Monday, July 30, 2007


Fuzzy M&Ms and 5 second rule
: Since the Clemson study came out a few months back, I've been more conscious about the rule. Once it drops, it goes straight to the trashcan.

Books we have not read
: Payard forgets one category - books you start, put down, and then forget where you've left them, leaving you only able to recall a few chapters at most. As for books I've bought with the intention of reading but never get to, that's practically a bookcase: grapes of wrath, moby dick, les miserables, decameron, most of faulkners books (because I started one and need to be prodded by death to pick another one up again), Ibsen, Dostoevsky, Tom Jones/Thakeray, among others.
Another economist take on things: so that's why my friend asked me to give out the ending of HP; but I don't agree that the choice of where to eat works in all areas.

MM and the joy of food styling: see his latest post via my links. I got to team up with MM on the winning salad photo. Will food blogging be the deathknell of highly styled food that is inedible due to the tricks to make it photographable? Those of us who were at the class yesterday agreed that as bloggers, we have the added bonus of being able to savor the food after we "Kodak" it. Seeing what it takes to style it made me lose my appetite for the night.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Spoon, table spoon, teaspoon, soupspoon, spooning , er, oops. Serendra has a french bistro, Cuillère, modeled after a prototype parisian bistro with a hint of Amelie thrown in. Love Amelie, that scene where she is writing backwards on the glass, looking over his shoulder, and melting when he barely notices her. And the part where she thinks he's in love with someone else, and the sound of the cat moving against the divider makes her think he is about to enter the kitchen, only to realize it's her imagination. As Pepe le Pew said it Le Sigh.

Ok, restaurant, new, french. Food, how's the food? CJ and I had gone in to try the pommes frites, and pommes with tons of garlic. You get the pomme picture. But we also had other things: soup (french onion), croquettes (um, more potatoes), and a roast chicken. Plus what was billed as the best danged milkshake ever.

How were the pommes frites/freedom fries/potato sticks? Disappointingly mushy. Where was the smooth creamy interiors, airy with the first parboil in hot oil, followed by the crunch of the second fry needed for browning and to seal it all in? The fry itself was a sizeable collection of sticks. But the texture was all wrong. And with fries, the texture is it.

I give two thumbs up to the french onion soup, with flavors of herb, gruyere cheese, the caramelized onions and the bread making it a downright cosy dish. Just the right size, not a question of quantity over quality. It was good. If anything brings me back, it will be for another bowl of soup.

CJ wasn't that thrilled with the roast chicken and mashed garlic potatoes; for plating purposes, it might have worked better if the potatoes hadn't been lost in the sauce (which was probably the only highlight of the dish). Better execution for a basic dish that should have been a winner.

My only main was a plate of ham and cheese croquettes accompanied by the lovingly garlicky aoili. Barely found any cheese in the croquettes, but slathered with the garlic dip, no complaints.

Unfortunately, the carabao milk shake didn't live up to its billing as the best milkshake ever. Nice, but for P195, I could have had two thick chocolate shakes at Pancake House. Or 1.5 thick and tasting of peanut butter goodness from Xocolat. I really wanted to like the Cuillere chocolate shake, but it didn't turn me into jelly.

The restaurant is owned by a scion of the Arce icecream house (hence all the milkshakes have a decidedly Arce flavor assortment - jackfruit, avocado. Where's the atis? Mantecado?). According to the menu, her Tita Arlene shares her two favorite dishes, callos and lengua, along with the rest of the parisien style. Mussels in white wine sauce, a steak and fries for two (not a bad deal for P995), croques madame et monsieur, and there was a chocolate croissant with hot chocolate somewhere there. Daily specials are written up on two blackboards (no glass, and no cute pixie like waitresses), and they probably need a dusting of gauloises induced black soot on the walls to have the sincerity of a paris bistro. But for effort I give them a B-.

