Buying with your eyes first

30 11 2009

A COUPLE of display windows at the malls caught my eye.

In its simplicity, one evoked images of Parisian haute couture.

In its brilliant splendor, the other conjured up images of Christmas past.

The very classic intertwined Cs of the house of Chanel.

Louis Vuitton – the best play of lights I've ever seen in many years.

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





All about loving myself

30 11 2009

SATURDAY TURNED out to be all about loving myself.

For one, I made good on my promise to treat myself to Cibo’s Panna Cotta Ciccolato (Php 143.00).  But that’s getting ahead of myself.

My table for one at Cibo in Glorietta.

The night before, I had a great dinner with Kakel at Cibo in Town.  On Saturday night, I went back to the same restaurant, but at their Glorietta branch.  While I enjoy being in the company of family and friends over good food, I don’t have even the faintest hint of hesitation – even an iota of indecision – to dine on my own.  When the very comely wait staff welcomed me by saying, “Sir, table for…”  I cut him short with, “For one, please,” before he could even finish his question.  It wasn’t a curt reply at all.  I do remember beaming from ear to ear.  Especially since I was already toting in my hand my Christmas present for myself.  Hahaha!

Crema Di Zucca

This particular dinner was all about comfort so I asked for my usuals – the zuppe di Crema Di Zucca (soup of summer squash, cream, and slab bacon, Php 185.00), the Spaghetti Alla Romana (spaghetti with sardines in oil, extra virgin olive oil, fennel, chili peppers, and red pesto, Php 225.00), and the Panna Cotta Ciccolato.  Of course, my drink could only be Tomato Juice (Php 90.00).

Spaghetti Alla Romana, my favorite!

 

That fennel frond on top was just so tempting I munched it first! The sardines were perfect, a far cry from the usual bottled variety at the grocery (though there's one brand I hold dear!). And the shredded fennel bulb was just the right sweetness!

The star of this dinner was the pasta, to which the kitchen generously added extra fennel.  I was so excited to get my fork into the dish but not without first snatching the fennel frond that prettily sat on top of the mound.  As I played with it in my mouth, shredding the pin-like succulent foliage with my teeth, I got an arresting shot of an almost-licorice essence.  It was all good.

Each strand of the al dente spaghetti was perfectly coated with the glorious melding of extra virgin olive oil and the oil in which the sardines marinated.  The chili peppers and the red pesto provided a pow-wow layer of heat that developed as I savored the dish.  But the shredded fennel bulb – the white part – provided the perfect counterfoil to this spiciness.  I couldn’t think of anybody else delivering such a great pasta creation for the discriminating Filipino palate.

I started harping about panna cotta ciccolato and ended up raving about the pasta.  Oh, life!

The Panna Cotta Ciccolato that I love!

 

Two receipts from two wonderful dinners!

 

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Cibo is necessity and indulgence

30 11 2009

That's my reflection on Cibo's mirror wall.

THE NICE thing about food is that it is both a necessity and an indulgence.  Even better, it can be both at the same time.

There was no stopping my dinner plans last Friday night.  Earlier in the day, my friend and fellow engineer Kakel and I floated the idea of treating ourselves to a great dinner – should we survive the day.  You see, where we work, something really major is happening.  We’re in the process of totally asserting our independence from the two parent companies that brought forth the business venture we are in.  Think Y2K all over again – only this time, with real drama.  I was waiting for a chasm to open up from right under me.

But with all that we had to go through and take care of, we realized that a great dinner was a non-negotiable.  On the drive to Town, I was quick to recommend Pepper Lunch.  But when we were greeted by the velvet rope upon which was a sign that said, “Line starts here,” I had to seriously reconsider our restaurant choice.

Good thing that right next door to Pepper Lunch is Cibo!  It was also full but I immediately radar-locked unto the last remaining free booth seating.

Spinaci Gorgonzola

The spinaci gorgonzola comes with a generous pile of the best melba toast!

