Monday, June 29, 2009

My Ziggy-faced Nacho

Had a most unpleasant experience at the OB-GYN Ultrasound Center Alabang yesterday.
First the doctor was late and then she wouldn't let Tats into the room, "Nakita na naman nya yan dati di ba? Ayan o lalaki, alam nyo na yun di ba?" (he's seen this before already, you know it's a boy right?) I don't know where she got off being overly familiar when I've never encountered her before and the doctors there in previous scans were much nicer. Nacho was kicking and squirming the whole time that horrid woman was running the stick over my belly.

Tats had to contend himself with the screen of the receptionist who was nice enough to interpret the image her first reaction being... "Ayan Sir o, ang laki ng pisngi ng anak nyo!" (your child's cheek is so plump)

At 35 weeks, Nacho is already 6.5lbs and i look like i'm ready to explode anytime. Unenthusiastically, she pointed out the liver, kidney etc. When I asked if the lungs are fully developed, she looked at me incredulously and shook her head as if i just asked the stupidest question of the century.

After paying and getting the results, Tats and I left without bothering to make small talk. As soon as were out the door, we both agreed how much we hated that doctor. Then we opened the envelope and took in the features of our ziggy-faced baby... at least there was something pleasant to balance the day's scale.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Gelato Redemption: Amici et Cara Mia

We’re off to Greenhills sooner than I thought!

My husband and 2 brother-in-laws are huge pizza and pasta lovers so it wasn’t hard to convince them to have lunch at Amici. On our way down Connecticut, I regaled them with tales of the original one in Don Bosco where my old office used to be. I described the portly priests cooking away in a steamy kitchen separated from the rest of the cafeteria with a clear glass sliding window, the noisy boys we competed with for table space, the complimentary bread baskets with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to boot… and of course the generous servings of pasta with the featured meat which alternates between rosemary chicken or roast beef for only P110. The meal must be capped with a scoop or two of gelato at P30 each with a side show of the previously-cooking priests relaxing to shots of espresso shared with Bencab. That was 2003.

After being bought by the family that used to own Red Ribbon (now under Jollibee), today’s Amici boasts of Italian-themed interiors of white, green and red with the Greenhills branch annexed to an entire “gelateria” section called Cara Mia in lovely pastel colors. It feels totally different but I’m glad they kept the water and ice station where you can get an entire frosted pitcher for your table. Another down-to-earth touch is you can actually order 1.5L of softdrinks because for my boys, a can just won’t do.

We ordered the meat pizza with ham and sausages, penne with smoked salmon, fried mozzarella and lasagna al forno. The price increase was expected but not the petite servings. Each dish was enough for a girl my size but definitely not for guys used to wolfing down 36” pizzas as fast as I could finish a regular sandwich. The penne was pretty good but the lasagna was too fragrant it felt like I was eating in a flower shop. You can’t go wrong with fried mozzarella but there are so many ways you can screw up with pizza starting with the thick-bready crust same as the one of pizza hut.

I knew my companions were dissatisfied but they were such gentlemen to say so. They were probably itching to bolt for the nearby McDo, but I ushered them to Cara Mia, the reason why I brought them there in the first place.

The display of gelato, ice cream cakes and cookies were beautiful but not on adventurous mode anymore, they stuck to the classic Pistachio and Strawberry while I went for the most complicated-looking Mango Jubilee which I’m pretty sure I won’t find in ice-cream version anytime soon. Back in Don Bosco I used to order the Rum Raisin, maybe I was the only one so they phased it out, but I’m sure a lot of people will go crazy over my new choice which would be more appropriately called Berries Buffet – there were more strawberries and blueberries than mango packed in gelato whose main purpose is to hold ‘em fruits together.

We were all happy with dessert and should have left it at that except after a little shopping we decided to go one more for the road. We ordered a slice of Banana Blast ice cream cake and Strawberry Gelato Milkshake. The cake was 3 flavors of ice cream with a dark crusty bottom, chocolate sticks and strawberry drizzle, it looked very pretty but was quite overwhelming - plus points for the generous strawberries much more prominent than the banana-flavored ice cream so again this one should be aptly renamed. The milkshake was very thick and rich they way it’s supposed to be but I don’t think I’ll be having any again in this lifetime.

