Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shrimp Pasta for 2 People I Like

Day and I cooked shrimp pasta for her 25th birthday this past monday, Dec. 8. Below is the recipe, which I'm also dedicating (like a song!) to my friend with the alliterative name, Leah Lupisan Laxamana, whose birthday is Dec. 9 (yesterday here in Manila, today in California). Sorry, I can't cook it for you, Ley. Tutal, self-reliance is the way to go, so cook it yourself! :)

Shrimp Pasta


750 g spaghetti
500 g tomato sauce
1 250 ml pack all-purpose cream
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced onion/shallots
2 pcs green chili, deseeded and chopped
5 medium tomatoes, chopped
400-500 g shrimps, peeled
salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, chili flakes, basil, and italian seasoning blend, all to taste
grated cheese


1. Saute onions then garlic in olive oil. Then add green chili.
2. After a couple of minutes, add the tomatoes. Season immediately with salt and pepper, then other spices.
3. Add shrimps (half-cooked).
4. When shrimps are pink, add tomato sauce.
5. When sauce is bubbling, add cream.
6. Check for taste. Add seasonings as needed.
7. Add cooked pasta to the sauce. Toss.
8. Place in baking dish. Add layer of grated Cheese.
9. (Optional) Bake until cheese melts.
10. Serve with buttered toast or garlic bread.
11. Enjoy.

Monday, December 08, 2008


The Vietnamese idea of scale and proportion is small. It’s not a bad kind of small. It may be similar to our idea of “tingi” and the sari-sari store, which is all about just enough, nothing in excess. I stayed for 3 days in Ho Chi Minh 2 months ago and the main thing I brought home from that trip, aside from the coffee and coconut candies, is the realization that big is not a natural imperative. In Vietnam, balingkinitan seems to be the norm. In that place, where the buildings weren’t too tall, the streets were just wide enough to accommodate more bicycles than cars, and the people were no bigger than I was… in 2nd grade… there seemed to be no need to go large scale.

The people, the streets, the buildings all share one thing—they take up the least amount of space possible. Balingkinitan. Little and willowy. There really is no other word to describe them. The main highways are half the size of EDSA. The streets of Ho Chi Minh feature clusters of narrow buildings that look like concrete reeds of varying height but never reaching the kind of heights that buildings here do. And they don’t have malls and shopping complexes a la Megamall or Trinoma. Think Star Mall. Much of our shopping was done in the stores along the side streets of the city, which sold different goodies at half the price the same products were being sold for in Ben Thanh market, the central market that was supposedly the place to go for good buys. Supposedly. My friend, Claire, bought a pair of shades at Ben Thanh for the equivalent of 300 pesos. Naturally, we would later spot a side street store selling shades for as low as the equivalent of 100 pesos. I reckon it sucked to be her, at that point.

The people in Vietnam are all smaller than me. I never saw one Vietnamese larger or even at least as large. There was this one Vietnamese salesgirl who was probably already their idea of “fat”, and she looked like she was the same size I was in fifth grade. The strange thing is, though, when it came to food, they served pretty big portions. Claire and I had dinner in this eatery that serves only beef soup. We each ordered one. The owner put a huge bowl in front of me filled with soup, vermicelli, and about twenty thin slices of beef, with a plate of assorted vegetables on the side. I couldn’t finish all of it. You’d think I’d be able to finish a big bowl of beef soup. But, I guess, where Vietnamese beef vermicelli soup is concerned I’m a figurative lightweight.

I wonder where they put all that beef. Or the pork. They’re fond of pork too. We had lunch at a place that served shredded pork as a side dish to… pork. So, I actually had a pork-on-pork meal. I know where all the food I eat goes. I actually look like I like to eat. They look like freaky health fanatics who consume only 10 calories a day. Times like these I find myself asking fundamental life questions, like, “What the hell?”

But I couldn’t bring myself to resent the Vietnamese. They seemed so sweet and innocent, never mind the Viet Cong and their wily ways that led to the defeat of the US Army. Which brings me to another point, you know those underground tunnels that the Viet Cong built to aid them in their guerilla warfare against the American imperialists? I like that word. Imperialist. Reminds me of Mark Twain and his anti-imperialist essays. And of that French guy in the Highlander series who said, “Imperialist! I spit on the ground you walk on.” Who in turn reminds me of John Cleese’s French Guard character in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the one who kept mocking King Arthur and said, “I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”

I love the French, especially when they’re all… stereotypical… But I digress…

As I was saying, those underground tunnels were really tiny too. And narrow. Bawal ang malaki, to rephrase that Clusivol commercial. You won’t fit inside the hole if you’re as big as G.I. Joe. In fact, the tour guide said that the Viet Congs’ small frame helped them evade the American soldiers, some of whom would actually try and stick their massive bodies into these small holes, to no avail, obviously. (This reminds me of the late American comedian, Chris Farley, who got laughs stuffing his huge body into David Spade’s coat, and singing, “Fat guy in a little coat…”).

