Once upon a time, I was pretty happy keeping my earrings in this pill organizer:
But then, because life is one big shopping expedition, I got more earrings and more earrings, and the earrings got bigger. And so I was not happy because my baubles didn't fit the box anymore. Then one day, while I was driving along Roces Ave., I decided to have lunch at Chocolate Kiss. But something led me to the store beside it, Papemelroti, a favorite childhood haunt. I haven't been inside one in ages because I thought I have gotten over my cutesy country phase. But I discovered there were so many cool things to buy - boxes for organizing, notepads for gifting, and a truckload of scrapbooking paraphernalia. My little shopping basket immediately got filled with goodies.
Then I was drawn to this head:
A nice metal head. I liked the girl's wide-eyed expression. And what do you know...
I brought the lady home and made her cry. She's not really sad. Those tears are my silver earrings.
I added more earrings. And more earrings. And I'm happy now. My earrings now have a beautiful home.
This is not a very well written story. But my earrings, my lady earring holder, and I shall live happily ever after. Read more!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Once upon a time, I was pretty happy keeping my earrings in this pill organizer:
The holidays are not over yet. Still have time to give a gift.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
I feel like one of those Oscar award winners without a script. I just want to thank my hairdresser and PinkLady. Well, really just PinkLady for giving me my first ever blog award. I don't feel deserving. Sniff. Sniff. Raising trophy. Thanks, Bing. I am thrilled. And i pass on this Butterfly Award to:
Ed Ebreo who posts beautiful metaphors. Ed has inspired me to write for a bigger audience and has also been so patient in teaching me tips and techniques for blogging. He sees the world i a different way and he cares enough to share his thoughts in very interesting ways. Read more!
Posted by gege at 12:56 AM
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Who has time to update on Christmas Eve? And if you're in the Philippines, the whole December is a mad flurry of activity. So, here's a hasty but well-meant greeting - Merry Christmas, everyone. May you have a meaningful celebration filled with all that's good about the season.
Happy Birthday, Jesus! Read more!
Posted by gege at 2:27 PM
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Something made me smile out loud today. My friend Ed got one of those network site invitations from some guy. The extraordinary thing about it is that that guy is dead. Has been for about a couple of months now.
So, it's official. They have internet in the the afterlife.
Insert Twilight Zone soundtrack here. Read more!
209 Aguirre Ave., B.F. Homes, Paranaque City, Philippines
Its unique selling proposition is that every dish comes out of their brick oven. And you have to go all the way to BF Paranaque to have some. I read about it from a blog post by my friend Jag. The USP stated above was intriguing enough, but oh, how he waxed and profaned about that chocolate dessert and we knew we had to try it! And though I no longer profane these days, I understand the role of profanity as a figure of speech for emphasis. Especially for food. But before we talk about the dessert, let's begin with the appetizers. There's no way baked potato can fail, and the Stuffed Potato Marbles (P110) are winners. I'm a big fan of potato skins, and this one had the skin, the flesh, and bacon and cheese stuffing, and sour cream dip. Everybody around the table liked it. The Wood-Fired Buffalo Wings (P175) failed to leave an impression on me. Mainly they failed to stay on the plate long enough. While I was taking pictures of the oven, my dinner mates attacked and left me with a ravaged platter not fit for a picture. I had a piece to eat though, but it really wasn't very memorable in flavor. What is memorable is the Puchon! (P295) This is pork na nilechon sa pugon served with soy vinaigrette. Crispy goodness. And we tried to convince ourselves that it's healthy because it was baked. None of us was convinced, but all of us were satisfied with this dish. Somebody ordered Buffalo Chicken Pizza (P315). Though that seemed redundant given that we also ordered Buffalo Wings, it deserved a place on the table. The thin crust was good. The tomato sauce and mozzarella blue cheese topping even better. I'm not a connoisseur with a palate that can differentiate brick oven pizza, but I can tell that this was very good pizza. I expected more from the Rigatoni in 3-Cheese Sauce (P235), but maybe mozzarella, cheddar, and quezo de bola are meant to be enjoyed not mixed together in one sauce. It was good, but not exceptional. And finally, the Brick Oven Chocolate Cake Ala Mode (P120). It's as good as Jag says it is. The difference with other Lava or Molten cakes is the texture of the outer layer of the cake. It looks as if it were coated with white flour and there's a mildly burnt and yummy flavor to it. Maybe that's the effect of brick oven baking. As for look and ambiance, the place is tastefully done with a homey quality apt for its being a village resto. I like the malaga tile look on the ceiling. And of course, that great looking brick oven at the center is a commanding visual presence and gives the place warmth. Bottomline, Chi's Kitchen is worth the trip to BF. To see is to believe: http://islandhopper.multiply.com/photos/album/30/Chis_Brick_Oven_Kitchen
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
2/F, 32nd and 5th Building,
5th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio -
Some people exaggerate when they say certain dining experiences are better than sex. Dining at Aubergine makes you think about sex, and sunsets, and sand on your feet, and Puccini's when you're sad, and chocolate when you're mad, and everything that's sensual, that feels good, that's sublime and spectacular at the same time. Yes, it is that good.
It's food that makes you wonder why some people invest in illegal drugs when an ounce of foie gras can give you all the ecstasy you need sans the brainfry.
Visually, Aubergine is faultless. Posh decor with the Frenchy trimmings that give character to the place. A towering, gasp-inspiring wine bar. For us, a delightful view of the kitchen that should replace the aquarium channel because I could watch it the whole day. There is a guilty pleasure, like watching porn, in watching the great looking chefs-in-training putter around producing fabulous works of food art. I love the plating area where warm pendant lights keep the food warm. And the dessert station delivers the sherbet in "steaming" teapots. Art!! The lighting is just the right balance of dimness and coziness that gives your skin a golden glow but bright enough for you to appreciate the aesthetic delight of food presentation.
Sounds - ah, that's where they can be faulted. The ambient music does very little to drown out neighboring tables' chit chat noises, especially when the ones at the big round table are type A corporate bigwigs who all love the sounds of their collegiate twang voices. But eventually, you forget about noise as all your sensory functions focus on the sense of...
TASTE! - You're given a choice of soft or hard bread to go with the butter and the hummus in quaint glass squares. The waiter gives you appetizer on the house -- tuna carpaccio. The chervil leaf on top is divine.
