France Wine Producers and Exporters Upbeat on Growing Local Market

France Wine Producers and Exporters Upbeat on Growing Local Market

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | July 17, 2017

“The growing market for wines and spirits in the Philippines… served as impetus for the arrival of the French representatives in our shores.”

With the increasing demand for fine wines and spirits in the country, a business delegation of French wine producers and exporters visited Manila late in October to interact with local importers and expand the reach of their products.

The growing market for wines and spirits in the Philippines, which recorded a 7-percent current growth value and reached P1.1 billion in 2017, served as impetus for the arrival of the French representatives in our shores.

In terms of value (€3 million) and sixth in terms of volume (1.2 million liters), France has already been enjoying good business in the country from the sales of its alcoholic products. The European country is already the fourth-largest wine exporter here after the United States, Australia and Spain.

The business expedition was a vital part of “Tastin’ France,” a series of professional wine-tasting events held worldwide in 65 cities set up by Business France, a national agency supporting the development and exports, and international investment.

It is interesting to note that the wine world would not be what it is today if not for the immense contribution of France, as it has been a source of winemaking practices and styles for wine-producing countries, as well as its many grape varieties that have been planted throughout the world.

The growing market in the Philippines is a result of the popularity of wine and spirits to the younger set, which represents a potential growth segment. Factors such as giving a premium on education, being exposed to worldwide trends via traveling and the phenomenon of evolving palates, all helped pave the way for this emerging segment of alcoholic-beverage consumers.

As such, increasing numbers from the younger generation have been turning to champagne, wine and other spirits as important elements in celebrating milestones in their lives.

Though the demand for wines and spirits may be bigger in other countries in the Asean region, France has kept a keen eye of the constantly growing market of local wine drinkers.

During the official launch of Tastin’ France-Manila, Ambassador Nicolas Galey said, “While the Philippine market is relatively small compared to its other Asian neighbors, with growing interest for fine wines and the Filipino drinker’s evolving and more discerning palate, I am positive that the steadily growing market is ready for even more French players.”

Galey added, “It is our hope that these wine, champagne and cognac makers [could] introduce more French products to the Philippine market through strong partnerships, and with the invaluable guidance [from] potential Filipino importers.”

Manila was the first leg for the French wine producers, as they were also scheduled to visit Kuala Lumpur and Singapore afterward.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

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Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

Entering the Age of Stoned Steaks

Entering the Age of Stoned Steaks

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | December 6, 2018

“Nothing quite satisfies a man’s appetite like a huge chunk of good ‘ol steak cooked to one’s preferred level of doneness.”

For hardcore carnivores, steaks are top contender for the ultimate comfort food.
Throw in a party of side dishes and sauces and complete the entourage to this VIP protein dish.

When you absolutely have to give in to your steak craving, it is good to know that there is a steakhouse that does not disappoint. Stoned Steaks steakhouse, a 30-seater dining spot at 55 Scout Rallos in Quezon City, has been carving a name for itself for almost a year now with the reverence it shows toward handling its high-quality steaks. Without doubt, it is the place to impress a date, celebrate life’s victories and splurge on the good stuff.

How many steakhouses do you know that has its own dry-aging machine for its Angus and Wagyu steaks? Dry aging makes the meat more flavorful and thereby taste better due to the evaporated moisture from the muscle. As a result, weight is lost the longer this kind of beef is aged. To understand dry aging, think of the funky characteristic that time imparts to charcuterie and blue cheese. For a dry- aged steak newbie, start with the 28 day steak. For long time steak lovers, try the 45-day dry-aged steak.

Not all steaks here, though, are dry aged. A regular Wagyu, which is known for its tenderness, and likewise—a rib eye Angus, which has a reputation for flavor—can be had in various levels of marbling, as well. Thus, the higher the grade, the higher quality the steak is accorded with.

While top-notch steak quality is already a given, its lineup of exciting promos can certainly rival the irresistible aroma of steak fat turning into vapor. If quantity to you is as important as quality, visit Stoned Steaks from Monday to Wednesday and avail yourself of its unlimited steak promo. On Thursdays, slash 50 percent off Wagyu steaks. On the weekends, cut 40 percent off on all dry aged steaks.

