Thursday, April 29, 2010

friends forever eat together

Steph (with a silent H) and I have been friends since we were seven years old, when we were classmates in first grade. Even though we've lived in different places for more than half of the time that we've known each other, we've kept in touch. One of the things that we enjoy doing together is eating. Her hubby the Cookie Monster says that we eat too much. That doesn't stop him from joining us sometimes, though.

Two months ago, the two of us went to In-yo Fusion Cuisine. I normally ignore the degustation menu, but this time, we were too hungry to think. That's when the degustation menu comes in very handy, because one doesn't have to choose. Just sit down and eat whatever's served, and trust that the chef is not an idiot.

The first course was supposed to be Wasabi Fried Oyster, but they didn't have it that night. I don't remember what was served instead. It was pretty, but I guess not memorable.

Next came the Shiitake Confit Salad. I liked the crispy tofu, and the ponzu honey dressing was delectable, and not overpowering.

The soup was a choice between the Smoked Tomato Soup or the Pumpkin Soup. Honestly, we couldn't tell the difference, although both were satisfying and the texture was spot-on.

Next was a tiny scoop of sherbet to cleanse the palate, but I couldn't tell what flavor it was. The waiter told us, but maybe I wasn't listening.

For my main, I chose the Mesquite Smoked Duck Breast served with braised cabbage in a tart shell. I don't normally like cabbage, but this was OK. The duck was tender without being bloody.

Steph's (still with a silent H) entrée was the U.S. Hanging Tender Steak with pumpkin risotto. If I go back to In-yo , I would order this. Good value.

Finally, dessert. Choice number one was Mango Pavlova which didn't look like a pavlova at all. Good thing because I'm not a big fan of meringue which I feel is just a sad way to use leftover egg whites. This one was more cake-like and substantial. I enjoyed it.

Choice number two was Burnt Cream which most people would recognise as a creme brulée. It was OK lang.

Verdict: Chef Niño Laus is not an idiot. His degustation menu is well-balanced, tasty and has some considerate options. (The other entrée choice was fish.) At PHP1,500++ per person, it was not bad at all. I think part of what we paid went to the ambiance. (Who ordered the ambiance? Hehe.) It was just unfortunate that there was this loudmouth sitting next to us who just lo-ooved the sound of his voice. It's a small place, and eavesdropping is too easy. Still, the food is worth going back for.

cheap date

Because of El Niño, we have been hiding at home since the beginning of summer. It's just too hot to do anything except water the plants. Every once in a while, though, when all that's left in the pantry is a can of sardines, we have to go out and buy food. One evening, Bunny Rabbit invited me to our favorite cheap resto for some crab.

So sweet of him. He doesn't eat crab, but he knows that I like! Angel Wish Dish has a new set menu for two people, which consists of

Baked oysters with cheese and garlic,

Prawns fried in butter and garlic,

And the star of the show-- Chili crab!

Served with rice and Coke. All for the princely sum of PHP550 for two people. That's about US$12.

I know, right? It's so ridiculous. The crab alone would cost more than that in a normal restaurant. Good thing we're not normal.

Oh, and yez, it all tasted very, very good.

Friday, April 16, 2010

goddam you, salinger!

It's happened again! And now I have to blog about it since I can't continue reading the book-- I'm stuck. I shake my fist at you, Jerry!

I'm reading "Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters". It's really a story about Seymour Glass, although so far he has not made an appearance in it yet. (I am on page 72.) It is said that J.D. Salinger had an unhealthy obsession about the Glass family, this marvelous cast of characters who star (yez, star!) in so many of his books and stories. He allegedly could not stop writing about them, but with characters like them-- especially Seymour and Buddy, Franny and Zooey, Boo Boo's son Lionel, Bessie the Mother-- why would anyone want to stop writing about the Glass family?

(Note the italics. It's quite contagious.)

Seymour wrote in his diary, about his fiancée Muriel whom he stood up on their wedding day:

"Oh, God, I'm so happy with her. If only she could be happier with me. I amuse her at times, and she seems to like my face and hands and the back of my head... And I think she feels a mixed maternal and sexual drive in my general direction. But on the whole I don't make her really happy... My one terrible consolation is that my beloved has an undying, basically undeviating love for the institution of marriage itself. She has a primal urge to play house permanently."

Upon reading this, I literally caught my breath. The thunderbolt! I continued reading:

"Her marital goals are so absurd and touching... She wants to shop for curtains. She wants to shop for maternity clothes. She wants to get out of her mother's house, whether she knows it or not, and despite her attachment to her. She want children-- good-looking children, with her features, not mine. I have a feeling, too, that she wants her own Christmas-tree ornaments to unbox annually, not her mother's."

Isn't that a terrifying and exquisite truth? Let's bask in it for a while.

28 Feb 2010

By the way, I learned how to spell "goddam" correctly from J. D. Salinger's "Catcher In The Rye".

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

private entry

I call this a "private" blog entry because if you weren't there, there's just no way you will understand.