Start with Melted French Brie de Meaux (P430) served on grilled watermelon, topped with watercress salad tossed in raspberry dressing, walnuts, and chinese truffles. I love the mix of cold and hot; and sweet and tart and savory rolling on my tongue.
Then, the Baked Oysters (P480) with wilted spinach and crispy bacon in champagne sauce. At first bite, it seems like the Rockefeller variety typical of any oyster bar, but eventually your palate detects something above par and exquisitely good about it. And you dwell on how great cooking can turn ordinary into extraordinary.
Then the main dishes. I figured the Trio of Grilled Mulwarra Beef Tenderloin, Braised Veal Cheek, and Pan Seared Duck Foie Gras (P1,350) would give me a sampler of the Degustation Meal, which was not tempting enough. This is heaven on a plate. I wanted my beef medium rare and they gave me carnivorousness perfection. Seared very lightly on the outside and rosy pink on the inside. I've had Veal Cheek before and this one didn't match the first time. It tasted just a wee bit better than homemade caldereta and didn't melt in my mouth like the first one did. And if I had to nitpick, the vegetables were a bit too wilted. But who cares about the vegetables when the foie gras was ooh-aah-baby-baby-so-good! I'm sorry to be so politically incorrect and insensitive to animal rights supporters, but this is food that really makes me happy to be above the food chain.
Hubbaluvva's US Angus Rib-Eye Beef Steak (P1,550 fpr 300 grams) was also very good.
We have just decided to move to another restaurant for dessert, when the waiter gave us free macaroons and grand marnier chocolates. Perfect to top off a fine meal.
Overall, very very good food that made me want to go back to my Multiply site and change all my resto ratings to one because I was just so bowled over by the food at Aubergine.
Service was very good. It felt like the cute waiters were fawning over us. There was a minor mix-up with the reservations but we got in there early so we got a nice booth with a great view of the kitchen of my dreams.
The only downer was the wine list. I read from the reviews that they have a good selection. I was expecting a great big leather book of exotic choices but we were given a little cardstock paper foldout of obscenely overpriced, not too spectacular, available at Cash & Carry for 229.95 wines. So we brought in our own bottle and coughed up a criminal 750 peso corkage.
We went here for my husband's birthday but I got a treat as well. I was too afraid to look at the final bill. My brain was slush incapable of doing math. And it's probably well and good I didn't ruin the delightful evening with sticker shock. But this was a celebration of my husband's year and life's many blessings, so an occasional splurge was called for.
The feast of the senses can be viewed here: http://islandhopper.multiply.com/photos/album/29/Aubergine Read more!
I was cleaning up my inbox and found this excerpt from one of the email exchanges with friends.
FOUR THINGS I HAVE LEARNED AS AN ADULT:
1. Salvation is not about how good I am. It’s about how good God is. Reaching heaven is not about amassing heaven points. Jesus already died once and for all. And He did it not because I deserved it, but because He loves me.
2. Giving is so much better than receiving. And that says a lot considering I get so thrilled about receiving gifts.
3. There is just no excuse to be bored. Every experience, if you look hard enough, presents opportunities for learning and fascination. And if you’re ever bored, you always have the power to stir things up and make it exciting and fulfilling.
4. The power of choice is one of God’s greatest gifts. Take every good opportunity to use it, but use it wisely. Read more!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
A repost from May 2000
I have been called a nailchick. Definition : a female person who is inordinately preoccupied with her nails.
I guess that is better than being called a nail head. Definition : somebody who has the personality of a metal peg, or somebody whose grandest purpose is to be hammered on the head.
That title was meant to be neither complimentary, nor derogatory. It just is. I just am. A nailhead. I do obsess a bit about my nails. Okay, okay, I obsess more than just a bit. I have more than two dozen colors in my collection, ranging from virginal pink to satanic black. But this obsession goes beyond color, really. This addiction is not just about vanity or aesthetics. I mean, it is not just about whether this season dictates matte or sheen, or if purple goes with my skin tone.
What it is about is that it just feels so damn good to have your nails done. Feels really, really, really good. Better than sex? Nah, I wouldn't go that far in extolling the virtues of nail culture. I wouldn't put these activities in the same level, though there have been days when I would rather be manicured than shagged. It probably isn't as ooh-aah inducing as shopping on a no-max credit card. But when you don't have that utile gold visa, having your nails done delivers temporal nirvana for the puny sum of 120 pesos plus tips. My socially concerned husband would argue that my narcissistic folly is a minimum wage family's lunch and dinner. I will ignore the comment as I get into scrubs, wash my hands and feet in preparation for this delightful, delectable, sensual, luxurious indulgence.
The pleasure starts at home where I keep my arsenal of nail ware and I choose the color of the week. Outside in another world, malls are being bombed, foreign embassies are demanding hostage negotiation rights, the Central Bank governor is choosing between increasing interest rates or devaluating the peso, Erap is distressing over cancelling his European state visit to give priority to the worsening peace and order situation, I am lining up those colorful little bottles, and thinking, will I go for the kohl or the mocha glaze? Electric blue or matte pink? Vampy red or boring beige?
Having made my choice, I walk/ drive over to the parlor. I don't even mind the waiting time. The anticipation adds to the excitement. Witholding the gratification stretches the time spent in the salon atmosphere. My senses take in the scent of hair setting lotion, the screaming, screeching gaggle of salon staff in fag-speak, the heat of the hair steamer, the sight of women in terry turbans and scalps wrapped in foil, and the cerebral stimulation sparked by hollywood magazines littering the waiting room.
Then, the wait is over. The manicurist calls me and I excitedly respond and follow her as she leads me to my seat. Let me point out at this point that most manicurists have unkempt nails. That's their occupational hazard - having to hold acetone-dipped cotton balls and having to use their own nails to tidy up nail color, they can not possibly maintain their own nails. I personally consider that a monumental sacrifice. Thanks to their selfless disregard for their personal vanity, nailchicks like me get to sport the latest shades from urban decay, wet & wild, bobbie and caronia.
