Wednesday, December 30, 2009

internet superstar

Who is this kid?!

Isn't it amazing how the interweb allows people from all over the world to showcase their talent? And then they get discovered. And then they become rich.

Well, sometimes... But this guy totally deserves to be discovered!

I first saw this video on Rajo Laurel's blog. The singer's name is Sam Tsui. Look for more of him in youtube.

comfort food

Today, I woke up at 3am sick as a dog. I had the most miserable case of food poisoning. I was in and out of the bathroom the entire morning, and I got so paranoid that I started thinking that my food server the previous night had tried to kill me.

Finally, I took some medicine at 10am and felt better. In the afternoon, our neighbor Steve Shadow came over to cook.

It's his internationally famous chili con carne. No kidding. People as far away as Norway are talking about this chili.

We're supposed to save it for our midnight snack tomorrow, as we watch the New Year's Eve fireworks. But of course, I just had to taste it.

You have outdone yourself, my friend! It's an amazing blend of flavors and textures. I like it because you can still see and taste the individual components, but it all mixes together nicely.

I'm going to shut up now. Must find hiding place for chili con carne. Sorry. Not sharing.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

round round

Just had to post this picture. We had a perfect sunset yesterday.

Now if only we had less people of the beach. Ah, well. Can't have everything... even in paradise.

guess what

Remember when I said that I gave up on the Starbucks planner, here?

Well, somebody gave me four stickers, and then last night, Bunny Rabbit and I ordered two coffees.

So they gave it to us.

It's very pretty. I love the texture of the hard cover. This design is called "The Grind", which I prefer over the more popular "The Bean".

The coffee bean marker is a nice touch.

Unfortunately, that's all I like about it. Inside, there are 2010 and 2011 calendars, but no measurement and conversions tables (a must for my mom). Every month starts with a colored spread about Starbucks-- the store, the coffee, the drinks, etc. It's a daily calendar with lots of space per day, but no extra pages for notes (a must for me). And it's very heavy.

I'm thinking, who would use this planner? Perhaps an artsy type who would insert postcards, write poems, sketch pen and ink drawings on the pages. At the end of the year, the planner would become a work of art.

The other kind of person who would use it? A teenager.

Heh. Now that I have it, what do I do with it?

P.S. If you are visiting Starbucks Boracay, make sure that you order your drink EXTRA hot. For some reason, the hot coffees always come out lukewarm.

Friday, December 25, 2009

hanging around

Merry Christmas, Basecampers! Click to enlarge.

Christmas day 2009

I just discovered the "Sunset" setting of my Lumix LX3. Used my fake Gorillapod.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

vive le french cuisine

Me and my homegirls decided to have dinner together when I was in Manila. In keeping with my "Try never-tried restaurants" theme, we hauled our butts to Serendra because there are so many restaurants there, we had never tried more than half of them. Perfect!

Now, the hard part. Choosing. Actually, I was looking for the washroom when we saw this:

The location was a bit dark and tucked away, which I guess was the reason why there weren't many diners. But I had read good reviews about Cuillere, so we went in.

They immediately gave us some of their famous bread. It was fantastic. I would go back for this bread. I would recommend Cuillere for this bread. I would steal this bread off other people's plates. It's that good.

We started with some soup and salad.

Cream of mushroom soup and French onion soup

Arugula with warm goat cheese salad

Since we already stuffed our faces with the bread, soup and greens, we decided to just share two entrees.

Duck confit with mashed potatoes and lamb shank stew with pasta

We ended our meal with a complimentary flourless chocolate cake with French vanilla ice cream. It was wiped out before I could take pictures.

Verdict: Cuillere is amazing! The food was hearty and homey, very French but not highfalutin. The mushroom soup was the best I'd ever had. I can't really say anything about the French onion because my lovely dinner companions didn't offer me a taste-- that good?! The salad was OK, but the main courses were stellar. The duck confit was crispy AND juicy, and not gamey at all. The mashed potato was super creamy and made me want to lick it off the plate. The lamb was literally falling apart-tender, but a bit salty. We should have ordered it with rice as an accompaniment, instead of the pasta. And the dessert? Hmmm... I don't really remember how it tasted, but it must have been good since we demolished it.

Psst! Hot Tuna! They have a foie gras sandwich on their menu. Mmm...

lx3 = love

I love my camera!!!

3 Dec 2009

10 Dec 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

i give up

For as long as I can remember, I have always had some kind of planner or organizer.

