Awesome salad and pasta

29 01 2010

The Palms Country Club's Classic Caesar Salad with Roasted Chicken

PRETTY KEN and I had the honor to co-host a major office event at the posh The Palms Country Club in Alabang exactly a week ago.  In spite of really supportive people bordering on inflating my head with compliments about me having the gift to host events, I still haven’t taken it on as a profession.  I still just do it for the sheer passion.  And not doing it “professionally” means that I really just get to do things I really like.  And honestly, as a “favor” for people I really like.  Being able to refuse some things (or some people) is a right I preserve.

(Gosh, that sounded like a “star” complex.  Hahaha!)

Besides, anybody who gets me will also get to save on the food, as I don’t actually eat during a gig.  The adrenaline rush keeps my tummy feeling full.

But in last week’s event, my defenses were helpless in turning down our gracious sponsor’s offer for a light snack as Ken and I changed into our outfits, rehearsed our spiels, prepared, and practiced our song (for the first time!).

I perused two of the club’s extensive menus – one from the Poolbar, and another from their Café Asiana – but didn’t find anything that caught my fancy.  Though the Char Kway Teow sounded tempting!  But having an amazing recipe for char kway teow myself, and not really “feeling” the description on the menu, I decided against it.  And then I turned my attention back to the pasta section.  Unfortunately, the simple and straightforward pomodoro I love was not available.  That was when I asked to speak with someone from the kitchen to check if they’d be willing enough to make it for me.

As you can see, the wait staff just took down all the ingredients I specified for the pasta sauce I wanted. He wrote down: "angel hair, basil, tomato, garlic, olive oil, parma cheese." The result was YUM-O heaven!

I spoke with a couple of wait staff and a sous chef.  And even before I could start to describe what I wanted, they immediately said they’d do it – just subject to the availability of the ingredients!  Now that is customer orientation in action!  Compliments to Chef Hans and his team at The Palms!

So I got my Angel Hair Pomodoro (and their menu just regularly offers spaghetti, penne, or linguine!).  And Ken got her Classic Caesar Salad with Roasted Chicken.  We both asked for the creamy Potato and Leek Soup (a personal fave!).  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to touch mine anymore as we ended up pressed for time and a technical glitch had to be addressed pronto.

Nevertheless, the pasta – together with the roasted chicken I got to try from Ken’s plate – was awesome!  Really.

The Palms Country Club's rendition of my requested Angel Hair Pomodoro

 

I and everybody noticed that The Palms didn't scrimp on the cheese! I was just so happy!

 

I loved how the chef presented the Caesar Salad – witht the delicate hearts of Romaine lettuce left whole! That was just so dramatic too me that the store-bought bacon bits didn't bother me at all.

 

I liked how the substantially (and nicely) heavy cutlery were tucked in in the sleeves made with the table napkin.

 

This floral centerpiece was such a pretty sight as I chowed down the excellent food.

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Fed Rafa

26 01 2010

Rafael and Roger

SAY WHAT you will about books – even your brother (hahaha!) – but I firmly believe that people do judge a magazine by its cover.  Even a local glossy shares what it calls as “what we didn’t choose for our cover,” or something.  Why?  Specifically because they know their newstand sales depend much on what people first see.

As the gruelling matches at the 2010 Australian Open are going on, I thought to post two of the best magazine covers in 2009 – as far as I’m concerned.  A tight shot of a brooding Rafa.  And a dynamic full body shot of a flying Fed.

Note:  Yes, after over a week, I’m back.  As blogging just happens to be my past time, it had to take the backseat when work ate up even after-office hours last week.  Just got so swamped with a major project.

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Gotta love Joey Pepperoni

15 01 2010

Joey Pepperoni Pizzeria

I WALKED in the new establishment totally wondering in my head as to the provenance of the place.  And then it was all on the paper placemat at the booth section we were taken to sit.  I couldn’t help but instantly love a place that answers the question in my head even before I would have blurted it out.  More than indicate where the individual place settings were, the placemats at Joey Pepperoni matched the curiosity in my thought bubble.

“Joey Pepperoni is the brain child of Mr. Joey Concepcion, President of RFM Corporation, which has a wide array of food and beverage brands enjoyed by millions, evolving into one of the country’s trusted brands.”

With my thirst for knowledge (hahaha!) quenched, it was time to peruse the extensive menu to tame the grumblings in my tummy.

Pasta Al Arrabbiata

You know very well that I’m an angel hair pomodoro baby.  So in the absence of the exact same thing on Joey Pepperoni’s menu, I asked for the closest thing – Pasta Al Arrabbiata.  They sent me exactly what I expected – a sauce of garlic, tomatoes, basil, and lots of fiery crushed red pepper flakes, sautéed in olive oil.  I liked the controlled burst of freshness that the chopped Italian flat leaf parsley sprinkled on top gave, serving as the foil to the sharpness of the grated parmesan cheese.  While the sauce was how I wanted “arrabbiata” to be – literally meaning “angry” (in style) owing to the hotness of the peppers – it was the perfect doneness of the pasta that caught me off-guard.  It was how al dente should be.  Each piece of spaghetti was tender, with just the right amount of give when I bit into it.

