New Lunar Year new wristwatch

31 01 2012

Just another shopping bag that says, "THE HOUR GLASS."

I CAN hear Nigella Lawson in my head, “But of course once you start collecting things, there’s no reason to stop.  So you get sort of madder and madder.”

As a guest here in Singapore, I found it apropos to observe the Chinese Lunar New Year, which has got to be the most festive celebration I’ve ever seen in the past seven months I’ve been here.  I also found it to be the perfect excuse to get myself a little something to mark the Year of the Water Dragon.  Hehe.

It was a hard decision to make as to which wristwatch to purchase.  Though one thing is clear, I’ve started to veer away from quartz movement, and have been exploring the world of automatic and mechanical-winding wristwatches.

Should I go Swiss, where the wristwatch-making industry was born, or should I go Russian, which was brought to my attention as it is the current fixation of my youngest brother?  Lucky for me, I have Alex of The Hour Glass at Takashimaya and Nicolas of Krasnaya at ION Orchard to guide my next step.

So what's inside a nice "THE HOUR GLASS" paper bag? An equally nice presentation box for a new wristwatch.

So here’s my new baby, the GLYCINE Incursore 46mm Automatic Ref. 3874.  (Nicolas, we’ll have to talk Russian again.)

Meet my new baby, a GLYCINE!

 

Gotta love all 46mm of it!

 

And I adore the screw-down crown that has, embossed on it, the brand's emblem – also a crown!

I love it for its size – 46mm across the dial, without the crown.  You can’t go wrong with a flat anti-reflective sapphire crystal for the watch glass, and hardened mineral crystal for the exhibition caseback that showcases the ETA Caliber 2824-2 25 jewels Swiss Automatic movement.  It’s screw-down crown – embellished with embossed image of the brand’s “crown” emblem – guarantees water resistance of up to 200 meters.  But I guess for the most part, it appealed to me because it is not as mainstream as other brands, but it does have a rich and colorful history to back it up.

The exact moment I first put it on!

 

The serial number of the wristwatch is laser-marked on to the solid stainless steel case! (Photo taken with my Blackberry Bold 9780.)

 

One of my happy places here in Singapore – THE HOUR GLASS at Takashimaya.

I debuted it at my first ever trip to Universal Studios Singapore.  And I couldn’t take it off ever since.

Taken on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year.

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





New Year new wristwatch

31 01 2012

The ALESSI by Wiel Arets wristwatch

IF GETTING text messaged about new arrivals and exclusive offers is what a relationship makes, then I have one with the Alessi store in the Philippines.

Alessi is an Italian lifestyle brand that started out as a kitchen utensil company.  But I became cognizant of them already as the purveyor of very “post-modern,” cutting-edge designer pieces for the home – not just the kitchen.

What I love most about them is their wristwatch collection, a collaboration between them and internationally renowned and multi-awarded architects and industrial designers.  I started off with the Karim Rashids, obviously gravitating towards monochromatic timepieces in fun colors but with a simple dial.  Eventually, I craved to own one of the solid all-stainless steel stuff, and automatic movement if possible.  Unfortunately, it had never been available in the Philippines.  I put myself on a wait list.  And that was exactly it – quite a wait.  Hahaha!

The topmost black wristwatch on the right is a Karim Rashid.

Fortunately here in Singapore, Moments by City Chain, as well as that store beside Krasnaya Watch Gallery at ION Orchard, carries Alessi timepieces.  I found at both stores the one I have been lusting after – the AL16000, the Wiel Arets solid all-stainless steel timepiece with an internationally registered automatic movement!  (Wiel Arets is a world-famous Dutch architect.  You can Wikipedia him for more information.  Hehe.)

That window is a peek into the mechanism of what is engraved on the back to be an "INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED..."

 

"...AUTOMATIC MOVEMENT." Also on the back are the words "ALESSI / WIEL ARETS".

I had to keep coming back to the store to see if I really felt that I wanted it.  I lost sleep over it so that meant I had to have it.  Hahaha!  I love it’s being really solid and hefty.  It’s quite subtly mysterious that the back is not totally an exhibition caseback but rather a peek-a-boo one that allows just a slight glimpse into the automatic movement.  And the bracelet is really sturdy and locks in place with a trusty push-button deployment mechanism.  The dial is white and the hour markers are embossed glow-in-the-dark stainless steel circles, a theme that is repeated in the crown design.  I couldn’t ask for more.

I love the push-button deployment clasp that locks the sturdy all-stainless steel bracelet in place.

 

I find ALESSI's packaging funky.

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Inception

30 01 2012

“WHAT IS it that you really like to do?”

“Eat.”

 

Just one of the many incarnations of my Shrimp Sinigang (shrimps in a tamarind-soured broth, with lots of fresh vegetables)

That was asked of the late Julia Child over a dinner of Sole Meunière.  I could be asked the same question, and I would’ve said that same thing – E–A–T.  It was exactly this same unbridled passion for food that fueled the inception of this blog.  I may be writing about so many mundane things but I never lose sight of what I really like to do – food and eating it.  Lots of it.

I’ve been going through my archives and I realized that I have snapped some rather nice photos of food which, apparently, are some of those that I’ve been missing too.

So I thought about putting them all together here.

