A Morning at Mercato Centrale BGC

Back when Mercato Centrale first opened near Bonifacio High Street in 2010 for its Morning Mercato market, I would drop by on Sundays after a race for some food and drink. I was already familiar with the concept of weekend markets where fresh food and produce were offered, since my family and I frequented the one that used to be held at the Lung Center of the Philippines compound on Quezon Avenue. Still, the charm of each weekend market is the variety; they don’t all have the same concessionaires, so you could have a completely different food and shopping experience from one market to another.

fresh produce
organic produce fresh off the farm

Today, Morning Mercato re-opened in its original location at the corner of 30th Street and 9th Avenue in BGC. It’ll be there on Saturdays and Sundays from 7am to 2pm through November and December. (Midnight Mercato will still be held at the Mercato tent near Turf BGC.) Read more

Finding Food with Foursquare

I never used to understand the allure of Foursquare. I mean, for obvious privacy and anti-stalking reasons I don’t want strangers seeing where I usually go or where I am at a particular time. Yet I still see many of my friends tweet their locations because they’ve linked their Foursquare accounts with their Twitter feeds.

So what’s the deal with Foursquare, anyway? I decided to take the plunge. Since I’m on Globe’s Blackberry Max plan, I can use any app that requires an Internet connection at no extra charge. I took my precautions by choosing not to publish anything to my social networks, and adding only those friends I trust with my location. (Odd how that shrunk my friends list down considerably.)

I started off by checking into my places of work, and noticed the Explore tab.

Foursquare on BlackBerry 9360

Foursquare on a BlackBerry 9360 (with Otter Box casing)

Clicking it revealed the Top Picks around my current location. I could also switch between Top Picks, Specials (if any nearby places were offering deals for Foursquare users), Trending (places with many Foursquare users gathered at that moment), Food, Coffee, Nightlife, Shops, Sights, A&E, and Outdoors.

Foursquare on BlackBerry 9360

Explore options

When I selected Food, I realized there were so many places around me I hadn’t yet tried. I’m the kind of person who finds one restaurant in a certain place, always goes there and always orders a specific item on the menu. I’m not the adventurous foodie type at all. So if you think about it, Foursquare’s the perfect thing to jostle me out of my comfort zone and go food-tripping. And the information on Foursquare is crowdsourced; this means regular people leave tips recommend these places and dishes, and can disagree with unrealistic and untrue tips. That’s quite unlike review websites which sometimes have dubious reputations for talking up a lackluster restaurants.

This was put to the test when I dropped by Greenbelt 5 last Wednesday and didn’t want to eat at my usual haunt *coughcoughKFCcoughcough*. So I hit Explore and was overjoyed to find a Toast Box that I didn’t know existed in the mall!

After that initial success, I started checking in at other restaurants to see what dishes had good reviews. I had a late lunch with a friend at Texas Roadhouse in Bonifacio High Street last Saturday, and before we ordered, I saw that three previous Foursquare users had left tips saying their Southwestern Cobb salad was delicious. And it was!

Next week, I’ll probably check out restaurants near here in Pasig, like Bullchef in Kapitolyo which Foursquare users say serves an amazing and filling bulalo stew. I salivate in anticipation.

Noelle De Guzman is a Globe mobile data services brand ambassador.

Five Days in Singapore

My friend Julia and I headed to Singapore at the end of June just in time for the Great Singapore Sale. We’d booked our flights six months in advance to take advantage of promo fares, hoping to scrape together enough savings to shop with. Thankfully we didn’t need to pay for lodging due to some kind friends who had settled there and offered to host us during our stay.

We had two hosts for the trip: spent two nights with one family in the Mount Faber/Harbourfront area, and another three nights with an old school friend in Tampines. If you’ve seen the Singapore SMRT map, you’ll know that’s almost on opposite sides of the island! Taxi fares are expensive and most of the SMRT is underground, so I didn’t get to see how all the streets and areas connected with each other. I did try to map out a run route once and was surprised that it would be almost 21 kilometers just to get from Tampines to a nearby beach and back. People say Singapore is so small you can tour it all in a day. After my trip, I doubt that’s really true.

Singapore Swing: Waiting for a Bus

waiting for a bus

Singapore Swing: Train Stations

amusing myself with train station names

Singapore Swing: Traveler

random dude I spotted on the train on his way to the airport

Read more

Learning to Cook: Chicken Tinola

Ever since we moved to our small two-bedroom condo unit and had to let go of our househelp (she still comes in once a week to help us with laundry and cleaning), I’ve had to learn how to cook. I can’t rely on my mother to do all our cooking since she has a day job of her own, and that would just be too much to ask, especially since I’m also an adult and need to pull my own weight in this household.

I’m not talking simple fare like sauteeing onions before pouring canned corned beef into the pan, or frying hotdogs and eggs. I’m also not talking about making waffles and pancakes from scratch. I knew how to do those things before we moved here. I’m referring to real, home-cooked dishes, slow-boiled in a pot and seasoned to taste.

My parents never asked me to start cooking; I thought of doing so on my own. I think it was in August last year when I decided to make myself some chicken tinola because I wasn’t feeling well and wanted soup. After a false start accidentally burning the ginger, I started again with fresh ginger, and it was a success! I got even sicker the next day and was thankful for the tinola leftovers because I didn’t have appetite for much else.

For me, the key to being a good cook is the ability to cook a delicious dish many times without the taste varying between each batch. So a few weeks ago, I cooked tinola again and it turned out even better than it did the first time!

If you haven’t tried cooking this simple dish, here’s the recipe I always use. It’s pretty lazy since it doesn’t have amounts or cooking times. I cook by feel, mostly. Read more