Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ice cream triangle

My neighborhood is full of tree lined streets, relatively old houses and more than a few retreat houses for the catholic lay missionaries. One of the better hospitals is 10 minutes away, and am close to the LRT3 system, so a couple of stops away and I'm in a shopping mecca. But what probably stands out as the major landmark is the ice cream factory.

As a child, the ice cream factory was also known as the Magnolia factory, it had a cafe/ice cream shop that we'd go to after mass. We would order our choices from parfaits, splits, cobblers, or shakes. My brother was an Ernie and Bert guy, while my sister loved the splits with the occasional parfait thrown in. I'd always get the Black and White. My parents would try different things, so I can't recall what they typically ordered. We also would always try to sit near our favorite ice cream server who would add in extra cream or extra crushed peanuts when he could without any charge. If my parents had their way, we'd sit at a booth, all skwushed in, my brother and I fighting for leg room. But if the booths were full, we'd rush to the stools and watch the scoopers prepare our orders. I liked the stools.

Sometime in the 1990s a big multi-national came in and bought Magnolia. Or took over, or in some form or another swooped in and changed the face of my childhood ice cream shop. For awhile it was Nestle-Magnolia, then it just became Nestle. And the ice cream shop at the factory? It lost it's je ne sais quoi. I heard it got a bit grimy, and less customer friendly. Plus it wasn't our own anymore, excuse the nationalism. So when I came home in the late 90's I didn't go back to the old ice cream shop.

Moving into the neighborhood two years ago, I was faced with the fact that the behemoth was right there, a good landmark when giving directions. But sometime earlier this year, I realized that Magnolia had a place, right across from the factory. Sort of like a kid nyah-nyah-nyahing the big brother across the street. I didn't go around to either ice cream shop for most of the year. Until yesterday. What changed my mind? Well, there's a new kid on the block. It's called Amazing, it took over the space of my neighborhood chicken inasal place, and it offers pizza in a cone, and soft serve ice cream. Hmmm, interesting combination, no?

So after dilly dallying for a few weeks, and seeing all those people trying out Amazing, I thought about going over there to test it out. I walked over and ordered myself a soft serve cone (was not in the mood to try the pizzas, and considering the displayed pizza cones looked congealed, I will pass on the option) with chocolate chips and crushed reeses pieces (peanut butter and chocolate!!!). I was looking forward to it, then took a lick. Ugh. It tasted like non-dairy creamer!! Yuck. I had a crestfallen not-real-ice-cream moment. Sorry but that isn't amazing in my books.

What to do when one's plans for an ice cream treat fall by the wayside? I walked down the road and decided to have a foot massage. And after an hour of that, I realized that I was right next door to the Magnolia ice cream shop. With P220 in my wallet, I turned into the shop and went over the menu. It really looked like the old menu from when Magnolia was across the way, and I saw they had Ernie and Bert, Black and White, all the floats, shakes, splits. What oh what would I have? I had to erase the memory of the icky soft serve from not amazing. And there I saw among the parfaits, the Brown Derby! Whoohoo, yes, I would order the BD.

The Brown Derby is a three scooper, strawberry, mango, and chocolate, with chocolate syrup, strawberry jam, and crushed pineapples. They also poured in some sprite (why? eh, for the fizz!), topped it with a large dollop of real Magnolia cream (not that nondairy stuff), and lots of peanuts and a small sliver of maraschino cherry. All for P144. Not bad, but my dad would probably intone "it used to cost P25 for a shake!" I loved smushing it together, avoiding too much side spillage, getting flavors, textures and happy feelings all rolled into one. I had no problems forgetting the bad earlier incident in favor of a moment of feeling like a 10 year old again. I'll have to go back and see if the servers will toss in extra peanuts!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox

If the curse of bambino was undone in 2004, this year confirmed that Boston is a championship city once again. I just saw the 4th game of the World Series and caught the winning innings. Rather a nailbiting game, with the runs only coming in at the 7th and 8th innings. The Japanese pitcher who had won the 3rd game sort of faltered at the 8th inning and let the Rockies gain 2 runs, so he threw in the towel. But in the end, its a sweep for the Sox. I can imagine that a lot of people will not be in at school or work Monday morning in Boston, perhaps less so than the revelry that came over the city the first time they regained their status 3 years ago.

(Monday morning, barangay elections equals a national holiday; this Thursday and Friday are also national holidays. This entire week is perfect for either bumming around or taking a trip. Decisions, decisions.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When it's raining

... and your nose is stuffed with a cold, you stay home and avoid sharing the germs. You mentally berate yourself for putting the book you're reading, of which you only have two more chapters to go, in with the laundry (book saved from watery mess, but not available for reading for a day). So you turn to the "interweb" and read what is going on out there. And watch way too much tv.

