Dress up your meal or ‘baon’ by going bento

This being exam week, I decided to motivate my kids to do well by making their ‘baon’ (brown bag meal) a little more special. And when I think of something more special than the usual pack of Oreos and peanut butter sandwich, all I can think about is a bento. It’s something I’ve wanted to do as a project anyway. In Japan, mothers pride themselves in making artistic bento meals for their kids. I like the fact that preparing a bento can be a good venue for creative expression as you plan the colors, textures and shapes that should go into the box. There is also room to include everything in the major food groups, rather than the junk food that our kids are bound to have. With the right presentation, kids can change their mind about eating healthy fruits and veggies after all.

My Pinoy Bento with Pokemon

I call this our Pinoy bento which the kids had as a meal in the house.

What went inside the box:

braised pork adobo with hard-boiled egg
lumpiang sariwa (fresh egg rolls made of ubod or palm tree trunk) with brown sauce
buttered mixed vegetables
cupcake with chocolate swirl (bought from our local bakery)
rice with fish ball decor

hello Kitty bento

The Hello Kitty Bento which the kids brought to school:

Spaghetti
Chicken Nuggets Fun Shapes
Mixed veggies
Star- Shaped Mini-Pancakes with syrup

veer away from the usual round pancakes by shaping it with a cookie cutter!

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Heads or Tails, Happy Cream Puff, & Kopi Roti in Malate

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The original kaya and coffee bun place, Kopi Roti, finally opens in my home base of Malate! The place is something I prefer over Starbucks and other big coffee chains..so you can just imagine my excitement when they opened in the tourist district (if you can still call it that). Afternoons now find me there to satiate my coffee with condensed milk cravings. It always makes me feel guilty to munch on their kaya toast slathered with those sinful slices of butter, but then again it’s one of those great dessert joys for me. Go ahead, ask your server to give you more kaya if you find it wanting; or ask them to reduce the milk if you want a less sweeter, stronger cuppa joe. Kopi Roti Malate is situated in Adriatico St., right in front of Hostel 1632, adjacent to Rothmann Hotel and a walking distance from Pan Pacific Manila.

Cream puffs

Happy Cream Puff was something I stumbled upon while visiting SM Southmall and I adored their cute mini sizes (priced at only P10) because they were not too sweet. The creamy center complements the toppings which comes in different flavors such as dark & white choco, almond, butter sugar and others. This is a Japanese-owned place which hasn’t franchised yet and the lone stall is in the SM Southmall food court. They also do made-to-order croquemboche for special celebrations like weddings and birthdays.

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Cowrie shells at the Cowrie Grill, Manila Hotel

This is a photo tribute to the Cowrie Grill of the Manila Hotel, one the metro’s enduring fine dining places which was opened in 1976 as a symbol of opulence of the (fill your own adjective here) Marcos era.

On a business lunch there recently, I couldn’t help but gape at the precious cowries on display. Cowrie curtains. Intricate cowrie wall accessories. And the grand centerpiece - a cowrie chandelier that is composed of 1,592 cowrie pieces stringed together (the figure is from hotel scion Emilio Yap III, hope I remembered the number right).

Hard-to-find cowries are prized by collectors from all over the world. They are also used in expensive jewelry, and even as currency in some parts. It is amazing that these gems exist in a place in Manila. I would put the Cowrie Grill on your must- go to list. If you plan to go on a date, the prices aren’t too bad either.

Cowrie chandelier

The Cowrie sun?

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Backstage with top Filipina models Isabel Roces and Bianca Valerio

We were able to catch up with top models Bianca Valerio and Isabel Roces after the Avon fashion show, where the dinner party showed that long, flowing dresses are definitely ‘in’ for summer - the longer, the better. Bianca wore a green frock which she bought for 200 baht in Bangkok while Isabel slipped on a multi-colored dress from Supre, an Australian brand.

Bianca Valerio

Here’s getting to know Bianca: “I love buying from ukay-ukay, shopping in bazaars and bargain-hunting. Among the brands, I really like Forever 21 and Salsa Trends, a local designer which has these pretty summer dresses. My favorite weakness is shoes. I have 400 pairs…it’s insane!

Isabel and my boyfriend have been trying to convert me to vegetarianism. I figure that Lent would be a good way to start. Right now, I stay fit by not eating anything fattening, oily or fried. I prefer grilled, steamed, boiled or baked. I stay away from simple carbs and as much as possible, I only eat brown rice and whole wheat bread. My only weakness are sweets. If ever I have sorbet, it means I’d have to work it off the whole day. In this business, I really have to make an effort to stay fit. I go to different schools for personality development courses and I try to practice what I preach. Living a healthy lifestyle is not a sacrifice, it’s something you can enjoy. You just have to get used to it.”

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