Black Bird Preview!

Something exciting is about to happen in the world of dining in Manila!  From the men who brought you People’s Palace, Sala  and Sala bistro  comes Black Bird! I was privileged enough to have a preview of the restaurant and I am over the moon with joy now that we have something like this in Manila.

Located in the historic Nielsen Tower at the heart of the Ayala Triangle is Black Bird. Nielsen Tower is the first international airport in the Philippines and  the team lovingly and patiently decorated the space into a warm and extremely chic environment that I dare say would be my new hang out in town.

Although I was not able to have dinner when I visited I took a peek at the menu and I immediately made a table reservation when they finally open.  I just want to share this first look at Black Bird ( which is named after the fasted carrier ever created).  Congratulations to Kerwin and Collin!  I know that this will be a magnificent success.

My friend Kerwin welcoming me to Black Bird.

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Thank you London!

On our last leg of our European adventure we had a  day  to decongest in London en route home.  This entry is all about that last day.  We lucked out in staying at the brand new Westin hotel which was literally a few steps from The Parliament building and The Big Ben.  The location was really excellent as we practically  near everything.

The first thing we did after checking in was to look for a Chinese restaurant!  After a week of Italian food the Asian in Nix and I kicked in and we were  both craving for some Chinese food.  So off we went to China town and wolfed down a couple of BBQ pork dishes and steamed rice!  It was so good!

Because it was our last day we needed to do some last minute shopping and we started in Harods and we had a friend who wanted some Laduree Macaroons so we also passed by.  Our final meal in London was at this really delicious place called   Ottolenghi   http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk  we really had to eat there again as it was absolutely delicious.  It was fresh, colourful and healthy and since Nix was not able to try this I really wanted to make him try this place.

By then it was time for us to run to the airport to catch our flight back home.  Nix and I had so many amazing memories on this trip and I just can’t wait to be back.  To all our friends in London who made it special thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Loved the Westin in London.

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La Bettola!

One of the best meals I had in Florence was La Bettola!  http://www.florence.ala.it/bettola/  This wonderful little restaurant was recommended to us by our beautiful foodie friend Isabel Daza.  I love how it felt  like an authentic neighbourhood trattoria that had this heart warming feeling as you entered the premises.

I loved that it was loud and filled with happy people.  Nix and I ordered a storm and everything was absolutely delicious.  I personally enjoyed the penne pasta dish so much. It was absolutey perfect.  I also wanted to try the famous tripe dish of Florence which was really delicious, lighter in flavour and colour than Spain’s callow dish.  That meal and feeling I had in Bettola really made a strong impression in me.  I loved everything about it and as I write this now it was probably the best meal we had in Florence.

We decided to walk home from the restaurant which was actually very nice as I got to see Florence in a different light.  I really recumbent this place to anyone going to Florence, best value for your money, the kind of food that you would want to come back to Italy for.

Conveniently located on a corner street.

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Last day in Florence!

I had a clear idea on how I wanted to spend my last day in Florence.  Obviously it revolved around food.  I wanted to try out the open air market near our hotel that highlight some delicious Tuscan delicacies.  Since this was our last day I really wanted to take things nice and slow.  Sta. Maria Novella my favourite place to buy gifts for friend at home was literally  15 steps from our hotel so we started there first and then proceeded to PROCACCI!  If you are anything like me who loves truffles and proseco then PROCACCI is the place for you http://www.procacci1885.it/en/florence.

They have the most delicious truffle sandwiches that go perfectly with the most delicious sparkling wine.  I also love how the place looked as it virtually has not changed since the days it opened.  I then proceeded to walk around Florence and spotted some really cool boutiques and shops.

We then went back to our hotel and and spent the last day in the most beautiful room of Casa Howard.  I took a nice little nap and headed to dinner at Mama Gina’s http://www.mammagina.it  a trusted favourite of mine. Each time I  am in Florence I try my best to visit this place and get a dose of fine  Italian Home style cooking.   Italian food for me is like a warm tight hug.  A fitting last taste of a great Italian adventure!

One of our bedrooms in Casa Howard.

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The Florence Outlets & Chianti region

One of the reasons why we chose Florence to be our base in our Italian holiday is that it arguably has the best shopping in Europe. The outlets are a car/bus ride a way and if you consider the de-tax you are in to getting the best discount deals bar none.

I am going to share with you one huge tip. When I am in Europe I call on my main guy Obet Domingo who is my favourite guide and driver in Europe.  I have been using him for years and if you do need a guide and driver than he is the one for you.  His email address is dominic0183@yahoo.it and his telephone number is +39 380 1473552

We started our day bright and early and headed to the Outlets.  I am more of a window shopper and it takes me several hours before actually buying anything.  I am the type of person who believes in having a few things but these few things are of very good quality should last a long time.

I concentrated on the shoes and was lucky enough to get 2 amazing pairs. Nix on the other hand is more adventurous with his fashion and was really looking forward to the visit.  To be honest the visit to the outlets this time was really not that successful.  It seemed like the same merchandise from a couple of years back.  I got to thinking whether they made products specifically for the outlets already. Oh! Well at least we had good weather.  Click on this for more information on the outlets in Florence  http://www.themall.it/en/outlet-italy/homepage.html.