Let's start with tv: who forgot to tell me that StarWorld is now showing old episodes of Northern Exposure? One of my all time favorite shows. Quirky, well written, romantic, lovable characters, and made me want to move to Alaska, like LA Law made law school applications jump through the roof. They've tried replicating it (Men in Trees), but nothing comes close to the intelligent writing and verbal sparring, plus imaginative scenarios all in 7 seasons of classic tv (the last two seasons were less brilliant). Unfortunately, I'd have to be home from 10 am to catch it.

Discovery Channel in Asia is finally showing Dirty Jobs, a great show highlighting the most unimaginably disgusting work in action. I'm guessing that Discovery Channel Asia is starting from the first season, so the most recent episode has him talking to noodlers, who stick their face in holes looking to get bitten by catfish, well to fish for these honking big catfish in Oklahoma. Then a few more jobs dealing with manure, worms, goo. Love it! Someone's got to do it indeed.

As for reading online, there's an interesting interview about female chefs, the trials and tribulations they deal with as women in the kitchen; Time Magazine has a short photo essay on what famous chefs would eat for their last meal (I didn't find any of it too illuminating, but go check it out for the photos! I love the pasta hat worn by Lidia Bastianich, and the gigantic pugs with Adria.).

And just when you feel like having a dab of perfume to make you feel a bit better, you read about the continued use of civet musk in the fragrance beez. Kat peez. I'll just drink the coffee.

Monday, October 22, 2007


I first heard about it from my sister by text. "Is Pepperdine affected by the fires in Malibu?" Oh no. The fire season.

Pepperdine is located off the Pacific Coast Highway, in Malibu. The campus (also known as Seaver Campus) was built on a bluff overlooking the ocean, and there's not a year that goes by that it isn't named one of the most beautiful campuses in the US. It also tends to create the myth that Pepperdine students don't study, we're like whoa, surfer dudes/dudettes. Or stoned with the amazing views. Or that we're a bunch of conservative yuppies who drive porsches to school and play tennis with local supercelebrities who live nearby. Well the last statement is sort of true for some of the students there. Luckily not all of us are tarred with the same brush.

The location also doesn't help during the fire season. Given the non-ending drought in the southwest of the US, the fire season seems to happen more and more often. Dry scrub, winds (the infamous Sta. Ana's), add the occasional malicious arsonist, and you have a recipe for disaster. In 1993, the year after I graduated, the campus was closed down for a few days when the fires came too close for comfort. I remember reading a few years back of another close call. And today, there's another case for worry. Checking the school's website after seeing my sister's text, I see that they've announced that classes have been cancelled, that students were evacuated to common spaces away from the dorms near the higher scrub areas, and that roads to campus have been closed down. I have faith that the school's prepared to keep both studnets and buildings safe. But there's no guarantee with fire.

I hope R and my bro stay safe.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The King and Anna

Deborah Kerr passed away today at the age of 86. She is remembered for the beach scene in From Here to Eternity, and most romantics will have a copy of An Affair to Remember (Cary Grant and her, the viewing deck of the Empire State Building). But my favorite film of hers is The King and I. She was not a singer, so the songs were dubbed, but she managed to sail through the movie in the flounciest dresses, undergarments in full rig.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Filling up my time

Based on my "planner" (er, the sticky note on my computer), I have nothing scheduled for this weekend. A friend who just came back from a long stay in the US has invited me to come over to see her expanding tummy (she's 5 months pregnant), and my cousin just moved to a new condo so I have to drop off a housewarming gift sometime this weekend. However, so many other interesting things are taking place as well, so thanks to the blogging community for posting stuff to titillate my fancy. Here are some ideas for the weekend if you're not travelling:

1. CineEuropa 10. Starts today till the end of the month, at the Shangri-la Plaza Mall in Edsa. Catch noteworthy european films, classics like Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander, Oscar winners Kolya and Lives of Others (I am definitely making a beeline for the latter; the former is a sweet sappy feel good movie though, I'd love to see it again). I only caught one of the films from the recent Spanish Film Festival; hope to spend a bit more time checking out the options from the EU.

2. Food Festival at the Sofitel (formerly Philippine Plaza). Oct 21 and 22. Am curious but not dying to go to this one. Check out Margauxlicious' blog to learn all the details.

3. Japanese gift wrapping workshop at Sinag Arts Center, Oct 19 to 21. I'm the worst gift wrapper on the planet. My sister usually handles all the wrapping for me since I cannot give gifts that look like it went through a shredder; even when I plunk them in a gift bag with paper fillings, they look so pedestrian. The Japanese are known for their aesthetic eye, and have avenues filled with paper products to appeal to a gift receiver's heart. So I'm hoping this will be useful. I'm only attending the Sunday morning session, but if I gain some mastery in a couple of hours, I may extend till the afternoon session.

