I Enjoyed the French Wine Culture at Sofitel Wine Days in Manila

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Since I started hanging out with my mom and her friends, I started to appreciate wine. I liked the mellow buzz it gave me, as well as the nuances of each variety. I like white for its light flavor, rose for its refreshing burst, and red for its deep full-bodied intimacy. So when Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila invited WheninManila.com to be the only online attendee for its Wine Days, I was excited to go.

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Starbucks releases limited-edition Manila and Cebu mugs

Along with picture frames, candles, and towels, mugs are considered to be one of the worst gifts to get during birthdays and Christmas. But I’m not like most people. I enjoy receiving candles, towels, and mugs, especially if they are designed well. I think I’m easy to gift: I like receiving luxurious versions of everyday things.

 

Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (1)

 

Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (6)

 

Mugs are one of my favorites. I have a lot of mugs, which I use both at home and in the office. I like sipping something warm when I’m in a contemplative mood. It’s incredibly soothing during moments of calm and stress.

Imagine my joy when my friends from Starbucks sent two mugs from their Collector Series City limited-edition collection. The new mugs feature relief landmarks from Manila and Cebu. And what a coincidence, my family is from Cebu!

 

Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (3)

 

The Manila mug features Paco Park, Luneta Park, the National Museum, the Manila City Hall, Liwasang Bonifacio, the Philippine Post Office, the Palacio del Gobernador, and Fort Santiago. The mug also features a colored jeepney, one of the city’s most iconic figures. It’s a beautiful design that highlights famous sights in this very colorful city (Note: must explore the city again).

 

Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (2)

 

The Cebu mug features Fort San Pedro, the Halad Museum, Lapu Lapu Bridge, Magellan’s Cross, Basilica del Santo Nino, Carbon Market, and the Mactan Shrine. Like the Manila mug’s jeepney, the Cebu mug features colored guitars, one of the city’s favorite pasalubongs. I was a kid the last time I’ve been to Cebu, so most of the landmarks are hazy, but it sparked a wanderlust that made me want to visit my mother’s hometown.

 

Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (4)

 

Starbucks Relief Mugs Manila Cebu (1)

 

The Collector Series City mugs will be available in all Starbucks branches starting tomorrow. The Manila and Cebu mugs will retail at P550 and P650 in NAIA 1. 

Meeting my man’s friends at Crisp and Niner Ichi Nana + Why

For my man’s annual Christmas get-together with his college friends, he thought it was a good idea to introduce me to the group.

This year’s get-together was at Crisp, an all-day breakfast restaurant in Bonifacio Global City. I initially thought it was an Asian fusion joint because of the flavors, which were somewhat similar to Pink Panda in Makati. Incidentally, both Crisp and Pink Panda are owned by blogger and restaurateur Erwan Heussaff. Great interiors—unfinished walls paired with bright yellow lamps and patterned tiles.

It turned out to be a surprise for some to meet me, because they thought my man was still single, and because I’m his first everything: date, kiss, lay, boyfriend. So of course, a part of the night was spent grilling (and teasing) us on how we met, what we usually do on dates, and who said “I love you” first.

They played an entertaining round of exchange gift, but theirs was called White Elephant. Basically, you put all gifts in a pile, and you take turns taking one. You can either take a gift from the pile or “steal” what was already taken. There was a really nice Muji pillow (it’s incredibly soft), but my man got traveling bags. His gift was a set of Human Nature products.

 

A bacon-flecked something in Niner Ichi Nana
A bacon-flecked something in Niner Ichi Nana

 

After dinner, we moved to Niner Icher Nana (also co-owned by Heussaff) for drinks, where I had something with bacon flecks staining the glass. I forgot what it’s called or what the liquor was, but it was an okay drink. I think it was whiskey.

 

Niner Ichi Nana's enormous chandeliers
Niner Ichi Nana’s enormous chandeliers

 

Niner was full, so we were seated at Hungry Hound, the partner restaurant. They had these enormous ring chandeliers that dominated the room. It has a little medieval feel to it, but its size makes a very strong statement, and detaches itself from other restaurants that also use wood interiors.

 

The "Why" graffiti in BGC
The “Why” graffiti in BGC

 

On the way home, we passed by this intersection near Forum in 7th Avenue. On one of the signs there, the word “Why” was stenciled at the back. A similar sign exists in Pasig and Makati (I saw one along Dela Rosa while walking to Mom & Tina’s) and it’s a sort of urban mystery, like Banksy. Coconuts Manila was able to interview the guy behind it, but he refused to share his name, what he does, and why he does it.

According to the interview, it’s supposed to be a rhetorical question. Why? Well, why not?

P.S. I need to take more photos to accompany my posts.

Mulled wine at Sofitel Manila

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Two weeks ago, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila invited me for the annual lighting of their Christmas tree. The tree is a 21-foot display that overlooks Spiral, the tip of which you can see at the hotel lobby (One of the best views is from Le Bar). They also lit the other decorations at the lobby (a gorgeous replica of the Eiffel Tower) and the drop-down lights at Le Bar, a magical display that reminds one of gently-falling snowflakes at the Christmas village they set up at the corridor going to the luxurious ballroom.

The lighting of the Christmas decorations coincided with Sofitel Manila’s turnover of contributions to the Virlanie Foundation and their thanksgiving to their partners. They served a great dinner of hors d’oeuvres, Christmas ham, and my favorite desserts. Seriously, Sofitel serves the best desserts.

 

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They had a variety of drinks, from Dom Perignon to wines and beers, but the highlight of the night was the mulled wine, a Christmas concoction of boiled red wine mixed with cinnamon, star anise, honey, and citrus fruits. The result is a sweet and spicy drink, kind of like sangria, that will bring the holiday spirit.