29 March 2010

This was undoubtedly the best meal Bunny Rabbit and I have had in a long, long time. It was a combination of the food, the company, the location, and the warmth and depth of friendship that went into this meal.

Enough said.

kalibo's best-kept secret

Kalibo, the capital of Aklan province, is famous for the Ati-atihan Festival which is held every third weekend of January. It's also known as the gateway to Boracay. That's it. That's usually everything most people know about Kalibo.

We didn't know that they had this extraordinary cathedral called St. John the Baptist.

Not too fancy on the outside.

Clean lines inside.

Kaleidosflora said that National Artist of the Philippines for Architecture Leandro Locsin worked on this structure.

Serene little chapel in one of the transepts.

What's that on the windows?

Ta-dah! The Stations of the Cross in full-color HD stained glass!

Who knew that we had this in Kalibo?

Parting shot.

What are these things called, where you moisten your fingers with holy water before you make the sign of the cross? I've started collecting pictures of them. Here's another one.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

flowers + frogs

At Kaleidosflora's house in Kalibo:

The water lily blooms for only a few days. We were lucky to witness the show.

Fresh as a water lily. (What-- only daisies can be fresh?)

This frog was as small as my fingernail.

Sunbathing... What a life!

Thanks, Dick, for welcoming us into your home.

so so sad

Last month, I invited Mother-dear to Greenbelt 5 for some chow. We really take advantage of these times when Father-dear is not around to be adventurous with our food choices. My father is not one to experiment. He'll "discover" a new restaurant, and if he likes it, he will eat there everyday for a month straight. And of course, we have to join him.

But my mother is more open to trying new things. And the best part? She pays for everything.

We ate at the very expensive Lusso, winner of this year's Gold Spot best new restaurant award.

My first gripe: This restaurant is so super un-photogenic! Yez, I'd read about the fabulous chandelier, the luxurious furniture, the white-coated waiters... but why, why is it so hard to take a picture of the place?

Anyway, we were there for the food. I decided to forgo the foie burger which had received mixed reviews. Some people say you can't taste the foie gras. Instead, we started with a salad with thinly sliced lamb.

I was not amused. The lamb was overcooked and very gamey. The roast beef version of this salad at Cibo is much, much better, and cheaper, too. Both Lusso and Cibo are owned by Margarita Fores, and one would think that the high-end edition of essentially the same dish would elevate the palate.

We ordered salmon with caviar foam.

The fish was cooked well-- a relief after that lamb. The sauce was tasty, but I felt that it needed more caviar.

And since everybody seems to love the luxe mac and cheese, we ordered that.

It was OK. That's it. Just OK.

I was extremely sad after this meal. Was there something wrong with me? Why is it that everyone was raving about this place? How come I couldn't see what was so special about it? Were my expectations too high? I was prepared to love Lusso.

Whatever. I was unfulfilled. It was a waste of money, and more importantly, a waste of calories.

To console ourselves, Mom and I went up to Pia Y Damaso for some dessert.

The rich but not too sweet Sisa's Dementia in front and the lovely light Salvi's Canonigo in the background. Both great pick-me-ups. We were energized and chipper after eating them.

These little touches make for a lovely dining experience.

Verdict: Lusso? Been there, done that. Pia Y Damaso? Still a winner. We've tried four of their desserts already, and so far, so good.

Read my previous review of Restaurante Pia Y Damaso here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

leave no man behind

I brought the Vivitar camera to Singapore, too, so that it wouldn't feel left out.

I have a soft spot for my Vivitar Ultra Wide, actually. I feel that the subjects for wide are limited, so getting a good shot is more challenging than say, using a Fisheye, which doesn't seem to care what the subject is. Framing the wide shot take a bit more time and effort, and the results are usually very gratifying.

But I love all my children.

eating my words 2

I can't explain it. I am compelled to buy film cameras. This is my third one.

My justification? So that I don't have to borrow Wonder Dog's Fisheye Lomo camera. I got my own.

So now I have three cameras in my bag all the time. The LX3 is, of course, indispensable. And depending on where I'm going, I have to choose among my Fisheye, my Vivitar Ultra Wide or my Golden Half.

My favorite thing about film photography is seeing the pictures for the first time after the film has been developed. That feeling of genuine surprise is hard to describe. It brings me back to my childhood when the world was younger and a sense of wonder was considered normal.

eating my words

Remember when I said that the Lumix LX3 would be the last camera I would ever buy?

It's a film camera! Doesn't count.

The Golden Half shoots half-frames per frame, which means that for a roll of 24, for example, you actually get 48 pictures. At first, I thought, What for?

After a while, I got it! It's a different way of telling stories with your photographs. Like so...

Shot at Orchard Road, Singapore. I used film which had expired in 2006. Interesting effect, but I think I prefer unexpired film.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

to infinity and beyond

I call this picture "D.B. and the Giant Beanstalk".

Shot with my Lumix LX3 on timer at the Kalibo town plaza, on 30 March 2010 at 10:53PM. That's at NIGHT, folks. No flash, of course. This tree is the tallest thing in the entire town.

Pedicure courtesy of The Nail Spa at The Block SM City.