Born on the Year of the Rooster

Yep, three rooster years and counting.

I celebrated my 36th birthday this year with very little fanfare. Truth be told, I had taken down from my Facebook profile my birthdate to avoid precisely that. Not that it was a test or anything, but it kinda did prove to be one of some sort – only those close to me remembered my birthday without the help of a Facebook reminder (you all know who you are, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for remembering).

I did get to celebrate it with my family, eating Joey’s ultimate favourite: steak.

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And then I dragged the fambam to the National Museum since my old folks have not yet seen the Spoliarium up close, and because, well, what birthday of mine would be complete without a trip to the nearest museum, right?

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We had a little group celebration later on with my siblings (we were all born under the zodiac sign of cancer, and our birthdays are a week apart, with mine in between my brother and sister).

Anyway, as you might have noticed, I’ve been blogging less and less the past year. I would blame my laptop situation still (I switched to a Mac a year ago, and still haven’t figured out how to use it), but another more relevant reason is that I simply couldn’t make the time. I still want to write on my blog – I’ve got so much to share, and well, this is one the more reliable venues I have to record my memories. But, work has been eating up most of my waking moments; honestly, my entire weekday is about work. And after 12-14 hours a day, the hours I have left when I get home are spent just being lazy on the couch with the kids while I eat (late) dinner and watch Netflix. Weekends are about sleep, running errands and taking the kids out that frankly, not much else gets done.

Also, I’ve been diagnosed early this year with an auto-immune disease. I think I’ve suspected it for quite some time: the never-ending allergies and swollen face that I’ve endured for over a year, waking up feverish almost daily, and not having enough energy to get through the day. It’s not life-threatening (at least not yet), but it does require me to conserve my energy. It requires a lot of will power to just get up off the bed in the morning, even though my entire body aches and creaks its heart out (no kidding, my bones do creak when I walk).  It requires having to find ways to do things faster than I normally would/could, just so I can finish tasks before my energy gets used up. It means that I have to work harder at overcoming fatigue, work harder at motivating myself, and work harder at seeing the brighter side of things.

Because there is a brighter side. While my condition is lifetime, there are a bunch of medicines that I can take (and do, everyday) to help me live as normal a life as possible. And I am thankful I can afford them, because who knows how many people are out there who cannot?

It also made me realise that I need to rethink my priorities. I’ve always been a workaholic, and many times, I have had to choose between finishing work or being home to tuck in the kids at night, or attending their school events. Or meeting friends.

Times like these, I remember what my father used to tell me. Work may be important, but when you are gone, your work will not remember you. When you get sick, your company will not care for you. If you cannot finish something, no one is going to die because you needed to get a few hours of sleep.

So, I think I need to go back to the basics. I didn’t make new year resolutions at the start of the year but I think it’s not too late to make a few ones for my birthday:

  • Be healthy. The steroids I am on kind of nixes the part of getting slim, but at least I can still strive to eat healthy (yeah, I think I need to start bringing my own lunch box) and exercise. Twenty pounds to lose is a long way to go but that’s the end goal.
  • Spend more time with the kids. Midnight to 2am is very precious to me because that’s the only time during the weekdays that I get to spend with Jorge. With Joey, I barely see him awake, except on weekends.
  • Work smarter. I am usually more productive very early in the morning, when no one’s at the office and meetings have not yet been set (my daily meetings take more than 8-10 hours of every day), or very late at night, when everyone’s gone home. So I think I will go back to being one of those early birds.
  • Travel more. I have made several travel plans in the last two years, only to nix them at the last minute because of unforeseen events. Hubby and I actually planned to celebrate our 10th year anniversary last year with a renewal in Rome but then, work happened. Next year, that was our plan for our 12th year, but again, work will happen. May, July and November are my favourite months to travel, only because that’s when our anniversary and birthdays fall, but apparently, that’s also when most work happens. I guess I just have to accept that I will never get to travel on the  important dates and plan around it.
  • Do things I love. I think I’m getting illiterate because I haven’t been reading; for someone who used to read hundreds of books a year, this is a very high fall from grace. So I need to get back my reading and writing rhythm back.

