WATCH: #TrendingWithKelly in Bali

Bali is such a magical place. There is so much to explore and to do–watch this episode of #TrendingWithKelly to see what I did in Bali, Indonesia. ❤

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My top picks at Mika’s shopping party in Max & Co

A shopping party–what a fun way to celebrate a birthday! ❤ Mika, one of my dearest and oldest friends from the industry recently celebrated her birthday at Max & Co. (an SSI fashion brand under Max Mara) and it was super fab. Not only did we have the store to ourselves (I tried on so many great pieces), we got to drink gin cocktails while shopping!

Personally, I don’t recall shopping at Max & Co., so this was a treat to be able to check their latest collection and try on their clothes, shoes and accessories. I found some great additions to my closet–scroll down to see what I liked from Mika’s birthday shopping party.

       

Happy happy birthday, Miks (this greeting is super belated), and congrats on the relaunch of your blog!!! Visit http://www.mikaelamartinez.com to read more about this gorgeous mama’s amazing life.

What to order in Vietnamese restaurant: Nhà Em

I have to admit, I haven’t really taken the time to explore and experience Vietnamese cuisine. I mean, I have tried PHO before, but that’s about it. I cannot recall sampling any other dish–well, maybe spring rolls, but I’m not even sure if that was Vietnamese. I have heard some amazing things about their cuisine though, and I have friends who really plan trips to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh just to taste authentic Vietnamese dishes.

Of course, I was more than happy to change all that–I was so ready to get to know what this particular cuisine was all about. And like an answered prayer, the Baby Barangay was invited to NHÀ EM, which is the newest Vietnamese resto in SM Aura Premier.

Nha em actually means “my home”, and boy, did the girls and I feel at home in this lovely restaurant. The owners wanted to share the experience of dining in a countryside home in Vietnam, where meals are carefully prepared with a mother’s love. Needless to say, I was more than excited to get a taste of a yummy Vietnamese home cooked meal and I am happy to say that we got exactly that.

Their menu was so nice! It made it easy for Vietnamese cuisine newbies like myself to order and explore their different dishes. The photos were colorful and detailed–it made me hungry!

For our appetizers, we started with GÕI CUON (P220), which are fresh spring rolls. I love how huge the shrimps are, and how delicate and fresh the rolls tasted.

The CHA GIÒ (P240) though became an instant favorite. These fried spring rolls are so unique because you actually wrap the rolls in crunchy lettuce. I never thought of putting the two together, but wow–the crunchiness of the lumpia wrapper combined with the freshness of the lettuce is incredible. I could’ve finished this whole plate, but I had to make room for all the dishes we ordered.

This was an definitely an interesting dish. DĀU HU CHIÊN TRUNG MUÔI (P260) is salted egg tofu, but this version was cleaner and more refined. Of course, I am coming from all the salted egg chips I’ve tried in the past. This wasn’t as salty as those, that’s for sure, but it was pretty good.

MU’C XÀO XÃ ÓT (P325) or lemongrass squid with chili was soft, tender and tasty. I can imagine this would be perfect with rice.

BÁNH XÈO (P350) or crispy crepe was something new for me, but it was so good. I had to listen to the chef’s instructions on how to eat (pay attention so you look like an expert when you order this dish haha): (1) lay out the veggies, (2) add a cut of the Bahn Xeo, (3) top with herbs, (4) roll, dip and enjoy.

  This is the dish I am familiar with– the PHO BO (P305) or Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup is all kinds of delicious. And the best part is: you can build up the taste according to how you like it.

This was one of the highlights of the evening: TOM KHO TÀU (P550) or river prawns in roe sauce was just delightful. First off, I have never tried shrimps this huge (and I love shrimp)–it was so meaty and tasty! This is a must-try, if you haven’t already eaten this.

       It wouldn’t be an authentic Vietnamese resto without all the drinks you can order: specialty coffee, iced teas and sodas are all available!

   For dessert, we had BÁNH FLAN (P65)! This was especially yummy topped with ice (who knew)!

And lastly, we had the CHÈ DAU 3 MAU (P105) or 3-color sweet soup, which is very similar to our halo-halo.

NHA EM Vietnamese Cuisine is located at the 5th Floor of SM Aura Premier, C5 Road, 26th Street, Taguig, Metro Manila. Make a reservation by contacting this number: +63956 877 6180.

Travel Diary: 12 hours in Madrid

What do you do when you only have 12 hours in Madrid? You eat, of course!

But before we get to that, let me explain why we only had less than 24 hours in Madrid. This is so embarrassing, but well, I might as well admit it: I made the worst mistake and counted the dates wrong! So when counting the number of days per country, I didn’t include our travel time. I seriously thought we had about three days in Madrid. And when I found out about the mistake it was too late–I had already booked all our tickets and Airbnb apartments. Oh well. Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson right? And maybe not plan the entire trip myself. Anyway, we had fun and enjoyed Madrid more since we had very limited time to explore it.

So, okay, before we went off to explore the city, let me share that because of this mistake of mine, we decided to book an Airbnb flat near the airport (since our flight was early in the morning). The airport was about 40 minutes away from the city centre so we really had to make the most of this city tour. The good thing about this Airbnb was our hosts were the nicest people, and were so helpful as to where to go and what to do with our short time in Madrid. Oh, and we arrived in Madrid at 4pm, so we had to hurry!

