from cakes and correspondence to flowers and favors and all the elements in between.

Edited by Tata Mapa and led by Associate Publisher, Tara Santos, the magazine will take the best of the American edition while making it relevant for every Filipino bride. The local edition of Martha Stewart Weddings will include ideas and inspiration that work in the Philippine context.

Martha Stewart Weddings Philippines will be released in September 2008 with a cover price of P295 and will be distributed in bookstores, newsstands and wherever Summit magazines are found nationwide.

Happy, happy, joy, joy! :-)

Lately, Wedding Essentials magazine has been putting more substance to balance the usual mock set-ups and photos of accessories, flowers, gowns, and other wedding paraphernalia. WE usually features charming set-ups to give readers suggestions on how they can make their weddings stand out versus the let's-get-this-over-with-I-really-don't-care-about-the-decor kind of wedding and that's the kind of wedding magazine I like. I usually steer away from the American wedding magazines which are not only doubly expensive than their local counterparts, but have too much of gowns and too little relevant articles that are not that helpful in planning a Filipino wedding.

WE magazine recently featured brides in colorful wedding gowns. Of course, my mind was saying "that was me four years ago" -- I swear, my fashion sense is so futuristic.

One of Wedding Essentials' mock up settings

And so, I shall probably continue my wedding book and magazine collection for as long as I can -- maybe up until I can publish a book or magazine of my own. :-)
*no copyright infringement intended

Saturday, August 09, 2008

T for Two

Four years.

It's been four years since I was a bride. Then I turned into a wife. And now a mother of two.

I'm guessing my almost five months of absence in the blog world is already an indication of how hectic work life has been. Hubby and I have just been shuttling in and out of the house to work, sleep, eat, work again. This was why I wanted to celebrate our wedding anniversary by going out of town.

I took a leave on our anniversary date and after we dropped off our eldest at school, we took off for Tagaytay. I made reservations at T-house, a quiet, little boutique hotel nestled at the Tagaytay Ridge. If you took the Sta. Rosa road like we did, take a left and you'll see T-house on your left in less than 5 minutes, of driving that is. If you pass by a church, the Ina ng Laging Saklolo, you've missed it. The church and T-house are literally next door neighbors.

I made reservations for lunch -- for two. You could say it was simply serendipitous that since hubby has been recently on a healthy-eating streak, T-house was the perfect choice. We usually celebrate our anniversary at hotel or restaurant buffets because of hubby's insatiable appetite but this year was different. (Although I did bring my Mandarin GCs for a possible buffet dinner too, in case he got hungry later on. Haha.)

So off we went to Tagaytay. To set the mood, hubby was playing some songs from his ipod, songs which were played and sung during our wedding ceremony and reception. Awww.

Fortunately, the traffic was light that day at SLEX and in about an hour and 15 minutes, we arrived at T-house. It was everything the website said it would be. Once you enter, you would want to stay the entire day, or even overnight. Birds were twittering, fountains a-gurgling, the T-house staff moving about -- unhurriedly gardening and spreading out new table cloths for the outdoor tables. It was I like I died and went to stress-free heaven. A momentary escape from the endless clicking of keyboards, tooting of horns and neverending meetings. I've been kidding my officemates recently that my life has become a series of meetings, peppered with oculars and events. Even my gym instructor and massage therapist have been a cause of stress because they've been constantly calling and texting me to book a schedule with them. Talk about pressure.

But back to my Zen moment.

Happily, and slowly walking -- gliding is more like it -- through the Zen-inspired pathways, looking above at the fruit bearing trees where T-house gets the harvest for making their own fruit jams, I was living in the moment of tranquility. Darn, I can live like this!

The sofas at the reception area

The dining area - al fresco on the 2nd floor and indoor on the ground level

Entry to the dining room

It was a late lunch so hubby and I went straight to the dining room which was, unlike city restaurants, uncluttered and relaxing. You'd really think time was suddenly slower than usual so you could enjoy your meals properly. Bite, taste, chew, savor. It was like the movie Ratatouille's lead character, Remy the Rat, delightfully relishing every flavor and texture of the food he ate versus my daily "I-just-need-to-eat-now-so-I-can-meet-a-deadline" kind of lunch.

