Somebody that I used to know

30 05 2012

COMING OUT alive from a two-hour meeting – one that I ran – was perfect excuse for me and The DJ to go grab something to bite and do some catching up over coffee.  It sounds like our seeing each other or having conversations are few and far in between.  Quite the opposite, actually.  We work together.  He is in my “Committee” in the office.  We collaborate on stuff.  But that’s the thing with friends – there are always a lot of things to talk about.

My trustworthy friend, The DJ, in action

Real friends find the same things funny.  And it will make you smile when one-liners or comments that ordinarily may sound fleeting, flying past over your head, actually are profound statements that capture your very essence or aspects of your being in vivid detail.

“You will like this song.  You’re about the lyrics, right?  Makaka-relate ka.  (You will be able to relate.)”

And with that, I became even more all ears to the talk, almost spilling my day’s umpteenth 40-cent cup of coffee on my five-year-old custom fit Ralph Lauren classic pony shirt.  The DJ excused himself from the table and within a couple of minutes was back with his Bose® OE2 headphones in hand.

He first introduced me to the original song, obviously already on heavy rotation on his iPhone4, before he revealed to me his latest masterpiece – his (audio) mix of Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye featuring Kimbra.

Specifically, he calls it Nerdub Dubstep Remix’s “dubstep remix of the popular Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye ft. Kimbra.”  (Click on the previous link to experience his sound.)

He said I’m all about the lyrics.  Enough said.

 

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





The Dark Knight Rises

28 05 2012

THE DARK Knight Rises, the movie, is yet to hit cinemas this coming July 2012.  But the real Dark Knight in my life, my best friend Batman, has risen above all others in his latest endeavor in life.

The Dark Knight and I, somewhere in Greenbelt 5!

He just finished his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at the University of the Philippines Diliman, arguably my country’s foremost educational institution.  He graduated with a general grade point average of 1.1548!  As a student I’m used to getting “flat ones” – grades of “1.00” – myself, but that kind of average is just beyond my wildest dreams.  I graduated at the top of my class.  But not with that kind of grade.

What is more remarkable to me is that he did this while keeping a full-time job, and at a time when he welcomed his and his wife’s first bundle of joy into their lives.  How he juggled all of those aspects of his life, I really couldn’t imagine.

Some say you can’t have it all.  But I guess, in Batman’s case, you can almost.  He does almost have it all – if not already.

Congratulations, best friend.  I’m so proud of you!

One of my send-off lunches before coming to Singapore was with Batman.

 

He presented me with yet another one of the toys from his personal collection. This one was specifically tasked to watch over me in the Lion City. Haha!

 

eNTeNG and Batman. For the record, that’s my happy face. Hahaha!

 

See, he was already doing what he was tasked to do. Watch over me! Haha!

 

Batman, waiting for boarding at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, 29 June 2011

 

Batman, a collage…

 

Batman, ION Orchard, Orchard Road, Singapore

 

Batman, in Black & White, Kinokuniya, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Orchard Road, Singapore

 

Classic Batman, painted on Chucks, Converse, Mustafa Department Store, Farrer Park, Singapore

 

The Dark Knight Rises, move poster, Golden Village Cinemas, Marina Square, Singapore

 

See Batman, you’re even the image on my MRT card! Haha! (Photo taken by Yong Run, who has always been so patient and gracious to snap my likeness whenever I strike a pose… and not scream at the top of his lungs at me and say, “eNTeNG, would you please get yourself an iPhone4?! Geez!”)

 

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





Having a bowl

28 05 2012

My friend Alice’s homemade Chinese Beef Ball Soup

HOMEMADE food never fails to evoke vivid memories of me as a kid, perched on a stool, crouching over a pot, getting a facial in the process but undoubtedly learning the rudiments of culinary arts.  While it will be too much to ask for perfection with homemade food – how can you call something homemade and expect it to be perfect? – the really good ones are capable of making grown-up men weep with gratitude, or when needed, capable of mopping up tears.

Last week, a really good friend I’ve made at work, Alice, shared with me her very own Chinese Beef Ball Soup.

“Did you make this yourself?”

“Yes, I did!”

My enquiry was not a lame attempt at a conversation.  It was a real question.  From the moment I motioned to make my way towards her, she beaming with the bowl in her hands, thoughts started to take form in my head.  “How come someone as busy as she is still has the time to make soup from scratch?”  I just couldn’t fathom how.  And then just as easily the answer revealed itself to me.  She is a mother.  And don’t all mothers have the time to make food for their families?  I should know.  Watching my own mother got me started to learn how to cook.

