Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sweet Success at World Pastry Cup 2015



Published on Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, January 29, 2015


The room was abuzz with excitement when I arrived at Makati Shangri-La that Monday morning, The chefs behind the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines were in high spirits, not minding the fact that they were up since 11pm the night before to prepare for the final mock-up of their entry to the World Pastry Cup or Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie that happened on January 25 in Lyon, France.





Yes, our country was one of the 21 teams from all over the world to compete at the largest, most prestigious event in the pastry universe. These teams were chosen after more than fifty national selection rounds and four continental selection rounds in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. As Chef Buddy Trinidad, President of the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines (PAP), described, “the World Pastry Cup is like the Miss Universe beauty pageant. It is the whole world competing. Everyone’s eyes will be on us.”






“This dream to join the competition started in 2006. As you know, sometimes dreams don’t come true, but this is a big one that came true for us. To this day we still can’t believe that it’s here, that it is upon us. We thank the Lord for giving us these three talented men to represent us at the competition,” Trinidad added.

The three talented men are Rizalino Mañas, Bryan Dimayuga and Vicente Cahatol, all pastry chefs from Makati Shangri-La.






Each team was given 10 hours to present three chocolate desserts, three frozen fruit desserts, twelve identical plated desserts, one sugar showpiece, one chocolate showpiece, one sculpted ice showpiece, and the newest addition to the competition – a chocolate carving sculpted from a whole block of Valrhona. 

Our Philippine Team’s theme was “Hunting” and each element in the jaw-droppingly magnificent design represented the richness of our country. The Philippine spotted deer seemed almost real and I swear it looked straight at me when I was taking its photo. The details on the female Aeta – her short curly hair, super fine bow and arrow – were spot on. 






Rizalino Mañas, nicknamed Potpot, created the sugar showcase in the form of nature – green leaves and a giant red flower that I could not stop staring at. It was mesmerizing. His plated dessert was a coconut, pineapple and pili nut medley served in a chocolate shell and a side of pistachio micro sponge. I was one of the very lucky few who was able to taste this creation and I immediately declared it a winner after my first spoonful.
















For the entremets, Bryan Dimayuga, who also created the female aeta chocolate showpiece, used our very own kapeng barako and added a touch of lemon to give it some kick. It gave me a pleasant surprise.














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Vicente Cahatol, born from a family of carvers from Paete, did an amazing job turning the block of Valrhona into a bayawak. It was not displayed at the final rehearsal that day at Makati Shangri-La, but Vic also magically carved two blocks of ice into a male aeta carrying a deer over his shoulders. He only had two hours to finish this at the competition.









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“Their jobs are no easy task. We have to give these men credit because it is our first time, and the first time is never easy. There are a lot of things we have to adjust to when we get there. It’s a huge team effort,” said Peachy Juban, one of their very dedicated mentors who also flew to Lyon to cheer them on and give them unconditional support alongside Buddy Trinidad, James Antolin, Dan Basilio, Penk Ching, Jackie Ang-Po and Miko Aspiras of the PAP.

“Our dream is to see the Philippine flag raised in Lyon. We didn’t expect it would happen so soon,” Juban shared modestly.

I personally thought it was about time. After witnessing (AND tasting) their undeniably exemplary talents that Monday morning, I confidently say the Philippines is ready to make history.

“The team spent sleepless nights perfecting everything. It is hard work, but we are here to support each other,” said Miko Aspiras. “We are doing this for our country,” Penk Ching proudly declared.

Even though they did not bring home the medal, Team Philippines is already a champion to all of us.




Team Philippines ranked 12th out of 21 participants and took home the Best Ice Sculpture Award.
You bring our country so much pride!  



Pastry Team PH Facebook Page

Pastry Alliance of the Philippines Website

Pastry Alliance of the Philippines Facebook Page

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Taipei Top 8 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


My Taipei Top 8

Published on Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, January 22, 2015


In the last four weeks, eight people have already asked me for my Taipei list, the “list” being a compilation of my favorite eating places in the city. After coming back from a trip in Taipei, Tim Yap proclaimed the capital of Taiwan to be the next Hong Kong. Finally, people are starting to notice this gem of a city, which is conveniently a mere two-hour flight from Manila.