Roads and streets in Ho Chi Minh are all relatively narrower. Certainly, they don’t have a main thoroughfare like EDSA. Not that they really need one. People don’t drive much in Vietnam. They ride motorbikes instead. To get an idea of how many bikes traverse the streets at any one time, imagine the number of cars along EDSA vis a vis the number of motorcycles. Then, imagine the reverse. That’s how it’s like in Ho Chi Minh’s roads. It can be crazy-making trying to dodge all those bikes zipping past you. It’s like a thousand mechanical lemmings coming at you. One of them makes eye contact just before that moment when you’re sure you’re about to get hit by a bike in Vietnam. And then, in a split second, the biker tilts her hips to the left, or to the right, slanting away from you with only a tiny increment of space between you and her. It’s all quite cozy and intimate, these brushes with death. What do the French call it? Le petit morte? The little death. Of course, they were talking about something else altogether, but that same phrase applies here. It’s very suave the way the Vietnamese avoid collisions. They wouldn’t be able to do that, avoid hitting someone with only an inch of space in between, if they were big-boned, muscle-toned, fat-framed types.

In Vietnam, being balingkinitan makes a lot of sense. It helps you evade the enemy and eventually defeat them. It also helps you cheat death several times on the way to work.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Meaning Of Mechado

Wednesday. 29th of October. One minute after One. PM. I am in the middle of finishing a lunch that consists of pork mechado and brown rice. The pork mechado is left over from yesterday's dinner. Our kasambahay, Daya, has left for her annual vacation to her hometown in Bacolod and she cooked enough mechado and adobo to last us several days.

So sometime before One, I decided... make that MY MIND... my mind decided to heat it up and eat it for lunch. Not a mind-boggling, spectacular decision. Except my mind is making up this whole big deal about what I know to be just a regular meal. I'm not explaining it well. It's...

My mind's racing. It's been racing for close to 20 minutes now. You know that feeling, that you're on the verge of an important discovery, or you're about to have some kind of life changing epiphany? That feeling of anticipation, on the verge of a Eureka moment... and yet, you know, you know, there's no meaning to be had, to be found, to be created... in mechado!

There are no epiphanies in brown rice! Heating up a meal made of left overs is NOT up there with undertaking your life's most important research study! It won't get you the ultimate brilliant idea for a script that will win the country's first Oscar for Best Original Screenplay!

Your body moves in the same slow, lethargic manner you usually have, but your mind--at least the part that does not contain, imprison, YOU--says and feels otherwise. You're all jumpy and nervous and excited inside a sluggishly moving body. You're waiting for that Zen moment--which you know will never happen because moments of Zen don't come to those who expect.

Expectation is the antithesis of Zen.

You know this, yet your mind is telling your body to behave otherwise, to act like you're on the verge of a profound realization. But your body just can't get with your mind's current programme.

You feel incongruent. Discordant. Unreal.

You just have to wait this out, this excruciating moment of feeling like something's going to happen while knowing, being entirely convinced, that something never will.

Mechado sucks.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Nakainom Ako Ng Melamine!!!

Thanks to last night's news, I found out that we've been consuming milk laced with melamine these past few months. See, we switched over from Milk Magic low fat milk to Jolly Cow Slender low fat milk because the latter was, ahem, cheaper. And since we mistakenly assumed that it is always a wise decision to go cheaper if you can, especially during these times, we started buying Jolly Cow low fat milk. It didn't taste any different and, prior to last night's announcement, we've consumed probably around 4 cartons of it over a period of several months. We used it mostly for oatmeal, of which mama ate the most. When news about melamine in milk went around, we stopped drinking it just to be on the safe side, but when BFAD announced that Jolly Cow regular milk was found negative of melamine, I guess we figured it's probably the same results for the low fat kind since these were the same brand, from the same company, anyway.

Lo and behold (is it a mark of melanine poisoning to be using old fashioned, hokey phrases such as "lo and behold"?), we tuned in to last night's news only to find a health official holding up a carton of the same brand of milk we'd been consuming, yes, Jolly Cow Slender, at a press conference, announcing that said brand has been found to contain melamine.

I think my jaw dropped a hundred storeys.

A quick internet search reveals the following effects of melamine poisoning (sourced from WHO): irritability, blood in urine, little or no urine, signs of kidney infection, and high blood pressure. I think I'm safe from every one of those save the first. I get easily irritated but I think that's more of a personality quirk than an effect of a chemical in my bloodstream.