So back to nail heaven. I usually have my hand nails done first. The first thing the manicurist does is to remove any existing color. Then she dips this cute little nail brush into this pink liquid imaginatively called cuticle remover. Then she uses an implement called the pusher, which serves a much nobler purpose than those whose occupational title is the same. The manicurist, let's call her Vangie today... Vangie uses the pusher to scrape surface grime. It sounds disgusting, but be assured that the grime is colored white and is really just the topmost layer of the nail, not exactly yuck muck. The thought that this process may be causing damage to my nails is conveniently ignored as I give in to the pleasurable sensations. Vangie brushes all the nails again and then brings out the nipper, my favorite tool. Vangie nips around where the nails join skin removing superfluous dermis called the cuticle. Now, this is a delicate task. The manicuring tyro has caused many a wounded finger. But for us, nail mavens, a little blood, overnipped cuticles, tiny cuts are just minor irritants endured in the line of nailchick duty. Nothing that good old mercurochrome can not handle.
Cuticle-cleaning, actually the most orgasmic part of the process, now over. Everything is a bit anti-climactic, albeit still pleasurable, from this point on. Nails are filed - I go for square tipped. One final buff. A dollop of lotion. A hand massage that exceeds five minutes is glorious. Base coat applied. Two coats of color. Topcoat to protect the color from chipping, at least until after you leave the salon doors. Same process goes for the feet. Only it is much more pleasurable, because there is much more grime and extra skin to zap. Foot scrubs are nice-to-haves that double, no, triple the pleasure.
And as Vangie applies the last coat of polish on the last nail, I become sentimental, already missing the pampering sensations of having my nails done. Sighing. Wishing I had another pair of hands and feet. Hating the re-entry into the real world where our mentally challenged president reigns and dictates policies that diminish the peso, changing the title of this piece to two dollar fifty of happiness.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Whew! Finally, I've finished copying my reviews from my Multiply site to here. I'm still updating at multiply since that is home for me. But I will continue to update here as well. I'm just glad I'm done copying and pasting. Read more!
Monday, December 8, 2008
3/F Greenbelt, Makati - +6327297431
G/F South Wing Mall of Asia, Pasay - +6325560683
G/F Streetscape, Shangri-la Mall, Mandaluyong- +6329102140
I’ve always liked dining at Fish & Co. Sometimes I lie awake thinking of the tender, peppery juiciness of the grilled calamari. Okay, I don’t. But I was so giddy about Sunday’s lunch that I want to wax poetic.
Sunday, of course, as the whole Republic of the Philippines knew, was the day of the Pacquiao – Dela Hoya fight. And those who wanted to watch the fight live, real time, ahead of the can’t-pay-per-view hoi polloi (which included us -- we were just being treated by our host) had to watch it in cinemas, bars, restaurants, or fork up 80 grand to Solar to watch it at home sans Ricoa and Motolite TV commercials.
We actually had reservations at Italliani’s but something conked out and so they couldn’t serve the fight together with pasta and pizza. What?!!? How will we watch the fight?!?!, was the silent scream inside our heads revealed only by our panicked faces. They tried to compensate by telling us they’re going to try getting us seats at Fish & Co.
Fish & Co. had a fight day promo -- 600 pesos per head for a little pan of fish and chips plus watching the fight from the LCD TV and giant screens scattered throughout the establishment. A successful promo it was as the place was packed. Those who had reservations were seated; some not so comfortably as booth chairs designed for 3 lithe diners had to carry 4-5 people. Gym-going men had to practice some butt contraction and semi squatting exercises as 2 men shared one stool. The kitchen couldn’t serve their fish and chips fast enough. Those without reservations were hogging the entrance doors, shouting reservations to the floor manager as if they were brokers at the NY Stock Exchange. A mass of non-paying humanity was inching dangerously close to toppling the velvet ropes and flimsy barriers (see pic). Some jerk of a guy was whining about his food not being served and extra seats blocking his vision. Testorone, adrenalin, and other violent hormones were on the rise as the excitement was building up as people were waiting to watch Pacquiao clobber dela Hoya or vice versa. It was madness. With all the potential for restaurant service disaster.
But it all turned out well. We got seated. We had good food. We got beered up. Pacquiao won. And the Fish & Co. service crew delivered top quality service. An altogether pleasant experience.
Aside from the promo fish and chips, which were served bite sized, we also ordered the non-promo version which is served as a big fillet of fish (P465). I liked the latter so much better. Tender, moist, flaky fish in light, airy breading, and a pretty good dill sauce. We ordered the fried calamari (P405) too; I like the grilled version better. The good food highlight was the Marsala pizza (P380), which I’m about ready to declare one of the city’s best, not just because of the piquant sauce and fat shrimp topping, but because of the unusual crust. Crust like croissant bread. As if layers of filo pastry, and not the usual dough, were used. Really good.
It was hard not to feel guilty having our lunch and watching the fight in our seats when inches behind us were people who stood up the whole 8 rounds, hungry, straining their necks, and probably touching other people’s sweat. There was one senior citizen near to me to whom I was tempted to lend my chair until he started smoking, a dangerous and inconsiderate thing to do in that dense pack of people. As the F&Co. staff and mall security were trying to crowd control. I was hoping no one would get unruly and the staff won’t become rude. As far I saw, they were relatively polite.
Good service that withstood the challenge of a high-stress situation. I suspect the floor manager, Lilet Martinez, headed for the spa right after that lunch ordeal. If she did, she totally deserved some pampering after managing the stress and keeping customers relatively happy. Our server, Jasper, was also able to keep her cool. She managed our expectations by warning us that ala carte menus would take longer than expected. So, we adjusted by being patient, but the food arrived earlier than expected. And the food was worth the wait. We were happy.
The situation, of course, might have been a bit different and all this sense of well being absent had Pacquaio lost.
Kilometer 90, San Jose, Batangas
"We join with the earth and with each other to bring new life to the land, to restore the waters, to refresh the air..." -- Excerpt from the UN Environmental Sabbath Program -- as printed on a postcard from the Casa Rap store.
Casa Rap is an old favorite. I once celebrated my birthday there with my family. And last year for my big 40th shebang, I had them deliver breakfast (hubad na longanisa, sinaing na tulingan, tawilis) to our farm in Batangas. I also ordered organic cherry tomatoes, cucumber and three kinds of lettuce from them plus their special dressing to serve for lunch.