These are not actually new resolutions. They are just a rehash of every resolution I’ve written here. But I guess, now’s the time to take them seriously.

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Food Trip: Foo’d

My BFFs and I have this life-long commitment to food. Whenever we meet up, or travel, we make it a point to try out the local food scene and hit up a Michelin-starred restaurant or two. Sadly, while we do have a LOT of decent restos in the country, there’s an overwhelming absence of the latter in the metro.  So colour us so happy to learn that Davide Oldani, chef of Michelin-starred Cucina Pop in Italy, has brought his signature affordable sit-down meal to our side of the planet and opened up Foo’d.

Perhaps the usual misconception about Michelin-starred anything is that they are outrageously expensive – mostly true, in my experience, but this is where Oldani’s concept differs. He offers arguably one of the most affordable fine dining Michelin experience you can get.

How he does it is actually brilliant: by offering a fixed and limited menu, he manages to perfect each dish while banking on the economies of scale that such a setup naturally entails. It does come with a bit of flexibility: set menus start at Php800 and you can work your way up by adding other items. But if you want to get the full-on experience, you can always opt for Php2000 menu. 😀

Foo’d, which is located at the ground floor of the Shangri la Fort, has a very cozy ambience: plain white tables, dim lights, and soft, hushed sounds create that intimate dining feel of more pricey restaurants, minus the price tag. What I liked most is that the servers, who actually prepared each dish, take their time in going to your table to explain the different ingredients, and how it was prepared. Makes you appreciate the effort all the more.

For starters, we got the Cippola Caramellata, or simply put, caramelised onions. The caramelised onions are topped with homemade gelato and hot cream. I’m a bit fan of anything with onions (I can survive on French onion soup and onion rings) and I loved the softness and sweetness of the onions. I am just not too sure though if I want my onions with my gelato in the same meal, and as starters at that.  Next on the menu was Cacio e Pepe, which looked kind of deceiving as it was almost all white save for the tiny dots of freshly cracked pepper (the dim lightig didn’t help) – I almost thought it was just the pasta and pepper! Digging in, there’s Pecorino Romano cheese, horseradish, and hints of lemon.

 

For our third course, we ha Iberico pork ribs with porcini sauce and liquorice. This one, I absolutely loved – loved the meat and the just right richness and earthiness the porcini sauce.

 

Okay, I am a big dessert person and when they placed this plate of lemon curd in front of me, I went through different emotions: one was of the “OMG this is too pretty to eat” variant, courtesy of the perfectly sculpted meringue, second was more along the lines of “what the heck is that green tadpole-like thing.” After that, it was a dilemma of which one to dip my dessert spoon into first.

Turns out, the green “tadpole”was was a lettuce-flavoured gelato on a bed of crunchy cacao – yes, you read that right! Lettuce! The spiky cone is lemon curd topped with tiny meringues. I haven’t tasted meringues since I as in high school so I was very eager to have a go at this one. I loved the lemon curd. The sour curd and the sweetness of the meringue perfectly balanced each other, but when you eat it alternately with the veggie gelato, it becomes a dizzying volley of different flavours in your mouth. All sweet, sour, salty and bitter bits of it. For what it’s worth though, I don’t think I would eat the lettuce gelato on its own. I prefer my leafy greens as leafy greens and part of my entree, not my dessert. 😀

I enjoyed our Foo’d trip (see what I did there?) not singularly for the food, or the ambience, or the service, but the totality of the experience. And I am beyond happy that Pinoy foodies like me now have a growing option right in our backyard.

The Pokemon Go Update You Need Is Here

I’ll be the first to admit: I, along with a million other players, was actually getting bored with Pokemon Go. I mean, come on, just how many Rattatas (no matter how much the little brat at home loves it) and Pidgeys do you really want to catch? And no matter what I do, I just can’t find the missing pocket monsters I needed to finish my pokedex. I don’t even have a Dragonite!

But this latest update might just be the needed push to get me back in the game – and let me count the ways.