Mulled wine is a traditional Christmas drink served hot or warm, but Sofitel also offered cold versions, served with cinnamon, star anise, and orange slices. Because the wine is boiled, and wine loses some of its potency when heated, I was able to down five glasses without feeling a buzz, and I enjoyed the night with blogger friends and Sofitel’s marketing team.

Sometimes I still crave for it. I plan to make a bottle of mulled wine for our family Christmas party.

Click here for what happened that night and what Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila will be up to this holiday season.

My new obsessions: Red Turnip Theater’s Cock + Don Papa Rum

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After watching Red Turnip’s Cock on its premiere show last March, I was once again invited by its director, Rem Zamora, to catch the final show and its official blastoff. Since its first day, it received universal praise from writers, critics, theater lovers, and everyone who came to support the show. I was one of them, having interviewed Rem for a feature in The Philippine Star and When In Manila.

I’ve said that 2014 is the year of theater, what with Rak of Aegis, Noises Off, August: Osage County, Full Gallop, and WickedCock could very well be one of the best theater shows this year.

Red Turnip’s Cock aims to answer this question: What happens when a young gay man falls in love with a woman?

 

Character Teaser - John

Character Teaser - M

Character Teaser - W

Character Teaser - F

The cast of Red Turnip Theater’s Cock

 

Cock stars Topper Fabregas as John, Niccolo Manahan as M, Jenny Jamora as W, and Audie Gemora as a surprise guest. Cock is Red Turnip Theater’s second offering after Closer. I spoke with Rem after the show and he said that the theater company will be back this August.

 

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The cast of Cock: Topper Fabregas, Niccolo Manahan, Jenny Jamora, and Audie Gemora, with Red Turnip members: Rem Zamora, Ana Abad Santos, and Cris Villonco (Jenny is also a member)

 

Having seen the show already, I was able to understand and appreciate the deeper nuances of the play. The bare set but the sound effects during the subway scene, the welling up of the eyes of the actors during poignant moments, and the emotions they invoked in me, from pity to anger and sadness.

 

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A terrible-quality picture of Don Papa rum from the Cock blastoff

 

Of course, I enjoyed watching Cock because of the brilliant acting and compelling plot, but the play was more enjoyable because of my new discovery: Don Papa Rum.

I actually tried Don Papa at the When In Manila Christmas Party last year, but I don’t usually drink rum straight so I couldn’t appreciate the flavors. I much prefer tequila and wine, but on a whim, I got the Don Papa rum mixed with Coke at the Cock blastoff.

Boy, was it good. I’ve tried rum Coke (Cuba Libre) at clubs and bars, but I never enjoy it because I could only taste the soda. It’s the standard free drink in parties so I guess bartenders only put a dollop of rum and drown the flavors in Coke. I don’t drink soda, too, so Cuba Libre is a drink I tend to avoid.

But rum Coke with Don Papa tasted smooth, and the soda blended well with the vanilla, honey, and candied fruits that make up the Don Papa recipe. It was so delicious that I ended up having four glasses and a slight buzz by the end of the night.

I remember walking up to Topper Fabregas and Niccolo Manahan (who I have never met before) and congratulating them on the play and telling them I could see myself in John. And it’s not exactly a good thing. I did the same to Rem and Jenny, but at least I know them personally. I also ended up saying cock dozens of times in front of a publicist’s camera as he asked people what they thought of the show. I concluded with “I love Cock!”

 

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Don Papa is a premium-aged small-batch rum made in the foothills of Mt. Kanlaon in Negros Occidental. Negros is known for its sugar because of its climate, geography, and rich volcanic soil. Don Papa’s rum is aged for seven years in oak barrels, and was made available in 2012.

Don Papa is named after Dionisio Magbuelas, known as Papa Isio. He is one of the unsung heroes of the Philippine Revolution, helping free Negros from the 300-year Spanish rule.

Don Papa Rum is available in the following locations:

 

Don Papa Rum

Cucumber vodka.

Yesterday, I decided to infuse some cucumber into vodka. I decided to try it out after reading an article in Out magazine’s April 2012 issue. The idea of making my own “craft” spirit was appealing because everybody seems to be making their own version of something, and because I had no plans this Holy Week. I chose to infuse cucumber because it is refreshing and reminiscent of the summer and the sea. The infusion takes some time, so I’m guessing my experiment will come to fruition at the peak of summer.

 

 

Infusing vodka can be quite easy, and you don’t need to have any skills in the kitchen. I have none, and I was able to concoct a beautiful looking and smelling mix. All you’ll need is vodka, a rather large cucumber, and a jar. It might be a good idea to use inexpensive vodka so it’s not too big a deal if it ends up tasting like shit.

 

 

Because I was excited to get this baby on the road, I failed to invest in a jar. I emptied the bottle and stuffed the chopped cucumber in the bottle and draped the vodka over it. After it’s ready, it is important to remove the cucumber as it can affect the flavor – taking on an unpleasantly bitter taste. Removing the soggy cucumber will prove a challenge for me, but I survived peeling and chopping the gourd when my only kitchen skill is steeping tea.

I plan on dashing a bit of soda and some muddled mint when it is ready to be served. Adding mint is a flash of inspiration. I once tried a divine cucumber and mint shake when I had dinner at Vikings a few ago. It was so refreshing that I had two glasses, and there was nothing I wanted to do more than rip off all my clothes and fly to Boracay. I didn’t want to infuse the mint because it might be too strong and overpower the sweet flavor of the cucumber.

Right now, my bottle is in the freezer. It’s important to shake it every now and then to balance the flavor. It’s also important to use pure vodka as this does not freeze. I will update you once it is ready. Cheers for the summer!