I thought to myself, if RFM Corporation makes the spaghetti Joey Pepperoni uses, I won’t need a nudge to change brands!

The Works pizza

My pasta dish was sandwiched between a large bowl of Ministrone and a slice of their The Works Pizza.  The ministrone was deep red, with a thick consistency.  I loved the brightness of the crushed tomatoes, though the kidney beans could use some more simmering time.  Being not a pizza person myself, I was surprised to find myself loving the slice of Joey Pepperoni’s.

Chicken Parmigiana

The Tycoon ordered Chicken Parmigiana, served with pasta, while B1 and B2 had the Pesto each.

Pesto

I took a bite of the pesto and while it wasn’t bad at all – B2 loved it! – I just found it to be too subtle.  I was looking for the intensity of the basil, and the nuttiness from both the pine nuts and the parmesan cheese.  But then again, the doneness of the spaghetti made up for it big time.

B1 and B2

 

Dinner time!

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Not just another sale weekend munch

15 01 2010

Mann Hann's Chilled Tofu with Century Egg (served with local pickled mustard greens and finely minced fresh garlic)

THE NEXT stop on last weekend’s gastronomic adventure was at Mann Hann at Megamall.  Initially, I deigned to call it an adventure – how much more adventurous can Chinese cuisine here get?  But the new dish I tried ended up too exotic for my taste.  Hence, the “adventure.”

Mann Hann shall always occupy a sweet spot in my heart for one thing, their Chilled Tofu with Century Egg.  It was the very first dish that caught my fancy the very first time Batman and I tried them out.  What arrived at the table was a block of really cold silken tofu that could have very well been frozen to the core, except that the wiggle it let out when I pulled it closer to me, belied that assumption.  It was doused in a special dark soy sauce, sprinkled with a generous amount of what I surmised as local pickled mustard greens, topped with plenty of finely minced fresh garlic, and decorated around and all over with wedges of century egg.  It was so good!  I honestly prefer my tofu soft and smooth, without the crust frying in oil would create.  Mann Hann’s the only cold rendition that I adore.  Though their menu doesn’t specify allowing for extra add-ins, the kitchen was gracious enough to serve me with extra mustard greens – gratis!  I found that each bite of the silken tofu with lots of the greens allowed for a play in both texture – helplessly soft vs resisting with a little give – and flavor – bland vs briny.

The generous extra serving of the pickled mustard greens!

 

Hacaw (fresh shrimp dumplings)

 

Black Chicken Soup

With this tofu dish as the focal point, I ordered a medley of dimsum (lots of shrimp dumplings called “ha cao” or “hakaw”) and Black Chicken Soup, which I thought of as a “noodle” soup dish.

Chicken feet in the black chicken soup

The soup came as just that – soup with bits and pieces of chicken, and beef tendon.  Noodles were nowhere to be found.  But before the realization of the conspicuously missing noodles hit me, what stood out to me was how “unappetizingly” dark the broth was.  That, and how “unappetizingly” black the chicken was.  I was expecting a soup made “black chicken” by virtue of the chicken being roasted to almost burnt or charred goodness.

Chicken wing and the reddish orange berries in the black chicken soup

After I had recovered from the initial shock of the soup’s look, and the secondary shock of the missing noodles, I ladled a small portion into the small bowl they gave me.  I noticed that the broth had lots of reddish orange berries I’m not familiar with.  I took one sip and that was when I admitted to myself that my impending dislike was unfounded.  The soup was so good – comforting even.  I could tell that it was the result of hours and hours of slow simmering that extracted all the goodness of the chicken and the spices into the liquid.  And for a rate moment I had to acknowledge that good soup – good chicken soup – was indeed food for the soul.

But knowing me, I had to have noodles.  I discussed with the wait staff my need and they happily obliged.  (Unlike other restaurants, they don’t have a “plain noodle” dish.)

Plain noodles!!!

I almost canceled the request when I could hear my waiter and the chef arguing about my order of “just noodles.”  But before I could, I had to let out a chuckle after my waiter stormed out of the kitchen saying, “basta siguraduhin mong luto!”  (Just make sure it’s cooked!)

I continued sipping my black chicken soup and realized, “Now I love Mann Hann!”

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Sale weekend munch

13 01 2010

Cibo at Shangri-La Plaza Mall has this beautiful all-stainless steel kitchen assembly, as if it is a work of art showcased front and center. Well, not really front, but attention-grabbing just the same.

IT HAS been weeks since I didn’t have anything that has been supersized for dinner.

I tell myself exactly that whenever I feel the need to justify splurging on meals out.  Which, come to think of it, shouldn’t be the case as food is – as I have said time and again – both a necessity and an indulgence.  Therein lies the perfect excuse.

