Sunday, May 29, 2011

random talent

Out of the blue today, I wanted to listen to some Ennio Morricone.

It reminded me of Korean child prodigy Sungha Jung's version of Cinema Paradiso. While searching for it, I noticed that his Mission Impossible theme already had 11.8 million hits.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

good impressions last

Recently, I came across this Dutch guy's blog entitled Running From Camera. It's a collection of photos he's taken of himself running away from his camera. It's kinda weird, but kinda mesmerizing at the same time.

Then I suddenly remembered my pictures of the Sinaot Festival at President Roxas, Capiz on 1 May 2011. I'd already posted some of them in a previous blog entry.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

food porn @ chelsea market café

It seems like Chelsea Market Café has haters out there. Earlier this year, I did a quick search on Google and found some comments that ranged from disappointed to really acid. The negative remarks that I read were quite long-winded and complained about the food, prices, ambiance, and above all, the service. Strangely enough, Chelsea's sister restaurants MoMo and M Café also garnered the same type of reviews. Which left me wondering if there's an internet campaign to bash this group of restaurants. Overkill much?

When offered a 50% off deal for Chelsea Market Café at Podium a few months back, I decided to give them benefit of the doubt. I've tried their branch at Serendra and although it wasn't remarkable, I didn't dislike it. Steph (silent H) had some nice things to say about the Podium branch, so I bought a couple of coupons and dragged Hot Tuna there for lunch on 26 March 2011, right before our Livin' La Vida Imelda tour.

It resembled neither Chelsea nor a market, but I liked the pop art + chandelier.

Friday, May 20, 2011

completely imeldific

Speaking of the devil, on 26 March 2011, I invited Hot Tuna to the Livin' La Vida Imelda walking tour presented by one of my favorite Pinoys, Reproductive Health (RH) Bill advocate Carlos Celdran.

Crossing the street at the CCP Complex.
Following the leader.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

pro-rh bill

It's like a not-so-funny sitcom.

My dear Jinkee, the fact that you were on the pill, and the fact that you felt the need to keep it a secret from your husband, means that YOU ARE PRO-RH BILL.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

hands off my uterus

This is a direct quote from Carlos Caldran's blog, Walk This Way:

Going to hell for giving out condoms. (Image source)

The Reproductive Health Bill is not a new bill.

It's no secret that the RH Bill has been languishing in Congress for the last 16 years.

And unfortunately, the problems we face today are not new as well.

Because after all your fancy words have been said and done, your economic numbers and scientific data thrown about, one thing will remain for sure: outside on the streets, life is a living hell for a majority of Filipinos.

We’re still plagued by high infant mortality, high maternal deaths, overpopulation, & a skyrocketing HIV and abortion rate and it’s the worst it’s ever been in our history.

And for the last 16 years, people in Congress have been trying to pass the RH Bill, a piece of legislation that would holistically address these issues. And this bill has been held back, delayed, and shot down by Anti-RH lawmakers such as yourselves for reasons that were either legal, economic, or religious.

But it also seems that for the last 16 years, these problems that I have mentioned have gotten worse. So tell me, your honors, if your alternate solutions to the RHBill are so great, why haven’t you implemented them in the last 16 years? Why haven’t I felt its effects on a national scale? Your honors, tell me: After 16 years, why are we STILL where we are?

And since the RH bill has been shot down so many times by lawmakers like you, in effect, we have been trying it your way for the last 16 years and we haven’t seen any tangible results at all. The mortality numbers are still there and staring at us in the face.

So as a member of the public and as your boss – so to speak – allow me to say that either your solutions to these problems have failed, you aren’t doing your job, or you are just plain ineffective as public servants.

I sincerely believe it is time for us to try a different strategy, a new one. We don’t have much choices anymore. Your side has never really presented us with any. It is time to turn away from this ineffectiveness of the last 16 years. It is time to activate the RH bill and let the power of education, information, and choice create a better Philippines before it’s too late.

Because unless you Anti-RH lawmakers can present a cohesive, concrete plan of action to solve these problems holistically TODAY and right now. I’m not going to wait for another 16 years.