I started with the Hallmark datebook which I used to jot down people's birthdays. And then when I was in college, I used a simple spiral-bound tickler (usually the Corona brand). When I started working, I got myself a Filofax. At some point, I bought an electronic organizer, but I realized that I prefer to write things down. I love to make lists, and there is an immense satisfaction I feel when I mark an item "done" by crossing it out. It's not the same if you just click "delete".

Last month, the Starbucks barista in our neighborhood gave me the Starbucks sticker collector thingy. If I buy 17 drinks, I get the Limited Edition Starbucks Coffee 2010 Planner.

As of today:

I have spent over PHP1,200 (over US$26) already, and I still have eight drinks to go. I guess this would be OK if I were a regular Starbucks goer, but I'm not. I can get great coffee right at home. So I decided to give up, even though it went against every obsessive-compulsive cell in my body.

This past year, I have been using a Moleskine. It's an 18-month hard cover week-view planner. It's bloody expensive.

A couple of months ago, I decided no more Moleskines for me. I can make do with the blue Corona spiral notebook. I was window shopping at Trinoma Mall and saw this ON SALE:

It's the soft cover monthly planner with 73 ruled pages for notes. It was calling my name.

Ah, the Moleskine. Still bloody expensive, even on sale. The insert says: "Moleskine is the heir of the legendary notebook used for the past two centuries by great artists and thinkers, including Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin." How could I resist-- elitist that I am?

Someday, I will get the RED Moleskine planner, which is, of course, the most impractically expensive planner on the planet. We're meant to be together.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

happy pills

I just had to steal this from and repost it.

Yup, those are ecstacy tabs. What does it mean, making them in the shape of Obama's head? Is there some weird message or statement being made? Do they sell more because it's Obama?

Is there something you would like made in the shape of your head? I guess a cookie or cake would not be uncommon, but it's kinda gross if you think that people are eating your head (or parts of your head).

What if Obama took an Obama-head ecstacy tab? Would he like it? How bad would his jaw-ache be the next day?

Just some random questions...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

all i want for christmas

This is it. My Christmas wish list. These are things that I like (want) that I will never (probably) buy because they are so impractically expensive. That is, expensive to the point of impracticality. But if some kind and generous benefactor/s will "gift" me, I would happily accept.

1. The Vestax Spin mixer. Designed for the Mac. Argghhhh!!! (DJing is one of my secret talents. Now you know.)

2. I think I want a Segway, for moving around. It's so geeky, it's cool.

3. A Tod's Pashmy bag. I love the many, many pockets which are totally practical. So of course I want the most impractical color.

4. A limited edition red Eveready leather case for my Lumix LX3. Costs as a much as an entire new digital camera.

5. An iPhone. What can I say? I don't have one, OK?

6. The Philippe Starck Bubble chair. A pair. And the sofa. Oh, throw in a side table or two, what the hail.

7. The "Rue de Faubourg" musical globe by Lanvin, first spotted in Jenni Epperson's blog. Just because it's beautiful.

8. I know I've said that the Lumix LX3 is the last camera that I will ever buy, but if someone were to "gift" me... why not? Yez, why not the Leica M7 Edition Hermes which I saw on Daphne Osena's blog? Only 100 of each color are available. Price tag: US$14,250.

9. The Starbucks plastic cup. It's reusable, not disposable. It's made of pretty thick clear plastic which I guess is insulated. At PHP425, it's not unreasonably priced. I can buy it myself, but much better if someone buys it for me. Are there enough hints now?

10. A Toyota Prius. The 2010 model. Wow. Sexy AND sensitive.

Hey, that was fun.

Friday, December 4, 2009

not another one!

We are very lucky people because we get to see great sunsets almost everyday. (Also sunrises, moonrises and moonsets, but those are other stories.) I thought of being more organised with my sunset pictures-- shot from the same spot everytime, posted in order of the dates, etc.-- you know, typical obsessive-compulsive stuff.

But sometimes, you just want to enjoy your sunset shots.

10 November 2009

I did not use a tripod nor the timer nor the optical zoom. I just shot it from the beach and cropped it from the original picture. Yeah, yeah, I know. With a DSLR, I can shoot it as if it's right in front of me, nose-to-nose.

But my LX3 is the coolest looking camera out there.

Image by J. Ott

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


My obsession with this salt is not over yet.

