First Pick & Gold

Nescafe's choicest
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte


Nescafe Gold is the gold standard in coffee. Thus, it only follows that it spearheads a prestigious awards program that recognizes the best dining places in Metro Manila: the Gold Spot Awards (GSA).
The GSA is a partnership between Nescafe Gold, a brand devoted to excellent taste, and SPOT.ph, Manila's go-to guide for where to go, what to do, what to see, and what to eat.
“The 2010 awards season will be much grander in scale than last year. Nescafe Gold is our growing premier brand and our very own Web site, www.amore.com.ph, will be relaunched this April to reflect the transition of its upgrade. 2011 is our Year of Gold so expect the next awards season to be not just grander but also much wider in scope,” revealed Logan O'Brien, who holds concurrent positions as Asst. VP and consumer marketing manager of Nestle Phils.' coffee business unit, makers of Nescafe.
The GSA is simultaneously a chance for gourmands to honor their favorite restaurants and food-stops as well as a chance for gourmets to discover new places for pure dining pleasure. By highlighting the top dining places in the metro through an on-line nomination process done by the public, the GSA helps people have an easier time in choosing their ideal food destinations and at the same time give them a free hand in selecting which restaurant deserves the nod.
“Nescafe Gold Spot Awards has positioned itself as a prestigious award-giving body that not only highlights the best restaurants in the metro but also empowers the public to have a hand in recognizing these dining places for their quality of service and food they serve,” says Spot.ph editor-in-chief Mirza Sison.
Thirteen establishments were recognized as Manila's best spots in their respective categories in the recently concluded awarding ceremonies at the Encore inside Fort Strip's complex.
Makati Shangri-La's fine dining outlets Inagiku and Shang Palace were named Best Japanese and Best Chinese respectively, while sister hotel Edsa Shangri-La's fine-dining restaurant Paparazzi was named Best Italian. LJC Group's Abe was named Best Filipino while Discovery Suites' 22 Prime won as Best Steakhouse.
The other awardees were Cupcakes by Sonja (Best Dessert Place), Santi's (Best Delicatessen), Cav Wine Bar & Bistro (Best Wine) and Cibo Nuovo (Best Service).
This year's awards include four new categories - Best Buffet (Sofitel's Spiral), Best Restaurant Chain (Cibo), New Restaurant of the Year (Lusso) and Restaurant of the Year - promising an even more interesting competition.
The Restaurant of the Year Award was particularly coveted as, potentially, thousands of restaurants within the metro competed for this plum prize. The award offers the winning dining spot the kind of prestige that makes it stand in a class all its own. True enough, the winner is my favorite restaurant, Lolo Dad's. This unassuming food spot is a block away from the Qurino LRT-1 line; though said proximity to the train station has nothing to do with why it's my favorite.
Once the ancestral home of “Lolo Dad” Conrado Ayuyao, the restaurant opened in 2000 with chef Ariel Manuel, Carmina Ayuyao-Manuel and Christopher Ayuyao at the helm. The house-turned-resto is rife with history; its wooden walls still bearing bullet holes from World War II.
The restaurant's menu is filled with a number of Lolo Dad's favorite dishes, though it has come to be best known for its Pan-fried Foie Gras, which is one of Chef Manuel's favorites, as well as the Herb de Provence-crusted Rack of Lamb and Chilean Sea Bass; the latter dish at the very top of my short list of fave dishes.
With the 13 award categories, the GSA is like a virtual tour of the finest dining destinations in the metro.
The GSA panel of judges (composed of respected food writers, industry insiders and restaurant professionals) are tasked to create a short list of five restaurants per category, drawn from restaurants submitted and voted into the Master List by the SPOT.ph community. Finally, the SPOT.ph community will once again cast their votes and select which among the short-listed restaurants meet the Gold Standard.
“With the help of our expert panel of judges and Spot.ph's loyal readers, we are looking forward to an exciting new line-up of the best dining spots in the city through what we're aiming to make the gold standard in restaurant awards,” added Sison.
To vote for your choices to be considered in next year's awards, simply log-on to www.spot.ph/goldspot and register. The 3rd Nescafe Gold Spot Awards promises to give a bigger and grander competition in 2011.
And for over forty years now, Nescafe has been supporting the livelihood of more than 30,000 Filipino coffee farmers through programs and platforms that help improve their yield and income. This year, Nescafe, through its special limited edition brand Classic First Pick, allows consumers to take part in the initiative “Adopt-A-'Lil-Beanie.”
By keying-in the 'Lil Beanie code found on every jar of Classic First Pick through a Web site (www.nescafe.com.ph/firstpick), consumers can adopt a virtual coffee seedling known as a 'Lil Beanie' and plant it in a virtual coffee farm. For unique code keyed in, Nescafe will give actual coffee seedlings to a local farming community on their behalf.
It is a simple, yet, special way of giving back to the coffee farmers who have worked hard to produce the delicious and aromatic coffee blend that consumers savor everyday. What's more, the Web site also allows consumers to get to know the farmers who planted and harvested their coffee from the Classic First Pick jar code exchange. They could also discover more about how Nescafe is helping improve the livelihood of 30,000 Filipino farmers and their families as well as learn more insightful facts about coffee.
Nescafe Classic First Pick is made from coffee berries handpicked with care by Filipino farmers during the beginning of the harvest season. The beans are then roasted to a deep, dark color for a unique and flavorful intense cup.
To know more about Nescafe Classic First Pick and this initiative program, call the Nestle Consumer Care Hotline 898-0061 or visit www.nescafe.com.ph/firstpick.

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