Tag Archives: food

New finds and old favorites

14 Aug

Have any of your favorite eateries ever closed down?

A number of mine already have in recent years, and I realized how old I’m getting instrumental they have been to my dietary and social needs.

I remember many merienda sessions and night-outs with college friends inMaginhawa Street. Among our most frequented chow spots were Combi, which specializes in rice toppings, and the Persian diner Alfahkr’s (if your pronunciation sounds obscene, then congratulations, you’ve pronounced it right). Both of them closed in 2011.

Backtrack to an earlier period in my life. As a child and pre-teen, I loved spending afternoons after school at the Yum Yum Tree, what was once (huhu past tense) this cozy little café in Rustans Harrison Plaza, a stone’s throw away from where Mama used to work.

At YYT, my awkward, pimply prepubescent self developed a love for milkshakes and chicken cordon bleu. That was where I swapped stories with my parents in between bites of clubhouse sandwiches and the house burger. But all that was no more when Shopwise replaced Rustans inHarrisonPlaza.

Last Sunday, Mama and I grabbed a bite at Benny’s, a bistro with Filipino roots sprinkled with Italian sensibilities. It now stands where the Rustans Makati branch of YYT used to be. Most of their menu choices are local fare, but they do have a deli section for cold cuts and an open counter for customized pasta.

The attending waiter Arnel struck up a conversation with Mama and mentioned that he used to work for Yum Yum Tree. He had recognized her as one of the many employees who whiled their lunch breaks and merienda hours in the café.

While a sudden wave of nostalgia made me miss YYT, I happily indulged in Benny’s culinary offerings.

Clockwise from the empty plate and utensils: Bam-I, Benny’s Panini, Chico Shake

We had Bam-I (sautéed sotanghon and canton noodles with meat, seafood and vegetables) and Benny’s Panini (turkey ham, prosciutto, emmenthal, cheddar and garlic-herbed cheese drizzled with cranberry dressing on wholewheat bread). For my drink, I had theirChico(Sapodilla) Shake, a sweet, earthy fruit drink with a nutty aftertaste.

That day’s outfit had a touch of the sentimental in it. I paired a white straw hat from an elementary school costume with black shorts and a ribbony-printed chiffon blouse (P65) from an ukay-ukay. My favorite black closed wedges with golden stitched curlicues are by Gibi.

I am really loving hats right now, and I hope to collect more of them in the coming months. Look out for the next outfit post, where I’ll blog about the fun in donning a straw hat to school (schizo weather and curious stares notwithstanding).

Cheers!

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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.

Last Friday Night: The Cheat Date

30 Jul

There is no state of bliss like sleeping in, especially on a weekday. It’s a privilege I’m unlikely to bask in once I trade my class readings for office memos, and my Form 5s for tax returns. That’s why every year since 2010, I strive to leave at least one whole morning free when mapping out my schedule for the semester.

This sem, Fridays are my staying-in-bed cheat days, what with a lone interpretive writing class (granted, it’s a three-hour class) at 1 p.m. Last July 27, though, I unintentionally took the lollygagging a little to the extreme. I woke up feeling ill at 10 a.m., ate breakfast, did my morning routine, and plopped back into bed an hour later. 

I woke up a second time at 2:30 p.m. In my groggy state, I read a text message from my prof: she had called off our class and required us instead to catch a forum from 1-4 p.m. that day. 

I reached school just in time for the forum’s end. YAY. Thankfully, I ran into classmates who were generous enough to fill me in on what went on during the forum.

Lesson learned: Never doze off after accomplishing morning routine. If it can’t be helped, at least set up an alarm.

That night, I was lucky enough to have enjoyed the company of my batchmate and good friend Jiru. I was up for some redundancy that night, so we trooped to Maginhawa for a double burger cheat date (no hard feelings, grad pic diet) — whetting our appetites first at the Burger Project and hopping over to The Iscreamist for dessert.

The Burger Project lets diners customize their own burger, with a range of patties, sauces, buns and add-ons to choose from. As a bonus, you can even name your creation and they’ll have the recipe recorded, allowing you to order the same thing during your next visit. 

     That night, I had a beef patty with lettuce, tomatoes, caramelized onions and gruyere cheese, drizzled with Burger Project’s Special Sauce and all wedged between two sesame buns. YUM. 

     Over at The Iscreamist, I tried the Burger variant of their Dragon’s Breath concoctions. The latter are basically cookies on popsicle sticks with Macaron, Bacon Popcorn, S’mores and Burger variants. It’s served in threes or fours with a cup of liquid nitrogen. 

The diner dips the cookie into the cup (effectively flash-freezing it) and pops it into his/her mouth. Then he/she sits back as smoke flares out from his/her nostrils and mouth, in a very bad-ass dragonesque fashion.

T’was my first time to try Dragon’s Breath. Jiru was kind enough to take a video as I floundered and slightly panicked as the first frozen cookie stuck to my tongue. Will upload it the next chance I get. 

And because he’s such a sweetie, Jiru capped off the night by giving me my first birthday gift this year: my own copy of The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. ❤

It rained for most of the afternoon and well into the night, something I failed to anticipate when I slipped into today’s outfit: an Express tank top (P100 from an outlet store) and a girly little skirt from the Makati Cinema Square ukay (P105). The silver ballet flats are from the Marikina Shoe Exchange, and the bright blue ribbon was a birthday gift from last year. 

I set out to try a different outfit shot last Friday, so I set my camera Sheldon on self-timer. This was the result of 561489 takes (after a time, all the futile jumping started feeling like a workout…yes, grad pic diet, I hear your evil cackle loud and clear) and a close encounter with a twisted ankle.

Cheers!