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Mercato Centrale – Part I

We finally got to visit Mercato Centrale at Bonifacio Global City (“BGC”) yesterday morning! Mercato Centrale is the latest addition to the weekend market trend in Manila. The timing of our trip was perfect as we just finished a light run at the BGC jogging lane (gotta prepare for the Greentennial Run!) and we were so ready to have breakfast! 

The stalls at the Mercato Centrale were located in three tents, an outdoor one (top photo) where all the grilled and fried food were sold, and two airconditioned ones (one is pictured above). As there were so many stalls and we had so little time (we had an appointment with the kitchen cabinet maker — ooops, still on kitchen post break!), I only took pictures of the stalls that caught my eye or were owned by good friends 🙂

Interesting pottery and an even more interesting display set-up. (That’s my little girl over there.) I loved how some of the products were displayed inside a vintage floral suitcase, and how the others were put on raisers of varying heights.

I was immediately drawn to this stall because of those two Le Creuset round and oval dutch ovens, and the overall stall setup. The dutch ovens were atop food warmers, the cupcakes were carefully balanced on a tiered cardboard rack (though ceramic or coated metal would have been better?), raisers were also used and the oh-so-cute-children-of-the-world themed sugar cookies were displayed inside a colander!

Here they are up close 🙂

This stall also sold very fresh, crispy and unseasoned “terra chips” which I think are camote (i.e., sweet potato) chips of different varieties. These were so good and seemed healthier than good old potato chips so I bought a big bag for Php250.00 (or approximately US$5.67). Oh and check out that blue glass fruit bowl! Another nice touch:-)

Here’s the stall of a good friend and an extended family member, Bopeep Arroyo (lady standing on the left), and her friend (seated). They also have a stall at the Eastwood Mall. They sell a load of things such as fresh jams, bottled laing (i.e. taro leaves cooked with coconut milk, shrimps and chilis), siomai and… 

…cheese pies (partially seen in photo) baked just the way they did back in the 80s! For me, the star of their stall were these super delicious organic salted duck eggs!!!! I gave these away as gifts for Christmas (they were nestled in cute baskets) and they were such a hit! The eggs were salty but not overly so, rich, creamy and oily, just how excellent salted duck eggs should taste like! 🙂

This was how I served the eggs at a December lunch. Fresh salad of sliced tomatoes, onions, organic salted duck eggs and lato (type of seaweed). Very Filipino, very simple but so satisfying!!!

The story behind the organic salted duck eggs explains why they are so damn good:

“The ducks are regularly fed with natural and farm-prepared food consisting of raw and dried cassava, camote (sweet potato), gabi and sakwa all supplied by local prodcuers and farm cooperatives.

Complementing the root crops are rice bran, over-ripe fruits, green legumes, earthworms, maggots and even insects.

Each day, up to six tons of young and juvenile mollusks like shells and pond snails are gathered from the vast Laguna de Bay and fed to the flock fourt times a day.

The ducks do not eat fish or fish by-products to prevent ‘off flavors’ from contaminating the rich flavor of the eggs, nor do they eat any meat by-products.

‘Many feed companies had been offering their products to us, saying they have the right mix appropriate for ducks,’ Leo, the farm owner relates. ‘But when you’re into duck egg production, there can be no better substitute for young shells and pond snails because these calcium-rich aquatic food ingredients help form richer egg yolk and thicker egg shell that add premium to our prudcts,’ he explains.

These organic duck eggs are cured in salt and soil mixture for 18 days.”

(For inquiries, call or text Zerla at 0917-8153132 or Bopeep at 09178307399 / 02-4754502) 


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Having Tea in Manila

As you may have noticed, the “high tea” concept has subtly caught on in Manila. (I shall not argue the distinction between afternoon tea and high tea here…) It seems that there are two establishments that are quite popular for their tea offerings – Manila Peninsula and Bizu Patisserie. Those who prefer to sip tea in chichi fashion almost always head off to the Manila Pen lobby for high tea, while those who prefer to have casual tea opt for Bizu.
But what if you want to host an exclusive and private tea party for quite a number of guests which include children? Not only that, what if you want the party to exude restrained luxury and authentic old world charm? Is there such a place in Manila? Why yes, I believe there is! Look what I discovered while “researching” at that highly accessible and entertaining resource library called Facebook (thanks Amelia for allowing me to post!):   

Quail Eggs with Caviar on an Heirloom Fan Dish


Cheese Borek with Mango Salsa

Sesame Crusted Shrimp

Profiteroles, Mini Apple Tarts and Tea Sandwiches

Cherry Cheesecake Shots

The ever popular chocolate fountain!

This wonderful gem of a place is called Barbara’s. It’s located at Plaza San Luis in Manila’s historical Intramuros (www.barbarasrestaurantandcatering.com). A little off topic, Barbara’s was the caterer at my wedding seven(!) years ago and really, their taste in food, flowers and arrangements was (and still is) impeccable! I’m a fan 🙂

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Remembering Provence – a break from the kitchen posts

In 2007, I travelled to France with a then new acquaintance (now a good friend), to attend the wedding of a common dear friend. From Paris, we took the train to Laudun, Provence, where we stayed at a delightfully rustic bed and breakfast, Le Mas de Caesar. The b&b is pictured above along with its owner, Pascal Emaille. The lean-to house on the right is the home of Pascal and his wife, Brigette.  