While the usual accompanying melba toast is nice, I prefer my bread soft. So here's my own "soft" melba toast. Finished this off!

We started with the Spinaci Gorgonzola (spinach and gorgonzola cheese dip, Php 218.00), served with melba toast.  I’m not fond of bread sliced thin then toasted to a crisp so I asked for a side serving of soft melba toast (Php 18.00).  Even with what I had in mind for dinner, I managed to finish the whole serving of the bread!

Farfalle Genovese

One of Cibo's strongest points is their presentation. The la famiglia serving of their farfalle genovese comes in a huge pristine white serving platter placed on top a thick slab of wood. The plentiful portion of their fresh bread is neatly piled up on the side.

A tight shot of the farfalle genovese. See the generosity of the restaurateur in this dish. You see all the components – the fresh basil pesto, the wild mushroom cream sauce, and the freshly grated parmesan cheese – all completely coating each piece of bow tie pasta.

Just one of the many helpings of farfalle genovese that I helped myself to.

I then asked for the la famiglia serving of Farfalle Genovese (farfalle in a fresh wild mushroom cream sauce and basil pesto served with a generous grating of well-aged parmesan cheese, Php 465.00).  This dish has long been touted as one of the bestsellers at Cibo.  And I had it for the first time that night.  With the first bow tie pasta I picked from the huge platter, I instantly fell in love.  I could imagine the chef slaving over a mortar and pestle – all the way from Romblon – making the basil pesto from scratch.  Only a fresh and intensely flavored pesto could conjure that image in my head.  It was mixed well with the mushroom cream sauce, coating every piece of pasta.  For presentation and added flavor, a dollop sat right on top at the center.

The mushroom cream sauce perfectly tempered the full-bodied purity of the basil pesto.  The dish had a liberal amount of sliced fresh mushrooms – lots of shiitakes, white buttons, and oysters – that I was sure to hit thick and juicy slices of these fleshy fungi everytime I stuck my fork through.  The very generous dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese only managed to elevate the dish to an astral plane all its own.  But I managed to remain on the ground as the faint hint of nutmeg in the cream sauce reminded me of Christmas.

I’ve never been one to salivate over pasta with a cream-based sauce.  But Cibo’s Farfalle Genovese eradicated whatever shred of skepticism I had.

My first glass of their tomato juice!

Before long I already needed a second glass!

Notice the freshly cracked black pepper on top! Just got to love this drink!

To wash everything down, I had Tomato Juice (Php 90.00) – all two tall glasses of it!  I love tomato juice, the only drink I would keep on asking for on board flights.  While all people shamelessly gulped down all the free champagne that flowed incessantly – in an obvious attempt to take passengers’ minds off the frightening turbulence on a Malaysia-to-Singapore flight – I just asked for my glass to be freshened with tomato juice!  Cibo’s presentation was lovely, complete with a celery stick and freshly cracked black pepper on top.  I like all the quiet drama involved with freshly cracking black pepper tableside.  I would often wonder if the pepper mills were part of the restaurateur’s famed collection.

Kakel's Penne All' Amado. He ate this all up!

While I shared my farfalle with him, Kakel for his part ordered the Penne All’ Amado (penne with slow simmered beef sauce and tomatoes, Php 218.00).  It was the first time I heard of it, and while the description was pretty straightforward, I couldn’t help but assume that the dish could have been named after the owner’s son.  For his drink, Kakel asked for peach-flavored iced tea (Php 90.00).

I wanted to have my favorite Panna Cotta Ciccolato, but decided against it for the time being as Starbucks was part of the dinner plan.

A couple of Dark Cherry Mochas!

In this one, I like the watch better than the drink. Hahaha!

So off we went to Starbucks and ordered two Dark Cherry Mochas.  “I shall have my Cibo panna cotta on the following night,” I told myself.  The two stickers I got for the coffee drinks were enough to make up for it.

And the great conversation too!

Kakel by the Rustan's display window at Town.