That makes me, next to Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou and Tourism Bureau Director-General David Hsieh, the third happiest person. After all, Taipei is my birthplace and will always be my second home. And so I am, modesty aside, the best person to ask when it comes to places to eat in around the city. I have many to recommend. The biggest challenge, in fact, is to narrow down the list to just eight because at every corner, in every nook and cranny of Taipei, you will find something interesting and delicious to eat.

For a quick weekend trip though, here are my eight musts. Promise me you will visit each one!

Steamed Pork and Salted Egg at Shin Yeh

(See post here and here


This restaurant is always the first order of business when I arrive in the city. Our family has been enjoying authentic Taiwanese fare here since I was a baby. Each time, we would order the same dishes – steamed pork topped with salted egg yolk, sautéed oysters with scallions and garlic, pan fried egg with preserved turnip, soy boiled pig intestines, fresh lumpia, cuapao, and sweet potato congee. It will be hard, but you must save space for the complimentary dessert: fresh, warm and chewy peanut masachi. 

Shin Yeh is located at No. 34-1 Shuang Cheng Street, Chung Shan District, Taipei. Tel: (862) 2596-3255. 

Alaskan King Crab Legs at Mitsui
(See post here and here


Outside Japan, Taiwan is the best place to enjoy excellent Japanese meals and Mitsui is my tried and tested restaurant for it. I highly recommend the omakase where you let the chef surprise you with his creations, using only the freshest ingredients. I always look forward to Mitsui's signature Alaskan king crab salad, buttery Hokkaido uni perched on finely shredded mountain yam. And that is just the beginning of a feast filled with succulent seafood and premium meats! 

Mitsui is located at No. 30, Nongan Street, Chung Shan District, Taipei. Tel: 886-2-2594-3394

Yinyang pot of Wulao and Soya broths at Elixir Health Pot


I have long graduated from the eat-all-you-can hotpot places scattered all over Taipei. If you must indulge in meats and balls all night long, do it right at Elixir Health Pot. First, choose your broths (I suggest half “wulao”, half soymilk) and enjoy dipping your beef and lamb alternately into the titillating spicy broth and then into the creamy, soothing tofu milk. The balls here are amazing, too, plus they give you shots of peach sorbet to end your meal on a sweet, refreshing note. 

Elixir Health Pot is located at No. 143, Shimin Boulevard, Section 3, Zhongshan District, Taipei. Tel: 886-2-2731-7928



Stir fried Clams at Xie Ah Yi



This place can get crowded and crazy with locals so make sure to reserve ahead and be ready for a delicious homecooked meal in a very, very casual setting. One thing to note: There is no menu. Happy customers leave all the decisions to Auntie Xie, who will serve you her specialty dishes based on the size of your group. Check out the huge pots of delectable taro congee and taro vermicelli that are laid out in one corner. Don’t be shy, help yourself! 

Xie Ah Yi is located at B1, No. 122 Bo Ai Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei. Tel: 886-2-2388-1012


Coffee Sensation at Ice Monster



Even in winter I brave the unforgiving Taipei weather to enjoy bowls of shaved ice at this dessert institution. My ultimate favorite is the Coffee Sensation, a mountain of featherlike layers of coffee ice with the creamiest homemade milk pudding and the most intensely flavored coffee jelly. Absolutely divine! 

Ice Monster is located at No. 297, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Daan District, Taipei City. Tel: 886-2-8771-3263

Matcha Millecrepe at Ping An Jing Teahouse


Taipei is a green tea and matcha powerhouse and this zen of a place serves the best matcha mille crepe I’ve had in my life. The teahouse also offers matcha cream puff, matcha roll cakes, matcha soft serve, too, but it’s the strong, bittersweet matcha cream sandwiched between layers and layers of fine matcha crepes that captures my matcha-loving heart.

Ping An Jing Cha Shi is located at No. 165 Shida Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei. Tel: 886-2-2368-2277

Raohe Street Night Market


Night markets can get rowdy but you absolutely have to go to one while in Taipei. Raohe Street Market, with its mix of local fashion and flavors, is a great place to start. Be adventurous and try the stinky tofu, chicken chops, oyster cakes, pepper buns, snails, fruit skewers… the list goes on forever. After all, you’ve never been to Taipei until you’ve experienced one of its night markets… and eaten in it, too! 

