Luxe. Sunday. Brunch. Buffet. Each word clearly defines what any stressed person would want to have in their life right now. And when these words are glued together, it all comes to nothing, but perfection. This is exactly what Mirèio can only offer to its guests every weekend. 


Located inside the grand Hotel Raffles in Makati, it's where friends and families gather for that much-awaited Sunday affair. This weekly event offers a gastronomic feast of epic and premium proportions, with live cooking stations featuring continental fare, highlighted by Provençal and French favourites. 



Prices are not too friendly for the average eater, but if you're up for the experience, it's priced at PHP 2,750 per person, and if you wish to enjoy brunch with free-flowing Champagne, wine, and cocktails, a brunch & drinks package is available for PHP 4,200 per person.


Pretty steep, right? To be honest, the brunch and drinks package is very much worth it after all. 

I mean, yes, I'm in a hotel and you should expect that things will get a bit expensive. But if you're like me, spending a bit more means that I have to give myself a good reason to do it. The good news is that there is more than one good reason on why I need to give in once again to Raffle's Luxe Sunday Brunch Buffet.


This flavourful mid-day meal features a luscious and stunning spread of salads, including fresh salads and appetizers, a tartare station, and a steamingly delicious risotto station created to your liking with porcini, truffles, and aged Parmesan.



Savouries include a live carving station highlighting tender Wagyu beef where you can choose your preferred doneness, along with hot-off-the-oven roasted Porchetta, lamb, a bountiful selection of fresh crustaceans prepared in different ways such as lobster, tiger prawns, crabs together with choices of clams and mussels


 







Culinary specialties also take the spotlight such as bouillabaisse, soft boiled egg with foie gras foam and seared foie gras - if you can't get enough of foie gras. 



A grazing spread lined with a selection of cheese hailing from regions all over Europe, charcuterie, homemade terrines, and antipasti


Cap off the lunch with an exquisite variety of desserts such as Mirèio’s classic lavender brûlée, dark chocolate Black Emperor cake, pistachio and raspberry religieuse, fruity calamansi meringue éclair, and a wide array of macarons, among others.


And as for drinks? Be like Cersei Lannister and give in to fine wines, Moet, Frosé, ProseccoBloody Mary and more of Mirèio’s other special cocktails and mocktails.

It's truly a feast for your senses, and your tummy will thank you for it. And as a bonus, I'm dropping some favorites here and letting you know what you should be getting when you try this luxurious buffet....

...EVERYTHING.

Nines

~~~~

Are you ready to splurge and indulge? The Luxe Sunday Brunch Buffet package is available for stays from 18-Apr-2018 - 31-Dec-2019. Walk-ins are also welcome. Prices are inclusive of VAT and are subject to 10% service charge and applicable local taxes. 

For table reservations, call +632 795 0777, e-mail Makati@raffles.com or visit https://www.raffles.com/makati/offers/dining-offers/luxe-sunday-brunch-buffet/

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While there are a number of hotels to choose from in Makati, there is always something special about each one,  and with a reason or two on why you need to visit them all. Just like my blog, just like food, and just like writing. As for Holiday Inn and Suites Makati, she's like a good friend that you haven't seen for a while but then suddenly miss it so much.

And missing the hotel so much means reminiscing a recent event that happened last January in Oz Bar, Holiday Inn and Suites Makati's indoor poolside bar located at their roof deck floor. It was small yet intimate, tamed yet lively. It was where we held our annual KTG New Year's Party and it was...how do I say it...the best party we've had so far this year.


Oz Bar has it all. A decent sound system, the best fish and chips, and you can even avail of the food from their cafe menu located at the hotel's lobby. Feel free to ask their resident bartender to make a cocktail of your choice. 

It's like someone's home, only way fancier, but really not at all intimidating. Here you can organize your birthday party, an important presentation at work, even training and workshops. If you're like me and would like to keep things simple, even a small, intimate wedding reception is possible at Oz Bar. 

And the best part? You don't really need to check-in at the hotel just so you can visit. Whether you would just like to cap off the night or book an event, just approach any of the wonderful people working at Holiday Inn and everything will be taken care of.


On another topic, during the night of our party, I delved into a conversation about G&Ts with my good friend Bess Howe. Thanks to her (and a couple of drinking friends who were also there that night), I was able to understand what it's really all about. I've always declared myself as a whiskey girl (my favorite whiskey starts with a J, but not the kind that you'd normally get) but I must admit, gin is in. I should tap myself on the back for having to appreciate something new again. And this means that I can always visit Oz Bar whenever I need somewhere to hide away - whether it's to celebrate a big win, an intimate meet up with friends or just relax with a drink or two after a long, or tiring, or possibly shitty day.


The night went by and the drinks came piling up. Everything prepared was delicious, the gifts poured, and I ended up feeling like a queen as I held hands with Karla, where we happily pretended like we were runner ups on the quest for winning the grand raffle prize during that night. We didn't win though, but we had a good laugh, and it was worth it.  

Nines