I must love shrimps so much that I must have photographed every single dish of “sinigang” (meat, fish or shrimps in a broth soured with tamarind, with lots of fresh vegetables) that I have ever made with it in recent memory.  Sometimes I would cook shrimps “sarciado” style (a sauce of tomatoes with a hint of soy sauce) or just poached in a heady mixture of soda (Sprite or 7-Up) and beer (Corona is best, San Mig Light would do).

A good pot of sinigang starts with the freshest catch.

 

My family is well aware of my "shoot-first-eat-later" policy.

 

A different batch of my Shrimp Sinigang

 

These two were ready for their close-up. So I snapped a tight shot.

 

I told you, I would take photos of every single Shrimp Sinigang I would make. Haha!

 

I made this one here in Singapore. The shrimps are of the "white" variant, against the "black tiger prawns" I would usually get in the Philippines. The greens are garlic chives which I sort of re-discovered here in the Lion City. I love it and it goes with most anything.

 

This one is "sarciado" style.

 

Shrimps, this time steamed (or poached) in clear soda and beer. Yum!

 

Once I made them with oyster sauce and thought they would be perfect tumbled in a serving bowl full of fresh coriander leaves. They looked so rustic and so tasted so delicious!

I cannot love shrimps and totally forget about shellfish.  I’ve always loved Manila clams in a ginger broth.  And mussels that are just steamed with lots of finely minced onions.  As for fish, my Mama has this recipe of tilapia that is poached in lots of fresh tomatoes and calamansi juice that I just find to be truly and utterly divine in its simplicity.

Fresh Manila clams ("halaan" in Filipino)

 

Manila clams in a ginger broth. This is one of my all-time favorites!

 

I would have this dish with lots of steamed white rice that would soak up all the sweetness from the natural juices of these bivalves.

 

Mussels ("tahong" in Filipino). Here in Singapore, I learned that when referring to these I have to be very specific as to call them "green" mussels.

 

This is again one very simple dish but it is something I love love L-O-V-E to bits. Again, lots of steamed white rice completes this. And oh, the dipping sauce of pure calamansi juice should not be forgotten. I don't put fish sauce in the dip anymore because I want the natural saltiness of the mussels to shine through.

 

I didn't make this dish but I thought about putting this photo here, sort of to just underscore just how much I love seafood, shellfish in particular. This is seafood ramen, a "pasalubong" from one of my brothers.

 

This is my Mama's original, simple recipe. One of those five-ingredients-or-less thing that would turn out to be truly, utterly divine. It's called "Pangat na Tilapia sa Kamatis at Kalamansi" which I loosely translate as Poached Tilapia in Tomatoes and Calamansi.

While I may throw fancy names of salads made with delicate designer greens when I make orders at some posh restaurant, at heart I’m just really a simple boy who derives ultimate pleasure in simple greens tumbled with a generous squeeze of citrus, a splash of cheap vinegar and a sprinkling of coarse salt and sometimes, a couple of grinds of the pepper mill.  I wouldn’t even bother to put in extra virgin olive oil when I make my salads at home.  My staples have always been cucumbers, tomatoes, and obviously, lots of fresh coriander.  When I fancy having okra, I would have it steamed first.

Some of my Filipino salad essentials – spring onions, tomatoes and fresh coriander.

 

Fresh Coriander Salad. This one, I made to go along with my Adobo (pork or chicken braised in vinegar and soy sauce).

 

Fresh Salad of Cucumber, Tomatoes and Onions. I would usually have this with fried or grilled fish.

 

We eat with our eyes first. And isn't the contrast of red on pale green, against purplish hues so inviting?

 

Didn't I say I could make this everyday? Here, in this one, the shallots were sliced differently.

 

Sometimes, I would make this salad with fresh seaweed which is plentiful in the Philippines.

 

This salad literally bursts in your mouth that it can give even a simple meal a festive feel – even if just within the confines of one's palate.

 

Steamed okra would be nice in these salads too. I had this salad for about almost a month when I was going through one of my crash South Beach diets. Hahaha! (The two weeks of that diet actually prohibits tomatoes!)

I love making my pasta sauces from scratch.  And for that, I use the best Roma or plum tomatoes I could find.  Just a good coating of extra virgin olive oil at the bottom of the pan, lots of minced garlic, many dashes of cayenne pepper, a bunch of roughly torn fresh basil leaves, and a snow cap of the best parmesan cheese and I would have a supper that is as Italian as it could get wherever zip code I may be at.

I had this tomato pose for me before it had to serve its ultimate purpose – to be in my fresh pomodoro sauce!

 

The tomatoes have been "cored" and scored, ready to be blanched, the first step to making my fresh tomato sauce.

 

I may reach for a bottle of Prego or Ragu or Bertolli from time to time, but nothing beats making pasta sauce from scratch.

To me, the lowly instant noodle packs are not lowly at all, especially when prepared not according to package directions but to my exacting, idiosyncratic specifications, and topped with a heap of steamed fresh spinach.

Steamed fresh spinach, the perfect accompaniment to a couple of packs of instant noodles.

 

I love spinach so much that sometimes, they end up overwhelming the plate. They would be even so much more than the actual noodle dish.

 

When there wasn't fresh spinach in the market, I'd settle for onion leeks. Here, I had them cut on a bias, then steamed before being mixed with the noodles.

And this chance to go through my archives reminded me that I don’t mind making my chicken broth the old-fashioned way – which, I have to say, has been the same way Tyler Florence and Gordon Ramsay make theirs.  I use it for my “tinola” (chicken in a ginger broth with fresh green papaya and chili tops) and for my “mami” (Hong Kong style egg noodles in soup).

