Tuesday, November 23, 2010

luck be a lady

I won the 6/55 Grand Lotto last night, just like Marketman.

The winning combination was 17-19-22-25-37-50. The jackpot was PHP584,829,925.20. That's over 13 million US dollars.

OK, so I didn't win the jackpot, but a PHP2,000 return (third prize for four numbers correct) for PHP100 spent (PHP20 per bet-- I have five bets in this ticket) is not bad at all.

Isn't luck strange? We were watching TV, we saw that the jackpot had ballooned to a staggering amount, and we decided to bet for the first time ever. At that point, I didn't even know how much a bet cost. I thought one bet would be fine, but at the last minute, I got five. And it was the fifth combination that won!

And look at the fourth one (letter D), four numbers are one off the winning numbers. Isn't that weird?

Not really related to this topic, but I suddenly thought of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. (No, I did NOT "secret" the lotto, although the whole day I felt confident that I would win something. Really.) My problem with The Secret is that if you get your wish, it's because of The Secret. But if you don't, it's because you let negative thoughts enter your mind and that prevented The Secret from working.


Anyway, I've been feeling pretty lucky lately. I think it started with our Mooncake Dice Game in September, when I won the first prize with my very first throw.

No one won the jackpot last night, so the grand prize is expected to go up to PHP620 million. The odds are one in 29 million-- seemingly insurmountable.

But the odds for winning PHP2,000 are one in 23,000. That's not too bad. So yez, I will be betting again tomorrow. After all, as the English-American writer Helen Rowland said: "You will never win if you never begin."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

eat, drink, blog 2

I'm currently organising my photo albums, and I found these pictures of stuff I've eaten since the beginning of the year. Again: No, I do not photograph everything that I put in my mouth. Just some.

Anyway, here are the Oldies But Goodies:

Eggs Benedict and coconut-pineapple slush at Lemoni Café, Boracay. A perfect way to start the day at the beach. 5/5

Dulcinea's chocolate eclair. So terrible, I can hardly find the words. Dry, tasteless crap. 0/5

Maki-mi at Mañosa, Banawe Street in Quezon City. Slightly less yummy than the original in Chinatown. 4/5

C2 Kulinarya's crispy kare-kare. Says "must-try" on their menu. The crispy pata was superb, but the peanut sauce needs a little tweaking. 4/5

The classic Razon's halo-halo. Some things should never be messed with. Forever and ever, amen. 5/5

Pancit luglug, also from Razon's. There are better ones out there, but you can really feel the love that they put into this. 4/5

Pork chop rice at Tasty Dumplings. So good! But should be eaten on site, so that it's hot, fresh and you have all the sauces in front of you. 5/5

And then there's the New Stuff. "New" in the sense that I'd never had the chance to try them before, even though they've been around for some time.

Wagyu steak at Melo's. The best steak I've had this year. Go and order the Grade 6 rib-eye. Do it now! 5/5

Beef gyuudon (that's how they spell it) at Bubble Tea, The Block, Quezon City. Not bad, but not great. 3/5

UCC's chocolate thing and Blue Mountain whatsit. Absolutely cannot compare to the tiramisu and sumiyaki coffee. 3/5

Pistachio ice cream sans rival at FIC, Boracay. It was OK, but I really prefer just a scoop of ice cream. 3/5

The original panizza at C'Italian, Pampanga. Cost a bloody fortune, but the imitations out there are all so horrible. 4/5

Pomelo salad from Steph's caterer. The best Thai salad I've had since the last time I was in Bangkok. I took some home and ate it again the next morning. 5/5

Bagoong Club's pinakbet paté with eggplant chips. The fried eggplant didn't get soggy even after sitting in the AC. The paté was unremarkable, but went well with the chips. 4/5

Chef Rick's cheese bread at 22 Prime, Discovery Suites. Sadly, this was the only good thing we ate there. 22 Prime has really gone downhill. What's going on? 3/5

Pitaw from Casa Carmela, Bacolod City. It's actually tiny, tiny birds cooked adobo-style. Convenient and delicious! Should buy more of this, in case of food emergencies. 4/5

Tofu salad at Urameshi-ya, Little Tokyo, Makati City. I don't know what the hell they put in it, but it was so f*@#ing good! 5/5

Ching Cruz's sole Meuniere. Like everything else we ate at Terrace At The 5th, Greenbelt 5, Makati City, this was just so-so. 3/5

Whew, now I can transfer 12 gigabytes of pictures to my "Sorted" folder and forget about them. Wiwit! Have a nice Sunday, y'all.

Friday, November 19, 2010


The name of the restaurant is Uno, and it's on a tiny side street off Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City. We had dinner there on 29 September 2010. It was one of my most memorable meals this year, and I'll tell you why.

We chose Uno because it's not too far from everyone. Bry the Shrinking Man lived the farthest away, but it didn't really matter where we decided to have dinner-- he would always be late.