We had two different set lunches so that hubby and I could poke each other's food and taste more for our first visit. In our excitement, or maybe due to hunger, we weren't able to take photos of the first part of the meal, the soup. T-house usually serves four kinds, although one of the flavors, Broccoli and Almond was not available so I had a double dose of the Carrot and Coriander soup. My hubby is not a big fan of mushrooms, except perhaps for Mushroom burger, so I finished his mushroom soup as well. He liked his tomato soup so much that I only managed to grab half a spoon just to taste it.

Next was the salad. I must say I loved the smokey flavor of the grilled vegetables, laced with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Hubby's salad was sweeter, with slivers of dried mangoes and cubes of kesong puti (white cheese).

T-house salad on top, grilled vegetable salad bottom

I was busy taking photos outside the dining area when the main course arrived so I wasn't able to take a picture of hubby's rack of ribs before he dove into the perfectly mashed potatoes. I have very bad photos of my own meal, a fillet of mahi-mahi with a sauce whose name I forgot that camouflaged slices of mushroom and capsicum. Yey! More mushroom for me! Somewhere between tasting hubby's dish and finishing my own, I actually felt full already. Imagine that. Ready for my dessert!

The mahi-mahi. I warned you it was a bad photo. :-P

And there it was, two shot glasses filled with mango and green tea panna cotta.

Mango Panna Cotta & Green Tea Panna Cotta

Banana-langka crumble

Knowing me, I would've finished both flavors as well as hubby's banana-langka crumble which was piping hot enough for the sweetness to slither its way from my tiny spoon to my tongue. Oooh. But alas, I wasn't able to finish dessert. Perhaps the peace I was imbibing from my surroundings was enough to satisfy me. The food had served its purpose of nourishing me. Yet my soul was the one who was yearning for more. A tiny voice was nagging me as our car exited T-house's driveway -- "Do I really need to go back to work tomorrow?"

That's me and hubby with our unica hija, Iya.
Behind us is T-house's display case of homemade fruit jams, bagoong and cookies.

In the car, I was already conniving with hubby to spend New Year's Eve at T-house so I could get the total T-house experience. I gave myself a mental note: Must reserve soon, because December is usually fully booked.

Since Tagaytay weddings have become popular, I would recommend T-house either as a preparation venue for the bridal party and/or where you can have your honeymoon. Complete with a spa, T-house is really the venue that will help you relax as you go through your last minute wedding preps.

You might even want to consider giving away T-house goodies -- fruit jams or cookies or even the treats from the spa like soaps, scrubs, even mosquito repellants.

I wasn't able to inquire whether the next door neighbor (Ina ng Laging Saklolo) accepts weddings, but if they do, you can at least be sure that the bride or groom won't be late for the ceremony. :-)

T House
3195 Calamba Road, Tagaytay City
(046) 4830011, (046) 4830012
0922-8THouse, 09163684918, 09289409954

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mind your french

I really don't know what it is that fascinates me about France -- or things that are french. I haven't even been to France. The closest encounter I've had with anything french is my french language class in college. That is why, unfortunate as it may be, I can only mutter a few french words. I was glad I took that class because when I visited Montreal, Quebec, I would've scalded my hands at a public restroom had I not understood what F (froid) and C (chaud) meant.

Maybe it's because of all the movies I've watched that portrays France, specifically Paris as one of, if not THE most romantic city in the world. I would really love to visit the Louvre and spend an entire day looking at probably the most beautiful collection of sculptures and paintings of all time. I would love to sample different wines and cheeses or nurse a cup of chocolat chaud in a Parisian cafe while savoring the sights and scents of the city. Dessert Comes First even featured this city a few years back and boy, was I green with envy.

I could get lost in the streets of Paris, simply looking at pretty little shops or visit a quaint little marketplace and just be delighted with familiar produce with french names. Simple joys, really.