In any case, it seems pointless to agonize, as my sister says, about what are really small amounts of milk we ingested in the past. And as yet, we experience nothing of the supposed effects of melamine poisoning. Maybe the chemical has been washed out of our system already. But I'm not taking any chances. No milk for me anytime soon.

Thank God for non-dairy creamer.

Wait, non-dairy creamer doesn't have milk in it. Ergo, it can't possibly have melamine, right?

Is paranoia an effect of melamine poisoning?

"Methinks it is, lassie!" says the voice in my head.


Monday, September 15, 2008

On Food, Violence, and Power

A quick google using the key words “vegetarian dictator” reveals links to the sorely contested idea that Adolf Hitler, mass murderer and all around asshole, was a vegetarian. Some historians have argued that Der Fuhrer did not eat meat, that the man who got it into his head to attempt to exterminate a whole race in a sincerely, insanely, misguided effort at purification, only nibbled on plants and cared not for carnivorous pleasures such as steak, foie gras, ham, bologna, salami, sausages, fried chicken, roast turkey, grilled fish, and other cooked permutations of formerly living, breathing, walking, and swimming members of kingdom Animalia.

I can imagine how vegetarians, especially those who don’t eat meat for moral reasons, would be gagging about this. Since vegetarianism is often associated with a pacifistic philosophy and lifestyle that seeks to respect all forms of life even, say, bacteria, it of course won’t do for one’s moral code to be associated with a man who had zero respect for any life other than his.

I myself am skeptical of the idea that Hitler only consumed plants because… well… A vegetarian dictator? Somehow, it’s hard to imagine such a creature ever existing.

A dictator is one who superimposes his will onto that of the weak. He doesn’t ask for anything, he just takes it, grabs it, keeps it then spews it out whenever, wherever, at whomever he wants to. A dictator doesn’t wish, he wills. His is power that renders others’ moot. Equality and respect are anathema to him. Superiority and dominion are his raison d’etre.

It’s difficult to imagine that someone like this would have a diet that reflects a “live and let live” philosophy.

To my mind, dictators don’t just consume, they devour. They don’t just nibble, they take huge, jaw-breaking bites. They don’t pick their food; they spear it, stab it, and tear the flesh off it.

After all, at a most basic, primitive level, eating is an exercise in power. To eat is to reinforce the hierarchy to which all living organisms belong. Science calls it the food chain and humans are taught early on about our place, occupying the top position, in it. Science and pedagogy collude to instill in us the idea of our inherent superiority to all other species.

Hamlet’s soliloquy might as well have been, “To eat, or not to eat…and make a pet out of.”

The food chain represents the vast gastronomic options we as a species have before us. We exercise our power through the choices we make, the answers we come up with to the question of what to eat and not to eat.

The choice is made expedient by the act of naming and personifying. You cannot eat that which you have named. It is atavistic will, simple and without logic. All other unnamed species, all those you have not made pets out of… have at it.

Even after you have made the choice of what to eat, you come up against another question: how to procure the food. Procurement of food is almost always an act of violence. You hunt, you capture, you slaughter and let the blood flow, then you make a fire and burn it. It’s making sure whatever it is is truly dead. Some people can stand this knowledge more than others. These people don't mind actively involving themselves in this procurement process. We call them "hunters", "butchers", "cooks". The others we call consumers, passive receivers of food already deadened and prepared. Or more quaintly so, we call them "foodies".

After this, the question: how to eat it. The answer to this question often flows from answers to the previous questions. Say you, like most folks, have decided to eat lower animal forms. It is very likely that you are at least aware that your food is procured in a fairly violent fashion. At least, we hope none of us are so deluded as to think that the cows, pigs, chickens, and fish we eat have all died convenient, natural deaths. Because these animals have flesh, which is tough and often unpalatable in its raw state, you would have to subject your animal of choice to all manner of beating (which you would call “tenderizing”), destroying (which you would call “processing”) and burning (which you would call “cooking”).

Euphemisms abound where violence resides.

So, how to eat it? You can, like members of polite society, saw it with a knife and stick a fork in it. Or you can pretend less and just use your hands and your teeth to pull a chunk off it.

Or you can be a vegetarian.

You can choose to limit your eating to living things that can’t walk or run away from you, hopelessly unable to evade your capture, living things that are stuck to the earth and are virtual sitting ducks, ready for you to pick them. Then you can yank your food from the ground, by its stems, to reveal its naked roots, chop off its leaves and shred them. And you could call this shredding “to julienne”.

Euphemisms abound where violence resides.

So, how to eat your plants? You can poke at them with a fork and slice the larger pieces with a knife. Or again, you can pretend less—and be truer to your no less violent nature—and just use your hands to pick your little, refined slices of death and put them in your mouth.

To nibble.