It took just a ten-minute drive to get there. Immediately, we were able to find a parking spot. The outside was nondescript, but the interiors were blindingly plain white. It had a warehouse or bodega kind of vibe, but with nice china and silver set on white (of course) tablecloths. I loved it. Good start for the evening.

And then the menu made everyone cross-eyed.

Letters too close together?
No kidding. I mean, look at it. There's something wrong, right? It's not just us. Is it because they wanted to save paper and use only one page? Personally, I think that the font size that they used was just too big. Which makes it sort of ironic.

Of all the things we ate that night-- and there were seven of us-- I have only two photos. Yez, we had starters, mains and desserts. Only two photos.

Grilled Greenland halibut with braised leeks, capers and Dijon mustard sauce.

Oven-baked pork tenderloin adobado with braised cabbage and apples.

I was talking too much, and people were eating too fast. The lighting was not ideal. The matters we were discussing were just too riveting. At least, that's how I explained the lack of pictures. But now that I've had time to really think, this is what I think:

I was not inspired to take pictures. Because the food was so damned ugly.

It was so brazenly unpretty that it's nearly arrogant. It's like Chef-owner Mari Relucio was saying, I'm a f*@#ing good cook and I don't need any of that fancy presentation nonsense. Here it is, and slaps the plate down on the table. It's a challenge to the diner, and had better be backed up by good food.

The food was good. We were happy.

It's rustic French farmhouse cooking served in an almost-too-severe and faintly clinical setting... if the farmhouse were located near BOTH the French-German and French-Italian borders and had a Filipina cook who used to work in Singapore. The flavors were very robust, and the meats were cooked correctly. Both the fish and pork were very tender and moist. I was able to taste the rack of lamb dish-- excellent lamb-y flavor without the gaminess. As well as the beef strip steak which was a little tough, as can be expected from a strip steak, but had a nice umami taste.

And the vegetables! There's nothing uglier than braised vegetables, but they tasted oh-so-good, and were not mushy at all.

The desserts were unremarkable, and strangely, I felt that the chef just didn't care if anyone liked them or not. Take it or leave it. A very good reason to order desserts, though, was this little veranda on the second floor. Have a cup of coffee, some cake and a smoke.

Smoking area overlooking Tomas Morato.

Contrary to the food's somewhat aggressive "I-taste-good-what's-it-to-you-how-I-look" appearance, the service was quite solicitous.

Verdict: We gotta go back, guys. I need to take more pictures. And they change the menu every quarter, I heard. I really like this place!

Uno Restaurant at 195 Tomas Morato Avenue corner Scout Fuentabella Street, Quezon City. Contact +63.2.3740774.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

5 things i learned about my ipad

I received my iPad in September, and everyday I learn something new about it. At first I thought that it's just a pretty toy that's making Steve Jobs richer by the minute, but now I can't live without it. Insidious.

Image borrowed from apple.com

1. Don't buy the iPad in Canada. It's at least 30% cheaper elsewhere-- as in, anywhere else in the world. But if your father buys it for you as a gift, don't complain.

2. If you're anal like me, immediately take your iPad to the accessories store and buy both the screen protector and the back protector. Otherwise, the fingerprint marks will drive you crazy.

3. Get the original Apple iPad Case. It's really well-designed and will make you look astig.

Image from bestipadcase.us

4. Don't buy a cheap iPad case. Yez, I know it's cheap. But there's a reason.

Cheap-ass case. Less than US$12.
The reason.
5. With the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit, you can transfer your pictures from your camera or memory card to your iPad. That frees up your memory card and when you get home, you can import your pictures from the iPad to your Mac, using Picasa or iPhoto.

From the Apple website

At the moment, I only use my iPad for browsing and answering email. One of these days, I should really take a look at those "app" thingies that everyone's talking about.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

deliver us from traffic

I learned how to drive when I was 15 years old. Even without a driver's license, or even a student's permit, I was driving an hour everyday from school to home-- with an increasingly nervous family driver riding shotgun and my oblivious siblings in the back.

I've always liked to drive. On Sundays, I cleaned and vacuumed every square centimeter of my car. I spent hours preparing mix tapes (!) for any driving occasion. I enjoyed being in control of a machine that could go from zero to really, really fast with just a little pressure from my foot.

Nowadays, I don't drive so much in the city anymore. Two reasons: Traffic jams and lack of parking spaces. Which is why I think quickdelivery.ph is Da Bomb.

Used to be you could only get junk food delivered to your house. Recently, a bunch of third-party delivery companies have cropped up in Manila that accept orders for real food, not just crappy fast food. I chose quickdelivery.ph because they had Ristras on their list.

Fish tacos with a side of black beans and chorizo brown rice.
I've wanted to try Ristras since early this year, but always put it off because just thinking about where to park in the Wilson Street area gives me a migraine. Food delivery is a true sign of civilization. Woohoo!

Ristras' famous burrito, almost as long as a foot.
All the food I ordered lasted me three meals. I do that-- order too much because I feel bad for the delivery guy who has to travel all that way with just a tiny sandwich or something. Yes, yes, I know it doesn't matter to him because there's a delivery charge anyway and he gets paid whatever I order. It's just my thing.

