1. Food as art, continued

    A piece of toast as Frida Kahlo. The best thing since sliced bread.


    Ida Skivenes likes to say that she eats breakfast with 200,000 people. Known as “IdaFrosk” on Instagram, the Norwegian statistician-turned-artist became Internet-famous by treating her toast as a canvas. She regularly posts overhead snaps of quirky compositions made from fruits and vegetables—her colored socks visible at the edge of the frame.

    In her Art Toast Project, she remakes iconic works such as Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Edvard Munch’s The Scream, and Frida Kahlo’s uni-browed self-portrait on pieces of sliced bread. Aside from choosing paintings that she likes, she also considers how recognizable they are and how detailed they are (the fewer details, the better). Everything gets eaten once the photograph is taken and she assures High Life that her breakfast tastes as good as it looks.

    "I’m not the first person to post food art on Instagram but I believe that my work is successful because it appeals to both kids and adults through humor and unusual imagery" she said. "A lot of the other food art out there is more one-sided, particularly the kind meant for kids’ lunch boxes."

    Her Instagram fame changed her life. She quit her desk job analyzing statistics in order to focus on her food art. She’s appeared on talk shows, delivered inspirational talks, and worked on ad campaigns. She also released a book, Eat Your Art Out, in several languages. When she enters a grocery, Ms. Skivenes sees a world of possibility. “I pay much closer attention to colors and shapes and I’m always looking for possible new ideas,” she said. “I see myself as someone who started to play with her food at the age of 28.”


  2. Food Fight!

    The costly mistakes





  3. Law and hors d’oeuvre

    Cocktail pairing. ‘People don’t drink without eating.’


    If wine is to meat and scotch is to cigars, then a cocktail is to never-ending possibility. There are no set rules when it comes to mixed drinks, which can be bitter, sweet, salty, sour, or any and all of those flavors at the same time. In a bar crawl organized by Diageo and a visit to Madison’s Bistro Moderne, bartenders and pub owners presented their approaches to creating the perfect cocktail pairing.

    Sip and munch

    Long Bar in Raffles Makati, styled after Raffles Singapore’s original bar concept, offers signature cocktails and “reinvented pub favorites.” Behind the 10-meter bar, Rian Asiddao mixes drinks and suggests suitable edibles. After pouring the Makati Luxury Sling, a blend of Tanqueray No. TEN, Grand Marnier, Benedictine, and fresh lemon, he urged a sampling of pork rinds rubbed with chili and tamarind.

    "It’s chicharon so it’s for munching. You sip and munch. Plus you don’t need vinegar because of the tamarind,” he said, adding that spicy and salty flavors blend well with the sour/bitter cocktail. Mr. Asiddao, who has competed in and won several bartending events, makes it a point to use gin. Filipinos are, after all, the top consumers of the classic English tipple. Gin is the main ingredient of Long Bar’s Manille Calamansi, a fruity concoction that goes down well with Filipino favorites like chicharon and tawilis.

    "In the Philippines, people don’t drink without eating. The food in this bar takes a bigger role than in other parts of the world," said Joern Schwaiger, director of food and beverage of Long Bar in Raffles Makati. He added, however, that the cocktail will always come first when planning the menu and not the other way around: "We make sure that the selections complement the drinks."

    European classics with a twist

    At Niner Ichi Nana, a Houdini-inspired bar at The Fort, duck is a favorite. Foie gras nuggets and duck fat fries accompanied the Drop of Life (a cocktail of guyabano and calamansi mixed with Ketel One vodka) and the Eurasian (Johnnie Walker Gold Label reserve married with smoke and a refreshing blend of chili and cucumber).

    "When people talk about gastropub food, not a lot of people understand what it truly is," said Niner Ichi Nana co-owner Erwan Heussaff. A "proper" gastropub menu isn’t a collection of international appetizers but a drastic reinterpretation of European classics. Take, for example, Niner Ichi Nana’s foie gras nuggets. No self-respecting European would ever deep-fry foie gras, but to adapt to local taste, Mr. Heussaff’s chefs do just that: after being seasoned with Kikkoman barbecue sauce and infused with pomegranate and sweet chili, the chunk of duck liver is plunged into hot oil. The result: golden foie gras nuggets with a Japanese twist. Meanwhile, duck fat is used for deep-frying Niner Ichi Nana’s fries, giving them a much crispier texture. These fatty duck-based items complement most of the cocktails, which are astringent and citrusy.

    Drinks that are on the sweet side, on the other hand, are paired with dry-preparation foods such as crisp vegetables or salads. The lesson here is that cocktail pairings must balance each other out. “If you have a complicated milky drink, you don’t want a fat-infused dish. You want something more fresh to balance things off, so you order a salad or something with cheese,” said Mr. Heussaff. “But if you have a bourbon drink, or a tart, citrusy drink, then you look for something fatty.”

    'Crazy creative'

    Over at Madison’s Bistro Moderne, executive chef Giovanni Sias has strong opinions about hors d’oeuvres and bar chow. Hors d’oeuvre are bite-sized luxuries, he explained, while bar chow—pizzas, cheese and cold cuts, sausage—are merely things that “support your stomach while drinking.” “Hors d’oeuvre is a more elaborate thing. You work on a tiny thing like this, you put three, four ingredients and decorations. It takes patience to make it nice,” he said. Trained in Bond 45 Italian Steakhouse Restaurant and the prestigious New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, Mr. Sias uses tweezers to create details so minuscule that fingertips just won’t suffice.

    In every hors d’oeuvre menu, the chef makes sure that he balances fish, meat, breaded things, fried things. Dreaming up the particulars is a “crazy creative” exercise: “Doing the same thing is boring,” said Mr. Sias, who has stuffed squid with chorizo and put together a basil panna cotta with tomato sauce. At a competition, he presented a tomato Genoese with eggplant parfait with the intent of creating something so mind-blowing that judges would call him crazy. The parfait was mind-blowing enough to win silver. Until rules are written, bartenders and chefs have the grand opportunity to experiment and go crazy with cocktail pairings.


    Every year, the Diageo Reserve World Class Bartender of the Year is chosen among world class bartenders from all over the world, including the Philippines. This year, Great Britain played host to the 2014 Global Final from July 28 to August 1. Visit www.diageo.com to see who grabbed the crown. Long Bar is located at Raffles Fairmont Makati, 1 Raffles Drive, Makati Ave., Makati City. Niner Ichi Nana is on the ground floor of The Globe Tower, 32nd St. corner 7th Ave., Bonifacio Global City. Madison’s Bistro Moderne is on the ground floor of Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, Mandaluyong City. 


  4. For full story, visit http://juanxi.tumblr.com/post/94025651386/what-was-your-most-memorable-cup-of-coffee-i


  5. Monsieur Poulard, who has worked with cheese—and only cheese—all his life, waxes nostalgic about the sometimes-salty, sometimes-sweet delicacy.

    The cheesiest man on earth. 

    The difference between a “fromagier” and a “fromager.”


    After lunch, Gérard Poulard gave bissous to three ladies, three pecks each. Left, right—”In France, we do three,”—left. The ladies bid the gentleman goodbye, blushing and giggling. Monsieur Poulard, who claims he is a hundred years old, still has it.

    The Frenchman calls himself a “fromagier,” which he insists is different from “fromager" (a cheesemaker or cheesemonger). Like a sommelier, a fromagier is an expert on the taste and nuances of le fromage. "I tell the story of cheese," said Monsieur Poulard. On a visit to Sofitel Philippine Plaza in July, the "ambassador of France for cheese" flew in 100 types of cheese—a small sample of the 1,000 varieties he has mastered. His understanding of cheese extends to the chemistry of milk, which he studied for five years in order to appreciate its effect on dairy products.

    Monsieur Poulard, who has worked with cheese—and only cheese—all his life, waxes nostalgic about the sometimes-salty, sometimes-sweet delicacy. “Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese,” writes G.K. Chesterton. “Virgil, if I remember right, refers to it several times, but with too much Roman restraint. He does not let himself go on cheese.” Unlike Virgil, Monsieur Poulard has no such restraint. Be warned: There is a significant amount of cheese in this story.

    HL : What does a “cheese master” do?

    GP : To start, cheese is my passion. The passion for the cheese and why I show cheese to the world—that is the question. In France, we have more than 1,000 kinds of cheese—manufactured, pasteurized, so many. In about a thousand cheeses, I work with 300 to 400 kinds of cheese and I separate these in two, for the season of summer and the season of winter. This time, I present goat cheese, which is for the season of summer.

    HL : How do the seasons affect cheese?

    GP : In France, for summer, the quality of the milk is different. The milk for winter is not so tasty—the flavor and the savor is not the same. In the summer, the cheese is fresh. In winter, you eat Tomme, which is semi-firm with a more robust flavor.

    HL : Who makes these cheeses you present?

    GP : We have the goat, the cow, and the sheep. Now, we have the buffalo. We make mozzarella with cow but the best mozzarella is from the buffalo. You can make cheese from buffalo in the Philippines.

    HL : How about the cheese makers? Fromager?

    GP : In the world, the French cheesemakers are the best. It’s the culture of the French. Every French person likes cheese. After that you have Italy, England, Belgium. In Belgium they have 600 kinds of cheese.

    HL : How did you become a fromagier?

    GP : It’s my creation. I made the name “fromagier.” I looked for a title, and I decided it would be that.

