K-k-kinda busy at Cibo

25 05 2011

Spaghettini Al Telefono

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

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

On the menu: Spaghettini Alla Romana

 

On the menu: Farfalle Alla Genovese

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

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

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

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

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

A confetti of julienned basil perfumes this pasta!

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

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

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

My new favorite at Cibo!

 

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

 

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

 

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





Cibo is necessity and indulgence

30 11 2009

That's my reflection on Cibo's mirror wall.

THE NICE thing about food is that it is both a necessity and an indulgence.  Even better, it can be both at the same time.

There was no stopping my dinner plans last Friday night.  Earlier in the day, my friend and fellow engineer Kakel and I floated the idea of treating ourselves to a great dinner – should we survive the day.  You see, where we work, something really major is happening.  We’re in the process of totally asserting our independence from the two parent companies that brought forth the business venture we are in.  Think Y2K all over again – only this time, with real drama.  I was waiting for a chasm to open up from right under me.

But with all that we had to go through and take care of, we realized that a great dinner was a non-negotiable.  On the drive to Town, I was quick to recommend Pepper Lunch.  But when we were greeted by the velvet rope upon which was a sign that said, “Line starts here,” I had to seriously reconsider our restaurant choice.

Good thing that right next door to Pepper Lunch is Cibo!  It was also full but I immediately radar-locked unto the last remaining free booth seating.

Spinaci Gorgonzola

The spinaci gorgonzola comes with a generous pile of the best melba toast!

While the usual accompanying melba toast is nice, I prefer my bread soft. So here's my own "soft" melba toast. Finished this off!

We started with the Spinaci Gorgonzola (spinach and gorgonzola cheese dip, Php 218.00), served with melba toast.  I’m not fond of bread sliced thin then toasted to a crisp so I asked for a side serving of soft melba toast (Php 18.00).  Even with what I had in mind for dinner, I managed to finish the whole serving of the bread!

Farfalle Genovese

One of Cibo's strongest points is their presentation. The la famiglia serving of their farfalle genovese comes in a huge pristine white serving platter placed on top a thick slab of wood. The plentiful portion of their fresh bread is neatly piled up on the side.

A tight shot of the farfalle genovese. See the generosity of the restaurateur in this dish. You see all the components – the fresh basil pesto, the wild mushroom cream sauce, and the freshly grated parmesan cheese – all completely coating each piece of bow tie pasta.

Just one of the many helpings of farfalle genovese that I helped myself to.

I then asked for the la famiglia serving of Farfalle Genovese (farfalle in a fresh wild mushroom cream sauce and basil pesto served with a generous grating of well-aged parmesan cheese, Php 465.00).  This dish has long been touted as one of the bestsellers at Cibo.  And I had it for the first time that night.  With the first bow tie pasta I picked from the huge platter, I instantly fell in love.  I could imagine the chef slaving over a mortar and pestle – all the way from Romblon – making the basil pesto from scratch.  Only a fresh and intensely flavored pesto could conjure that image in my head.  It was mixed well with the mushroom cream sauce, coating every piece of pasta.  For presentation and added flavor, a dollop sat right on top at the center.

The mushroom cream sauce perfectly tempered the full-bodied purity of the basil pesto.  The dish had a liberal amount of sliced fresh mushrooms – lots of shiitakes, white buttons, and oysters – that I was sure to hit thick and juicy slices of these fleshy fungi everytime I stuck my fork through.  The very generous dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese only managed to elevate the dish to an astral plane all its own.  But I managed to remain on the ground as the faint hint of nutmeg in the cream sauce reminded me of Christmas.

I’ve never been one to salivate over pasta with a cream-based sauce.  But Cibo’s Farfalle Genovese eradicated whatever shred of skepticism I had.

My first glass of their tomato juice!

Before long I already needed a second glass!

Notice the freshly cracked black pepper on top! Just got to love this drink!

To wash everything down, I had Tomato Juice (Php 90.00) – all two tall glasses of it!  I love tomato juice, the only drink I would keep on asking for on board flights.  While all people shamelessly gulped down all the free champagne that flowed incessantly – in an obvious attempt to take passengers’ minds off the frightening turbulence on a Malaysia-to-Singapore flight – I just asked for my glass to be freshened with tomato juice!  Cibo’s presentation was lovely, complete with a celery stick and freshly cracked black pepper on top.  I like all the quiet drama involved with freshly cracking black pepper tableside.  I would often wonder if the pepper mills were part of the restaurateur’s famed collection.

Kakel's Penne All' Amado. He ate this all up!

