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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sydney Foodie Paradise: 4 places to eat in without breaking the bank!

I'm not a food blogger, but every once in awhile I make the obligatory food post. I can't help it. There's just some things in life you gotta share.

We all know that Australia is crazy expensive relative to the Philippines, so I had a really hard time finding places that we're semi-affordable and good to eat in. Based on our recent trip, here are four places to eat in that won't breaking the bank.



1. Garden Buffet at The Star (Casino)




Since Filipino's love buffets let's start with this one. Garden buffet is Sydney's version of Vikings or Buffet 101. There's a lot of food and a lot of people, but it's not really fancy and more of a chill environment. Dinner costs around Aud40+ except on Fridays where its seafood night and around Aud60+. Don't forget to get an absolute rewards card to save 10% on your bill.


2. Sydney Fish Market



Sydney Fish Market offers a bit of everything for seafood lovers. On one end you've got the fancy stuff (green lip and black lip abalone, expensive king crabs and lobsters) and on the other end you've got your good old fashioned fish and chips and oyster Rockefeller.


On a busy day, its a bit like hunger games out there with loads of people fighting to get a table. If you want the no frills experience head on over to Doyles.




3. Jamie's Italian

Jamie's is the type of place you go to for comfort food. They've got a decent selection of poultry and seafood and great pasta. The porcini fettuccine is a must try for me. Depending on what you're eating, I would say the meal ticket per head for this place starts at $30 onwards.


4. The Governor's Table


Located at the same building as the Museum of Sydney, the food here was a pleasant surprise. We ate here on pre-theater and the portions were huge. The appetizer was enough for a whole dinner already. Their pate was amazing and so was the short ribs. I've eaten Gnocchi in a bunch of places however its still not my favorite pasta.

Lastly if you're a foodie on a budget, I would recommend trying some of Sydney's lunch specials or pre-theater offers...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Going to Sydney, Australia: What you need to know



Since the dawn of Cebu Pacific's long haul flights,  we've taken the opportunity to travel to places we've never imagined to have traveled to before. Last year we went to Dubai and this year we spent Holy Week in Sydney.

While traveling may be fun and all, sometimes the road to getting there may not be that easy. So here are some tips to traveling to Sydney.

GETTING YOUR VISA
First things first. You're gonna need a visa and it's going to take approximately a month to apply. While there are other methods, the easiest is to apply online by creating an ImmiAccount (https://online.immi.gov.au/lusc/register).

Note:
  • You'll need a credit card to pay the Aud 130 application fee
  • You'll need to upload your supporting documents so be ready with your scanned (notarized passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, old visas, tickets, hotel booking, proof of income such as bank statements, proof of employment, etc.). *Not everything listed is a requirement but it never hurts to have additional supporting documents
  • After the application process if approved, you will receive a grant letter via email 3-4 weeks later. Everything happens electronically, so no need to have your passport stamped at the embassy.

 PREPARING FOR YOUR TRIP

The Weather/ Climate
Unlike other countries where the "BER" months = winter. Australia moves to the beat of its own drum so prepare accordingly.

Summer - December to February
Autumn - March to May
Winter - June to August
Spring - September to November.

Events and stuff
Like anywhere else, Australia also celebrates its own holidays and traditions. We found Easter to be quite tricky since it was a 4-day holiday in Sydney so some restaurants were closed during Holy Week and malls operated on different hours.

During Holy Week malls are closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.


IN SYDNEY

Traveling to Sydney on the Cheap (or Cheaper)
It's a well known fact that Sydney is quite an expensive city.The prices of hotels can get pretty jacked up especially during holidays.

ON TOUR
For your Sydney 101, take a Hop On Hop Off bus. It will get you to most of the scenic locations. They even have a Hop On Hop Off Cruise and Hop On Hop Off Blue Mountain Bus. Book at http://www.city-sightseeing.com/ and try to get a promo code/coupon from Retailmenot to save 20%.


Note: They also have coupons on the bus for museums and other attractions such as the aquarium and zoo if you look at the guidebooks.