I can't say I'm interested in fashion or buying designer bags or shoes. I remember watching The Devil Wears Prada and the snooty assistant was so eager to go to Paris for the annual fashion festival. Ho hum, I say. I'd rather spend an entire day at a bakery or pastry shop. Whatever the reason is for my affection with France, I'm definitely not leaving this world until I set foot where the Eiffel Tower is located. :-)

Back here in Manila, should you decide to put a little french touch to your wedding, aside from Le Souffle at the Fort and the Champagne Room at The Manila Hotel which both serve impeccable food, you might want to check out some places I've visited recently:

Cuillere (kwee-yer) is one of those restaurants in Serendra I've been wanting to visit since last year. Whenever I'm in Serendra, I only get as far as checking out the stores in Bonifacio High Street and then reward myself with Sonja's cupcakes. Last week, my sister and I finally had the time to enter the little French cafe in Serendra that is Cuillere. From the outside, it really looks like one of those Parisian cafes I only see in photos and movies. Inside though, it's a regular restaurant with one of the walls painted with flowers.

My sister ordered pasta and I ordered the baked chicken. Might not have been the best in the menu, but it was ok for my first visit. I did enjoy my milkshake though -- I guess this is because the owners are the same makers of Arce Ice Cream. Slurp.

Cuillere caters for weddings and corporate events and has established itself as one of the best caterers in the Metro Manila.

January of this year, the owners of Firma opened a new shop in Greenbelt 5, AC+632. I never really thought about why the store was named as such until I told my boss about it and she told me that it was "area code +632" -- Manila's area code. Ohhhkayyy.

Soap chips (pick your scent!)

Honey and jams


Fancy plates and cups

I was just curious what the store offered and discovered delightful things inside that could either be wedding gifts (for the couple), souvenirs or entourage gifts. It had fancy soaps, incense, tea, colorful plates and cups, garden tools, accessories, journals, and I went out of the store with a new pair of earrings. If you want wedding keepsakes with a french "feel" to it, AC+632 might just be the place you're looking for.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Big and small weddings (and attending during the ceremony only)

Last December, I attended the wedding of my hubby's churchmate, Dindin. Actually, the last I heard was they she and her boyfriend (now husband), Nickson(?) had broken up so I was surprised to find out that they were getting married. Most of the people close to Dindin and Nickson were able to witness the couple’s challenges prior to the date at the altar. But as they say in the vernacular, “pagkahaba-haba man ng prusisyon, sa simbahan din ang uwi” (or something like that). Some people may think of challenges prior to a marriage as something short of a premonition of things to expect in the future. On the other hand, if two people can overcome whatever problems are thrown at them before the marriage, everything else that happens after the wedding may just be a walk in the park.

It was an intimate affair wherein both the ceremony and reception was held at a quaint events venue in the heart of Marikina. Sadly, some of the guests were not able to make it due to the inevitable Christmas rush. Hubby and I, after finishing the ceremony weren't able to stay for the reception as well because of work. That said, it was heartwarming to see all of Dindin's friends and relatives wiping tears of joy during the ceremony.

A month after Dindin’s wedding, hubby and I attended the wedding of young actress Maybeline dela Cruz and her now husband, Mike who currently holds public office in Dagupan where the newlyweds are now based.

Now, we all know what usually happens when we mix showbiz weddings with politics…chaos! Kidding aside, half expecting a battalion of bodyguards and wedding coordinators running amuck, I was so glad to see that I was the only one walking around Manila Cathedral taking as many photos as I could to preserve memories of what must've been one of the most elegantly, solemnly executed weddings in the last decade or so. No paparazzis, no overly glaring lights, no screaming and whining children from the entourage, all cameras were set near the altar and during the exchange of vows, you could've heard a pin drop. Definitely NOT your typical showbiz nor political wedding at all! I guess it helped that Manila Cathedral, a favorite venue for grand weddings, has strict guidelines when it comes to the ceremony requirements. First time photographers and videographers have to go through a seminar before the wedding to ensure that they follow the Cathedral’s rules and regulations.

Kudos goes to the couple, especially Maybeline who personally chose the wedding details and supervised everything from start to finish. It was even raining that day, and her reception was held by the poolside of the Coconut Palace with over 500 guests all over the country. But bless Maybeline, her positive outlook and personality wasn't affected by anything.

