05 September 2014

Reco | Mayura Wagyu

I'm going to tease an article for the Inquirer this Sunday.

It's about Mayura steak. First time I tried this steak was at Antonio's in Tagaytay. An auspicious trip to check out Tonyboy Escalante's new bar (it was too dark to take photos!) as he also happened to be testing - at the time - this Tomahawk steak. This is how the steak looks taken by a
professional photographer.

mayura steak philippines antonios tagaytay

Note that this is actually the steak we ate. Here's how it looks via iphone haha 

To give you perspective on how large it is: 

mayura steak philippines antonios tagaytay

Sooo good. 

Another Mayura option: bone marrow! As in Wagyu bone marrow. 

mayura steak philippines antonios tagaytay

Upside: incredible flavor. Downside: these are only available at Antonio's so you will have to make the drive to Tagaytay. 

Here in Manila, rib eye is available at Allium in Legazpi Village, Makati: 

mayura steak philippines allium makati

As well as sirloin and cap rib eye:

mayura steak philippines allium makati

This meat is fantabulous.

Sharing where else Mayura steak is available and what makes it so special in this Sunday's Inquirer Business!

28 August 2014

Restaurant Alert | Linguini Fini at the SM Mega Fashion Hall

Linguini Fini Hong Kong Vinny Lauria Margaux Salcedo Geoffrey Wu
Linguini Fini HK 2011. Executive Chef Vinny Lauria, Geoffrey Wu + Erika Aquino, Wilson Lu, margauxlicious.

18 August 2014

Theater | Rabbit Hole

FINALLY watched Rabbit Hole, a production of Red Turnip Theater. 

In my ignorance, my impression was that it would be a light play because for some reason the first thing I associated "rabbit hole" was Alice in Wonderland (and then other holes that are too green to mention). Turns out it is a heavy, angst-laden play that explores the emotional process that parents go through upon the death of a child. 

It starts out witty, as Izzy, a former Applebee's waitress (cracked up when main character Becca said 'how is anyone fired from Applebee's?' as I have friends who actually worked there as servers!), breaks the news to her sister Becca that she is pregnant. But the pain of having lost a child in an accident is soon established. 

The play was brilliantly written by David Lindsay-Abaire, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and librettist. It very carefully and movingly explores such range of emotions as envy (of a pregnant sister or other mothers), despair, weariness (a deceased libido), frustration, and then hope. 

Now reading up on the play, I have just found out that the role of Becca was played onstage by no less than Cynthia Nixon and a movie of Rabbit Hole starred Nicole Kidman! It is an ideal role for any competitive actress and Agot Isidro, in Red Turnip's version, lived up to the demands of Becca's conflicted character.

Agot was perfect as the Stepford Wife-ish mom, baking perfect cakes, obsessively cleaning the house, and always looking perfect (truth is, no one can look more perfect than Agot Isidro  - I nominate her for the Best Actress in Skinny Jeans category!) But seriously, you could feel her pain. The pain that put that stick up her ass, obsessively trying to erase every memory of her child, and the pain of being at the crossroads of holding on and moving on. 

The coping mechanism of each character is also presented clearly. First, the brilliant contrast between husband and wife: Howie (played by the always excellent Michael Williams) tries so hard to keep the memory of Danny (the child they lost) alive as Becca tries so hard to forget. Then the comparison between two mothers who had lost their sons - Becca also lost a sibling to drugs: the younger mother Becca still weeping and warped in frustration while Becca's mom had achieved forgiveness and rekindled her sense of humor. And finally, the irony that Izzy, the youngest of them all, the knocked up waitress, had become the calming voice that knocked sense. 

There is a highfalutin explanation of the rabbit hole that mentions Orpheus and his attempt to rescue Eurydice from the dead. Pay attention here. For here lies the turning point where, as Becca breaks down while trying to accept the kid who killed her son, she finds hope in the possibility of another rabbit hole without grief. 

I found out that this scene is played out differently in the movie but Becca's emotional breakdown is the same. I can still see Agot Isidro weeping :'(

My favorite scene though is when the mom passes on her wisdom to Becca. Becca asks, "Does it ever go away?" And her mom says - in other words - that sometimes you try to forget but then after you do you dig for those memories again, maybe even the grief, because it's all you have ... and that's ok. 

I found a clip of this exact scene from the movie too: 

It's a painful play. And because the actors have done such a great job you leave feeling really affected. (At least I was.) If you can, try to catch the evening show instead of a matinee - then you can go get a much needed drink after. It's a little heavy for a Sunday afternoon. But if you have to catch a matinee, don't worry, Red Turnip's got you covered - there's a bar in the reception hall that has scotch, vodka and wine!

Play runs until August 31. Fridays at 9pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, Sundays at 4pm with an extra closing show on the 31st at 8pm . Don't miss it! 

Congratulations to the cast and crew!

14 August 2014

Restaurants | Pink Panda

"The lights by the corner (on Makati Avenue) are pink and our food is Asian, hence the panda."

This was the explanation of the waitress when I asked why the restaurant was called Pink Panda. Actually, the lights are red, hence the term "red light district". But the restaurant does transport you to a Southeast Asian noodle house, whose interiors make you feel like you are in Singapore, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam all at once.

A bicycle hangs on a wall. An aquarium rests by the entrance. Chopsticks are conveniently placed on every table. And the private section that seats about 8 offers a very zen vibe. All this while being utterly hip. As I eat my laksa by my lonesome I feel like I'm in an Asian gangster movie, like Maggie Q or Zhang Ziyi might be seated at a neighboring table and a karate cum shoot out with Asian mafia would anytime take place.

In the spirit of hip, the menu speaks with swag. Pork belly roasted all day is called "Love You Long Time"; meatballs are called "Braised Balls of Fire"; a salad is served with "Daughter in Law Eggs"; and the item for pad thai is "It's a Fad Thai".

It's a great spirit to spark conversation as you decide on what to order. But some items on the menu tried too hard to be cool, some functionality was lost. The Tom Yum soup, whose flavors are on point, are served like shots - appropriately called Tom Yum Shots - in shot glasses. But you can't drink the soup like a shot because it's too hot. Neither can you hold the shot glass, also because it's too hot. And neither can you use a spoon because it won't fit into the shot glass's mouth. You have no choice but to make your fingers brave the heat and hold that glass in the spirit of cool. 

Another soup, the Xiao Long Boom, is supposed to give you the impression of a giant xiao long bao. I get the idea: the broth in the xiao long bao is so good you could have an entire bowl of it. But the experience of the xiao long bao includes popping the entire dumpling into your mouth and getting a kick out of it bursting, releasing the excellent broth. Here, the dumpling skin has no real purpose except to be cute. In fact it was served sunken on my first visit, failing even in providing the imagery it was supposed to.

Other dishes offer some sense but may be too far out. The laksa, for instance, is served with flattened buchi that you are supposed to appreciate by dipping in the laksa sauce. However, the buchi's filling is too sweet it rejects any proposal to pair it with the laksa, as if saying, "I can stand alone." Do try the laksa with the shrimp cakes with sesame seeds instead, originally served with the tom yum. This one absorbs the soup and adds a slightly sweet contrast to the spice. It is absolutely delightful.

There are certain fusion recipes though that are not confused and thoroughly enjoyable. The prawn with salted duck egg is highly addictive, something the owners are said to have maintained from one of their former restaurants Crustacea. The beef rendang hits all the spicy notes, although do request the kitchen to make sure their beef is very tender. Same goes for the laksa but it would be wise to ask for an extra bowl of soup as the original bowl offers less and thicker soup, almost like a sauce, probably to accommodate the indifferent buchi.

The appetizers, while not prizeworthy, are immensely satisfying. The Vietnamese spring rolls and the "Dimsum and then Some" are both generously served, perfect for sharing on a night out with friends. And the Panda Buns are the cutest versions of siopao ever, Jack Black's heart would melt.

Interestingly enough, even if this restaurant is in the red light district, just off Makati Avenue, the crowd does not reek of sleaze. While the United Colors of Papas walk around outside, exotics in tow, inside are legitimate couples and groups of friends. Maybe it's an effect of the lights inside, which are decidedly blue.

The Panda isn't red after all but truly just a happy pink ... enjoying not the red lights but the laksa and other great Asian food.

Pink Panda
Y2 Residence Hotel, 4687 Santiago St cor Valdez St 

(street of A Venue basement parking entrance).
Tel. 0917 839 0714
No reservations required.
Major credit cards accepted.
Wheelchair accessible.
Parking is a major, major headache. If you are driving, don't even attempt the hotel's basement parking which is steep and tight and the elevator takes an hour. I parked in the basement parking of A Venue across the street.

Twitter: @margauxsalcedo
Instagram: @margauxsalcedo

09 August 2014

Movies | K'na the Dreamweaver

k'na the dreamweaver cinemalaya ida del mundo

K'na the Dreamweaver is about the journey of a T'boli princess into womanhood amidst the struggle of their tribe to find peace with a historic enemy.

It is not so much about weaving your dreams in the figurative sense - in fact K'na had to give up her own dreams - but literally about letting your dreams talk to you, showing the dreamweaver patterns and designs, the intricate craftsmanship of which K'na's tribe was known for.

The first thing you notice about the movie is how the pattern and colors of the native apparel are so alive, almost dancing, as they are modeled on the members of the tribe in the film. I wanted to buy a jacket! Move over Christian Lacroix and Chanel - the T'boli's handwoven creations are so much more intricate!

k'na the dreamweaver cinemalaya ida del mundo
A young Oyog Todi, photographed by George Tapan during one of his first visits to South Cotabato./Facebook

The next thing that takes your breath away is the beauty of the scenery in South Cotabato so wonderfully captured in the film. The water shimmers. As if there were a line of diamonds floating. I had to blink my eyes and do a double take - and I was in the second row - then smiled. It was breathtaking. Our country is so beautiful.

And in the scene where K'na sails off to her destined home, accepting her womanhood and fate, sacrificing her personal happiness for the community's peace, the reflection of the mountains on the water was a perfect message of unity, balance, beauty ... and that everything would be alright.

k'na the dreamweaver cinemalaya ida del mundo
Photo credit: George Tapan/K'na the Dreamweaver's  Facebook page
k'na the dreamweaver cinemalaya ida del mundo
Photo credit: George Tapan/K'na the Dreamweaver's  Facebook page
The tone is tempered, unlike commercial films that have too much shouting, sex and violence, allowing the rhythm of the T'boli dialect reel you in.  Especially when "Be" (Grandma/Erlinda Villalobos) would speak in her gentle yet commanding voice. The most shouting you will hear is in the establishing scene where K'na's mother dies while in labor, losing the baby as well - a truthful depiction of how far away our country is in terms of achieving the Millennium Goal of significantly reducing the maternal mortality rate by 2015.

The lead role of K'na is delicately portrayed by Mara Lopez, whose Filipina beauty is excellently captured in the film (is it alright to say film if the movie is digital?). Sometimes I felt that she was conscious of the camera. But she projected innocence so well and I felt her heart break when her father first tried to give it away to a man she did not love. How dare he, how could he?!

What I love most about the film is how it truly it captures the beauty of South Cotabato and the rich culture of the T'boli tribe: the birth, marriage and burial scenes are excellent. It is a poignant depiction of the priceless cultures and traditions of this indigenous tribe, including and especially handweaving patterns from your dreams. "You will see the pattern even if it is not there," Beh explained to the frustrated young K'na. "Have faith."

k'na the dreamweaver cinemalaya ida del mundo

Congratulations, Ida Anito Del Mundo on your excellent directorial debut!!!

Photo credit: Facebook page of K'na the Dreamweaver

03 August 2014

Events | Hey AIESEC! Say what?!


I hosted the AIESEC Grand Alumni Homecoming last night, which was surprisingly fun! I never go to homecomings or reunions because honestly I hate them and try to avoid disgusting people from the past (whom you can't altogether avoid, unfortunately!) but the crowd at this homecoming was amazing!

10 July 2014

Travel | Misibis Bay Part 1: Paradise

I got a taste of paradise this week: we were given a press tour of Misibis Bay.

It was beyond breathtaking.

Five Views

As the amuse bouche for our three day stay, we were treated to a picnic on the way to the resort on a hill called Five Views. Seated on colorful bean bags, we had wine and cheese while taking in the view of five volcanic mountains: Mt. Mayon, Mt. Isarog, Mount Masaraga, Mount Malinao, Mount Iriga.

What a pit stop! Wine and cheese before Five Views. It was reeeeallly windy, as you can see from our hair!

08 July 2014

Events | The French Invasion: Sofitel is bringing in 101 cheeses from France for Bastille Day!

No need to go to Lyon this year. Sofitel Philippines is bringing in cheeses - a hundred and one varieties! - from farms around France to Manila.

23 May 2014

Travel | The White Rabbit, Singapore

I first heard about White Rabbit in Singapore at the very first Miele Guide Awards in 2006 (so long ago - how fast time flies!). Ate Media had a post-event press lunch.

My jaw dropped when I was told what this majestic restaurant used to be: a Catholic church!

29 April 2014

News | NOMA Regains Title As World's Number 1

The World's 50 Best Restaurants list is out! 

Regaining its place at Number 1 is Denmark's NOMA

Rene Redzepi (with arms crossed), chef of Noma, World's Number 1 restaurant and Massimo Botturo of Osteria Francescana  (in glasses), Tetsuya Wakuda (Tetsuya's, Waku Ghin) and Narisawa of Narisawa, Tokyo.

26 April 2014

Review | Barrio Fiesta, Singing Cooks and Waiters

Was told by a friend that the trolls of Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks and Waiters have been making comments, attacking me maliciously to destroy my credibility and are trying to make it appear that the review on them (LINK HERE) was less than factual.

Was not going to release these pictures but in the interest of pointing out that it was a truthful, honest, unbiased, responsible and factual review, here are some of the items that were served. As with all other restaurants under review, also visited them more than once.

So here are the facts: 
Undercooked Barrio Fiesta chicken.

barrio fiesta review ongpauco worst filipino restaurant
barrio fiesta review ongpauco worst filipino restaurant
Barrio Fiesta Chicken Barbecue

Clams that need pliers to be opened (same situation in both Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks).

barrio fiesta review ongpauco worst filipino restaurant
Barrio Fiesta paella

Bangus with enough tinik to kill an army:

barrio fiesta review ongpauco worst filipino restaurant
Barrio Fiesta bangus

Kare kare that's practically all vegetable. Where's the meat?

barrio fiesta review ongpauco worst filipino restaurant
Barrio Fiesta Kare Kare

Inihaw na tadyang or inihaw na litid?

barrio fiesta review ongpauco worst filipino restaurant
Singing Cooks and Waiters Inihaw na Tadyang (Litid)

PS Thank you also to all those who texted, called and messaged to share your own disheartening experiences at Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks and Waiters.  These only strengthen the observations given in the review.

barrio fiesta review margaux salcedo inquirer
Barrio Fiesta Reviews

24 April 2014

News | World's 50 Best Restaurants Revealed Next Week

Sharing this announcement from the organizers of the World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards.


On Monday 28th  April, London’s Guildhall will play host to the elite of the gastronomic world with a glittering ceremony held to announce and celebrate The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2014.

The industry is holding its breath to see whether Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca will retain the coveted top spot for the second year in a row after becoming The S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurant in 2013.

Philippines Food Journalist Margaux Salcedo with Chef Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca
With Chef Joan Roca of the reigning No. 1 World's Best Restaurant El Celler de Can Roca at the Asia's 50 Best Awards.

Brazil has started its party early with the announcement of Helena Rizzo, of Mani in São Paulo, as the Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef. 

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2014 will also present an exhibition of the works of renowned Brazilian food photographer Sergio Coimbra. His portraits of avant garde culinary creations will be shared with VIP guests on the night of the awards, hoping to inspire and excite existing and future generations of chefs and gastronomes.

Gathering at the Guildhall on Monday will be the ‘A list’ of the gastronomic world with chefs from 47 of the 50 restaurants on the list flying in from the four corners of the earth to be there.

The Awards

Further award categories include: 

Chefs’ Choice Award, sponsored by Gaggenau
Sustainable Restaurant Award, sponsored by Zacapa
Highest Climber, sponsored by Lavazza
One To Watch, sponsored by Dekton® by Cosentino
Highest New Entry, sponsored by LesConcierges
World’s Best Pastry Chef, sponsored by Cacao Barry®.
How the list is compiled 

The list is created from the votes of The Diners Club® World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, an influential group of over 900 international leaders in the restaurant industry. The Academy comprises 26 separate regions around the world, each of which has 36 members, including a chairperson, and each member can cast seven votes. Of those seven, at least three votes must recognize restaurants outside of their own region.

The panel in each region is made up of food critics, chefs, restaurateurs and highly regarded ‘gastronomes’. Members list their choices in order of preference, based on their best restaurant experiences of the previous 18 months. There is no pre-determined check-list of criteria.

The results will be published online at www.theworlds50best.com as soon as they have been announced to the assembled chefs and Academy members at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony in London on the evening of 28th April.

Chefs | Aleth Ocampo

Speaking of Aleth ...

Getting invited to dine at another person's home is priceless. To be allowed to not only peek but participate in someone's sanctuary is, for me, the greatest honor.