The first thing that struck me about Alice’s soup is that even in a smallish portion, it couldn’t be denied that it’s a hearty meatball soup.  I got a generous helping of four meatballs in my bowl.  The Chinese provenance was pronounced in the presence of halved fresh red dates the red berries which up to now I really don’t know the name of.  Haha!  There were vermicelli noodles thrown in for good measure, along with a beaten egg (or eggs), and blades of chives.

Visually, it came across just like any other Chinese soup I have had.  But when I took my first sip, I have to say, I was taken aback with surprise.  I knew it would taste good.  But not that good.  I’m chalking it up as one real pleasant surprise.  It had a robust flavor that crept with loads of yumminess.  I couldn’t even detect the hint of salt, just perfectly married flavors.  It was not served piping hot, but it sure packed warmth that enveloped my heart with thoughts of home and yes, that feeling of being taken care of.

I was having a ball having that bowl.

The best compliment I could pay Alice’s Chinese beef ball soup is that it made the grown-up man in me weep with gratitude and it mopped up my tears (I was having a not so good day!).  And most of all, I want a copy of the recipe!

This soup was chockful with all the good things for the body and for the soul.

 

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





Foodnotes

23 05 2012

I LIKE to think that I’ve achieved an acceptable level of personal independence.  I had managed to live on my own for a year and a half in the States.  And by next week, I will have survived my eleventh month here in Singapore.  But it doesn’t hurt to feel taken care of sometimes.

I don’t actively seek it out.  But the feeling gets to me whenever someone shares food with me.  A lot of people can tell me, “take care,” but it always becomes more palpable when something edible is involved.  And I say this not exactly so much because of the actual food, but more so because of the note that would almost always be attached, as if heralding the advent of these comestibles.

The notes – these “foodnotes” – appeal very much to the sentimental in me.  And I would never throw any of it away.  Seriously.

Unlike a footnote that serves as a minor detail or an additional minor comment placed way below the major body of a printed text, a “foodnote” to me could be all that I would care about.

I cherish these foodnotes long after I’ve munched on the treats.  I may keep them in my notebook.  I may stick them on a wall.  Or, I may tuck them away somewhere.  But one thing’s for sure, they’re already on my mind and in my heart.  Now that’s saccharine sentimentality.  And that’s me.

 

 

 

 

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





Happy birthday, Iron Man!

22 05 2012

I’VE LONG believed that every time each of us was born, it was God’s (whoever each of us think God to be) strong opinion that this world should go on.  And every time we do mark that important date on the calendar, we should celebrate our gratitude for the life we were given and for that strong opinion that brought us here.

Yesterday, the 21st of May, marked yet another one of those birthdays.  This time, my friend Iron Man’s.  Happy birthday!

Happy birthday, Kuya Mike! His Malaysian and Singaporean colleagues and friends treated him to a sumptuous vegetarian lunch. Here he is with eNTeNG, Jeck, Way Hung, Ee Xyan, Shan Shan, Kelvin, Kok Li, Jellyn, Chee Shean, Heng Yie, and Chee Hou. (Photo taken with Shan Shan’s iPhone4)

 

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





A hawker centre, fries, and a lesson in life

21 05 2012

THE PROPENSITY of human beings to take things for granted cannot be denied.  I am guilty as charged.

Lately, two things remind me of just how much I should’ve been thankful for the sheer existence of the simple and the inexpensive.

The hawker food centre across the office has been closed for a two-month renovation.  I never knew two months could feel so long.  This has been the place where I was always guaranteed to have a filling, hot meal prepared exclusively for me for the cost of a few coins that I would jiggle in my pocket.  And I’ve made friends with some of the stall keepers, a few of them amused at my lame attempt to perfect my gastronomic survival guide condensed into the line, “jia liang ge mian.”

Hawker Food Centre, under renovation for two months

I never thought I could get my heart crushed while in line at McDonald’s.  All it took was Madam Irene telling me to my face, “Finished already.  Yesterday was the last day.”  While it seemed like I had shunned all semblance of fast food in my diet, I made an unequivocal exception for McDonald’s Seaweed Shaker Fries.  A part of me would worry about all the oil and all the cholesterol while another would foil any guilt creeping in with the thought of seaweed thrown – oh yes, shaken – into the mix.

A meal at McDonald’s

 

Three packets of love

 

…all used up!

 

My seaweed shaker fries ready to be devoured!