My broth always starts with the holy trinity, the mirepoix of onions, celery and carrots.

 

The mirepoix is added to a deep pot where the chicken is. I usually used a whole chicken.

 

When I don't have a whole chicken, bits and pieces will do. To the holy trinity of mirepoix, I would add a head of garlic, peel and all, and a palmful of dried thyme. I add water just enough to cover everything and then bring the pot to a boil for a good two hours – at least.

 

This noodle dish, which was simply "mami" but I decided to call "long-life noodle pot", was one of those that would make use of my chicken broth.

 

I think we have the best, most flavorful, most comforting Chicken Congee recipe at home!

 

I miss this a lot – "Tosilog" (TOcino, SInangag, itLOG). This is a Filipino combo plate of sweet cured pork, garlic fried rice, and a sunny side up.

 

I made this Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles. My recipe is an adaptation of Tyler Florence's.

I love food.  And sometimes, I feel like I could do something great with this passion when the right time comes.

I want my food, like life, to have a kick. Now that's taking the expression "spice of life" literally.

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Today in magazines

17 01 2012

Two great covers – Christian Bale as The Dark Knight on Entertainment Weekly (20 January 2012 issue); and Michael Q (February 2012 issue).

BEST FRIEND Batman and I have our non-negotiables whenever we hang out at the malls in the Philippines.  We respect each other’s “Visita Iglesia” moments.  His at Astrovision, where he stocks up on original DVDs.  Mine at Chronos, Lucerne, or any wristwatch store, where I would almost always end up selling my soul to get whatever timepiece I was lusting after, on my wrist.  Powerbooks is our common ground.

Now that I’m here in Singapore, I’ve managed to keep that tradition even on my own.  Whenever at the malls, I would go to Powerbooks’s many incarnations here – Harris Planerds, Popular, Prologue, Page One, Times.

After dinner last night, I picked up British GQ, with Michael Fassbender on the cover, and Entertainment Weekly, with the cover story, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

I know Batman would approve of my Entertainment Weekly purchase.

Definitely a couple of good reads!

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





INXS

17 01 2012

A couple of tickets for excess baggage

OVER TWO decades of traveling internationally and I have managed to charm my way out of excess baggage charges every single time.

Well, until the 31st of December 2011.

I actually knew I would be going over way too much the moment I had gone through all the permutations in my head in how to squeeze in “the Dior” in my check-in luggage.  ToNoAvail.  It ended up sandwiched in between a brand new laptop and its bag’s cushioning.

I have always been quite fortunate to be well taken care of by Singapore Airlines, getting approval for extra baggage allowance every time I requested for it.  But I miscalculated my request this one last time and still ended up with 13.8kg of excess, on top of my approved extra.  At US$ 8.00 per kg., roughly S$ 10.40, it was a considerable sum – the images of Swatch watches within that price range, incessantly buzzing like neon in my head.

But I immediately snapped out of it, the moment I realized that the reason I was traveling with all that weight was because I have accumulated a lot of surprises for my family back home.  Whatever I paid for at the airport was small beans for the appreciation and gratitude I saw on their faces.

I thought that coming back to Singapore would be “lighter.”  But no, I chalked up in record time my second “excess baggage moment” – in the space of four days – for this time, I was bringing back stuff for the “family” I have made here in the Lion City.

Excess baggage from Singapore to Manila.  S$ 10.40 per kilogram.

Excess baggage from Manila to Singapore.  US$ 8.00 per kilogram.

To be the bearer of things to make many “someones” happy.  Priceless.

My pieces of luggage make it to the door!

 

My luggage right under my favorite number

 

I love standing in front of this huge flight status billboard.

 

My luggage made it through the door! I have to tell you, that big one was so heavy. A lot of pushing, shoving, and dragging was involved. Hahaha!

 

I brought home a couple of really special presents for Mama – the TV, and her brand new laptop, which was in her favorite color of pink. It was pink on the outside, and on the inside.

 

The happy look of someone who had just settled excess baggage payment. Hahaha!

 

On my way to board

 

This is not totally related to the post, but I just thought about putting it here. Haha! I debuted my new Parker pen on this flight, using it to fill out all my travel forms.

 

I heart Singapore!

 

On the flight back, one piece from my luggage tipped the scale at 34kg. I knew I would be paying for the excess again, after the officer asked me to load everything on the scale.

 

Still quite happy because my request for extra baggage was again approved. So I paid really just a small amount.

 

On this flight out, the line at the immigration was so surprisingly short, it was virtually non-existent. I was shocked.

 

I shall cherish these excess baggage tickets forever. Hahaha!

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Off to the far East

16 01 2012

Footwear in the sand, By the 15-km shoreline, East Coast Park, Singapore

BRENDA & DARRYL are one of the five couples I’m really close to.  They share a lot of their interests, themselves and their home with their friends.  And Brenda, in true Barefoot Contessa fashion, whips up meals that are so good they could only be cooked with love.  Whether whipped up in minutes or really slaved about over a hot stove, her cooking has always been superb.  I would raise my feet if only to let her know that meals at their place have always deserved more than my two thumbs up.

The requisite wacky shot at our Mexcian Christmas Party at Brenda and Darryl's place.