Friday, June 19, 2009


If you were flat broke - would you work in a brothel that can earn you around $70 + tips/day?


How would you react if your wife told you that her gift on your upcoming birthday is 365 nights of sex?

If you were the wife, would you give this as gift?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Lite & Fresh Lunch

I've been following Market Man's posts on his food adventures in Paris lately and all those food stores seem so deliciously amazing!

Last Saturday, Tats and I went to Greenhills early for his lunch reunion with friends at Chili's. I was excited by the prospect of trying something different on my own as he's a creature of habit and usually chooses to eat at the tried-and-tested restaurants experimenting only with places with prior recommendation from reliable sources.

I wanted to look for Angel's Kitchen but figured it's not within walking distance from V-mall, at least not for somebody 8mos along the way. Since I have not had breakfast, my grumbling stomach with a kickin' & screamin' baby brought me to the nearest, haven't before tried food stores within a 20-ft radius. And I must say that I seem to have a little gourmand of a bun in the oven!

First stop was Beju: The Fruit Store, I've always wanted to go inside but never got to. Lo and behold the bounty - they were so beautiful I almost broke into a song! Fruits and flowers are always delightful to me be they in the market, mall or sidewalk. The difference with this store is at close inspection, the produce are oh so perfectly smooth in different palettes and I bet they're succulent too, plus it also helps that they're displayed in wooden pails and natural baskets. Common favorites like apples, mangoes, oranges, bananas and lychees with exotic ones like plums, dragonfruits, cherries and others I have not seen before! They also serve fruit shakes, smoothies and medley snacks of fresh slices, very enticing but not hefty enough for brunch. I opted for a medium-sized shake and asked the cashier's recommendation... Orange-Banana, haven't tried that before. At P60, it's the same price as the more commercial stalls except Beju is a lot more generous with fruits and less on syrup. Very fruitty indeed!

I was almost halfway through my drink by the time I got to Milkyway right next door. I've eaten at their Pasay Road branch several times and love their Crispy Pata and Lechon Kawali both being deep-fried parts of a cochinillo. Practically all items on their menu have brought me much joy espcially when capped by a refreshing scoop of buko sorbet. But the Greenhills branch is sort of a deli/ turu-turo type where you can buy their bottled and packed food items or choose from 8-10 viands featured for the day.

My fruit shake was making me feel all healthy inside so I opted to get the Chicken-Asparagus Sandwich for complement. Subtle mayo, flaked chicken, white asparagus and tomato slices stacked cold in trimmed bread coupled with the cool, tangy shake - the combination was fantastic! I savored every bite, finished with a fresh-just-right fullness and was very satisfied. It dawned on me that this is how meals are supposed to be taken, relaxed and appreciated as God intended thus making eating one of our greatest pleasures. I thought of my hurried meals and rubbish calories from undeserving foods of the past - to be absolutely avoided from hereon.

I just read in today's Phil. Star that Amici (the one in Don Bosco) not only opened a branch but also a specialty gelato-bar, Cara Mia in Connecticut Ave. Wow, these and Angel's Kitchen, can't wait for my next visit to Greenhills! =)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wilcon Tile Shopping

I LOVE WILCON!I've actually never been in one until recently with our home-renovation project and I was blown away by the choices of fixtures especially the tiles and the seemingly endless combination you can come up with!

We can't afford to change the house's faux-marble flooring yet, but it's actually not so bad and we might not have to until maybe after a long time. Thus we have to work with a color scheme that goes with it. First we took pictures of the different rooms then off to Wilcon, but we were mostly overwhelmed with everything that we didn't get to decide on anything!

Accompanied by our ninang/contractor Tita Evelyn (whose house is simply divine!) the second time, we had a clearer picture of what we wanted and will be able to afford. So we picked wood-panel-looking tiles for the Master's Bathroom and black-&-white ones for the bathroom downstairs.