80+ new pokemons. Yup, 8-0! Now I have more monsters to get excited about. It’s quite amazing too that my eldest son actually knows which ones evolve into what, their powers and all that stuff. So far, I have caught 19 of these newly added monsters. And I wasn’t even trying too hard since I was caught up with deadlines and a presentation today that I could NOT mess up – I caught these monsters while going across floors at the office. Yes, I am that hooked – I even have the app open in my purse whenever I head off to meetings so that my steps count towards the mileage required to hatch eggs! 😂

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Umbreon and Espeon. News of the appearance of Eevee’s other evolutions started making the rounds last quarter, but not a single sign of these new pokemons in the last couple of updates. But, lo and behold! I used the tried and tested way to determine the evolution of your Eevee, and since I am partial to this flower, I renamed one of my monsters Sakura and evolved it. Voila! Out came Espeon, the sun pokemon/psyhic evolution of Eevee. I didn’t want to get my hopes up but there it was.

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Excited, I renamed my other Eevee into Tamao and got Umbreon, the moonlight/dark evolutioj of Eevee.

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New types of berries. While I appreciate the razz berry, sometimes I think it’s nothing but razz, you know, like the Razzies?

Fine, lame joke.

May I introduce then, the pinap and nanab berries:

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I didn’t get to research the berries prior to my first use of each, so I ended up wasting them. But since I am feeling generous today (yes, the presentation went well and I managed most of the deadlines), the pinap doubles the number of candies you can get from the pokemon SHOULD you manage to catch it. So yes, it’s a bit risky but then, double the candy? I’m in. The nanab, meanwhile, calms down the monster, making it less erratic and easier to catch. I managed to catch several thousand-CP pokemons using the standard ball coupled with this berry so it really is a big help.

The berries and poke balls are also now strategically located at the bottom left and right of the screen when you catch a pokemon – no need to access it by opening your items and selecting which to use. All you have to do now us swipe.

Additional evolutions and special items. Some of the pokemons we all thought we’ve evolved to their final form (well, at least those of us who never played the videogame nor watched the shpw), sneaked in a surprise as well. I already spied Blissey (Chancey’s evolution) at a nearby gym and saw Poliwhirl get another evolution form, albeit with a special item.

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I did notice though that the gps tracking seems to have been messed up – I could see my avatar going round and round hundreds of meters from where I actually was. Not that I’m complaining as that just counts towards my mileage.

And Niantic might need to do something with their server as it seems this update has got a lot of players excited: my app crashes every time I open it anew. I have to try at least three times every time before I could get it up and running.

The updates today made me excited to play Pokemon Go again, so much that hubby and I are contemplating going hunting again in poke-hubs like we used to months ago. And judging from the number of crashes I experienced with the app today, safe to assume a big number of players are too.

But is it enough to sustain the success of the game for many more months? Time will tell. All I know is, I’m gonna catch ’em all!

Amber

I am currently down with an infection and a severe bout of allergies (I’ve been having a lot of those lately) and thinking about all the food I am missing made me reminisce about one of the best Michelin experiences I’ve had so far: the two Michelin star Amber at the Mandarin Oriental Hongkong.

Now this is a long overdue post, one year in the making but the experience is just too good not to share.

My friends and I got a private room for our lunch and since we were in Hongkong to gorge on delicious food, we decided to go with their lunch wine menu – one glass each with starter, middle  course, and main course.

Who says we can’t have wine during lunch?!?

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When I first heard that we could potentially take four hours, I immediately thought, how can lunch take that much time? But when the first dish was served, I thought, oh now, I get it.

Duck colvert – A very rich foie gras, pâté en croûte, and sicilian pistacchio with spiced mango chutney.

I normally cannot tolerate too much pate, so having the starchiness of the crust  break that richness, and the sweetness of the mango to stave off the saltiness was a clever foil for it. It was an explosion of different flavors, all rich but perfectly complement each other. On a side note though, it was rather too heavy for me – I felt full midway through the pate en croute, but still finished it because it was too good to pass up. And the Chilean white wine was the perfect drink to wash it with.
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Oh, and let’s not forget the bread? I am a big bread person after all. 😂 I love that they offered different kinds of bread to satisfy just about every preference.