I still have vivid recollections of the Mexican Christmas Party we had at their Singapore home.  She rolled out a spread that appealed to the shameless recipe requester in me.  I just had to learn how to make her Mexican Rice (I’ve a feeling this is her original, based on her understanding of what Mexican flavors are), Pan-grilled Pork served with freshly made Pineapple Salsa, and Chicken Fajitas.  For dessert, she made Churros con Chocolate, spiking the chocolate with a little chilli, making it oh so wicked and oh so Jacques Torres.

Darryl and Brenda

The Mexican spread – Tacos with the works (tomatoes, onions, lettuce, jalapeno) by Vel; Fresh Salad by Kwai Han; Mexican Rice, Chicken Fajitas, and Pan-grilled Pork with fresh Pineapple Salsa by Brenda; Almondigas by Vel, Brenda, and eNTeNG; Fresh Tomato Salsa by eNTeNG.

Mexican Rice

Chicken Fajitas

Pan-Grilled Pork

Fresh Pineapple Salsa

The pan-grilled pork, topped with the fresh pineapple salsa.

The tacos had the "works" – diced tomatoes, onions, shredded lettuce, and jalapeno peppers.

Fresh Salad

Fresh Tomato Salsa

The churros got a dusting of confectioner's sugar before being served.

It was paired with wickedly good chocolate.

Churros con Chocolate can put you in the holiday spirit!

Yesterday, a Saturday, they organized a day of recreation at East Coast Park.  The original plan said we would have breakfast at Old Town White Coffee, the one at Playground @ Big Splash, and then we would have the whole day to “unwind.”  It was the unwind part that I was so breathless in anticipation of.  There are just weeks when you just wish there would be a time to exhale.

I shall now refer to Old Town as the most leisurely luxurious meal of the non-fastfood, non-hawker kind that can be had here in Singapore.  It rings true to their trademarked tag line at the back of their receipt, “take your time™”.  I had the Old Town Soup Egg Noodles, Kaya & Butter Steam Bread, a Basket of Sausages, and a cup of Hot Mocha White Coffee.  The egg noodles were swimming in a most flavorful broth, almost with the hint of the sweetness of corn.  I fell in love with the bread, so delicate and tender after being steamed.

The gang at Old Town White Coffee, Playground @ Big Splash, East Coast Park, Singapore

Alvin, Jossel & Vel, and Loradel

Jossel and Vel

Brenda & Darryl, and eNTeNG

There was no doubt where we were having breakfast. The paper napkins say, "Old Town White Coffee". Here it is photographed with my and Darryl's Blackberrys, and my old, beaten, yet still trsutworthy Canon IXUS 860IS.

Soup Egg Noodles

A tight shot of my new favorite noodles. Okay, it's one of many. Haha!

A bucket of sausage

Kaya & Butter Steam Bread

Kaya & Butter

Delicious butter slathered thick on tender, delicate, really soft bread.

Hot Mocha Ipoh White Coffee

Dry Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun

Hainanese Chicken Chop Rice

Ipoh Lum Mee

Steam Rice with Mushroom and Chicken

A Kaya Toast

Two soft-boiled eggs

After a full breakfast, we rented a couple of four-seaters at the bicycle shop.  I was so excited with the thought of taking in the view of the famed 15-km. shoreline that 7.5 million visitors see each year.  When the ride I shared with Loradel and Alvin made it past the initial downward slope, Brenda handed me a print out of the shore line and said that we should take a photo in front of each of the land marks identified on the map.  It was one of those moments that made me look up in the sky, scratch my head and say, “I didn’t see that coming!”  But how could I not, when every event Brenda and Darryl have organized has some sort of surprise twist to it, or sometimes, just the best “special effects” and props like those for the games during our Christmas Party.  Their 40+-inch TV was perfect for providing the slides and the backdrop to our party.

On board our four-seaters. Super excited!

Making it past the first downward slope... snapping a shot of the other team.

Taking another one

Brenda & Darryl

The Young Married Couples' Team, in front of one of the requisite stops, Burger King.

Alvin & Loradel

Loradel & eNTeNG

The young married couples, in front of Long Beach, another required stop on Brenda's map.

The singletons struck a pose too.

We had to resume pedaling like crazy. I could still hear Loradel screaming at the top of her lungs, "eNTeNG, mag-pedal ka!!!" ("eNTeNG, keep pedaling!") Hahaha!

Vel & Jossel... and a four-seater. And oh, that's Brenda too in the background!

From time to time, we just had to park our four-wheel-drives. Haha!

A shot of our competition right before we passed them.

Sorry, but we had to pass you guys. Hehe.

Good job to my team's driver, Alvin, and navigator, Loradel. Haha! It felts like some real race.

East Coast Park really has amazing views.

Alvin and Darryl had to get drinks for the girls.

We had to stop for a shot at one of the "lighthouses". I haven't figured out all the kinks of my brand new camera so the lighting wasn't what we wanted.

Jossel subbed for Darryl, and took this second shot.

Finally, the family of the 4J's made it to the race!

Julie, Jasmin, Julia, and Jack

The girls wanted more laps around the park with Daddy.

The race is done! Loradel and Alvin.

This was so much fun! Here, Loradel and eNTeNG.

Negotiating the stretch of the shoreline was much more challenging than I had initially hoped.  Haha!  So when we had completed most of the necessary photo stops, we took our sweet time at one of the free barbecue pits (they could be reserved for a fee, online), soaked in the amazing view of the water, and even got our feet “dirty” in the powdery sand.  I’ve never been a beach person.  But the little time spent at East Coast Park made me reconsider.  Especially when we decided to take more than a kilometer’s walk back.

eNTeNG by the bay

By the shoreline – Jossel & Vel, Alvin, Darryl & Brenda, Loradel, and eNTeNG

"All my life, it's always been my shadow and me."

