Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A taste of Aracama

I had an opportunity to join OpenRice PH: Eat's a Date last Friday at ARACAMA Filipino Cuisine. Together with my OpenRice buddies, Einer, Zeti, and Mickey, we went to this classy restaurant at The Fort where the Embassy was used to be. Aracama is a two-floor classy Filipino Cuisine restaurant with a contemporary touch. It was named after the former Junior Master Chef judge, Chef Fernando Aracama, whom also a part-owner of this restaurant together with the TV host, Tim Yap.
 Looks elegant on the outside and they provide a comfortable waiting area.
High ceiling on their first floor.
 Their leaf-designed wallpapers are relaxing. Having green / nature accent is a plus factor on the ambiance of the restaurant. They also use simple brown recycled paper as their table cover, which I can say, match the interiors of the place. Their lighting is also good, a feeling of tranquility, however it is not ideal for food photos. 
Bar #1. This is on the first floor of the restaurant which welcomes every customer since it's just across the door. It is quite small compare to Bar #2 and Bar #3.
The interiors are modern but they still offer that classy Filipino setting like their wooden tables and chairs. It's really spacious here.
Bar #2. It's on the second floor. A more presentable bar compare to the first. Well lit, just enough to set the mood of a bar while chatting with friends. In addition, it's also well ventilated, not too warm and not too cold for a restaurant.
Above are some pictures of the tables perfect for meetings or even just a simple get together with friends.
I really admire restaurants that offer a nature accent on their place. There's a feeling of tranquility having these plants.
Bar #3. This will be my choice of bar. It has a cozy feeling when you're there. Though this part of the restaurant is not air-conditioned, ceiling fans are there to the rescue (besides the cold weather nowadays, I believe it's not that warm during night time). Good place to hang out after a long day at work!
Oops. It's their Ladies Comfort Room. Clean and smells good! :p
A couple of small plants / bonsai are found on the table. Cute!
Malunggay Mozzarella Dip ( P195.00 ) - Spinach & vitamin fortified creamy, cheesy brulee & crostinis  for scooping. 
Wait, what? Malunggay and spinach? Err. I'm confused. Anyway, The dip was creamy, however the taste of malunggay and cheese was not that distinguishable. It didn't gave any bitter flavor. Personally, I enjoyed it even if it lacked a little magic or the wow factor.
Fish Balls ( P175.00 ) - Street food treat, made from scratch served with three dips, double dipping is encouraged.
Not your ordinary fish ball. According to the waiter, the dips are (1) sweet & sour, (2) salted vinegar, (3) spicy sweet & sour / sweet soy sauce. The third one's my favorite, almost all of us actually, though I'm not quite sure if it's really called sweet & spicy dip since I can barely taste the spiciness on that dip. Now you can eat fish balls that guarantees you clean!
Manok sa Tanglad ( P380.00 ) - Lemongrass chicken BBQ with sweet-sour garlic dip & cucumber-cilantro ensalado.
The chicken was tender however it didn't please me regarding its taste. It's bland. I can't even sense the aroma of lemongrass. Good thing the dip gave hope for this dish. A slice of chicken, a strip of atchara, and drizzle it with the cucumber dip will be a good way to add some flavor to this dish.
Binagoongang Baboy ( P 375.00 ) - Pork belly simmered in tomatoes, shrimp paste with green mango relish.
I liked the delectable taste of the sauce drizzled on the pork. The salty-sweet taste was perfectly blended. The mango relish added that sour kick that makes this dish good! As we all know, pork belly contains a bunch of fat, so don't expect all of the cutlets would be meat.
Kalo Kalo ( P110.00 ) - Negrense style fried rice in garlic achuete oil.
Savory fried rice, indeed! It was delicious and it went well with our viands for the night.
Miso Sea Bass ( P990.00 ) - Chef's signature dish of Yore, grilled fillet of white miso marinated sea bass.
This dish fascinates me. Whooping 990 pesos for this two slices of fish! Honestly, I'm not familiar on this kind of fish that's why I don't know why it's whooping expensive. Succulent and flavorful. A bit oily but tender. The fish was cooked well since it's not dry, instead it was juicy - full of flavor goodness.
Dulce Gatas + Bunuelos ( P230.00 ) - Caramelized gooey dulce de leche with warm fried pastries.
A can of yema! Maybe? The milk was caramelized for about two hours they said. It tasted like gooey yummy yema, and it can stand alone! As I tasted the oily pastry, I think the batter wasn't mixed well. It looks like a cream puff on the plate. Still, I love that dulce de leche! 
Attendace! :)

Service: The service was great! Waiters were roaming around and ready to be called. Polite, indeed. They also have enough knowledge on the food they serve; they are ready to answer your questions regarding on the food. They were always carrying that good vibes smile. However, their WIFI connection was really poor and I even didn't had a chance on connecting the internet. 

Aracama Filipino Cuisine
Unit C, The Fort Entertainment Center
5th Ave. corner 26th St., Bonifacio Global City
Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines
Telephone: +632 519-6815
Mobile: +63917 861-2702
Operating HoursMonday to Sunday, 11am to 2pm (Lunch) and 5pm to 12mn/2am (Dinner)

OpenRice PH Facebook: OpenRice Philippines

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cinemalaya 8

Cinemalaya is a Philippine Independent Film Festival. For three consecutive years, I attended this and watched films I liked. There are three categories for this film competition which are 10 New Breed Full Length, Short Feature, and Director's Showcase. Aside from these, they also show past top-grosser Cinemalaya films and also tributes, for instance, their opening film was Babae sa Breakwater by Mario O'Hara and for their closing film, a Dolphy tribute - Jack en Jill by Mar Torres.

