Autographs and memories

27 05 2011

TODAY, I finally had the time to ask people to sign my copy of the coffee table book.  Sometimes it soothes the soul to read exactly how people feel about you.  Some of these made me smile.  Some made me laugh boisterously.  All of them pulled at the heartstrings.  There are still some people I wish had already written by the time I scanned.  I’ll run after them still.  (Click images to enlarge.)


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

B for Bendetta

26 05 2011

The barista murdered my coffee name. Or was it my fault?

FRIENDSHIP IS the toughest critic of my enunciation.  There was no use denying it when she pointed out to my face that I have a “short I / long I” defect.  Just last night I missed Friendship so much when my deficiency chose to manifest itself in the presence of a newfound friend.  For sure she would’ve been laughing the whole stretch of EDSA on the way to The Podium.

Claiming my green tea latte over ice at Starbucks at the Robinson’s Summit Ridge in Tagaytay at lunch today, I was stunned to find out that I may have yet another diction issue – “V” as “B”.  I gave my coffee name to the barista.  “Stave.  That’s S-T-A-V-E.”  I was surprised to read what she wrote.

Oh well.



Pensive... Oh well...



Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

Yes, that many Time Tellers

26 05 2011

Wearing two Nixon Time Teller wristwatches to the coffee table book launch!

I THINK I have the makings of an obsessive lover.  I mean, if I’d go by my fixation for certain wristwatches.

Ever since I got back from Singapore, I’ve been fascinated by the Nixon Time Teller wristwatch.  I got on my flight back home with the Green sharing wrist space with my trusty Philip Stein Signature Large, which at the time had a lizard strap in Yellow.  That was enough for the three time zones I was closely keeping tabs on – Manila, Sengkang, and Orchard Road. (Hahaha!)  Otherwise, I would’ve still put on the Matte Navy that was bumping and grinding with a Technomarine and a TW STEEL in my carry-on.

Philip Stein Signature Large and Nixon Time Teller in green


Lizard in Yellow. Polyurethane in Green. That's Nixon's patented "locking looper" strap design.

The Nixon Time Teller boasts a truly minimalist dial, numberless and quite clean with only the brand name appearing on the 3 marker.  Being ultra lightweight belies the strength of durable polycarbonate from which it is crafted.  A smooth polyurethane strap in a patented “locking looper” design finishes the sleek look of this wristwatch, which is water-resistant to 100 meters.

I want it in more colors!!!

Philip Stein, two Nixons, Mickey Mouse, and the red string bracelet (with Austrian crystals) from The Boy Wonder.


Philip Stein, three Nixons, and the red string bracelet from The Boy Wonder


Nixon Time Teller in Bright Blue


Nixon and Philip

Nixon in Matte Navy and Philip Stein


Time Teller Family


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

K-k-kinda busy at Cibo

25 05 2011

Spaghettini Al Telefono

CIBO IS one of the few restaurants which I feel I know like the palm of my hand.  Politely, I’d always fight the urge to shoo away with a subtle hand gesture and a slight tilt of the head their menu that could be, to the uninitiated, unimpressive with its thinness, but in a split second overwhelming with its voluminous contents.  And lest I forget, the pictures are quite pretty.

My Cibo usuals are their Zuppe Crema di Zucca (butternut squash soup), Spaghettini Alla Romana, Farfalle Alla Genovese, Succo di Pomodoro (tomato juice), and Panna Cotta Cioccolato (cooked cream with chocolate sauce).

On the menu: Spaghettini Alla Romana


On the menu: Farfalle Alla Genovese

On this dinner with Partner and The Boy Wonder, I had the sudden inspiration to veer away from my usuals.  Though not one to be at a loss when assaulted by visuals – text and photos – I suddenly found myself stumped as to which to choose from the extensive menu.

As it is with really great restaurants, the wait staff could be trusted to be more than just cordial, uniformed personnel who dish out entrées.  I turned around to look our server in the eye and asked him point-blank, “Which is your favorite?  On the menu…  which is it?”  I half-expected my change of gears to throw him off, unable to organize a well-thought-out response.

Jose smiled and, quite quick on his feet, turned a leaf over, pointed with an open palm, and with conviction in his voice said, “Sir, Penne Al Telefono!”  “stewed tomato.  mozzarella.  white cheese.  basil.  cream.”  What’s not to love?  (Though I do remember quipping still, “Is it really good?”)  So, I took Jose up on his recommendation, but not without first tweaking it to my liking.  “Can you replace the penne with angel hair, please?”  “Sir, spaghettini is our thinnest pasta.”  “Then, spaghettini it is!”