On second thought… maybe it’s not so impossible that Hitler was a vegetarian.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Going (Gasp!) Vegetarian

Yeah, you heard me. VE.GE.TA.RI.AN...

Two nights ago, I decided not to have dinner because I had had a very late lunch. So, naturally, after deciding on no dinner, I promptly got hungry. Since I never could get behind tinolang manok, and our cupboard is due for another major trip to Shopwise, I had to make do with what little was left in our fridge. By "little" I mean "no more meat" which would have, ordinarily, sucked. But deprivation breeds resourcefulness and some good came out of this no meat situation, in the form of a new recipe for a spicy snack, herein so detailed...

Spicy Tomato Dip/Sauce/Palaman/Whatever on Whole Wheat Crackers:

Ingredients (for single serving):
1 medium sized tomato, diced
1 tsp olive oil
basil and italian herbs to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 dash/es cayenne pepper or paprika (optional, for spice)
1 tsp light mayonnaise
1 tsp mustard
3-4 whole wheat crackers (the new Rebisco crackers are awesome!)

1. Mix all ingredients (save the mayo, mustard, and crackers) in a small bowl.
2. Blitz in microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft.
3. Stir in mayo and mustard.
4. Spread on to crackers.
5. Enjoy.

Yesterday, I walked all the way from the Ortigas office where I work part-time to the MRT station in Ortigas. Got off at Cubao and walked around, bought some stuff in, Gateway mall. Took the LRT. Got off at Katipunan then walked home. So I was walking a total of 1 and a half hours. To reward myself, I made some vegetarian tortillas for dinner. No meat is all right if you can have beans. Beans, baby. Beans...

Tomato and Refried Bean Dip/Sauce/Filling/Whatever on Tortillas:

1 can fat free refried beans
3-4 medium sized tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp onion, minced
herbs to taste
barbecue seasoning (with chilies) to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 dash/es cayenne pepper or paprika (optional, for spice)
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/4 cup warm water
shredded cabbage
grated cheese (optional)
small tortillas

1. Saute garlic and onions.
2. Add tomatoes. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
3. Add herbs. Stir until tomatoes are soft.
4. Add refried beans and some water to thin it out a bit.
5. Add tomato ketchup and cayenne pepper. Simmer til thick.
6. Heat tortillas in a pan.
7. Spread generous amount of tomato-refried bean stuff.
8. Top with cabbage and/or cheese.
9. (Optional) Heat til cheese melts.
10. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Going Tropical

Yesterday, I was walking along Quezon Avenue when I, seemingly suddenly, got a hankering for a Tropical Hut hamburger. It was midday, time for lunch, and I was contemplating going into Red Ribbon for some empanada and palabok. Then I remembered that there was a Tropical Hut at the other side of the road. The last time I ate a Tropical Hut hamburger was maybe 7 years ago when my mom brought home a couple for me. Tropical Hut isn't exactly a bright red spot on the burger radar like McDonalds or Jollibee. Which is really, if you think about it, a strange thing because Tropical Hut hamburgers actually taste great. The only reason I've not eaten some in the past years is because there's not too many Tropical Hut branches around Metro Manila anymore. So when I get a craving for a burger, I go with either the McDonalds Quarter Pounder or Double Cheeseburger or the Jollibee Champ. If I feel like gourmet burgers then it's Brothers or HotShots. Invariably, Tropical Hut gets pushed out of the picture. No blinking red spot on the radar.

So thank goodness I was in the vicinity of the only Tropical Hut branch I know in Quezon City. And thank goodness I was hungry at that time. I was overdue a taste of Tropical Hut burger, with the firm yet fluffy sesame seed bun and the burger pattie that tastes like a joining of beef, pork, kinchay, and spices. It's the pattie that often makes the difference for me, and Tropical Hut's burger patties are soft and feel almost crumbly. They're not greasy and they remind me a lot of the concept of the 5th taste, Umami. The meat slides down your throat like tasty, crumbly tofu.

I'm glad I opted to go Tropical yesterday.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Good Day...

...can begin in many different ways. It can begin with waking up from a sweet dream or the deepest, dreamless sleep you've had since statistics class in college. It can begin a bit later with tocino, fried egg, and fried rice, washed down with creamy, sugary brewed coffee. It can begin still a bit later, on the way to meet a friend, in a cab being driven by a most curious fellow.

I didn't get his name. I neither needed nor wanted it. It was going to be like any other cab ride. The driver, as far as I was concerned, needed only to keep quiet as he wove his way from Katipunan to North Avenue. Conversation was not a requirement, especially not if it covered the oft-repeated Cab Driver's Lament: "Gas is up; my profit's down. Want to give me 150 pesos for a 75 peso ride?"