Moreover, a huge fun factor one gets from dining at Stoned Steaks is the fact that the steaks are served on a lava-rock plate. It cooks in front of you in all its sizzling glory. The crucial part diners should pay attention to is the right moment to take off your steak from the 350 degree Celsius hot plate, as it cooks fast. You don’t want all the steak juices to go up in smoke!


The steak place has done away with trimmings associated with your grand daddy’s steakhouse. In fact, it marches to its own beat as its ambience exudes a fresh and clean vibe with the use of marble tops, Tolix chairs, black hanging light fixtures and a faux grass-covered accent wall with the word ‘Stoned’ across it. It has that Big Apple feel that millennials resonate with. Nevertheless, the service one gets here is akin to fine dining—thanks to its well-trained, well-mannered staff.

On a lighter note, staring at the accent wall gave this writer the crazy assumption that Stoned Steaks come from “grass-fed” cows. After all, this is a steak “joint.”

With a commitment to high standards in handling its premium steaks, served on a hot plate that cooks in front you, in a modern setting, coupled with inviting promos and polished service, what more could a steak lover ask for? It is an open invitation to indulge in the good stuff and be deliriously satisfied as one enters the age of Stoned Steaks.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

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Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

Sustainable Dining Through Plant Based Dishes

Sustainable Dining Through Plant Based Dishes

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | October 3, 2019

Sheraton Manila

In line with Marriott International Serve 360 Initiative, which guides all hotel in operating responsibly as they become global, Sheraton Manila welcomes September, the first Philippine Sustainable Month, by initiating a healthy spin on its comfort food.

So what makes the plant-based offerings of Sheraton Manila special? Taste, of course! Thanks to its team of seasoned chefs, the plant-based dishes they offer shows just how palate-pleasing these health treats can be.

“We want to eliminate the stigma that healthy eating, or vegetables, are dull. So we go back to basics, switching meat on well-loved foods to plant-based but still with the same enticing flavors,” Executive Chef Kiko Santiago says.

A plant-based diet, as backed up by medical research, is responsible for a host of health-related benefits. Among the positive attributes one can reap from such a way of eating include reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, mental deterioration and even keeping at bay certain types of cancers.

The drive toward healthy food offering of the five-star hotel, which runs until end of October 2019, is offered in its a la carte menu in their S Kitchen and in-room dining. Start off the healthy culinary journey with a most nutrient-dense crunchy kale salad served with plant-based longganisa mixed in the tomato salsa. Soothing sips of plant-based siningang is just perfect for the rainy days. A bite of their Western dishes, such as its mini Tacos and mini Wrap will have you convinced that the taste of plant-based food can indeed excite the tastebuds.

You need not wait for Tuesday for a taste of this Mexican treat. On the other hand, pasta lover will be delighted over its spaghetti bolognese with dairy-free daiya cheese. Local dishes, such as Pansit Bihon and embutido are given a healthy take as well. Craving for a dish with a bit of heat? The plant-based version of the Indonesian dish, Beef Rendang, served with dried chilli peppers, will not disappoint. End on a sweet note with the Stevia cheesecake. Weight watcher will rejoice over this zero calorie dessert- sweetener. Another hit dessert is the vegan brownies with popcorn which is flourless, eggless and dairy-free.

In an effort to reach more people with the healthy dishes, Sheraton Manila made sure there are wallet-friendly and served in good-sized portions. Starters go for P360 and main entrées range from P640 to P690 only.

Going all out, food sustainability trickled down to invade its cocktail selections at the hotel’s The Lounge, as well. The earth-friendly practice the bartenders observe ensures that there is more of the nature’s bounty to go around. Different kinds of citrus peel, for example, are infused with Arc Lava Rock Vodka that lends a whole new flavor dimension to the liquor. Likewise, instead of discarding a grape stem, see how creativity transforms it into a cocktail’s focal point. The eye catching collection of sustainable cocktails are priced from P495 to P575. Grab a hold of Flower Child , Live Green Go, Just Add Water and more, until October 12, 2019.

