B&L's 2016 leisure adventures

Dec 31, 2016

It's goodbye 2016 and hello 2017, but before that, let's check out B&L's (Business & Leisure) wonderful discoveries in the food scene for this year. We had occasion to visit quite a few around the metropolis and I would like to share them with you.

Gourmet Gypsy Art Café on Don A. Roces Avenue, Brgy. Paligsahan in Quezon City is owned and run by Chef/artist Stephanie Salonga, and her art pieces add eye-pleasing value to the café. Among the standouts in her international menu are the Chicken Souvlaki, a Greek dish of chicken marinated in yoghurt and served with pita bread which they bake right in the café; the Spicy Coco Mango Pasta which is a fusion of Mediterranean and Filipino cuisine that was proudly served at the recent Madrid Fusion held here; and their Saffron Aranzini, an Italian dish of saffron risotto stuffed with chorizo and mozzarella, formed into balls and deep-fried to a golden crisp.

All About Pasta in Maginhawa St., Diliman, Q.C. looks like a cute nursery school with its cool pastel shades. Executive Chef Blake Marquez is proud of his various pasta dishes, foremost among them the Creamy Adobo Pasta with its very Filipino taste; his authentic Italian pasta with real bits of herbs; and his spicy Laing Pasta. Pizzas are served hot from the oven.

Basil , a Thai Restaurant along Katipunan Avenue, was once a plant store until it was converted into a restaurant with natural flowing water and rich greenery. Among the favorites here are the Crispy Fish with tangy tamarind sauce; the Chicken with Crispy Cashew; the Red Thai Shrimps where the lime cuts into the richness of the coconut milk. All the orders here are good for sharing.

Also in Katipunan in White Plains is Earth Kitchen, a cozy dining place, nestled amongst Chinese bamboo and large potted plants and shrubs. Inside is a selection of good native products for sale, from Kalinga coffee to jams, fresh goat milk and goat cheese. A delicious meal here starts with a fresh salad with vinaigrette dressing, braised bacon with marbled potatoes shrimp topped with peanuts. The whole meal can be topped with vanilla ice cream served with a dollop of peanut butter.

Diligence Café along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City is your neighbourhood café that is feels like home, because that is how they want it to be. It is designed for students and corporate employees who need a quiet place to study or finish work on a thesis or group project. This novel café of course is open 24 hours, offers hot showers and comfortable bean bags perfect for relaxing, and even wake-up service. Food here is simple-pastas, rice meals, sandwiches and pastries that go with unlimited drinks.

Calderon & Guevarra Gourmet Carinderia in Bo. Kapitolyo, Pasig City exudes an unmistakable hominess and tranquil coziness with its traditional Filipino windows and even a piano on one side. Their name says it all-it offers carinderia food on the gourmet level: sisig, bopis, tortang talong, all given a contemporary twist while retaining the traditional taste. A standout dessert is their scramble halo-halo.

Cow & Chicken in United St., Kapitolyo, Pasig is a brunch place serving excellent coffee brewed with professional excellence by barista/owner Junco Flores. Among their best sellers in the coffee scene are their Popcorn Latte which really boasts of popcorn flavour; White Rose Lattee which blends white chocolate and rose extract with the coffee; and the Pinoy Panocha Latte which Junco says you cannot find anywhere else.

No Reservation is in Kapitolyo, Pasig. It has a contemporary design, all glass and steel, and is run by Chef Jay Angeles who hails from a family of good cooks. Jay and his co-owners though are partial to Asian cuisine, leaving the Pinoy food to his family. Among the standouts in his menu are the Nachos with Nori Strips; Baby Back Ribs with sweet glaze that come in a huge serving and a mound of sprouts; Wings and Waffles sprinkled with black sesame seeds. Even their simple grilled corn is served with bonito flakes.

Highlands Premium Steak House in Capitol Commons, still in Pasig City, their second branch after the first one at MOA which continues to be a huge success. It is a wide, sprawling restaurant with cool interiors, rustic but contemporary. This restaurant is ideal not only for families but also for college buddies out for a night of bonding with wine and beers at the al fresco part of the resto and corporate clients who love the quiet, elegant atmosphere inside. They have extended their operating hours till late at night because everyone else in the area seems to close early.

Their premium item in the menu of course is their certified angus steaks, perfectly marbled beef grilled to perfection and served with sidings of fried rice or mashed/baked potato; veggies and corn on the cob. Chef Ian Calma has quarterly offerings of specialty burgers, all angus of course. Their roasted sea bass, Norwegian salmon, black ink pasta and wild mushroom soup covered with phyllo are outstanding.

V by Ilustrado at the ground floor of the elegant showroom of Volkswagen at The Fort is the newest baby of the distinguished family of restaurateurs Bonnie and daughters Bea and Bernice Pimentel, both accomplished chefs. They offer new takes on some good old Filipino favorites like Kare Kare with bagnet and Kaldereta. They specialize on traditional Spanish favorites like Lengua Estofado, their mildly spicy Callos and very flavorful Spanish sausages but they are famous for their paellas. They are open for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even just for drinks in this elegant café.

Mandarin Boracay Island Hotel at Beach front Station 2 in Boracay is a favourite boutique hotel that has won Gold Circle Awards for 2013 and 2014 and most recent from Trip Advisor and Traveller's Choice for 2016. Ms. Lily Po graciously showed us their good selection of luxe rooms and suites with private living room and private bar. Don Vito Ristorante Italiano is their in-house restaurant, and billeting at the Mandarin entitles one to big buffet breakfasts. They have their own private beach front where hotel guests can enjoy cocktails with a front seat view of a spectacular sunset. Sizzling steaks, giant pizzas and huge platters of paellas, among others, can be had here while enjoying ice cold beer and enjoying nightly live entertainment.

Actually, we had a few more good discoveries in 2016, but unfortunately these are all that my space permits. Incidentally, starting this week, Business & Leisure the TV show will air every Friday evening at 10 o'clock , still on Solar Sports, Channel 70 on the Sky Cable Network.

Happy New Year everyone .

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

For comments & inquiries (email) sunshine.television@yahoo.com


About the Author

Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.

At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network's AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart's middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN's DZYL and DZQL.

From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

In the early 70's, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).

In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports' living legend Pocholo Ramirez.

After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN's Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable's Channel 13.

The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport's hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.

In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry's latest technological developments.

In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star's business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.

Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.

Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)