Books, tidbits

A billboard on EDSA sponsored by a funeral parlor touting DEATHCARE Week, October 27 to Nov 2, offering a 50% discount on services. One of their action lines is "Serbisyo hangang langit" (service up to heaven). My morbid funny bone was momentarily tickled pink. Hmmm, what about those who head down instead of up? Non-refundable I suppose.

***** ****** ******** ************

Google statistics show top word searchers per country. Germany, Austria seem to have a thing for one A. Hitler, although the word Nazi was mostly sought out by folks in Latin America and the UK. For us Pinoys, our top three words? Terrorism, Love, Homosexuality.

***** ****** ******** ************

Am in a middle of a schizo reading month, juggling 6 books. The two that I look forward to opening each day though is Fluke by Christopher Moore and a mystery series by Phillip Pullman (he of the Amber Spyglass, Golden Compass trilogy). Fluke (subtitle: I know why the winged whale sings) is best described as a slightly off kilter fantasy/science nerd book about whales and the people who study them. It starts off well enough about the marine biologists who spend all their lives studying the singers - humpback whales who sing whale songs, then turns into semi-espionage thriller of dastardly deeds done to the researchers (with more than a strong splash of anti-military rhetoric) before turning into some form of fantasy where whales are part of a reversed Darwin experiment. Who pray. The prose is constantly cheeky, and the characters are lovable. Plus we want the whales to kick those stupid navy guys' butts. A day or two ago, I came across an article about how military installed sonar booms across the Pacific are the reason why certain whales may be beaching themselves and dying. HA! Truth in science and fiction.

Am starting the Pullman series backwards, accidentally beginning with the 4th in the series. Which is sort of dandy, since the story is individual and distinct, and cannot really be argued in favor of the phrase "suitable for kids". Actually, Pullman writes for an older audience, definitely one more mature, but he gets categorized in the kiddie section because his publishers probably have nothing better to do. Whatever. Go look for his Sally Lockhart series. And if you read The Tin Princess, expect intrigue, espionage, murder, war, heroism.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Thrilla in the camalig

As I mentioned in the previous post, friends and I had lunch at a renovated camalig or granary in Angeles. The strong downpour forced us to stay inside, we sat by the window watching the rain, munching on our pizza. We were the only customers there for an hour, and our only companions were the waiter, the cashier, and the cook in the back. But we were regaled by the radio broadcast of the Pacquiao-Barrera fight. Round after round, we listened to what was happening over in Vegas, while we joined the rest of the country to listen or watch the show.

Listening to a sports event made me feel very relaxed. Yes, it was man vs man, fight to the finish, blood, gore, sweat, tears, and a lot of pain for both gladiators. Thousands of miles away, two guys and a lady sit listening to the broadcaster narrating the play by play action, watching the rain cool the earth, sitting in a stone and wood hall, the fans overhead circulating the rain cooled air. If I were watching it, I think I'd have been turned off by the sight of what they were doing, but having the experience second hand, through the voice of the sportscaster, I could imagine the ballet of the fight.

When he won, we raised our milkshakes (well, E raised his fork) to him. Cheers!

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Friends who like to munch, A and E, said let's go north young people, so north we headed. With a goal of Pampanga tripping on our minds, we spent a few hours cruising around Angeles where I guided the two through some previous finds: Susie's and Rosings, Everybody's Cafe, and the halo-halo triangle near Nepo Mart. Between the three of us we tried and bought:

12 boxes of candies from Rosings (caramels, nougats, chews, and assorted sweet goodies)
2 morcons
3 packs of chicharon
1 mochi with gata sauce
1 carabao milk custard
4 packs of puto (ube and regular)
a large bag of bread-y goods from Perfect Loaf (cinnamon bread, ensaimadas, mamon, cheese rolls, ube muffin)
Sticky duman bibingka (a very uncommon kakanin that I immediately ordered to taste since it shows up only when there's a harvest of the special rice)

We had also gone north to try an Angeles tradition, the pizza at Armando's. A told me that the restaurant was in a "camalig", or granary, which has been in the Nepomuceno family since 1840. We enjoyed poking around the restaurant, there was a lot of old pieces still stored under the main dining hall, and there's a certain comfort eating inside a place that's solid and built to last. However, the pizza was made for a Pinoy sensibility; think 3A, Magoos. Yup, a cardboard like crust, with a sweet sauce and processed cheese. I doused each slice with hot sauce.

Back in Manila, we walked around the Cubao Shoe Expo (or Marikina Shoe Expo located in Cubao. A bit confusing, but most Manila based people know what it means); A fell in love with a small painting we spotted in White Box, an art gallery chockful of new artists' works. We also met the owners of a new cafe offering healthy salads and cupcakes, Halo. The three ladies there were enthusiastic and full of vim. But they'll need more than that to keep this place afloat. A couple of places we had hoped to visit, a furniture design shop, and an art gallery that sold collectibles, were kaput in less than a year. Vintage Pop, a fun place to poke around had a sign that said "open upon request"; the rain didn't help to keep our spirits up. It would be nice to see the shops make it, but they depend on regular custom.