It felt so good to be able to carry on a sensible conversation with an obviously knowledgeable service crew that I found myself expressing this delight by mouthing a line from one of the songs of Forbes Magazine’s most powerful celebrity this year.  “K-k-kinda busy…”  I remember Partner and I snapping our fingers.

Before I even laid eyes on my spaghettini al telefono, I was made aware of its proximity by the whiff of fragrant basil that perfumed the air around me.  “Your spaghettini al telefono,” Jose politely declared as if announcing the advent of pasta that would change my life.  The generous single-serve portion was ensconced on a pristine white bowl, the spaghettini’s creamy paleness beautifully setting off the confetti of julienned basil on top.

A confetti of julienned basil perfumes this pasta!

I stuck my fork through the mound of al dente pasta, twirled until just enough spaghettini, cheese, and shards of stewed tomatoes had clung to the tines.  I lifted my fork and noticed the string of cheese that dropped down from the pasta as if reclaiming its rightful place back on the plate and away from my mouth.  “Oh, just like telephone lines.”  I guess I’d figured out the dish’s name’s provenance before even feeling the need to ask around.

Cibo’s “al telefono” is creamy without being so rich – the creaminess of the sauce resembling the thin consistency of heavy cream against the solidified horror that is the commercially available “all-purpose cream.”  The stewed tomatoes, already on its own infused with the goodness of Italian herbs and aromatics, provide the perfect foil to the stringy mozzarella and white cheese.  I couldn’t help but compliment Jose on his recommendation.  It is now my new favorite on their menu!

I’m surprised that I’ve never come across pasta prepared “al telefono” all my freakin’ years.  Perhaps, I was just so…  what’s the term for it?  Oh, “k-k-kinda busy.”

My new favorite at Cibo!


Downed a couple of these!!! My Cibo usual, Succo Di Pomodoro (tomato juice), instead of the usual couple of cracks of the pepper mill, Jose proposed to rim the glass with salt and pepper. DELICIOUS!


That's Jose of Cibo at Alabang Town Center. I owe him the discovery of my new pasta fave!


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

Promises not made to be broken

23 05 2011

Partner and The Boy Wonder. They make such a beautiful couple!

PARTNER AND I collaborate excellently.  And it was not something that developed over the course of several years.  It was instantaneous.  The chemistry – vital to a co-hosting job as it is essential in an intimate relationship – was there from the get-go.  We first met on the morning of our first event together, yet something told me she would be a friend for keeps.  That hunch was undeniable in the subtle gesture of her telling the hair stylist when we were getting made up, “Honey, put some of this on his hair.”

While I did recognize the apprehension as to how my hair, so used to being wash-and-wear with the occasional treat of a-few-pesos-a-pop “clay doh” wax, would acquaint with Kérastase, what I picked up more was the birth of an amazing friendship.  It has been over four years since.

She has always believed in my talent that whenever she would have her own gigs, she would never fail to recommend me or tag me along.  Most memorable was this beautiful December wedding we co-hosted.  One day, at some point after that, she looked straight into me and said, “Partner, when I do get married, I want you to host my wedding reception.”  I remember smiling not because I found it amusing – sometimes people blurt out spur-of-the-moment declarations not necessarily because they mean them but because they need to articulate an emotional build-up impossible to contain – I smiled because I knew she meant every word of it.

Little did I know that it would come sooner than I would have hoped.  Little did I know that it was to become one of her “non-negotiables.”

I did know, on her birthday this year.

We’ve constantly communicated.  She being in the Lion city for close to three years now and me being here at home has proven futile in making us lose track of each other.  And of course there’s my usual birthday greeting for her here on my blog – never the best gift she receives, but my best effort to make her feel special every single time.  Each one would be followed by a flurry of e-Mails, phone calls, or text messages.  What she revealed to me on this last one – her birthday falls in April – turned out to be the best birthday gift to trump all birthday gifts.

The promise to grow old with someone who loves her and actually loves her more (than she does him – which should be the case, if you ask me).  I couldn’t be happier that the guy happens to be one of my closest friends, The Boy Wonder.  Two of the best people in my life coming together in love?  What else is more beautiful?  And the surprise proposal, done way up The Marina Bay Sands, was nothing short of cinematic, yet deeply personal.  Just a moment between two people in love.  And a ring.  THE ring.  Of course after Partner and I had gone through the nuances of the proposal, talk shifted to the bling.