Raohe Street Night Market is located in Songshan District, Taipei.



Pineapple Cakes from Milkhouses



Of course, you must never go home without buying pasalubong for family and friends. Pineapple cake is to Taiwan what dried mango is to the Philippines. There are popular brands like Chia Te and Leechi, but my personal favorite is from a bakery called Milkhouses. For gifts, I buy a box of half original flavor and half with salted egg yolk. But for myself, I buy a box of all pineapple cake with salted egg yolk! 

Milkhouses has a few branches around Taipei. For more information, visit their website


Sunday, January 18, 2015

5 Dishes Jin Loved to Eat in 2014


"If there's a master's degree in eating, blogger Jin Perez of Jin Loves to Eat would be summa cum laude. Her stamina and appetite are amazing.

Those who follow her on Instagram know that a day doesn't go by without her checking out a new restaurant, snacking on imported goods or sharing her fruit box for the day.

There are days when she'd dine in all the restaurants in my list in a single day, and still have the iron guts to wipe off a plate of dessert after that. Even I can't keep up with her eating escapades.

Apart from sampling the city's finest food, her palette is seasoned and her journalistic reputation is credible."

- Angelo Comsti, Coconuts Manila


WOW! THANK YOU, ANGELO!!! That introduction made me feel like a million bucks! Lol! :D

In fact, it gave me the same feeling I would probably experience if someone proposes marriage to me. Except no one will want to do it now after reading THAT! Hahahaha!


I had fun coming up with a list of my 5 favorite dishes in 2014 and I hope you'll have as much fun reading through it! :)

Here you go:





Thursday, January 15, 2015

Snippets of My 2014


And just like that, the first 14 days of 2015 has already gone by. 


I know I've been super delinquent with the blog lately, but my appetite continues to be very active and I hope you are all following me on Instagram or Facebook (or both!) to see how hardworking my stomach has been.

Thank you to everyone who checks back religiously, who shows much concern, including the reader who sent me this very sweet message sometime in July:

"Hi Jin, your last post was on May 15. Are you not interested anymore?"

Hahaha! You made my day! Thank you, I appreciate you sincerely, and YES, I am still very interested! I miss writing here and I promise to find time to do it more often.

And to the person who asked if I am open to selling this blog, sorry, ask me again next year, or next decade, or never! But thank you so much for your interest. :)

You see, 2014 was a very meaningful year for me. I experienced so many new things, met so many new people who have now become good friends, reconnected with old buddies and relatives, revisited a few cities that I miss, found myself, lost myself, and found myself all over again… Life is a never-ending cycle of good and bad, successes and failures, binge eating (success) and dieting (FAILURE!!!), laughters and tears, hellos and goodbyes. 

Looking back at these moments makes me realize what a full life I have and how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who mean the most to me, who appreciate me back, understand me, and love me despite me being me. Yes, I can be a pain in the arse, too. Lol. :P

Sharing with you just a few of the very many blessings that made 2014 a year I will always cherish.




Celebrating the 100th Birthday of our great grandma who we all love and lovingly call Lola Lola. ♥
(See post here




And Gwama's 86th. She dyed her hair black especially for this occasion. 
Too precious!!! :)  (See post here




The parentals letting me third-wheel on their Valentines dinner YET AGAIN!
(See post here) They hope to get rid of me this year.  




Auntie Juliet's surprise birthday party in Hong Kong where Uncle Nelson sang to her and 
delivered a heartfelt speech that brought her and every one of us to tears. ♥
I cried a bucket. 




Snowshoeing with Frances in Capilano hoping to see a grizzly bear… but didn't. 
We still had lots of fun anyway. 




Scoring the very last piece of Thomas Haas double-baked chocolate almond croissant. 
It was SOOOOO GOOD I would go to war just for a bite!



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Eating the whole Vancouver starting with the famous Alaskan king crab at Sun Sui Wah.
I also had very delicious meals at Wildebeest, L'Abattoir, Chambar, Vij's, Bin 941, Lupo, 
Hawksworth, and discovered so many cool coffee places.




