Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas treats at Starbucks

Starbucks enjoys particularly brisk business in the runup to Christmas day, judging from how their branches are packed up to the wee hours of the morning. I suspect this is mostly because so many people want to acquire their Christmas planners. For those who are not familiar with these, well, every Christmas season, people covet these planners, and spend literally thousands of pesos to get one.

This is because you are not able to buy them, you have to fill up a card with stamps. You get a stamp each time you buy a certain kind of coffee from Starbucks, and once you fill up the card, you finally get one. This year, you get to choose from several colors. I chose the silver one. Luckily for me, I didn't have to drink all these coffee concoctions to get my planner. Every year, my friend Chi (who DOES drink all these coffee concoctions), gives me a Starbucks planner for Christmas.

Aside from these planners, another draw at Starbucks during the holiday season is their Christmas-themed offerings. They have fancy(er) drinks, such as their Toffee Nut Latte, and they also have pastries that they only serve during the holidays. When I went to Starbucks recently, I was very happy to see that they had Molten Chocolate Cake. I don't know if this is just a new addition to their pastry lineup in general, or if it is part of their Christmas menu. At any rate, it was pretty good, as these kinds of cakes go. I hope they are now offering this regularly, so I know where I can have a treat when I go on my coffee breaks.

Molten Chocolate Cake

Ground floor ELJ Building
ABS-CBN Compound
Quezon City, Philippines

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A new favorite at Il Terrazzo: Bistro Napa

Bistro Napa is found in Il Terrazzo along Tomas Morato, and it takes the place of Aresi Restaurant in the building. I believe Bistro Napa has the same owners, and they probably just renamed, re-conceptualized and relaunched the restaurant.

I like it better now in its new form. Aresi in Il Terrazzo was a bit overpriced (unlike its earlier incarnation in the early 2000s), in my opinion. It was probably because the restaurant was pretty big, so the overhead most likely was too. Bistro Napa is smaller than its predecessor, and the hole it will burn in your pocket is considerably smaller as well.

I like Bistro Napa not just because of its lower prices. It's also cozier (maybe also partly due to its smaller size) and less stiff than Aresi was. They offer reasonably priced lunch specials, a different one per weekday, probably to attract the office lunch time crowd. This was what we certainly were, when my colleagues and I visited it for the first time.

On my first visit, I had their Citrus Vinaigrette Salad, which had candied walnuts, blue cheese, and orange segments on greens, and their Salmon Cakes. Chi and Irene both ordered pasta, with Chi having their Shrimp Pesto, while Irene had their Italian Sausage. We were all happy with what we ordered, although I really liked what Chi had (I ordered it on our next visit).

Shrimp Pesto
Salmon Cake

We ordered a host of their desserts, to find our right away which one was best. Chi had the dream sampler, which had vanilla pannacotta, tiramisu, and cheesecake. Among these, the panna cotta was the least popular, because it was the only one that we didn't finish. I had the lava cake, which was my favorite. Like other molten cakes, it took fifteen minutes to prepare. I thought it was worth the wait.

Lava Cake
Dream Sampler

My officemates and I have been to Bistro Napa several times since then, and we will probably continue to have lunch there once in a while to take a break from the restaurants in the station. Well, just as long as they keep their prices low, and their food interesting.

Bistro Napa
Il Terrazzo Mall
Lower Ground Level
35 Tomas Morato Ave. cor. Scout MadriƱan St.
Brgy. South Triangle
Quezon City
Metro Manila, Philippines