Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza

I had met Jutes Templo over text, tying to schedule him for a photo shoot I was producing on men in the food industry. There had been a lot of buzz surrounding the man who made his own burrata by hand. Together with wife Cello, they opened Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza, an Italian style pizzeria in Katipunan, but because of its location, I never got to visit. So when they decided to open a Makati branch in Salcedo Village, I was thrilled and immediately booked a table. My first order of business was to sample the Classic Burrata, a soft, pillowy, white, pulled cheese. Simply served with pizza dough, arugula and drizled with extra virgin olive oil, it was delicate and delicious. The best way to have it is to dip the dough in some of their homemade chili honey (which perfectly accompanied the pizza as well) then top with the cheese and arugula. YUM!

Classic Burrata served with Bread (their awesome pizza dough) and Olive Oil 275Php

Amazing, amazing, amazing Chili Honey

Next, we sampled the House Salad which was dressed in a simple balsamic vinaigrette and the Bolognese Pappardelle, with a hearty meat and kesong puti sauce and fresh noodles. Both were good dishes and more than reasonable for 150Php and 240Php, respectively. This means you can come in and have a whole salad and pasta for under 500Php. A good deal for sure!

House Salad with balsamic Vinaigrette 150Php

Bolognese made with fresh Pappardelle, Bolognese Sauce, Kesong Puti, Basil and Parmessan 240Php

On to the pizza! Since this was my first time, I decided on the Prosciutto because it is quite simple, featuring their tomato sauce and fresh ingredients such as the cheese, ham and arugula. I wanted to really taste the ingredients on their own. The crust was nice and chewy, with a very light crisp on the outside. The tomato sauce was nice, quite well-balanced and delicious. The combination of the kesong puti with the thinly sliced prosciutto was excellent. I couldn’t stop eating it, especially when dipped in the chili honey.

Prosciutto Pizza made with Tomato Sauce, Prosciutto, Kesong Puti, Arugula 410Php

Really nice and chewy pizza dough… best dipped in their chili honey!

And of course, I could not miss dessert… The infamous Nutella Soup. Their chewy pizza dough shaped molded into a bowl and filled with chocolate hazlenut spread, perfect for crust dipping… Heaven!

Nutella Soup, a great sweet ending – pizza dough shaped into a bowl, holding a sticky, delicious Nutella concoction

Happy ME!


GINO’s Locations

Katipunan: Level 2, K2 Building, 341 Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City

Makati: Bautista and Tordesillas street, Salcedo Village, Makati

Medical Mayhem!

When our cousin who was finishing med school got engaged, it was really easy to select a theme for her bachelorette party… Medical Mayhem! My sisters and I went to town with this theme. Between the creativity of the eldest, the resourcefulness of the middle and my wedding planning expertise, the party came out quite cute and I am so excited to share the turnout with all of you.

We decorated the room with red crosses and caution signs. My sister even managed to find an ‘authorized personnel’ sign which you frequently see in hospitals and clinics. The girls were given ‘naughty nurse’ caps, ‘dirty doctor’ scrub caps and masks.

Fun caution signs from the hardware store and red crosses handmade from inexpensive poster paper

A nurse’s cap which my sister decorated with a red cross using the same poster paper of the decorative crosses

More nurse caps for guests

My middle sister decided to decorate the place with fun snacks guests could pick on while playing drinking games. She brought large acrylic containers filled to the brim with marshmallows in place of cotton balls, triscuits which looked like gauze, breadstick tongue depressors and bandage shaped crackers. We also had popcorn filled gloves, a tray of medical inspired iced cookies, chocolate chip nibblers and little jelly beans in medicine cups.

Tip: Rename ordinary items to fit your theme

More fun snacks!

Popcorn filled doctor’s gloves

We alternated sugar cookies (made by our mom) with chocolate chip cookies (made by me) for an added decorative touch

My favorite – Jelly beans made to look like pills

‘Wild ride’ cake that was ordered from Kink Cakes

And of course, what’s a bachelorette party without some hard liquor? With all the crazy drinking games going around, these came in handy for the winners AND the losers!

