Griffin's Cookie Bear Biscuits

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My daughter Ada has the knack for spotting new items to buy at the supermarket. She spotted the Griffin's Cookie Bear probably the first time it was displayed in the grocery store we go to every week. It was expected especially with it's eye-catching packaging. So guess what?  We ended up buying the three variants to satisfy her curiosity (as well as ours) of what makes this different from the others. 


Cookie Bear

Before we talk about the biscuits, let's get to know some facts about the brand. Cookie Bear, also known as CB, is a popular character in New Zealand. It was originally associated with Hudson's which eventually became known as Griffins biscuits. The early advertisements actually featured a man dressed in bear suit, depicted as a lover of biscuits, proclaiming that Hudson's brand was the best. The Cookie Bear character became immediately popular and was heavily used in advertisements.


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Griffin's Foods was founded in 1864 in New Zealand but acquired the rights to Cookie Bear when it bought Hudson's in 1989. In 1990, Danone acquired Griffin's who in turn divested it to Pacific Equity Partners in 2006. Universal Robina acquired Griffin's in 2014 and announced  that it is expanding the Griffin's brand to the Southeast Asian market starting with the Philippines. That is essentially why these well-loved biscuits are now a familiar sight in local supermarkets and grocery stores.

We saw three variants of the Griffin's Cookie Bear available which we tried in three consecutive days: 

Griffin's Cookie Bear Chocolate Milky Bears

These bear-shaped chocolate milky biscuits are too cute to eat. Since they look so delicious, we cannot resist. My children chose to dunk it in cold milk and obviously enjoyed it. It was actually a perfect choice for a warm day.


Griffin's Cookie Bear Hundreds and Thousands (Pink)

These milk cookies with pink icing and party sprinkles really taste good. My daughter wants to have these available in our home the next time she has friends visiting her. Seeing how attractive they are, I'm not surprised.


Griffin's Cookie Bear Hundreds and Thousands (Chocolate)

These milk cookies dipped in chocolate with sprinkles is equally delicious with the first two. We ate these on a cold rainy day with hot cocoa. It was a feel-good overload of chocolate goodness and contentment.


All these variants are made with real New Zealand milk. As of this writing, we have already spotted other Griffin's Cookie Bear choices. I'm sure we will be trying them as well soon. 

PHOntastic Gastronomic Experience from Annam Noodle Bar

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Our family is always on the lookout for good food. As much as possible, we make it a point to cap any family activity with a satisfying meal. Last Saturday was a little different. We actually started our day with a great food experience at Annam Noodle Bar - a restaurant that specializes in Vietnamese street food with a modern twist.



This is actually our family's first try of Vietnamese food. That is why we allowed ourselves to be guided on our food choices according to which are the best-selling. Feast your eyes on the food items we tasted for this adventure.

Appetizers

Appetizer choices are seen under the menu category "Small Plates". Price ranges from PHP 130 to PHP 250. 

Choices include:

Prawn and Sesame Crackers 
Vegetarian Southern Rolls, Fresh Herbs, Peanut Sauce
Green Papaya Salad, Beef Jerky, Fresh Herbs, Peanuts
Mekong Prawn Rolls
Crispy Imperial Rolls
Crispy Squid, Sriracha Mayonnaise

and our orders for the day

The best seller Fresh Southern Rolls with Prawn, Pork, Fresh Herbs, Peanut Sauce



and the Caramelized Chicken Wings, Shrimp Paste



The fresh rolls were gone in a flash. It gave a fitting intro to the freshness of ingredients used in every viand served throughout the meal. The sweet tangy flavor of the chicken wings as expected, was a big hit for my children.

Beverage

My wife and I chose the much recommended Lemongrass-Ginger Iced Tea for our beverage. It was refreshingly cool and light. It was the perfect partner for the food we are eating.



My children opted to drink the Lychee-Pandan Iced Tea. This is a very good choice for the kids. The presentation literally includes pandan leaves and lychee pieces.



Banh Mi

These are toasted baguettes stuffed with savory meats, chicken pate, mayonnaise, hot chili peppers, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumber, and fresh cilantro. Price ranges from PHP 230- 250. 

Banh Mi choices include:

Sauteed Lemongrass Pork, Cream Cheese
Caramelized 5-Spice Pork Belly
Fried Catfish with Spices
Chili Sambal Braised Beef 

and our orders 

Chili-Lemongrass Chicken, Egg Omelette, Chicken Floss



and the vegetarian version which is the Lemongrass Tofu, Egg Omelette, Braised Mushrooms



An order of banh mi can satifyingly serve 2. Every bite produces an interesting mix of the crunchy baguette, full flavor of the meat, and again the freshness of vegetables and herbs. 

Hanoi Pho

Hanoi Pho is easily the star of Annam Noodle Bar's menu. Hanoi is considered the birthplace of Vietnamese Pho which is a bowl of rice flour noodles with intense broth boiled over 24 hours, garnished with fresh herbs and spring onions. Price ranges from PHP 270-550.

