Monday, August 21, 2017

Missing Crystal Jade Prestige at MBFC, Singapore

Oh wow! It's been close to 3 months since we bid goodbye to the Lion City! Time flies so fast...when you're busy! With that, I think I should write about one of the things that I miss the most about Singapore.

Crystal Jade.

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I know that this is pretty much a household name when it comes to Chinese dining with close to 20 outlets all over Singapore and even more overseas. I've had my first taste of Crystal Jade right here in Manila when my friend T brought me there to have her favorite Dan Dan La Mian. I was never a fan of spicy food but it was only Crystal Jade's version that I find to be really yummy. However, it was when I went to Singapore that I learned more about the brand. Did you know that Crystal Jade has several concepts under its wing? Let's see if I still remember them... there are the fine-dining ones such as Crystal Jade Prestige at MBFC, Crystal Jade Palace Restaurant which is like the flagship outlet in Takashimaya and Crystal Jade Golden Palace which I find to be the most hip and very Shanghai Tang looking one. Then, there are the casual dining outlets which we frequent a lot like Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao which specializes in... yes, la mian AND xiao long bao, there's Crystal Jade Kitchen for your steamboat dinners and short orders. Lastly, there's Crystal Jade Dining IN which only has one outlet at the moment in Vivo City which is somewhere in between casual and fine dining. It's perhaps the best place to go if you're dining with the family. Apart from all these, there's Crystal Jade MyBread where you get grab some baked pastries and cakes and Crystal Jade Korean Ginseng Chicken and BBQ where I just love their bibimbap and kimchi fried rice! Did I miss out on anything? I hope not.

Anyway, let me tell you about the last meal that Paul and I had at Crystal Jade Prestige. This is the concept that's closest to my heart as I was so lucky enough to be invited to their opening party and I have been frequenting this outlet quite a lot too. One thing that we love about Crystal Jade Prestige is its location. Overlooking the beautiful Marina Bay, you can definitely enjoy a nice weekend lunch here as the scenery outside relaxes you. During weeknights, it's also a good place to be as it's convenient located within the CBD area making it so accessible for all office workers. It also doesn't hurt that they make the yummiest Roasted Baby Suckling Pig Roll with Black Truffle Rice too.

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Our lunch began with our own baskets of Prestige Signature Dim Sum Platter. I got so excited when I saw this. Look how cute the dimsum creations were! This was also when we were still so addicted to Pokemon Go! and doesn't that fishy dim sum look like Magikarp to you? Anyway, this basket consists of four specially created dim sum namely prawn and carrot dumpling with black truffle, assorted mushroom dumpling, osmanthus dumpling with prawn and celery and lastly, water chestnut dumpling with olive and chinese parsley. Unlike in Manila where we dip every single dim sum item in a soy sauce-calamansi dipping sauce, one thing that I love about Crystal Jade Prestige's dim sum creations is that each piece is well-seasoned and dipping is definitely not required. If you must then just add a bit of chili if you want a bit more kick but personally, I just happily ate them as is.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

#FrannyCooks with Grande Rice Bran Oil : Creamy Prawn Pesto with Organic Garlic Parsley Pasta

One thing that I miss the most about living in Singapore is the chance to cook on a regular basis. Somehow, I never considered cooking a chore as it's something that I look forward to doing most especially when I get to try a new recipe or experiment with whatever ingredients we have in the fridge.

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With all my kitchen utensils, pots and ingredients finally back from Singapore, I took the opportunity to do some cooking for the family. Recently also, I was invited to check out Grande Rice Bran Oil which is new in the market. I still remembered the first time Paul and I had to shop for our cooking oil and we were totally overwhelmed by all the varieties available. From the more popular olive oil to the more mass produced vegetable oil, I seriously had to whipped out my phone right at the middle of the grocery aisle to check which one is the healthier variant before making our choice. After all, there's no early age to be health-conscious after all most especially when we see older relatives suffering from heart diseases, hypertension and the like. With our twins on the way, Paul and I promised to keep ourselves healthy for as long as we can. 

So, when I was introduced to Grande Rice Bran Oil, we were told that it has a high smoke point making it a good choice for heavy frying, it has a neutral taste, it has zero cholesterol and it's trans-fat free and it's rich in antioxidants. Sounds interesting! 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Touch of Class : Marco Polo Ortigas' Continental Club Lounge

During our amazing Anniversary weekend staycation at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, Paul and I were lucky to be upgraded to a Superior Suite which allowed us to have access to their Continental Club Lounge. This really made us so happy as we both love hanging out at the lounge most especially during cocktail hour!