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For my middle course, I chose the cuttlefish – ala carbonara, served with quail egg yolk, charred pearl onions, and smoked alsatian bacon. And because we were feeling festive, it was Christmas season afterall, we got some table shaved alba white truffle to go with our meal. I love white fish, onions and bacon, and while the different textures and flavors worked well, after the richness of the pate, it was a tad too gentle on the taste buds for me, even with the truffle.

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I was literally bursting at the seams by the time our main course was served but who can say to to this:

Aveyron lamb – ribs braised in pinot noir, boulangere potatoes with taggiasche olives, tomato olives, and mizuna leaves. I have no words but I hope I did it a bit of justice with the photo below:

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The next plate was the chef’s selection of French unpasteurized cheeses. I love cheese but I often get disapponted with the spartan offering of most restos, so I had very little hope that this case would be different. Well, I was pleasantly surprised! The cheese plate was obviously carefully curated, with the varieties that go well with each other served in small portions – big enough to more than just whet your appetite, but small enough to not make you gag.

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And as if the cheese plate was not enough, we had a dessert of pineapple confit – with grilled millefeuille, grand cru madagascar vanilla cream, licorice, lime and yoghurt mousse, and exotic fruit sorbet. I’m not too fond of pineapple, licorice or lime (I don’t like sour/citrusy food in general, except as garnishing), but I enjoyed it enough to finish half and that is saying something.

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The last itme on the menu is dulcey chocolate – the caramelized macadamia and peanut butter sorbet was just heavenly! Now this is the dessert I love!

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We had tea and petit fours to round up our wonderful lunch!

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Some Lip Loving

I don’t know the definitive moment when I became a lipstick addict – but every time I’m stressed and I feel the need to shop but my wallet is on a diet, I would usually end up with a new lipstick shade. I guess that’s the lipstick theory right at work for you.

I have a lot of favorites which I tend to use for days or weeks on end; no particular brand favorite (as long as it’s hypoallergenic) or price point concerns either. Not to be a snob here, but come on, how expensive can a lippie be? Plus, the good brands (read: good for extra sensitive skin) are usually triple the price of the usual drugstore brands.

Currently though, I am obsessed with Mac’s Twig. It leans on the pinkish side of the range of nudes so it doesn’t wash you out.

Perfect for when you’re denied of sleep and in dire need of some brightening. The only downside is, it washes quickly – a cup of my morning coffee and I need to retouch it again.

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For days when I cannot be bothered to check my lips in the mirror (like when I got stuck in traffic and am five minutes late to an early morning meeting), I rely on my all time Clinique lip crayons. But, I recently discovered that one of my favorite brands, Burt’s Bees, have new shades of their own lip crayons. Quite cheap too as they cost less than Php700 each! I alternate between the pinkish Niagara Overlook and the cherry red Redwood Forest.

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Last holiday season, I had the sudden urge to get a wine red lippie. I’ve never been into the blood-red trend but plum/reddish-purple? I can do that. The first counter I ran into was Shiseido and after one trial swipe of shade RS 656, I knew it was a match made in heaven. This shade ranks up there with my all-time favorite but discontinued SmashBox nude shade.

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On other days when inspiration takes hold of me, I try on other shades, although I still lean towards the ubiquitous and universally flattering nude lip. One shade I find easy to mix/match with outfits and can transcend daytime to nighttime is Mac’s  Yash. There’s just something sophisticated about a nude lip that a red lip can’t project.

But of course, I do feel girly at times so I swipe on Lancome Rouge in Love shade 351M, a light pink with enough shimmer that’s perfect for summer/spring. And of course, for days when I just feel the need to be bold, I make a toss between  Mac’s cult fave Ruby Woo and its lesser known sister, Lady Bug. They’re both vivid red and not for the faint of heart, but the former has blue undertones while the latter is more crimson.

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What’s your favorite shade? 👄💄💋

Amsterdam!

Maybe it’s because of the frenetic phase of life I am currently in that I find myself thinking and reminiscing about my trip with friends to Amsterdam almost two years ago (my second in a span of a year). There’s just something about the place and the demeanor of the people that made me think what a laid back yet modern city it was.

Or maybe it was because it was the last leg of our 24-day long Eurotrip and we were, to be honest, literally tired from all the travelling and sight-seeing that we were just happy to experience the city like locals and not cram as many tourist spots as possible in our four nights in the city.

