I heart SQ

21 08 2012

I always take photographs of the wing of the airplane I’m on. (Wing, Boeing 777-200 Twin Jet)

WHILE MOST of my Singaporean and Malaysian friends expressed concern about my family’s welfare when monsoon rains submerged 90% of Metro Manila, I had more pressing concerns in mind.  Mama had been ill – getting confined in the hospital twice in a couple of weeks, spaced less than 12 hours apart – and just like any child thousands of miles away, I knew I’d rather be home.

Fortunately for me, I always have a Singapore Airlines ticket ready for me when I am.

I was anxious the whole time during this trip.  But somehow, flying with Singapore Airlines felt like flying with family.  On the Singapore–Manila leg (SQ918), I got my favorite seat and almost instantly, I was already home, up in the air, 30,000 feet in the skies.

Since the flight wasn’t even half-full, I could be quick to charge the impeccable inflight service to be due to the low flight attendant-to-passenger ratio.  There was plenty of attention to be spread.  But having been a loyal Singapore Airlines passenger all these years, I know better that the service was just their usual – top notch and uncompromising.  Actually, the operative word here is “usual.”  Why?  It is because they have been consistent at this excellent service level that anybody will be quick to dismiss any new experience to be – there’s that word again – the usual.

But having my anxieties brushed away, even for the three and a half hours I was airborne, I couldn’t help but feel grateful to the inflight crew.  Hui Hui (I hope I got her name right) was especially helpful that I just had to write her a thank you note.

I realized I was wandering aimlessly when I reached Gate E20 and when I looked up my flight’s boarding gate, it was E8. I was way off! It was on the other end of the terminal. Hehe.


On the way to my gate, I had to take a snapshot of Gate E5. It’s my favorite letter and number.


Whenever I pass by a mirrored wall…


Finally, Gate E8!


Comfortably ensconced in my favorite seat, the first at this section.


My favorite seat


I can’t look at this emergency door – right beside a flight attendant’s takeoff/landing station – without having images of action movies in my head. Haha!


I get all the papers available by the plane door – Financial Times (FT) Weekend, The Business Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Straits Times.


The moment I get in my seat, I work on the disembarkation card and the customs declaration.


As you can see, I always have my favorite pens with me – the Parker from my good friend Jian Cheng and the Bic from Timothy.


Amidst turbulence, I had to write down a quote from the movie I was watching.


Tiger Woods was giving me the eye. “Finish your papers, eNTeNG!”


Time check!


All of my travel papers and stuff – passport, e-Ticket, boarding pass, EP – are organized in this Muji passport holder. This was one of the first things I ever bought in Singapore.


I always travel comfortably, which this time meant my red Zappi shoes and khaki Topman shorts. My top was my five-year-old custom fit Ralph Lauren piqué polo shirt.


After the movie “The Lucky One,” I caught up on an episode of one of my favorite TV shows Grey’s Anatomy. That’s one of my favorite characters, the feisty Dr. Cristina Yang.


Dinner has landed!


I had stir fried fish in dry chilli and Chinese wine, seasonal vegetables and fried rice. For starters, I munched on a pasta salad of marinated seafood and penne.


For dessert, it was tiramisu “Ais Krim”.

The Manila–Singapore leg (SQ921) was full.  Getting yet another one of my favored seats was just half of the pleasant flight.  The other half was taken care of by the attentive, thoughtful crew.  I took note of one name – Lynn.  Again, I hope I got it right (her last name starts with H).

While some of my fellow passengers opted to drown the occasional turbulence with gin and tonic or Johnny Walker Black with orange juice, I chose to wash everything away with my favorite Campbell’s Tomato Juice.

By the second refill I heard the most beautiful words, “Would you like a whole can?”  I heard that in both flights.  I heart Singapore Airlines.

Before I knew it, it was time to go back to the Lion City.


NAIA was full! There lines everywhere.


As an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), I had to fall in line to get my papers validated.


Ladies and gentlemen, the King of Pop!… “I’m starting with the man in the mirror…”


This flight was a bit delayed, but nothing disappointing. We were kept posted on the progress. By the way, it was raining when we took off.


For inflight reading, I brought a book from my bookshelf at home, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas.


This show “Cupcake Wars” caught my attention.


Of the many movie choices, I decided on the 80’s classic Ghostbusters starring, among many others, the very beautiful Sigourney Weaver. I remember seeing this movie as a kid.


A young Bill Murray. I still think he should’ve gotten the Oscar for “Lost in Translation.”


Finally the food has arrived!


I had couple of these warmed rolls!