Neighborhood buys

I have written about the Kamagong/Metropolitan avenue finds before, and I highly recommend more people check out the groceries and restaurants there. This morning, I paid my electric bill and decided to take a walk around to Hatchin Japanese grocery and then Uncle Ed's grocery. At Hatchin, I was thinking of looking for a gadget that froths milk, which I had seen at another Japanese grocery before. I didn't find it at Hatchin, but what I did get was a very fresh and clean bunch of watercress, apple juice and a milk tea, eggs, and my special find : egg shapers! For readers of bento blogs, they may have seen these used to make special star and heart shaped boiled eggs. For the uninitiated, the egg shapers/molds compress a freshly boiled egg into a specific shape, the ones available at Hatchin was the set of star and heart egg molds. I will now buy food dye so that I can make pink and yellow stars, or hearts. Pink hearts! The egg shaper/molds sell at Hatchin for P60 a set.

In this same line of thought, I had previously been told that collapsible sandwich holders were now available at the Japan Home Center for P55. Another one of those bento blog finds, it's useful for lunches or picnics. After chowing down on one's meal, you simply disassemble and it stores neatly away. I'm on my way to bento love!

At Uncle Ed's, I spied bottles of imported beer. What I was excited to see was Stella Artois, and when I asked, they sell them for P75 a bottle! Cheaper than going to Beer's Paradise! I also want to attempt a beer bread recipe I found a few weeks ago. It recommended using Stella Artois, but I had thought it impossible to find outside of a bar. Loverly! Thank you Uncle Ed for importing the stuff! Now I can make bread of beer!

I had remembered them selling more of the spices and mixes last time I was around the neighborhood, but they had less of that and more packed, processed foods. They had a series of mixes (Korma, Vindaloo, etc) made in Australia. Belgian beer, sauces from Australia, in an Indian Grocery. Hmmm. Is it the homogenization of the community market?

Since I had skipped breakfast, I was raring for a bite at Uncle Eds, and had a paratha with paneer, and a bowl of black lentils (dhal), plus a glass of mango lassi. The paratha and dhal were tasty and filling, but the lassi was lacking in yogurty goodness. I suspect they used some of that icky Nestle yogurt, full of sugar and just mixed it with shaved ice. How sad. You want a thick slightly sour, fruity shake. Little or no ice at that. Chilled of course, but not watered down. My lunch had been looking up till I drank the lassi.

As an added treat, after shopping and eating, walk down the road to Cardinal Ceramics, or for holiness, go to mass at the National Shrine of the Sacred Heart. It's a nice day in the neighborhood.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Banh mi by me

The tasty pseudo-cuban sandwich I put together last monday made me yearn for another sandwich, the fixings were all there in my cupboard and fridge. This extended summer and the warnings about saving water and electricity seem to point to less heat based meals, with little or very limited washing up after. Sandwiches, salads, and lots of fruit seem to fit the bill.

This time around I went Asian, putting together a banh mi based on the tastes I remember from a very old trip to Hanoi, and the many forays into Vietnamese delis over the years. I pulled out a can of liverspread, spicy mayonnaise, ham, mixed greens, cucumbers, julienned hot peppers, and chopped basil. Contemplating between a lightweight bun and a heartier walnut rye bread, I chose the latter. Perhaps in the future I will stick to the lighter option, as this sandwich became colossal! Both in size and in how it sat in my tummy after being eaten. Bahn mi's are usually made with french baguette's, the fresher the better. The heavier rye bread added too much to the sandwich in the end, but I'm glad I tried it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Never say diet again

Two weeks of meals and my clothes are on the verge of suffocating me. None of the buttons have popped yet, but I can feel the impending doom if I don't cut down. Not to mention, seriously start exercising again. Health is wealth. Although there's the other axiom: life's too short, eat more dessert.