And after long walks in the mall, my feeling esurient and parched were reasons enough to grab something to bite.  Something really nice to bite.

At the Shangri-La Plaza Mall over the weekend, I got particularly drawn to the open space occupied by Cibo.  Going down the escalator, my attention was demanded and undoubtedly captivated by the very compact, all stainless steel structure that the café put up to house its kitchen setup.  How such a closely clumped construction manages to churn out amazing works of edible art is beyond me.  But one thing is for sure, in the hands of a lesser mortal – a MUCH lesser mortal – Cibo wouldn’t be able to maximize the potential of such a pretty kitchen to produce great, high quality food… fast.  We all have the Margarita Araneta Fores to thank for that.

I asked for my usuals – the Spaghetti Alla Romana and Tomato Juice.  And for the first time, I tried their Ministrone.  I found it to be really subtle – but bursting with the real goodness of fresh vegetables!  Unlike in other restaurants, Cibo’s version was topped off with a dollop of fresh pesto genovese and lots of torn fresh basil leaves!  I cracked a few turns of the pepper mill and the whiff of the really fragrant crushed peppercorns not only dotted the soup prettily but also made the flavors more robust.  I could have this soup all day!

Ministrone

 

Spaghetti Alla Romana

 

Spaghetti Alla Romana, together with one of Cibo's pretty pepper mills. I super loved this yellow one!

 

My Tomato Juice always gets a few cracks of fresh black pepper. This time, it came coustesy of this yellow pepper mill.

 

Not bad for an extremely satisfying table for one!

As always, the pasta didn’t disappoint.  The slivers of fennel bulb were plentiful as the kitchen obliged to my request for a little extra of these pleasantly fragrant, licorice-tasting aromatic bulbous herb.

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Retail therapy

12 01 2010

Lacoste Gray Weekend Duffel

RETAIL THERAPY shall give the best relief available.  I’ve held on to this belief from that one fateful early evening when Partner picked me up from the office.  When I pulled open the door of her car, my eyes popped out at the sight of a humungous Louis Vuitton shopping bag at the backseat.  I looked at her and without the need to blurt out my query she said something like, “Hay naku Partner.  The person I had to meet up made me wait.  So instead na ma-stress, I bought that bag.”  I could still paint the picture in my head.  Upon learning that the other party would be unfashionably late, Partner took one more sip of her caramel machiatto, upped and left, and crossed the street to Louis Vuitton at Greenbelt 4.  NOBODY makes Partner wait!

And unlike most shoppers, she actually bought a Speedy 30 in Mini Lin.

I can imagine seeing Partner nodding in approval as I exhaled this same claim on retail therapy over the weekend – letting go of pent-up frustrations and probably a little holiday burn-out.  (But wait, how can the holidays lead to such burn-out?  I wonder.)

This, coupled with feeling a bit under the weather, led me to set aside a little “me time” that resulted to a plan a.k.a. eNTeNG’s post-holiday S-A-L-E mall tour.  Thursday and Friday yielded nothing.  But Saturday and Sunday were a different story.

Saturday saw me going to The Podium, then Megamall, then Shangri-La Plaza.  Lacoste would always be a requisite stop – not for me, but for my brother and really close friends.  I can’t afford Lacoste…  for me.  Hahaha!  At Megamall, I scored this really nice, small-ish gray weekend duffel (photo above).  The exterior is made of a wool and polyester blend and is quite sturdy.  And the inside is lined beautifully, with a spacious inside side pocket and compartments for a cellphone and a number of pens.  Perfect!  My very loyal brother – the one I tease as the jetsetter (Hahaha!) – would love this.  He won’t even need to wait for the weekend to use this bag.  Any second thoughts I had about getting it (as the price was almost phohibitive), was quashed by the charms of the very lovely sales associate who attended to me without getting annoying at the slightest.  I sought her out to thank her before I darted out their door.

Inside the orange "Manny" shopping bag was the weekend duffel. I asked them to "fit" it in there because I found the blue shopping bag TOO MUCH. Hehe. My brother who received this gift is a staunch supporter of presidentiable Manny Villar. As I favor yellow, I had to get something for myself as well. Hence, the yello bag you see.

 

"Noynoy" at a busy cafe.

For myself, I got three different pairs of jeans.  My favorite?  This pair of Giordano denims that I have been so lusting after for quite a while now.  I almost snatched the same at their Town branch eventhough it was a size larger, all because I felt I wouldn’t find the perfect fit anywhere anymore.

It's all in the details. The back pockets got to me!

Patience paid off.  I got it in my size finally.  And at the price it came for, it was literally a steal from the original price of Php 2499.  Oh, that’s one more thing about me – I’d never pay full retail price for stuff for myself.  Hahaha!

Love these jeans!

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Manny and Noynoy

11 01 2010

Meet "Manny" and "Noynoy"...

I CAN’T help but caption this photo: “Manny and Noynoy.”  More about the tale of these Lacoste shopping bags later.

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.