Over the weeks we were agonizing over the cost of granite for the kitchen counter which will require 2 slabs at over P6k each. I asked Tita Evelyn if tiles will do and she suggested the plain-porcelain type for the counter with mosaic ones for the splashboard. Armed with measurements and our trusty digicam, Tats and I were off to Wilcon on our own.

After sweeping the expansive array we got dizzy and decided to break by selecting a sink which was easy enough considering the available sizes and especially the prices! After making a choice, we boldly went back to the tiles. We found the perfect semi porcelain base at barely P300 each for a 60cmx60cm. The quest for the ultimate mosaic was harder as most were either too psychedelic or too country (fruits, veggies..) I ventured off to the ceramic floor tiles and found 2 potentials except they're made in China and thus too porous said the attendant. But the guy at the Mariwasa section assured us that the local ones are ok so we picked the Brown-brick ones at P32 each for 30cm x 30cm to go with our base.

With an accomplished grin, off we went to deliver the goods to the house. After laying them down - I realized to my horror that they clash with the floor! Thank goodness both the base and mosaic come in Gray-based scheme which goes perfectly with the floor as well as the bathroom!

Back we went to Wilcon with little trouble coz the exchange items were of the same price but took a long wait nevertheless. The carpenters already left when we got back so poor Tats hauled everything himself. We got home at 7pm, tired and hungry for an entire day has gone by and we never got to eat lunch. Tats probably lost 10lbs but we're happy - including the sink we spent only around P6k total equivalent to the price of one granite slab.

Can't wait to show you the before and after pics! =)

The Sucat Road Discourse

Nearing the end of another arduous traffic going home, Tats brought up our dilemma of whether we’re having Nacho baptized or not. Still not equipped with a solution, I closed the matter by holding off the decision until his first birthday when we can celebrate both milestones together should we go for the affirmative.

Although Catholic-raised, Tats and I stopped going to church a long time before we even met. Despite his mom’s insistence for a church ceremony, we went on to have a civil wedding. We believe in the existence of God sans the religious faith but admittedly, the absence of structured belief give way to so many liberties.

We both agree that our relationship lacks spirituality… and how are we to impart to our child something that we barely have? We pondered on whether desire was enough to form a link with God or helping people out would be a more productive project to bond over. But what sort of project?

Before we could come up with an answer, we were home already where the basic needs of being sheltered, fed, cleansed and comforted took precedence over abstract matters such as nourishing the spirit.

We are not bad people, but we live mainly for ourselves in our own little world. For Nacho we want a more meaningful life, the sort that may not bring him material wealth but so much fulfillment and happiness.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Stuck-in-Traffic Meal

Will somebody explain to me please the correlation between rain and traffic?
Of course it's always traffic in Manila regardless of the weather but for some reason, it becomes at least 5x heavier when there's rain!

There were unexpected downpours over summer (global warming is not a myth people!)and it has gotten more frequent lately.

Last Wednesday was the first really bad byahe from office to home so Tats and I were unprepared... we were hungry, thirsty and he needed to pee. But last night we were ready - he brought leftovers from an office training at the Pen (thanks tita Brenda!), I had a 500ml bottle of water and both our bladders were clear.

Along with the George Michael playlist, we attacked the vegetable sushi and smoked beef brisket - I begged and begged but he wouldn't let me have any of the raw salmon. I didn't realize he could be so firm about depriving me but then again maybe he just wanted it all for himself. For dessert we had non-spectacular but pwede na creme brulee.

The traffic was not as bad as the night before... until we got to Bicutan and Tats' tummy was going wild for No. 2. HAH - must be all the salmon!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Baon of the Day - The Frugal Pasta

I am not very fond of Bolognese or any sauce with a lot of meat in it which they very much prefer at home - call me maarte but I'd rather have simple pasta paired with a separate meat item... I just want to be able to appreciate taste and texture of the base minus the complications. Fish or seafood based sauces are the exception because they're light enough to really blend in.