What's out there in the horizon?

I couldn't look at this lifebuoy and not hear in my head, "Some people stand in the darkness / Afraid to step into the light..." Hahaha!

My red TOMS in the sand

You couldn't get too close to the water without getting yourself wet.

The sand had an exfoliating effect.

Another wave was about to come in.

Of course, we had to have group shots taken!

Getting ready to jump!

Almost there!

Yehey!

I like this group shot for the pensive feel I get from it.

eNTeNG was here.

Vel & Brenda

Brenda tagged Kate Spade along. Hehe.

Brenda reviewing the group shots.

One more shot!

A Walk To Remember

Another Walk To Remember

The 1-km. mark! Whew!

Lunch was at McDonald’s, before we headed to Marine Bowl for a couple of rounds of friendly but competitive pin tumbling.  All the pedaling and walking didn’t take a dent on our energy levels.  Each one bowled for the win – losers were to pay, after all.  Haha!  The final tally?  It was even.

Marine Bowl

The balls that came into play!

eNTeNG

Alvin

Jack

Loradel

Brenda

Darryl

Jossel

We had a blast!

From East Coast Park, we took a taxi ride to Velocity Mall at Novena to claim our singlets, bibs and runner’s kit for the Safari Zoo Run 2012.  If us enduring the day’s busy and physically demanding schedule is any indication, then I have a good feeling that I’d make it through the 6km Zoo Fun Run I signed up for.

The line for the Safari Zoo Run'12 was so long, it snaked all the way outside Velocity Mall.

Yey, getting closer to the end of the line!

This setup was quite efficient. We didn't take as long in line as we had feared.

Of course, the Fun Run is yet another one of Brenda and Darryl’s influences on me (though I used to run back in the Philippines).  And for that and a really full-packed, fun Saturday, thanks!

Can't wait to go back to running!

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





And on that note

12 01 2012

Yes, I shamelessly write notes of appreciation. This one was for the cooks and staff at Jia Xiang Kuching Restaurant at Vivo City, Singapore.

I’M NOTORIOUS for writing long notes to chefs who make me really wonderful edible works of their art.  I won’t forget the very first one I did write.  It was for the chef of the Makati Shangri-La Hotel who served me a most unforgettable Hainanese Chicken Rice dinner, at twelve midnight, at the hotel lobby lounge.  I was overjoyed not so much for their indulging me at that lateness of the hour, but actually for the fact that they served me a meal that WAS NOT on their café menu.

To me it was customer service of Iron Chef proportions – at a time when being an Iron Chef wasn’t yet in vogue.  I really felt compelled to write the chef a letter of thanks.  This was over a decade ago.

For dinner tonight, after getting famished from a little shopping at Vivo City – I only did so at stores that screamed S-A-L-E in big bold red letters – I decided to grab something to bite at the Kopitiam, only to notice at my peripheral vision a quaint, warm restaurant just next to it.  It wasn’t full to capacity but it had significant foot traffic.

I approached the counter, looked at the menu board, and pointed.  Yes, sometimes I’m reduced to pointing – at the menu, at cards that say “Today’s Special”, or at what other people are already having.

So I pointed to the image of the bowl of noodles that appealed to me the most – turned out to be called Jia Xiang Mee; then pointed to the soup a couple at the nearest table was having – turned out to be called “RecommendedFish Soup (I asked for the one with abalone!); and when asked for the doneness of my noodles, pointed to what one guy was stuffing himself with.  I almost said, “al dente.”

What came to me at the table had got to be arguably the best bowl of mee pok noodle dry and the best bowl of fish soup I have ever had in the six months I’ve been here.  Oh, please make that “bowls” of noodles as I couldn’t resist ordering seconds.  And I finished everything, with enough room left for a tall glass of my favorite iced milk tea.

A meal that satisfying – however simple – deserved a note from me.

Jia Xiang Kuching Mee

 

That char siew was really something special. Normally, I wouldn't touch the meat in this dish. But this one I finished to the point of licking the bowl. Only the littlest iota of propriety I had left prevented me from doing so.

 

I was so happy getting my second bowl!

 

Each Jia Xiang Mee came with a bowl of soup chockful with dumplings and plump, perfectly cooked prawns!

 

They have every right and reason to say this soup is "Recommended"!

 

The abalone was just so super sweet!

 

When I placed the order for the Fish Soup, the guy at the counter said that it was large and that I already had the mee pok. Obviously, this was my first time at their place and he hadn't been clued in on my voracious appetite.

 

Of course I had to have seconds!

 

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Meet the BOSE®

11 01 2012

My brand new BOSE® OE Audio Headphones

I GO to work with a song in my head.  There’s nothing like finding that perfect song to encapsulate moments in vivid detail.  And when I do, I would always get up in the morning excited and literally darting through the front door on my way to hop on that train to the office.

Ever since I have moved to Singapore, there will always be one song that I would keep on playing for a whole week.  It could be an old song I re-discovered through a movie I just saw.  Or something I heard while doing my groceries.  Sometimes it was a tune I heard through someone’s blaring earphones.  Most often, my songs-of-the-moment would be old hits, like way too old.

