Photoroll: Goodbye, Winter!

Winter Chicago 2013

Winter Chicago 2013

Winter Chicago 2013

Though Winter has always been picturesque, I’ve never been more happy to see the sun come up everyday. The blues are slowly fading.

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The Art Institute of Chicago

My weekend has been crazy busy. My sister came over from New York and of course, I had to make sure everything about her Chicago trip was perfect. That meant, cleaning the apartment, organizing my room and planning the places we were going to visit. Since my sister has always appreciated art, The Art Institute (which is my favorite museum in the entire city) was first on the itinerary.

The Art Institute of Chicago

The iconic Greek columns are indicative of European influences in the architecture. You will notice the continuation of this when walking up the grand staircase.

The Art Institute of Chicago

One of the things that I admire about this museum is their wide collection of impressionist paintings. If you can see in the photo below, they have a whole wing dedicated to the works of Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Seurat and others.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Probably one of my most favorite paintings besides Van Gogh’s Starry Night, is At the Moulin Rouge by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. One amazing fact about this painting is that May Milton, an English singer seen as the disturbing green lady on the right, was originally cut off from the canvas since it made the painting harder to sell. Seen in the photo below are a couple of people trying to discern where the cut is located.

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Another favorite part of the museum is the Modern Wing, designed as a bright open space with clean lines.

The Art Institute of Chicago

This is where Jeff Koon’s sculpture called Woman in Tub can be found. This is a memorable piece of art, not only because of its strong missive but also as a result of the vibrant comic-like composition. What I found most interesting is the abrupt sliced head which left only the woman’s open mouth delivering a message of shocked violation.

Jeff Koons

Jackson Pollock

Of course, we cannot forget Jackson Pollock, one of the pioneers of Abstract art. The one I’m standing next to is his work, Greyed Rainbow, which shows a distinct technique he introduced during the 1940s called Abstract Expressionism. An interesting fact to note is that Pollock rarely used brushes instead he veers toward unconventional tools such as sticks or palette knives.

If you are interested in seeing these art works in person and exploring the museum (which you should), look at the information provided below. Hope to see you there soon!

Contact Information:
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
+1 (312) 443-3600
artic.edu

Sakaya Kitchen Miami

To fuel our third day in Ultra Miami, we decided to get a huge brunch at Sakaya Kitchen, a quick service Korean restaurant in downtown. They use organic and locally sourced ingredients which was a plus for me. I wish I took the time to take a photo of their interior. It was cute how they used a chalkboard for the menu.

MiamiFood4-5 MiamiFood4-4I started with edamame drizzled with garlic and ginger soy sauce and Sakaya’s signature Korean fried chicken wings.

MiamiFood4-6 Then I had Dirty South pulled pork sandwiches with kimchi slaw and pickle. This was served with tater tots. I should have expected this to be a bit spicy with the kimchi but I didn’t so I was a little surprised with the kick. Nevertheless, it was a good choice and I thoroughly enjoyed munching on these sliders.

MiamiFood4-3 MiamiFood4-1 My friend, Annie, got the soft shelled crab steamed bun with spicy mayo and the Bulgogi bowl served with Angus beef, rice and kimchi. Personally, she said she preferred the steamed bun.

MiamiFood4-2 MiamiFood4-8 Frank, who is the ultimate foodie among all of us, also grabbed the opportunity to try out two dishes. One was the roast pork steamed bun made with sweet chili sauce and the second one was a kalbi beef soft taco served with tater tots.

MiamiFood4-7My other friends decided to take the authentic Korean route and ordered Jigae, a spicy miso stew with kimchi and roasted pork served with rice.

I must say that this is not your ordinary Korean restaurant but Sakaya Kitchen is definitely a restaurant to try out for people planning to visit or are living in Miami. It has a casual and fun vibe that is perfect for friends hanging out (plus they serve alcohol).

Contact Information:
3401 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127
+1 (305) 576-8096
Monday to Sunday – 12NN to 10PM
Twitter or Facebook – @sakayakitchen
sakayakitchen.com

South Beach

We were a bit disappointed that when we went to South Beach in Miami, it was cloudy. However, it was still amazing being in a tropical city. After spending months in Chicago, the change of temperature was a welcomed gift.

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After walking around, we decided to eat in Otentic, a small intimate French restaurant. The meal started with a small glass of Chardonnay then we ordered a Foie Gras to share.

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I chose the seared back of salmon with creamy basil sauce on a bed of potato gratin. This is probably one of the perfectly cooked salmon dishes I have tasted.

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Frank ordered roasted chicken on a bed of ratatouille with porcini sauce.

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Clarence ordered a filet mignon served with a side of potato gratin and mustard sauce while Annie chose the mahi-mahi with scallion sauce on bed of green beans.

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A perfect restaurant to start our Miami adventure.

Contact Information:

+1 (305) 531 1464
710 Washington Avenue,
Miami Beach, Fl, 33139

TWG

TWGI love tea and I especially love the brand TWG. I thank my best friend Manny for introducing me to this tea company a year back. Ever since then, it’s been the tea I preferred taking with my macaroons or cakes. Here’s a list of my favorite tea flavors.

Tip: TWG employees said that the smell of the tea directly affects it’s taste so before you buy tea, smell the leaves. If you don’t like the smell, I bet you wouldn’t like the taste. Also, take your tea with honey. It’s much healthier than sugar.

  • Creme Caramel

A delicate red tea from South Africa with a secret blend of sweet French spices. You’ll definitely taste the sweetness of the caramel in this tea. No need for honey unless you’re a sweet tooth like me. I’ve tried it hot and iced. It’s very versatile.

