Looking back on a helluva 2013

12:30:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-


This is the second draft of this blog post. After typing a thousand words, I deleted them all.

So many things has happened this 2013. And even if they're good or bad, heartbreaking or joyous, I am so thankful for each and everyone. And like so many times in the past few years, I truly feel that I am exactly where I should be in my life.

My life has taken quite a different turn from what I've been envisioning since 2013 started. Five months after the new year, I was suddenly taken on to an entirely new path -- and one that I've always wanted to do but never had the guts to explore if I could actually do it.

The first four months of the year were great, but the next eights months were, well...like a rollercoaster.

I...

All in all, it was a year of both my biggest loss and several pretty big wins. It was a pretty long and arduous journey, and now that I'm finally looking back, I know I wouldn't have exchanged the past months for anything.

I guess not all of you will get to read this, but here it goes anyway:

Thank you...
  • Parentals who tried their best to make me laugh when I was down and agreed to go along with my plans just to take my mind off things;
  • Ate Apple, who told me that I should be happy and grateful that even for once in my life, I have loved and been loved in a very beautiful way.
  • My ultimate best friend, ate Mako, who never left me alone when I was depressed and patiently dealt with my tears and extreme moodiness, and because I know you spent a lot of money just to hang out with me and keep up with my plans;
  • Chuchay, who dealt with my all-night chattering about the same topic and person; 
  • Danna, who was always just a text away for dinner or drinks; 
  • Anne, who patiently listened to me rant about my broken heart and reminded me of the joys of life; 
  • Mia, who shared with me, "I have a plan for you. Do you believe me? - God", which changed my life and outlook; 
  • Aya, even though you're in the US, you never failed to cheer me on through my highs and lows, and for being one of my biggest life supporters.
  • Kesh Tanglao and Anne Plaza: for giving me a chance, trusting me, and encouraging me. You said I've touched your lives. I think I failed to tell you yet that you've touched my life in a huge way, too.
  • Marty, for being such a sweet, sweet man. For answering my numerous questions about the male psyche and for generally being game to going wherever and laughing at my lame jokes.
  • My boss/client, Paul, for just being awesome, generous, and understanding.
  • Tom: for being you. You give me hope.
  • God, for showing me that true love is a beautiful, beautiful thing. And for everything. You're the best!
  • Mama Mary: for soothing me, for answering my prayers, and for being my light.
I used to plan my life to the last detail but 2013 caught me totally off-guard. So for 2014, I don't know what's in store for me. But I know I'm going to make the most out of it.

I'm ready.

Have a safe and Happy New Year! :)



Trying out Maple

12:30:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-


I've always wanted to eat at Maple ever since I kept reading (and hearing) that I should try out their Eggs Benedict. I was supposed to eat here last November but plans went awry a few months before that my plan to eat here was pushed indefinitely.

Menu and bread with butter
Then someone offered to treat me to lunch wherever I wanted one Saturday and I agreed. Fortunately, we were in Shangri-la mall that morning because I was buying a gift for my dad. I immediately said, "Maple!" and that was that.

My friend Chichi (the same one I was with in Camiguin), kept telling me to try out Maple. I was expecting, well, you know, scrumptious food. My sister, on the other hand, told me that they are not good for my cholesterol, so I was expecting scrumptious, oily, good-and-bad-for-me kind of food. Also, that their servings were huge so I only have to order one or two dishes.

We ended up ordering four. Hahaha. Thank you for the treat.

We got the Eggs Benedict, Huevos Rancheros, fish and chips, and 'kids' mac n' cheese. We didn't order any drinks but they have milkshakes that I really wanted to try out. But for the sake of pretending that I care about calories and my waistline, I had to forego ordering it...this time.

Their Eggs Benedict platter looks like a face.
Their serving is huge, alright! For only P315, we got two servings of Eggs Benedict and heavy-on-the-tummy french fries. The eggs' base were croissant. I was pleasantly surprised while slightly alarmed at my cholesterol levels. Since I'm a new convert to Eggs Benedict, I cannot accurately judge it. Is it the best so far? I think the one at 2nd's was better, but for the price at Maple's, I'd choose this one. The sauce, however, was very yummy, and I found myself swiping the fries across the leftover sauce on the serving plate.

There was Canadian bacon in here, supposedly, but the serving of it was too small to make any mark on my memory. However, the Eggs Benedict was delicious, so I'm definitely ordering this again.

Huevos Rancheros at P340.
Next is the Huevos Rancheros, which tasted a lot like the chicken salad we used to order at Chili's. There was a side of sunny side-up eggs, which my companion ate on its own instead of eating it with the rancheros. The menu said this is a Mexican breakfast, with nachos. The nachos on the bottom were soggy and I barely tasted it at all. It didn't taste any different from the usual salad. I just had a couple of bites of this since I didn't get into the taste as much.

We also ordered fish and chips. In other restaurants, the fish is usually cream dory, right? I was confused at first bite because the fish used instead was tilapia. I have nothing against tilapia, in fact we eat that at home frequently, but I was surprised because I was expecting dory. Well at least it was truly a fillet. I didn't like the fish so much without the sauce. I only had two pieces of it. I felt like it was overpriced due to the taste, but then tilapia fillet is pretty expensive.

Fish & Chips at P480.
Last is another one of my favorites. When I saw the kiddie menu, I immediately ordered the mac n' cheese. This is another one of my quirks: I have to try out the mac n' cheese every time I go to a restaurant and it's on the menu.

The mac n' cheese was definitely cheesy. I felt like clapping my hands when I saw the star-shaped cheeses on top because I love stars. I used to insist to my college orgmates that my name was Haejastar. Plus, my library at home has clouds painted on the ceilings with glow-in-the-dark stars stuck on them. Not to mention my room which has glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, cabinets, walls...you catch my drift.