Let the RH Bill start doing it’s work or get out of the way. Because if you have no better solutions, then you are just part of the problem.

A Filipino named Carlos Celdran

being good, being bad

Since Shangri-la's Boracay Resort & Spa opened in 2009, I've eaten at their largest restaurant Vintana four times. Twice for breakfast, once for dinner, and just yesterday, lunch for the very first time.

The spread is not as abundant, lavish or varied as morning and evening. I guess most of the guests skip lunch altogether, or just have a quick snack outdoors when the weather is ridiculously excellent like yesterday. (Wouldn't you? See pictures of their beach and swimming pools in my previous post. )

But that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy my meal.

First plate: Tofu, baby bok choy, mashed potato, asparagus, grilled fish, broccoli, shiitake mushroom and cauliflower.

Second plate: Beef carpaccio with arugula and parmesan, assorted sushi, sweet and sour fish, stir-fried noodles, salmon sashimi.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

va bene = ayuz!

What do you do when (arguably) the most powerful and influential blogger in the country says that he has just discovered "the BEST authentic Italian pasta place in Makati"? Why, you gather your friends together and go, naturally.

Because I am obsessive-compulsive, I called ahead to make reservations. Good thing I did, as they have become so busy after Anton Diaz sang their praises in his blog that they now have two seatings BOTH for lunch and dinner-- 11:30AM, 1PM, 6:30PM and 8PM-- and they are always packed wall-to-wall, no kidding. Plus they have a tendency to run out of food.

I communicated with the proprietor Carolyn Veronesi and she recommended that we pre-order to be sure. She emailed her suggestions, I made some counter-suggestions, and then we were all set for 8PM on 5 April 2011.

We had three salads. Actually, it was one salad, one foie gras dish and one Portobello mushroom dish. But all of them looked like salad, acted like salad and tasted like salad. 

Buffalo mozzarella with marinated tomatoes, basil pesto and mixed lettuce, PHP310.
Pan-roasted foie gras with organic arugula and caramelized apples in balsamic honey reduction, PHP700.
Stuffed Portobello with spinach, gruyere cheese and mixed lettuce, PHP380.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

getting it

About five years ago, I'm not sure exactly when, a friend of a friend, someone I wasn't particularly close to, gave me a book by David Sedaris. It was a collection of essays entitled Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim. When I started reading it, it quickly became obvious to me that David Sedaris is gay. I mean, he's a gay writer. I mean, he writes about being gay.

I didn't get it.

A couple of years after I finished reading that book and set it aside, still wondering what it was all about, I found out that the person who gave me that book was-- guess what? Gay.

I felt compelled to read the book again, I'm not sure why. But I finally got it. The book is not just about being gay. It's about family, friendship, life and love. I liked it the second time around. So I bought another one of his books.

Shangri-la's Boracay Resort & Spa, 10 March 2011, 6:13PM

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

sinaot means "dance"

Ever since we met the Mayor and Attorney Gold in 2005, they have been inviting us to their town fiesta every first of May, Labor Day, a significant holiday in the Philippines. Being in the tourism industry, I always felt that I couldn't just leave my business during peak holiday season, but after declining their invitation for five years, I finally realised that friends are more important than work. Naks!

Even though we'd been to the town of President Roxas, Capiz only once before, during the Great Visayan Tour of 2007, we didn't get lost. Thanks, Google Maps. We made it just in time to have lunch three times at three different houses (!), and then the Mayor officially opened the Sinaot Festival 2011 street-dancing competition at 2PM.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

the search for the best batchoy

I wanted to find out: Is the batchoy in La Paz Market better than any other batchoy?

Usually, when in Iloilo, there are only two batchoy joints that the locals recommend-- Ted's and Deco's. I prefer Ted's because I feel that the broth at Deco's isn't piping hot when served, but I was willing to try either when we arrived at La Paz Market on 17 March 2011, just in time for lunch.

First, we took a peek at Deco's. Their sign says "Original".

And then we looked at Ted's next door. They call themselves "Old Timer", whatever that means.

