Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Returning to old favorites with new faces

How many meals can you inhale over a weekend before it feels like any more calories would lead to a trip to the hospital emergency room? Not that eating is a bad thing, and some of my favorite bloggers fulfill my fantasy of a non-stop feast with some of their posts. But this last weekend does raise the bar on how much I ingested, and it was good food speaking to me, not some lowlife fast-food quest.

J, who's a restauranteur (although very low key and a somewhat reluctant one), started off the weekend by inviting me over for some of the cheese he swiped at a meeting. He said that it would be a simple meal, but I knew that his definition of simple and mine are polar opposites. He didn't disappoint. We had smyrna figs, walnuts, semolina cracked bread, olives and a good red wine to go with our cheese. Then he brought out the big guns, a chocolate fondue, made with 70% dark chocolate, along with a platter of fruit. Another friend followed bearing a trip of gelato samplers. We ate and ate, heading home happy at heart around 2 in the morning. I suspect my hangover wasn't too noticeable at the presentation I organized the next morning, but I could be wrong.

Saturday night, I had organized on behalf of a visiting friend of a friend, a dinner at Galileo Enoteca. After having had the pleasure of dining several times with friends including the famous Marketman lunch last November, GE has become a good place to drag visitors. It's so hidden and part of the fun is looking for it (although by now, I could get there blindfolded). Then they start to say how nice it is, and how they'd never figure it was there. Squeezing 10 when we originally reserved for 8 was also interesting. As usual, the reservation people there do seem to have a problem keeping details straight. I've had lost reservations, and last Saturday wasn't any different. They only had us down for 4, not 8 as I had requested. Conversation never slowed, must have been a good night for everyone, eating all the cheese and meat, pasta, and devouring every speck and lick of the dessert.

Sunday we had a day trip to Sonya's garden in Tagaytay, so I saved myself for a hearty and healthy lunch there, before spending a lazy afternoon being massaged. The evening found us on the balcony of Antonio's fully satisfied with the marvelous food, wine and ambience. It made us think of how to incorporate the place into a party next year. Ideas, ideas. Of course, when we were back at Sonya's, we may have amended the idea by considering having the event there instead, sharing a cottage with 20 of our favorite people.

T and L had not visited the other Antonio's franchise, so we stopped for drinks at Breakfast at Antonio to show the view to the visitors. A bit too much sugar detracted from the overall enjoyment of the view, the sun, the shakes. Was it ironic then that we should go off in search of the Ilog Maria Bee Farm, to buy honey and all the lovely products they make from honey and bee pollen? This was the third time we had planned to visit, so it was truly charmed. No one else was there and a moment of panic set in when we saw the Mondays closed sign. However, the store was very much open and we bought a good lot of things to try including the beeswax wood balm that I've been meaning to get. The idea of waxing my new sampaloc cutting blocks is making me feel very happy right now.

The last stop before returning to Manila was to try Manos Taverna, newly reviewed by Marketman and a few other bloggers. With few other customers out on the town on a Monday afternoon, we had to try as many of the dishes and found our favorites in the tsaziki and moussaka. The baklava was not as deadly as we had expected, but flavorful and nuanced with the clove and sprinkling of calamansi. It was perfect with my muddy and dark coffee.

We really couldn't eat anymore when we got back to Manila. We sat for hours talking, playing with the cats and just sliding towards laziness. What a lovely Monday!

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Pike Market Peonies

Pike Market Peonies