It's hard to pinpoint my favorite thing about the place. There's the little curio shop with the most charming of items; the owner, Emma Alday, was trained by renowned potter Ugu Bigyan. There are the rustic gardens and pathways punctuated by little surprise nooks and corners, all filled with greenery that relaxes eyes, body and mind. Of course, there's the food, organic, not 5-star fancy but delicious and beautifully served. There's the tranquil ambiance that makes you feel you have escaped all that is urban and noisy and busy.
Maybe what I like best about this place is that though it brings you back to nature, it is a very progressive place. Every time we go there, they have something new to offer. Today, we were surprised by the new things that Sister Emma showed us -- a pigpen that uses a revolutionary method which produces no stink; container gardening that gives encouragement to those who want to go into vegetable farming even though they do not have huge tracts of land; the fact that they are now open for small corporate meetings; the restaurant-side store that has more merchandise to offer -- Batangas delicacies, organic vegetables, and gardening implements. But the most charming surprise was the food presentation. That's always been a special thing at Casa Rap, but this time lunch was served bento-style, so you get to sample a variety of dishes without spending and eating too much. These bento boxes are available for group dining, and depending on your choice of dishes the price can be adjusted. What was served to us could go for about 350pesos per person. And it is so worth it. We feasted on kalabasa soup, lato salad served with purple marigold (yeah I thought marigolds came only in yellow too) flowers, cassava ukoy with taro and thyme, pajo mango salsa, sinaing na tawilis, native chicken adobo, and guinatang sugpo. After all that, we still found space for ice cream with lambanog.
We moved on to a different place, but we had our take home, the suman sa lihiya that Casa Rap is famous for.
After all describing all that, all I could really say is what our balikbayan Tita Nene said, "Ah, talagang kasarap!" Read more!
What sells a product these days? Is it price point? Is it the buyer’s need? Are product features and benefits the deciding factors for customers to buy? Seth Godin says it is none of those. Seth Godin says, it is the story.
Marketers, according to Godin, rely on the age-old tradition of story-telling to sell ideas and products to consumers. If the stories fit the consumers’ worldviews, if the stories strike them as authentic and remarkable, then chances are they’re going to buy, and you have a happy marketing story.
So, why the title? Well, the bad news is that, according to Godin, those stories are lies. The good news is that those are the lies that consumers, aka suckers, like us want to hear. Yes, we would like to think that there is detergent that will wash out last night’s revelry of red wine and oily tapas from our shirt. A consumer would want to believe that that skin whitener would make Dodong choose her over that mestiza bitch. We want to believe that hope can be purchased from Cash and Carry for 99.95.
Readers of Seth Godin know that he is a skilled marketer, and he knows how to tell his stories well. This book is no exception. Godin teaches us how to tell marketing stories that can influence consumers not just to buy, but also to go tell everyone else in their circle of influence to buy. He uses a lot of true marketing cases to illustrate his points.
In summary, Godin tells us in his usual engaging, informative manner that It’s the story and not the facts. Marketers deal with emotions, not reason. In marketing, the guy who knows the business of telling a story is the one who lives happily ever after. Read more!
In his teens, Nicky Cruz was one of New York's most feared gang leaders. Today, he is an evangelist who preaches a powerful message of redemption. With his powerful anointing, he has led youth from the different ghettos of the world to come to know Christ.
He starts this book by talking about how his family was saved from the evils of witchcraft and how they lived the rest of their lives serving the Lord. What an encouraging story for those of us who are praying for the salvation of our families.
But Nicky Cruz urges us to think beyond our families, but to be obsessed with sharing the good news to the every lost soul in every place the Holy Spirit leads us. "That's how God works when He redeems His people. He does so much more than save us; He restores us. Whatever Satan has stolen, God gives back. Whatever time we've lost to sin, He reclaims through love. The wounds inflicted upon us by the world are healed by His wonderful grace.
This is the Jesus we worship - the Savior who died so that we can live!
This is the message we bring to a world still bound by sin.
This is the only testimony worth telling - the only think that really matters!
How can we not shout it out from the rooftops? How can we ever slip into moments of apathy after all that God has done for us? How can we not live with uninhibited passion and zeal, knowing what we know? understanding what we understand about Satan and his lies? after experiencing the unconditional forgiveness that Jesus brings?
How can any man keep silent?
Since the day Jesus came into my heart, my obsession in life has been to save lost souls. At that moment, Jesus burned into my heart a soul obsession - a blazing passion for those in need of a Savior. It is a fire that runs through my veins - what drives me forward, day after day, month after month, year after glorious year. My heart bursts with the message of God's love and faithfulness, and all I want to do is to share that truth with others!"
Nicky Cruz says it takes three things to reach a lost world -- passion, mercy, and vision. And the rest of the book he uses to tell stories that illustrate these three things.
"If you want to change the world, begin by letting God change you. By letting the passion of Jesus become your passion. By letting the Holy Spirit be your only guide and mentor every step, every minute of the day. By allowing God to set your heart on fire with a soul obsession!"
Indeed, a message that must be heard. Read more!
Unit 2, Bldg. B Karrivin Plaza, 2316 Pasong Tamo Extension and The Podium, Lower Ground Level
The best time to go to Terry's is when Mr. de Terry is cooking in the kitchen and his gorgeous son is in the dining area. That way, you get yummies for your tummy and for your eyes, candy.
We've eaten at both the Makati and the Podium branches, but we had our best meal when Mr. de Terry was performing chef duties. That was several months back so I can't remember everything now except for the fritata, which was heavenly fluff, or fluffy heaven. We had a lineup of tapas with great wine, all recommended by the younger Mr. Terry. And don't bother doing the beautiful eyes at him while you ask him the difference between chardonnay and pinot noir; from what I heard he's taken.
The ambience was casual, and even though the place was crowded and overbooked that holiday evening, service was efficient.
One of the place's attraction is the deli and wine store filled with all sorts of gourmet goodies and cook's gadgets like gorgeous paelleras and party pottery. One time I was at the Podium and it was all I could do not to open a bottle of wine and sit down by the olive taste test counter. I also loved it when I went there one time desperate for something to bring to a pot luck dinner, and they were friendly, not snooty at all, in accommodating my request for the cheapest possible, but not cheap looking cold cut and cheese platter.
Terry's is guaranteed to be a favorite. Read more!