A Fruitful Partnership With Nurture Farmacy

The sustainable dining concept, which sources its produce in a vegetable farm, has positive impact on the environment, as oppose to the by products that is associated with animal farming. Sheraton Manila has gone the extra mile with the launch of their 300-sq m farm (for their vegetables and herb requirements) in Tagaytay. The move was made possible with the alignment of values it had with its partner, Nurture Farmacy—a wellness, cultural and farm destination in Tagaytay. The said partner, built on three pillars, resonates well with Sheraton Manila.

First, it is proudly Filipino as it embraces our unique cultural practices and traditions. Second, it upholds health by way of wellness intervention through food. Third, it encourages inclusive growth. Its team comes from the barangay where they are given opportunities for career growth. The collaboration of the two companies promotes awareness to sustainability among its guests via day tours and farm visits.

“We believe this is just the start of the many things we can still build on, in relation to sustainability. We plan to create more projects to support the talent and produce here in Nurture Farmacy and bring them to our luxury platform in our hotel,” General Manager Anna Liza Vergara beamed with joy. Indeed, eating plant-based food has its rewards. It is not only good for one’s health, but also compliments the environment and the community where these nutritious ingredients are being farmed.

Savor these plant-based offers from September 15, until the end of October. For information or reservations, please call (632) 902-1800.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

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Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

A Healthy and Sugar Free Buffet Alternative

A Healthy and Sugar Free Buffet Alternative

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | September 19, 2019

Gimme some of that good stuff!

Healthy Meals PH provides Metro diners a healthy and sugar free buffet alternative.

AS Christmas tunes hit the airwaves, you know it is the season once again when people would soon dine out more often than usual to meet up with loved ones and their different circles of friends, as well.

With the overwhelming selections of dining establishments one can try out, how can a restaurant make itself stand out for the crowd? Lifestyle coach and restaurateur Rad Pelayo is well aware that a high number of stroke cases has been recorded during the Christmas season due to people’s overindulgence in fatty and oily food choices.

In this regard, his brainchild, Healthy Meals PH, a four-month- old restaurant in Torre de Vennezia, Quezon City, is pulling out all the stops to position itself as the dining spot offering healthy and sugar-free buffet selections.

During weekends, Healthy Meals PH, lays out a delightful spread of healthy and tasty treats in a space that coexists with a spa. The eye-catching multilayered buffet spread makes use of overhead rattan lamps and hanging baskets, with the burlap table cloth adding a nice touch. The modest set up exudes a picnic-in-a -garden kind of vibe.

Star of the show

THE star dish of this buffet is the oven-baked, Chicken Hardinera which is kind of meatloaf specialty originating in the Quezon province.

It has a mildly sweet taste one won’t easily get tired of and has a texture that can even go well with toasted bread. More poultry options come in the form of the chicken-crusted Keto Pizza and the Chicken Tacos garnished with lettuce, cucumber, and salsa. (Just think of pizzas and tacos getting a lean and mean nutrition makeover!)

The comforting taste of classic dishes are represented as well, with dishes, such as the Pata Tim sweetened with pineapple and slow- cooked tender Beef Caldereta served with pita bread. These two hit the spot every time.

For crunchy veggie delights, have a bite of Cucumber Boats and Vegan Wraps. Coincidence or not, the colors of Christmas shines bright with the Red Basil Pasta and the Green Pesto Pasta both of which are cooked al dente.

The desserts here are not a guilty pleasure. How can it be when its Choco Cupcakes are made with muscovado and its oatmeal cookies are baked with stevia? Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds? “It’s a treat, not a cheat,” goes the buffet’s clever tagline.

After you have your fill of the good stuff, wash it all down with unlimited servings of refreshing ice- cold ginger-turmeric drink.

The weekend buffet, priced at P499, is made more enticing with its 3-plus-1 promo.