Playing with snow and making a snow angel up in Whistler




Catching up at Joe Fortes with my cousins Kristie and Kneisha who I haven't seen in ages!
The last time I saw Kneisha she was only 2 years old, and now she is a full head taller than I!!!




A quick trip to Seattle's Pike Place Market where I had the tastiest clam chowder and
the creamiest greek yogurt in my life




Stopping to smell the… umm… broccoli at Butchart Gardens




Being welcomed by my San Francisco family the very first day I arrived with a super 
lunch at R&G Lounge. Think fried crabs, miso codfish, prawn salad, beef brisket… 
followed by ricanelas ice cream at Bi-Rite, coffee at Ritual and Four Barrel, and
a splendid dinner at State Bird Provisions. And that was just my very first day!




But some of my best eats in the city were home-cooked meals by Uncle Ricky and
Auntie Connie. This steak is better than some of the top steakhouses I've tried and
believe me when I say I've tried A LOT. There's also Uncle Ricky's fall-off-the-bone
tender ribs, homemade pizza from scratch, Auntie Connie's tonkatsu, beef satay,
and chicken soup which did incredible things to my soul. 




Lunching at Cotogna with my good friend Rheena, maker of the best Tres Leches in the world!
She is also the amazing baker behind all the celebration and wedding cakes at Pastrychik.
Check out her beautiful creations here. I am so very proud of this woman! 




Going back again and again to the Ferry Building and discovering something 
new each time. This is my ultimate favorite place in San Francisco!




Nice dinner date with myself at Quince where I had the full tasting menu
(and more!) complete with wine pairing. (Don't worry, I Uber-ed myself home.)
I was also given a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar by Chef Michael Tusk
himself! Woohoo! 




Napa Valley and all the winesssssss that made us smile like this. I went back twice this trip!




Dinner at TBD and Parallel 37 with a special couple I will always have a soft spot for. 




My first and only kiss of the year. Hahaha!!!




Thursday nights at the California Academy of Sciences. The museum turns into a party place 
with live music, drinks and dancing. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I was all by myself. 
I highly recommend it to all the people visiting San Francisco.




Spontaneous visit to Virginia that extended my US trip to almost 2 months! But I am so glad I went. 
I was able to spend Mother's Day with my sister and her beautiful family. This is us at Ruth's Chris
where I was also given a rose because the server mistook me for a mother! Wahahaha!!!
At least it came with a $25 gift coupon. Lol.




Discovering adorable coffee houses like this. Yes, in Virginia!!!



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Visiting Washington, DC and the Holocaust Memorial which tore our hearts into pieces



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Giving thanks in prayer



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Feeling like a kid again at Hershey Park. We rode roller coasters, 
ate junk food and drank Godiva chocolate milkshakes!




Watching my niece Rochelle perform in school. She played the violin like a pro!




Home-cooked meals by my brother-in-law Ryan. He baked pandesal, which I
sorely missed after one month in the US, his famous herbed rack of lamb, 
  crisp-on-the-outside soft-on-the-inside waffles for breakfast, and my sister 
fed me her super creamy chicken curry with mashed pumpkin even if I 
insisted I wanted that bed of spinach only. They spoiled me to obesity.




Lunch date with the sister, just the two of us. ♥



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  Spontaneous visit (again!) to LA where Uncle Patrick, Auntie Vangie and Marvin took me to
Mozza, Lady M, Tar & Roses, Langers, Porto's, Mastro's, Bruxie, and The Getty Museum 
for a little culture. I tried my best not to eat the paintings. Hehehe.




Stenie and Joseph who drove almost 2 hours to pick me up for lunch. I think we ordered 
everything on Ojiya's menu and managed to finish all of it, too! It was the first of our many
meals together including four eat-like-there-is-no-tomorrow dinners in Taipei. BURP!




The new parents, my cousin Joy and her husband Charlie, who welcomed me into their 
immaculately tidy home and toured me around OC where we had Taiwanese breakfasts,
shabu-shabu, bubble tea, a deadly peanut butter jelly burger at 50/50, and Bruxie again
because I loved their waffles so. I also came home once to a neatly folded pile of laundry
on my bed care of Charlie. OMGGGGG!!! He saw everything! And I mean EVERYTHING!!! 
Eeep. (He was cool about it, too.)