One time, I mentioned to my good friend DJ Raoul how songs get me going and how, as I have already said, I’d keep playing the same one over and over again all through my almost-half-hour travel time to work.  I talk music with this guy because not only do I know he spins professionally back in the Philippines, but also because I have collaborated with him on a number of events where he would DJ and I would emcee (and sing!).

DJ Raoul

 

In action at one of our collaborative gigs.

A few days from that talk, he handed me a 32-minute mix he calledGive Me Some Electro.”  I loved it so much it became my song-of-so-many-weeks.

Between that time and right now, he’s given me three more mixes, the last one being my own playlist.  I’ve been listening to these and all the other music I love using really dirt cheap earphones that you’d use for a short while, until the rubber tubing wears off and the wires unravel, throw away, and replace with yet another set of dirt cheap ones.

Eventually, good influence rubs off, and following my other good friend Darryl’s fine taste, I finally decided to get myself a nice present, the BOSE® OE audio headphones “designed to bring my music to life.”

Make that bring DJ Raoul’s music to life.”

The DJ & The Emcee

 

The Palms Country Club, Alabang, January 2010

 

I can't wait to take this out for a spin!

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Math on my feet

11 01 2012

Gotta love TOMS's advocacy – "One for One." With every purchase, TOMS gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need.

I ACED calculus in college.  Where I studied, the grade “1.00” meant “excellent” or the equivalent of 99.00% – 100.00%.  I got a 1.00 for Differential Calculus, and 1.25 for Integral Calculus.  (My other favorite subject was Chemistry, for which I got 1.00 on three of four semesters, and a 1.25 on the fourth one.)

So when Mama saw this pair of TOMS Classics in “Calculus,” she just had to get it for me for the holidays.  I woke up on New Year’s morning with this gift by the bed.

Good thing I’m no longer in school.  Otherwise, my professors would probably make me take off these shoes on exam days.  Hahaha!

 

Very environmentally conscious... these shoes are made from pesticide-free cotton!

 

The box is finally opened! Nice...

 

The print looks like someone's notes.

 

For me, TOMS are quite comfortable. This is my third TOMS gift... all from my family.

 

I debuted my new TOMS on the first Monday workday of 2012, together with the Lacoste LIVE! graphic shirt from a sister-in-law and Philippine-made jeans from one of my brothers.

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





One Love. One Lifetime.

10 01 2012

And with these rings, bind them...

“Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.”

PARTNER AND THE BOY WONDERJen and Tom, respectively, to everybody – brought me along to one of their appointments at Cartier at ION on Orchard.  This one time, they were having their wedding bands engraved.  They knew that just like a kid in a candy store, I would feel right at home in the midst of vitrines of Santoses, Tanks, Pashas, Calibres and Ballon Bleus while they attended to their official business.  And that that was all that was in store for me.  I thought so too.

But just like what that oft-quoted saying says, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans,” I witnessed, on that very moment, what love and lifelong commitment could mean and that it could happen, just when I was busy ogling at timepieces I couldn’t afford.  When asked to add a line (motto) to their initials and their big day’s date, I half-expected Partner and The Boy Wonder to struggle to come up with something witty or profound.  But in a minute, they motioned for me to approach and asked for my opinion.

One LoveOne Lifetime.”

I was speechless.  I guess that when you meet that someone – the one – you just know.  And that you won’t have to struggle for words when asked on the spot to commit your feelings to be impressed into the back surface of 18K yellow gold.  Clearly, just how you feel for “the one” is something you carry in your heart always, all the time.  I knew right there and then that two of my closest and most important friends have found love in a hopeful place – in each other.

Last Monday, the 2nd of January 2012, they chose to make this commitment official and blessed by God.

Within the hallowed walls of the Basilica Minore de San Sebastian, Asia’s only all-steel church and a fine example of Gothic architecture in the Philippines, my own faith in the sanctity of marriage got renewed as I witnessed two of my best friends take a chance on each other, in front of the most important people in their lives, the only ones they care about – their families and friends.  Perhaps some may say this to be a bit naïve, but to me it’s rather hopeful and magical.

The hallowed walls of Basilica Minore de San Sebastian

The Altar

The church still had the trimmings of Christmas.

Beautiful chandeliers lit up the church.

The part of the ceiling right above me.

And if I did indeed believe in magic, it all would be too easy to explain the sight of Partner, the very moment the basilica’s massive doors were swung open.  Famed for her beauty, brains, and breeding, my best friend was undeniably breathtaking on her special day, quite resplendent in her Joel Escober wedding gown of intricate beadwork and delicate lace appliqué that cascaded down to a billowing skirt of silk organza.  Ever the one to strike a balance between tradition and modernity, Partner later livened up the white-on-white during the reception by choosing to wear her color motif as a crystal-studded belt that cinched her already defined waist.  The seriously long train that she drew along the red-carpeted aisle left not only a trail of luxury, but the promise that this was going to be happily ever after.

The blushing bride, on board her white Mercedes Benz bridal car. I was going to and fro between the church and the car (mine) when out of nowhere, she called out to me, "Partner!"

The detail of Partner's wedding gown. She kept gushing about how almost-perfect the fit was when she first tried it on.

Marching down the aisle...

As if on cue, I moved my gaze to the altar, at my other friend, The Boy Wonder, the groom, and just as I had suspected, he was in tears.  I knew it was inevitable for his lachrymal glands to be wrung dry as this moment was the very fulfillment of his life’s deepest longing and his heart’s most fervent desire.  As friend to both of them – to Partner first, then to The Boy Wonder second – I couldn’t be any happier that this time had finally come.  And that I was there to witness it.  I almost clapped when The Boy Wonder, himself very dashing and dapper in his custom-fitted Hugo Boss suit, took Partner’s hand from her mom.  I tell you, it was just magical.