315 San Rafael St., San Miguel
Telephone: (63 2) 734-2141, (63 2) 734-2146, 0917-5383490
This is a truly spectacular dining experience. And really, I usually try to keep the superlatives away, but this is one of the finest Manila dining experience. Okay, so you cough up at least 1.5k per pop, but you get quite a lot out of it: an al fresco start of baked queso de bola, a tour of the house that brings out the illustrado-wannabe in you (gawk enviously at the Lunas and Hidalgos), and dining on turn-of-the-century, homemade cooking served on the plates the Montinolas and Legardas ate on. It feels so authentic you start looking for Dona Victorina and craving for tinola. No tinola, though. But I will not complain about the paella and the bread pudding. Memorable. Delectable. At kung ano ano pang ble.
I loved the washroom and the adjoining bedroom. Of course, your friend with the third eye will tell you that you weren't alone there. Which is part of the charm, isnt' it?
Reserevations required. Check out the website for menu and photos. Read more!
Lipa, Batangas (sorry, can't find more specific directions; my husband just knows how to get there)
I'm not a noodle person, and I'm not the type to order lomi, not that there is a type of people who do, but...but...but anyway, lomi is a Batangas must-try, and Three Kids is one of the more famous places. My first try was at the talipapa at Mataas na Kahoy, but I can't remember the name and I don't have photos.
It doesn't matter much where you go since most of them are probably good. And super cheap, er value for money.
The lomi is very thick. I sometimes want to turn it over the way they do it with the blizzard at Dairy Queen. And the traditional way to eat it is to spike it with copious amounts of ca-to-si (I just coined that, so don't ask for catosi, okay?) -- calamansi, toyo, and siling labuyo. And of course, you have to have the sesame sprinkled burger bun with it, or it will not be the complete lomi experience.
Masarap siya, at mura pa. 35 pesos for a big bowl filled with steamy lomi goodness. Even if you're not a lomi person. Read more!
We parked at the side of a bridge and entered a dank, dimly lit tunnel. It felt like some subterreanean hideaway. At 8:45 PM, the place was empty, except for an old woman watching TV sitted on an antiquated chair. These are bad signs if you're looking for good eats. But we remembered that we were in rural territories and on that easter sunday, the locals are already home ready to retire. That's why we ended up here in the first place, because every other place in town was close.
They served us a each a heaping plate of rice and I gasped at just how much rice each person gets. At the end of the meal, those plates were empty. Rice shortage, notwithstanding, we put all that to good use to accompany the flavorpacked dishes. We started with sinigang na malaga, the malaga so tender, practically melting in our mouths, going perfectly well with the fish bagoong (balayan style) and calamansi. Of course, we had to have the requisite inihaw na bangus. My husband admired how the fish was cooked completely, no raw flesh, no blood, yet still very juicy. I silently thanked God that I was going to have all that succulent bangus belly. No, I wasn't being selfish. On the top 10 list of things I love about my husband, somewhere in between sexy sense of humor and his Don Bosco training on everything mechanical, is the fact that he does not eat bangus belly. It's bangus belly that makes you close your eyes, forget your name and the fact that fat is a bad word. But the dinner's pièce de résistance is the adobong talaba. While blanched on the shell still remains my favorite way to have oysters, this adobo style comes a very close second. We wish we could say we could say we wiped all our plates clean, but there was enough for another person.
No desserts. But it was sweet to pay only P510 pesos for all that. The only negative thing was the presence of stray cats traipsing around the resto. That cost them a star. Read more!
It took me a long time to get to this book. Bought it in 2001 and started reading it only at the start of March. Took me a long time to read through it as well since I was busy reading tons of materials for work. Today as I go through its last pages, I wished I didn't have to stop reading it.
The story is set in a sleepy town in Alabama and that's how it starts and progresses. Slow, meandering accounts of rural summers spent by the 9-year old narrator, Jean Louise Finch, or more aptly nicknamed Scout, with her older brother Jem and her "fiance" Dill. I felt at first that the book was just a series of vignettes but I eventually saw the strong, cohesive plot that ties all the charming stories together. But it's a slow, steady build to its climax, when their cool, calm, poker-faced father Atticus defended a negro in a rape case that rocked sleepy Maycomb. The ending, which is exciting, surprising, heart-melting, gasp-inducing and awe-inspiring, neatly brings together all the supposedly unrelated events and ends with what the book started with - how Jem got his arm badly broken. I have never fallen in love with a fictional family as I have with the Finches. Scout talks with the innocence of a kid, but narrates with the wisdom of an adult. Atticus, not a flashy character at all, endears you with his principles and his style of parenting totally devoid of any patronizing quality. The characters charm you, but the story makes you think. Today is about half a century from when the book was published and more than 70 years since the setting of this story, but the moral lessons and the views on race, real Christianity, equality, love are just as relevant today.
This book makes a quick climb into my list of favorites.
Unit 207 Intrepid Plaza E. Rodriguez Ave.,Libis, Quezon City
Don't you hate it when you try out a restaurant, like it, come back after a few months and find that the servings are slightly smaller, and then come back after a few more months, and the quality has deteriorated? Such is such a familiar story in the country's restaurant industry.
That is NOT the story of this entry.
What I love about Omakase is the consistency. It is consistently good even if your visits are months apart. The other great thing is the price. If you come as a group, you get scrumptious Japanese for pretty reasonable prices. It can get expensive if there are only two of you trying several dishes.
With novelty makis like Jurassic (ebi, tempura, kani, ebiko, salmon), Dynamite (unagi, tempura, scallop), American Dream (deep fried sushi, salmon, kani, cream cheese), and Gyu Chisu (cheese wrapped in beef), Omakase might not satisfy the authentic Japanese food purists. But for those easier to please like me, the unique twists are what make this restaurant's take on Japanese food so interesting and enjoyable. Try their Tofu Steak, which is also different from the usual; instead of mixing chopped beef with cubed tofu, this one wraps the tofu in beef. There is nothing unusual about my favorite -- the grilled unagi; I guess when you're having eel, keeping it familiar lessens the apprehension for the first time eel eater. Don't worry, it takes like fish; very tasty and tender fish.
The only thing that ruined an otherwise perfect lunch was that their American Express machine was down that day we went, and has been down for 3 days they said.
Parking could be a problem on some weekends. But that Saturday, we were able to find spots in the basement.