We actually realized how long our trip was when upon arriving in Amsterdam, we were greeted by cold gusts of wind – summer had turned into fall! It was so cold in fact, that we couldn’t venture more than a block away from our apartment.

First thing we did after resting? Buy new clothes! Our wardrobe consisted of shorts and summer dresses. We didn’t think we’d need thick jackets and scarves, and the like!

Fortunately for us, our apartment was midway between the touristy places and the grand plaza. So after buying all necessities, we headed off in the other direction to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. I loved both museums and I guess, most other visitors do too, since they are the 1st and 2nd most visited museums in the Netherlands!

What makes the Rijksmuseum even more engaging is that you can download an app and type in the number of the artifact or artwork, and it will give you the description/background, as well as in what part of the museum you are in currently! Now, I am not one to hire tour guides and all because I prefer to roam around at my leisure, and I almost always do prior research so I can zero in on the ones I want to see. So if you’re like me, this app would be perfect for you.

As with other museums in Europe (or the world, for that matter), a lot of the impressive artworks deal with religious themes.

And what can I say aout the Van Gogh Museum? We spent a good three hours or so just looking at his works. I grew up listening to the song Vincent and had always been fascinated with him and his art. It was almost surreal to see in person The Potato Eaters, Bedroom in Arles, and The Yellow House.

Too bad that the Starry Night painting, which I’ve always wanted to see was not there (it’s part of the MoMA in NY’s permanent collection).

And too bad that I don’t have pictures to show you – as you may have read from my Prague posts, my camera conked out so I had to rely on my iphone. Which would have been fine had it not been a victim of one of those IOS upgrades that just didn’t work and had to be reformatted. Net result, I lost all that were in my phone, photos included (it’s not synched with any laptop since the hubby uses the macbook).

Anyway, at least I was able to save these photos! What would a trip to Amsterdam be without posing in front of that I Amsterdam sign!

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Since I’ve been to Amsterdam before, I had a pretty good idea of how to go around. My friends had been dying to see the red light district (for those of you who don’t know, prostitution and marijuana is legal here) and since it was just a few minutes walk from the Dam Square and the Royal Palace, I said, why not?

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It was a downcast day and we had to take shelter for a good hour or so inside one of the shopping malls beside the palace (tip: they have luxury brands there but I got the impression that not too many people shop there, so they have all the hard to find colors), but the walk to the red-light district was nice as it was considerably cooler as well.

It was early afternoon when we got there so only a few establishments were open but we got what we came for – display windows with scantily clad (sometimes half-naked) women peddling their wares. I doubt if we would have had the stomach to see any of the live shows though.

Amsterdam, or the Netherlands for that matter, is built on land reclaimed from the sea so there were lots of canals and bridges connecting the streets. It’s very charming and picturesque – you’d be hard pressed to find a place that’s wasn’t photogenic.

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We were so lazy in Amsterdam that we didn’t even try many restaurants (and for foodies like us, trying new restos is a must when traveling) – we found the nearest pub near our apartment, Cafe Berkhout, liked the food, and stuck with it the entire trip. We felt like locals sitting in what had become our usual table. In fact, we were there so often that we even figured out the shifting schedule of the servers! Hahaha!

Cafe Berkhout offers mainly burgers, fries and chips  which you chase down with beer. You can’t go wrong with their burgers which were so big my friend and I always had to share. And I was quite proud for trying the Kinkey bitter lemon which soon became one of our favorite drinks (along with red wine, of course).

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What contributed also to our memorable Amsterdam trip was our gorgeous apartment, which we found through Airbnb. To be honest, prior to this trip, I have never tried their services. It was more expensive than our other hotels and apartments (2nd only to our flat in Paris which was a stone’s throw from the Louvre) but we enjoyed our stay so much and our host, Maria, was so gracious. We stayed at the ground floor of her house which had two bedrooms, a dining and living room (complete with its well-stocked espresso machine), a full-service kitchen and even its own private garden overlooking the canals!

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Too bad that it was raining almost the entire time that we didn’t get to have our planned picnic in the backyard; I did get to experience sleeping underneath the stars, and LIGHTNING, as the 2nd room near the canal had clear glass ceilings!

