LURPAK is to the British

28 02 2012

CERTAIN SCENES in movies stick in your head long after the credits have rolled.  I saw The Iron Lady before the Oscars – among other nominated films – and that one scene that played on and on incessantly in my head at work involved, of all things, butter.  Not her analytical intelligence, not her being a master tactician during the Falklands War, not the one when she stated her “non-negotiable”.  Butter.

 

“There’s a perception, Margaret, rightly or wrongly, that we are now completely out of touch with the country.”

“Really?!  How much is a pack of LURPAK?”

“LURPAK?”

“Butter, Francis.  Forty-two pence.”

“Anchor Butter is 40 pence.  Flora Margarine, still the cheapest, at 38p.  I can assure you I am not out of touch.”

 

LURPAK is to the British, as what “galunggong” (mackerel scad) is to the Filipino.  Hehe.

"How much is a pack of LURPAK? Butter. Forty-two pence." Nowadays, it's at S$ 7.15 at the grocery behind my block. It's always on my shopping list.

But what actually struck me about this “LURPAK” scene is that it reminded me of my mother.  She loves LURPAK very much – and yes, Anchor Butter is the runner-up in her books – that when I moved here in Singapore, I always make sure that I always, always have one pack stashed away in the deep freeze.  Times come when I need to pull it out, literally in the middle of the night, and slather it on high fiber white bread.

It’s such a comfort.

 

(Side Note:  For the first time, I wasn’t able to observe my annual Oscar tradition because I had to go to work – really swamped but lovin’ it.  Good thing that I was kept posted by my brother who shares almost the same time zone as the Kodak Theater.  I got seven for seven – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.)

 

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





Starting the weekend right

25 02 2012

THE TEXT message said something like, “Care to make your Saturday productive?”

And I knew that two of my closest friends, Darryl & Brenda, were asking me to fun run by the riverside nearby and then breakfast at McDonald’s.  It’s our usual “bagong gising” (fresh-out-of-bed) Saturday plan.

At the badminton court with Darryl & Brenda

 

Breakfast at McDonald's

After breakfast of Sausage McMuffin with Egg for me, we made the tour of the Community Center.  And just like that, plans were sort of laid out to hit the gym, take up dance classes, swim, take the slide (and scream!), and play badminton.

We shall have more Saturdays like this.

Standing in line for breakfast

 

That's Brenda right in front of me at the queue.

 

I'm a creature of habit. And at this point, I was doing that which I do whenever I order with Darryl or Brenda. Ask, "What are you having?"

 

The queue was taking a long time. So there was time to strike a pose.

 

This "WATER CUBE" shirt was a gift from a good friend. The Water Cube is the National Aquatics Center in Beijing, China.

 

Darryl & Brenda

 

I decided to brave the long queue once again for a tall iced Milo.

 

A Mini Cooper! And in blue!

 

Mini and Me... So lovin' the Union Jack detail on this car. So Brit. So appropriate.

 

Standing from across the baseball field

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





Flavors tease the corners of my mind

24 02 2012

A platter of raw oysters

I WAKE up consumed with burning desires and thoughts of food.

It does happen when I’ve been far out of familiar flavors.  And it has happened quite a few number of times, especially now that I’m far from home.  As time passes, I often find myself thinking about remembered flavors, which, truth be told, are almost always much better than I remember them.

Everytime I would go back home and attack, say, a platter of raw oysters tinged ever so lightly by just the squeezing of fresh lemon, I would find myself telling myself, “This has lost none of its charms.”

Plump. Juicy. Sweet. Briny. Perfect.

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





A bowl of warmth and comfort at the cost of almost nothing

22 02 2012

THE THING about falling in love with food is that you can fall in love with many of them – maybe all at the same time – without having your conscience sneak up on you and eat you up.

So while I still profess undying love for my favorite Tomato Noodle Soup, here in some of the first snaps of anything that was ever taken with my then-brand-new SONY NEX-5D digital camera, I have allowed my eyes and my taste buds to wander, willing to fall.

