06 December 2013Written by Pepe Samson
Welcome to my first-ever blog giveaway!
This Christmas, I am spreading some Yuletide cheer by giving away delicious cupcakes from The Mad Butter! The Mad Butter is a home-based seller that specializes in moist, scrumptious cupcakes in different crazy and creatively-named flavors! Everything revolves around the "fairy tale" theme. Told ya I'm a big concept fan! For a full review of The Mad Butter, click here.
Two lucky readers shall win a box of cupcakes each from The Mad Butter. Exciting right? So let's cut the talk and get to the mechanics!
Who can Join:
1. Readers from NCR (Metro Manila) are eligible to join
2. Anyone with a Facebook account are eligible to join
3. My relatives are NOT eligible to join (hahahaha)
How to Join:
1. Like The Mad Butter on Facebook
2. Share my Mad Butter review using the hashtag #TheMadButter on Facebook with the title "I want Mad Butter cupcakes for Christmas!"
3. Tell us about your favorite cupcake flavor (from any bakeshop) AND your flavor suggestions on the comments section below! It's ok if you don't have a blogger account, you can now comment using your Facebook account!
Two (2) winners shall be selected: one with the craziest favorite flavor and one with the most creative, innovative or weird flavor suggestion! Each winner will get a box of cupcakes with his/her preferred flavor (one flavor only). For a list of Mad Butter flavors, click here.
I will contact the winners via email or Facebook, so feel free to leave your name and email on the comments section as well!
Winners shall be announced on December 11 (Wednesday).
Good luck and thanks for joining!
The Mad Butter
Facebook: The Mad Butter
02 December 2013Written by Pepe Samson
BMG , dance , dance vision arena , dancesport , neil jones and ekaterina sokolova , wheelchair dancesport No comments
Ballroom dancers who are based in Manila will be delighted as the new Dance Vision Arena has finally opened in its new home in San Juan. After being on soft opening for several weeks, Dance Vision Arena celebrated its Grand Opening last November 25 -- a glamorous social event attended by dancesport athletes, coaches, ballroom enthusiasts and socialites eager to welcome a new home for dancers and to witness a spectacular dance show.
|Me, Ekaterina Sokolova-Jones, Roque Marquez, Neil Jones, and Onang|
The night began with some social dancing with dinner and drinks. After everyone has warmed up, the program began. As an introduction, models from Sanda Fashion graced the new Dance Vision Arena events hall with their striking struts and equally stupendous outfits. Afterwards, BMG and Tahanang Walang Hagdanan fired up the floor with a Wheelchair Dancesport Chacha number.
The real highlight of the event was the show dances given by the Modern Standard couple Victor Fung and Anastasia Muravyeva, as well as the Latin couple Neil Jones and Ekaterina Sokolova-Jones. Both couples wowed the audience with spectacular gimmicks from their five dances.
(Below: Neil and Ekaterina's Samba showdance number)
While I appreciate Modern Standard, it was certainly the Latin dances which made my heart leap more. Watching Neil and Ekaterina do the Chacha, Paso Doble, Rumba, Jive, and Samba in a progression that grew more and more exciting was one unforgettable moment—one which truly inspired me to practice harder and made me appreciate dancing even more. Both Neil and Ekaterina are talented dancers with such goofy personalities that made them so likeable and endearing.
the Judith pose to end all Judith poses. LOL
|BMG and Tahanang Walang Hagdanan with Neil Jones and Ekaterina Sokolova-Jones|
The after-party was just as amazing as the show itself. Neil and Ekaterina stayed on and danced with the guests. Imagine my envy when my fellow dancers were able to do impromptu performances with Neil and Ekaterina! I just didn’t have enough guts to do that! The one I hated most was Yenyen, a fellow BMG who did a three-minute Rumba with Neil. She practically shoved it into our faces that they looked well together and looked like a real couple. Damn, I despise her!
|Me, my janitor outfit (LOL) and Neil Jones|
|With all the excitement, all pictures are blurred. Haha! With the lovely Ekaterina Sokolova-Jones!|
I loved Neil and Ekaterina even more when we got to experience a group workshop with Neil Jones the following day. Neil covered a lot of interesting and helpful topics within a three-hour lesson that seemed to me like a whole day—actually, I wished it really was an entire day! Damn, I was so inspired after the workshop!