 
DINING
A lot of restaurants in Sydney are bookable online. The best ones are always full so book in advance using sites like Dimmi.com.au. If you really want to get your moneys worth as most of us Pinoys do, plan in advance and look for flash sales in group buying sites or go pretheater.


Alternatively, you could also try the Sydney Fish Market. It's crazy busy at times but you won't be disappointed if you're a seafood lover.




SHOPPING
Shopping in the city can be pretty expensive. If you're cool with Myers and David Jones then Westfield Sydney is enough for you, but if you're looking for cheaper alternatives the try going somewhere more remote. For on the budget shopping, discount department stores such as Target and Big W are a good start.

We went to Macquaire Centre (30 minutes away from the city) for our shopping needs. We went on Monday during the Easter Long Weekend and everything was on sale. They were phasing out Easter candy and summer clothes for the cooler months so we were able to hoard. Most of the clothes in H&M went for Aud 5, Target and Big W had a decent selection of shoes for less than Aud 10 and Accessory stores such as Colette Hayman and Equip had 3-5 dollar steals.




Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Deal or no deal?: Lazada Philippine's Birthday Sale...




I have been seeing ads about Lazada's 3rd year anniversary sale like crazy. The 3-day sale which starts today was hyped as epic with flash sales on popular products such as iPhones and Longchamp bag and merchandise dropping up to 90% off.

Flash sales, popularize by Amazon.com (a.k.a lightning deals) sell a limited number of select products at a discount for a given time frame. They prey on our impulsive nature, but sometimes you have to wonder if a deal is a deal.



Me being genuinely interested in several items, such as the Lux portable folding table, I clicked on the item before the sale. According to the site, the original price was Php3,200 and not the Php5,000 advertised in the flash sale. Conversely, the Skil Impact Drill Set was originally priced at Php6,500 while the listed original price in the flash sale was Php3,400. The pricing of the site is suspicious., nevertheless the items are at least cheaper on the flash sale page. For post flash sale items such as the iPhone 6 and the Longchamp bag, the price was exactly the same as the sale.


According to an article in Rappler:
Lazada is currently home to 1,600 sellers and more or less 110,600 items. The target is to reach 900,000 products by end-2015.
It also reaches out to 1.5 million consumers to date.

Its amazing how internet retailing has evolved and will continue to. With online retailing being almost an uncharted territory for our government agencies, we must educate ourselves to look beyond the shiny pop-up ads. Sometimes things aren't what they seem to be...

Friday, February 6, 2015

Bus vs Car: Just another day in EDSA




I drive a Toyota Vios ( a grey one too) so this kinda shook me for just one bit. It might have been freak accident on EDSA, but when things like these happen they still get to you...

Having driven a Vios for several years now I can honestly say that, it gets you places, but the lightweight build quality is somewhat concerning. Driving 120 on a highway makes you feel as if your car is flying and a much bigger car could throw you off the road. Over the years, I've had several fender benders for driving a bit too fast too furious and even the tiniest scrapes look like massive collisions. Just take a look at this youtube video of a Toyota Camry and Vios. RIP little one.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Awesome Fast Food Hybrids: An Ode to the Unhealthy



Since KFC Philippines released the double down dog, a hotdog wrapped around a fried chicken fillet last week, I decided to make a shrine as an ode to the previous fast food hybrids that broke the internet that we wish we could eat at the moment, but our pants are thankful we couldn't...

 8. Pizza Hut's KitKat Pops
Since this list is in ascending order, let's start with something diminutive and sweet. 


 7. Pizza Hut's Crown Crust Carnival
Nothing says awesome than combining two of the known world's favorite dishes: pizza and burger.



6. Burger King's Pizza Burger
Don't let the picture fool you, this burger is crazy big. It's 6 burgers combined to be exact.



 5. Burger King's Turkey Legs
 Another product innovation bought to us by Burger King Japan. Why have chicken when you can have turkey. And they say size doesn't matter.



4. Quick's Star Wars Burger
I'll be honest, this one just made the list because I'm such a Star Wars nut.



3. Taco Bell's Dorito Taco
As a child of the 1980's, Doritos was a guilty pleasure of mine. We didn't have those fancy Himalayan sea salt chips or faux healthy pumpkin and taro chips, so to see that Doritos is still alive and well brings tears to my eyes and hunger pains to my belly.



2. Wendy's Foie Gras Burger
 It's simple, sophisticated and elegant. Nothing says fine dining like foie gras on a good old fashion burger.




1. Domino's Prestige Quattro Pizza
No contest, the prize for best fast food innovation goes to Domino's Pizza for creating a foie gras, snow crab, shrimp gratin, beef stew, in Bordeaux sauce pizza.

 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

City of Dreams Manila Grand Opening (February 2, 2015)


It's official, February 2, 2015 is the day of City of Dreams Manila's grand opening. And they couldn't have teased it in a bigger way.



City of Dreams Manila has launched "The Audition", a multi part campaign for the integrated resort rumored to be one of the most expensive ads in history. It features Hollywood a-listers, Robert De Niro (part owner of Nobu - one of the hotels in City of Dream Manila) and Leonardo DiCaprio. Both actors vie for a role in an epic Martin Scorsese production set in the gaming complex in this teaser.


For the opening, City of Dreams is set to have the Concert of Dreams which features local artists including Gary Valenciano, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Kyla and Jed Madela and yet to be named international artists. You can play your way to win tickets or join their facebook raffle: Click here




Thursday, January 8, 2015

Resorts World Bayshore (Opening 4Q of 2018)



Is it just me or did Alliance Global and Genting just recycle the Resorts World Manila Newport City blueprint and add more curtail wall to the new Resorts World Bayshore in Pagcor's Entertainment City?

Travellers International the joint venture between the aforementioned two will be the last licensee to open as of date (phase 1 scheduled for 4Q of 2018). It will include 2 hotels, a mall, a 3000 seat grand opera, restaurants, bars and a 24-hour casino.

There have been initial rumors of a world class theme park in the project. While that has never materialized, only a fraction of the 30.5 hectares will be developed in phase one so we live and hope.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Healthy Gawker: Microwaved Sweet Potato Chips Recipe


After more that a month long hiatus from my Paleo diet, I'm back on it. And what better way to commemorate the start than to present one of my favorite recipe. Kamote/ Sweet potato chips.


To make this you'll need:

Ingredients
1. Sweet potato
2. Olive oil
3. Salt of other seasoning to taste

Tools
1. Peeler
2. A mandolin or serious knife skills
3. Wax paper

Directions:
1. Wash and peel the sweet potato
2. Cut into chips using a mandolin or thinly with a knife
3. Drizzle cut sweet potato with olive oil and salt to taste
4. Place wax paper on a plate and put the cut potato one by one (making sure they don't overlap)
5. Microwave for 3 - 4 minutes

You should see them dehydrate and crisp before pulling it out of the microwave. Enjoy!

The Best of CES 2015 Tech Talk: The future of cars, drones, hovercarf and the internet of things...


The Consumer Electric Show in Las Vegas (CES) is like Christmas to any geek. Its filled with loads of cool gadgets from hightech washing machines to electronic skateboards. As usual, here are my favorite tech:

1. Mercedes F 015 Luxury in Motion
 Folks it's only been the start of the year and already, we're one step closer to having driverless cars.




2. Onewheel - Part Hoverboard, Part Skateboard
To anyone who has lived in the '80s, Marty McFly's hoverboard will always be cool. While we're not there yet with flying cars (despite it being 2015), at least we kinda have a hoverboard now. 



3. Drones, drones and more drones
Automated delivery is the future of ecommerce. Let's face it, its faster, cheaper and better than having a middle aged man drop your package (no offense to mail men everywhere). With Jeff Bezos leading the revolution, plenty of drones have dropped into CES this year.



4. The Internet of Things
From home kits to robot chefs to wearable devices, the dawn of the internet of things is upon us. Manufactures are striving to bring convenience to everyday mundane things.







Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Random Post: Pimped out Manila Cop Car?!


This is completely random, but I just have to share...

 A couple of weeks ago I saw the Pinoy version of Dubai's Lamborgini cop car near Manila City Hall. Why YES, its still a Toyota Vios, but check out the body kit and the classic racing stripe. That's not all by the way, this police car is equipped with two cctv cameras. One on top and one in the dashboard. 

I'm not really sure what the purpose of these cameras are for.  Kotong cops could still do shady deals by avoiding the camera and personally I feel that stationary security cameras are still more effective and tamper proof when it comes to monitoring public security.


Foodie Paradise 2: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (Remarkable eats on the Cheap )


I'll be honest, the prospect of going to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in Vietnam never really crossed my mind, until a friend bought up an obsession with restaurants in the city. All these years, I had an impression that people in Vietnam just ate spring rolls and pho. Yup! They without a doubt had those and so much more...

HCMC is a foodie must. The city is just one gastronomical treat (the kind where I feel like I could as the Romans say: "eat, drink and be merry," since food is ridiculously cheap). I would expect to pay double the price of food here in Manila compared to HCMC.


Here's a rundown of some our experiences from the cheap to the still affordable not so cheap:

1. Ben Thanh Foodism


On a typical day, the food section of Ben Thanh market is flooded with a euphoria of vendors selling both classic Vietnamese foods to dry goods such as nuts and coffee and other delicacy.

Seeing as it gets kinda crowded at day, its fun to try food at night when there's an actual dining space to eat more comfortably. Ben Thanh vendors move outside once the market closes at 6pm.





2. Classic Vietnamese Cuisine
Spring rolls are as far as I go when it comes to traditional Vietnamese food. While everything in the picture below looks like a visual feast, there's just too much sticky rice action for my liking.




3. Hipster-Fusion Places
HCMC is packed with affordable hipster cafes which is truly awesome in my opinion. I just love how restauranteurs take their drinks seriously in this part of Asia. They make you feel like the Philippines has a lot of catching up to do in terms of bringing out the crazy in flavor combos.



4. Dining in the Dark
Noir and Blackout are the "it" places for foreigners to eat. These concept restaurants serve about a dozen tiny dishes in pitch black where our other senses are said to heighten due to the lack of visual stimuli. While the concept is perplexing and the food is actually good, this may not be something you want to repeat over and over again unless if you're trying to impress some guests. Its a cool concept for about USD30.


 
5. Western & European Dining
For a person who has been to Europe and appreciates the thought process and skilled selection and combination ingredients in a dish, you will not be disappointed. The food below is from The Refinery (at the back of the opera house). The food is exceptional and the price at +/- USD10 per dish is very reasonable.




**Extras**



 Foreign market places
There are a bunch of hole in the wall organic grocers in HCMC, but if you're from Europe and you miss a little bit of home then you're going to love Annan market. Annam stocks a lot of favorites including chocolates, pates, pastas, seasonings and sauces and wine from Europe.







Untested Buffets
If you're a heavy eater, head on over to Vincom Center. They have tons of Japanese or Korean buffets on one of the basement levels and they're unbelievably cheap especially at snack or merienda time where it costs less than USD10 per person.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Zucchini Pasta Tutorial





In my mind, pasta is a food group. So I literally had an aha moment when I saw spiralized pastas on pinterest. The advantage of vegetable pasta is you get the satisfaction of eating pasta with less carbs and calories and a fraction of the cook time.

To prepare the zucchini noodles you will need a spiralizer which in principle is a giant sharpener for vegetables. However in the absence of this you can either use a knife and cut the strips yourself, use a julienne peeler or even a buko/ melon scrapper.

Ingredients
1 spiralized/ chopped zucchini per person (portion as a main dish)
1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce. zucchini (mine is Kirkland's Marina Sauce from S&R)
1 tbsp italian seasoning

Optional
Mushrooms, ground meat, ham and/ or cheese to taste.

How to
combine all ingredients as you would a regular pasta -> noodles, sauce then cheese. Microwave for 3-5 minutes as desired.

*if your used to eating raw, feel free to do so...
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