The hawker food centre would open its doors in a couple of months’ time.  But the seaweed fries would take a year before they’re back.  Patience is one of my strongest suits.  But I do feel being tested right now.  There is a lesson to be learned here.

Me and my measly S$ 10.00 go a long way in McDonald’s. I would go out a very happy man, satiated by seaweed shaker fries. (Photo courtesy of Yong Run, taken with his iPhone4.)

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





An emcee for all seasons

17 05 2012

ONE OF the notes I have received from friends whose wedding receptions I emceed said, “eNTeNG, you really are the emcee for all seasons.”  To me that’s one of the best compliments anybody has ever given me.

Tonight, over dinner of a couple of bowls of Master Sham Pork Ribs and Lotus Root Soup, a couple of bowls of piping hot steamed white rice, a couple of honey-glazed roasted chicken wings, and a couple of mugs of iced milk tea – all mine, I have to make clear – one of the closest friends I have made in the past 10 months I’ve been here in Singapore, asked of me what he said was a “huge favor.”

Of course I said yes.  And I sealed it with a gentleman’s handshake.  I’ll be emceeing his wedding reception here in Singapore, end of this year.  To be asked to do this is always such an honor.  And this being my first ever non-Filipino event, I feel so trusted.

He asked further, “Would you like to sing?”

Now there’s no turning back.  Hahaha!

Walking from the train station to my flat, I got reminded of the many wedding receptions I have emceed for friends, all the way back in the day when mobile communication was still a figment of my imagination.

I have managed to chronicle on this blog some of these memorable events.  I’d like to reminisce a little and share them with you as well.  (Click on the links below to read more)

Bom & Rizzie’s Wedding

Bom & Rizzie, 10 January 2009

 

Ian & Marie’s Wedding

Ian & Marie, 15 August 2009

 

Jossel & Vel’s Wedding

Jossel & Vel, 10 December 2010

 

Tom & Jen’s Wedding

Tom & Jen, 02 January 2012

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





Turning Japanese I really think so

16 05 2012

IN ONE of my most favorite films, “Up in the Air,” the protagonist Ryan Bingham said that this is one warm reminder he was home.  To me, it is a warm reminder that I have just again made it to the last trip on Singapore’s Purple Line and that I was again within the confines of the frigid, refrigerated section of Fair Price Xtra, staring at marked down sushi sets.  Ryan calls them cheap.  I call them discounted.

All the pretty sushi, laid out in rows.

 

They may look identical, but surprisingly, I do spend time finding that perfect pack. Haha!

If I would be quite fortunate, I would still have plenty to choose from.  Trust me, there were days that there would be only a couple remaining, looking like they were tossed over far too many times, as if the fish needed to be killed a thousand times more.

A set of twelve! It takes me quite some time to finish this off. Not becuase I would be consumed with my reading material of choice. But because I didn’t want the pleasure to end. With sushi, you can eat as slowly as you want, savoring each bite, rationing, if you will… as if for dramatic effect.

 

This is a really simple, yet super delicious, seaweed dish.

I would usually pick up a twelve-piece set, a tub of seasoned wakame seaweed, a couple extra cups of pickled young ginger, and lots of extra packets of shoyu (soy) sauce.

Once home, I would usually lay out at least three layers of the national broadsheet on the bed, prop myself up, grab a book or a magazine, and have a sumptuous dinner for one.

Time for my delicious dinner for one!

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





Cesare and Kiddo would approve

15 05 2012

WITH AN armful of items so cheap it felt like I was getting them for a steal – yes, not just a “bargain” – my eyes radar-locked on something that I have long lusted after.  The dilation of my pupils was warranted, as I approached what caught my eye.  It has been a long four-year wait.

The Adidas UEFA Euro 2008 Italy shirt

There it was, the Adidas UEFA Euro 2008 Italy shirt in the appropriate shade of azure blue.  I first got the matching laptop bag a quadrennial back.  But where I did so in the Philippines, the entire range of the merchandise wasn’t available.

The laptop bag

It took all this time, in a different place.  And right ‘round Kiddo’s departure for Agrate and the English Premier League season’s conclusion.

“Here’s looking at you, kid.” …A snap of me wearing the shirt for the first time. (Photo taken by Shan Shan with her iPhone.)

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





Peacefully non-violent

14 05 2012

Mohinga (Khau Kswe), Inle Myanmar Restaurant, Peninsula Plaza, Singapore

TWO WORDS – an adjective and an adverb – come to mind whenever I hear of Burma or Myanmar.  You can say it’s just my play on words.  Which it actually is – a juxtaposition which is an attempt on hyperbole, while really bordering on the redundant.  However you see it, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the country on my mind has come to be a paragon of what these two words mean:  peacefully non-violent.