    For full story on Monsieur Gérard Poulard, visithttp://www.highlife.com.ph/Issue/111/The_cheesiest_man_on_earth.php


  6. Be our guest, be our guest!


    Photography by Jake Verzosa

    Color Correction by Stefan Kruse J∅rgensen

    Food Art by Maricar Sabenorio

    Videography by Melody Pacis Bonus

    Editing by Nina Diaz


  7. Check out the highlights of High Life July 2014 at www.highlife.com.ph. Out in stands today. 


  8. In his profile of Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Sarge Lacuesta writes that the soulful leadership and persistent innovation of Alfonso Zobel y Roxas and Joseph McMicking led to the to the creation of Makati as the country’s central business district, and to the early dominance of Ayala in the real estate industry. See pictures from the city’s recent past. 


  9. Drawn on tissue, a rough, amateurish spectacle of inkblots and jagged lines is the abstract beginning of an object.

    Designing life

    From the sketches of Kenneth Cobonpue


    An industrial space with unpainted walls and concrete floors is the quiet host of Kenneth Cobonpue’s art. Its only marker is a black signboard with red and white capital letters that spell out his name. A succinct facade with an all-glass exterior exposes a woven polyethylene rickshaw, a seat made of Rapunzel’s braids, a stool inspired by a dreamcatcher, and lighted clouds hanging from the ceiling.

    Mr. Cobonpue’s showroom in Greenbelt Residences in Makati was unveiled late 2013, after he was convinced he had enough pieces to showcase outside his Cebu studio. There is a coffee table with pockets of greenery, chairs that look like palm fronds, and a daybed that tempts sleep. Amid the abundance of furniture, the absence of “please refrain from sitting” signs is conspicuous. Made of rattan, textile, and steel, Mr. Cobonpue’s pieces have been purchased by royalty, both Hollywood and real. His furniture can be found in top hotels all over the world: the Beverly Hills hotel in California, the Ritz-Carlton in Florida, and Radisson Blu 1835 in Cannes, to name a few. This March, he added to his numerous accolades “Designer of the Year” from the first edition of Maison et Objet Asia.

    A Kenneth Cobonpue creation begins with an image only he and his designers understand. Drawn on tissue, a rough, amateurish spectacle of inkblots and jagged lines is the abstract beginning of an object. “I think that drawing is not one of my strengths, not really my forte,” he sighed. When he was an undergraduate at the University of the Philippines, he was rejected by the College of Fine Arts because he “didn’t draw well.”

    The son of renowned designer Betty Cobonpue, Mr. Cobonpue was drawn to solid objects from a very early age. “I think very, very well spatially and three-dimensionally,” he said. While most children stained walls with crayons, the young Cobonpue built his own toys from the scrap materials scattered in his mother’s workshop. Playing carpenter with wood, glue, and paper made him the happiest boy in the world. “Now that I am all grown up, all that I do is an extension of what I did when I was a kid,” said Mr. Cobonpue, who finished his industrial design degree at Pratt Institute in New York. “I see it all the time with my designs. The joy that I give to people makes it so fulfilling for me.”

    In his Makati studio, Mr. Cobonpue, fresh-faced and dapper in a button-up shirt, showed High Life how his creative process begins with a sketch.

    HL : Do you have a sketchpad?

    KC : Actually, I draw everywhere. I draw on any paper I can find so it’s a problem to collate my work. Creativity is spontaneous so I’m not the kind of person who keeps one sketchpad. I just have stacks of paper beside my desk and I just scrap anything. It poses a problem for my designers because I’m like, (pulls out an imaginary sheet of paper) “hey, here’s an idea!”

    HL : What part of the process does sketching fall under?

    KC : The beginning. You have to constantly sketch. I mean, after you sketch something, it becomes three- dimensional, then I’ll go back again to drawing it. It’s an exploration. After you sketch, you work with different materials, it’s back and forth. Two-dimensional then three-dimensional.

    HL : Are you a messy sketcher or a neat sketcher?

    KC : I’m a messy sketcher. In the exploration of ideas I tend to make a sketch and go over and over again.

    HL : When do you feel the urge to grab a piece of paper and sketch?

    KC : Whenever I need to come up with a design.

    HL : Not when you just get randomly inspired?

    KC : Sometimes. But creativity is really a discipline. So when it’s time to think of something, I will make a sketch.

    HL : So it’s something you work on. When you start, you have to finish something?

    KC : Yes, that’s right. That’s right.

    HL : How does a sketch start?

    KC : Usually an image. An image in your mind that you put on paper. See how it looks. You draw something from different angles, or sometimes it’s a sketch I want my design team to try.

    HL : How much of the sketch ends up in the final product?

    KC : It depends. Usually there’s no rule for these things. Creativity really has no formula, there’s no process that’s defined. So each thing can take different steps in order to get there.

    For the full story on Kenneth Cobonpue, visit http://www.highlife.com.ph/Issue/110/Designing_life.php


  10. Flashback Friday: The sons of Jaime Zobel de Ayala