Since diets are so inevitably boring (rabbit food, or shakes or blechy stuff like that), I decided on Sunday to change that. I'll not be dieting per se, but eating consciously: more vegies, smaller portions. Last night for instance, I had a cup of cucumbers in vinegar, pepper and salt. I was also experimenting with a Cuban sandwich, which came out better than expected. A small toasted brioche, stuffed with a slice of lean ham, beef pastrami, arugula, cucumbers, cheese, and a spicy bean aoili, with a serving of pickles for that added twist. Tasty, filling, healthy.

Tonight, avocado!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

My kingdom for a cooler!

K and I joined N for a day trip out to Angeles and San Fernando. Our mission: eat at VFW, C' Italian Dining, Cottage Kitchen, and whatever else we could stuff in our ambitious stomachs. Sigh. We are not 14 anymore. By lunch, we were incapable of putting anything else in our constitutions. But instead of quantity, we chose quality. The risotto and ostrich steak at C was superb, we'll be dreaming of that risotto for months to come. Chef C was amiable and generous with his time so we had a good chat with him about food, music, and how he came up his panizzas (people drive at midnight from Manila just for a bite).

We also took time to delve further into the food shopping of Angeles. We had a short preview of Susie's and Rosing's when we were here two months ago, but this time, we got there before lunch, and spent more time tasting and choosing. Between the three of us, we had sufficient sweets to go around for weeks (well, maybe one weekend for K); carabao milk caramels, nougats, pastillas, empanaditas, pandan cupcakes, mochi. The ladies at Susie's were great salesladies! They gave us portions of the mochi to taste, showed us their carabao milk pastillas de leche custard, and answered all our pesky tourist questions. What we realized was missing was a cooler: we could have put more of the milk based and gata (coconut milk) products in there to bring back to Manila.

Another synergistic outcome that day was finding Nathaniel's. K had brought it up by email, then voiced her plan to look for it in San Fernando. While reading the paper, we came across a mention of it in an article that came with the phone number. And eventually we braved traffic to track it down. Their buko pandan (a pudding made of young coconut meat and pandan flavored gelatin with coconut milk) is their best seller, and while we were at the store, we also saw that they had other items we would love to try on our next foray (for merienda their pancit luglug and siomai look tempting). Again, that missing cooler would have come in handy.

Should we brave another warm humid day out in Angeles, we will also compare the halo-halos of Razons and Corazons, get our morcon from Everybody's Cafe, and another cafe called Aurely's has a brazo de mercedes we must taste. And we'll bring a cooler.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Fifteen hours

The last book of the Harry Potter series is out, and as I intended, got a copy and read it through. Since book 4, it's become a ...tradition?.... challenge? .... retreat from the world? to spend the entire day reading the book. This last chapter in the lives of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, along with their friends and enemies, took 15 hours, with a couple of hours of breaks interspersed along the way.

It might be the length, the never ending near misses until the final confrontation, the reiteration of old clues along with all the new twists and turns, but I was finding myself irritated with the proceedings a third of the way and mid-way, thankful that the end was nigh around 9 pm; learned that my suspicions about the so-called traitor in book 6 was right, and ran a tally of the primary characters who fell by the wayside as the book progressed on its gory way. There are a more than a few deaths, as hinted and press released by the author over the last few months, and their passing places this book amongst the older teen readership. Not something my 7 year old niece will be able to absorb at this time in her life.

(spoiler: did they graduate though? At the end of it all, the only one we know has a job is Neville.)

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Reviled by purists, but loved by anyone who wants a hit of nostalgia, not to mention loads of sugar, I am staring at a bag full of M&Ms: peanut, regular chocolate, dark chocolate, and peanut butter. There is also a pack of Twix and Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds candy bars. They remind me of the loot fresh from balikbayan boxes from our aunts or when my dad would come home from long overseas trips.

My father has a ferocious chocolate tooth, which we've diagnosed as a result of his deprivation of any sweets when he was a kid (he lived through a war for heaven's sake!). On his recent foray to the US, he demolished a box of See's chocolates, and then was also caught eating another box of chocolate at my sister's place. My sister said she couldn't help smiling at his enjoyment, but agrees he can't be left with another box lying around. He's diabetic!