One ring to bind them both. Well, at least until they put on their wedding bands!


Both from The Boy Wonder... Partner's engagement ring and my red string bracelet bought in Korea.

So you could imagine how breathless in anticipation I was when I went to meet them up last Tuesday.  They took a short break to come back home and work on some of the details of their wedding.  Details being, as they unfold, a list of some of their own “non-negotiables”.  Again, at least from Partner’s end, my role happens to be one of those.  I’m so honored.

Fresh from their facials and couple’s massage, we met up at Town for dinner.  “You really have to wear from the same color palette?!”  And with that line, Partner knew I had already seen them.  And with shrieks of “Partnerrr,” hugs and kisses all around, off Partner, The Boy Wonder, and I went.  “Where do you want to eat?”  “Your call, Partner.”

From the many options on the second level of Corte Delas Palmas, I led the way to Cibo.  It actually just seemed I led, because Cibo happened to be the unanimous choice.

Listening intently to Partner's updates.


Finally, The Boy Wonder asked us to look his way.

Partner came toting her new Goyard which she bought online and had shipped to her hotel room during a recent trip to the States.


Partner and her Goyard!




Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

Waxing lyrical about shrimps and tomatoes lasting for days

17 05 2011

Sinigang na Hipon (Swahe)

IT’S TRUE for adobo (pork or chicken or both, braised in vinegar and soy sauce).  It’s true for sopas (chicken macaroni soup).  Even the Martha Stewart herself says that there are some things – her scrumptious Applesauce Snack Cake being an excellent example – that are better the day after you make them.  She admonishes, resist eating it the day you baked it.

For me, it’s also true for sinigang na hipon (shrimps in a broth soured with tamarind or cucumber tree fruit, with lots of vegetables).  As I write, I’ve been subsisting on this dish for the past three days already!  To think that I just feasted on the same last week, only thing was that it had huge black tiger prawns.

I sent for a kilo of the freshest, juiciest white shrimps the local fishmongers call “swahe”.  What came back was a batch so huge and so fresh that I felt a simple “halabos” wouldn’t do justice to.  I wanted the sweetness of the shrimps to infuse a broth soured with the goodness of some more of the Amadeo tomatoes I had purchased a couple of days prior.  It was an all-natural dish spiked only so little with a hint of Knorr® original sinigang flavor mix.  That hint turned out to be a heaping tablespoon, nothing more.

The Amadeo tomatoes made for a really deep red broth. This was so delicious and hearty!

The secret to cooking shrimps in a broth is to take the dish off of the fire the very moment the shrimps turn a bright orange after the first boil.  The secret to making them last a number of meals – still sweet, with the flesh not turning stringy at all and clinging to the shells – is to get the pot out of the refrigerator about half an hour from serving, removing the shrimps from the broth and allowing only the latter to be reheated.  The reheated still boiling broth is then poured over the shrimps for instant resurrection.  Delicious many many…  many times over.

Right after curling and turning bright orange, these shrimps were good to go!


A tight shot of the shrimps


With just five of these really sweet swahe, I was able to finish one rice cooker's batch of piping hot steamed white rice!


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

Amadeo pomodoro

14 05 2011

My angel hair pomodoro made with fresh tomatoes purchased from a "coffee place". No parmesan cheese, no cayenne pepper... but perfect just the same!

PILES OF fresh produce taking up residence in close proximity to fruit-bearing trees seem to have irresistable appeal.  The setup easily conjures images of “from the tree to the table in no time.”  Though tomatoes, regardless of their provenance, never fail to consume me.

My friends and I have been frequenting this “coffee place” near work.  It’s originally a coffee place until it morphed into a casual dining place proud of its homecooked meals.  But this post is not about lunch here just yet.  This post is about the fresh tomatoes I got from them, with which I made one of the more unforgettable incarnations of my self-proclaimed specialty – eNTeNG’s Angel Hair Pomodoro.  With parmesan cheese and cayenne pepper conspicuously absent from the recipe, the tomatoes and their literally bursting freshness shone bright in a sauce made deep red by the fruits’ natural color and not by nature-identical food dyes.

A kilo of fresh tomatoes!


This tomato was the first I picked out from the lot.


Preparing the tomatoes for this sauce was quite a departure from my usual method of blanching. This time, I "flash-steamed" the tomatoes before I peeled and seeded them. Of course, by "flash-steamed" I mean simply using the steamer, not some highly industrial process.