I've watched two films on Director's Showcase category and five films on New Breed category. There were many people watching now unlike the past years. I remember 2 years ago when JM de Guzman casted Rekrut on Cinemalay 6, he wasn't that famous that I can have a picture with him. But now, mostly girls would scream for him just to see and have a picture.

My bet? I really enjoyed all the New Breed that I watched, Ang Nawawala was good. They also said that The Animals was also good, however I haven't watched it. Mga Mumunting Lihim for Director's Showcase is my bet. It was really good, one factor was that the cast was really star-studded. Bwakaw was also a good film, there were some twists that makes the film good.

Here are some pictures at Cinemalaya :)

The crowd at Intoy Syokoy's Gala Night.
Favorite! Mercedes Cabral :)
Carlo Aquino! 
Eugene Domingo!
Mga Mumunting Lihim cast.
We had our sumptuous midnight snack at Shakey's Las Pinas after watching Sta. Nina last Tuesday.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Around Baler

Our second day at Baler was for touring around the place. We went to Ditumabo Falls first. We had to trek around an hour just to see that beautiful falls. It was actually worth it. Though our outfits for the day was not intended for trekking, we're still on the go just for adventure! Unfortunately we didn't tried swimming at the falls since we don't have any extra clothes -- bottomline: we're unprepared for the trekking and swimming stuff.
With my friend, Cib :)
Clear water!
 Ditumabo Falls. How lovely! Clean and clear body of water!
 Our ride. Rocky road going to the start of the trek so we had to get out of the tricycle!

We headed to the Balete Park and climb the big 600-year-old Balete Tree. It was my first time to climb a tree and it was fun! The kids who assisted us climbing looks "sanay" so I felt safe along the way.
Yay! Going down the tree!
We dropped by to have pictures with these! Welcome to Baler, Aurora! Hahaha! We also checked the Museo de Baler, however it's under renovation.

I remembered the movie Baler in 2008 when I visited the Church. Baler was really historical (I thought) after watching that movie. The renovated Church looked like the old on an architectural basis, I guess, but personally I did not think it looks old by the way it was painted and designed right now.  It looks modernized that's why my historical-mood-at-Baler moment declined a little. Nevertheless, Baler trip is not complete until you visit the Baler Church.
All these in half a day! After the tour, we headed back to the resort to have lunch and packed our things to head back to Manila. I didn't expect the tour would be so much fun! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Surfing in Baler

They said, having a mole on the feet signifies opportunities for travel. I, even not knowing such saying, do loves to travel. And yes, I'm a type of person who can't stay at home for a long period of time doing nothing. Last June, because I really wanted to travel, my friend and I went to Baler via Travel Factor. They have a schedule of trips / organized trips for the rest of the year, so we just signed up to join their trip entitled SURFvivior Baler.

We left Manila at 12 midnight and arrived Baler at exactly 6 in the morning. Sunrise was really one of the best object to capture however, we're still on the road and I just can't miss a second watching the beautiful sunrise. Upon arrival, we had our breakfast at Amco Hotel, where we stayed. We immediately proceed to Aliya Surf Camp to begin our surfing lessons. Sabang Beach was really beautiful. Bagyong Butchoy was just leaving the Philippine area at that time, yet I can see a sunny weather during our stay at Baler.
Amco Hotel at around 8 in the morning. Sunny day ahead of us! :)
Look how amazing Baler is! :) 
Aliya Surf Camp. Super peaceful ambiance since it's not yet the surfing season! Surfing season is usually during October. Hoping to go back there on their peak season! :)
 Trying to get up! Yay! :)
 With my friend Cib, and one of the owners of Travel Factor, Ms. Tikoy Tan. 
Ms. Tikoy lend us some bodyboard to try! It was so fun! More relaxing than surfing since we didn't put much effort on this ;)
 Grilled Tuna in Lemon Butter Sauce. Me and Cib shared this as our lunch for the day. Healthy living eh? :)
 Walking through the shores of Sabang Beach after having lunch. Hahaha! Ooohh, sun burn!
Surfing at around 5 PM! :)

Surfing was great! I fell in love on this sport at that moment I learned how to stand up on the board and do the surf stance! :) The waves are not that big when we had our lessons even though there is a "bagyo". My surfing instructor said that the waves were just right for beginners. But as time goes, I crave for more - for bigger waves and try how awesome surfing is. They also said this is really a good sport and I can burn much calories. Hooray for that! :)

But wait, there's more! My surfing instructor said that Franco (he's on vocals on his band called Franco) was there so I grab the chance to have a photo with him (for the second time around). Haha! Indeed, nice body! Hahaha! :p
P.S. We had our sumptuous buffet dinner at Gerry Shan's Place just a tricycle away from the beach. It only costs P 150.00 for a sumptuous buffet and unlimited iced tea, good deal! There are many dishes to choose from, complete from the soup to the fresh fruits for dessert. A Baler trip isn't complete without trying at Gerry Shan's.
The group! Though we didn't got the chance to bond further, I learned a lot from some about their experiences as a traveller. One of the best weekend of this year! 

More pictures on my FB here.