He is also quite fond of making excuses about bad eating habits and not wanting to stop smoking. Since he's made it past his 80's he will tell us off when we remind him not to eat sugary stuff and to stop smoking (a long standing epic battle I'd been fighting since I was 6 - fruitless though it may be). His favorite rationalization is "Deng Xiao Ping smoked and lived to be in his 90's!" My dad loves to raise the specter of creaky or dead Communist leaders as examples whenever he wants to get his way. I don't think Deng or Mao or Zhou himself stashed boxes of Almond Roca in his closets, or kept bags of Kisses in his personal refrigerator (he'd portion out his supply and the ones he'd let us get our mittens on. Woe betide any of us who tried to weasel our way into his personal stash. He would gladly share though, so long as we asked. And watched his chinese soap operas with him. What a choice to make!)

He comes home after being away for 6 weeks, probably laden with enough chocolate to kill whatever is left of his kidneys. We'll have to find a way to gently persuade him to put most of it away for rainy days. Before then, I'll let a yellow M&M melt in my mouth (not in my hand of course) and remember my favorite dad moments.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Both round, both dough

We've survived the first two days of school. Months of getting the school cleaned up, repainting, purchasing by the freight loads, nagging the contractors, training the guards, janitors, it guys; putting it together as the song says, bit by bit. Wondering if it will ever get done in time, carpets having to be replaced, new spaces fit with equipment. And then it's all down to day one.

Day one is also our welcome to the parents, chance to get together, chat, have coffee and munchies. Donuts, boxes of them on offer. The smell of all those donuts got into everyone's offices. Then the parents themselves added to the fray by sending in more boxes for teachers and staff. Everywhere you turned round fried dough topped with glaze or powdered sugar or stuffed with cream. The smell of sugar and fat.

Day two is now turning into a pizza day. Boxes of it in the faculty lounge, and to treat the staff for getting through the first days, several more are coming in for merienda. Cheese, meat, vegetables, dough. Round dough. Chewy, salty, spicy dough.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Twiddling thumbs

refrigerator defrosted no stinky stuff left in there for future science experiments; watched Diana concert, Duran Duran sure sounds the same, at least Simon le Bon looks and sounds like he did in the 80's; rain, finally some rain, cool the days down, now all i need to remember is an umbrella; good friend hates the happiest place on earth oh my; i miss r; hpv; fennel sausage now available in supermarket - cooked into rice and claude tayag's xo sauce - yum yum; my mom's addicted to the jumbo pastillas; chicharon tacos and a la peking duck; haven't seen any films in the cinemas in a long while, not enthused to go watch any films, but waiting for Ratatouille and The Simpsons; who is going to be my subject/victim for photog class; school starts this thursday, summer break is officially over and stress begins; reading Status Anxiety by de Botton, makes me want to eat a burger; anchovy pizza; salsa crudo, drain tomatos first; simple joys, lower expectations; can't find gnarls barkeley downloads; no new phone; reduce consumerism; ipos; need vs want (shoes); july 21 hp7.

Monday, July 02, 2007

TS Eliot's Prufock and Other Observations

Friend K put up the quiz on Multiply, but for some reason the format doesn't care to gel on my site there. I've moved it here instead. After checking on the poems listed online, I find an interesting link. I wrote about a friend's christmas party event on December 13, 2006, as they were going to do a tribute to CATS, the musical. One of the poems that influenced the song "Memory" from that show is in PRUFROCK (Preludes). Maybe the quiz knows more than I could have guessed. But I still contend I'm not that short!