I noticed right outside this restaurant a couple of tomato plants, their weak stems sprawling over loose rocky, sandy soil parched under the unforgiving heat of the midday sun.  I lifted my head right after capturing their image with my trusty Canon IXUS 860IS, and that was when I noticed the pile of bright red and yellow tomatoes.  I couldn’t care less whether they were picked fresh.  Moreso if they came from the plants outside.  I just had to have them.

Tomato plant right outside the "coffee place".

At a measly twenty five pesos a kilo, I actually felt I stole them.

The tomatoes were so fresh and red (the flesh at least), they made for this delicious, really generous sauce.


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

Friday the 15th

13 05 2011

WE’RE EXPECTING to receive the first batch of the “coffee table book” today.  I’m so excited.

One of the things I wrote for the book is an essay that pays tribute to the wonderful people I’ve met at work.  Whenever I write, it’s the opening paragraph that I really struggle with.  I want it to be witty enough, and if it is, it would be easy to build the whole essay around it.  And after I’ve come up with the opening, I usually won’t have any more trouble giving my work a nice title.

But for this essay for the coffee table book, I was having a dry spell, unable to come up with a catchy title.  I ended up choosing one word to allude to the time I will have spent at work, where I met all these people, when I finally mark my last day in office here – “Fifteen”.

Today, the 13th of May, marks my fifteenth year on my job – this job, my first ever out of college.  I will miss doing this.

One thing constant in my life these past fifteen years is that I keep a notebook all the time. This scribbling led to a blog post.


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

Counterstrike by way of food

9 05 2011

Sinigang na Sugpo sa Kamias

FICKLE WEATHER is such a bitch.  After smarting under the lash of 30-plus-degree temperatures last week, we now find ourselves reaching for a warm blanket.  Now that’s like having our bodies go through temperature cycling.  Good, another bitch.

@Rambuc, who I follow on twitter, couldn’t have put it any better: “Thanks to this bi-polar weather, my nose is so red, I could definitely guide Santa’s sleigh! *sniff sniff*”

Clearly, these atmospheric conditions deserve a counterstrike – by way of food.  And I couldn’t think of anything better than the warmth of sinigangSinigang na Sugpo sa Kamias!  With all due respect to sinigang mixes, sinigang soured with the goodness of fresh fruit – tamarind, guava, calamansi, or in this case, kamias (cucumber tree fruit) – soothes like no other.

Best had steaming hot, the tang never fails to tingle from the inside, radiating warmth to the outside.  Perfect for when your favorite blanket is at the cleaners, sinigang can give all the comfort you need.  Just couldn’t wait to make one tonight!



A medium onion and lots of tomatoes go to my sinigang broth!


This tomato is so cute!


Fresh prawns!


The sinigang's ready!


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

Agot in the Straits

9 05 2011

Ms. Agot Isidro – Sandejas in The Straits Times!

EASILY, ABOUT ten pounds of my check-in luggage when I fly back home is allocated for stuff that I think only I can appreciate – local newspapers for every single day of my trip.

Aside from being a major capacity eater, newspapers make for excellent cushions for fragile stuff I have to bring back home.  Recently, I had peace of mind at 33,000 feet up in the air knowing that the precious big bottle of Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Cologne I had to deliver to Friendship’s sister was ensconced safely in the protection of newspapers and newly laundered shirts.  Yes, I’ve got the art of packing down pat.

But the moment the luggage is opened, and the newspapers duly ackowledged for their valuable use in intercontinental travel, I still go back to the reason why I lug them around – all ten plus pounds of them – their contents.

On the 15 March 2011, Tuesday, edition of Singapore’s THE STRAITS TIMES, the life!. section carried a story on our very own “Filipino soap star” Ms. Agot Isidro.  I’ve known just how much Singaporeans have taken to the English-dubbed version of the smash hit “Tayong Dalawa” (The Two of Us).  But I still got a bit surprised that a local newspaper would allot space on one of its stars.

15 March 2011 edition of The Straits Times

I say just “a bit” surprised because Ms. Agot Isidro was the perfect choice to feature, she being one of our most beautiful, most stylish, and most multi-talented artists.  But the fact that she’s such a foodie – one of the aspects touched on in the article – seems to be what I now like most about her.

If hopping on a plane for a four-hour ride just so you could eat your favorite cuisine isn’t real passion, then I don’t know what is.

Tayong Dalawa (The Two of Us) is such a hit in the Lion city!


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.