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The Continental Club Lounge is located at the 44th floor of the hotel which gives you an unobstructed view of the city. I just love sitting by the window while enjoying our drinks and snacks. The Ortigas skyline, after all, is very beautiful.

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The lounge itself is very spacious with ample areas for one to hold meetings or to have quiet discussions. Dress code is strictly observed here as with any hotel lounges. We also love how attentive the staff are here as they would willingly ask if you need a refill of your drinks, if you'd like some coffee or tea or when I was looking for a bowl of nuts, they quickly served some to us.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Starting the day right at Cucina, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

Rise and Shine, Manila! 

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal especially when I'm on a vacation. Lately though, I would always find myself up and about at 6am with a growling tummy. I guess, I got two hungry babies calling my attention so early in the morning! Luckily though, Cucina starts their breakfast service really early too and so I joined a handful of hotel guests a little past 6am on a Sunday morning.

I've always been a fan of Cucina's as I love the well-curated dishes available in their buffet spread. Their breakfast offering didn't fail to impress as well. Let me take you on a quick tour around the breakfast buffet line:

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Start off with something healthy in the morning! They have a good variety of muesli, yogurt and oatmeal for you to choose from.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Back at Lung Hin, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

It's been a while since our last visit to Lung Hin but I can still vividly remembered how delicious everything was and the ambiance also added to the over-all wonderful dining experience that we had. It just made perfect sense to go back to Lung Hin during our anniversary weekend stay at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila. I know it's more customary to go for a nice romantic steak dinner to celebrate an anniversary but hey, who ever said you can't have Chinese food on a dinner date too?

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Our dinner began with our personal choice of soup. Spinach Seafood Soup (Php. 330) for me and Hot and Sour Seafood Soup (Php. 295) for Paul. We love starting our meal with a bowl of soup to warm our tummies and prepare it for the feast ahead. My Spinach Seafood Soup was so packed with a lot of ingredients! Minced seafood, tofu and what I suspect could be egg white. It was so filling and yummy!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Afternoon Tea at the Connect Lounge, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

It's no secret how much I love going for Afternoon Tea. There's something about unwinding while enjoying a selection of sweet and savory bite-sized pasties delicately displayed on  a tall multi-tier rack. Since Paul had work on Saturdays back when we were in Singapore, I'd spend those free time with my girl friends as we would try the different hotel high teas around the city. Since high tea is traditionally very British, I'm happy though that this practice is picking up pace here in the Philippines where the American influence is relatively strong.

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After checking in and settling in our room at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, Paul and I headed back to the 24th floor where Connect Lounge is located. They have an ongoing high tea promotion for only Php. 788 per pair and we were excited to give it a try. Similar to all dining establishments in the hotel, Connect Lounge also boasts of an amazing view overlooking the Ortigas and Antipolo area.

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Within minutes, our three tier rack was served and I must say that the quantity and selection was quite modest. Each set comes with our choice of coffee or tea. You can also opt to add a bit more should you want to have a glass of smoothie, iced tea or wine with your snacks.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Staycation Files : Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

Every year, Paul and I would make it a point to celebrate our wedding anniversary. On some years we went out for a nice dinner date but more often than not, we'd take the weekend off for a nice R&R at a hotel of our choice. This year, we decided to check out Marco Polo Ortigas Manila for one full weekend of non-stop eating and relaxation. After all, this will be the last wedding anniversary where it's just the two of us. Next year, we will be joined by our beautiful twins so looks like it will be a family getaway from then on.

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila opened just a few years ago when we were already in Singapore making us even more excited to check this hotel out. Personally, I'm a fan of the Marco Polo group as my family and I used to frequent their hotel in Hong Kong many many years ago. One thing that I'll always remember about Marco Polo is its spacious room. The one in Hong Kong is also adjacent to one of our favorite malls -- Harbour City, making it so convenient to just grab any snack or food should hunger strikes. As for the one here in Manila, it's located right at the heart of the Ortigas CBD where it's surrounded with a lot of restaurants and SM Megamall is just a few blocks away.

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Upon checking in, I was told that we were upgraded to the Superior Suite (Php. 8,550) which means we got access to The Continental Club Lounge. YAHOOO!! There's nothing that excites me more than being able to check out the hotel's lounge. Our staycation clearly had very very good start. Checking in was a breeze and within minutes, Paul and I made our way up to our room. Look at how spacious our room was!  With a floor area of approximately 51-61 sqm, it's complete with a mini bar and coffee machine, a big comfy king size bed and an equally comfy lounge area should you just want to enjoy the view outside. I love how they made sure to make the room so comfortable as it's the perfect place to head back too after a busy day in the city or if you're like us and you just want to spend two blissful days relaxing.

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