The World According to Joey: Heartbreak

imageLast year when I joined Joey for his annual fieldtrip, I was quite shocked to see him holding hands with one of his classmates; he didn’t even leave her side and I was left wandering behind them. A few months after that, Joey told me that his classmates have been teasing them everyday and that they are together all the time, especially during breaks.

Curious as to how far things have progressed, I asked Joey how his “girlfriend” reacted when she found out he’s moving to a new school next school year (he had taken and passed the entrance exam at one of the big schools near our place).

Me: So Joey, how are you and “A”?

Joey: We don’t talk anymore.

Me (taken aback, knowing they were inseparable just a few weeks ago): Why? Did you have a fight?

Joey: Mom, it wouldn’t have worked anyway. I’m moving to a new school so what’s the point?

Me: (speechless; so I guess this means he knows the concept of long distance relationships – at nine years old!!!)

HK Foodtrip: Boqueria

I am not too fond of walking too much nowadays – I used to, when I was younger, but now I just get tired too easily. Chalk it up to aging and leading a sedentary lifestyle. So when my friends and I trooped to find this quaint little resto for Brunch  in Central, Hong Kong, I remember thinking: the food had better be very good. You see, Central is quite a big place and it took us a lot of walking up and down winding side streets before we found Hotel LKF, where Boqueria was neatly tucked away on its second floor.

When we first entered the place, I was quite charmed by the way it looked so cozy, like where you would hang out with your friends after a long day (or week). It wasn’t the place to be seen out and about; it wasn’t intimidating. Exactly my kind of place.

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To be honest though, we didn’t come for the food but for the unlimited do-it-yourself sangria, which you can easily do following three simple steps: get your ice and fruits, pick your juice (orange or grape) and wine (red or white), add sprite (if you want), and voila! Your very own sangria.

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We started off our meal with glasses of sangria – we were very strategic with it: we got the table nearest the sangria station and just across the kitchen door. Our sangrias were perfectly paired with appetizers from their carritos (mobile carts),which fortunately always starts with our table. Hahaha!

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I love their plate of Embutidos y Quesos (cold cuts and cheese) which we drizzled with olive oil (by request) and Ensaladas y Especialidades Espanolas (salads and specialties). I normally don’t like cherry tomatoes but that day, they were just oh so fresh and perfect with my meats and cheeses. I would of course, pick the cold cuts and cheese that are so abundant in France, but this would be a lovely substitute.

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It was the Christmas season when we visited Boqueria and pretty soon, a big group of expats entered the place. In fact, their group was so big it was just them and us! They all ordered oysters and since we were the only other table, we were given free oysters as well! I need not tell you how much I love my fresh oysters!

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The brunch package (which you can get with the unlimited DIY sangria) also includes their Paella del Dia (Paella of the Day) which was the perfect base for all the grilled goodness that was served shortly before it.

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I was seriously full before we even got to taste their Verduras del Dia a la Piancha and Churrascos de Carne (grilled veggies and meats) but I can’t say no to grilled salmon, beef and pork, can I? Especially when they’re all hot-off the grill. I never tried pairing my grilled meats with mustard and tartar sauce but I was pleasantly surprised with how good everything tasted.

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After serving us all those yummy grilled meat, guess what the finale was? We were so proud when we saw the Cochinillo Asado (suckling pig) being rolled out on the last cart – or none other than our very own lechon!

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I was seriously full to the brim by then; one more bite and I would have thrown up and made a mess right there. But then, the next cart rolled in and it was laden with plates of delectable Postres – freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, brownies, apple pie, and churros drizzled with chocolate syrup! So decacent and oh so tempting for a chocolate lover like me. They were not fancy concoctions but it was their simlpe familiarity that made this dessert plate a winner in my books.

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And to top off our Boqueria experience, we tried the Porron – similar to a beer bong, the bartender would pour an alcoholic beverage through a small tube straight to your mouth and would only stop when you give the word.

Two thumbs up!

Food Trippin’ The Michelin Star Way

I guess it’s a pretty known fact that HK is one of my favorite destinations abroad – it’s just a two-hour flight (shorter than going to Fairview from Makati on a weeknight), and it has theme parks (kid at heart here!), shopping (hello, outlet stores!), and perhaps the best reason of all: it is a paradise for foodies like me.