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Superman, the oil rigger, and Christmas trees

26 11 2009

CHRISTMAS IS so magical in the sense that even I could really smell it in the air – even here in the tropics – as if announcing its advent.  Crossing the street from Rustan’s Supermarket to Rustan’s Essences, the breeze that gently touched my cheek carried with it a hint of bedewed pine.

And I could definitely see it as the malls are now spruced up for the most wonderful time of the year.  A couple of Christmas trees actually caught my attention last night.

Blue Christmas tree

The blue one was very soothing to the eyes.  It brought to mind Superman as blue is one of his favorite colors.  And the white accents reflected his preference for white-faced wristwatches.

Autumn Christmas tree

The other one had shades of burnt orange, appearing actually very autumnal to me.  It managed to convey the warmth that the season brings to the heart.  I saw it and thought of the oil rigger, Harryboy, as autumn happens to be his favorite of the four seasons.

 

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Happy birthday, Superman!

23 11 2009

Happy birthday, SUPERMAN!

 

Superman dons the Barong Tagalog like no other. Happy birthday!

ONE THING about Superman:  he is so many wonderful things rolled into one.  And yet he doesn’t even seem to be aware of it.  I find that very cool.

Though we had been working in the same office for quite a while, it wasn’t until The Caped Crusader introduced us that The Man of Steel and I became friends.  And while I appreciate his having a telepathic mind, and bionic hearing, it’s his patience that I have come to appreciate the most.  Being friends with me means having to endure all the many many things I blab about.  I practically text – full-word, full-sentence – every thought that takes form in my head.  Good thing that the superheroes I text these messages to are capable of herculean exertions and infinite understanding.

Superman belongs to the sky.  And yet, I have never met anybody who is as grounded as this son of Krypton.  Achievement has never gone to his head.  And being friends with him, he allows me the sense of security and confidence that I could catch up with his fast pace.  That I too can do whatever I want and still be who I want to be.

He has always had genuine interest in the things that make me tick.  And while our likes couldn’t be any different, he doesn’t laugh at or trivialize the diversions that occupy my time and my thoughts.  I remember one time telling him about being breathless in anticipation about some movies, and he cheered my anticipation on.  This, while knowing that all that actually gets him excited lately is waiting for “Avatar, The Last Airbender.”  He knows I haven’t heard of this M. Night Shyamalan film – much less the animated series it is based on – but he never made me feel like a dork for not knowing.

Superman possesses the best qualities I can only aspire for.  Even Batman told me he’s one of the few really sensible people at work, almost habitually reserved in speech and not taken to grandiose gestures to draw attention to himself.  And Friendship said he’s really nice.

To me, he is the kind of friend with whom you can sit beside with, and not speak, yet you will walk away from the experience like you have just had the best conversation of your life.

And whenever I feel invisible or afraid that I will disappear by falling into a crack in the pavement, never to be seen or heard of again, he will ask how I am doing…  and suddenly I will realize I’m alive and I matter.

Today, Monday, the 23rd of November is his birthday.  Happy birthday, SUPERMAN!

 

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





I read all night

22 11 2009

The Aquino Family on the cover of the December 2009 issue of YES! magazine.

I WAS given the December 2009 issue of YES! Magazine as pasalubong.  It was a very thoughtful present.

The issue is packed with 74 photos of the Aquino family in their Times Street home.  And the write-up was quite long.  I really read all night.  It was an engaging read that I couldn’t put it down, bathroom breaks notwithstanding.  As Christmas is fast approaching, the story devoted a large part on the family’s traditions – and the sumptuous spread they would have.

A couple of things about the late former Philippine president, Tita Cory, struck me.  I found it funny how she described her daughter Kris’s posing for the camera.  Hindi ko kinaya, natawa talaga ako.  And I found comfort in the fact that I’m not the lone full-word, full-sentence texter on this planet.  Tita Cory was.

 

*Will it be easy to ship this magazine to Singapore and the US West Coast?