But somewhere along C.P. Garcia, Cabbie and I started the most wonderful, insightful discussion about Psychology, its uses and applications, the implications of imposing psychological knowledge and metaphor--with its assumptions of self and individualism--on local communities, its stand on the question of God, and what makes it different from fortune-telling.

Cabbie asked the following questions, questions that not all psychologists ask themselves. He asked, "Meron po ba talagang natutulong yang counseling na hindi ko makukuha kung magkekwento lang ako sa kaibigan ko?" In English and in slightly more academic terms, this question translates to "How does the therapeutic relationship differ from, and how is it better than, an ordinary friendship?"

Cabbie asked, "Ang mga tulad niyo po bang psychologist naniniwala sa Diyos?" ("Do psychologists believe in God?")

Cabbie also asked, "Ano po ang pagkakaiba ng ginagawa ninyo sa ginagawa ng manghuhula?" ("What makes your work different from what a fortune teller does?")

Cabbie asked many other related, and pertinent, questions which all got me thinking about my work and its place in the grand idea of supposed helping. I told Cabbie that those were good questions he was asking. And he said that he was just like me, curious and full of questions, and that his job is the best because it gives him the opportunity to talk to different kinds of people.

Cabbie and I parted ways at the SM Hypermart. I went on to meet my friend. And my good day continued to Binondo where said friend Muriel, I, and two other friends, Angela and Belen, went on a WOKing tour of the place, courtesy of Old Manila Walks.

For 850 pesos (of which Muriel and I only paid 500, thanks to good ol' Len's generosity), we got to sample the various gastronomic fare that Chinatown offers. We had thick chocolate e at a stall that sells 10 tableas for only 58 pesos (unsweetened), which is around 30 pesos cheaper than in supermarkets. Then we had Fookien/Hokkien fried rice, fishball soup, and iced brewed coffee at Cafe Mezzanine. After that, we walked to a small eatery owned by a BS couple, as in Bagong Salta (or newly arrived/migrated), and were served steamed pork-kinchay and shrimp dumplings and this fluffy, crispy fried pancakes stuffed with meat and veggies. Then we had chicken egg preserved in tea a couple of streets away. And after that, fried siopao. The last stop was at a lumpia house in an art deco building, where we ate a meat and veggie lumpia with the chewiest wrap and lots of mung bean sprouts, carrots, minced pork, shrimps, green onions, etc.

For pasalubong, I bought 3 kinds of hopia (which means "good cookie" because, of course, when you eat hopia, you can't help but say, "This is good cookie!") and authentic kikiam. Not that fake stuff we buy off the streets at 10 pesos per 3 tiny pieces. No, this is the real stuff, with the wrinkly wrap made of soy and the minced pork and veggie with no extenders. I got my first taste of authentic kikiam (and I know I'm not calling it by its correct name, but I forgot) when I was around 5 years old. I think it was at a food fair organized by our church. Or something. I just remember these huge white tents and all these stalls serving different kinds of food. I remember nothing else of what I ate, save for the kikiam drenched in sweet peanut sauce. It always does my heart glad to revisit food memories. I can't wait to have my first taste of original Chinese kikiam and see if it really is the stuff that makes 5-year-olds eat, savor, dream, and remember.

A good day ends in as many different ways as it started. It can end with going home, stomach and mind full, to sisters who await your arrival. As mine did.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Salad and a Coffee, Please

Spicy Coffee

I've been enjoying Colombian coffee the past couple of months, thanks to my sis and brother-in-law who gave me almost half a kilo of the good stuff. Since Ate My also gave me some ground cinnamon, I've been spicing up my coffee, ovaltine, and coffee-ovaltine with it. Today, I added another spice to my coffee: cayenne pepper. It added more heat to my coffee.

ground coffee, 1 tbsp to brew 1 cup
cinnamon, 2-3 dashes
cayenne pepper, 2-3 dashes
muscovado sugar, 1 1/2 tsp (not so sweet)
creamer, 1 tsp
optional: chocolate malt powder or cocoa powder, 1 tsp

1. Put ground coffee, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in manual coffee press.
2. Pour hot water into press. Brew for 3-5 minutes. Then press down.
3. Pour coffee in your favorite cup or mug. Add sugar, creamer, and choco powder.
4. Stir. Wait to cool a bit. Then, enjoy.

Easy-Peasy Everyday Salad

store-bought salad greens
juice from 2 pcs calamansi (for single serving)
honey, 1 tsp
oil, 1 tsp (for asian flavor, use sesame oil; for mediterranean, use olive oil)

1. Mix calamansi juice, honey, and oil.
2. Pour over salad greens.
3. Let sit for a bit. Then, enjoy as side salad. Or, add grilled tuna flakes and brown or red rice for a full meal.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bad, Bochog. Bad!