The next day, my partner Onang and I underwent a private lesson from Neil himself. OMG! It was the best 45 minutes of my dancesport career so far. Hahaha! It was our first time to ever get a private lesson from a foreign coach, and man, it was awesome.
By Thursday night, Neil Jones already had to go back to UK—that broke our hearts. LOL!
|It was his last day, so I had to take another pic. LOL|
Dance Vision Arena is also home to BMG Formo, the re-branded dance apparel shop formerly known as BMG Fashion. It sits directly beside the private Latin room of the studio, so anyone who wants practice skirts, pants, and tops can go check out their fabulous designs. They also make customized dancesport costumes—so tell them the design you want!
I am extremely happy and proud that I’m a Dance Vision and BMG scholar—meaning, I can use the studio for free and practice there anytime I want. In return, we scholars should practice hard and bring pride to the name of Dance Vision and BMG. Who wouldn’t want to practice in such a luxurious and beautiful studio? If I can live there, I would!
Check out more pictures of the new Dance Vision Arena below:
|the Latin room|
|the events hall (2nd floor)|
|the main studio|
Thanks to Coach Genice "Bong" Marquez, Sir Benny, and Dance Vision for bringing the awesome couple, Neil Jones and Ekaterina Sokolova, to Manila!
Dance Vision Arena
Madison Square, N. Domingo Street, Little Baguio, San Juan
2/F Dance Vision Arena, Madison Square, N. Domingo Street, Little Baguio, San Juan
01 December 2013Written by Pepe Samson
food , italianfood , pasta , ravioli , serendra , taguig , the fort , where to eat in The Fort , zomato No comments
Italian is my all-time favorite cuisine, so when Zomato invited me for another foodie meet-up -- this time at the upscale Balducci Ristorante in Serendra -- I immediately said yes. There’s a certain comfort that only Italian food can provide, especially the scrumptious, authentic kind, and true enough, Balducci’s food was of that kind ... and more.
I can’t believe I haven’t eaten in Balducci before—but then again, I don’t hang out in Serendra that much. Tucked on a corner alongside the quiet and cozy shops of Serendra, Balducci stands there with its rustic and slightly intimidating feel. Contrary to the air of exclusivity it exudes, Balducci is actually designed for cozy family-style dining and casual drinks with friends. With its wooden doors, brick façade and incandescent lighting, it reminds me so much of the interiors of Old Vine, my favorite restaurant in the Venice Piazza—before its sister resto Uncle Cheffy shooed it away, that is.
Balducci specializes in Tuscan cuisine and offers an authentic and traditional Italian way of dining—as is demonstrated by its wide selection of soups, antipasti, salads, pastas, pizzas, mains and desserts. Everything was beautifully plated, meticulously assembled, and fresh-looking. Were they delicious? I have yet to know.
We started our dinner with some of Balducci’s appetizers. We were first served baskets of Balducci’s foccacia bread, together with some butter, tomato salsa, and liver paté. Nothing special with the bread, but I liked the dips. These of course, were for free and unlimited! Love it!
Balducci has recently launched new items on their menu in order to keep up with what people like; Chef Paolo Nesi came back after spending a couple of years in Italy with loads of new culinary expertise. One of these new items is the Parmesan Cheese Basket: Parma ham, parmesan cheese, and fresh melon daintily assembled inside crispy cups (or baskets), along with some greens. I loved how my teeth would break through the crispy shell then slowly sink into the cheese! And look at the cute platter that looked like it was cut out of a jackfruit, I wanted to steal one! Haha!
Next came some bruschetta with varied toppings: sardines, ham, and tomatoes. Perfect appetizers for they are very light, creamy and yummy!
The Il Fritto del Balducci is a delicious medley of mozzarella balls, fried vegetables, and breaded anchovies. Another new product of Balducci, this starter was perfect with the tomato sauce that came with it, but I didn’t eat too much of these to prepare myself for more of the huge feast ahead!