While I shared my farfalle with him, Kakel for his part ordered the Penne All’ Amado (penne with slow simmered beef sauce and tomatoes, Php 218.00).  It was the first time I heard of it, and while the description was pretty straightforward, I couldn’t help but assume that the dish could have been named after the owner’s son.  For his drink, Kakel asked for peach-flavored iced tea (Php 90.00).

I wanted to have my favorite Panna Cotta Ciccolato, but decided against it for the time being as Starbucks was part of the dinner plan.

A couple of Dark Cherry Mochas!

In this one, I like the watch better than the drink. Hahaha!

So off we went to Starbucks and ordered two Dark Cherry Mochas.  “I shall have my Cibo panna cotta on the following night,” I told myself.  The two stickers I got for the coffee drinks were enough to make up for it.

And the great conversation too!

Kakel by the Rustan's display window at Town.

Copyright © 2009 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MuchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Promises not made to be broken

23 05 2011

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

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

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

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

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

I did know, on her birthday this year.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Listening intently to Partner's updates.

 

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

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

 

Partner and her Goyard!

 

Goyard!

 

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





Love and other stuff

31 01 2011

Partner and the iPad from The Boy Wonder!

“WHAT?!  YOU’RE laughing at me?”

“No.  No, I wasn’t.  Here’s Partner again.”

I handed the earphones back to Partner.  I haven’t lasted a couple of minutes on my seat and all I had managed was indeed to laugh – to chuckle in bursts, actually – because I was quite surprised with what I arrived at at the table.  Partner, who I had moments prior envisioned to have already been losing much of her renowned patience, was actually biding the time away in the company of The Boy Wonder.  Virtually.  His Christmas present to her – a 64-GB iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G – was comfortably set up on a stand on the dinner table and he was on Skype.  All I managed was a wave.  And yes, the chuckling in bursts.

Soon they said their farewells and Partner’s attention was back to me 100%.  Having made her wait, I felt the need to launch to a lengthy apology – beginning with the horrendous traffic on EDSA.  But just like how it is with real friends, she lovingly gestured with her hand that apology wasn’t necessary.

We haven’t seen each other for quite a while – as she has been based in Singapore for close to three years now – that I knew I wanted to give her a kiss on the cheeks and hug her really tight.  I’ve missed her so much.  And we both knew there were a lot of catching up to do.  Unlike before when she would understand whenever I would miss showing up in the few days she would sneak back home for a quick respite, this time around, she was quite clear that my absence won’t be excused.

“There’s so much more to tell Partner, if only we can go to dinner now so I can tell you everything!…  I have been dying to tell you but I never really had the chance.” exclaimed some of her e-Mails from a week back.  So I knew I had to make good on my commitment to show up.

So there I was, seated across Partner at our table for two.  Transfixed at one of my best friends, wondering how she has managed to look even more beautiful.  I’ve always admired her face, but that night, bathed in the warm lights of the interiors of my restaurant of choice, Partner’s face emanated with the ethereal glow that brought to mind paintings by Rembrandt.  I guess that’s what happens when one is truly happy from the inside.  When one – or two people so in love – is “no longer hurting.”  I could tell for I was one of her friends who have seen her through the ups and downs.  I may not have been much of a help to her, but I’ve seen her through those times.

“Partner, you order.  I’m not that hungry pa naman.  I had a late lunch.” Partner uttered, snapping me out of the trance I was in.

“You sure?  Where did you eat?  What did you have?”

“Yeah.  Cibo at the Shang.  I had a salad.”

“Did you know that the owners of Cibo and Mamou are sisters-in-law?”

I just had to throw out yet another piece of trivia I know.  And the very moment I did, our server just couldn’t help but smile.

And yes, the night’s restaurant of choice was Mamou at the Serendra Piazza.  Partner told me I could choose whichever I want.  Having been meaning to visit the place – almost on a number of occasions, but never quite! – I thought our dinner was the perfect reason to make good on that goal.  I chose it because it does boast to be “a home kitchen.”  It was, after all, a special dinner between really great friends.

Careful to spill out all my compliments, then all my questions, in one go, I kept myself in check and diverted my attention to Mamou’s laminated menu card.

“Partner, I’ll start with a salad.  Then…”  I was about to mention the pièce de résistance when – just how it is with real friends – Partner finished my sentence.

“You said you wanted to try the steak, right?”

“…then the steak!”

As if violinists in a symphony, Partner and I flipped the menus over in one orchestrated motion and perused the “Meat” section.