Dinner is served! – pork spare ribs with preserved soya beans (rendered like a most sumptuous sauce), chicken rice (yum!), and steamed seasonal vegetables (though the menu did say Chinese mushroom).


The spare ribs were actually served boneless. The meat was really tender, moist and flavorful. Having watched enough Top Chef, I know exactly the exacting skill needed to dish out such a scrumptious meal.


I fell in love with this smoked duck and green mango salad. I have to say, I was mesmerized by the tangy dressing.


I must’ve gone through three of these. I lost count. I wouldn’t be surprised if the flight attendant would decide to start charging me. Hahaha!


Back in Singapura! This was my first time landing at Terminal 3. The place is just breathtakingly beautiful!


The place is huge!


I turn into a kid in a candy store whenever I’m faced by this Visitor Information rack. I have to say, I get my fill of the latest. Hahaha!


Please proceed to Belt 41 to claim your baggage.


I said I had fragile stuff inside. Little did I know, my luggage would get this treatment. Haha!


My excel spreadsheets at work are always colorful. So I love looking at this flight indicator board.


I love taking the last flight out of Manila all the time. Because I arrive in Singapore to a taxi queue that looks like this.


This was the lightest I have ever traveled in years. But still I managed to pack in some stuff for some special people back at my second home.


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

The BrenDarryl – a recipe

8 08 2012

WHEN MY mother finally promoted the barely-ten-year-old me from pulling on her apron strings to standing on a stool, leant over a heavy-bottom skillet steaming with a sauté, I thought that all I was getting was a free facial and impish bragging rights that the kid in me had his way.  Little did I know that it would ignite in me a culinary passion so fervent it pierces through my collective consciousness to reveal itself every chance it gets.

Like most everybody, I believe to have grown up having the best “anything” ever, coming from our home kitchen – adobo (meat or vegetable braised in vinegar and soy sauce), nilaga (usually, pork ribs soup), sinigang (meat or fish in a soup soured with tamarind fruit), tinola (chicken in ginger-flavored broth with green papaya and chili tops ), pancit (fried noodles), kare–kare (oxtail stew in a sauce thickened with ground peanuts and glutinous rice), and just about everything else.

These are the flavors of my childhood.  These are the tastes that transport me back to being that kid in the kitchen.

In time, I’ve learned how to cook.  And with that came the confidence in my skills.  At restaurant dinners, I’ve started to find amusement in figuring out the key ingredients that go into a dish, and how it is prepared.  Mastering the basic techniques, eventually I’ve become more experimental, bold in whipping up something on a whim – sometimes, something not even entirely Filipino.

One of my relatively recent bursts of culinary inspiration is my now-signature Honey–Calamansi Dressing that I use on my Australian Baby Wild Arugula Salad with sliced Green New Zealand Granny Smith Apple and Green Argentinian Pear, topped with shaved Parmesan Cheese and served with pan-grilled honey-glazed Prawns on the side.

That’s quite a mouthful to say every single time I get asked.  So it has become imperative to name this salad.  I call it “The BrenDarryl,” in honor of my close friends Brenda and Darryl, who enthusiastically appreciated this creation when I first made it for them for dinner.  In the restaurant in my head, it is the star salad, sharing stellar billing with other name-droppables “Caesar” and “Nicoise.”

The response to The BrenDarryl has been so overwhelming – almost enough to push a mere mortal to delusions of culinary grandeur – that I’ve decided to share the recipe here.  You’ll be surprised how simple it is.  What makes it so irresistibly scrumptious?  The answer is likewise so simple, trite, and undeniably suffused with cliché – love.  (If you’re cringing, you should’ve been warned with the mention of “cliché! “)

Cook with love in your heart.  See, there’s a reason Wolfgang Puck always tells us to “Live!  Laugh!  Love!”

The BrenDarryl, my Australian Baby Wild Arugula Salad with sliced Green New Zealand Granny Smith Apple and Green Argentinian Pear, topped with shaved Parmesan Cheese and served with pan-grilled honey-glazed Prawns on the side, all drizzled with my now-signature Honey–Calamansi Dressing.


The BrenDarryl

For the dressing you will need

¼ cup Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup Lune de Miel® 100% Pure Honey (I use either plain “Fruity & Floral” or “Orange Blossom”)

3 tablespoons Calamansi Juice (or the juice from 7 of these “little limes”)

A pinch of Morton® Coarse Kosher Salt

A fresh crack of McCormick® Black Peppercorn

All that you need for my now-signature Honey–Calamansi Dressing.


The star of my wonderful dressing!


All the ingredients for the perfect “The BrenDarryl!”


