Here & There

DITCHING SINGLE-USE PLASTIC

Open your eyes! To say that there is no problem with plastic waste or that it is isn’t your problem confirms a head-in-the-sand attitude that shouldn’t be tolerated at all. The clogged sewer canals, for instance in Bekasi, Kalimalang, is a stark reminder of the plastic waste and people’s obstinacy in treating their surroundings as a huge rubbish bin. It is simple logic, really. Clogged drains mean roads flooded with canal water that is teeming with bacteria in which people, who need to get from point A to point B, will need to cross thus increasing the chances of them taking ill by succumbing to leptospirosis (rats are the popular residents of canals) as they wade through the dirty water. And, to make matters worse, given the preponderance of people to eschew health concerns as something trivial or to self-diagnose, untreated leptospirosis can lead to something more life-debilitating or, worse, death. Going outside of Bekasi, discarded plastic waste is deleterious to animals. Sea creatures are dying because they mistake the plastic bags for food and eat them. Others get caught in the plastic trash maiming themselves such as that turtle, in a video that went viral, that had a straw stuck up his nostril which was painfully pulled out.

Students at Global Prestasi School (GPS), particularly the students of the Cambridge Preparatory Class, have decided to address this urgent problem. Following their gold medal win at the recently concluded Youth Environmental Summit (YES) 2019 in Singapore, the grade 8A students are making good on their gold medal-winning project of reducing and ultimately eliminating single-use plastic by, first, practicing what they’re preaching. Now, they are bringing their own lunch boxes and tumblers, and ditching the use of plastic straws. Some have taken to using metal straws to sip their drinks with. The habit of bringing their own lunch boxes and tumblers was instilled during YES when every participant was told to bring his or her own lunch box and tumbler for lunch and dinner. The YES organizers provided the sponge and dish detergent for the participants, so the students were also taught how to be responsible especially cleaning up after themselves.

bring your lunch box and cutlery
I’ve got my lunch box, tumbler, and cutlery. [Josh Purba, grade 8A, GPS] (photo by Emmanuella Venni)
bring your own tumbler
“I’ve got my own tumbler, too.” [Hammada Ghazi, grade 8A, GPS] (photo by Emmanuella Venni)
Their English teacher has also joined in by bringing her own lunch box to pack lunch from the canteen which she places in a cloth bag. Her cloth bag totally eliminates having to ask for a new plastic bag in which to carry her packed lunch back to her office. She has taken it further by having her drink poured in a mug or a glass instead of the usual plastic cup when she has a drink at Starbucks or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Likewise, she has made it a point to bring her own shopping bags at the supermarket to put her groceries in.

mug at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
ice-blended drink in a mug [The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Punggol Mall, Singapore]
Starbucks in a glass
caramel pudding matcha latte in a glass [Starbucks, Grand Metropolitan Mall, Bekasi]
The goal of grade 8A is for GPS to go plastic free. They will start with their class then slowly convince the entire grade 8 students then the teachers, and eventually the entire unit. The project is simple, but it is easier said than done. They are aware of the great challenge before them which is altering the school’s population mind-set of convenience over sustainability to vice versa. It is going to be a struggle fraught with indifference, scepticism, and downright apathy, but they’ve immense resolve to make everyone ditch single-use plastic because it is the right thing to do.

 

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When the Blues Hit

LIFTING HEAVY

The off- season of the UP Ladies’ Football team was the push factor for my hitting the gym when I was still in university. Being a soccer varsity player was exhilarating. When I tried out for the team, the senior players were sceptical that they even had a wager that we newbies – there were three or four of us – wouldn’t be back for the next training session. They were wrong because we were back for the next session all sore but raring to train. Compared to the senior players, I still had a lot to learn from ball handling to strategies and a lot to develop in terms of stamina and muscular power. So, stoked to succeed as a full-back player, I went to the gym to develop muscular strength so I could kick the ball harder and send it flying across the pitch like the professional football players. My goal was to able to kick it half across the field which would clear our side of the pitch, and make it easier for our forward players – two tall, lean, and nimble ladies – to carry the ball towards the opponent ‘s side.