MEATing with Achi Chris, Ahia George and the whole family over a Korean feast. 
We are a carnivorous bunch and obviously, we were all in beef heaven! Moo!




Japanese izakaya with Achi Rowena and Ahia Joel, after which we indulged in
refreshing Taiwanese shaved ice desserts at Snow Station. 




My first ever Boiling Crab experience! And yes, it lived up to all the hype and was worth
the 1.5 hours wait! With me is my high school best friend Jen's mom, Tita Tess, who still 
thinks of me as a kid, so yes, she brought me to the happiest place on earth where I
wore a Mickey Mouse headband and took one million photos! :)




Dear Travel Angel, please bless me with more trips this 2015 and 
the next 60 years. Thank you!!! Mwah!!!



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Traveling to Tokyo alone and stopping random strangers at the Tsukiji Metro to take 
a photo of me doing this.




Gaining 8 lbs during 9 days in Tokyo - a new record high even for me! 
I had excellent meals this trip, thanks to months and months of thorough research. 
 I'm still on Day 4 of 9, but if you're interested, you can get tips from my first few days
of eating by clicking here. It's my little gift to all of you. ;)  My best meal was at DEN
where Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa served me his version of "DENtucky Fried Chicken" 
adorned with a Philippine flag! I felt so special! 




Meeting up with my Instagram follower Val who is also from Manila but
is now based in Tokyo. Between the two of us and Baby A (who didn't 
really contribute much except provide loads of cuteness), we shared
2 desserts at Toshi Yoroizuka and 3 cakes at Harbs. Life is sweet!




Singapore weekend getaway with Ahia Emil, who is, for the nth time, MY COUSIN!!!
So hold off the congratulations, you guys! We both love flowers and we both love to eat! 



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Proof that I love to eat more than he does! Hahaha!
This was taken at Flint in JW Marriott on another one of our weekend trips to Hong Kong.




Celebrating August birthdays with a very special and rare moment my high school
barkada is complete. We've known each other since waaaay back and the friendship
we share is irreplaceable and will never age.








Get together with my father's side cousins over Pepita's truffle lechon, balut salpicao, 
salted egg prawns, iberian chicken, and special carabao milk guinataan.
Mental note to self: Must do this more often. 




Visiting National Palace Museum in Taipei for the very first time. (Can you believe it???)
I saw the famous Jadeite Radish, the Bell of Zhou… and just too many mainlanders. Ugh.




Having my favorite Shin Yeh oysters twice in a trip was one of my biggest joys last year.
Call me shallow, but it's true! I also discovered countless new restaurants and cafes
in Taipei and I'm excited to share them all with you. Soon! ;)




Of course, no trip to Taipei will ever be complete without seeing my family in Taiwan! :)




Our "Love Food" Group - my favorite people to eat with, talk food with, fantasize about
food with. I had the best time with them at a potluck dinner we planned for 10 people,
and not surprisingly, we brought food enough to feed an army! 




My baby sister Jamie opening her Tweedle Book Cafe, an old house that
she converted into a space where people can enjoy two of her favorite
things - books and hot chocolate. There is also a secret underground bar
where you can enjoy two of her husband's favorite things - wine and steak!
It's a fabulous concept and the only one of its kind here in Manila.
Do check it out! 106B Scout Gandia, Quezon City. :) 




Seeing my favorite kids again before the year ended! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!




My brother JR and Kim. The most beautiful wedding.
Full of emotions, laughters... 



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… and tears of joy.



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My Family, finally complete!  ♥ ♥ ♥



Because my sister Jerrilyn, her husband Ryan and their kids live all the way in Virginia, it was the first Christmas and first New Year we spent together as a complete family in a very, VERY looooooooooong time. The get-togethers never seemed to end.

And we cherished every single moment of it.

















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Unfortunately, at some point, all good things must come to an end. Work resumes and the kids need to go back to school.

It was painful and heartbreaking when they had to leave.



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But with every goodbye comes the fervent hope that one day very soon we will have our arms wrapped around each other again. 

After all, life becomes more meaningful when you realize that you will never get the exact same moment twice.



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