*Is there something significant with the numbers “74” and “11” (7+4=11)?  74 photos in this cover story.  And the number 11 is bold, embossed and in yellow in the limited edition Cory Aquino wristwatch by Philip Stein.

 

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Royce’ and expectations

21 11 2009

Opening a box of Royce' Pure Chocolate Mild Bitter and Extra Bitter...

I CAN put on the persona of a brooding melancholy young man like it’s nobody’s business.  I mean, next to Edward Norton.

And when I brood, I guess I tend to end up grumpy, cranky even.  I don’t intend to and I guess I’m oblivious to it because it took the Harryboy to point it out and snap me out of it: “Bakit parang ang sungit mo yata lately?”  (Why does it seem that you’re cranky lately?)

I realize that brooding’s a bitch.  And it travels through underwater fiber optics.  Sorry, Harryboy.

Anyway, for an instant shot of happiness – cheerfulness that bubbles to the surface, optional – I finally decided to open the box of Royce’ Pure Chocolate Mild Bitter & Extra Bitter that has been sitting in the fridge for a while now.  Open…  and finish it in one sitting!  My gosh, that was a lot of brooding that needed to be turned around!

A disc of Royce' Pure Chocolate 80% Mild Bitter

 

Now with a disc of the 90% Extra Bitter

 

These velvety smooth discs... were all soon gone.

The box contains discs of velvety smooth chocolate that are 80% and 90% pure cocoa.  Expectedly, the 80% chocolate was really mildy bitter, with just a touch of sweetness.  But it was the 90% chocolate that was unexpectedly pleasing.  Yes, it was bitter.  But as I chewed on, I got a shot of an almost cognac-like flavor that played in my mouth, coating my tongue.  It was such a tease.

With a box of chocolates, I realized that our expectations may sometimes sell us short.  I expected to enjoy the mildly bitter, but not the extra bitter one.  What could’ve been a fleeting moment of eating turned out to be a lesson that the expected sometimes pales in comparison to the unexpected.

The unexpected is what changes our lives.  Very much like the first text message I got yesterday morning.

 

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





iL Postino

20 11 2009

Hind... sight...

 

HINDSIGHT IS 20/20 vision.

And in a year’s worth of blog posts, there are just some that mean so much more than others.  Some of them were even doors to my soul, flung wide open.

So before I totally let go of my “oh-em-gee-has-it-been-a-year-already?” sentiment, I look back to just some of my personal favorites from among 256 posts.

“I keep a notebook, here. – My attempt to make sense and articulate why, in the age of the blackberry and other high-tech gadgets, my preferred data storage is not a terabyte of external hard disk but the highly flammable notebook.  I love the opening paragraph of this blog post.

“’Fall’ is the operative word, here. – I think I was on the verge of falling when I wrote this.  Started writing and finished this overnight.

“Being not unhappy, here. – This was born from a thought-provoking text message from a superhero.  Composed this in my head in all of the 30 or so minutes that it took me to get to the office that morning.

“Cooking for someone, here. – My rationalization of something I love to do.

“Life in the time of bailouts, here. – When the penny-pinching started, this blog post came to be.

“Over Coffee, here. – Romancing coffee-drinking.

“Through 35 renewals, here. – Cushioning the impact to the synapses of all those years of existence.  Essentially, just being really thankful.

“35 things, here, and “eNTeNG’s 25, here. – A couple of blog posts of random thoughts.

“Separation anxiety, here. – Because it’s an ever-present fear.  But this one is not exactly what you may think.

“RAUL, Francesco TOTTI and Harry, here. – I just like this, a very spontaneous blog post.  I wrote this while I chatted with a really good good friend.

“Bom & Rizzie’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love On A Day When Purple Reigned, here. – The very first wedding I’ve ever blogged about.

 

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Bringing back the heartache

19 11 2009

APART FROM good food and wristwatches, scents are another passion of mine.  A good scent – top, middle, and base notes considered – has the power to evoke intense emotions, brighten someone’s day, or pull the past through the time and space continuum back all the way to the present.