My soccer days are over, but the habit of lifting weights never left me. There is something about the feeling of power surge through your body as you lift those dumbbells or barbells, and seeing how the weight increases every session. That feeling of strength isn’t that obvious while you are at the gym because you move through the exercises continuously which tire you out. And you certainly are not as poised and graceful as Wonder Woman. I know I look like the world caved in on me! I enter another world when I am at the gym. It is all about being focused and getting the lift right. I lose notion of time, the count of reps, work, the gym itself that I am only pulled back into the gym floor when I feel that extra tug at my resolve to dig deeper for that power to lift the barbell off the ground. At times, my personal trainer, Agus, tells me he had increased the weight because of the look of incredulity I flashed him as I, sprawled on the floor, tried to catch my breath. Or when he whispers to me that some of the men in the gym were remarking to him about how heavy the weight I was lifting which, to their minds, is not usual for women.

improvised barbell row machine
ready for the bent-over barbell row [Go Fitness, Bekasi]
I love lifting heavy although there are days I loathe it because I am either very sore or tired from work. When I lift heavy, I am more aware of my breathing, my body posture, and getting the form and breathing correct to avoid injury. I like my chest and back days – it is so empowering to do push-ups. I am determined to do heavier dumbbell and barbell presses, and to go lower for the push-ups while I enjoy the cable row and the bent over back row. On the other hand, I am not that thrilled about my shoulder and arm sessions, but I know I have to strengthen my weakest parts. I love-hate my leg workout. It takes a lot of determination to get through the arduous squats and lunges, which knock the wind out of me always, but I look forward to doing the leg extension. Admittedly, I brace myself for the Bulgarian lunge because, apart from testing my strength, it tests my balance greatly.

leg extension machine
leg extensions at more than 40 kg [Go Fitness, Bekasi]
dumbbell for goblet squat
all set for goblet squat [Go Fitness, Bekasi]
Lifting heavy is all about establishing a good relationship with one’s self. Along the way, as the weights increased, I have learned to strive for balance between my professional and personal lives, that one cannot simply overwhelm the other. On a personal basis, I have learnt to have a better relationship with food by choosing to eat better but not to be overly stringent that I, feeling deprived, go on a crazy food binge when the stress level or hormones go out of whack. I also have learnt that prioritizing myself is equally important as being considerate of others’ feelings. Professionally, I have become less of an individualist and push myself to be more of a team player, but without compromising my ethics and beliefs. Lastly, lifting heavily is also my fail-safe plan to stay loneliness, eliminate self-doubt, get strong, and face the vicissitudes of life with aplomb.

Food Tales

CRAVING FOR THAI NOODLES

The myriad choices in food is one of the reasons I miss living in Singapore. Every meal becomes an adventure because the choices are different every day unless you are a creature of habit. Thai cuisine is one of my favorites which is, unfortunately, sorely lacking in Bekasi. When a Thai restaurant opened in Grand Metropolitan, my enthusiasm was cranked up a few notches higher, but a mild case of food poisoning after having their phad thai quickly swore me off the restaurant forever. Bye bye Thai food.

Bangkok Jam at Plaza Singapura is one of my go-to restaurants when I am in Singapore. The casual vibe, a plethora of dishes to choose from, affordable prices, and amicable staff are more than enough to make it a habit of mine to dine at Bangkok Jam more than the Vietnamese place a floor below it which, among others, is less inviting. And Vietnamese cuisine is another favorite of mine!

seafood pad thai by Bangkok Jam

This time I had with me my colleague who was equally famished as I was. We gave our students, who we were chaperoning for the Youth Environmental Summit 2019, an hour plus to shop while we had a very late lunch. While Venni tried the tom yum fried rice – she loves spicy food – I had my usual seafood phad thai, a plate of rice vermicelli topped with succulent seafood and bean sprouts. On the side of the plate are mini hills of ground peanuts and sugar. The peanuts I understand – they provide that extra crunch – but I never could wrap my head around the sugar. I have a sweet tooth but not in this manner. The verdict is always the same: craving for Thai noodles checked.

Vignettes

STILLNESS

The world seemed to have come to a halt when I sat on the long, concrete bench one Thursday afternoon in one of Singapore’s heartlands. The sun was out, but it wasn’t beating down my back; it smiled like Elmo’s sun. A gentle breeze dipped and flew in the air in rhythmic synchronicity with the swaying of the trees. A lone cyclist lazily pedalled up the pathway, a chill vibe punctuating each push on the pedal.

Bishan - Ang Mo Kio Park, Singapore
take a “green break” at Bishan – Ang Mio Kio Park

“Ah, yes, this is how peace and quiet feel like,” I quietly said to myself. I had forgotten how the muted sounds, their palpability as thick as caramel sauce, are sweet and relaxing. That feeling banished, eclipsed by the heartaches I went through which I blunted with cacophonous chatter, discordant din, and otiose sounds. It was the same for the inane and prejudiced remarks casually thrown my way by colleagues and alleged friends.

Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Singapore view 2
Shall you walk, jog, or bike at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park?

Bishan – Ang Mo Kio Park was a peaceful haven that I stumbled upon on the second day of the Youth Environmental Summit 2019. It was the venue for the Water Experiential Journey with Grace S.Y. Lim, a biologist and owner of CreativeKids Pte Ltd. Alighting at parking lot A, as my students ran to look for their groups, I headed the other way. The path I took led me to an almost empty space except for the two people taking photos near the water. The stillness in the park reminded me of the days when, steeped in papers to finish at university, the sweet placidity in the library soothed my frazzled nerves and calmed the agitations. For a fleeting moment, pain and idiocy vanished, and the world was copacetic again.

Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in Singapore
still at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on a Thursday afternoon
Vignettes

T3 AT 4AM

It glowed from afar as the school car trundled along the long entrance pathway. It was enormous and it glowed.  A section within Gate 1 was dimmed but, like a dimmer switch slowly turned, the corridor was well lit at the centre. Gate 3 seemed to be the primary entry point at 4 in the morning. Porters, leaning lazily on the bag trolleys neatly lined up, were oblivious to the passengers alighting from the vehicles in front of them. Traffic was surprisingly smooth, which was a serendipitous occurrence in the traffic-laden streets of Jakarta en route to anywhere hence she was deposited at such an ungodly hour by a blue Avanza near Gate 1. She was too early for the 530 meeting time. But one can never really accurately predict one’s arrival anywhere with certainty in Indonesia. The rule of thumb: leave as early as you can and entertain yourself if you arrive early. What are smartphones for anyway? Millennials and my students swear survival by their snazzy hand phones in times of a long wait for flights.

entrance to T3 Soekarno-Hatta airport
well-lit entrance at Gate 3 at T3 of Soekarno-Hatta airport
local decor 1 at T3 Soekarno-Hatta airport
airport decor reminiscent of Chinese jack stones at T3 of Soekarno-Hatta airport
local decor 2 at T3 Soekarno-Hatta airport
a touch of Bali as airport decor
local decor 3 at T3 Soekarno-Hatta airport
orchids to welcome passengers at T3

Inside the cavernous polished cave that was reminiscent of Singapore’s Changi Airport with the huge, clear directional signs, touch of local decor, and expansive spaces in between check in counters, the new Terminal 3 (T3) of Soekarno-Hatta International airport was slowly pushing away the embrace of sleep. Cleaning ladies were already mopping the toilet floor, their nearly catatonic faces waking up from the night’s interrupted rest. The Food Terminal was alive with the chatter of the service crew of OldTown White Coffee serving teh tarik (tea with milk), toast slathered with kaya jam and butter, and soft boiled egg. Their neighbour Burger King was similarly busy.

An hour later the shuttered restaurants have flicked on their switches. The open kitchen of Paradise Dynasty, maker of xiao long pao dumplings, is lit and its toque-wearing chef is swinging into action. Auntie Anne’s was now bathed in its lights like Maragame Udon which is just next door.

benches near counter 4
the restaurants near counter 4 are getting ready to serve customers
OldTown White Coffee counter
now open at T3 – Old Town White Coffee

It was peaceful as she walked around T3 familiarizing herself with the lay of the land. There was no jostling with fellow passengers or the loud din of well-wishers and travellers. There was this mellifluous silence everywhere gently brushing passed by the few people walking around. An early breakfast while waiting for the rest of her students to arrive – they were attending the Youth Environmental Summit in Singapore – in the quiet of the airport was a good way to start the day.

T3 departure hall Soekarno-Hatta airport
T3 departure hall Soekarno-Hatta airport

OldTown White Coffee, its neon sign standing proud in the airport sky, beckoned with its Classic Combo. It was an apt breakfast, she thought, thinking of the numerous Singapore breakfasts she had had at either Killiney or Ya Kun Kaya, plus she was traveling to Singapore. It was somewhat of an homage to her old favourite breakfast. The Classic Combo didn’t entirely live up previous ones but it was an acceptable substitute. The four pieces of square kaya toast had the right crisp after-toast bite; the kaya toast – butter spread was sweetly balanced, neither sweet nor buttery which was complimented by the sips of the smooth, bitter-sweet-milky iced teh tarik. It was the soft boiled egg that was a let-down in terms of portion – it was one instead of the usual two – and overall appearance. It lacked the boiled egg white fluffiness surrounding the pinkish-white egg yolk which was orange in this case.