Vitamin Tea = Simple Rum Iced Tea which can be made with 3 parts sweet tea (for this particular one, we used a mango iced tea) and 1 part dark rum

Quite literal, this one, but what can be more fun than a syringe filled with tequila?

Brighten up vodka vaccine shots with floating gummy candy

Here are some other fun party elements we used to incorporate the medical theme.

Game paraphernalia

Prizes – everything from chocolate bars to beauty products and medical supplies

Party favors – Mints in personalized prescription bottles


1. Start with the GUEST LIST. Ask the bride which friends she would like to invite. It is also wise to stick to smaller, more intimate groups. Instead of having one big one, separate groups can throw her smaller ones. I.E. cousins, high school friends, college buddies, etc.

2.Pick a theme and stick to it. It is quite easy to make DIY props and accessories, you just have to be creative! A simple lamination machine made all the difference for this particular party.

3. Games are very important! You can find many online that are easy and simple as well as more elaborate options. Give your guests a good time and take advantage of being a full female group.

4. Hiring entertainment can be tricky. Know your crowd AND your guest of honor before bringing in some male entertainment. Though you can most commonly hire a stripper, there are many out there that have their limits (which is a good thing). Another plausible option is to bring in eye candy. Instead of hiring a “professional” just invite some cuties over for the after party. (And make sure they aren’t friends with the groom!)

5. Expenses – Because a bachelorette doesn’t necessarily require guests to bring a gift, you may ask guests to contribute some cash to a pot. This can be used for extra drinks, food, entertainment, etc.

Wedding is in 3 days, I am so excited for my cousin who will make the most beautiful bride, the most caring wife and an unbelievable doctor. So happy for this accomplished honey!!!

The author and the bride


Sister and Cousin love



Your Local

I was so excited to finally try Your Local the other night. Chef Nicco Santos is said to have learned to cook southeast Asian food in hawker stalls, which really intrigued me. He was so enthusiastic about his new restaurant and I too had heard many great reviews of the place. Located in the heart of Legaspi Village in Makati, it is the perfect neighborhood eatery with Asian fusion dishes that are definitely out to impress.

I had to start my meal with the buns – fried mantau with rich fillings.The first one I sampled was packed with beef rendang, pickled cucumber and cilantro. It was bursting with flavor, spicy but balanced perfectly by the sweet, fried bread. The other variant is the ‘Ox Tongue Curry Buns’ which is brightened with Japanese curry, 7 spiced kewpie (Japanese mayonnaise), pickled cucumber and a turmeric quail egg.This one was also delicious with very tender ox tongue. I found both dishes reasonable, filling and very tasty, especially for under 300Php.

Beef Rendang Buns 280Php

Ox Tongue Curry Buns 240Php

My sister sampled the ‘Pomelo Salad,’ which she enjoyed. I took a tiny bite and though it was flavorful, I did not get all the elements on the plate. I will say that the coconut ice cream on top was an interesting play, seeing that you don’t really see that in most salad bars. And again, it was quite reasonable at 190Php. Another yummy starter option? The Parmesan Fries with truffle ketchup. It is exactly how you would imagine it would taste, rich and sinful!

Pomelo Salad 190Php

Parmesan Fries with Truffle Ketchup

I moved on to sampling some of their pastas. All were a fettuccine base. The ‘Braised Beef’ was slow cooked in a nice red wine reduction, the meat was tender and the dish very hearty. The ‘Hebi Hiam’ was Asian, almost like a phad thai, filled with shrimp, chili, quail eggs and fish cake. The one I enjoyed most was the ‘Chorizo’, a really homey dish that was full of that smokey chorizo flavor highlighted with shiitake mushrooms and topped with a fried egg.

