The City of Dreams Manila is helping elevate Filipino food to a new audience

… since the opening of the City of Dreams in December 2014 by the famous Melco Crown Group, authentic and contemporary Filipino food has been given a new platform whereby international travelers will be able to sample the best Filipino dishes in the five-star casino resort.
The casino and resort is a multi-purpose site, which has gained worldwide acclaim for its variety of live entertainment, huge gaming floors that even include and the aforementioned slew of popular high-end Filipino restaurants. The City of Dreams is also full of retail shops and purpose built concert halls.
But, for us foodies, it’s the restaurants that prick our ears.
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Christmas in Paris: A somber look at its darkest day since World War II

On Christmas morning, I threw myself into France’s deadliest day since World War II. I hate to call it a “Ghoul Tour.” They do those in Hollywood. However, they’re distant, isolated incidents tied together by the vague concept of fame. Seeing where actors and rock stars overdose is not the same as seeing where a student was gunned down while watching a concert or an ad executive was shot to death before she finished her glass of Bordeaux at a sidewalk cafe.
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Christmas in Rome: Lighter on the lights but heavy on the meaning

Christmas in Rome is one of my favorite times of year. Keep in mind, my nearest family member is 8,000 miles away. I have no family ties. I have no religious ties. It also isn’t because this is the slowest month for tourism in Rome and I love the emptier streets and seats on public transportation. I can’t remember the last time I saw a tourist in a white fedora walk bewildered onto a bus with a map in his hand.
It’s because Rome has a much subtler approach to Christmas. Christmas here has meaning. It goes beyond the dollars people make and the gifts people receive. It goes back to Christmas’ roots, where the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated and not the birth of iPhone 7.
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Roman waiters’ service puts their American counterparts to shame

Let me tell you how to wait a table. It is courtesy of one Marco Uras, a terrific veteran waiter at Mamma Venerina, one of my favorite restaurants in my old neighborhood, Prati, near the Vatican. Uras has been a waiter for 30 years dating back to his childhood home in Sardinia. Uras represents what restaurant wait service in Rome is all about. Respect. Professionalism. Efficiency. Kindness. Patience.

This is what restaurant wait service in the U.S. is all about: tips, overbearingness, tips, questions, impatience and more tips.
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Jubilee year off to slow start in Rome, allegedly near top of Isis’ hit list

I wanted to see how Rome handled security. Ever since the Paris attacks, I’d seen camouflaged soldiers carrying machine guns in subway stations. Police cars clogged busy street corners. Every government building had extra security.
So I took a bus across the Tiber River to Prati, my old neighborhood near the Vatican. I walked down Via Porta Angelica, one of the main tourist thoroughfares into St. Peter’s Square. An army truck with armed soldiers manned one corner. Dozens of men and women wearing green neon and navy coats with “Protezione Civile Volontariato” stood on the street. A Red Cross truck and a bevy of medics in red and white outfits stood outside the Vatican wall, as if ready to move at the first sound of a bomb or the first view of a flying body part.
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Baker’s Tomb one of Rome’s many ancient historical secrets

His name was Marcus Vergilius Eurysaces. He was a Greek slave who, when freed, could continue his profession as a baker but could not earn Roman citizenship until …

… he baked 100 bushels of bread a day — single handedly. Furthermore, he had to sell the bread to the state, at a larcenously low price, for at least three years. Yes, in many ways, Ancient Romans were complete unadulterated swine.
Eurysaces kneaded and baked, baked and kneaded. Soon, he found himself with Roman citizenship and a thriving bakery. Bread was a valuable foodstuff in Ancient Rome and by 30 B.C., Eurysaces had become one of the top bakers in town. He became rich. So, matching some of the egos in the Roman Senate, he purchased a plot of land near one of the main gates of Rome. Why?

So he could build himself his own tomb.
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Tombs of Via Latina a once beaten path now lined with the dead of Ancient Rome

I walked down a 5,000-year-old street Sunday. Some roads in Rome look that old, but Via Latina really is 5,000 years old. Roman armies once marched down Via Latina toward Southern Italy. How old is Via Latina? You know Via Appia Antica, the famed street where Spartacus’ ill-fated slave revolt ended with his slaves hanging from crosses along the side of the road? Via Latina is older.
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As world continues to crumble, tiny Sermoneta serves as a quiet respite

Saturday I went to Sermoneta. Sermoneta is a medieval village atop a cliff more than 1,000 feet above an agricultural area, one of Benito Mussolini’s more successful projects from the 1930s. About 55 miles south of Rome and reachable by bus from the EUR Fermi Metro stop, Sermoneta has about 600 people, none of whom apparently has a car. I didn’t dodge any along the one narrow, cobblestone road. The rest of the village consists of windy, twisting alleys lined with pots blooming with red, yellow, purple and orange flowers. Even on an overcast day, the town burst with colors.
The village is as quiet as an outdoor abbey.
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Rome’s SuperCat Show shows a city’s love for their furry citizens

On Halloween night, the city of Rome put on its 16th annual SuperCat Show for all its cat aficionados. I could tell the popularity of cats here just by the venue. It was held at Nuova Fiera di Roma near Fiumicino, the coastal town that has Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport. Looking at the size of Fiera di Roma’s exhibition hall, I’m assuming when it doesn’t host cat shows it doubles as an airplane hangar. It was 50 meters long and nearly 108,000 square feet. In it were 800 cats, of which which were expected to be perused, petted and photographed over two days by about 30,000 people.
If you heard a giant “AHHHHHH!” coming from the direction of Italy about 10 days ago, that was us.
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Scambios are ideal way to learn Italian — but careful how you say it

I was having a scambio. It is great way to learn a language. It’s educational, fun and free. Scambio is Italian for “exchange.” I meet an Italian who wants to learn English. We talk Italian for an hour and then English for an hour and correct each other along the way. However, one of my first language lessons in Rome was how to ask for said language lesson. Technically, scambio in Italian vernacular usually refers to a sexual swap. I tried calling it a scambio di lingua but while lingua means “language,” it also means “tongue.” That became problematic — and a bit dangerous — when asking Italian women. While I still had my front teeth, I was told the accurate term is scambio linguistica.
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