Classic Combo packet
Classic combo breakfast by OldTown White Coffee

T3 was clearly stirring from its sleep: the humming of the arrival of more travellers by 5am was more palpable and distinct. A new day was emerging – a new day filled with possibilities, heartaches big and small, smiles bright and wan, and traffic smooth or gnarled.

Vignettes

MORNINGS

Ignore the view in front of the window – that was what I told myself at 4pm after rushing to the window and looking at the view slightly below my hotel room. It was such a disappointment with the laundered shirt and brassiere of the occupant of condo opposite Hangout @ Mount Emily hanging to dry. I quickly pulled the blinds down. The hotel didn’t actually promise a view but still.

Morning was a different case. Looking up and fixing my gaze to the right, at the buildings dotting the landscape from beyond,I was greeted with a beautiful, colorful Singapore morning at 703. There is something about my mornings that I find truly fascinating ineffable as they may seem.

 
(view from Hangout @ Mount Emily, 10A Upper Wilkie Road)

Food Tales

HOOKED ON STARBUCKS

Starbucks being my go-to place started in Singapore when I used to live there.  An inviting and convenient place, Starbucks was a haven, offering me a refuge from the ugliness of the world, people’s prejudiced notions of people, and simple weariness. On a more mundane note, I got hooked on the offerings of beverage and pastries which were something I looked forward to seeing because there was always something new on the menu wherever you were in the world – Los Angeles, Singapore, Manila or Indonesia.

Trooping down to my usual Starbucks haunts in Bekasi, Indonesia, either at Metropolitan Mall or Grand Metropolitan, they started the first month of 2019 with a roster of new drinks – a Caramel series – and a delectable pastry cup. Having weaned myself from coffee, it would seem that I would have to give the new Caramel Pudding Frappuccino, Caramel Pudding  Macchiato, and Caramel Pudding Matcha Latte a miss until I was told that the Caramel Pudding Matcha Latte was a non-coffee drink, and that she, the barista, could bring the sweetness a notch lower. Green tea is really versatile, blending well with almost any ingredient. The melding of the matcha with the caramel pudding was simply superb – it was smooth and balanced on the palate. It is best sipped cold, I say.

caramel pudding matcha latte by starbucks
the new Caramel Pudding Matcha latte by Starbucks

The pastry display was looking a bit nondescript having grown tired of the usual chocolate croissant, dark chocolate cake, and the triple chocolate muffin. I wasn’t keen on the pandan sponge cake or the lamington. But surprise, surprise! The Raspberry Trifle Cup seemed to be doing a jig to get my attention. It got me at trifle – a sponge cake with jelly, custard and whipped cream. In Starbucks’ version, the vanilla sponge cake was cut into cubes and placed in a bed of raspberry puree then swirled with whipped cream. The final touch was a topping of crumbed chocolate chip cookie. It is best eaten chilled; make sure you slide the spoon all the way down to the raspberry for that complete sweet, fruity, and creamy bite.

raspberry trifle cup 3
a new pastry – Raspberry Trifle Cup by Starbucks
raspberry trifle cup
Dig in!

I am hooked on these new Starbucks treats and wondering what and when they will roll out the new treats.

Food Tales

BOBA FIX

Chatime was the undisputed milk tea place to get your boba fix in Bekasi, Indonesia. It is boba for the Americans and ilk while it is pearl for the general Asian market. For the Filipinos specifically, it is called sago. Whatever term is used, it refers to those dark gelatinous tapioca balls that add the chewiness while sipping the milk tea. Lately, a smaller, lighter colour version – more golden brown – was introduced by Chatime which they call golden pearl.

The only Chatime outlet then at Bekasi was at Metropolitan Mall, 25-year old mall, with its counter-bar located next to Ace Hardware. It was an instant favourite among the young and old. There are now at least four branches of Chatime, each found in the popular malls around Bekasi. Chatime is also mobile, participating in, for example, Fortals, the annual school concert of Global Prestasi School, with a pop-up tent. The catch though is that the drinks are pre-mixed so you cannot adjust the sugar and ice levels. Through the years, Chatime adds seasonal flavours to their menu such as a fruit series and, my favourite, Thai milk tea which was sold last year. This January Chatime is courting their regular and potential customers with their new mousse series – black tea, chocolate, and matcha. Ordering my regular no sugar-no-ice pearl milk tea at Chatime was a bit of a challenge for the crew and me because my Indonesian was far from smooth and their English was spotty, but we managed. They are patient.  Meanwhile, the staff at KOI take to English like fish to water.