You're Prufrock and Other Observations!

by T.S. Eliot

Though you are very short and often overshadowed, your voice is poetic
and lyrical. Dark and brooding, you see the world as a hopeless effort of people trying
to impress other people. Though you make reference to almost everything, you've really
heard enough about Michelangelo. You measure out your life with coffee spoons.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Vieux Chalet: 5 out of 10; Antipolo day trip

We went to Vieux Chalet in Antipolo for lunch to commemorate the temporary return of a good friend. I've read many a good review of the food, we also had a copy of a magazine review which raved about the "Swiss grub" and the great view of the city. We all agreed the view was stellar: Manila's skyline, from the south all the way to Quezon City and the edge of Manila Bay. With no heavy smog line to dampen our view, we could pinpoint several of the buildings, including former employment digs.

Perhaps with such a view, the food could be taken for granted. However, we were 7 hungry foodies with high hopes. For appetizers we ordered a large platter of bread with their homemade pate and butter. The bread was quite pleasant, toasted lightly and the pate was peppery and not too gamey. Our soup order of pumpkin and potato soup was the first disappointment, watery and without a sense of either root vegetable. We were also starting to grumble about the slow service, which followed being told that so many of the menu items were not available (no pizzas, no salads, no seafood, that's at least 1/2 of the menu NOT available). Finally platters started coming in: pasta carbonara, beef tenderloin, rosti, shrimp in coconut sauce (the only seafood dish available), roast chicken, with a few cups of herb rice. But nothing struck us as worth driving an hour outside of town and paying P800 each. Later that afternoon, we unanimously agreed that our halo-halo merienda was worth every centavo, but the highest we could rate our lunch was 5 out of 10.


As a child I would visit Antipolo with my mother because she'd bribe us with suman and cashew nuts after attending some special mass at the Antipolo church. I remember seeing penitents making their way towards the altar on their knees, and paying 25 centavos for candles. The cashews and the suman were our favorite treat there, and my mom didn't mind serving our appetites in the hope that our souls had some salvation bestowed upon us after mass.

One Antipolo site that I don't remember going to visit is Hinulugang Taktak. I asked what the name meant and a couple of friends said Taktak referred to drops or droplets, and we agreed what hinulugang meant (falling). Somewhat redundant no? The falls are not a bad sight, unless you pay the P8 a person and walk down to the viewing deck. That's when the smell hits you and then you look over and see the dump of trash at the catchbasin. The water is frothy, and no wonder, it's detergent! You see the suds floating along, and it's a depressing sight, for this is a National Park. Can't we get at least 10 unemployed folks to clean out the trash? And can someone in the municipal government figure out how to get the squatters to stop using the river as a washbasin/dumsite? Big sigh. P8 is not going to be enough.

After a disappointing lunch and then being assailed by the smell of the laundry falls, Antipolo was starting to feel like a bad choice for a day trip. But the 3rd and last place we went to made things much better. We asked around and found our way to the Pinto Art Gallery, in Grandheights subdivision. What a revelation! And here's the best bit: the owner also owns and set up Sitio Remedios in Currimao (see posts in June 2007). Pinto is built in a Mexican/mediterranean mode, with spanish roof tiles, adobe walls, exposed beams, a couple of small chapel-like extensions that serve as additional galleries and repositories. The gardens are expansive with drop offs that lead towards additional guest houses. Sculpture serves to break the foliage, and yet, feel perfectly in place without a sense of pretension. You can imagine sitting amongst friends in the garden looking at the skyline, or trying to raise the consciousness of the ever-sleeping cat (Van Gogh), or perhaps taking in the antiques set up in the kitchen. Jim, the resident caretaker and an artist in his own right, will tell you stories about the art and the artists. He was kind enough to let us wander around the galleries and the grounds, plus told us of plans to create a bed and breakfast in a year or two. I wouldn't mind pretending to be an artist to just hang out in a place like that (if Van Gogh would deign to snooze while I sketched his furry tummy....). Pinto holds an annual art festival with film showing every May to June.

Pike Market Peonies

Pike Market Peonies