Monday, May 9, 2011

what i'll remember: saigon

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We arrived the morning of 22 February 2011, left for Siem Reap the next day, then flew back on 26 February and stayed until 1 March.

In those few days, we spent a lot of time sitting in little plastic chairs on the sidewalk, drinking very strong and sweet coffee, and watching the world go by.

Cà phê sữa đá. Iced coffee with milk.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

food porn @ aubergine

Now that I've blogged about our Trois Gourmands experience (part 1 and part 2), I can't help but compare it with Aubergine. This dinner also took months to plan. It all started when Steph (silent H) and Cookie Monster were invited to someone's birthday party at Aubergine. That's when they discovered the joys of a perfectly pan-seared foie gras. As you know, sharing is caring, so they immediately set out to recreate that meal with us on 7 April 2011 at 8PM.

Welcome to Aubergine. I want that dining table for my home.

Steph wanted a private room, which meant getting a group of at least 10 people together. Aubergine had emailed the menu they'd prepared for us weeks in advance, and I was already dreaming of the food. Some people did not arrive until almost 9PM, though, and we couldn't start without them. Shockingly, Bry the Incredible Shrinking Man was on time. (Happy birthday, Bry!)

Thank gad their bread basket was nice. But by the time we officially started dinner, we were already more than half-full from the bread.

Sesame roll and soft pretzel. Good bread. Very nice.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

food porn @ trois gourmands, part 2

Hot Tuna and Canned Tuna wanted an after-dinner drink, and so they asked our server for some calvados. She brought us this bottle:

How the hail did they get the apple into the bottle?

That drink, I don't know if it was really calvados, maybe it was the owner's backyard moonshine, that drink was, was... POISON! It was the closest thing to paint thinner I've ever imbibed, albeit with a smooth and fruity finish. It cut through all the dust, phlegm and pollutants that I had accumulated in my throat for the past couple of years. The alcohol burned all the way down and seemed to literally CLING to my body parts-- lips, tongue, tonsils, and all major organs. Minutes after our first sip, we were still smarting from the fumes.

Friday, May 6, 2011

food porn @ trois gourmands, part 1

To call our dinner at Trois Gourmands an "event" is an understatement. It literally took half a year of planning and scheming, involving research on various online food and travel forums, coordinating with the InterContinental Asiana Saigon's very helpful concierge, lightning emails back and forth, and most importantly, making sure that we were all in the same place at the same time.

Trois Gourmands, 18 Tong Huu Dinh Street, Thao Dien Ward, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 26 February 2011 at 9PM.

Together at last. Hot Tuna, Canned Tuna and Bunny Rabbit.

They started us off with an amuse bouche. Scrambled eggs perfectly simple and pillowy soft, and all the warm bread we could eat. Evokes the comfort of a hearty country breakfast, and isn't the scent of good bread just so heartwarming and NICE?

Soft scrambled egg with black truffle

Thursday, May 5, 2011

visiting saint victor hugo

One of the weirdly wonderful things about Vietnam is Cao Dai.

OK, that sounds disrespectful, calling a religion "weird", but seriously, in this day and age of fire-breathing, join-us-or-rot-in-hell fundamentalists, a religion that accepts and even embraces the tenets of all the world's major religions and philosophies... now that's a little weird.

I decided to hire a car to go to the Tây Ninh Holy See, which is the seat of Caodaism. It would have been much cheaper to join one of those bus tours, but their itinerary is too hectic and they spend only thirty minutes in the temple. And based on my research, this place deserves much more than just thirty minutes. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

foodie wonderland

It's been over two months since I was in Vietnam, and I'm still struggling to blog about the few days that I spent there. Every time I browse through my pictures, I am dumbfounded by homesickness, even though obviously it's not my home (yet), and I had only been there once. (Well, technically, twice. Our trip was Manila - Saigon - Siem Reap - Saigon - Manila.)

And every time I think about the food, I am moved to tears because I miss it so much. Plus I start to drool.

Ben Thanh Market, Saigon. Proof that God loves me.

Just looking at this picture brings back all the sights, sounds and smells. Argghhh!!!