Sadly, again, because of work, hubby and I couldn’t make it to the reception. I would’ve wanted to see the all-white floral set-ups, Maybeline serenading her husband, followed by a dazzling fireworks display. Sigh.

Here are some of the photos I took before hubby and I made a french exit:

A full shot of the altar and the couple

During the homily

The vows

Calla lillies on the wedding car for the all-white wedding theme

To Dindin and Nickson, Maybeline and Mike, Congratulations and best wishes!

Friday, February 15, 2008

27 dresses

About two weeks ago, my youngest sister convinced me to watch 27 dresses starring Katherine Heigl. Not that I wasn't planning to watch it considering that it's a movie about weddings (which I love), but it was just out of a whim that night. Halfway through the movie, I found myself swooning over James Marsden.

For those who haven't watched it yet, 27 dresses is about Jane, a perennial bridesmaid who loves weddings and puts everyone's needs before her own. (I can so relate -- but then again, I was always a host, never a bridesmaid!)

Not only does the movie poke fun at weddings and brides who force their bridesmaids to wear dreadful dresses -- some of them with crazy themes, it also has a more semi-serious note to make sure you know your groom- or bride-to-be well enough before you marry him (or her). I really don't want to be a spoiler so I'll let you all watch the movie and hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A new year's eve marriage proposal

Happy new year!

* * *

Being the kitchen-challenged gal that I am, I decided to order food for New Year's Eve dinner at La Cocina de Tita Moning, a 1937 ancestral house in the district of San Miguel, Manila. I've only dined here once and I've been meaning to try out their other menus but I've been postponing like anything. Maybe it's because the place is so near to where I live that I want to try other restaurants somewhere not so close to home -- like somewhere which requires me to pay toll. Haha.

Going to La Cocina has been a tradition for me and hubby during the Christmas season because this is where we buy gifts for friends and relatives. Everyone raves about the Queso de Bola spread and other goodies you can only buy at La Cocina like the Salsa de Monja, a tangy side dish made of pickled shallots and olives.

For some reason, ancestral houses fascinate me and that's what first attracted me to La Cocina. There's something about historical things that make me gush. So when I first dined at La Cocina, it was a historically sensory experience for me -- the antique china and flatware, the vintage collections in the different rooms of the house, and most especially, the heirloom recipes.

The antique armoires and modern-day refs that showcase La Cocina's bottled goodies (walnut vinaigrette, tomato sauce, bagoong, lengua de gato, bread pudding, salsa de monja and the famous queso de bola spread)

For new year's eve, I ordered two days in advance their slowly roasted pork with candied camote and their famous bread pudding. On new year's day lunch, my cousins didn't give the bread pudding a chance to settle -- it was gone within minutes, and to think I ordered the biggest size. Yup, that's how good it is.

As chance would have it, when I picked up my order on new year's eve, there was a table setting for a couple. The attentive staff told me that the man was going to propose that evening. How's that for starting the new year? Awww.

On the second floor was a dinner setting for a couple on New Year's Eve. They were still munching on appetizers at the patio when I took this photo.

Couldn't resist taking a photo of Tita Moning's wedding gown which I was told has been passed on (and used by the succeeding female Legardas)

Hubby and I once considered La Cocina de Tita Moning as a possible wedding reception venue considering its proximity to San Beda Church where we got married. However, the dining room can only accomodate a maximum of 30 heads and we were estimating 150 guests. Using the garden and patio area was not an option because we wanted a morning wedding and that would mean exposing our guests to the sun and heat for a lunch reception. Yes, I suppose we could've used tents but still, it may have been humid for an August affair.

With the limitations of the venue yet thinking of the good food, I would recommend having a Despedida de Soltera or like some bachelors have done, stage your marriage proposal at La Cocina for a romantic turn of the century feel.

La Cocina de Tita Moning

Address :
#315 San Rafael Street, San Miguel District, Manila
Telephone Number :
(+632) 7342146 / (+632) 7342141
Facsimile Number :
(+632) 7342141
Mobile Number : from Overseas :
(look for
Suzette Montinola)
from Manila :
Email address :