Grilled chicken, cilantro lime rice and pinto beans wrapped in a flour tortilla.
Verdict: I believe that Ristras' food is best eaten in the comfort of your own home. It can get really messy-- look at the size of that burrito! Eat in private, with the sauce running down your fingers and dripping all over the place. It's heavenly. In terms of taste, although I wouldn't say that it's authentic Mexican (I'm biased because we have the best Mexican restaurant here on Boracay.), it's at least 8/10 in my book. Ristras is not cheap, but like I said, these two items lasted three meals.

And quickdelivery.ph? The instructions on their website are super clear. After I sent in my order, the guy who called me to confirm was polite and articulate. The delivery person arrived right on time. The food was still warm. Good job all around. I will be checking out their list of restaurants from time to time.

Delivery charge was PHP85. Costs less than my gas and parking.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

balls at the big dome

It's been two months since I took these pictures, and all this time I've been debating with myself about whether I should post them. They're very grainy and I'm not happy because I know that I could have done better at the time. A few moments ago, the solution suddenly hit me...

I'll just pretend that they were shot in film and that they're meant to be grainy! Hehe.

Café Bola: What a great name!

I've always wanted to try Café Bola at the Araneta Coliseum. I think of myself as a fan of Chef Margarita Fores. Cibo is one of my all-time favorite restaurants, and although Lusso made me sad, I'm willing to give it another chance.

Café Bola looks like a happy place, even though the interiors are quite dark. The bold colors and eclectic decor make me want to clap my hands like a giddy schoolgirl.

Take note of the giant wall clock made with size 4R photographs.

The numbers on the tables are so crazy. I like.
I know that the term "eclectic" is overused and misunderstood lots of times, but bear with me.

The food is simple Pinoy fare like your family cook used to make. Some of the dishes are rice toppings and evoke the feeling of breakfast. And who doesn't love breakfast at any time of the day? But other than those, the menu actually offers a good variety-- there's pasta, salads and sandwiches, too.

Spicy bangus mousse + pandesal rounds.
Adobo flakes + kesong puti.
Guilt-free chicken adobo + kangkong salad.
Sirloin tapa + egg
Verdict: We liked everything! I was so shocked that I almost fell out of my chair. It is so rare-- nay, impossible-- for me to go to a restaurant and not hate anything. The flavor combinations were just right, the serving sizes were just right, the wait staff's attentiveness was just right, the prices were just right. In fact, I couldn't find anything wrong. Obviously, Café Bola is not the kind of place that's going to pick up any culinary awards, but it's a great place to chow and chat. I can't wait to go back and try the rest of their food.

Oh, and the eclectic stuff?

Those, my dears, are prints of old black and white photos of the Araneta Colisuem as it was being built in 1957-1960. It's the Big Dome, where multitudes of screaming fans witnessed countless basketball games played by the greatest athletes in Philippine history. Araneta Colisuem = Basketball = Ball = Café Bola. Isn't that astig?

Read more about the Araneta Coliseum, here.

Oh, and the reason we were in Cubao in the first place? To pick up these tickets for the John Mayer concert.

Thank match, CJ!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

how to feel like a richie-rich

Of course, the resort grounds were also fantastic. From Boracay's main highway, we drove on a scenic zigzag road, going down a cliff face. Driving up to the lobby entrance, we were greeted by an understated sign.

That led into the dressed-to-impress lobby. The high ceiling and open space let in lots of light and air, and it allows you a glimpse of the blindingly blue sky, puffy white clouds and the cerulean sea... unless, of course, there's a typhoon and the floor is wet.

I noticed the brass sculptures on the desks. Each one was different--whimsical, fun and at the same time, shows a bit of Filipino culture. I wonder who the artist is.

Beyond the front desk/s (I think there were three or four of them), we could see almost the entire resort, past the swimming pool, and on to their private beach. The lobby is actually on the fourth floor and offers spectacular views, not just of nature, but also the architectural marvel that is Shangri-la's Boracay Resort & Spa. We felt like we were in an eagle's nest. It is truly magnificent.

We requested a tour of the "loft villa" which is perched on the sides of a cliff. Like the Cookie Monster couple's one-bedroom villa, it has its own infinity pool, plus an unobstructed view of the open sea. It's so high up from the ground that they even ask guests to sign waivers!

At the edge of the huge communal swimming pool, there's a little patch of garden littered with hammocks and airbeds. Such a peaceful and relaxing place, and not too far from the beach.

It's right next to the hubbub of these beach umbrellas. Looks pretty inviting, but it was just too hot that day.

Of course, if you were a REAL richie-rich, you wouldn't be coming in from the Main Road of Boracay. You'd have your own private pier.

Image by Bunny Rabbit, Nikon D90 with Nikkor 18-200.
Image by Bunny Rabbit, Nikon D90 with Nikkor 18-200.

They will definitely be back. Shangri-la Boracay, you haven't seen the last of Cookie Monster and Steph (silent H).