There is also a buffet and massage tie up for P749 per head that comes with unlimited coffee, sugar- free drinks, sugar-free cookies and cupcakes. A 5-plus-1 promo is being offered for the month of September.

A One-Stop-Shop

HEALTHY Meals PH is a lifestyle brand that goes beyond its buffet on weekends and a la carte offerings on weekday. In fact, it doubles as a store for locally produced organic products, such as premium condiments like vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and more-all as part of an advocacy of the restaurant to help farmers.

“During rainy season in Pagbilao, Quezon, there is a livelihood program that encourages farmers to make vegan bagoong and vinegar. We want to help farmers all year round, not just for their fresh produce but also for the end product of what they make. Mushrooms, for example, you don’t need it all the time, but they [the farmers] can make mushroom chips which you can sell all year round,” the lifestyle guru shares. Rad Pelayo prides himself in being a son of a farmer. The advocacy is a way of paying tribute to his roots and also as a way of giving back.

As an offshoot of this advocacy, he is able to give customers healthy and economical alternatives to its international and expensive counterparts.

In addition to being a store, Healthy Meals PH is also into packaged meal delivery even before the restaurant opened. “It is an alternative to cooking or ordering fast food. Lone condo-dweller, child with no baon, or you are just a health buff. It cuts across all lifestyle. When you are sick, the more you need to eat healthy meals,” the restaurateur said.

“Skinny meals is for sedentary lifestyle [for people with no exercise]- still complete and balanced meals. For active lifestyle, the gym goers, there is the high protein, low carbs meals, And keto meals- high in good fat, high in protein, and no carbs. There is a preparation leading to eating keto meals, which means you are already on no carbs diet. If you want to lose weight fast, go for keto. Vegan meals are available in the store menu, not for delivery, he added.

Indeed, with Healthy Meals PH, eating healthier meals has become a lot easier. Whether for delivery or dine-in, one is always assured of feeding himself/ herself of only the things that make a difference-the good stuff.

Cesar Cruz Jr.

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Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

Tender is the Bite

Tender is the Bite

Gabrielle R. Borromeo

Published in Daily Tribune |September 17, 2019

Shaburi and Kintan Buffet

The Dice Tender was ridiculously addicting, I might have even dreamt of it. The sauces included Teriyaki or Spicy Miso but eating it grilled as is was perfect as well.

You know life is good when reality is better than your dreams. This was how I felt when I was invited to the grand launch of Shaburi and Kintan Buffet at Glorietta 2, Makati.

Universal alliance Dining Concepts Inc.’s managing director Masahide Araki, directors Luis Manuel Banson and Atty. Severino Sumulong, president Hubert Young, Tomoyoshi Nishiyama chairman of Dining Innovation Ltd; chief executive officer Eiji Kamada; and chief operating officer Shinichiro Matsufuji.

It felt like a dream but I knew I was wide awake. I was eating one of the best meat I ever had in my entire life. It was called the Dice Tender which I literally ordered about 10 times. It was that amazing.
The meat was diced, making it easy to consume. The tenderness of the meat was phenomenal, it was almost unrealistic. Biting into it was like biting into liver without the gritty texture (which liver usually has) but still with the meaty satisfaction. Yes, it was amazingly tender which is why I could not have enough of it.

Everyone invited to the launch that I talked to about the meat was as obsessed with it as I was. The Dice Tender was ridiculously addicting, I might have even dreamt of it. The sauces included Teriyaki or Spicy Miso but eating it grilled as is was perfect as well.

This was the Kintan buffet which had four options: Regular Buffet, Kintan Buffet, Premium Kintan Buffet and Special Wagyu Buffet. Customers are also given their choice of rice and the meat they want.

The premium meat in the menu are Chicken Steak in Spicy Miso, Cheese Curry, Teriyaki or Garlic Shio; Lamb in Spicy Miso, Teriyaki or Garlic Shio; Chicken Cheese Sausage or Beef Cheese Sausage; Tasty Karubi in Teriyaki, Garlic Butter or Double Pepper; Rosu in Teriyaki or Spicy Misu; Dice Tender in Teriyaki or Spicy Misu; Kintan Karubi in Teriyaki or Double Pepper and Gyu Tongue.