~~~~~

For inquiries and reservations, visit www.holidayinn.com/makati

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One of the perks of having tons of foodie friends is when you'd get to try their creations in the kitchen. At some point, we all have to become each other's guinea pig and critic. It's the perfect kind of friendship, don't you think?


Enter Rhea SyCip, who is not new to the food industry. Finishing culinary education from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde and Le Cordon Bleu Dusit, she started working as a Corporate Chef for a chain of Australian Cafes at the age of 23. I met Rhea last year when we were both introduced by some common friends, but it was only a few months ago when we instantly bonded over the best Tagaytay bulalo stopovers and on how provincial cuisine in Cavite should be appreciated more.

“While I was doing my internship, I was asked by my Pastry Chef Instructor if I wanted to try out for a kitchen job. I said yes and went at the restaurant. Halfway through the interview, I realized that I was being processed for a Corporate Chef post. They had 6 branches at the time, I was 23, waiting to get my diploma. An hour after, I got a call, I got the job.” That started her journey in the food industry and since then, she has worked as a chef, chef consultant for major retail brands and for the academe. ‘Most of my students tell me that I make such wonderful desserts and a lot of them already have successful businesses because of the recipes I shared with them,” she discloses.


Friends who have tried her creations have been asking her to get into selling too, but she has always been hesitant. 13 years after, Chef Rhea finally gave in and decided to go full blast with her home bakery. She launched the brand Flour Pot Rum Cakes Manila last year and introduced a spiced cake made from sun-riped bananas and fresh Tagaytay pineapples in light buttercream frosting which she calls the Hummingbird Cake; a sponge cake topped with Benguet Shoga Strawberries which many can identify as Strawberry Shortcake; Avocado Cake with a light sponge cake, avocado custard made from carabao’s milk and avocado buttercream; and chewy Cinnamon Rolls with lemon cream cheese frosting.


Her signature product which was also the biggest hit last season was the Rum Butter Cake. It was the cake that was raved online and offline, from friends to media publications to celebrities and other public figures, this dense rum cake is buttery, boozy and perfect as a simple sweet treat any time of the day. It was so good, it even got the approval of over 100 foodies during the recent Ultimate Taste Test Master's Edition by Our Awesome Planet and the KTG!

Soaked in rum sauce using local and premium small batch rum, the round bundt cake is moist but not soggy, rich but not cloying. It is baked with free-range eggs and artisan butter from Bukidnon and packaged in a pine woodcraft box. “I believe that no matter how big or small your business is, all of us have an opportunity to practice inclusive business. I am a start-up and I know how hard it is to bring your products out there,” Rhea explains her support of local craftsmanship and sustainable baking.

Check out Flour Pot Rum Cakes Manila's Price List as of November 2018:

Signature Rum Butter Cake Dense and moist cake made from free range eggs, artisan butter from Bukidnon, small batch rum and carabao’s milk from Tagaytay. Cake comes in its signature pine wood box. 9 inches Bundt Cake – 1,680.00 4 inches Round Rum Cake – 170.00 minimum of 10 pieces per order Avocado Sponge Cake Light sponge cake layers with avocado inipit cream in between, topped with avocado buttercream made with artisan butter from Bukidnon. 8 inches Round Cake – 1,500.00
Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting Chewy sweet rolls with Saigon Cinnamon Sugar and light lemon cream cheese frosting Box of six – 450.00
Hummingbird Cake Dense spiced cake made from Tagaytay bananas and pineapples with bream cheese buttercream frosting 8 inches Round Cake – 1,500.00

Strawberry Shortcake Light sponge cake layers with Benguet Shoga Strawberries and Inipit icing in between layers, topped with Fresh whipped cream frosting 8 inches Round Cake - 1,500.00

It may come as a surprise especially to my closest friends but I am now at that point where I don't drink as much as I used to when I was younger. But despite the decrease in quantity, I recently found more appreciation in specific drinks. 

