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.





Hot pot wins the game

11 01 2010

Some of the fixings for a wonderful hot pot dinner at Healthy Shabu-Shabu at Town. I say "some" because I had the egg noodles and glass noodles replaced with steamed rice.

TOTALLY GOING against the personality profile I’ve always had, based on the profiling system we would use for a management training at my former company, I armed myself with a list of stores and items to (hopefully) buy as I launched into the opening salvo of the post-holiday S-A-L-E last Friday.  Personality profiles do change in time and are subject to external stimuli.  The recession happened.  Hence, the list.

But the only thing I realized was that shopping with a list was too limiting.  I saw a lot of things that on impulse, I would’ve bought.  But I’d got to stick to my list.  Quite ironically, feeling confined to my list felt liberating.  Isn’t it ironic?  Though a couple of hours later, I found myself grabbing nothing but air in my hands.  Already famished, I decided to have dinner instead.  I thought, shopping can wait.

Faced with a multitude of options at Town, I narrowed down my choices between Healthy Shabu-Shabu and Pepper Lunch.  But having had to stand in line at Pepper Lunch for a number of times already, I felt the scales tipped in favor of shabu-shabu.  For once, “hot pot” won “over hot plate.”  But I have nothing against long lines at restaurants.  A long line is always a good sign.  And I love love love Pepper Lunch.  That’s already a given.

Fresh, plump, delicate white fish fillet.

From the individual set menu, I asked for fish fillet – for a change.  They brought me a plate with about 10-12 of the meatiest white fish chunks.  And the best part?  While I trusted that the fish wasn’t caught from nearby waters – the mall is a tundra after all – the absence of that “fishy” smell vouched for the fillets’ undeniable freshness.  Fresh fish meat should smell like nothing at all – a very faint, subtle hint of seawater if ever.

A sumptuous spread. All I was waiting for was for the broth to come to a rolling boil.

 

I always ALWAYS finish all of these. Oops... except the taro root.

These tender, delicate white chunks of bliss came with the requisite fixings – a couple of squid balls, a couple of beef balls, a slice of fish cake, a couple of slices of tofu, a slice of carrot, a wedge of tomato, a shiitake mushroom cap, a portion of sweet corn on the cob, taro root, napa cabbage leaves, stalks of Taiwan pechay (a kin of bok choy’s), and a crabstick.  Noticeably absent from my platter were the bunches of thick egg noodles and thin glass noodles, and a fresh egg.  I asked for the noodles to be replaced with steamed rice, while I totally did away with the fresh egg.

Extra shiitake mushrooms and Taiwan pechay.

 

Fresh shucked oysters!

But I did ask for extra helpings of the shiitake mushrooms and the Taiwan pechay.  And in keeping with my dinner’s main component, I asked for 100 grams of the freshest shucked oysters.  They were about 12 really plump bivalves in all.  I would use the perforated ladle to plunge the oysters in the rolling boiling broth – for only 10 seonds (I count everytime!).  Yum!  For the leafy greens, a quick dunk was all it would take.

The hot pot is about to come to a boil!

 

A chunk of fish about to be dunked into the broth.

For my dipping sauce, I kept everything simple by just mixing their special soy-based sauce with the Korean sate sauce.  Towards the end of the meal, I ladled the by-then fully flavored, robust broth into a bowl filled with the chopped green onions.

It was so good I was almost tempted to slurp!

The Korean sate sauce and some chopped scallions.

 

The special soy-based dipping sauce.

 

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





Hair apparent

8 01 2010

Aspiration... Haircut/s I like, as torn from the pages of American GQ, American Men's Vogue, and British GQ.

SINCE GOING under the knife is something I dread, I’ve long accepted the fact that there’s nothing I could do with my looks anymore.  That’s where the criticality of the haircut I get comes in.  And with the kind of hair that I have – volume, color, texture, body – I really need a sylist that could tame my mane.

Enter KC Aninao of Bench Fix Salon in Glorietta 4.  He has only been the one who has actually delivered to my specifications!

To start the year looking great (adjective used loosely), I set up a Saturday early afternoon appointment with him.  Expectedly, the salon was packed.  But the moment the front desk personnel ushered me in, KC saw me and greeted me warmly, “Happy New Year!”

As has usually been the case with me, I brought out style speads torn from the pages of American GQ, the now-phased-out American Men’s Vogue, and British GQ.  The first time KC attended to me, I could tell that he bit his lip to stop himself from boisterously laughing at my old-fashioned approach to asking for the haircut I like.  Hahaha!  Nowadays, he has become used to it.

So here’s how my new haircut for 2010 looks like.  I have to say, pretty close to what I really want.  Given the limitations imposed by my hair quality, I have to say that it is actually perfect.  I love it!

On the first day of the new working year.

 

Can't get over how much I love this cut!

 

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





Cow and chicken

8 01 2010

THE BEAUTY of homecooked dishes is that it is where great meals begin.  And the heart-warming label “homecooked” oozes with connotations of charming “imperfections” that add to the dishes’ appeal rather than take away from it.  And sometimes, whipping up a storm in the kitchen at home tones down the snootiness associated with some creations.

A couple of those that made it to our spread on New Year’s Eve – the only two I managed to take nice photos of – were (my) Oxtail Kare-Kare and (my brother’s) special Roasted Chicken with Sage and Bacon Stuffing.

Kare-Kare has been a staple at home.  It is the classic Filipino stew of your choice meat cuts (beef or pork) and fresh vegetables in a savory roasted peanut sauce thickened further with ground roasted rice, and colored with natural annatto.  Sautéed fermented shrimp paste is served on the side.

Oxtail Kare-Kare

 

A top view of this small individual portion that I initially served. My plating is inspired by the Margarita Araneta Fores who is one of the moving forces behind the book "Kulinarya."

 

I blanched the vegetables separately for dramatic effect.

The roasted chicken was a new discovery made by my brother.  To prepare the chicken, he rubbed a finely blended mixture of sage and bacon all over the chicken – on the skin, in between the skin and the flesh, and inside the cavity.  Any excess mixture was turned into a stuffing made even better with apples and lemongrass.

Fresh from the oven – my brother's Roasted Chicken with Sage and Bacon.

 

My brother told me to wait after the "presentation" had been made before I snapped shots. I couldn't. Hahaha! Notice the apple slices and lemongrass jutting out of the bird's cavity.

 

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