We stayed in one of only three rooms in the b&b. The fact that there were only three rooms lent more charm to the place and made our stay extra special. The sumptuous four-poster bed, mediterranean tiles, warm hues and muted lights in the well-appointed room instantly won our hearts! So much attention to details!

Our room had an en suite bathroom…

…where the proprietor had thoughtfully placed requisite provencal olive oil soaps for our use. Again, such glorious details!

The windows opened up to a view of a natural wooden archway flanked by lavender bushes. Beyond the archway were young grape vines and pine trees. Instinctively, I breathed in the air expecting to smell lavender, pine trees and perhaps fruit. Surprisingly, the air did not smell of anything but was undeniably fresh and crisp. It was also my first encounter with wooden shutters that actually had a purposeful use aside from aesthetics. The shutters served as protection against the occasional strong and cold wind called the mistral.

Each morning, we had our breakfast under the shade of a sprawling olive tree.

We were served very fresh bread, homemade jam, freshly squeezed orange juice, kiwi, hot chocolate and, my absolute favorite…

cherries freshly picked from the b&b’s orchard!

Pascal took us on a little tour of the orchard and the vineyards. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the cherry tree which was heavy with fruit!

There were also fig trees and many, many others!

While taking a walk in the vineyards, Pascal stopped to show us a mistral-beaten wild cherry tree which, in cruel contrast, grew beside a mistral shelter. Pascal took pains to climb it and gather some fruit for us to taste. Although smaller than the cherries from the orchard, the wild cherries were sweeter.

We were surrounded by endless, disciplined rows of grapevines and also by a still silence. The entire experience was beautiful, peaceful and stirred nostalgic sentiments even if I had never set foot there before.

At one point, Pascal asked us where we were from to which we replied “Manila in the Philippines.” Upon hearing this, his eyes lit up. “Oh you are from Manille!” he said. He then enthusiastically invited us to his house as he wanted to show us something. We could not figure out what it was he wanted us to see.

Could it be his provencal kitchen? Although charming, this was not what he wanted us to see. (This was what I wanted to see 🙂 I will not write about the kitchen though as I am taking a break from kitchen posts.)

He took us to a corner of his living room where, near the seating area, a soft spotlight shone against a treasured painting on the wall.


“Do you know where I bought this painting?” Pascal asked. After a few wrong guesses (Paris? Rome?), he finally said: “I bought this in Boracay!” It was a painting of the streets of Binondo. Apparently, Pascal and his family previously vacationed in Boracay where they chanced upon this painting which was up for sale. He bought the beautiful painting as he found the brush strokes very artistically rendered. Of course, painting aside, Pascal and his family fell in love with Boracay just like all the other visitors to the island 🙂 

So there we were, in the heart of Provence, amidst picturesque vineyards and an orchard, staring at a lovely painting by an unidentifiable Filipino painter. It was really just a happy coincidence, nothing of major national interest or relevance, but our hearts swelled with national pride just the same. 


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Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

When I fell in love with the kitchen design that I posted twice before, I also fell in love with the hardware used on the kitchen drawers, particularly this one:

I have been looking for these locally but with no success. Ace Hardware carries a similar one, but in a semi-circle cup pull design. Also nice, but not the one that I want. Thanks to a friend of mine, I discovered that these are available online from www.restorationhardware.com. It seems that my best option so far would be to purchase them online and then have them shipped here.

Before I buy online, would anyone know of a better or cheaper alternative? 🙂 

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More Kitchen Designs

Remember this photo of my original kitchen design peg?  




 Photo credit: www.desiretoinspire.com


 As I previously wrote, I would have to change the design because I discovered that two of the kitchen cabinets kept a circuit breaker and a generator switchbox from view. So fixated was I with this design that I wanted to retain every other design aspect except for the cabinets, which I would have to change to closed white cabinets. But then I realized that 70% of the design’s appeal is attributable to the open shelves with the robin egg blue background. (If you’re wondering about the remaining 30%, I would say that 25% would go to the mediterranean tile backsplash and the remaining 5% to everything else.) Without the cheery open shelves, the rest of the kitchen would not look pulled together.


I am thus on a quest for alternative kitchen designs. As I am quite sold on installing closed white cabinets as well as a stainless steel oven with decorative hood (as pictured above), the overall look of the kitchen would rely heavily on the backsplash.  


 Here are some design ideas that I gathered from www.coastalliving.com. In my non-expert opinion, this website is an excellent design resource for those living in the Philippines where the climate is tropical/semi-tropical and where it is almost perpetually sunny.  


The dark mosaic tile backsplash might work. But it’s a bit too masculine for my taste. 


 How about a mother of pearl backsplash?   


 Turquoise! 🙂 This one is nice too, except that the stainless steel appliances would be misfits in a turquoise kitchen.       