Tom waiting at the altar.

"Shall we?"

All the male members of the entourage wore suits.

The Secondary Sponsors

The homily was short, sweet, and solemn, cracking me up only at that point when the priest told a story about a girl and her three suitors, playing around the line, “Leave her alone, she’s mine!”  But I would always be brought back to the solemnity of the occasion, much thanks to the music that was provided for the most part by The Sound Salad, who would later play at the reception.  When they sang “Lead Me, Lord,” I was tearing up, feeling that I was right where I wanted to be, spending one of the only four full-packed days I had back home with the other family I have made – those of Partner and The Boy Wonder’s.

The marriage rite

The vows

"TOM, wear this ring..."

 

"Brothers and Sisters, before us is the newly wedded couple, TOM and JEN."

"You may now kiss your bride..."

Sealed with a kiss

We all felt just how much love they have for each other.

I wanted to stay for the recessional and shower the newlyweds with bubbles, but one look at Ma’an, my co-emcee at the wedding reception, and I knew we had to take off to The Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel.

The very lovely and beautiful "Singapore Girl" Genie and my co-emcee Ma'an, at San Sebastian Church.

This is Genie's first time in the Philippines, and what better reason is there to come over than for the wedding of a dear friend?

Macon, Genie and Ma'an. Macon did Partner's make-up for their pre-nuptial photo shoot at IKEA and Marina Bay Sands.

Partner and The Boy Wonder’s wedding was a wedding of “non-negotiables”.  The wedding gown has to be by a top Filipino designer known for uncompromising professionalism, quality and artistry (Joel Escober).  The suit has to be Hugo Boss.  The shoes – his and hers – have to be Louis Vuitton.  The wedding bands can only be Cartier Love rings.  Favors are by Burberry.  And the wedding reception has to be at The Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

"TOM ❤ JEN"... such a lovely touch. What a loving gesture.

Clearly, there was no doubt as to whose party we were all headed. This setup greeted guests at the Registration Table.

Favors were by Burberry, no less! This is my good friend Dennis's. He was Candle Sponsor.

And this one is mine! Until now, I haven't touched it. I took a peek. But I don't want to use it just yet.

But while that is true, theirs is also a wedding that is truly a labor of love; highlighted in the little details that bear the bride’s and the groom’s individuality and their melded tastes as a couple.  The tables were named after scents they love.  The dinner napkins were bound in handmade lace rings, with handmade dinner menus tucked in.  And scattered on each table were photo albums that chronicled the couple’s happy times together, albums that doubled up as guest books as well.

Dinner Menu Cards made by the couple themselves. They had them tucked in with the starched dinner napkins, and held in place by homemade napkin lace rings.

The place setting was simple, yet quite elegant. And I ended up using all the cutlery. There wer 26 dishes spread across six courses! Yes, I counted. Nothing comes between me and the food. Oh, a song number perhaps. Haha!

As a wedding reception emcee, I have always enjoyed the privilege of that “first look” of the venue.  While the others guests would mill about and enjoy the cocktails, I would be inside, taking in the soul, the spirit, and the importance of the reason for the celebration.  Among us friends, we would refer to Partner as the Disney Princess Sleeping Beauty, Princess Aurora.  And the look that The Sofitel put together, in partnership with the couple, was a silent homage to my friend’s relation to animated royalty.

This photograph doesn't do justice to how breathtaking the ceiling treatment was! There were yards and yards of tulle, crystals, and chandeliers everywhere.

The crystal snowflakes that hung from the high ceiling gave the feel of winter, thawed by the lush blooms, ethereal lighting, and the warmth of the couple's love. I told you it was magical.

There was a section for the kids! Who knew?!... I found this to be quite thoughtful of Partner and The Boy Wonder. This was the first time that I saw such in a wedding reception venue.

Crystal snowflakes that hung from the ceiling from long strands bridged the holiday season, the most joyous of occasions to this one, yet another joyous occasion.  Flowers were in abundance, in tall elaborate centerpieces and in numerous little arrangements that ran the whole length of the VIP table.  Tiffany chairs have got to be the most elegant, sophisticated and stylish seating anyone can provide.  But the one element in their reception venue that made me chuckle and realize that we were celebrating a really thoughtful couple was the fact that they provided a seating section – almost a play area – for all the kids that were in attendance.  While it is any couple’s prerogative to restrict their most special day to be an “entirely adult affair,” Partner and The Boy Wonder welcomed their friends’ whole families to share the moment with them.  Tita Baby, Partner’s mom, hinted at wanting little ones running around the house.  I guess she just knows how much the couple does adore children.

This has got to be one of the more lavish VIP table settings I have ever seen. There were about four or five imposing gilded candelabras, an array of tall and short flower arrangements, lots of votives, and crystal in various shapes and sizes.

An instant hit for me were these arrangements of a couple of flowers weighed down by little decorative rocks and submerged in water, with a votive candle floating on the surface. I think this was the first time I ever saw this.

I have to say that there was a noticeable order in the seeming chaos of various colors, textures, and heights. I will go out on a limnb and say that the setting was understatedly ultra chic in its apparent shabby chicness.