You can choose among these choices:

Pho Australian Beef Steal Slices
Pho Vegetarian
Pho Australian Oxtail and Beef Balls
Pho Australian Wagyu Beef Slices

and what we ordered which are

Pho Australian Beef Combination




and the Pho Chicken



Annam Noodle Bar is certainly not exaggerating with its claim for a full-flavored pho (pronounced as "fuh"), minus the use of MSG. The rice noodles which are made in Singapore, are imported to maintain consistency. The pho is served in an extra big bowl which can serve 4 people.

Other Noodles

Annam Noodle Bar also offers other classic Vietnamese noodles recipes from Southern and Central Vietnam. These can either be served dry or with soup. Price ranges from PHP 320-380.

Here are the choices:

Spicy Braised Beef, Beef Balls Noodle
Spicy Hue Australian Beef Noodle
Saigon Fisherman;s Noodle Soup
Sauteed Lemongrass Pork Noodle
Quang Style Egg Noodle

and our order

Spicy Minced Pork, Pork Balls Noodle



This noodle dish is delightfully spicy. It is by itself filling for a customer dining alone and complete as it is served with soup. In hindsight, we would have preferred to order two dry noodle dishes instead of the pho as we didn't realize that one order of pho is more than enough for the four of us.

Viet Desserts

My children's choice for dessert was the Hanoi Hannah Sundae made up of mint choco vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. We were informed that their ice cream is specifically made for them. 

Other possible choices include:

Chilled Dried Longan, Lotus Seeds, Water Chestnut, Seaweed Dessert
Chilled 3 Colour Dessert
Crispy Fried Banana, Coconut Sauce
Saigon Sally Sundae




My wife and I chose to finish off our meal with the Viet coffee with condensed milk. The milk provides the right contrast to the perfectly brewed Viet coffee. Annam sells 3-in-1 coffee which comes in boxes of 22 sachets for those who would like to bring this excellent coffee taste.



Before we knew it, we were finished.




Our Verdict

From a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest, here is our verdict:

Flavor: 5
Price:  4
Ambiance: 5
Service: 4
Satiety: 5

1. The freshness of ingredients is a standout feature of all food offering. Immediate consumption is advisable to fully appreciate this advantage. Resistance to vegetables and herbs is decreased among kids due to the manner of presentation. 

2. While the lack of rice offering may make customers think that may not get fully satisfied with the meal,we can attest to the fact that the combination of the pho and banh mi is more than enough to serve as full meal. 

3. Food prices present value for money considering the food flavor, level of service, and relaxing ambiance that is conducive to eating.

4. Having only one branch can be a limitation especially for Vietnamese food lovers who live or work very far form the Eastwood City area. The good news is that the next branch is currently on the works.

5. Annam Noodle Bar does not claim to offer authentic traditional dishes but rather what it calls as trendy Vietnamese cuisine. It has repackaged old-world Vietnamese street food with a modern twist.




Will we visit them again? Sure we will, so we can try the other dishes until we have tried them all. It was truly a PHOntastic gastronomic experience for the whole family.

Check out the Annam Noodle Bar Facebook Page to get updates on their latest promos. 

Scooping Happiness at Baskin-Robbins Bonifacio High Street

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To say that our family are certified ice cream lovers is an understatement. Eating ice cream is one of our simple sources of happiness. When we heard that Baskin-Robbins is scooping happiness via its newest branch at Bonifacio High Street, there was definitely nothing that could keep us from being part of the event.




Baskin-Robbins Bonifacio High Street

We were informed that this is the 14th branch of Baskin-Robbins to open in the Philippines. This ice cream specialty shop serves not only premium hard scoop ice cream but also customized ice cream cakes and a full range of frozen beverages. Clearly, this is every ice cream lover's piece of heaven on earth.



It seeks to serve its customers with an extensive flavor variety that you can actually enjoy a different flavor each day for 1 whole month without repeating a flavor. Since presentation also matters as much as the flavor, Baskin-Robbins ice cream treats are definitely exciting. The ice cream cakes come in a variety of designs and sizes which is just perfect for celebrating any occasion like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, weddings, graduations, or simply the need to satisfy ice cream cravings.





Store Opening Activities

When a new Baskin-Robbins store opens, the public can expect to be treated to fun and special promos. That is exactly what happened last October 1st. Guests and customers got to sample the awesome range of flavors for just PHP 31 per scoop. 





Not surprisingly, many customers lined up to avail of the promo. There was also the face painting booth for children, meet-and-greet opportunity with the Baskin-Robbins mascot, and a dance performance from the UP Dance Company. Of course, who can ignore the "Waffle Wonderland" where guests can customize their waffles in various shapes and colors and the "Fundae Sundae" booth designed for pure ice cream indulgence?



It was a fun afternoon for the whole family. Not only were we able to spend time together, we were also able to enjoy excellent ice cream. Even before we left, my son was obviously thinking of what flavor he will try on our next visit.


My children found this photo in the Baskin-Robbins Facebook Page which just left them wanting for more. 


If you still haven't, you've got to try it!