I've been a bad, bad, non-posting girl. It's not like I have not been eating since my last post this past April. And it's not like I've not had any food-related thoughts or foodgasms the past almost 2 months! I have. I've just been busy with non-food related endeavors, such as earning money... to buy more food.

I even missed writing about my birthday last month, my 30th, my entrance into the 3rd decade. My birthday, which I share with the following pseudo-famous folks: 1) Dennis Hopper, bad guy in Speed; 2) Bob Saget, one of the dads in Full House; 3) Jordan Knight, of the New Kids on the Block (who have just reunited, fyi); and 4) Andrea Corr, lead singer of The Corrs. (I like to know these things).

That blows.

I, in fact, had a lovely birthday dinner with my family (except Daddy, who's in the US right now), the college best pal, and friends from grad school. I enjoyed the company and, equally importantly--oh who am I kidding, when I say "equally" we all know I really mean "more"... so, more importantly, I enjoyed the catered food. Yes, catered. Nothing but good stuff to mark my exit from 20-something angst and entrance into 30-something lassitude. So, if I may be allowed this indulgence (and please, forget the fact that this blog is one massive indulgence anyway), I present... My 30th Birthday Dinner Menu:

Shrimp and Potato Salad - Shrimps, boiled eggs, diced potatoes, tomatoes, on a bed of salad greens. With mayo-based dressing.
Lasagna - Enough said.
Lengua - Ox tongue with mushrooms in a buttery sauce. Heart-clogging.
Chicken Relleno
Lumpiang Shanghai
Buko Pandan Cream. Strips of coconut meat, sago, and pandan flavored gelatin, in cream sauce.

There was no cake, however. I had thought about getting myself a cake, it being a birthday and all. But, at the last minute, I decided this celebration did not really need a cake. It needed only me. Besides, I'd already stuffed myself silly with cake from the sisters' birthdays so I temporarily lost my taste for it. The Buko Pandan Cream worked spectacularly as dessert and no one missed, or asked for, cake. Of course, it's possible they were just being polite. I don't particularly care.

I say there was no need for cake. There was no need for cake.

I think I'm trying to convince myself.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Still Speaking of Cake

The Saturday after Ditchie's, Ate My celebrated her own birthday with family, friends, and a huge Estrel's lemon caramel cake. It was a beautiful cake, creamy custard between 2 layers of soft chiffon cake and covered in velvety icing. It was cake that you could eat any time of the day, any day of the week, a cake that can make ordinary days into special occasions and special occasions into seminal events. Safe to say I wasn't the only one who loved the cake (and the rest of the food, which was catered by my mom's best friend). That huge rectangle was gone by night's end. Of course, Mama had to take home a small slab of it for us to polish off--which we did the next day.

There's something about Estrel's cake. I think it's the custard filling. It's not actually sweet but it's not bland either. It's creamy yet light. So is the icing. Which is pretty dangerous because you don't feel like you've eaten enough. So you get one more slice, and one more, and one more. The next thing you know, half of it's gone and you haven't even finished the cup of coffee that you brewed to go with it.

There's only one person I know who doesn't like Estrel's, that's Ditchie. It's only because she doesn't really like caramel and custard cakes. Her absolute fave is mocha. That's it. You buy her Mocha roll at Goldilocks or Red Ribbon and she's set.

Anyway, this will probably be my last post about cake... at least until my birthday next month. I don't usually get a cake for my birthday but since this upcoming one marks my entry into the 3rd decade of life, I figure it's special enough to merit a cake. Yeah, I'll definitely get myself a birthday cake, with sticky marshmallow icing.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Speaking of Cake...

... (see previous post), last weekend was Ditchie's birthday, and her boss gave her a mocha cake from Hizon's as a birthday present. It was a huge cake. Two dense layers of chocolate chiffon with custard filling in between and a thick layer of butter icing covering the whole thing. It was huge.

Anyway, Ditchie brought home only little more than half of the cake but that was more than enough for me. In fact, there's still some left over even though I've been eating 1 to 2 hefty slices of cake everyday since Friday night. Another co-worker gave Ditchie a Mango Torte from Dulcelin Gourmet, and it was also family size. It's supposed to be kept frozen but it doesn't fit in our freezer. I was going to help it along by, you know, eating some (and by "some" I mean "a whole lot") just to reduce the size so it can fit in our refrigerator's small freezer. Except, I didn't like it much. I'm not a huge fan of mango--which I know is sacrilege for a Filipino to even think, let alone articulate--but I really can't get behind it. I like green mangoes (the indian variety) with alamang and dried mangoes as well but, the truth is, my tongue doesn't generally like interacting with mangoes. It likes to keep its distance from kind of cloying fruits. So I ate maybe a couple of slices of the torte, mostly because I liked the crust and the cream, but I removed the huge slices of ripe mango and put them on Ditchie's plate. She can have the whole torte, for all I care. I just don't like mango.