Used to be that the only pasta I could make was "Tuna Pesto" composed of a can of Hot & Spicy Tuna sauteed in olive oil, garlic and basil. Then I discovered an equally fast and cheap tomato-based version...

6pcs. ripe Tomatoes (blanched, peeled & diced)
500g Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Onions, Garlic and Basil (chopped - based on your desired quantity)
1 tsp. Chili Flakes
2 tbsp. Bagoong Balayan(Anchovy Sauce)or Salt & Pepper to taste

1) In heated Olive Oil, saute Garlic, Onion, Chili Flakes and Basil (in sequence)
2) Add Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce.
3) Season with Bagoong Balayan (for a tastier version) or Salt and Pepper. Leave to simmer for 20minutes.
4) For added punch - serve with Feta Cheese or Kesong Puti

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bicol Express

I was running out of ideas for easy-to-prepare meals for Tats and mine's daily baon... then I remembered cooking Bicol Express ages ago and true to its name, the whole thing can be made quite quickly!

1/2 Pork kasim (cubed, separate fatty part)
50g Coconut Milk Powder (diluted in 1 cup water)
5 pcs. Green Chili Fingers (sliced)
8 cloves Garlic (diced)
Salt & Pepper to taste

1) In a heated pan, throw in fatty cubes with 1/4 cup water. Cover until oil is extracted and you can hear it crackling. Add in the rest of the meat until slightly golden.
2) Toss in diced garlic until slightly cooked.
3) Pour in coconut milk mixture and let simmer until the desired thickness and creaminess is achieved.
4) Sprinkle salt and pepper. Toss in chilies and turn off the heat.

Monday, June 1, 2009

From Old to New - the Great Ukay Experience

Snagged this maxi dress at 50% off from Mint yesterday, very comfy with my current belly and quite accessible if I get to breastfeed. It was a bit too long so I cut 4 inches off the bottom and used the scrap as lining for the top for a semblance of modesty and the leftover for a bandana that may come in handy with a plain outfit.

I have a small Singer electric sewing machine from my mom who never figured out how to use it. All I can do are simple straight stitches but a skill nevertheless that none of my sisters ever got into. Growing up with a frugal grandma who manages to find some use for everything, no scrap of fabric was ever thrown away – clothes were altered and the really worn out ones converted into rags (buying cleaning cloths… ridiculous!). But much can be said also about the thought that went into the maintenance of wardrobes and linens from that household that a lot of my tita's minis from the 60's are still in decent condition after 3 decades! Thus explains my appreciation for fabric and how I get attached with the really comfy ones until a hole emerges and banishes it into the abyss.

Nowadays, good and affordable hardly come together in terms of materials. With the open market, cheap and stylish clothing can easily be had from bazaars and malls, but most are only good for several wears then it just doesn’t slide over you in the same way! It’s so frustrating not to be able to afford the outfit you want and wanting not to look like everyone else… then my little sis introduced me to ukay-ukay shopping!

The intersection of LRT and MRT in Pasay has enough shops that can take up your whole day if you have the stamina.It’s quite exciting rummaging over open racks of seemingly worthless items until you chance upon a chic Anne Klein top, a classic black D&G sleeveless, sharp pencil pants or a sexily-worn out leather bag.

And then there are the dresses… racks and racks of dowdy garbs but constructed from exquisite fabrics that any explanation for such abomination will escape you. Such finds get me all giddy as I immediately visualize what can be done to salvage such treasures.

For a simple cut-and-sew, my Singer comes in handy – had I the necessary gifts of precision and patience, I would’ve made one fantastic mananahi. But alas, my straight-stitch skill can only take me so far… and so I call on my suki in BF Market’s tailor lane at Phase 1 for more complex constructions.

Such ukay-ukay purchase averages at P60 plus alteration at P100. But the ukay experience can also be had for free in the deep recesses of ancient aparadors like that of my lola - so that's both good material and interesting story for only a song! With a dash of resilience and imagination thrown in, you’ve got yourself some unique pieces that can’t be found in the stalls of 168 nor in the racks of Rustans!