My (still) favorite – or, one of many – the Tomato Noodle Soup!

 

I love crispy anchovies in my Tomato Noodle Soup!

 

...and lots of Taiwan Pechay!

And if having the same things almost daily – sometimes even twice a day, at lunch and then “early” dinner – is any indication, then I must’ve fallen really hard for the Xing Hua Braised Noodles that can only be had at this unassuming eatery at Block 102 Towner Road, # 01-274, Singapore 322102.  The place is called Xing Hua Family Restaurant.  I would fling its glass doors open and suddenly I’d feel at home.  Finally, a restaurant that feels like being with family.  And it has the name to boot!

Growing up in Manila, where there is a Chinatown, I’ve always had the comfort and unapologetic confidence that on a map, I could zoom onto the provenance of cuisines so ubiquitous as Sze Chuan and Cantonese.  And while the very Filipino “Lumpiang Shanghai” seems to have been named without any relation to reality, I very well know where Shanghai is.  And at one point in my life, have actually been there.

But Xing Hua?  I don’t know where it is.  And yes, I just assumed it to be a name that references to geography.  (I would later be told by someone that it does refer to a place on the southeastern part of China.)

Xing Hua Braised Noodles

 

Xing Hua Braised Noodles... with lots of my favorite Xiāngcài!

I couldn’t be troubled enough with the origin of my dish-of-the-moment’s name to distract me from the bowl of warmth and comfort it has come to mean to meXing Hua Braised Noodles is a noodle “soup” of what I assume to be fresh, handmade noodles simmered in a broth so deep and robust, I could only suspect it to have been made after taking hours and hours to boil chicken and pork soup bones.  The depth of flavor is intensified with the addition of fresh prawns and live clams that in the heat of a rolling boil would open up their bivalves and release their natural salty and sweet goodness to the soup.  The addition of pale and bright greens – cabbage, Taiwan pechay, and chopped up blades of spring onions – perfect the seascape of flavors that are made more earthy by the motley scattering of shiitake mushrooms, slivers of fried beancurd, and golden fried shallots.  And as if an afterthought, but not quite, a spoonful of roasted peanuts and a generous pinch of dried seaweed finish off the dish.

That sounds quite a grand culinary production for a bowl of noodles that sets me back only S$ 4.50.  And whenever the kind kitchen staff obliges me with my oft-asked side of fresh coriander leaves (“Xiāngcài”), I would feel like I’m having a most hearty treat at the cost of almost nothing.

I may wax lyrical, quite poetic actually, about a humble bowl of noodles that one may be quick to assume that there’s nothing more to Xing Hua Family Restaurant.  There is.  No, there are.  And to satiate my ferocious hunger pangs that would just build up during the long walk from the office to their block, I would build in front of me a spread that at the very least would also include the Xing Hua Fried Noodles (fried version of the braised), a small serving of the Chili Live Mussels, a bowl of steamed rice, and a pot of piping hot Chrysanthemum Tea.

The meal would always be satisfying, very much like eating at home.  Only propriety would prevent me from sealing it with the approval that is the scratching of my tummy.  Haha!

Xing Hua Fried Noodles. This is equally sumptuous!

 

Chili Live Mussels

 

The clams are always plump and juicy!

 

My other usuals include this Stir-Fried Brocolli with Scallops... and many others.

 

Eggplant Fritters with Pork Floss

 

A tight shot of the eggplant fritters

 

Garlic Fried Chicken

 

Yang Zhou Fried Rice

 

Braised Beancurd Skin with Kailan

 

An attempt at styling my Braised Beancurd with Kailan

 

Xing Hua Family Restaurant name card

 

This is where you'll find it!

 

Once more with feelings, my favorite garnish, Xiāngcài.

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





The DJ Raoul Project

19 02 2012

I BUMPED into my good friend DJ Raoul in the office the day after the Singapore Zoo Safari Zoo Run 2012 and I practically thanked him for helping me “survive” the 6km – on no practice at all! – much thanks to his music which blared into my ears.  Sometimes you will just feel lucky enough to have really creative and talented friends who share with you their gift.