  • Silver Moon

This tea is a blend of green tea and berries. The smell reminds me so much of Japan. For those green tea lovers, this one is especially amazing to try.

  • Grand Wedding

Grand wedding is the tea for special occasions. It’s black tea blended with white flowers. You can even smell exotic fruits in the blend.

  • Christmas Lights

The smell of Christmas is encompassed in this tea. It is also a green tea blend. You’ll be able to smell the chestnuts and aromatic scent of pine trees.

TWGOn another note, I recently sent a TWG postcard to an acquaintance in Finland. It was free and was given to me while I was spending time in their restaurant in Singapore. TWG recently opened in Manila too so if you’re planning on trying it out, drop by their store at Greenbelt 5.

Streets of Hong Kong

With every new place I visit, I always try and take photos of certain things I find interesting during my city walk. Here are a couple from Hong Kong.

Around Hong Kong, I discovered these graffiti walls which I think adds character to the city.

These stairs are such a bitch to climb (and yes, I swear like a sailor, no hate.)

I just adore the buildings in Hong Kong! They’re old, dirty, compact and weirdly colorful. I felt like I was in an Asian Kung Fu movie and Jackie Chan was just going to jump out of a building and do some crazy stunts.

Asian souvenirs are the best and this stall near one of the temples (I forgot which one) is a good place to buy from. You’ll find really nice postcards, posters, Buddha beads and other things you might want to give out to your friends.

Life, as shown in trains and stations.

Life in the train may seem boring yet if you look closely, each individual presents a certain story. The young man texting his girl friend, “I love you.” A couple of school girls giggling, on their way to Disneyland. The old man tired from work and is catching up on some needed sleep. Everyday, simple occurrences happen in the train that seems ordinary but presents a huge inspiration for someone like myself.

I have always been fascinated with the railway system in Tokyo. Everyday, thousands upon thousand upon people use this type of public transportation. A train in Tokyo is always on time. If there is such a time where a train will be late, there will always be a late slip given to the passengers upon exiting the station. Convenient and ingenious.

Wolfgang Puck Express Tokyo

Most people would probably know the notable chef, Wolfgang Puck. He is, after all, a famous celebrity chef with his own restaurants around the world. Among his endeavors include restaurants in Japan, the Wolfgang Puck Express is probably the least expensive and most casual.

The Wolfgang Puck Express is located in Harajuku, Takeshita street, right across the train station. The menu focuses on burgers, pizza, pasta, salads, and other fast foods.

For my starter, I ordered their Caesar salad. It was tasty but the presentation wasn’t that impressive.

The Margherita Pizza was amazing! I can safely say this was the best tomato pizza I have tasted at this moment. The crust was crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside. It had the right amount of cheese, tomato and basil.

The seafood pasta is divine. Simple and beautifully presented, it’s perfect if you want a light meal.

Wolfgang Express Puck is not the classiest restaurant in the block but if you want a stylish, fun atmosphere and fast service, this is the place to go.

Location and Contact Details:

1-17-1 Jingumae,
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Telephone: (+813) 5786-4690
Hours: 11:00 – 23:00 Daily
http://www.wp-japan.jp/shop/ex_harajuku.html

Chapter 2: Giant by Tomoko Konoike

Created in 2005, this piece is part of a collection called “Story”. It’s made with acrylic, Japanese paper and wood panels.

The collection involves motifs and characters familiar to us from various childhood stories. However, they have been reconfigured in order to create a new narrative to help us re-examine our preconceptions about these characters and their circumstances.

Dinner at Hill Station

There’s nothing like warm bread, served with olive oil and Dukkah to start a wonderful dinner at Hill Station in Baguio City. I was reluctant to try it at first. I’m not a big fan of Indian dishes but I was curious because the smell was heavenly.

For those of you who don’t know what Dukkah is, it’s a very special dip that you can only find in this restaurant. It contains a mixture of Indian spices with crushed Cashew nuts. By dipping the bread into the olive oil first, it will help the spices stick to the bread.

Me and Anj aren’t big fans of salads, that’s why we opted to get the spinach dip instead. She didn’t want to try it at first. Vegetables aren’t really her thing but I managed to convince her to have a bite. Surprise, surprise, she loved it! I just had to get the recipe from the chef which they readily gave. I’ll be posting about how to make it soon. Just a hint for everyone, it contains 4 different types of cheese! Sounds yummy!

I ordered potato soup for my appetizer. It was a little bit salty for me.

Anj ordered the mushroom soup. Since this is probably the only type of soup that Anj eats, it was surprising to hear how much she liked it considering that my best friend is a very picky eater.

We both wanted to have the coriander chicken for our main course but we wanted to try as much dishes as we can so I ordered the salmon with orange chutney.

The coriander chicken was marinated overnight. It was juicy and flavorful. Coupled with Benguet red rice, you will not go wrong with ordering this dish. My salmon was perfection (and it’s very hard to come by a restaurant with a perfectly cooked salmon)! Unfortunately, I wasn’t that impressed with the orange chutney and mashed potato.The chutney was too strong and the mashed potato wasn’t smooth as I expected it to be.

We were too full by the end of the third course but I couldn’t help but order the orange oil cake with strawberry syrup. It sounded so intriguing. I wasn’t disappointed. It was very moist. I was afraid that the orange flavor would be too strong but it wasn’t. It could do without the strawberry syrup as it can get a little but sour to the taste. Me and Anj spent about two thousand for this dinner. Not bad for a four course meal.

It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.

Location and Contact Details:

Casa Vallejo
Upper Session Road
Baguio City, 2600
Telephone: (+6374) 424-2734
info@hillstationbaguio.com