The wedding cake

I chuckled when I saw the cake topper. To me it is an homage to Tom's persistence and to the test that he had to go through to really win Jen's heart. And those blue roses? Let's just say they played an important role in the blossoming of their relationship.

The cake topper awash in a sea of purple.

And this time in warm tones.

Truly, Partner and The Boy Wonder’s wedding reception was a celebration of families and friends coming together.  Loved ones flying in from as far as New Zealand and Singapore (this contingent including the very lovely “Singapore Girl” herself, Genie), among many other far places, underscored just how beloved the newlyweds are.  The Maid-of-Honor, Maan Miranda, a friend of the bride’s from when they were all of seven years old, had to fight back tears of joy at finally seeing her best friend happy.  When words failed her, she relied upon silent knowing glances, which between the two of them had been one language only tried and tested long-standing friends have.  The Best Man, Hennessy Portem, the groom’s best friend of 13 years, cracked jokes about the Tom he knew, only to choke up when the tone became serious, speaking about how his buddy has finally found the one.

It couldn’t be denied just how very happy all the people were, that even the country’s biggest stars – Judy Ann Santos, Sam Milby, Kim Atienza, and Anne Curtis, among others – from arguably the biggest TV network, ABS-CBN, had to send in their congratulations and best wishes by way of the video made by an artistic and creative genius, Paolo Emmanuel Ramos, director of all of the network’s station IDs.  (This one was such a treat!)

For our part, my co-emcee Ma’an, the bride’s close friend Eugene, and I decided to say how much we love the newlyweds by way of songs.  Trained in the rigorous world of musical theater, Ma’an effortlessly belted out Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You,” while Eugene sang about “The Promise.”  As for me, accompanied live by The Sound Salad’s keyboards and saxophone, I paid homage to the moment with “Got to Believe in Magic.”  All of our offerings would later pale in comparison to the bride’s niece Bea’s rendition of Shania Twain’s “From This Moment On,” complete with stomping of the feet and just the right amount of head and hand gestures.  She sang from the heart for her Tita Jen and Tito Tom.

My co-emcee Ma'an and I offered a song each for the newlyweds. She, "If I Ain't Got You." I, "Got To Believe In Magic." I loved how The Sound Salad's Keyboardist and Saxophonist got exactly my pitch and the arrangement I wanted.

The Sound Salad Band provide the music. I loved them at the Church. And even more so at the reception! Amazing, powerful, yet soothing vocals!

Of course, anything food is never lost with me.  And while in previous hosting gigs I would fail to touch the buffet, at Partner and The Boy Wonder’s wedding reception, I found myself stuffing myself crazy with all the sumptuous creations on offer.  Not even the dread of singing on a full stomach prevented me from gorging at the Boneless Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Jus from the carving station, which I had with a lot of the Greek Salad, Pasta Salad with Raw Ham and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, and Tomato Salad with Onions in a Classic Vinaigrette.  A few more rounds acquainted me with the six-course meal, totaling to at least 26 dishes (I counted!).

The carving station featured Boneless Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Jus. This was melt-in-your-mouth good meat! I came back again... and again... ang again! And I'm not a lamb lover!

Homemade Cookies

Black Forest Cake

Bread and Butter Pudding

Dark Chocolate Mousse

A wedding being steeped in tradition, the one that pulled the most at the heartstrings was the couple’s second dance, which was done in place of the bride’s dance with her father.  Knowing for a fact just how much Partner will always be Daddy’s Little Girl, I felt how bittersweet the moment was for her as she fought back sobs, her face at times buried in the arms of the man she loves.  I had to tell her that her daddy was looking down at her and Tom that very moment, happy that she is finally happy.

Happy that the two of them have finally found their One Love, in this One Lifetime, happily ever after.

Partner and The Boy Wonder. Jen and Tom. Tom and Jen.

Partner, The Boy Wonder,

I read somewhere that in this world, relationships – love, actually – have become so cheapened.  And in that kind of world, only friendship is the kind of love that refuses to be cheapened.  I’m not referring to my friendship with the both of you.  I’m talking about your friendship with each other.  And knowing just how you were as friends – where you and all of this started – I couldn’t be any happier seeing you finally together.  I will always be there wherever and whenever you need me.  While there may be no question where my absolute loyalty lies (Hahaha!), you can both count on me during the good times, and most especially on the not-so-good times.  That’s the very least I can do.  I hope and pray for you all the best.  I love you!

eNTeNG  c”,)™©

The newlyweds with their emcees.

The newlyweds with the Singapore contingent.

eNTeNG and Partner

Partner with two of her longest-standing best friends, Meryl and Janice.

All the pretty ladies. Partner gets a buss on the cheeks from Meryl while Janice beams.

Four of Partner's closest friends, Kevin, Eugene, Hope and Anna.

Macon, Ma'an, and Genie.

All of us who stayed behind and danced (haha!) got a piece of the wedding cake! Haha!

eNTeNG and Hope

Partner and Hope

Partner and Louis =)

The perfect Louis Vuitton shoes for her big day. The groom was also soled in LV =)

Eugene and Louis

The groom sported a brand new Tag Heuer Link Automatic, one of the bride's gifts to him. Sweet.

Genie, Miss Behavin'...

Genie and Partner

Eugene, Partner and eNTeNG

The newlyweds with Eugene and Anna.

My loot from the wedding – the invitation, menu cards, misalette, favors.

eNTeNG and two of his best friends, the newlyweds Tom and Jen.

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved