Tag Archives: food

More Food and Friends!

2 Feb

Today is the official opening day of Atelier Vivanda, the heart-and-soul project of one of my friends! She is my foodie mentor and always has a great recommendation for a new dish or restaurant for me to try.

Anyway, the much-anticipated opening has been covered by multiple media sources. Here is an excerpt from www.wheninmanila.com

“It all started with two ladies looking for a great foodie experience while traveling around Europe. After trying several “best” restaurants, they came upon this intriguing perfectly-rated restaurant with a high review but with no pictures of food nor the chef. Off they went and enjoyed the food. The chef was particularly fond of these two ladies, Khristine Gabriel and Grace Lee, and to make the long story short, plans of bringing Atelier Vivanda was made. Just 3 short weeks after that serendipitous moment, world renowned Chef Akrame Benallal came to Manila to scout for locations and the rest was history. Philippines is indeed becoming not just a great food destination, but a global culinary haven.”

So, before the official opening, Khristine invited a bunch of us out to sample some of the highlights. It was a night to remember! As soon as we walked in, our tables were dressed with mounds of Thinly Sliced Smoked Beef Aged for 50 Days and a glorious selection of different cheeses!


We were even greeted by their own in-house cheese expert, who was full of all kinds of fun info about the where’s, when’s, and what’s of the different cheeses. At one point, she asked our table in her precious French accent, “Shall I bring some more cheese?” If my mouth wasn’t already full of cheese, I would’ve said, “Please….let me introduce myself. I’m Val, and the answer to that question is always a big, fat, Yes.”

After that, we started in on some appetizers. Michele and I shared the potato soup/smoked haddock/comte cheese. It was so perfectly creamy and cheesy with a flavor that tasted new and fresh with each spoonful!

I also tasted the fois gras/celery-vanilla-chili coulis/kumquat. I wasn’t much of a fois gras fan….until then! My friend put the perfect bite on a fork for me. As soon as I put it on my taste buds, I gave her that “Are you kidding me?” look.

THEN Khristine brought out her favorite appetizer for us to try. It is the boiled egg/cottage cheese mayonaise/mushrooms. Again, it wasn’t something that I would normally order, but oh-my-goodness, those Michelin chef’s can make a masterpiece out of anything!sAtelier-Vivanda-BGC-Mae-Ilagan-When-in-Manila-11-of-33

So yeah, at this point, we have tried more dishes than I usually have in an entire meal, and we haven’t even reached the entree!

Of course, we went for the steak. Michele and I shared a Black Angus Strip Loin and a Black Angus Ribeye. They were perfection.

As if that wasn’t enough, the side-dishes are ALL POTATOES and UNLIMITED! They are all in French on the menu, so I have no idea what any of them are, but each one was better than the last! We went super fancy with the Pommes Dauphines and super classic with the Mashed Potatoes. But then, of course, Khristine brought out the other three kinds of potatoes to make sure we got the entire experience.

Finally, it was time for dessert- my happy place. I think I picked the creme brulee before Michele even had a vote. But she knows me. Just like I let her snuggle with the potatoes, she let me snuggle with the creme brulee. If there was a way that humans could experience heaven, it would be this creme brulee – smooth and creamy on the inside with a sugary, crackable crust on top! (Shocking that I ate it all before I could grab a pic.)IMG_9380

True to form, Khristine kept coming in with more desserts for us to try! There was a custard pie with lemongrass ice cream. That ice cream was exploding with flavor and it complemented the pie perfectly! Another winner was the vanilla yogurt/chesnut cream/pistachio financier. I don’t know what it is, but I know that I’ve never had anything like it and was super impressed!


Here is the group before literally rolling down the stairs! The Michelin-starred chef is the guy in the photo. We may or may not have giggled like school girls around him and his accent.


What an experience! I feel so thankful that God put me in a place and around the people who influence and encourage my inner foodie!



Friends and Food

1 Feb

I think I’ve said it before, but Manila has become such a huge hub for international business in Southeast Asia, and with it comes countless and fabulous food options.

I’ve mentioned before that about 10 of us mom’s get together every other week to learn to cook from each others cultures. Last week, rather than cook, the Korean mom’s wanted to take us to one of their favorite Korean restaurants in the city. So if the kids are wondering what mom does while they are at school….


The Koreans ordered for us, so I have no idea what all we munched on. I just know 2 things: They kept bringing more and more food, and I tried everything and everything was delicious (which I know how to say in Korean!)

At one point, we had about 60 bowls of food on the table! (The clean up alone would stop me from ever starting to try and cook Korean cuisine!) Each one just had a small amount of food it it and we would just grab a bite here and there with our chopsticks. I loved that idea and think we should try it for Thanksgiving?

Like I said, I tried everything, and would pretty much grab a bite of kimchi in between bites of everything else. The weirdest thing on the table? Easily the jellyfish dish! I didn’t even know that one can eat jellyfish! It was cut into strips, so it resembled a chewy pasta.


It was a great afternoon with friends, and we were all back at school in time to pick up the kids!