Found an hour away from the city, Antonio serves organic gourmet food. The place is also famous for its homey feel that best describes the kind of dining we wish to achieve when we wish to talk and celebrate work, life and love.

Surely, this isn’t like your typical loud mouthed commercial-whore-of-a-restaurant like what we are accustomed to in the city. This one is quiet, unpretentious and literally off the beaten path.



Me and some friends had dinner at Heat Shangri-La a few days ago and I was lucky enough to be allowed by the chef to take a few pictures to take for memory.

Heat offers international cuisines that are utterly delectable. This, hands down, is my new favorite restaurant; something that will be frequented for celebrations.

Come main course I could not take snaps anymore, not that I was not allowed, I was just too darn hungry. Here have a look …

Dinner Italian

I went grocery shopping today.

I’m cooking dinner for  old friends visiting this week. I’m preparing something I saw over Everyday Italian – tried and tested – so I’m confident I can deliver again. Plus, it’s super easy.

There won’t be dessert but instead I’m serving some good Earl Grey Tea  (alfresco style) and invite  them out for a long drive to Tagaytay soon after. Then drive back again. I prepared a mixed CD that I’m sure we’ll enjoy.

But in case they push for something sweet, I’ll have a tub of ice cream at the ready.

Arugula Endive Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette

For the salad:

2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

4 ounces arugula
2 heads of endive, chopped
1/3 cup toasted walnuts

For the vinaigrette:

Put together your wine, lemon juice, honey, mustard, salt, and pepper in a blender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad:

Put together all your dry ingredients not mentioned under “For the vinaigrette”.

Chicken Cacciatore

4 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
large red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 can of button mushroom
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Salt and pepper your chicken. Lightly coat chicken with flour and put it in a  pan with medium high heat. Brown your chicken per side then set aside.

At the same pan where you fried your chicken soutee, the following: bell pepper,  mushroom, onion and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the wine, simmer for 5 minutes, put your  tomatoes (with juice), broth, capers and oregano.

Add the chicken to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the entire ensemble to a simmer, until chicken is completely cooked. You will know this once the sauce thickens.

Top with basil (or parsley) and serve with rice or bread.


Last Saturday me and J went out and tried a restaurant both of us haven’t tried before. Given both are appropriately hungry, we were gung-ho in checking my agent’s (M and R) recommendation.

Amici is one of the new restaurants in SM Megamall Atrium. Located at the 3rd floor, they serve Italian cuisine that people can find within their budget. I was hesitant at first; I walked in and it didn’t have that homey feeling I use to get from other Italian restaurants. Plus, it was self service – you get your condiments, ice, utensils, plates and whatnots yourself. It was strange not having any waiter wait on you.

The gelato I wished could've fit my tummy after the meal

We ordered the tried and tested, Spaghetti Alla Carbonara mainly so we don’t have to go through  the tedious experimentation over menus we haven’t the slightest clue. We then added, apart from a liter of beverage, Tutta Carne for Pizza and Mozzarella Fritto. When we started eating, the inadequate ambiance instantly took second to how good the food tastes. The portions were bigger than usual (that we found ourselves taking home a  hefty take home) and the carbonara’s plating was done quite well.

Sitting in front (but not close) of the open wood fire oven where you can see the chef putting in his pizzas, I immersed to both the dining and the conversation.

I must say it was a good dine. We walked away from Amici warmed up and so full we couldn’t order the gelato anymore.

Maybe next time.

A Good Start

I woke up last Monday morning and leisurely prepared for breakfast with friends. I commuted to the mall and met with Abby and Ben at Pancake House in the city. This is going to be our last get together since they are off to Australia by Thursday.

Given that my last meal was Sunday Morning (I forgot to eat, I don’t know how that happened), I was properly famished. When I got to the restaurant and read the menu, I had difficulty choosing my meal – I sort of wanted everything, which was a predicament because they’re paying for it. And ordering the lot will be a bit too much. I eventually ordered a glass of Four Seasons and a plate of Gambero (super yum). As soon as the food hit our table I automatically stuffed my face with it. We talked while finishing our plate and at the back of my head, I was counting the short hours before I had to say goodbye (plus how succulent the shrimps were). You see, this is my last meeting with them.

While at it, we had a bit of a surprise exchange gift. Abby bought me a very elegant knitted top, dark chocolate and two key chains. I gave her a book that she was apprehensive about (The Graveyard Book) and gave Ben one, too (The Pillars of the Earth). Both of which are my personal all time fave. After providing Ben with the right amount of caution – he is about to start on a gargantuan novel – we swapped “thank yous” and “you’re welcomes”.

Soon after, I headed for work. The day trudged nonchalantly and I was able to cap it with the usual A-okay, finishing my Monday with as much as I can accommodate. Ultimately, the day ended with me having dinner with a different set of friends. This time I paid for it but was unable to finish it.

Looking back, I thought of how much I’ve missed Abby. While she was here, I revived the shopper in me. It’s not every day I get to go out with someone who shares the same shopping tune as I have.

Or maybe, it just helps that she has a fashionista streak and it rubs off me.