After consuming three types of appetizers, I couldn’t believe I was being served soup next. Not that I’m complaining—Balducci’s homemade tomato soup was awesome! The Zuppa di Pomodoro con Sformatino de Ricotta, another new creation by Chef Paolo, was a fresh and rich tomato soup with a delightful surprise: a ricotta cheesecake on the middle! I swear I was eating my soup ever so slowly—relishing each slurp, each swallow, savoring all the flavors and storing all memory of them into my gustatory nerves. I wanted to smash my bowl (plate, actually) when I saw it was already empty.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, the server brought out our pasta dishes: four types of ravioli: spinach, mushroom, salmon, and duck. The spinach and mushroom ravioli were both very good, but it was the salmon variety, with its slight kick, that stole my attention.
|Mushroom Ravioli (Tortelli ai Funghi) P410|
|Spinach Ravioli (Cannelloni Della Casa, Ricotta e Spinaci) P400|
|Salmon Ravioli (Agnellotti al Salmone - Mezzaluna) P450|
The duck ravioli, on the other hand, is another story. The heavenly, what-the-fuck-is-this, I-swear-I-don’t-deserve-this, insanely awesome duck ravioli with truffle cream made me feel like I should be cleaning the chef’s nails and washing his feet with my tongue throughout his lifetime! Fuck! Make me your slave please! In exchange of daily supply of the duck ravioli!!!
|Duck Ravioli (Tortelli d’ Anatra al Profumo di Tartufo)|
Photo credit: Rochkirstin.com. Check out her review of Balducci here.
As I was digesting bits of duck via my esophagus, another server came and placed before us a platter consisting of grilled lamb, pork chops, sausages, and chicken. WTF, the main course had just arrived! The slabs of assorted meat loomed before me as if to say, Fuck you you’re not done yet! The vegetables on the side seemed like an afterthought.
Who am I to refuse such goodness? If this was how they ate in Italy every day, please transport me there—NOW! OMG, vegetarians are missing out three-quarters of their lives!
You think that was the end? No meal is complete without dessert, how dare you! We had this surprisingly light and delicate cake filled with chocolate gelato and topped with cherries and walnuts—I honestly didn’t know what it was called! When you dine in Balducci, just show them this picture, LOL! This gelato cake is certain to win the heart of any dessert lover.
To cap off everything (finally), we were served some red wine. After eating, I could’ve sworn I gained five pounds.
I was impressed with all the food we had. There was not a single thing I didn’t like; everything had its own unique taste. I was raving about Bellini’s when I first ate there and this comes close to being second best (I have yet to try Carpaccio though, they say it’s the best). The food was a bit on the expensive side but the price tag is commensurate to the quality, I would say. Also, they have huge servings perfect for sharing so I would suggest going in a big group—that way you can split the bill and try more dishes.
Maybe one day my siblings and mom would put an effort into traveling all the way to Taguig to eat at Balducci; if not I would take my close friends there for a long dinner and some drinks. The place also has that professional feel (perfect for meetings) and intimate ambience (dates), a brilliant idea when you want to impress!
Thanks to Zomato, I discovered the quaint beauty that is Balducci.
Space C, 104 C/F Retail Area, Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Facebook: Balducci Serendra
Menu: Click here
Any tips on other fabulous food to try at Balducci? Other Italian restaurants we should check out? Share your comments and suggestions below!
29 November 2013Written by Pepe Samson
In a previous post, I wrote about my struggles when picking out “generic-but-not-generic” Christmas presents, and the solution I found for a portion of my corporate friends are personalized notepads—thanks to PoshThemes Design and Print Solutions. While scanning my Facebook news feed earlier, I stumbled upon the posts of another online seller: The Mad Butter, a home-based bakeshop that specializes in cupcakes! Instantly, a light bulb snapped on.
Cupcakes, like ramen and milk tea, quickly became a fad in Manila—one whose popularity, like the other two, grew rapidly and one which isn’t likely to go kaput anytime soon. With full-on bakeshops and stalls that churn out cupcakes popping out around the metro like bisexuals in Greenbelt (hahaha), what extra can The Mad Butter bring to the table?
The answer? Personalized, made-to-order cupcakes!