The other sweet perk is being able to visit Booktopia while digesting and burping the satisfying meal.
A Japanese restaurant worth going back to. Predictably good every visit. Read more!
221-E Katipunan Ave. Q.C. and 668 Beacon Plaza Shaw Blvd, Mandaluyong City
Remember when Burger Machine was all new way back in the 80s? And it offered a refreshing new take on burger flavors? King's Kebab pretty much offers the same kind of alternative to today's shawarma eaters. If you're looking for that authentic shawarma experience with the middle eastern tickle-your-nose aroma and burn-your-tongue spicy flavors, then go to RA Salas in Ermita. Here at Katipunan, you will, instead, get a Filipinized version with a cold slaw like topping, that's perfectly refreshing in the summer heat.
And they offer much more than just shawarma, of course. The kebabs - chicken, beef, pork - can be had as part of a meal with basmati rice and condiments,
or as wraps. They also have a sampler platter if you can't decide which meat to kebab. You will enjoy the pita bread with hummus and moutabal. All of these at close to street food pricing so you can pig out without breaking a sweat.
If you do like sweating it out, you can opt for open air dining at the ground level which offers a free whiff of the grilling and Katipunan air. For those who'd like to stay cool, go to the second floor where it's air-conditioned, cozy, and the walls and lighting give a warm, rosy cast to your complexion. Huh? Just ring the bell for service. Read more!
Apparently, I'm the only person in the metropolis who has not had any of the banacoffee desserts available in different versions at different dessert restaurants. And since I am not fond of bananas in my dessert, and since I have declared a semi-permanent abstinence from all things with non-fruit sugar, then it will probably remain that way.And here is the rest of it.
It's a good thing Banapple offers several non-banana dessert options. With the kebabs and shawarmas from nearby King's Kebab still occupying space in our tummies, we only ordered two desserts to share among the four of us -- caramel cheesecake and apple pie. The caramel cheesecake looked deadly, and the caramel topping was just as sweet as I was afraid it was going to be. To counterbalance it is the the cheesecake center, which was divine. It's just the right consistency, not too airy and not too dense. I could confidently say that this is one of the best cheesecakes in the metro. The apple pie does not look nor taste like the typical apple pie; very intriguingly delicious.
If I weren't on my sugar fast (insert sad face), I would definitely come back to this place to try the other desserts. But maybe this review will make you want to try it out yourself and I'll just have their pies vicariously through you. Read more!
Being an advocate of child protection, I was, of course, appalled by the theme of this book. There is nothing appealing about this unusual, or more like bizaare romance, if you can call it that, between a ninety year old man and a 14-year old virgin. Yes, worse than the age disparity between Lolita and Humbert Humbert.
The attraction to the book was the size. I was behind on my 2-book a month target and this one with its 115 pages offered a way for me to catch up. This, however, is not a lightweight by literary standards. Excellent writing as is always the case for Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Of course, I always wonder about works translated from another language. Much praise should go to Edith Grossman -- I wonder why if she can use the English language the way she does, why she does not write a book herself.
Back to Marquez. This book proves what a remarkable writer he is. As he writes from the point of view of the ninety year old man, you get to see life the way he does, rejoice, obsess, fear, grieve, panic and go through all the crazy emotions of being in love with him, and for a moment, for 115 pages, suspend judgment and forget how perverse his desires really are.
To recap: iffy subject, remarkable writing, i'm back on target on my 24-books for 2008 goal.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
1 Ba Trieu (pronounced Ba Tiow) Hanoi
Fusion of Chinese, Vietnamese, European cuisine. Tops in ambience. Location’s great; right across Hoan Kiem Lake. And if internationally acclaimed chef Bobby Chinn’s around, he will regale you with amusing anecdotes. I particularly love the ceviches, the lamb, and the dessert sampler, but I don’t think they serve anything bad there at all. After dinner, and you’re still keen on satisfying your sweet tooth, you have 2 options. You can turn left then right at the corner and walk over to Fanny Ice Cream Place to people watch, and have ice cream of course. Or you can turn left towards Trang Tien (Chang Tien) street and go to the kem place (kem is Vietnamese for ice cream) where they serve popsicle type ice cream. The rice ice cream is yummy. I know, you wouldn’t think rice ice cream could be good. If you’ve had enough sweets, you can cross over to the Highlands Coffee place by the lake. If you want to burn calories dancing, you can walk along Trang Thi where you will find Century Disco to your right. A bit too wild and carnal for me, but it’s a place to see Hanoi’s version of the nightlife. Okay, that's more than 2 options. Read more!
14 Cha Ca, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
The Hanoi experience would be incomplete if you didn't try this restaurant. It claims to be the oldest restaurant in Vietnam, with a romantic history of how the dish and the restaurant came about. No language issues here, for they serve only one dish. You just sit down, and then they serve various bowls in front of you, plus a charcoal cooker with a pan of fish fried right there on your table. Make sure they serve the nam tom, which is their version of the bagoong. How to eat? Take your cue from the locals, and copy what they do. But in case you need further instructions, follow this:
1. Take some of the dill and various leaves and put them into the pan to be sautéed along with the fish. Do not include the mint and basil (served in a separate bowl); those will be used later. Let the dill cook for about 55 seconds; not overcooked, just enough for it to absorb and flavor the oil and fish.
2. In your bowl, put in the glass noodles first. Then on top of that you add the fish. Forget healthy eating. Slather the turmeric-laden oil onto the noodles.
3. Add the mint and/or basil.
4. Add the nom tam.
5. Top with nuts.
6. Goes great with cold local beer; Halida’s okay.
7. After dinner, cross over to BAGUETTE AU CHOCOLAT (11 Cha Ca), where they serve great pastries. Make sure you request a table at the 2nd floor where the lounge chairs are more comfortable. A window seat gives you a view of the hubbub on the street.
This is a five star experience from me, all based solely on the food. Don't expect five-star ambience. People just throw stuff on the floor here. And I've never dared to try the restroom.
I'm still looking for my Hanoi images. In the meantime, I stole this image from: http://photos.igougo.com/pictures-photos-s2-r1318934-p236192-Cha_Ca.html Read more!
