I am ringing in 2011 with a decision. A decision, mind you, not a resolution. Resolutions are for plebeians. Of course the five of you who are still (but most probably are no longer) reading this blog may argue that I am, in fact, one of you, common folks. You may well be, technically, objectively, right. But not if you factor in narcissism as an increasingly universal value. So factoring in my narcissistic mindset, I would be perfectly right in assuming that I am not plebeian and am, in fact, ultra unique and stellar. Ergo, you would be wrong. Entirely, massively. Wrong.
But this musicless ditty is not about narcissism and its grandchild, ungratefulness (its child being, of course, entitlement). This, instead, is about the conceptual opposite, gratitude.
I decided that at least for this year, I will adopt a more grateful, thankful, mindset. Why? Because, frankly, sometimes when you don't decide--deliberately, forcefully--to be thankful, you forget. And I don't want to forget. My memory's bad enough as it is.
So I'm starting my year of being grateful with the easiest thing in the world to be thankful about. This here is my fit of gastronomic gratitude.
Cyma's Roka Salata. Best salad ever. My mom thinks so too. We order this every time we eat at Cyma, along with the Solomos pasta (with salmon, feta cheese, and angel hair pasta in a tomato cream sauce). I also love...
Cyma's generous portions. Even if the dishes seem pricey, if you are a party of at least 3, Cyma turns out to be affordable, but fine, dining. Lovely.
Abe's. My friend, Ange, treated me and our friends to this wonderful place that serves Kapampangan dishes. We had sauteed crickets, lamb adobo, kare-kare, and bamboo rice (white rice steamed inside a piece of bamboo). As Ange described the experience, everything was Just Right. Just enough salty, just enough sweet, and a lot savory.
Pulled Pork Sandwich at Charlie's Carwash and Grill. The new Charlie's branch in Greenhills opened last year. Ditchie and I ate there during their soft opening. She had the burger while I had the pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw. We also shared some buffalo wings. The pork sandwich was good, tender and moist, drenched in sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. Ditchie also liked her burger. We didn't care much for the wings, though. For the best wings we ate last year, my thanks go to...
Buffalo Wings and Things. Which, alas, has closed its doors in the Greenhills mall. I had some good times in this place, with Ditchie and with my friend, Lee. The Garlic Parmesan wings are killer, great paired with dirty rice and blue cheese dip. Wings and Things, you will be missed, sorely. I hope to see you in another location soon.
Indonesian food. Last year, I got to visit Yogyakarta, Indonesia (for a conference). Three things I loved about that trip: a) we stayed at the house of one of Indonesia's most prominent contemporary artists, it was like living in a cozy art gallery; b) I got to see Borobudur! and c) I got to eat Indonesian food like Gado-gado (a mixed greens and beans salad with peanut dressing and topped with hard boiled eggs). Indonesian food is kind of like our food, but a lot spicier. Yum. An Indonesian guy I talked to told me that when he visited Manila and tried the food, he missed the spiciness and found our food bland. So someone told him to go to Bicol and try the spicy, gata based, dishes there. So I had to recommend Bicol Express and Pinangat. He said he'll try it when he visits next. Don't know when that will be. I was just making small talk and didn't really want to find out those details.
Kopiko 3-in-1 coffee, with brown sugar. Hands down, the best instant coffee mix. Ever. I know there's already an ad airing on TV but why isn't it more popular? It's not too strong and bitter but the taste of coffee is distinct. The white sugar version is fine as well, but for me, the brown sugar variant works best just because I prefer brown sugar as it has a rounder, butterscotch, flavor.
Baby Ruth MINT flavor. I love the American goods store in Greenhills Shopping Center, where most of the items sell for only 79 to 99 pesos. The Baby Ruth Mints sell for 99 pesos per 8-piece pack.
Kraft Caramels. I am always grateful for these. And for the fact that Unimart puts these on sale every now and then.
Smiley's Chocolate Covered Mint Cookies. See last post.
Athiporn's Bagoong Rice Maki. I got my first taste of these goodies at a Christmas get together in the home of my professor, Ma'am Bo. Athiporn, a grad student in our department, has caters Thai food. These tiny morsels of bagoong infused sticky rice, with chicken, scrambled egg, and onion bits, wrapped in seaweed are their bestseller, and rightly so. You can easily polish off seven of these babies in one sitting. I should know. That's what I did. I wish I could say, no worries, I didn't eat anything else that night. Some wishes shall remain unfulfilled.
Lomi at a Batangas roadside eatery. My family and I had emergency lunch on the way home from the resort we stayed at for our Christmas vacation. It was nearing 2pm, we were hungry, and there was no decent restaurant in sight. So we decided to get some "laman tiyan" (literally, stomach filler) to temporarily soothe hunger pangs while we looked for a place we wanted to eat at. Ate My, Ditchie, and Mama ordered Goto while I, Daddy, Kuya Levi, and Daya ordered Lomi. The Lomi was a hot bowl filled with fat, yellow, egg noodles in a thick, creamy, light brown gravy, topped with pork innards and fried meat rolls. It was delicious. No surprise there. The big surprise that day was the Goto. My sisters and Mama were expecting a savory rice porridge, because in Manila, that's what Goto is: a rice dish. Apparently, in Batangas, Goto is a bowl of hot bile over pork innards and liver. In Manila, that's called Papaitan. Lesson learned: don't assume that Goto is the same dish anywhere in the Philippines. It's not.
That concludes my fit of gastronomic gratitude. Goodbye, 2010. My tummy shall surely miss you. 2011, meet my tummy. Tummy, 2011.