Braised Beef Pasta 370Php

Hebi Hiam Pasta 380Php

Chorizo Pasta 370Php

Though these were all quite good, the star of the night was my ‘Smoked Salmon Donburi’. This dish was excellent. A generous serving of smoked salmon in a sweet glaze with mentaiko, ebiko and a delicious roast corn and shiitake black rice. I couldn’t stop eating it and I finished every last morsel. I would go back for this for sure.

Smoked Salmon Donburi 390Php

And to end on a sweet note, I tried an earl grey and chocolate dessert. I am not the biggest fan of tea but this was pretty good. The polvoron like ‘crust’ did me in. I was definitely a satisfied customer.

Your Local is located in 106 Esteban st. corner VA Rufino, Legaspi Village, Makati


The Magnum Cafe Launch

The Magnum ice cream bar has been making waves since its launch back in February of 2012. Though a lot of its strong beginnings can be attributed to tweets and posts by social media celebrities, the product more than lived up to its promise. The belgian chocolate coat was rich and delicious while the ice cream was smooth and creamy. And at the P50 price point, it was an unbeatable sweet treat for any time of the day, any day of the week!

Based on the ice cream bar’s success in Manila, Magnum decided to open a pop-up store in the Sky Park of  SM Aura in BGC. I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch to sample not just a Magnum bar custom made for me, but their savory menu conceptualized by Chef Him de Baron of Nomama and Magnum ice cream inspired desserts by top Pastry Chef Miko Aspiras.

I started with the mushroom soup which was quite hearty. I was careful not to finish the entire bowl because I knew the night was more about the desserts.

Mushroom Soup

For the main course, there were 2 options – a meat or a fish dish and I of course selected the beef. I must commend Chef Him because the rib-eye was excellent. I definitely wasn’t expecting a steak dinner so that in itself was a treat but I was very pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was considering the star of this cafe is meant to be the ice cream. It was great alone, cooked and seasoned to perfection, and even better when dipped in the accompanying sauce.

Beef option

Fish option

On to dessert, I could hardly wait to sample the sweet endings of Chef Miko. We tried 3 – The ‘Pink Friday’, the ‘Rainbow Dream’ and the ‘Death by Chocolate.’ My favorite by far was the Pink Friday made with a superb strawberry swirl cheesecake on a bed of crust-like speculoos cookies, served with fresh strawberry coulis and a vanilla magnum bar with pink white chocolate. The Rainbow Dream is a play on rainbow cake crumbs with a vanilla magnum bar of a slice of rainbow cake with cream cheese frosting. And lastly, the Death by Chocolate is perfect for chocoholocs – a pan of chocolate lava cake topped with a chocolate truffle magnum bar and rich, fudgy brownies. Truly, death on a plate!

Pink Friday 290Php

Rainbow Dream 250Php

Chef Miko Aspiras with his creation ‘Death by Chocolate’ 250Php

On to creating my own customized magnum bar (I know, how could I ingest that much sugar, but it was so worth the naughty indulgence). You begin by selecting your toppings. They have a wide range of regular toppings such as marshmallows, chocolate chip cookie crumble, pistachios, pretzels, etc. They also have more special toppings like gold nuggets, honeycomb and freeze dried raspberries and more unexpected ones such as potato chips, sea salt, chili and queso de bola. Once you have selected your choice of 3 toppings, they shake it up for you and it is on to creating the actual bar. You can choose from classic vanilla or chocolate truffle ice cream. Then you select your dip: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate or golden caramel. After your ice cream bar is dipped, your toppings are put and finished off with a drizzle of more chocolate.


Choose your bar: Classic Vanilla or Chocolate Truffle


Top and drizzle!

My creation was perfect: vanilla ice cream dipped in milk chocolate, topped with sweet honeycomb, sour freeze dried raspberries, and salty potato chips, then drizzled with dark chocolate… YUM!

My perfect Magnum bar

Some of the evening’s other concoctions

The Magnum Cafe opens today, April 8, 2014. make sure you stop by!!!

My hubby and I and our sweet treats

Magnum Cafe is located in 5/F SM Aura Premiere Sky Park, BGC Taguig