Let's just say that my drinking game just went a notch higher. I've now come to love a wider variety of spirits. The likes of triple distilled, single malts and gin are now on top of my list, while I've lost touch with scotch and bourbon. Tequila and rum are no longer on my list of options. As for beer, I've graduated from a SanMig Light chick to a total Pale Pilsen drinker. I still don't like craft beer that much but I can handle a few bottles of established pilsners from time to time.

But why am I talking about beers and spirits? Because I work in Makati, and sometimes I just need something to cap off my day, regardless if it's a good one or a shitty one. For me, Kite Kebab Bar in Salcedo is the perfect venue to chill, feast on delicious comfort food and drink. 


Thanks to Kian Kazemi who never failed to introduce us to his latest food concepts / projects, I was able to experience Kite while it's still in the early stages when they opened his second branch. His first branch is no longer unfamilar, as Kite has already established itself as one of the most hip bar restos in Poblacion, Makati. 


The interiors easily reflects Kian's love for culture, family and friends, as seen on the customized murals and items displayed on Kite Salcedo's walls.




Kite is open for lunch until late at night, and your best option if you want to try good Mediterranean snacks and specialties, healthy vegan options (like hummus and yogurt shake, perhaps) or just good ol' comfort food like kebabs and shawarmas.

Classic Yogurt Shake
This is also where you can find his signature wraps in 2.0 versions, which are upgraded with special serving of feta and his special housemade sauces.

Classic Beef Shawarma 2.0
With bigger appetites, opt for rice plates packed with a good amount of protein, veggies and carbs, smacked with flavor and also served with either their white hot sauces. For instance, this Shawarma, Falafel and Turmeric Rice tri-combo is a winner. You can also choose from other proteins such as Chicken or Beef.

Chicken Shawarma Turmeric Rice Plate
I personally liked visiting Kite Kebab Bar when I'm with my friends, so I can force them to order the Kite Kebab Platter - which is composed of Classic Beef and Chicken Kebabs, Spicy Herb Beef Kebab, Lamb Chop, Spicy Chicken Tandoori. Pita Bread, grilled onions and tomatoes, special herb sauce. Convincing them to chill with a few bottles of beer and a bottle of whiskey would also be nice, I suppose :)

Kebab Sampler Platter
Another great must-try is the four-hour Shank, with dried lemons and root vegetables. This I can order and just enjoy by myself, for sure!

The Shank
Desserts and coffee are also available at Kite Kebab Bar if you think you've had enough meats for the night, including homemade food for the gods and the best leche flan that you can get this side of Makati, made especially by Kian's mom, of course.


For craft beer lovers, Kite Kebab Bar offers beers from Engkanto, but you can also opt for wine or other types of spirits, just how I like it. 

Mediterranean Keema Fries
 P.S. Their Keema Fries goes so well with beer. Cheers!

           


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Disclosure: All views expressed in this article are from the author.
Want to check out Manila in a different light? Perhaps something a bit real, more authentic, even a little less on the safe side? Well, I'm not saying it's unsafe to stay at Heroes Hotel, but if you wish to live where you can easily walk at the busy streets of Makati and BGC, then this is not your best option. But I am telling you that this is one of the best hotels that I've ever been to and it's not because of the obvious reasons. 

Heroes Hotel stands tall and proud at the corner of Florentino Torres and South Luzon Expressway. There's really not much to offer when you're outside the building - a view of the housing in front, some residential houses at the back, but there's a 7-11, a damn good barbecue place and a legit pansit joint waiting for you if you plan to stay here. However, it's not even far from where you want to go - you can take a quick ride to high-end places such as Ayala and BGC or take a quick ride to Poblacion where all the bars are.  