And speaking about his creative work, he has just started a new project.  He is into making video mixtapes now!  You can access his new project at this link, DJ Raoul’s I Am Your VJ.”  And for a taste – and a look and listen – of his first video mixtape, click on this link, DJ Raoul’s The Introduction.”

I will understand if you soon start charging me for any music you will make me (Hahaha!), but I hope to be entitled to a considerable discount.  Kiddin’.

The Emcee and The DJ

 

The DJ and The Emcee

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





Meeting on 36 sandwiches ago

19 02 2012

FIFTEEN MINUTES into the 2010 romantic comedy “Life As We Know It” (starring Katherine Heigl, Josh Lucas and Josh Duhamel) and I knew it would be one of those I’d always remember.  That, and the fact that regardless of what Rotten Tomatoes thinks about its script (“poorly written”), in my eyes, it has redeemed itself with one scene.

 

Sam     : “Hey.”

Holly    : “Let me guess.  Free-range turkey on baguette?”

Sam     :  “I’m getting predictable, huh?”

Holly    : “Well, I like to think of it as dependable.  It’s been 35.  The same sandwich.”

Sam     : “You’re counting?!”

Holly    : “…ish.  35-ish.  You know there are other things on the menu.  If you’d like to try something… else.”

Sam     :  “Uhm… Surprise me.”

Holly    :  “Okay!  Alright, great!  Do you like croissants? ”

Sam     :  “I do.  Yeah.”

Holly    :  “Then I’ve got you something.”

Sam     :  “How come you don’t wear one of those white coats, you know, with your name on it…  so I know what it is.”

Holly    :  “It’s Holly.”

Sam     :  “Holly.  Sam. ”

Holly    :  “Nice meeting you.”

Sam     :  “We met on… 35 sandwiches ago.”

Holly    :  “36 now!”

Sam     :  “Keep the change.”

Holly    :  “Uhm, thanks.   Ah, you sure you don’t want to drop your card in the bowl.  Winner gets a free lunch.”

Sam     :  “How about a free dinner on me?”

 

It may be a scene from a movie.  But don’t you just love it when a couple of minutes on celluloid (Do they still make movie prints on those?) encapsulates scenes from your own life so vividly you’d find yourself pointing to the movie star on the screen saying, “That’s me!”.

Or, just like right now, with a slight chuckle forming from the corner of your lips as a thought bubble forms above your head with the words, “I know that guy.”

 

A Sausage McGriddle with Egg

 

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





Paul Frank

19 02 2012

Paul Frank on the display window

I KNOW exactly when I realized I needed to start wearing prescription glasses.  It was one hot Manila day, June 1991.

My trigonometry professor gave us a 100-point quiz on the first day of class.  We didn’t know why, except that he said it was to assess where the class stood.  On the next day, he handed back our papers telling us they were to be the basis of our seating arrangement.  I got a perfect score and was made to sit at the last seat in a corner.

It didn’t help at all that there was half a pillar obstructing the view of the blackboard.  What made it ultimately feel like the loser’s seat was that even if I’d move my head to get a clearer view as I took down notes or copy the questions to a quiz, the view wasn’t getting any clearer at all.

I knew I needed glasses.

My glasses through the years have run a whole gamut of sizes, styles, colors, and price range.  The most I’ve had were a number of rectangular-shaped black acetate frames – from the cheapest that literally cost me nothing to those that you’d need to save up for.  My more recent ones have included a blue acetate from a Japanese brand, an all-titanium pair that cost about US$ 580.00 that I got just because the insurance covered everything except twenty (I’ve since passed this frame on to one of my brothers), an Emporio Armani, and a brandless plastic frame in a wood finish.  (Louis Vuitton’s latest campaign features frames in wood finish.)

My current favorites happen to be my Ray-Ban Classic Wayfarers – in white and in black.  The red one is waiting for me in the Philippines.

My Ray-Ban Classic Wayfarers in White

 

I got the one called the "Rare Print" edition that has multi-color designs printed on the inside.