Some of my favorites on the shelf here at home.

I’ve ticked off quite a number of fragrances as personal favorites through the years.  And as a tradition at the start of a new year, I put together a list of up and coming scents that have piqued my interest and have merited a trial whiff or two at the department store fragrance counter.

My all-time favorites include In Motion by Hugo Boss (memories of Stanford University), Style In Play by Lacoste (my birthday 2004), Carolina Herrera 212 For Men, Michael Kors’ Michael For Men, Egoiste Platinum by Chanel, Clinique Happy For Men, Ralph Lauren Polo Blue, Kenneth Cole New York (the classic one in the round gray bottle…  reminds me of someone in my one-and-a-half years in the States), M by Banana Republic, Fahrenheit by Christian Dior, and Lacoste Original (from Batman…  this is THE BEST).

So just how much perfume does one need to put on?  Just enough that only the person close enough to kiss you will smell it.

I don’t usually follow my own rule.

Some of my faves on my DVD/CD cabinet. I don't think they make that Kenneth Cole anymore.

 

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Finally, the cheese was adjacent to the bread

18 11 2009

Starbucks®’s Christmas Turkey Chicken on Cranberry Bread

THANKFULLY THIS time, all the unmitigated disaster was confined to the big screen.  And not in my fingers.

Sometimes, I live in my own world where I fancy myself known by some that when I show up at a café, I can throw comments like, “The usual please,” and trust that the wait staff would scurry and know exactly what to do.  That to me is one of those delusions that I create to capture my life in celluloid in my head.  I’ve always loved scenes where the protagonist says, “The usual.”  It doesn’t matter if it’s at the corner diner, a fancy café, or a hotdog stand in New York.  Now, as to who shall play me in a big-budget biopic, I’d cast none other than the Edward Norton to play me! I tell you, I’m delusional.  The wide range of roles he has played, from Primal Fear, American History X (my fave), Fight Club, all the way to Keeping the Faith (where he was a priest!) have prepared him to tackle the many personalities that make me up.  Besides, nobody can brood like he does!

Now back to my original point.  I’ve been frequenting the Starbucks cinema outlet at Town that it has become one of the locales of the movie in my mind.  While I think a couple of the staff already know me – based on the nameplate, Eden, and there’s this guy – I guess I still need a couple more visits before I could whip out my “The usual” line enough to demand their full service.  I think I’m getting there, because at this point, they already remember me as the “Hungarian-Sausage-with-Egg-and-Cheese-on-Ciabatta” guy.

On the night of the cataclysmic event that was “2012,” when Eden and the other guy ushered me to the counter, they beamed and said, “Hungarian sausage?  Sir, try nyo naman our Christmas sandwiches.”  Then they went on to rattle the scrumptious-ness of each of the three holiday featured creations.  The guy was very confident in presenting to me one particular sandwich enough to comment that it would make me forget all about my Hungarian Sausage fave.  I took him up on his offer and let the judgment happen in the darkness of Cinema 1 as the Earth’s crust got displaced, volcanoes snapped out of dormancy, tsunamis engulfed land masses, and a booming authoritative voice commanded in a thick Russian accent, “Engine…  Sta-a-a-rt.”

Starbucks®’s Christmas Turkey Chicken on Cranberry Bread lived up to the basic culinary science governing the proper assembly of a sandwich.  A slice of roasted turkey sat on top of chunks of grilled chicken generously dressed with a cranberry spread made out of mayonnaise, cranberry jam and raspberry jam.  Between the chicken and the cranberry bread was a slice of processed cheese.  Where was the science in something so simple?  In the way the cheese – being positioned adjacent to the bread – created a moisture barrier against the cranberry spread.

Check out the ingredients list. Scrumptious!!!

Did I love it as much as the guy purported it was going to be?  As I have said, my fingers didn’t have to handle any mess – even in the dark.

 

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.