To be shamelessly honest, I tried each and every one of what was listed above. Each plate of the premium meat ordered came in small portions that could easily be consumed in just a few seconds. I found this a great way to please the customers because it did not feel like they were just stuffing everyone with the same meat in big portions.

Aside from the premium meat, there was also a buffet bar that one could salivate over. These included vegetables, noodles and other appetizers.

For the shabu-shabu buffet, there are the Regular Shabu, Special Shabu, Shaburi Wagyu or Special Wagyu. What makes the shabu-shabu option different in the restaurant is that each customer gets his/her own boiling pot of preferred soup or soups. No one has to share.

Meat choices for both the kintan and shabu-shabu include premium chicken, pork and beef cuts.

Impressive concept

The restaurant was spacious. The seats were comfortable, exactly as a buffet spot should be. When I came in, the buffet bar was right smack in front of me, enticing me to eat, eat and eat.

I was then ushered to my seat and was advised by the restaurant’s friendly staff that I could choose one buffet of the two choices.

Of course, my carnivorous self chose the yakiniku buffet without a doubt. I promised myself to try the shabu-shabu area later on. I will return.

While waiting is a virtue that not everyone has, waiting for the meat I ordered to be grilled was almost as satisfying as eating. I couldn’t keep my eyes from the circular grill in front of me, which was in the middle of my table.

What amazed me was how there was hardly any smoke from the grilling, until I was told that a Japanese technology was used to make the smoke “magically dissipate.” This I can vouch for, because the same perfume I came in with was still the same scent I came out of the restaurant. Shaburi and Kintan Buffet was already seven steps ahead.

Shaburi and Kitan executives during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Indulging one’s palate at Shaburi and Kintan Buffet, which recently opened its first branch in this country, raised the bar for all buffets.

I was immediately impressed with Shaburi and Kintan Buffet, which is a dining concept by Dining Innovations Ltd. chairman Tomoyoshi Nishiyama who partnered with Universalalliance Dining Concepts Inc.’s president Hubert Young to bring the brand to the Philippines.

This casual meal concept encourages customers to satisfy their craving for authentic Japanese dishes in shabu-shabu, yakiniku and buffet settings.
The concepts can either be broken into either a combination of Shaburi and Kintan, which is shabu-shabu and/or yakiniku. Yes, the customer can have the option to break it down to just one choice, either a shabu-shabu or a yakiniku choice.

Young is the entrepreneur behind many of the successful Japanese dining brands in the Philippines, including the UCC Coffee chain, the Japanese food concepts like Coco Ichibanya, Mitsuyado House of Tsukemen, Mitsuyado Ramen Shokudo and Tendon Kohaku. It was even revealed to me that Young was also bringing the popular Japanese chain MOS burger to town (which I was only able to try in Taiwan).

Nishiyama, the founder of Shaburi and Kintan Buffet, one of the best yakiniku restaurants in the world, is also responsible for introducing the dining innovations of shabu-shabu, udon and yakitori in over 200 restaurants in different countries. Nishiyama was recently in the Philippines to welcome guests to the grand launch of Shaburi and Kintan Buffet.

“I’m very happy to have Shaburi and Kintan at the center of Makati. The Philippines has a very big market for Japanese cuisine with its large population, which is second to Indonesia in Southeast Asia,” Nishiyama said.

Young was also present and greeted the guests who were able to make it despite the rainy weather. “I hope you would give Shaburi Kintan the support you have afforded UCC throughout the years. We are also planning to open five to ten more of Shaburi Kintan in the coming years, and we are hoping for your continuous support.”

Shaburi and Kintan Buffet restaurants can also be found in Indonesia, Taiwan, Cambodia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Gabrielle Borromeo

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Gabe organizes what she sees around her and loves to put it into words. She has been contributing her articles for the Daily Tribune newspaper, Tinig ng Marino (maritime) newspaper, Cook magazine, Appetite magazine and F&B World magazine.

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