I bought the white on one Duty Free shopping date I had with my family.  After Mama had her fill of inspecting the very limited Le Pliage offering at Longchamp – she did walk away with a huge “Tree of Life” scarf that she would tie to her limited edition “Tree of Life” Le Pliage in small, short handle – we all went to the Ray-Ban counter.  Everyone got the pair of sunnies they liked the most.  I knew right there and then that I wanted the Classic Wayfarers.  But in white.

A trip to the optometrist and my Ray-Ban sunnies became my new daily spectacles.  I love it so much that one of my brothers got me the black pair as a “just because” present.

The one in black

Lately, I’ve been considering getting a pair of Paul Frank.  I’m so loving their designs, having seen them on my friends Wai Hon first and now, Yu Chen.  I’m seriously thinking about it but would often have the perfect excuse of not having the time for it, especially after every time I would check my wristwatch at work.

Then I turned around, after doing groceries at Cold Storage, and there it was – Paul Frank on both the display windows of the friendly neighborhood optical shop.

 

 

 

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





Run, eNTeNG, run!

17 02 2012

As Christopher Cross' song says, "Cause it's all right, think we're gonna make it..." And I made it to the finish line! Whew!

I THINK about food all the time.  And whenever my expanded girth hits the edge of my desk at work and I’d find myself reaching a little bit more for the computer keyboard, I realize that it’s time to think about something else even for just a little.  I’ve never been huge on sports.  But eversince I was a kid, I’ve always loved to run.

I was well on my way to being part of the school track and field team when the coach had to pull me out in fear of adversely affecting my studies.  I was at the top of the class and he didn’t want to see my academic performance suffer because of all the time I needed to devote to training after school hours.  I was so stubborn and would still show up to practice, until one day when I saw that he had called my mother to a meeting and said that he would never have me in the team.

Before I moved to Singapore, where I worked in the Philippines, I would almost always run daily.  My office was right smack in the middle of a business park and I had memorized the trail for either the 4km or the 5km run.  My best 5km record was about 27 minutes, 27 seconds.  Nothing stellar, just a personal best.

5km personal best – 27 minutes, 27.37 seconds!

I’ve been here a little over seven months and I haven’t really run.  On my walk from the train station to my flat, I would often get swooshed by by runners.  And I’d always tell myself I should get back to it.

I went to the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2011 on December 4th last year, but that was to just support my good friends Darryl & Brenda, Loradel, Lyndon, Jack, and Melisse.  I proudly carried around a “GO for it!” placard to show for it.

"GO for it!"... The battlecry at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2011. I have the placard to show for it!

I went to the Standard Chartered Marathon Sngapore 2011 to support my friends! We had a sleepover at Darryl & Brenda's place, excitedly preparing for the day.

Last February 5th 2012, I finally got to run at the Singapore Zoo Safari Run 2012, joining the 6km leg.  I ran without a minute’s practice at all.  WHICH I TOTALLY DO NOT ENCOURAGE, OKAY!  Preparation is key in events like this.  It just so happens that I know myself well enough to know my level of endurance.  That, and that I ate lots of bananas on the days leading to the run, and throughout the 6km stretch, I kept myself hydrated by getting sloshed at all the hydration stations.  It did help a lot that I had my good friend DJ Raoul’s mixes blaring into my ears.

This time, it's the Singapore Zoo Safari Run 2012!

Only adidas and Nike will do.

I'm Team adidas all the way! (That's a little shoutout for you Michael James!)

By the time Brenda and I arrived for our 6km run, Darryl (and Jack) had already completed their 12km!

The Night Safari uphill trail nothwithstanding, the 12km was small beans to Darryl and Jack.

Jack, Loradel, Jossel & Vel, Brenda & Darryl, and eNTeNG

At the start line

Ready... Get Set... Go!

It took me an hour to complete the race – I would take photos of every animal I saw – and at some point I did feel like just walking my way to the finish.  Good thing that as I took my stride towards the final bend, I saw my good friends Jack and Darryl, giving me high fives and cheering me on with the same three words that DJ Raoul’s music had been telling me.  “Run, eNTeNG, run!”