Which, after The Malaysian brought me to Inle Myanmar Restaurant at Peninsula Plaza, just off of City Hall MRT station, has also now come to describe Burmese cuisine to me.  It was rather peaceful.  It was non-violent to the palate.

Having passed by the most prominent city hall in the Philippines on my way to college everyday, I thought it was sentimental to have my photo snapped right where it says “City Hall”.

 

Waiting for the traffic light to turn was time well spent. Haha!

 

Finally, the cheapest place to shop in Singapore!

Filing this find under the header of “Places That Alone I’ll Never Find,” I let my friend do the ordering, chiming in here and there with my agreement on why a dish was a good choice.

Inle Myanmar Restaurant Menu Cover

 

Burma (Myanmar) is The Golden Land.

 

Well, well, well… what do we have here?!

 

Aha! I’ve found a winner!

Starting off with the Picked Tea Leaves Salad (Laphet Thoke) signified that my taste buds were in for a treat of the staple flavors of the Burmese culinary landscape.  Tea leaves, the menu says, is not only drunk but also eaten in Myanmar.  These pickled tea leaves are chopped and served with an assortment of crispy chickpea, roasted peanuts, garlic two ways (fried and fresh), toasted sesame seeds, dried shrimps, wedges of fresh tomatoes, and finely shredded cabbage.  The salad can either be “individual” or “mixed” – served on a platter with “individual” pockets for each of these tasty components, or, already “mixed” up and dressed with the simple-yet-robust duo of vegetable oil and freshly squeezed lime juice.  While we did order it mixed, the salad evoked feelings in me that were far from mixed.  I absolutely loved everything about it!

Pickled Tea Leaves Salad (Laphet Thoke)

The picked tea leaves were surprisingly tender, not stringy at all, and beautifully tart, a sensation further underscored by the dressing.  It couldn’t be denied that this was one salad that was an explosion of textures.  Used to crispness that come from tomatoes that burst and greens that give off crunch, I appreciated the expanded mélange of sounds that play in my mouth from the chickpeas, the peanuts and the sesame seeds.

For whatever claim I make to having a “palate of the world,” I was dumbfounded to be able to pick out the flavor that ties all the many components of the Mohinga (Khau Kswe), arguably considered the national dish of Burma, which came to the table in a wide-mouthed pristine white bowl, perfectly setting off the rice noodle soup’s deep dark brown hue which in turn served as the canvass for an array of toppings that included a hard-boiled egg, fish cake, chickpea fritters, and my favorite fresh coriander leaves.

Mohinga (Khau Kswe)

I remember smacking my lips repeatedly – like a toddler devouring applesauce – trying to figure out what the wonderful, restorative broth was made of.  All too consumed with the yumminess, I failed to detect that fish was the base of the broth, given a hint of sweetness and faint fragrance by the heart of banana tree stem and stalks of lemongrass and bulbs of ginger.

It is almost necessary to devour rice in huge quantities in Asian meals, so I had to have the Butter Rice, all rendered more savory good by staining with the gravy from the Chicken Curry.  And as if cleansing the palate, I would grab bites of the Gourd Fritters, which may be a bit bland but definitely tastier when dipped in the accompanying tamarind and chilli sauce.

Butter Rice

 

Chicken Curry

 

Gourd Fritters

 

A tight shot of the tamarind and chilli sauce

 

Any meal is a perfect excuse for me to ask for my favorite fresh coriander leaves, also known as “xiang cai”.

 

Sour Plum Juice

Even with the mention of chilli in the dipping sauce, none of the Burmese dishes in our spread was close to “hurting” my taste buds.  So unlike in other cases when I would have my Sour Plum Juice close by to extinguish fire in my tongue, at Inle, I reached for it just to cap off a calm, soul-satisfying meal.

For the Mohinga alone, I will definitely come back.  Definitely no struggle towards making that decision.

In front of Inle Myanmar Restaurant

 

Right after dinner, The Malaysian and I walked around the area, on our way to coffee at Starbucks under the bridge, at One Fullerton.

 

Passed through a tunnel

 

There is light at the end of every tunnel.

 

From a distance, The Fullerton Hotel.

 

In front of The Fullerton Hotel (This and all other photos, taken with The Malaysian’s iPhone 4.)

 

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