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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La Giostra!

Dining in Florence is always going to be a memorable experience.  One such place that I recommend is La Giostra http://www.ristorantelagiostra.com.   This was recommended to us by friends from Manila and it was just superb. We particularly enjoyed the fact that the owner was there to personally take care of us and make us feel special.  I had a superb buratta dish while Nix had an incredible veal picatta that was just delicious.

After dinner we decided to walk back to the hotel and enjoyed Florence at night.  It was so lovely to see the Duomo at night and appreciate its architectural details.  We passed the famous florence Boar with its snout all shiny from the millions of tourists that rubbed its nose for good luck.  These are what memories are made of.

Nix in front of La Giostra.

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Ciao Toscana!

On our second day in Italy I woke up bright and early for the first of our adventure.  I wanted to reorient myself  with Tuscany.  I fell in love with this region in Italy and Nix and I decided to explore it all over again.  We decided to just book ourselves a tour as this would be the most convenient and economical way of doing this.

The itinerary included San Giminiano, Sienna and Pisa.  It took us the whole day to visit these areas and it was really easy and comfortable.  We began in Sienna and immersed ourselves in this beautiful medieval town.  I fell in love particularly with this extremely beautiful Cathdral. Click this for more information  http://www.operaduomo.siena.it.  What I loved about it is that they combined several design influences within one church.  I have never seen anything like it before.  Combining Rococo, Byzantine, Renaissance and several more.

We were particularly privileged on this visit as they just opened a special part of the church which has been closed to the public for centuries.  The room kept the music books of the cathedral. What made the room very special was the intricate and colourful decorations which practically covered the entire room.  I was rendered speechless.

From there we moved to the small hill top town of San Giminiano. This was a pretty short pit stop, because it’s really not a big town, it did feature though some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted.  I knew that it was good because it had the longest line and I gamely fell in line and indulged in this decadent treat.

Finally we visited PISA, there is really nothing else in this town but the tower and the rest is actually quite boring but since we were being tourists why not. It was Nix’s first time to see the tower and although it started raining really hard  however we both were determined into get our “tacky tourist” shots!  All in all it was what I would call a really fine day!

The lush green Tuscan countryside.

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The Game of Thrones wedding!

One of my most closest friends recently celebrated their 20 years of marriage. Dennis and Tessa Valdes celebrated this milestone like only they can.  When Tessa told me that she was using the popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” as a theme I knew that this was going to be something for the books!

When Dennis or more appropriately Tessa thinks of a project she goes full on and takes the idea into the next level. Their wedding anniversary was really memorable as 90% of the guests really came in full costume and enjoyed the festivities.  Dennis and Tesssa prepared a full on extravaganza that started  out in a solemn but spectacularly decorated church complete with wolves and horses.

Right after their renewal of vows we all moved to the Manila Polo Club where there practically a village waiting to entertain the guests that comprised of Giants, midgets, fire breathing acrobats that climaxed to a fantastic firework show.

We were then ushered into the dining hall which was absolutely amazing as it really felt like we were in the set of The Games of Thrones.  The dinner banquet was laid out exactly as if it was in the medieval times however this time we had white rice!  LOL!  During the beautiful banquet Dennis and Tessa prepared a show that began with aerial dancers and Opera singers.  The highlight for me was being part of the flash mob dance where 50 of Tessa’s closest friends danced with the couple which actually took several practices and rehearsals to perfect.

What I really love about weddings like these are the speeches that everyone shares, Their eldest son  Brian gave one of the most heart tugging speeches I have ever experienced.  The truth is beneath all the splendour and pageantry of the celebration.  This is really all about family and the liberty to live each day  with absolute love.

I just want to thank Dennis & Tessa for their friendship as I have been blessed immensely because of this.  Looking forward to more adventures with you guys!

Tessa's incredible bridal shoes!

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Ciao Italia!

I have always loved ITALY!  I have had the good fortune to have visited this beautiful nation several times before but Nix and I wanted to explore it further. So we spent our recent vacation entirely in Italy.  We used Florence as our base and moved around from there.

Florence was just glorious as the weather was extremely pleasant and it only rained twice when we were there.  Florence is very easy to navigate and after a few hours we hardly needed a map to guide us around this majestic renaissance town.  Nix is always in charge of looking for our hotels and he struck GOLD in choosing Casa Howard  http://www.casahoward.com  The location of our hotel could not be more perfect as it’s very central and near all our favourite little restaurants.  It is also very inspiring as each room is different having its own unique character and theme.

We were lucky enough to try out several of the rooms and it felt like we were in a different hotel each night.  I also loved that fact that the staff were Filipinos so Nix and I immediately felt at home and well taken cared of.   We started our first day by orienting ourselves around our area and we booked our first meal at this traditional trattoria called  13 GOBBI  http://www.casatrattoria.com/restaurant/trattoria-13-gobbi/ Which was absolutely delicious.  I loved the ambience so much as we sat beside this Italian family which could have been a scene in a movie!  It was quite busy which is always a good sign and the food was just marvellous.  We decided to walk around after dinner and ended up having some of the most decadent gelato along the Santa Trinita bridge.  This place is probably the main reason why Nix and I gained several kilos on this trip as we practically had a gelato every night when we were in Italy.  

Take a look at our first few hours in Italy and fall in love with Florence!

This is the receiving room of Casa Howard.

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Portobello Road & The Golden Union Fish & Chips!

When in London it’s an absolute must to do two things.  The first is to visit Portobello road most specifically on a weekend.  This really gets my inspiration juices flowing.  I just love walking along this street and soaking all the stimuli in.  I am most interested in the vintage stores as this has always inspired my work. It was grey and cloudy that day but this still was not enough to dampen my spirits.

We met up with my friend Candy Dizon who was renting a flat nearby and we met up for another London must have  Traditional Fish and Chips.  Now there are several Fish and Chip shops all over London but after careful research the best is The Golden Union Fish & Chips. http://www.goldenunion.co.uk   This Golden Union is really all about the fish and chips.  Always fresh and always good.  I strongly suggest that if you are in London and have a hankering for some Fish & Chips then this is the place for you.

Enjoying my Portobello haunt!

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