6 Aug

I’ve never been out on a date for my birthday, so when Raine — among my favoritestestest people in the world — asked me out, I squealed a yes even before I could blink.

Together, we indulged in an evening of story-swapping and gustatory revelry with entrees at the Stella Wood Bistro and dessert at The Diamond Hotel’s Cake Club. For the main course, I had my fill of bone marrow with garlic focaccia crisps, served with a rosemary sultana compote and gremolata.

After we had asked for the bill, I oh-so-pointedly mentioned that it was my birthday. And what do you know? The waiter came back with two scoops of Arce Dairy Mantecado ice cream. The flavor was a childhood favorite, and for that moment I felt nineteen going on nine.

Our idea of a post-dinner workout involved the most unorthodox of fitness equipments: DSLR, lamppost, busy sidewalk and the added bonus of a drizzle. We like to think we burned a good deal of calories chasing our shadows on the pavement, twirling, jumping and posing for outfit shots.

That day’s outfit featured a black and white semi-sheer dress (P60) from a Makati ukay, a ribbon recycled from a birthday package, my favorite black doctor’s bag (P250) from a Japanese thrift store and red rose shoes from Landmark. 

It would later turn out that whatever exercise we deluded ourselves into doing was for naught. Our desserts at the Cake Club made doubly, triply sure of that. I’m not very fond of chocolate cakes, but the promise of dark chocolate in the Supermoist Chocolate Cake made me rescind initial distaste. Happily, it didn’t disappoint.

Moreover, Raine had been gushing about their Baked Cheesecake Ice Cream (BCIC) since the summer, and I understood why upon the first spoonful. 

Think of a chunky cheesecake with a nibbly crust. Now add milk and velvety cream, and there goes a humble approximation of the goodness that is BCIC. 

Before paying the bill, I casually mentioned again that it was my birthday. The waiter promptly excused himself and returned with a menu. I got to choose two ice cream flavors on the house, and happily settled for the robust black sesame and the sherbetesque lychee.

That night was the caloric equivalent of raising two fat middle fingers up the face of my so-called grad pictorial diet.

But I’ll never forget what Raine told me when I thanked her over dinner for the birthday treat. She said she had given her gift some thought, but ultimately opted for something impossible to replicate or replace: “I realized I can buy you anything at anytime. And anyone can do the same. But I can’t really buy you memories for you to keep, so I’m gonna give you one for your nineteenth.”

And what a memory it was — rambunctious, spontaneous and overall precious, long after the moon pulled back the strings of rain, and long after the plates had been cleared away.

Photo credits to Raine Calucag.

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