For the salad you will need

Hussey & Co.® Wild Rocket (Baby Arugula, kept in the refrigerator until needed to be served)

Yummy™ Green New Zealand Granny Smith Apple

Gaucho® Green Argentina Packham’s Pear

Millel® Parmesan Cheese (Shaved, not Grated!)

Prawns (Shelled, deveined, with the tails left intact, five per serving)

Green with envy – apples and pears!


Lune de Miel 100% Pure & Natural Honey in Orange Blossom




Wild Rocket!


Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, honey, and calamansi juice well in a large bowl, until almost emulsified.  Season with the kosher salt and black pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Peel the apple and pear and slice thinly.  To prevent oxidation, toss the sliced fruit in a little dressing.  Cover with cling wrap and set aside in the refrigerator.

Marinate the prawns in a little dressing for about 10 minutes, at most.  Grill on a non-stick (grill) pan.  Once they curl, turn over and allow only 30 more seconds to cook.  Remove immediately from the heat.

Begin assembling the salad by tossing the wild rocket (baby arugula) with just enough dressing to “stain” the leaves but not weigh them down.  It is best to use a large salad or mixing bowl for this purpose.

On a plate, spoon a loose handful of the wild rocket (baby arugula) and on top, generously sprinkle shaved parmesan cheese.  On the side, scoop slices of the apple and pear.  Finish with five of the pan-grilled prawns.  Optionally, extra dressing may be drizzled on top.  Voila!  The BrenDarryl is ready to be served.

The pots and pans are ready! When I last made The BrenDarryl, I also made my Angel Hair Pomodoro while Brenda delighted us with her signature Bruschetta.


The pasta water is boiling in the pot on the left while the sauce is simmering in the one on the left. As a rule of thumb, I heat the grill pan while I prepare the prawns.


The lightly marinated prawns are now ready to hit the heat!


We’re grillin’!


The prawns are now done!


Brenda calls these perfectly pan-grilled prawns.


This is how little dressing I use in staining the wild rocket (baby arugula) as I prepare the salad for serving.


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

The Amazing Spider–Man, amazing many times over

6 08 2012

Top of the pack. Andrew Garfield, who stars as Peter Parker in the latest Spidey installment, graces the covers of the latest editions of a number of leading magazines. Kinokuniya, Takashimaya S.C., Singapore.

AT THE rate I’m seeing – and seeing again – the DARK Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider–Man, it is starting to feel like I’m making up for not seeing any of the other recent superhero flicks (The Avengers, Captain America, Thor).

(The “review in SMS” is taken care of by photos.)

Right after seeing the movie, I sent my “review in SMS” to 51 people on my directory. This is Part One.


One of a number of reactions



The Amazing Spider–Man is such a vicarious thrill, “vicarious” being the operative word.  Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield perfectly cast) crawls on walls, slings his web, swings over the New York skyline and gets into fist fights that make me duck before any of the punches would have struck me.  Surely, he needs all the caloric intake he could have, frozen macaroni & cheese and his Aunt May’s disaster of a meatloaf included.

So “vicariously,” I made sure that my voracious appetite was not denied too.  On the first time I saw the movie, at Shaw Theatres Lido on Orchard Road, I first had a Japanese dinner of my favorite Cha Soba (cold green buckwheat noodles with a soy-mirin dipping sauce), salmon sashimi, and a cup of Japanese rice.  For during the movie, french macarons in fleur de sel caramel, chocolate noir, hazelnut, feuilletine, and rose from Canelé Pâtisserie Chocolaterie together with their signature Iced Chocolate drink.  After the emotional and action-packed ride that was the movie, I just had to have Soya Chicken Braised Noodles and a large platter of Hong Kong Baby Kai Lan with Oyster Sauce.

I was hungry that I threw my “shoot-first-eat-later” policy out of the window for this movie night dinner. However, the Japanese rice was just so pretty to not be phorographed.


Canelé Pâtisserie Chocolaterie is one of Singapore’s best!


They make a rainbow! French macarons by Canelé Pâtisserie Chocolaterie.


My box of french macarons is ready!


A peak into my box of six!


After-movie dinner spread included Steamed Hong Kong Baby Kai Lan with Oyster Sauce


Soya Chicken


Braised Noodles


Perfectly cooked. Then, perfectly tossed in the delicious sauce.


Emerging from ION Orchard, beneath the lattice work that is the mall’s façade, I channeled my inner Peter Parker, wishing I could web-sling my way home, instead of taking my usual red line-to-purple line MRT trip.

At my age, there’s still a part of me that wishes I were a superhero too.  Ah, the movies.  Amazing.

The Amazing Spider-Man, amazing many times over.


Excited to see The Amazing Spider-Man, with Canelé Pâtisserie Chocolaterie munchies in hand!


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