We took an Uber to Plaza Mayor, and walked all around the city. Of course, another genius move was that I forgot to charge our camera. So I only had my iPhone to take photos with, and I couldn’t really take so many photos and videos because I had to conserve our battery to be able to get an Uber back to our Airbnb flat. These were our only photos in Madrid haha, but it was such a memorable trip because we were in a mad rush to see as many places as we could and eat as many amazing dishes as possible.

First stop: Puerta del Sol, which is one of the best known and busiest places in the city. When we went though, there wasn’t so many people. Love the gorgeous architecture.

At the public square where there was an equine statue of King Carlos III.

Pretty flowers everywhere.

These buildings are just stunning. I couldn’t help but imagine what its like to live in one of these buildings.

A few minutes walk was the Cathedral de la Almudena, which my mom wanted to see. It was well-past its closing time when we went so we didn’t see how it looked inside.

Beautiful cathedral.

That sunset was just amazing. The colors were so vibrant that day.

We were craving for CHURROS (how can we not have it while in Madrid), so we walked to find Chocolateria San Gines, which was on my Google Maps. We didn’t find it, but we found Mercado de San Miguel, which was even better!

If you want variety, and if you want to eat well, YOU HAVE TO GO HERE! Mercado de San Miguel is a covered market that was originally built in 1916. It is a gourmet tapas market, with over 30 different vendors selling a wide variety of freshly prepared tapas, hams, olives, baked goods and other amazing food. Oh, and you can totally have your beer/wine/champagne fix here!

When it Madrid. We had to have paella.

         

I am saddened by how little photos I have of this day, because we had a feast! Oh well, come to think of it we might have enjoyed more because I wasn’t so engrossed with photographing everything. But hey, we had churros! We shared eight orders between four people!!! ❤ Hope to be back soon, Madrid!

My shopping finds at All Home Daanghari

Carlos and I are doing some home improvements at the moment, so pretty much every weekend is spent in home specialty stores to seek quality home basics, like furniture, storage, fixtures, lighting and gardening items. At this point, I feel like we’ve visited every other home store out there, but I have to say, one superstore has stood out in terms of value for money, great options and variety, and plenty of space.

All Home is a massive home superstore that carries pretty much everything home-related, including food items, toys, and all kinds of home accessories. We spent more than a few hours exploring the branch in Daang Hari and came home with a very full car (we even had to load the back seats). They have everything you need and more, and their staff are very accommodating and helpful. If you are in need of bathroom fixtures, they have Japanese brand INAX, and Italian brand Iris Ceramics for your tile needs (their selection is chic and timeless)–both are exclusive to All Home.

Scroll down to see my top picks from our recent shopping trip!

                  

How this brand celebrated its 20th year in the Philippines

I can’t believe Marks & Spencer is now celebrating their 20th year in the Philippines! What a milestone! I mean, what was I doing in 1997?! Haha I think I was in second year high school at the time, and super clueless about fashion. I remember though how Marks & Spencer was all the rage (likely because it had just opened in Manila), and all the cool girls in school had Marks & Spencer underwear, socks and inner wear (we wore uniforms).

It wasn’t until I was in college and earning from my modeling stints that I did my first big purchase at Marks & Spencer, and let me tell you, I didn’t hold back. I bought the essentials, like things I basically used everyday–like underwear, socks, t-shirts, scented lotion and of course, jeans. I wanted to invest in quality, and I was right to do so because all of these lasted far longer than all the other cheap buys I made in the past. In the end I got bang for my buck, because these became closet staples that lasted for years. And since then, I always made room in my closet for Marks & Spencer.

I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic when I attended their 20th anniversary shopping party. This is a brand that saw me through my major life events–from being a student, a struggling commercial model, a fly-in model, a television host, a wife and now a mom. Marks & Spencer was with me every step of the way! I’ve got so much love for this brand.

 

At the Marks & Spencer shopping party, we were introduced to the latest technology and innovation that will be available to us soon. Amazing things like Stormwear technology, that keeps you dry as it wicks away any moisture. Cool, huh?

And we got to choose our favorite pair of jeans, and dress it up with patches and studs to customize them! Of course, there was a mini photo shoot going on, to show off the amazing fit of Marks & Spencer jeans. Patty Laurel-Filart and I gamely posed for the camera.

GUESS WHAT? To celebrate their 20th anniversary they’ll be doing monthly raffles for their loyal customers. Here we will have the chance to win an overnight stay and spa package for two at the Shangri-La at The Fort and a buffet party for 10 at High Street Café, as well as a Marks & Spencer shopping spree worth Php 50,000 (seriously). Also, another 10 customers will win Php 20,000 worth of Marks & Spencer gift vouchers. Other benefits of being a Marks & Spencer loyalty customer include birthday discounts, seasonal freebies, personalized shopping services, bonus points and more. It is nice to know Marks & Spencer loves us all back.

                 

The raffle will run until November 19, 2017. For every purchase of Php2,000.00, each loyalty member is entitled to one (1) electronic raffle coupon. One (1) winner of Php20,000.00 Marks & Spencer gift vouchers will be drawn every 20th of the month from February to November 2017.

The grand draw for all entries is scheduled for November 20, 2017. One (1) winner will win an overnight stay and spa package for two (2) at Shangri-La at The Fort with a buffet party for 10 at High Street Café, and a Marks & Spencer shopping spree worth Php50,000.00. 10 winners will be given Php20,000.00 worth of Marks & Spencer gift vouchers. Visit the nearest Marks & Spencer store to for more information.