Mac n' Cheese at P250.
The Mac n' Cheese was tasty and not too cloying. In fact, I wanted to eat the whole serving but of course I had to follow *ehem* my sharing is dieting motto. I don't know what in the world that white stuff is on top, or if it added to the flavor, but I enjoyed this dish the most.

I thought Maple was your typical couple date place, but it didn't have that ambiance at all. We went to the branch in Shangri-la (the first was in Forbes, and there's a new one opening in Alabang) and there were families and groups of friends having lunch as well. There's also a kiddie corner on the side stocked with several books and toys.

Maple didn't quite live up to my expectations, but I enjoyed it enough. It wasn't as pricey as I thought it would be, and it's definitely a place where I would someday bring my family for a treat.

If you're looking to try their food, I've taken a photo of their menu as well. If you're dining there with your girlfriend, I'd say prepare around P1000-1500, and if with friends, at least P500-1000/person. Enjoy! :)

  
 






Full Disclosure: We paid for our meals. This blog post expresses my own opinions. All the places we visited and ate at that are featured here were not sponsored. I did not receive compensation for my post.

Maple Restaurant
LG/F Shangri-la Plaza, East Wing,
Shaw Blvd cor. Edsa,
Wack-Wack, Mandaluyong
(02) 477 8027
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A sweet secret in the south

11:18:00 AM 0 Comments A+ a-

Display of goodies at Sweet Cluster with ate Rea in the background.

About five years ago, I was able to taste the best cupcake of my life. It was sweet, pure chocolate goodness with cream cheese. Unfortunately, the baker only made it for a specific event and he never put up a shop (I'm still hoping he would). So since then, I've been on the look out for the alternative favorite chocolate cupcake. After visiting so many stores and spent hundreds of money, trying to convince myself that a particular cupcake is 'good enough' (and believe me, I've been to all the popular commercial cupcake stores in the metro and have tasted some online-bought goodies), I finally found it.

I've been passing through Severina for over two months and I saw this little nook that was barely noticeable unless you're looking outside. I was shy to ask my sister to stop on the road because she hates doing that but one day I finally asked if we could stop by, and she agreed.

What followed were several hundreds paid and a couple of inches on my thighs probably, but oh so worth it. I finally found my alternative favorite chocolate cupcake!

Now, my family knows I don't share my chocolate but I have this new motto, sharing is dieting, so I let my sister take a bite of my cupcake. She managed to eat half.

The next day, I bought two cupcakes. My sister asked me again if she could have some. My sister. Who doesn't like chocolate that much. Yes.

Belgian Choco cupcake P55/piece
The cake itself is moist and not too sweet, not cloying. The icing on top was a little hard and very generous. I don't really like the icing of most cupcakes because, combined with the cake, it can be too sweet. But I found myself eating this cake as a whole, not separating the pieces. In fact, it's better that way. They also add chocolate sprinkles on top, but I guess you could tell them to not put any. For me, it's barely noticeable anyway.

My sister kept buying blueberry cheesecake instead. She said it wasn't an 'oh my god the best cheesecake ever' experience, but then she has never eaten a blueberry cheesecake she hasn't liked. But she did like it. Enough to order it three times.

Blueberry cheesecake at P95/slice
What my sister liked about this cake is that the cheesecake part is very generous and it tastes like they didn't scrimp on the flavors and materials (this also applies to their chocolate cupcake). Also, the blueberry serving at least reaches until the end of the cake. It's a bit small, but she said it's actually okay for the price because in other stores this would be more expensive.

And my mom liked the goods as well that she asked us last Friday if we could go to Severina to have some dessert. :)) We bought two cakes. One was another blueberry cheesecake and I decided to try a different cake this time to see if their other desserts taste just as good.

Chocolate Bliss cake at P150/mini cake
I ordered their Chocolate Bliss this time. I was supposed to get the Amaretto cake but they only sell it as one whole, not by slice/piece. The Chocolate Bliss mini cake is a chocolate mouse cake with a half-inch chocolate sponge cake base, covered with chocolate and gold icing and surrounded with walnuts. The cake itself was very good. Again, not too sweet but sweet enough to satiate your chocolate craving. The walnuts added a weird taste to the cake because it's taste was very overpowering, but it helped to balance the cake's sweetness, too. Their mini cakes are quite big and even for someone who loves chocolate like I do, I definitely was not able to eat this in one sitting. This can be shared between two or three people. Their cupcake, you can choose to share with someone but if you're like me, you can just buy one for yourself and another one for everyone else to share. ;;)

Ate Rea at the Sweet Cluster is very nice and welcoming. She packs the cakes into plastic containers and brown paper bags if you're bringing it to go, complete with a plastic fork or two. However, you can also choose to dine in. There are several chairs and she serves water for free. There are also magazines available, and yes, a small comfort room. I can definitely see people hanging out here although not staying for long if you need to work on your computer because I didn't see any outlets. They also serve tea, hot chocolate, and juice. My sister is excited to come back and try out another one of their cakes. Me, I'm wondering if I can persuade her to visit Sweet Cluster on Christmas Day. :))

The waiting bench for dine out customers.

You can hang out here with friends!

Sweet Cluster's menu and pricing
As Ate Ria told me, they are now accepting orders for Christmas and will put your orders in special Christmas boxes (for a fee).

Sweet Cluster is inside Severina Village, just through Severina Diamond gate, and right across the car wash. Coming from the gate, it's on the right side, sandwiched between a parlor and a laundry shop.

Sweet Cluster
Cakes | Cupcakes | Muffins | Cookies
43-E Severina Avenue, Km. 18,
West Service Road, Parañaque City
(02) 994-9638
sweet_cluster@yahoo.com