And at the end of the day, tired friends seek something simple, hot, and comforting while the rain pours down. Soup.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


The good people of Aldo have decided that Manila is a good place to open a store. What is Aldo and why do I mention them here?

My story starts in 2001, a trip to the US brought me to DC for work. On a free afternoon walking around Georgetown, I see this store with interesting shoes. Walking in, there's an immediate European vibe, Italian style, and my shoe salivary glands (or the part of all Imeldific Manilenyas that goes thumpa thumpa) are in overdrive. I barely remember what was in vogue that long ago, but I do remember falling for two pairs - a black 3 inch pump, and a black stacked oxford. Bought them, dragged my shopping back to the hotel and drooled over them further (you know how women who've just bought shoes do it - we put on one or both shoes, raise our leg to an attactive height for angular inspection of the shoe, preferably in front of a mirror so we see how Mahvellous! the shod foot looks. A good hour of that is typical after a successful shoe shopping trip.).

Part of the work schedule also included a night out sponsored by the Turkish embassy, and we all trooped down to embassy row in our finery. I had to use the new heels, and it was the perfect look for a night of schmoozing. However, it soon spiralled into a painful evening, as I can only do one hour of standing in heels before my feet begin to scream for relief. The setting for the cocktails didn't include any place to sit for over 4 hours and I barely made it to the taxis back that night. It was awhile before I used those shoes again, but they still have a place in my shoe collection.

The oxfords were far more abused. I walked miles in them and would love to get another pair if Aldo still carries something similar to it. They had a masculine facet, but were very polished for a work shoe. After 5 years of use, I decided it was time to let it go.

Aldo has opened a branch in the Bonifacio High Street, Fort Bonifacio. My nightly prayer will be that they carry my size.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cheese notes

Cheese club, Manila Polo Club. October 3, 2007.

Theme: Austrian cheeses

Highlights: Wurzige Heidi (a peppery soft cheese), the Milder Intaller (a creamy piquant "well balanced" cheese - went well with the red grapes), and a grainier hard cheese reminiscent of Gruyere and Grana Padano (whose label was unfortunately missing, so we guessed it was the Vornalsberg c/o mini-flags stuck to a couple of the chunks). Most of the cheeses I tried were labeled as raw milk cheeses (bio-kase).

Low points: a lot of bland flavors ("nutty, semi-hard cheeses, no zing"), and nothing that made me say Wow. No raclette cheeses left early in the event, and the initial invitation stated availability of Tyrolean hams which also disappeared a bit too fast. All that was left was overly chewy speck. I had been hoping for some stinky farm cheeses, but perhaps customs tossed them from the shipment. The main lounge of polo club must stink of cheese for days after the club meetings.

Wines sipped: an Austrian Reisling (fruity at the start, dryer at the end; hard to find in most local wine purveyors), a Chilean Carmenera (Sta. Rita Reserva) - berries, not too tannic, good drinkable wine.

Complete the statement: Austrian cheeses are like a pair of knitted socks on a rainy day.

If you were one of the Austrian cheeses on offer tonight, you would be: the "heidi" - a soft raw milk cheese with a crust of crushed pink and green peppercorns.

Overheard at the cheese club: "This cheese is flavorless! And read the sign - strong aromatic taste yet mild flavor. What an oxymoron!"

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Sometime this weekend I read about a documentary film being worked on in the US about music and life in the big city. Over 80 regular joe's and jane's are going around town being filmed singing songs from Broadway musicals or jazz pieces in public areas like the subway, or around a park, or walking down the street. I am fuzzy on what the raison d'etre of this film is, but what it's turned out to be is not just a delivery on people singing in public, but how the public reacts to overt musical activity. For the most part, most people seem to be ignoring the activity. And the singers are asked how they feel before and after their performance. Most mentioned that it was awkward to sing in a "anonymous" public venue, and they felt conscious at the beginning. But it was the non-reaction of the rest of the people around them that made them feel worse. Is it perhaps the choice of music? Or is it the cold-hearted nature of urban living that puts a barrier between singer and the prospective audience?

This morning, while walking through a large business complex in Makati, I crossed paths with people who looked like they had gotten off their call center shift. And one of them burst into song (from a recently reviewed Broadway musical shown last month). Somehow in Manila, where police dance while working, or janitors sing to keep themselves from the doldrums, or secretaries sing along at work, it doesn't seem out of place. The fellow singing his ditty this morning wasn't strange. And he put a smile on this urban dweller's face.

Pike Market Peonies

Pike Market Peonies