But back to that Hizon's cake. It actually isn't all that phenomenal. I still prefer Estrel's caramel cake (which Ditchie doesn't like. Oh well, whatever ices your chiffon.), although, frankly, from stories I've heard from Ate My and also a friend of mine, Estrel's service leaves much to be desired. Appartently, the people in that not-so-cult-anymore bakeshop sometimes have an air of haughtiness around them, so arrogant just because people virtually line up to buy and eat their cake. Which reminds me of the French during Marie Antoinette's ignoble reign. Except, of course, they didn't actually have money to buy and eat cake and were, in fact, being thrown scraps. So I don't really know why I remembered that.

Anyway, the point is that Hizon's mocha cake, tastewise, isn't really rocking. But I've been eating blocks of it. And yesterday, I went 5 hours without eating anything after I ate cake. Which made me realize why I love cake. I love cake because it fills you up and leaves no space for anything else. You eat cake and you're set--at least until the next meal. You don't get this feeling that you should have something else, something to finish up the meal you just had, like a small piece of Max's caramel bar. Cake is appetizer, entree, and dessert, all in one. It doesn't even have to be tasty. It just has to be cake, just two layers of chiffon, preferably with custard in between, and loads of icing.

Maybe Marie Antoinette was onto something when she said, let them eat cake.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What Kind of Cake Are You?

Chanced upon this quiz thingee through my friend, Cenon's blog. Judging from the results, I dare say it's a very accurate test. Snort.

You Are a Lemon Cake

Strong, sexy, and overpowering.

You know who you are, and you're not afraid to show the world your fabulous self.

You're confident, charming, and extremely popular.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

These Little Bogchi Moments

Just taking the time to log in little moments of satisfaction and gastronomic discovery that I have savored but not had the chance to gush or rave about...

1 Tempura Shrimp Flavored Snack. I was introduced to this chicheria made by Regent around a month ago by some folks at the Ortigas office I do freelance corporate assessment for. People were passing this yellow plastic bag around, and everyone who tasted it seemed to really like it. So my friend, Ange, and I gave it a try and, what do you know, I developed a quick favorite. At around the same time (give or take a day or two), Ditchie made the same discovery, also during work, at the SC. So now, Tempura is a staple chicheria, along with Oishi Potato Chips... Speaking of Oishi Potato Chips, I've compared it to other chips in terms of calorie count and, so far, it has the LEAST number of calories per bag. I kid you not... What's the point of knowing the calorie count for chips, you ask? After all, you say, all chips are just bags of fried grease. Well, haven't you heard of information for information's sake? It's all about KNOWLEDGE of what you put in your mouth, genius. I never said you should actually DO something other than count calories. Maybe I just like numbers, geez. Someone's a wet blanket.

2 Asian Buffet at Cebu Midtown Hotel. I was in Cebu to help facilitate a work evaluation workshop. On our last day, we had all you can eat lunch at Cebu Midtown. The Asian Buffet was not a wide selection but I enjoyed all the viands available, particularly the BBQ Pork Ribs (so soft!), the Bam-I Guisado, and the Fish Fillet with Veggies. The Dessert bar was not so sweet but I'm not much of a dessert person anyway. It was cheap and sulit for 350 pesos. The great thing about it was that the manager and wait staff were so nice, they actually served us brewed coffee for free, even though it wasn't part of the buffet. I love free food!

3 Thai food at Silk, in Serendra. We had Christmas dinner last year at Silk Restaurant. It was a bit pricey but the food was great, even though I'm not actually a big fan of gata. I liked the Pad Thai, the salad with pomelos and shrimps, and the gata shrimp (I forget what it's called).

4 Danggit, danggit, danggit! From Cebu. Super matabang, doused in spicy Ilokano vinegar. Forgive the indiscretion, I did not have time to buy Pinakurat so I had to make do with the Ilokano vinegar at home. Which worked out equally great.

5 Pita with all kinds of dip -- chick peas, sour cream, cream cheese, even creamy and cheesy vegetarian pasta. At Cyma, in Trinoma.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Death by Ate My

Note: I unwittingly made this photo series during dinner to celebrate my older sister, Ditchie's passing the Bar exams in April 2005, almost 3 years ago. When I looked at the pictures I took with my mobile phone, this story popped out because of 2 things: 1) Daddy looked positively dead in one photo, and 2) my eldest sister, Ate My, looked like she had something to do with Daddy's so called death. I suppose it's a bit morbid, some might say even disrespectful of my dad. But he loved it when I showed the series to him. I made a comic in my Macbook but the software I used doesn't translate to PC. So I just made a low-tech version to finally share my little gem of morbid serendipity to anyone who likes some black comedy with their bogchi. Dead straight.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sandaang Bogchi sa UP... 11-20