26 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hanoi, Vietnam
The place used to be a Buddhist temple; now it’s a restaurant and a silk shop combo. A very pretty restaurant. There’s a 10-dollar buffet that combines French and continental fare. The seafood grill’s great. The roast beef’s good. The Vietnamese dishes are not the best representative of the authentic Vietnamese versions, but they’re not bad at all. Make sure you leave room for dessert; there’s a lot to choose from and they're really quite good. Their version of our chico fruit tastes so much like ours, but they seem to be bigger.
They have 2 branches in Hanoi, I’ve only been to the one at:5 Hang Tre, Hoan Kiem District (Hang Tre is pronounced Hang Che).
On a cool, rainless evening, request for a place on the rooftop, where you will stay inside comfortable cabanas. Make sure your socks are presentable, as you may have to remove your shoes. Order the corn-flavored water; very refreshing. The plum wine is expectedly sweet, yet even if I do not like sweet alcoholic drinks, I found this one a pleasant surprise. My favorite dishes - the catfish spring roll, the caramelized pork in claypot, and the clams with shrimp crackers - are delightful! I’ve tried the fear factor fried scorpion dish; nothing to call home about. Souvenir t-shirt’s kinda cool. They also serve exotic wines and potions there, but I steered clear. A lot of them are for virility, and I didn’t need that. Read more!
Kamagong corner Sampaloc Sts., San Antonio Village, Makati City
I hate giving an all-time favorite such a low score. If it were based on our collective experiences there, they would get 4 stars, and if we had to rate based on value for your money, this would get a whopping 5-stars. But our last visit a couple of weeks ago scared us a little that as this joint gears up for franchising, the hole-in-the-wall appeal and the let's-just-talk-about-the-food purity will disappear.
We have to take part of the blame, too. We got there late and they were already out of our usual favorites -- the oyster butter itame, the ika butter itame, and the breaded tofu. So, we settled for the bento meal. You really can't complain. For just 123 pesos, you get a sample of ebi tempura, tuna steak, chicken furai, tai kimiyaki, squid balls, pork kushiyaki, rice, and miso soup. Sounds like a lot, huh? Well, it fills the stomachs, but does not give the usual Suzukin satisfaction. Moral lesson: next time come early for the sushis, and the oyster butter.
I hope our next visit will cause us to add more stars to that rating. Read more!
Mall of Asia
Healthy Shabu Shabu is God's gift to low-carb eaters. If you steer clear of the noodles, the corn, the fish and squid balls, and the taro, then you can get stuffed with some healthy protein options.
Healthy Shabu Shabu distinguishes itself from first generation shabu shabu restaurants with the first word of its name. The first health factor is that this is not a glutton's all-you-can-eat dream/nightmare. The servings are generous enough for family style sharing, but you get to control yourself by ordering ala carte. The price per order is a great control factor. It also does not offer a butter saute option like other shabu shabu restos do.
The best thing is that you start off with the raw materials sans marinades and sauces so you know you are not getting hidden sugars and starches. Of course, everything looks and tastes fresh and that's part of what makes it healthy. Make sure you load up on the healthy carbs from veggies. The second best thing is the individual hot pots which make it possible for you to flavor your broth as hot or as bland as you want it to be.
The drawback to most shabu shabu restaurants is the free take home smell of the kitchen that you take with you to your next mall stop. The resto at MOA has good enough ventilation that you are spared from that. Or maybe we were just too happy with our meal to care.
Oh, dining here may be healthy for your body, but not for your budget. This will set you back at least 600 pesos per person. The free dessert might make you feel better though. Read more!
It might not be the kind of book someone planning to get pregnant should read. Some parts can really scare, trouble, or depress a mother-to-be. But, Annie Lamott writes so vividly, so poignantly about her experience. She just gives you a realistic, non-romanticized story of motherhood. And so, I say anyone planning to be a mom should read this. Colic, baby acne, financial issues, one realizes, are all part of the motherhood package. But so is falling in love with your baby that your heart feels it's about to burst. This book made me an Anne Lamott fan. I'll be in the lookout for her novels. Read more!
I've never heard of this book nor of this author until I found this book at my mom's place (It's my sister's) and I was intrigued enough to read it. What a pleasant surprise. It's one of those books which you can visualize as a movie, as if the author meant for it to be filmed. And I don't mean that in a bad way. Martin Clark knows how to paint vivid pictures. He details the settings, the scenarios, the emotions, even the scents, and I felt I was part of this crazy adventure. The narrative is peppered with generous bits of snort out loud humor, wacky characterization, weird events that make you think that maybe Martin Clark is as dope-addled, yet still as lovable, as his characters. I enjoyed this one immensely Read more!
How I wish I read this book at the time when I was a first time manager.
This should be required reading for those tackling for the first time the challenge of leading and coaching people. Long-time managers can also benefit from reading this. It details a very simple yet sensible approach to leadership. Some of the lessons you know instinctively, and some make you say Aha. All are presented in a logical, step-by-step manner through a modern day parable. Read more!
One of those books that was just too painful to put down. So I finished it in a day. Great story. Hosseini is a skilled storyteller. The description of the settings - the time, the place, the circumstances - is very rich and detailed that you don't just get involved in the story, you also learn a bit of Afghanistan history. Yet even if it's set in Afghanistan, certain themes like family, friendships, betrayal, forgiveness are universal. I dare not summarize the plot lest I make it sound trite, telenovelaic; for to some degree it is. It's just the kind of emotionally charged book that is designed to hit you in the gut and make you cry and you hate it that you do. I dare you not to. Read more!
by Anne Fadiman
Word geeks, carnal book lovers, salivate. If you like books about books, books that celebrate your celebration of books and words, you're going to love this book. Just how many times did I say the word book there?
Anne Fadiman grew up in a family who climax on the joy of sesquipedalians. She and her brother are carnal book lovers - people who love their books to pieces, consider hard use not as disrespect but intimacy, bringing them everywhere, even to the sauna. Then Anne Fadiman marries and the conjugalization of their books is treated with more angst than the marriage of their finances.
As Entertainment Weekly Harlan describes this, "18 stylish, dryly humorous essays that pay tribute to the joy of reading, the delights of a language, and the quirks of fellow bibliophiles."
The Fort, Trinoma and
Zong is Chinese food for those who are not fond of Chinese food. I guess that's what you get when you take out the MSG and the tea-house decor and replace it with zen interiors and a fresh approach to dimsum dining.