Chatime grand metropolitan mall
the newly renovated Chatime outlet at Grand Metropolitan Mall
Chatime milk tea
regular size no-sugar-no-ice Chatime milk tea

Now, Chatime is in for some competition for star of the milk tea stage. Sometime last year, amidst the closing of old stores and opening of new ones at Metropolitan Mall, KOI Cafe opened claiming the old spot on the second floor of the first Starbucks that opened in Bekasi which had moved to the ground floor of the mall. Its name doesn’t scream milk tea – more like those orange-gold fish – unlike its rival but it is a milk tea place that is also serves foam coffee, milk tea, and tea with cream.

KOI Cafe metropolitan mall
the KOI Cafe at Metropolitan Mall
KOI golden milk tea
medium size no-sugar-no-ice KOI golden milk tea

With two places to get my boba fix, my mood dictates where to head when I am hit by a wave of boba craving. If I am not enervated, I bound up to the second floor for KOI and its smooth, silk-like texture sans the caramel aftertaste, and lighter feel on the tummy. KOI has the no sugar-no ice option for all its drinks like Chatime, but its boba is the golden one unlike Chatime which is a seasonal offer. Another push-factor is the place to sit. Given that KOI is has Starbucks’ floor plan, KOI utilized it to their advantage, taking the furniture game a notch higher by providing long sofas along with the usual chairs done in elegant ebony. Chatime at the basement of Grand Metropolitan renovated their spot to include a couple of chairs and tables, but it is not suitable, unlike KOI, for quality reading or getting some work done. The only problem I find with KOI is the serving size; they only have small and medium and the small size is smaller than Chatime’s regular size cup which, at times, is around three to four sips short of satisfying the boba craving.

Chatime or KOI? What is your mood? Settle that question and then go get your bubble tea.

 

Chatime: starts at Rp21, 000 (regular cup)

KOI: starts at Rp20, 000 (small cup)

Here & There

MARY GRACE’S TALKING POINTS

Looking up is not something I normally do. My eyes, if I am not reading while walking, are always glued to the floor. It is a habit that I never really noticed until someone jokingly asked if I was looking for something on the ground because I was intently looking at it. I missed the joke he was referring to. On the very rare times I look up, I am astonished at what I see: the modernized sign of Metropolitan Mall shopping mall, the beautiful clouds swirling against a blue backdrop in Manila or Bali, or the eye-catching architecture of the buildings in Jakarta.

Looking up is still an intermittent habit, but when I was in Makati lunching with my uncle, I discovered something aesthetically pleasing at Mary Grace’s when I looked up. The usual talking points of Mary Grace are its ensaymada and cheese roll which gives popular Goldilocks very stiff competition particularly in the ensaymada division. Mary Grace’s soft ensaymada bucked the trend of the traditionally swirl shape and instead came up with a soft bun-like shape smothered in butter, sprinkled with white sugar, and topped with grated cheese (it tastes like queso de bola). It still stays soft even after being refrigerated. Its cheese roll is similarly soft; the rectangular bread, wrapped in white sugar, hugs this smooth, forefinger-long block of mild cheese. Another, in my mother’s book, is its boneless bangus (milkfish) rice topped with egg served with ensalada and vinegar dip. For a former student, it is the smoked salmon pasta, which she says is creamy.

I am adding to the list of Mary Grace’s talking points: its ceiling decor. Inside, it is an eclectic art installation of metal birds fluttering in mid-air, capiz lamps, antique lamps, and glass bottles. Staring at it from my sofa-chair, I marvelled at how the objects were arranged in a seemingly abstract way that you inadvertently look for a pattern to follow in deciphering the whole design. The view mid-way up the stairs to the second floor of Mary Grace becomes even more fascinating with the restaurant’s lights bouncing off from one object to another that the whole design looked like it was glowing.

ceiling decor _ view from staircase of Mary Grace
a closer look at the ceiling decor at Mary Grace

Switching my gaze from the ceiling to my right side, through the painted swirls on the glass wall, my gaze fell on an enormous capiz chandelier in its al fresco section that would, without a doubt, be breath-taking at night. I have always been fascinated with anything capiz – it shouts elegance and craftsmanship – especially when they are lit from inside like a table lamp, a parol (Christmas star decor in Filipino), or chandelier.

capiz chandelier
view from outside of the capiz chandelier at Mary Grace

Sub-talking points on both the metal installation and capiz chandelier can include, after the more sublime points, for instance, where it was made, who cleans it and when, and how many bulbs are used, not to forget the usual talking points of ensaymada, cheese roll, bangus, and the creamy smoked salmon pasta.