For me, Heroes Hotel is not just a hotel, but a place where the owner, Mannie de la Serna, used to showcase his collection of prized pieces from all over the world. That includes tons of Marvel, Beatles, history and sports memorabilia that can be easily seen once you enter the hotel. Be welcomed by 'Iron Mannie', a licensed Iron Man suit bearing his name. 'Make a phone call' at the London phone booth or play at the sleek white piano at the lobby while you wait for your keys when you check in at Heroes Hotel. During that time, I checked in at one of their many Deluxe Rooms facing the expressway.




Heroes Hotel is a great budget-friendly choice for the following: 
- Quick backpackers who wish to stay for a few nights before they travel to other parts of The Philippines. A lot of their guests are usually staying for the night and will be off to Siargao or Coron the next day 
- Long term backpackers who have a very extensive itinerary in the Philippines. We met one who had been travelling around the country for a few months now and he is not stopping any sooner. He's basically family to the Heroes Hotel staff already.
- Guests who wanted to take a quick break from their busy schedules in the city (aka. destress aka. staycation)

Speaking of destress, make sure that you book for an authentic Filipino Hilot session at Shui express inside the hotel. The Whole Body Hilot and Foot Dagdagay Treatments are so relaxing!



The Hotel houses Superior, Deluxe and Dorm Rooms and choosing between these all depends on your purpose and quantity of belongings lol. Most of all, each room features a hero that the owner thinks deserve that spot. There are superheroes, musical, environmental and just every heroes that we might have encountered once or twice in our lives. They've also got special rooms featuring The Beatles and Michael Jordan too!.

This may be a small room, but it's got fresh clean sheets, a cute bathroom, a handy dresser with security vault for all your precious belongings, and Steve Jobs' photo on the wall. The bed is amazing and if only I can take it home! Lol. Kidding!



Heroes Hotel used to not have room service because they discourage eating food in bed (they have an Honest Cafe and that is just fantastic) but just in case you're super tired from walking, they have good food that can be brought to your room for only a few hundred pesos.


Or, take a ride at the majestic hero-inspired elevator and go to their restaurant at the roofdeck and enjoy Filipino food that's simple and delicious.


Oh Manila. You are easily annoying and mesmerizing at the same time.


We tried some good grub like this awesome BBQ platter filled with chicken and pork belly for less than a thousand pesos. This one is good for about 3 to 4 people.


They also have a great version of Kare Kare. One that I would order again if I come back to Heroes Hotel.


Their Honey Glazed Chicken is the bomb. Super good as well!


I really wasn't in the mood for pasta during that time, but my friends loved this simple Pesto topped with chicken as well.


Another super cool room at Heroes Hotel are the dormitories, which is super affordable at less than a thousand pesos per head. 



While Heroes Hotel can provide a sample itinerary for you during your stay, the roofdeck magically converts into a bar set up where you can enjoy and relax over a couple of drinks, or jam with the nightly performers on stage. Who says we have to leave the place, right?

The jacuzzi was a surprise for me because I didn't notice it entirely when we were there for lunch! 



Have a bottle of one of the best beers in the world, right here in Manila.


Like most hotels, if you are not checked in at Heroes hotel, you are still are allowed to go to the bar, restaurant and cafe at their roofdeck. And conveniently, just in case you just had too much to drink, you can simply settle in and sleep at Heroes Hotel!

Waking up the next morning means going to Honesty Cafe and having a good breakfast! They've got eggs, toast, jam, cereal, and pancakes available with drinks such as coffee, milk, tea and juices until around 10am. And the best part is, the owner is literally the one cooking the food for you! Imagine, staying at his house and just hanging our at his kitchen waiting for a good meal!


Checking out is a breeze as well! And it doesn't stop there, because you can still be able to rely on them when it comes to last minute requests such as van rentals or transportation services. Just ask and they will try their best to help!



And who ever said you cannot be a hero yourself? Just in case you have the time and the resources, I suggest to approach the lobby and see if you can get involved in the different outreach programs that the owner organizes form time to time.

P.S. I am very grateful to Mannie, Bekah and the entire Heroes Hotel team for making our stay wonderful and meaningful at the same time.

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Disclosure: All views expressed in this article are from the author.