Now, is it an "experience worthy of contemplation and remembrance" as the takeout flyer says it is? Uhm, maybe for the few seconds out of the door, when you rub your stomach and say that's a good meal, but contemplation is too big a word.
It did not take much contemplation to order. We looked at the other table and they were having the Spicy Singapore Style Fish Fillet. Waiter, we want that, pointing at the other table. Just don't make it too spicy since we're dining with senior citizens with sensitive stomachs. And though there was a stern warning on the menu about modifications, they okayed the less spicy version. The fillets are a Zong crowd fave and for good reason. We also ordered the Fujian Fried Rice with Scallop -- flavorful, can stand on its own as a full meal. I was just confused because it was generously topped with shrimps, but there was not a scallop in sight. Illegal substitution! Which made me think the scallop must have been missing also from the Squid and Scallop Balls, which is a finer version of the samurai balls served in the malls. I liked the Eggplant & Minced Pork in Hot Pot very much.
By teahouse and regular dining standards, Zong is good value for your money. Expect to spend 200-300 pesos, less with Senior citizen cards, for a meal that is worthy of uhm, "contemplation and remembrance." Read more!
It's not the kind of book I would buy. But I was stuck in a weekend vacation with no book and that was the only one available. I like the stream of consciousness journal style narrative, even though I found it hard to connect with the characters. I mean, they're quirky and they're smart. Okay, I'm a bit quirky.
The surprise ending is just that -- an unexpected ending that had me in tears. Okay, just microtears. A case of high touch versus high tech.
It takes a certain kind of geek to appreciate this. For my kind of geek, this would do when there's nothing else to read. Read more!
I read this at a time when I did want to escape from it all. To keep on walking and walking and walking and walking until the ground below you is no longer familiar and the faces around you don't know you. So I loved it then as it fed my fantasy.
I wonder how I'll feel reading about it now at a happier time.
Letters from the devil to a tyro-devil. What a novel and effective way to teach Christian living -- its pitfalls, its temptations, and the assured victory. Read more!
Imagine that in one moment you can see, and then the next you lose your vision. Suddenly, all you can see is a thick fog of opaque whiteness. You're blind and you don't know why. The doctor can't tell you why either. And then you realize that people you come into contact with grow blind as well.
Blindess is my all-time favorite work of fiction. Gripping. It has the feel of reality TV, back when reality TV like Survivor, was about answering the question what if? What if one by one, people started seeing nothing but white. What if blindness became contagious? What if this contagion of blindness grips the city, the country, maybe even the world? What if you put all the blind people in one place and there's no one to take care of them? Would it bring out the evil or the good in people? If you're massively interested in human dynamics, this book brings you to the edges of imagining how people would react in extreme, but strangely possible, situations. Against a backdrop so surreal your jaws drop while reading, Saramago paints characters who could very well be real.
If this is not Saramago's best work, I can't wait to read his other masterpieces. The wannabe writer in me aches in envy. How can one write fiction without using proper nouns? Saramago did, and his work didn't suffer any. Excellent writing. He deserves his Nobel. Read more!
by Margaret Atwood
Hmmm. I don't know why this book had a mills & boon feel to it. Or was that precisely how it should feel like? Too humdrum, too lethargic for me. And I have to admit, with a title like that, I felt shortchanged, expecting mind blowing, life altering sex between her and Duncan. But then again, maybe that was intention. Atwood is one of my favorite writers, but this novel is not my favorite Atwood. Read more!
Various Writers, Edited by Lillian Ross
This has served as my toilet-side book for years.
192 essays written by various authors like EB White (of White & Strunk fame), Lillian Ross, John Updike, and even Jacqueline Onassis. Not just commentaries on slices of life, but also the most ingenious ways of disguising 5W reporting.
Lifted from The Talk of the Town column of The New Yorker magazine, the collection starts in the 1920s and spans 9 decades of crisp yet descriptive writing. Each essay is concise - a thousand words or less. Perfect for toilet-reading. 1 piece a visit.
One of the last pieces I read , Intensive Care by Susan Orlean who talked about her brief talking part in "All My Children" and The Smell by John Seasbrook, had me smiling. I was sad when I finished the book and had to finally put it back in the shelf.” Read more!
This post is long overdue, and since my memory has been ravaged by the passing of time - 6 months, I might mess up with some of the details. I do remember that it was a great dining experience for me. This restaurant could have suffered from high expectations. We checked out the reviews before going there, and most of them were glowing. But, there was nothing not to like. I felt the praise over the steaks was slightly exaggerated; the Porterhouse we had was not the best we've ever tried. But it was good. Other than that, the positive reviews were on the mark. It was also good that the party consisted of 6 adults and 2 preteeners. So, we were able to sample the different dishes. My favorites were the Duck Adobo Flakes with rice and egg (P305), the Tuyo Salad (P165) and the Truffle Oil Vegetable Mushroom Dip with Whole Wheat Melba Chips (P195). I was most excited about the Creamed Spinach (P115), but it was just okay. So was the Corn Pudding (P95). We also ordered Lamb Chops on the special menu, Mamou's Linguine Vongole (P325) and Dark Chocolate Sans Rival (P180), but my memory fails me on the specifics of the flavors. I guess they must have been just fine. I remember though being overwhelmed by all the dishes I had to try, with my palate being accosted by so many flavors. Accosted in a good way.
I remember that the place was all warmth and busy comfort with the owner acting as a gracious hostess to all the guests. Service was excellent. When the waiter saw me trying to take down notes, he offered to photocopy the menu for me. Which I had misplaced, and now have to accept that it is forever lost. That's why this review comes very late. Thanks to munchpunch for posting a menu that helped jog my memory.
Yummy food pics here: http://islandhopper.multiply.com/photos/album/27 Read more!
Monday, December 1, 2008
http://www.mpresstudio.com/shop.html - Yummy letterpressed goodies!
I am so proud of my friend, Maria's work. She's a BFF, and I've always admired her aesthetic sense and her lifestyle tastes. She's a Grammy Award nominee for her CD packaging designs. If you're from the US (well, anywhere in the world really) and would like to order for yourself and your friends customized notecards, invitations with unique artwork and great tactile appeal, check out her site. Read more!