I’m so proud of completing this even if my seat mate at work, Kwang Fook, doesn’t think much of it.  Hahaha!

The first animals I passed, the gaur a.k.a. Indian bison.

The 1km marker

eNTeNG, keep going!

Greater Asian Rhinoceros

This was supposed to be a pose with the Greater Asian Rhinoceros. After giving me the "behind," I guess I was snubbed. Haha!

Now there the rhino is!

Finally a shot together!

Indian wolves

I had my fill at the first hydration station.

Asian Elephant

2km down!

Malayan Tiger

Babirusa

This Sloth Bear was so lovable that I wanted to hug it!

The Lion

Flamingos

The 3km mark... Halfway through!

White Rhinoceros

The 4km marker

Zebra

Giraffe

 

Map of Singapore Zoo

 

Gotta love all those hydration stations!

 

Spider Monkeys

 

Which zoo can lay claim to having a dragon?! Haha!

 

Finally... it's the 5km mark! "5" is my favorite number!

 

It's been almost an hour! Clearly, I wasn't eyeing the prize. Hahaha!

 

The last hydration station

 

Shhh... The White Tiger is asleep.

 

Finally, the finish line!

 

We all made it to the finish!

 

I've got to get a bite off of my finisher's medal! Haha!

 

My very first race bib here in Singapore! It's now up on my wall at the office.

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





From three years ago: FALL is the operative word

14 02 2012

"Two Chairs" (Photo by one of my best friends, The Boy Wonder)

SOMETIMES, I couldn’t help but wonder that there must be a good reason we say it this way:  fall in love.

I guess that for the most part, the fall just happens.  Be it on the very first time you see each other.  Or be it on that one morning (after sufficient time has passed) when you wake up and realize that you just couldn’t be without each other.  When either of these two happens, the falling has started.  Don’t tell me it’s not that simple.  It is.

And I think, there’s nothing much you can do about it.  Oh, there is – fall.

To fall is to descend freely – a free fall, if you will – under the influence, that forceful pull, of gravity.  It’s reckless abandon at its best.  And as you move downward, lower and lower towards the new center of your world, you let go of reason.  You may even succumb to a great deal of things you don’t normally or usually do.  You suddenly pass into a state of being wherein everything seems right in and with the world.  Everything has profound meaning.  You start to care about even the mundane things.  And everything is beautiful.

To fall is to plunge with dizzying speed.  Unfortunately sometimes, while you may have earlier thought that you were plummeting towards that new center of your world, you are actually without direction.  And this is when you realize that you are like falling from the top of a tall tree – hitting every single branch on your way down.  You get yourself cut.  You get yourself bruised.  You get yourself beaten up until, with a resounding thud, you fall flat on the ground – broken bones and all.

I guess that’s basically why we say we fall in love.  It’s because that’s what we actually do.  And when we do, we run the risk of hurting ourselves as we fall.  We do let go of a lot of things because as we fall, we start to care more about somebody else.  We put someone else’s needs ahead of ours.  And probably for the first time, the word “unconditional” rings with truth and meaning.  With the rapid and free descent comes a deeper realization of the strengths that we never knew we had in us.  And should we end up with a broken spirit – not necessarily with broken bones – we are still fine.  After all, that is what healing is for.

To fall is to have mustered enough courage to put your feelings on the line.  And regardless of how it turns out, you will always be a great deal of a better person than from when you took that rapid downward spiral.

Yes, there’s no other way to say it than to say it as it is:  we fall in love.

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





Nothing like a paper napkin to tell you one of life’s simple truths

14 02 2012

GARRETT POPCORN Shops’ paper napkins opened my eyes to one of life’s simple truths.  For the S$ 8.00 I forked over for their small bag of my fave Chicago Mix – part Caramel Crisp, part Cheese Corn, and a whole lotta love – I got real finger-lickin’ good popcorn and a lesson.  Yes, love is messy™.  To that I say, go ahead, fall.

Love is messy. Hehe...

 

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