Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Bread Talk, SM City Naga


Bread Talk
SM City Naga


A temptingly sweetish- briny velvety bread, 



...that gloriously melts in the mouth.
 

Yes definitely, a bread can talk- 
and it’s saying “Eat Me”


...a universal language,



...that everyone would understand,

 

...just by looking at it.


 
That's what  Bread Talk is all about

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Chef Mama: Awesome CamNorte Specialties at Robinsons’ Place Naga, Al Fresco

Chef Mama
Awesome CamNorte Specialties  
Robinsons’ Place Naga, Al Fresco 

Chef Mama in a popular restaurant in Camarines Norte 
and we were happy when they opened a branch at the
 Robinsons Place Naga in Camarines Sur.



Located at the Al Fresco section of the mall,


Chef Mama had a contemporary homey interiors.

 

We started our meal with Fresh Paco Fern Salad.
A mound of young paco fern leaves was soaked in 
sweet vinegar, topped with tomato and salted egg.
It was delightfully sweetish tangy and very crunchy.
It was delicious and everybody loved it and it served
as  a perfect appetizer as it perked everyone’s appetite.

 

The Tinapa Roll was supposed to be an appetizer.
but it was in reality, a fried spring roll variant good 
enough for a main dish. The filling was made of 
smoked bangus or ‘tinapa’ in Bicol, salted eggs,
tomatoes and onions, rolled in thin rice wafers 
andfried to an addicting crunchy perfection .


We also ordered Chop Suey and the assorted vegetables
looked unattractive was it was floating in too much sauce 
and did not look appetizing at all. The old adage not to 
judge thebook by its cover was true after all. The veggies
 were freshand crunchy and the way it was sautéed was
 very tasty. The saucy vegetable dish went well with rice.


 

Crispy Pla- Pla, which was described in the menu
butterfly- cut tilapia appeared more like a puffer fish.
But no matter how it looked like, it was fried to crispy
perfection that even the head and the bones were edible.



Santol or Wild Mangosteen is a seasonal tropical
fruit making Sinantol a rare dish during off season.
It is also known as Ginataang Santol, made from
grated santol meat simmered in coconut milk, 
seasoned with shrimp paste and spiced with
siling labuyo. This Chef Mama version is addicting
and a must try and must eat for anyone dining here.


Beef Caldereta is usually served in fiestas and other
special occasions, but Chef Mama makes this delicious
dish available everyday. The beef was simmered to a melt
in the mouth tenderness, stewed with potatoes, tomato sauce,
and spiced with peppers. Definitely the best caldereta in town,
and it is worth visiting this restaurant just for this dish alone.

 

Chef Mama is a wonderful restaurant,



...and a welcome addition to Naga City's culinary scene 


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Jack’s Blue Plate Diner: Big American Breakfast

Jack’s Blue Plate Diner 
Big American Breakfast

We started the 20th anniversary of the EndoLab
with a very early morning thanksgiving mass
and a breakfast at the Jack’s Blue Plate Diner.


Jack’s Blue Plate Diner is the place to go
in Naga when one is craving for good old
American dishes that comes in huge servings.

 

Their American Breakfast was no exception.

 

It came in a gigantic plate with
a stack of three creamy pancakes,

 

…two sunny side- up fried eggs,


…a piece of breakfast sausage,
with two fat strips of bacon,


…and a generous mound of potato wedges.



The breakfast came with unlimited
servings of freshly brewed coffee.


That Big Americam Breakfast
at Jack’s Blue Plate Diner


was just a prelude
to a much bigger meal,


…in the newly opened EndoLab Pantry,

 

…at Plaza Medica. Burp.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Lovely Lisbon: A Living and Breathing Museum City (Lovely Lisbon Series 21)

Lovely Lisbon 
A Living and Breathing Museum City
Lovely Lisbon Series 21

Day 1 

After almost a week in Paris, we
took a 2 hour flight by Air France,



…and arrived late in the
 afternoon in Lisbon,


…and took a taxi to Radisson Blu Lisbon.


Our suite, a De Luxe Family Room
was very  spacious and very beautiful,



…and were all happy,


..as the hotel had five star room
 and service at three star price.



This would be our home in Lisbon
for the next seven days or the second
stop of our European spring vacation.


We were all hungry so we went
down to look for a place to eat.
We were lucky as we had Hao Hua
a Chinese restaurant for a neighbor.


 It had an awesome interiors designed
that would make diners feel like they
are in China, rather of being is Lisbon.



They served excellent dishes,

 

… and it is probably one of the best
Chinese restaurants that we have dined.


We returned to the hotel to rest as
we had a busy schedule the next day.

Day 2

It was our second day in Lisbon, we had
a breakfast at the A Padaria Portugueza,




…and we all headed to Centrode Congressos de Lisboa,
where the European Congress of Endocrinology would be held


…to pick up my convention kit in advance
as the meetings would still start the next day.


The convention center offered us a
panoramic view of 25 de Abril Bridge,
and the scenic and historic Tagus River.


It was a very clear day and the huge Christ the Redeemer
statue  was visible at the other side of the suspension bridge.


Dubbed as Golden Gate's twin sister,
this enormous bridge is a sight to behold 


Underneath is an attractive marina, lined by
lovely green pocket parks, restaurants and bars.


From the Lisbon Congress Center we took a metro and
disembarked at the Jardim Afonso de Albuquerque,


…and enjoyed the breezy park sipping ice- cold
lemonade we bought from the park’s street vendor.


We walked our way to central Belem and passed

.

…then proceeded to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos,
one of the most ornate religious buildings of Portugal.


The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is one of the
most popular tourist attractions of Lisbon and
should not be missed by anyone visiting the city



It was already almost noontime so we decided to
relax and rest at the Jardim Praça do Imperio,


...where we feasted of Nestle ice- cream and
was a refreshing relief from the very hot sun.


We later explored the Jardim Praça do Imperio,


 


...then visited the Padrão dos Descobrimentos
or the very popular Monument to the Discoveries,
located at the embankment of the Targus River.


of the most iconic monuments of Lisbon,



 …and symbolizes Portugal’s
great  Golden Age of Discovery.


We strolled along the Tejo Estuary,


…the scenic riverside space between


The Tejo Estuary is  lined
with bards and restaurants,





…and stalls selling souvenirs to tourists.


When we finished our long walk at
the estuary, we had a late lunch at

…where we feasted on traditional
Portuguese dishes like Sardines,
grilled Salmon, and Bacalhau.



I later queued at the Antiga Confeitaria deBelém,
also known as the  Pasteis de Belém located 
at the the nearby Mosteiro dos Jerónimos 



....for a box of the original,


We then enjoyed the sweet loot
at the beautiful Jardim de Belém.


Jardim de Belém’s numerous Jacaranda trees
were in full bloom and the bright purple blossoms
served as a colorful contrast to the greenery. 


We lingered a little bet more and returned to
our hotel at Campo Grande late in the afternoon.


Day 3

It was the first day of the European Congress of Endocrinlogy
and I attended the medical convention the whole morning,


…and later joined my family by noontime
at the Praça do Comércio where we would
begin our visit to the Lisbon’s old town district.


It is the largest of Lisbon’s plazas located at
the banks of the Tagus estuary. We admired the
neo- classical buildings that surrounds the plaza.


We exited ornate Arco da Rua Augusta,


…and strolled leisurely at the Rua Augusta,



…where we chanced upon Fabrica Das Enguias.
housed in an ancient building, canned eel delicacy.



The bite sized bread topped with the canned
eel offered for free tasting of and it tasted very
good, so we were tempted to buy several cans.


We then walked uphill ob our way to
Lisbon Cathedral but we mistook the
Igreja da Magdalena for the  Lisbon Se.


I was armed with a guidebook, but we began suspecting
that we were in the wrong place as the book description
does not match of what we are seeing on real time,


…and we leared later the it was.
 the Mary Magdalene Church.


It was an awesome church nevertheless.
We were fortunate for this visit when we
mistook it for the more popular Lisbon Se.




From the Igreja da Magdalena
we hopped at the crowded Tram 28,


…and got down at the Miraduro de Sta Luzia,
the  Elevador de Sta Luzia at Alfama district.
.

It was another case of mistaken identity.
We had the ancient Elevador de Sta Justa
but ended at Elevador de Sta Luzia  instead.


It was perfectly alright as the lovely view deck
provided  an awesome view of the city downhill.


We also got to peek at the
and a tall winding staircase.


From the ancient Viana do Costelo,


…but we  had a slow and leisurely
stroll  in an ancient neighborhood,



…with centuries old buildings
of quaint Moorish architecture.


That lead us to the majestic Castelo de Sao Jorge.
where much of the present structures are in ruins,
but there is continues restoration being undertaken.


Also known as the Lisbon castle, it was built at the top the hill
and had an awesome view of the ancient city of Lisbon below.


Some parts of the ruins of the former
Royal Palace of the Alcáçova has been
restored and converted to a museum,


…called Nucleo Museologico.


The massive 11th  century Moorish Castle
has been restored to its original glory


Castelo de Sao Jorge is the fortress
to Lisbon’s history, it is Portugal’s
top tourist attraction, and not to be
missed by anyone visiting this city.


On our way down from the castle, we caught
the sight of a lovely rustic- looking roadside
 restaurant called Comidas de Santiago.


Comidas de Santiago servings are huge,
good enough to be shared by a family of
four  in our case, two adults and two kids. 
and everything tasted very good. 

 

After a sumptuous dinner, we admired the
paper money collection coming from different
countries, displayed on the restaurant’s wall,


…and I fished out a twenty peso bill from my
wallet and gave it to the waiter when we noticed
that they had no Philippine money on display.



We then walked down a steep cobbled alley
and ended at the Largo das Portas do Sol,


…a street in named from the old Puerta del Sol,
a part the Moorish fence thatonce existed here
but was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake. 


The statue of the city's patron saint, St. Vincent,
holding the symbols of Lisbon, a boat with two
ravens serves as a centerpiece of a small square.


Largo das Portas do Sol is surrounded
by beautiful earth-toned ancient buildings ,


…and on one side of the street is
the Miraduro das Portas do Sol
offers a s stunning view of Lisbon’s
ancient brick- roofed houses and
the historic Tagus River at a distance.



From the Miraduro das Portas do Sol we again took the 
over- crowded Tram 28,to the Lisbon Cathedral located 
downhill. We earlier mistook the Igreja da Magdalena for 
the Se de Lisboa, but this time we finally got it right. The 
monolithic façade of this ancient church with two imposing
 bell towers looked more of a fortification than that of a church.


Sé de Lisboa or the Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa
and simply called the Lisbon Cathedral in English,


…is the oldest church in the city and
the see of the Archdiocese of Lisbon,
and classified as a National Monument.


The Se de Lisboa is steeped in history
as it is the city’s ancient center of faith,


…and no holiday in Lisbon is complete
without visiting this religious monument.


From the Lisbon Cathedral,
we leisurely walked downhill,


…bought ice cream and popsicles
from a roadside ice cream parlor,


…and walked our way back
to thethe Praça do Comércio,
before heading back to the hotel.



When we returned to Campo Grande, there was a football
match at the nearby stadium and the park near our hotel
was transformed into a massive temporary food park,

 

....where w e enjoyed gobbling giant burgers 
and drinking sodas for our dinner.



Day 4

We all woke early in the morning
and had an breakfast and the hotel,


…and took at Metro to the Sete Rios bus station,


…where we booked an 8 AM Alsa Bus
 to the popular Pilgrim City of Fatima.


The two hour bus ride from Lisbon
to Fatima was smooth and comfortable.



We arrived at exactly 10 AM
at the Fatima Bus Station,


…where we decided to buy gift items from
the nearby souvenir shops to take back home,


…before having a leisurely
walk to the Fatima Shrine.



We entered the shrine thru
the Paul VI Pastoral Center,


…and as we stood at the threshold, we can not
help but admire the massiveness of the  shrine.


We headed to the Capelinha das Aparições
or the Chapel of the Apparitions in English, 


…to attend a mass.


The chapel is the most important site
 in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima,

 

..where the original image of the miraculous
Lady of Fatima is displayed is a vaulted altar.



My wife and son had a communion,


…and stayed a little bit longer at the chapel after the
 mass, to have some more private time at the chapel.


From the apparition chapel, we went to refill
our bottled water with the blessed holy water,
flowing free from several drinking fountains.


We then visited the shrine’s centerpiece,
the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.


The basilica has 213 ft tall central bell-tower,
with an illuminated cross mounted on top.


Inside the cathedral are the burial sites,


…of the three children,


…who witnessed the apparition of the Lady of Fatima.


At the other side of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary,
fronting the Chapel of the Apparitions,  monolithic building
which we failed to visit and we didn’t know what it was for.


We walked across to the Paul VI Pastoral Center,




…a center for study and reflection
on the message of Fátima inaugurated
 Pope John Paul II  in, May 13, 1982


It can seat over two thousand people, 


..and appeared like a modern auditorium.

I was already past three in the afternoon
when we went out of the pastoral center,


…and we leisurely strolled the tree lined
Avenida D. Jose Alves Correia da Salva,


…where we stumbled upon Lebre.


It a self service restaurant. where we
 enjoyed some of the most delicious dishes,

 

…and heavenly desserts,


…yet very affordable.


We again shopped for some more 

gifts and souvenirs to take home,

 

…before heading back to the bus
station for our 5 PM Alsa bus ride
that would take us back to Lisbon.


We again had a scenic
drive back to the city,


…and enjoyed ice creamat the Sete Rios  bus station,
before taking a tram back to Campo Grande.


We were tempted to buy
Farturas at a roadside stall,


…and enjoyed the delicious elongated donut- 
like pastry on our way back to the hotel.


Day 5

It was our penultimate day in Lisbon and I was
at the convention center the whole morning.


I met up with my family at lunchtime
at the Jardim Zoologico de Lisboa,
 where we treated the kids for a day in the zoo.


Also known as Lisbon Zoo inEnglish was founded 
in 1884,  and one of the oldest zoos in Europe.


Dr. Van Der Laan, whose statue stands by the
entrance to honor him as the founder of the zoo.


A statue of Bento de Sousa sitting on a bench
also considered as one of the pillars in founding
the Lisbon zoo is also found near the entrance.


According to brochures, the zoo has about
2,000 animals of more than 300 species…


…and could be explored by train,


…by foot up- close,


… and up- high on board a cable car.


We initially explored the zoo by joining a large 
group of pre school children by train.


It was a relaxed and easy
way of exploring the zoo.


After the leisurely train ride, we decided to have a
snack in one of the zoo’s numerous ice cream stall,


…we were ready to explore the zoo
on foot to see the animal up- close-


…on foot. 


Aside from the wide array of wild
 and exotic animals on display.






…also a must visit in the zoo
is the Enchanted Forest,


…and the huge Pet Cemetery.


The open cable car ride,


…made it possible to view
the animals from above.


It only did not give us a chance to
have a bird’s eye view of the animals,


…but it also provided and breathtaking
panoramic view of the city of Lisbon,


…on the horizon.


We concluded our day in the zoo
by visit the  Children's Farm,

 

…where guests could interact
and even pet  domestic animals. 


With an abundance of restaurants,





…souvenir shops,


…and even kiddie rides at the Lisbon Zoo,

 

... an awesome day is guaranteed
 to anyone visiting the Lisbon Zoo.



We took the Metro back to Campo Grandel, and had
 a heavy dinner of tasty Chinese dishes in  in Hao Hua,



...before returning to Radisson Blu to rest.

Day 6

It was our last day in Lisbon, we had an early
 breakfast at the hotel, and spent the whole 
morning packing our luggage at the hotel.


We took a taxi to the Gare do Oriente,


…or the Lisbon’s East Central Terminal,


…where we took a noontime Avanza Bus,


....to Caceres, Spain,


…the third stop for our
European Spring vacation.

Read my other blogs on 
Lovely Lisbon Series