 What about an all white backsplash? This could work too.  



What do you guys think? 🙂


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Julia Child’s Kitchen

Sometime last May 2010, I got to see Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Having just read Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia, I really made it a point to check the kitchen out!

According to the museum’s website, Julia Child donated her kitchen to the Smithsonian sometime in November 2001 when she moved out of her Massachusetts home to return to her native California. The kitchen was designed by her husband Paul in 1961. Here are some of the pictures that I took. Pardon the odd sizes as I had to crop myself out ;p 

Did Julie Powell leave her offering of Land O’ Lakes butter here? 🙂


This kitchen was way ahead of its time.


Everything was within easy reach…


 …including her copper cookware! 🙂 Look at how her husband outlined each pan on the pegboard to ensure that all of them would be returned to their proper place. Such a practical way of keeping track of the pans! So, how does this stack up against Martha Stewart’s copper cookware collection? (See previous post on The Ultimate Copper Cookware Collection.) My vote still goes to Martha (not that my vote is relevant or that there’s an actual contest) but then again, Julia’s kitchen was built way back in 1961.    


Her cast iron cookware!


This was not part of Julia Child’s kitchen but it was on display at the museum. It’s an antique Detroit Jewel oven from the 1930s. Beautiful!

Hope you enjoyed that little tour! I will see if I can dig up other interesting kitchen photos.

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An Ideal “Dirty” Kitchen

To cut down on renovation costs, my husband and I decided not to engage the services of an interior designer. We figured that we could very well just rely on our contractor, our good taste(!) and ideas culled from tons of online images and design magazines. So far, we (okay I…) have successfully narrowed down our (okay my…) design choices for the show kitchen, bedrooms, dining room, etc.

But the dirty kitchen has me stumped :-S   Try to google “dirty kitchen” and you will come up with zero images. Try googling “utility kitchen” and you will not come up with any useful images either. I have not come across any local design or home magazine that has featured dirty kitchens (but of course…) so I really have no design peg for it.

Well not really. I did come across one aspirational image of a “dirty” kitchen in another blog, heart-2-heart-online.com. In one of the blog entries, the blogger, Rica (who graciously allowed me to post the picture that she took -thank you!-),  featured her friend’s show kitchen and “dirty” kitchen (or as heart-2-heart so aptly described it, the “serious kitchen”!). Here is how the “dirty” kitchen looks like: 

All I can say is WOW! Never have I used “quotation marks” this deliberately and emphatically! If my “dirty” kitchen looked like that, I would be in big trouble because then I would have to ban everyone from using the show kitchen AND the dirty kitchen! I would also have to construct a third and actual dirty kitchen for everyday cooking! 🙂

Any ideas out there for a dirty kitchen design?

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The (Very Dirty) Dirty Kitchen

As I mentioned in a previous post, the old house that we purchased came with a spacious but very dirty, dirty kitchen. It holds a lot of promise though. I could picture it being a very efficient, organized and busy area during its heyday.

Here are some pictures. Please try to view them with a creative eye so that you will see the potential 🙂  


I intend to keep the vintage curlicue wrought iron gates and clerestory jalousie windows! 🙂 The doorway at the end leads to the garden and is also secured by curlicue wrought iron gates.


Here’s another angle. The screen door leads to the indoor kitchen.


And another angle. Definitely no open shelves for me.

Admittedly, just looking at the pictures can be very daunting, creative eye notwithstanding :-S  As in the indoor “show” kitchen, I intend to have everything stripped off (except for the gates and windows) and painted. And then what?? What to do, what to do…

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My Humble Copper Cookware Collection

Maybe I should not even call it a collection as four pieces(!) hardly count as a collection! “Finds” sounds more apt and unpretentious 🙂 Before I even proceed to post the pictures, could you please try to forget Martha Stewart’s copper cookware collection first?? My “finds” will look miserable and pathetic next to them. Hahaha! So here goes…

First up, an oval serving ware. Its brass handles bear the brand Centuria Baumlin, supposedly vintage French based on my quick google search.

Next one is a copper water kettle with ceramic blue and white handles. There is no brand on the kettle but it may have been manufactured in the Netherlands or Korea. My only basis for the speculated origins is ebay. There are a lot of similar ones out there and they are described as Dutch or Korean-made. (Don’t you just hate it when what you once thought was unique is actually very common on ebay? :-S) I suspect this is Korean as the ceramic blue and white handles do not bear the same melting quality as delft blue ones. I’m no expert so don’t take me too seriously on that one 🙂 Oh that’s me in the reflection (eeek!). Result of too much Glo polish!

The last ones are a couple of pans bearing the brand Laminaco. These are made in Colombia. An internet search did not yield much about the brand except that there is a Laminaco copper smelter in Colombia.

Here they are all lined up 🙂

I cannot for the life of me, remember where I stored the crude copper cooking utensils that I purchased at a thrift shop! I will try to hunt for them. I may have given them to my mom. Maybe when I’ve reclaimed them, I can then legitimately call my finds a collection? 🙂

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