For my trip with my friends last holiday season, we wanted it to be as laid back as possible, and maybe sneak in a couple of tourist spots. But our main agenda was, yes, you guessed it: FOOD.

And we couldn’t even wait until we stepped out of the airport. First stop – the one Michelin star Ho Hung Kee. We were initially planning on going to their main outlet over at Hysan Place in Causeway Bay but as we where about to step out of the airport, we noticed that there is actually a Ho Hung Kee right there!

We weren’t really that hungry so we just got some shrimp siomai, noodles, and of course, their world famous congee.

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To be honest, I am not a dimsum fan. In fact, I don’t even like Chinese food that much (or maybe, I grew up eating too much of it that I had grown too used to it). But their siomai was so good. Ever thought of how some siomais tend to rely on their main ingredient, like if it’s pork, it’s just the pork that carries the entire dish? Well, the meat of this one was equal parts sweet and salty, and the shrimp was fresh and tender and not gummy at all. Even the yellow wrap was very tasty – I wanted to cut the siomai into different parts so I could taste each. And the crab roe added a nice texture to the siomai. I didn’t even need my usual soy sauce/chili/calamansi mix!

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We couldn’t decide on what noodle dish to get so we got the house specialty wonton noodles in soup. The wonton was good! Same with the siomai, the wrapper itself was tasty. And, the noodles were also a bit sweet! A welcome surprise as I had gotten used to salty noodles. Plus, the dish itself was very heavy – we split all our food into three parts but we still could not finish everything.

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For our finale – we got their abalone, pork and chicken congee. I was expecting a lot from their congee since this was what got them on the Michelin list. But, I was quite taken aback that it was… Sweet. The porridge was a little too sweet for my taste, and the rice too fine that it felt like I was eating puree. I had to drizzle pepper and salt on mine before I could eat it. It was good and tasty, with the individual ingredients all accounted for in terms of taste and yet creating a whole that was greater than each part but, maybe for my Pinoy tastebuds, it wasn’t what I was expecting in a congee. I was expecting something along the lines of my beloved arroz caldo with all its ginger, chicken, salt, and atsuete seed coloring but got something like ginataan malagkit, minus the coconut and a tad less sweet.

All in all, I would still recommend Ho Hung Kee, if only to experience that authentic congee and dimsum. And, for a Michelin-rated restaurant, the price was pretty much hard to beat: our entire meal only costs us about HK$600, with drinks.

(Watch out for the next parts of my HK Food Trip!)

 

The Simple Life

Ever since I was a kid, I have always wanted to live in a farm – you know, grow my own vegetables, plant trees, maybe some chicken? But of course, reality sets in and the dream takes the backseat.

So I always enjoy making the two-hour drive to my Papa’s province to visit their farm. It isn’t much; it is rather small, but, it earned enough when they were young to feed a family of nine kids and send them all the way to college.

The first thing I do when I arrive? I look for the makahiya or mimosa and touch their leaves until the entire bush is drooping! Bonus points that we found all these pink blooms!

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You want to know a little secret? Our family’s farm has a tiny, hidden nook with flowing stream. It was a hot summer day during our visit so the stream was a bit dried up, but when the weather’s cool, you can hear it flowing through rocks. When I was younger, my papa used to catch fish here and my cousins and I would take a dip in the summer.

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But what I love most living in a farm is picking fruits! We have several mango trees on the property and they’ve all been amazing – they yield sacks and sacks of mangoes every year, and very fragrant and sweet mangoes too!

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I guess it’s pretty obvious where I got my love for mangoes. You can’t blame me: I spent many lazy afternoons when I was a small girl sitting on one of the branches of my favorite indian mango tree and eating mangoes straight from the tree!

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We live in the city and hubby and I are working almost seven days a week so my kids rarely get the chance to visit the farm as often as I did (and I alreadyisited rarely then), so whenever my old man volunteers to take us/them, I always let then. These are the summers I want them to remember, not the ones spent playing gadgets or watching TV. And summers like these are hard to find.

 

 

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