Grace Park opens at One Rockwell
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Margarita Forés has a new baby—and it’s a not a new sibling for Amado.
A couple of years ago, when I heard Margarita was planning a new restaurant called Grace Park, my first thought was, I’m in.
Grace Park reminds me of something kitschy like Caloocan or a Korean student in Harvard Law School.
It turns out Grace Park refers to her paternal grandmother’s place in the former Elpo compound.

Grace Park
Work in progress: Grace Park at One Rockwell

Trivia: Elpo is a defunct brand of rubber shoes which belonged to Margarita’s family.
Short for El Porvenir, which means “the future,” it opened for business in 1933 and was popular for decades.
Back in the day, the impressive Elpo Compound covered two blocks on the 2nd and 3rd Avenues of Grace Park, Caloocan City.

Elpo shoes ad

In 2010, when Margarita brought her son Amado to study in the U.S. they took time out to dine in farm-to-table restaurants such as ABC Kitchen, Vinegar Hill House, and Joseph Leonard, where they came to know healthy, rustic food without much styling.
Her interest in organic and healing foods began when she battled and beat thyroid cancer in 2006.
Today she takes a glass of green juice every morning and looked ten years younger when I interviewed her last Friday.
This sensibility is reflected in Grace Park’s menu, offering organic juices, salads, and vegetables produced by local farmers.
The computer-printed menu, mounted on recycled corrugated board, was designed to change every two weeks—it all depends on what suppliers are offering.

Grace Park

We talked over a huge Grace Park OMG Burger, which I ate in layers.
I started with the top bun of delicious tiger bread. Underneath, bits of organic bacon over cheese and two beef patties, plus a side of salad, and chunky home fries.

Grace Park

On Sunday night I was back again with my family. I had the bone-in tenderloin with garlic buttered rice.
I don’t know what it is with Margarita’s steak and rice—I feel like Homer Simpson (bottomless pit).
This food makes me happy.

Bone-in tenderloin, Grace Park

My sister had the River Prawns in Anchovy Butter. It’s my first time to see prawns with massive heads, which should be great if you love prawn heads (read: bitin!).


Leave room for desserts developed by Margarita’s partner, Alvin Lim, such as the Key Lime pie and his famous cassava.


For starters, try Panzerotti, Mozzarella, Mortadella


The two-level loft was designed by Margarita with her cousin Jorge Yulo, who does her restaurants.
They made use of unfinished ceilings, unpainted walls, distressed floor planks, iron barricades, and gold-leafed bricks salvaged from old houses.

Grace Park
Grace Park
Grace Park

She keeps it sustainable by recycling old tables and chairs and bringing out the mismatched utensils, plates, and glasses from segunda mano sources.

Grace Park
Table setting

Don’t be surprised if they serve the fish straight on the frying pan.


Even the toilet is a surprise. (It also smells good.)

Grace Park

Soft-opened last March 21, 2013, Grace Park is still a work in progress.
The menu and interiors are still changing. Credit card payments are being fixed—so please bring cash.
The most expensive thing was probably the bone-in tenderloin I ordered. But everything else looks reasonable.

Grace Park is at One Rockwell, Rockwell Drive, Rockwell Center Makati
Open 11 AM to 3 PM and 6 PM to 10 PM
Best to reserve. Pending PLDT and SMART connections*, guests can reserve via (0917) 513-8945.
To know more, go to Grace Park on Facebook.

*SMART: (0939)-93-GRACE • PLDT: 843-PARK (7275)

Trip to Solaire, Part 2
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Aside from all the new restaurants plus a newly opened food court serving affordable fast meals, Solaire also has 488 hotel rooms (deluxe and grand deluxe rooms, suites) and bayside villas.
The reception counter is located inside the bustling lobby.


Nothing like a brand new hotel room, you can lie down on the carpet

Solaire Resort and Casino Manila

Bathrooms the way we like it—clean, simple, modern

Solaire Resort and Casino Manila

Let’s not forget what’s in the heart of Solaire—the casino.
Solaire Club offers high-limit tables and slots for VIPs who want to play big and win bigger.

Solaire Club

Photos were taken pre-opening. It was pretty busy the night we were there

Solaire Resort & Casino Manial

As you can see, they mean business

Solaire Resort & Casino Manial

If they cut corners, it sure didn’t show

Solaire Resort & Casino Manial
Solaire Resort & Casino Manial

As for the rest of the folks, there are many gaming options

Solaire Resort and Casino Manila
Solaire Resort and Casino Manila
Solaire Resort and Casino Manila
Solaire Resort and Casino Manila

To know more about Solaire, go to

Win free stays and luggage from Rustan’s and PNB
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It’s more fun in the Philippines as Rustan’s partners with PNB in its Journey Into Summer promo.
Take home free Samsonite premium items or win free stays at some of the country’s top resorts with a minimum single-receipt purchase at participating Rustan’s stores (all Rustan’s department stores, Rustan’s Red Tag outlet store, and Rustan’s brand stores at Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila) from now until April 15, 2013.


Choose between a Samsonite foldable tote bag or duffle bag with a minimum Php 10,000 single-receipt purchase.
A minimum Php 50,000 single-receipt purchase entitles you to a Samsonite Headline 3 Backpack.
And if your single receipt purchase amounts to Php 100,000 and up, you’ll get a Samsonite Cosmolite Blue 55cm Spinner.
But if you use your PNB/Allied Bank Credit Card to purchase, you can get your Samsonite gifts for less!
Spend just Php 9,000 instead of Php 10,000, Php 45,000 instead of Php 50,000, or Php 90,000 instead of Php 100,000, to get your corresponding gift.
To redeem your Samsonite gift, present your receipt to the Concierge desk at Rustan’s department stores.
Please note that qualified purchases do not include merchandise from cosmetics, perfumeries, toiletries, SSI brands, Debenhams, Rustan’s Flower Shop, as well as purchases of Rustan’s gift certificates.

Win free stays at top resorts

From March 15 to April 30, 2013, every Php 3,000 minimum purchase at participating Rustan’s stores entitles customer to one raffle ticket.
A total of 24 winners will be drawn:

Four winners will win 3D/2N stays at El Nido Resorts
El Nido Resort

Five winners will win 3D/2N stays at The Farm at San Benito
The Farm Resort

Five winners will enjoy 3D/2N stays at Eskaya Beach Resort and Spa
Eskaya Resort

Five will win 3D/2N stays at The District Boracay
The District Resort

Another five winners will each receive a three-piece set of Samsonite luggage.

Grand raffle will be May 9, 2013 at Rustan’s department store, Makati.
Per DTI-NCR Permit No.2464 Series of 2013

Where have all the lychees gone?
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It’s been almost 1.5 years since I last had fresh lychees.
I bought these in Singapore last December 2011.

Australian lychees

They were so expensive. And perfect.

Australian lychees

Since then I’ve been searching for fresh lychees in Manila, Hong Kong and Singapore and have not found any.
I remember many years ago, Mich Dulce and I were in Hong Kong. She bought fresh lychees on the street and was savoring them in the hotel room. Now even in Hong Kong I can’t find lychees anymore.
Where have they all gone?

Health benefits of lychees:
• According to a Chinese book, the nature of the flesh of the lychee is warm and can help improve the blood.
• The Chinese believe lychee has the ability to relieve pain and shrink swollen glands.
• Studies conclude that lychee prevents the growth of cancer cells. Flavonoids found in the lychee fruit pulp were found to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and appeared to be especially effective against breast cancer.
• Lychee is a rich source of Vitamin C and can benefit those suffering from colds, fever and sore throat.

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