After the outlets I wanted to venture out in the Chianti region and get to know more about the delicious wines and produce that the Tuscan region is so famous for.  Obet was so learned when it comes to these things that he brought us to 2 vineyards where we got to taste some wines and bought a couple of bottles to take home.

My highlight was getting to see  FALORNI  http://www.falorni.it  This concept was just too beautiful.  Cured meats and cheeses as much as your eyes can fathom all for the tasting!  It was so cool to see and I thought that this could work in Manila.  We had time for a snack and enjoyed a sample plate and bought a couple of packs to take home for my family and friends.

So when in Florence and you want to do a bit of shopping and sight seeing with a touch of good eats this could be the option you are looking for.

Spent the night in another room in the hotel.

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SOSTANZA!

The last time I was in Florence my most memorable meal was at SOSTANZA!  The place does not have a website but I found this on the web.http://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Restaurant_Review-g187895-d743678-Reviews-Trattoria_Sostanza_Il_Troia-Florence_Tuscany.html  It’s important that you book ahead as the place is tiny. With only 15 – 20 seats available per seating this is arguably one of the hottest restaurants in Florence.

What I love about this place is that it’s  so authentic and no fuss. It’s really just about the food.  The menu is simple with only  around 20 items on the menu.  You come here to eat the beef and the buttered chicken.  Some pasta if you need your carbs and the most delicious strawberry cake this side of the world.

That is all you need to have the most amazing gustatory food experience! When in Florence this is a place YOU SHOULD NOT MISS!!!!!

Nix found Mr. Bean's car.

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Cinque Terre!

One of the highlights of my Italian adventure was my visit to Cinque Terre.   I have never been to this part of Italy and I was really excited to see it.  I saw some images on my friend’s instagram of the views in Cinque Terre so I made a mental note to see this when  I came to Italy.

Cinque Terre translated as 5 earths/lands is a sea side town composed of several points.  Each point more beautiful than the next.  The best way to get there is by bus and either use their trains or in my opinion the best way is through a water ferry.  You do however have to pray for good weather as this is the only way you could get the ferry to land on the special coves.

In a way this place is a more relaxed Amalfi coast and less glitzy. Nix and I were over the moon with glee when we came. I loved the colours and the landscape and the splendid beach. Although The Philippines still has the best beaches in the world there is something unique and different about the Italian sea side.  I had to take a swim in the water and it was freezing!  After a while I got used to it and really enjoyed the experience.

It was one of the most beautiful places that I have been to in a long while and I am really blessed to have seen it.  Enjoy the photos!

Views outside the bus on the drive up.

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ORA D’ARIA

I asked my good friend Margarita Fores who is an expert on Italian cuisine where I should eat in Florence.  One of her  glowing recommendation is Ora D’Aria  http://www.oradariaristorante.com.  I would describe it as modern Tuscan cuisine.

We were lucky to get a table as it was one of the hottest tables to book in Florence.  We sat down directly in front of the kitchen were we could fully enjoy the show.  Nix and I decided to get the degustation menu and celebrate!  It was really one of the most pristine eating experiences I have ever had.  It’s like Italian cuisine refined.  My highlight has got to be the suckling pig which was so amazing!

If you are looking for a brand new exciting eating experience that takes Italian cuisine to a more reserved and quiet direction then this is the place for you!

The open kitchen provided great views.

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#RAJOMAN loves GARAGE!

If you have not bought yourselves a copy of the latest GARAGE magazine I strongly suggest you do so!  Garage is arguably the best men’s fashion magazine in the country!  Their perspective is always fresh and current having the correct balance of what is classic and edgy at the same time.

I was so thrilled to see a recent editorial featuring my newest collection for RAJOMAN called PALAWAN!  The photographs were absolutely stunning. I loved how the Photographer Kristoffer Tiozon captured the mood and feel of the collection perfectly. It also helps that the model Jeff Langan is smoulderingly good looking. LOL!

I really just wanted to share this with all of you and to personally thank Rey Ilagan of Garage magazine for the support and the love!  I really love your magazine and I would like to congratulate him and his entire team for uplifting the idea of Men’s fashion in the country!  MABUHAY ang Garage!

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Magical Venice!

One of the most photogenic places in the world is Venice.  I have had the pleasure of visiting Venice in the past and each time I visit I feel the magic in the air.  This trip was special because Nix and I planned to eat around the city.  We chose 3 or 4 places and decided to go on a treasure hunt of sorts.  Nix has an excellent sense of direction and even if he did not have a map we were able to find the places we wanted to see and dine.

We took the early fast train to Venice from Florence and in a few hours we would arrive.  The weather was simply amazing, cook and crisp with the bluest skies.  It was the perfect condition for photographs and armed with only my i-phone these were the photos I was able to take.

My highlight of this trip was the delicious lunch I had at Alle Testiere http://www.osterialletestiere.it  which was quite a challenge to find but like all treasures when you do indeed find this you will cherish this forever.  After lunch we decided to literally get lost in the city and enjoy the scenery.  We bought an all day pass for the water busses and just took everything in. It was really such a blessing to be there.  Enjoy the photos.

Took the early fast train to Venice from Florence.

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