Tell them what you want, they can bake and design it. Cupcakes for all occasions? Check out these Mothers’ Day cupcakes I ordered from The Mad Butter months ago! I had a hard time choosing a gift for my mom that time—especially with all the accessories and stuff she already has—so I took a risk and decided to surprise her with some cheesy, personalized mini cakes. She totally loved them!
|Yummy like you. :p|
|Happy Birthday Nanay!|
Several months back, I attended a Lego-themed kiddie party and it was The Mad Butter that supplied the desserts! Check out the cupcakes with Lego designs on them. Aren’t they cool?
Customized desserts were not only limited to cupcakes—even the chocolate bars and candies adhered to the Lego theme!
Birthdays, anniversaries, Valentines’ Day—give away something with a touch of your own thoughts instead of something store-bought!
In case you’re not following The Mad Butter on Facebook, now is the perfect time to do so as they have launched new flavors especially for the Christmas season! Check out some of my favorite flavors below!
1. Choco Coke Float
Chocolate base with a cream frosting that has a subtle hint of Cola flavor and aroma. Pretty ingenious, if you ask me. Kids and adults alike would love it!
2. Bananas in Choco-jamas
Banana-flavored base with a chocolate and cream cheese frosting. I totally liked the combination because the end product wasn’t too saccharine.
3. Mr. Peanut
A reinvention of the plain peanut butter cupcake, with the addition of strawberry jelly on top! This cupcake brings back memories of PBJ mornings. It’s not too sweet either, so expect to be able to eat more than a whole piece.
4. Liz Lemon
First-time ever to eat a honey-lemon-flavored cupcake! You’d think it would taste weird because “honey lemon” calls Nestea and Halls to mind, but this concoction was just too awesome for words! My favorite among all of The Mad Butter’s creations.
5. Kitkat Matcha
Could you get any weirder? Kitkat bars on top of matcha frosting AND EMBEDDED inside a chocolate cupcake base. Have you ever tried Slice’s Sir Francis M. Bacon cupcake? The first time my friends and I tried it, I was the only one who liked it. Same thing when I made my officemates taste the KitKat Matcha. I’m a fan of weird combinations (Chips Ahoy on beer, Cracklings on catsup, etc.) and trust me, the Kitkat Matcha is worth a try!
Besides, I could understand if you would refuse to dip your Chips Ahoy in beer, but to eat Kitkat with green tea? Hello?!
Green tea always gets the attention: in cakes, donuts, macarons, etc. So why not look the other way for a potential equal? Earl is a cupcake with the hints of Earl Grey tea—refreshingly light and not too sickly!
7. Peppermint Patty
Your regular chocolate cupcake spiced with peppermint and topped with chocolate chips.
8. Little Red Velvet
Red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting!
Every cupcake The Mad Butter makes is very soft and moist—the base doesn’t fall apart but doesn’t stick to the wrapper either! The below 7 flavors are also available, all equally delicious if a bit too sweet for my taste (I have the taste buds of a forty year-old). But since most of them have chocolate toppings, for the kids they will surely be a huge hit!
1. Vanilla the Rabbit - Vanilla
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Moist Chocolate
3. Maltesers – chocolate base, Maltesers topping
4. Snickers – chocolate base, Snickers topping
5. Witch Hazelnut – choco hazelnut
6. Charlie Brownie – chocolate brownie
7. Strawberry Mochi – mochi base
Whether it’s for an ordinary day of pigging out on delicious desserts or for a special occasion to celebrate with family and friends, The Mad Butter can provide precisely what you’re looking for. Get your cakes personalized, put your own message, and instruct them how it should look—you can even pick which flavor you want. Or just order some of the available designs and flavors to share with the people closest to your heart. Perfect giveaways especially if you have a lot of female friends—girls just can’t say no to sweets!
|Above: some packages I recommend. The CHOCO COVERED OREOS ARE AWESOME!!!|
More gift sets on The Mad Butter's Facebook page!
|Pickup points and reminders. All 14 flavors I mentioned are actually available.|
Check out The Mad Butter’s Facebook page for more information on how to place your order as well as the Christmas packages prices. In my experience, they needed at most a week’s lead time to make your cupcakes, so the best time to order is now! For details on how to pick-up your cakes, you can reach The Mad Butter through the contact info I provided at the bottom of this post.
Enjoy your cupcakes, and happy holidays!
The Mad Butter
Facebook: The Mad Butter