Food Tales

ICE-CREAM KISSES

It was intriguing. Who would dare sell it in the Philippines? I am talking about kisses because kisses were what zipped through my mind when I saw the banners fluttering along the drop-off point at Greenbelt 3. I didn’t see the phrase after XOXO until I saw a poster at one of the entrances to the shopping complex. The ads were not referring to smooches, but XOXO handcrafted ice cream, which had been serving cups of ice cream rolls since November 23 on the third floor of Greenbelt 3. Standing right in front of the cinemas, its black and white colours wave at you, beckoning you to try a cup of ice cream which is hand rolled on the spot. The concept, I learnt from one of the amiable trio on duty, came from Bali; the business enterprise is owned by a New Zealander and an Australian, partnering up with a Filipino for their venture in Makati. Discovery 2: the Filipino owner – a part owner, she says – is one of the crew I met that January, who learnt the craft in Bali, “chopping” and “rolling” for four days while squeezing in strolls around Kuta and its famed beach. Discovery 3: the crew is trained to be a little more bonhomous than usual, and advised to replicate what is done in Bali. Picture the crew calling out to passers-by urging them to have a cup of XOXO, asking for their names, and engaging them in chit-chat. The Greenbelt crew, the part owner shared, were a little shy, prevailed upon by Filipino culture never to really engage strangers in a conversation much more call them by their first names. Filipinos are generally trained to address people – strangers and whatnot – as Sir or Ma’am punctuated by “po“, which is short for opo, a Filipino word uttered at the end to signify respect.

XOXO booth
XOXO ice cream booth

XOXO’s ingredients are the same as the ones used in Bali – no cost cutting by finding a cheaper substitute. For now, XOXO ice cream can only be eaten from cups, but they are working on getting their waffles cones out soon. Also in the pipeline is the third outlet at BGC; a second one is already serving the delectable ice cream at NAIA Terminal 3.

I am what I yam
Care for purple ice cream? Try the I am what I yam.
prepping the I am what I yam
prepping the I am what I yam

There are 12 flavours to choose from, each one creatively titled and presented. All the flavours are the same as in Bali except for three which are Filipino-centric. The first is Mabuhay, an homage to the Philippines’ halo-halo, a snack or dessert of shaved ice and a hodgepodge of sweet local ingredients that include fruits and sweet preserves topped with a dollop of yam paste and a cube of flan, and swirled with evaporated milk. Next is “I am what I yam’, a tribute to the halayang ube, or boiled purple yam that’s mashed and mixed with condensed milk, sugar, and butter, that can be eaten on its own or paired with something like halo-halo. The last is “Manny’s Fruit Punch”, an ice cream concoction named after boxer and politician Manny Pacquiao. For the curious, the concoction “The Godfather”, a chocolate concoction smothered in crushed Maltesers, milk chocolate chips, and chocolate biscuit Tim Tam, is the most popular choice among their customers.

prepping the godfather
a few more minutes and The Godfather will be ready

Stoked to try the ice cream, I went for “La Land”, a gluten-free cup of white chocolate ice cream with white chocolate chips, and drizzled with salted caramel on my first visit with a friend. It was smooth and packed tremendous flavours, but sans that saccharine sweetness and heaviness on the tummy. My friend, Joy, chose “Matcha Lychee”, a cup of gluten-free green tea ice cream topped with mochi and drizzled with chocolate sauce. She was in seventh heaven. One visit was not enough. My second visit was with my Uncle Ric right after our lunch. We decided to share a cup of “I am what I yam”, yam ice cream topped with yam mochi and ube wafer sticks, and sprinkled with ube bits. It is a Filipino thing – your life wouldn’t be complete without ube in any of its reincarnation.

hand rolled on the spot
Hand rolled on the spot – presenting La la Land
La la land
Dig into La la Land!
Matcha Lychee
for something with a Japanese taste – Matcha Lychee

For P195 a cup, believe me when I say XOXO hand crafted ice cream is better than any kiss from a former lover.

with XOXO crew
Sharing the ice-cream goodness with the XOXO trio