From "The reason for the special color in Himalayan pink salt has to do with the addition of a number of different minerals present in the salt. In addition to sodium, potassium, iron,magnesium, calcium and copper are all present in trace amounts. These additional minerals transfer color to the salt, with iron creating the pleasing pink color.

"The salt is harvested in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range and is essentially fossilized sea salt. Because of its taste and color appeal, it was used for currency in ancient times and it may still serve this purpose in modern days. Primarily, people from Nepal trade Himalayan pink salt for grain, which does not grow well or profusely in the foothills.

"People praise Himalayan pink salt for its crunch, and also because the salt in crystallized form is considered pure and unrefined. Due to lack of refining, it doesn’t lose its mineral content, as do other salts."

And it's so pretty! I may never use it. I'll just stare at it everyday.

this is how we do it

First, you watch the sunset at Basecamp.

After dark, take a walk on the beach and appreciate the Christmas lights strung on the trees.

Go to Manana, the Mexican restaurant.

Order the soft tacos with beef...

And the shrimp flautas.

If you're still hungry, go next door to Big Mama and have some giant meatballs.

While waiting for your order, stare at the piece of driftwood next to your table.

On the way home, stop to watch the fire dancers.

The next day, do everything all over again.

Food review: Everything we ate was excellent. Manana, in my opinion, is the best Mexican place in the country. The beef tacos were very flavorful and lots of fun to assemble. The shrimp in the flautas were perfectly cooked, and we all know how hard it is to get shrimp right. The meatballs at Big Mama brought back memories of high school cafeteria comfort food, except that we were sitting on the beach, under the full moon.

Monday, November 30, 2009

the treasure chest next door

When I go to Manila, I stay at my progenitors' residence in Quezon City. When we were younger, my siblings and I thought that it was the absolute boondocks. It was too far from school, from restaurants and grocery stores, from playmates' and classmates' houses. Nobody wanted to come visit us. It was considered "the outskirts" then.

Nowadays, I have a real appreciation for our house's location. I never noticed before-- probably because my mother was a little paranoid and would not let us explore the neighborhood-- but everything, and I mean everything, is literally a few minutes' walk away.

We have grocery stores, pharmacies, dentists, beauty salons, a diagnostic clinic, and a whole slew of restaurants that are pretty durn good.

Case in point: Adarna Food & Culture. I had been noticing this restaurant popping up in different blogs for some months now. I usually take note of the address-- Kalayaan Avenue-- and think, hey, that's practically next door. And then I forget about it.

Note to self: Must make a list of restaurants to try whenever I go to Manila.

Anyway, mom and I went. It was very nice.

It's a bit like Cafe Juanita, but much less cluttered and chaotic. I think, though, that they were going for authentic, and not eclectic. Very successfully, I may add.

Parking and wifi are free. So I parked my butt and went online to check my email while mom was being entertained by the great staff. They showed her their mini museum, which I missed. Next time.

The seating is roomy but cozy. We were indoors in the AC area. The courtyard outdoors which serves as the smoking area is also delightful.

It's hard to top Anton Diaz's review of this restaurant. Since there were only two of us, we couldn't order a lot of stuff. We started with:

Sigarillas or sigarilyas are winged beans. Mom had never had them before. I really, really liked this dish. The veggies were crunchy and fresh, and the dressing was mild but flavorful. The pork bits on top pushed it over the edge to "must-order-everytime" status.

Let me just say that this is the hands-down best beef rendang I had ever tasted. Well, OK, it's not called that, but that's what it looked and tasted like. It has to be eaten fast, though. When it got cold, the meat became tough and the sauce started to separate.

This matched the beef perfectly. The single serving was more than enough for the two of us. Actually, I noticed that the serving sizes are quite generous. I would bring a bunch or relatives and friends next time so that we can try more dishes.

The crabmeat omelet was so-so. Maybe the quezo de bola and kesong puti variation would be better, with hot pan de sal. Oh dear, I just made my own mouth water, writing that.

(Quezo de bola = edam cheese. Kesong puti = soft white cheese made from carabao milk. Carabao = water buffalo subspecies, local beast of burden. Pan de sal = local bread, usually eaten for breakfast or afternoon snacks, characterised by very fine crumbs which get all over your clothes.)

Verdict: I would recommend this place to anyone who wants to eat hot, hearty, authentic Filipino food, while absorbing Pinoy vintage pop culture. Like its name says, they offer food AND culture. Adarna is a rare treasure chest and I am ecstatic that it's practically next door. Hot Tuna, you must, must, must try this restaurant. We will go with you-- just tell us when.