11 Monay with Cheese. Sold along the streets of UP Diliman.
12 Mongolian Barbecue. At the College of Engineering, UP Diliman.
13 Tapa mix. Mang Jimmy's.
14 Ground pork and lumpiang shanghai. Aristo-cart, Eng'g Bldg, UP Dil.
15 Chicken Mami at hamburger. Vinzon's Hall, UP Dil.
16 Corn with cheese powder. Sold along the streets, UP Dil.
17 Mojos at Potato Corner in Vinzon's.
18 Sapin-sapin, nilupak, and other kakanin. Outside Shopping Center, beside the COOP.
19 Pita Sandwiches, at Oz Cafe. (Which has now closed shop).
20 Pesto Chicken Pasta. Choco Kiss.

Thanks to Rita Badilla, Rin Bautista, Chet Del Rosario, and 78-14985, for contributions. 21-30 coming soon.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ang Tanda Mo Na! (Sandaang Bogchi sa UP)

To celebrate the centennial of my alma mater, University of the Philippines, I have decided to get myself and other Yupistas reminiscing about the good, old days. So I’m going to make a list of one hundred good eats at UP because I find that the subject of food always gets people fired up like an Andok’s Manok rotisserie, and UP… well, UP always gets the true blue UP citizen waxing. I don’t know if I can make it to 100 all by myself so I’ll be surveying other UP folks in my admittedly tight and small circle to find out what they consider to be good eats, or even the best eats, UP style.

Actually, all UP students—young and old both, UPCAT takers and transferees alike ☺, are welcome to add to this list—or make their own list! I always say if people just spent their time making lists instead of plundering their own country (attention: politicians!) or invading perfectly sovereign territories (attention: US and other imperialist nations!) or killing off journalists and dissenters (attention: current administration!), then the world would be an infinitely better place—an earthly heaven—to live in. Unless, of course, you were making a list of ways to plunder your country, or a list of sovereign territories to invade, or journalists and dissenters to kill. The point is, it may be a tad OC, but making a list never hurt anybody. In fact, making a list about food would probably make anybody just the tiniest bit happy.

So, without further ado, I am starting off this list (in random order now) and hopefully add to it as I get more bogchi info/reviews. I hope to get examples from other UP campuses although, since I studied in Diliman, it will at least at the start be a bit Diliman-centric.

1 Breaded Porkchop with rice and sautéed togue (mung bean sprouts). Slathered with artery-clogging gravy and sprinkled with Knorr seasoning. At CASAA.

2 Seafood Pasta in White Sauce. At the Orange House (which used to be Green House), beside AS 101, during my undergrad stay (circa late 90s to 2000). The place was consigned to Albergus so there were some pretty good—not so cheap but worth it—eats there. The pasta station offered a choice between white, red, and meat sauce. It’s been a while since I graduated from college. It’s not there anymore. The Seafood Pasta in White Sauce remains alive, to quote Debbie Gibson, “only in my dreams.”

3 Kwek-kwek, fishballs, squidballs, chickenballs. In any random street corner or in front of any building. In Diliman, noteworthy are the ones in front of the MassComm building, Main Lib, and on either side of Shopping Center. Best with a side order of a Blue Book (for when there are exams).

4 Keema with Squid. Or is it Squid with Keema? Anyway, it’s pieces of squid with hot, spicy, curried ground beef. At that place in Arcade that serves Persian food (daw. Hehe).

5 Mechado rice. There was this house in Area 1 (just beside the Post Office) that served rice meals (rice and any one viand). You could ask for your rice to be topped with Mechado sauce regardless of what your ulam is! It was awesome, like getting 1 and ½ ulam. So at any given day, your meal could be Adobo with Rice… and Mechado! (Which of course begs the question: Adobo AND Mechado? What gives? To which I say… Up yours, Food Fascist! This space is reserved only for gastronomic pluralists. Hmph!).

6 ISAW, ISAW, ISAW (entrails). Plus some dugo (dried, grilled blood), barbecue, and adidas (chicken feet). Best places for these are near Balay Kalinaw and beside the Post Office.

7 Dayap Chiffon Cake. Two layers of soft cake sandwiching sweet lime custard, covered in sweet, birthday cake icing. At Choco Kiss.

8 Combisilog. Combination of hotdog, luncheon meat, and shredded tapa (beefsteak), with egg of choice and fried rice. At Rodic’s or Paper Cup. In Shopping Center. (May Paper Cup pa ba?).

9 Fruits in Cream. The cheapest FiC, at P15 per scoop. Green Tea flavor is great. Shopping Center.

10 Fried lumpiang gulay (vegetable wrap). With spicy chili-vinegar. In any random street corner or in front of any building.

… 10 down. 90 to go…