Tuesday, April 27, 2010

World Autism Awareness Month

April is the World Autism Awareness month. I recently bought a women's magazine featuring Children with Special needs campaigning for awareness on their thoughts, feelings, joys and challenges. It is heartwarming to know that there is so much global awareness than ever which focuses on the rights of children with special needs. I read recently that it is better to say "children/people with special needs" rather than "special kids/people". They are after all, first and foremost, a child (person).

On a personal note, I am happy to have been surrounded by a family, community, school community and fellow-parents, teachers, work-friends and caregivers who have always been supportive of our dear Kevin, not only in mere words but in the way they have cheered him on to the many important milestones in his life... by the way they have applauded for him when he marched confidently on stage to get this award during their graduation day, their words of encouragement and their sincere happiness for my behalf. The world and the children with special needs will need more of you!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pasalubong Heaven

We went to hear Good Friday mass at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Tagaytay. On our way home, we made sure to stop by Rowena’s. I’ve been to Rowena’s once, going home from Punta Fuego and my friend Zarah was the one who introduced this to us.

Kyla went with me inside the store but not before I took a photo of Kyla beside no less than the store owner herself in front of the store, cheerfully greeting her throngs of customers! She smiled gamely as I took a picture. Rowena’s is a quaint nook with red and white awnings and they now have Rowena’s Café as well!

Rowena’s is literally a universe of pasalubong goodies – sweet, sour, salty and more sweets! Their flagship product are their scrumptious tarts which comes in buko, pineapple, mango and ube. They also have the usual colorful boat tarts as well that comes in variety of flavors.
For me, their best sellers are the Blueberry Cheesecake Tarts, Strawberry Cheesecake Tarts (I’ve bought both) and the Chocolate Mousse Tarts. Each comes in a box of 6.

I also love their Sylvannas! When we went back during Holy Week, it’s been wiped out already! I tried their Buko Pie and although I must admit that my loyalty for Buko Pie is with Lety’s and D’ Originals, I am actually an instant fan!

Going around the store, Kyla and I spotted a whole variety of “munchables” and treats for the sweet-toothed ones which range from the Southern Tagalog delicacies (sweet and spicy tamarind, espasol, okoy, cassava pie, ube, all sorts of pies, nuts and crackers) as well as regional delicacies (piyaya, chicacorn, meringue, chicaron, pastillas, candied fruits, tahong chips, coffee beans to go and bottled juices and honey).

I spotted at the left most side of the shop, they have a few wooden table and chairs for the sprouting Café. I glanced at the menu idly and I saw locally brewed coffee and pasta dishes (my favorite). Next time, we’ll give it a go!

Next time you go to Tagaytay City, make sure you pass by Rowena’s, along Manila-Tagaytay Road for your hoards of pasalubong goodies. If you are heading to Tagaytay, you will find it on the left side of the road. Just make note when you start seeing a few vehicles queueing along a red and white nook. Chances are, you landed at Rowena’s. It’s truly a pasalubong heaven!

View their website at http://rowenas-tarts-tagaytay.com

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fat Tuesday @ James'

The invitation was tempting enough. A night of good food and conversation with friends on a Tuesday night at James hideaway, beat that! But wait until we saw the menu of what James had in store! It was enough to keep us excited with anticipation (and glutton).

The dinner date, aptly on a Fat Tuesday, was indeed a cornucopia of sinful gastronomic delights:

Nachos, crackers and nuts with aperitif of either rose or lemonade

Main Course
Stuffed Squid with Apple Wine Reduction
Roast Pork Belly on a Bed of Seasonal Vegetables
Creamy Shrimp and Crab Fat Pasta

Decadent Cheesecake

The exciting part was finding his house ala Extra Challenge. I went with the ladies (Bevs, MJ) with Zarah driving. Predictably enough, none of us paid attention to the hand drawn map from James, or the address to the place! We arrived at Ponticelli around 6 pm after stopping more than 10x to ask security guards and passersby. We suspected that the streets were newly named because 4 out of 5 village guards gave us a look as if we were looking for a Martian instead of Via Alba Street.
At last, we arrived at a yellow Italian house with sounds of waters gently rustling from the garden. James cheerfully welcomed us to his home and we decided to hang out first at the lanai. Ponticelli is an Italian-inspired community but James’ home a vivid, unapologetic reflection of his artistic streak. His proudly self-designed living space is an interesting mix of eclectic styles -- his black chandelier is neo-Baroque, various Crayola pop art pieces and Asian finds. This prompted us to raid the rest of the house and liberally took pictures amongst the many gem of fancy pieces and ideas!

I read somewhere that you can easily deduce the personality of the home-owner through the design and style of the house. James’ home is cheerful, kaleidoscopic, fun and playful, friendly and a bit melodramatic.

The color scheme of the house was multi-themed. Each area though very tightly packed, stands out to have its own theme and design. Even the chandeliers and lights were conversation pieces.
Among my favorites are the bookshelf which doubles as a cupboard, the circular shoe rack (I swear I will look for it at True Value!), the elephant painting and the brown slim bench.
Dwight was simply amazed at how the bold colors were put together and achieve the overall effect of harmony. The floor tiles were black while the walls are a variety of red, maroon, blue, paisley wall papers and white. I also love how James was able to maximize the compact space for the kitchen and dining room. The furniture were generally minimalists but not boring. We told James he can make a living being an interior decorator or having his own quaint Bed and Breakfast somewhere in Tagaytay or the likes.

Then came the much awaited dinner. What made it extra special was that James actually cooked all those mouth-watering dishes! We had to make a mental note to make sure we increase our physical activities in the next few days to burn all those calories and trim down the cholesterol! And so we spent the next hour or so, wolfing down all those lovely dishes and snippets of anything-under-the-sun topics in between. Not to be missed was the sinfully decadent cheesecake which we carefully partook thin slices (conscious...). I reminded myself to ask for a recipe from James.

The night was still young but for us moms, we had to call it a day and recharge for the last day of work week the next day. But I am sure that everyone will agree with me that it was indeed one of the best ever dinner dates we have been invited to. Totally loved the company, the good food and the ambience. And a perfect way to bid farewell to an interesting person whose home is as artsy and ecletic like himself.

Good luck James and you will surely be missed by the Gen Y (young ones) in CLT!