“Partner, I want this,” I spoke, mimicking how my six-year old nephew speaks, pointed on the menu card and continued, “the Angus Ribeye USDA Prime Grade Steak!”  At that very moment, I could tell from my peripheral vision that our server (failed to get his name!) was having a field day with my and Partner’s repartee.  And probably, he already could surmise who was getting the check!  Hahaha!

I could very well have stopped with the salad – we asked for the Healdsburg’s Harvest – and the steak.  After all, the pairing brought to mind one of my favorite lunches-for-one that I had learned from Nigella Lawson years ago.  But I just had to ask for one offbeat, somewhat tangential choice – noodles.  And I’m not talking pasta here, which could have very well been inspired by an Italian spread of Bistecca alla Fiorentina served with pasta.  I’m talking good ol’ Hong Kong egg noodles swimming in a potent beef broth.  They call it their “Mamou Mami.”

As the steak would be a bit of a wait – the menu said 20 minutes – Partner motioned to me to try the complimentary house bread.  They were actually more like rolls, four rather unassuming pieces of rounded bread – two bark brown (whole grain?) and two white – in a small wicker basket.  I took the white one, tore off a piece and launched with my questions.

Just about the best rolls I have ever had!

 

Aw-aw-aw... aw-aw-aw... Awesome!!!

 

Butter!

 

“Did he know you told me about how he felt about you?  Did he know I already knew.  I mean, from your end.  Because from his, I know because he told me.  And I told you.  Hahaha!”  I asked.  And as Partner responded, I felt I was holding in my hands the perfect metaphor to how her heart probably goes whenever she would mention The Boy Wonder’s name – like butter sliding down hot toast.  Her eyes would glow and her heart would melt.  “If this isn’t love / L–O–V–E / What is it to me?/ L–O–V–E ”

And Mamou’s bread does melt, literally, in my mouth!  I’ve never been so taken by any restaurant’s complimentary bread.  But Mamou’s are something different.  In the middle of Partner and The Boy Wonder’s love story, I just had to interject,

“Partner, these rolls are so good!!!”

I looked for our server, and with a smile told him, “May we have more?  Please.”

He took the basket, with a smile.  And I knew, more metaphors of butter sliding down hot toast were in my immediate future.  Like, in 5 minutes!

“So, Partner, when did you know that he was good for you?  That he was what you needed and more?”

That was when the salad, Healdsburg’s Harvest, arrived.  How could something so healthy, look so yummy?  I could tell that the salad was able to whet Partner’s appetite but she was understanding of my unspoken, unwritten “shoot first, eat later” policy.  My knees were weak at the sight of the salad and the shivering translated to the photos.  It was hard to focus!  The purplish veining of the greens were teasing and the explosion of juices that the cherry tomatoes promised – the moment I’d pop one in my mouth – were too much to handle by someone not blessed with steady hands.

Healdsburg's Harvest!

 

The first portion I served Partner.

 

I got so intrigued by this leafy green that I had to ask what it's called... and forgot it! Hahaha!

 

“What’s the dressing called?” I just had to asked, my curiosity piqued by the explosion of purple that appeared to me more as candy than vinaigrette.

“Berry dressing, Sir.”

“Partner, it has glazed pecans and candied cranberries!”

I tossed the salad and served Partner a decent portion.  She pierced some of the delicate greens with her fork and with the first taste told me, “Partner, it’s good!”  I managed to break into a shy smile.  Because for a moment I thought, while Partner may have told me that the salad was good,  she actually unknowingly just answered my question.  She just knew The Boy Wonder was indeed good for her.  I know the guy quite well and if he came in a bottle of supplements, I’d call him “Multi-Harryboy” – complete from A to Zinc it would say on the label, just what Partner needed.  Very much like the salad she was having.

We needed more space on the table when my big bowl of Mamou Mami arrived.  In one quick motion, Partner willingly let go of the bread basket and handed it to our server.

“Do you still want that, Partner?” she asked.

“No, I’m ok.”  (Though a part of me ached for that last brown roll.)

With what Partner removed from our table, a space was created for something she knew I really liked – the bowl of noodles.

Mamou Mami. This has got to be the best I've ever had outside of Ongpin. For this alone, I'll keep on coming back to Mamou!

 

“So aren’t you going to tell me about all that happened and came before The Boy Wonder?”

“No na, Partner.  Those are all in the past.  Let’s just focus on happy thoughts right now.  Ask me about The Boy Wonder na lang.”

I bowed to catch a whiff of the savory bowl of Mamou Mami in front of me and almost instantly, a sense of comfort washed over me, making me totally forget about that last piece of bread.  It was in the past now.  Partner was obviously happy I was enjoying myself, though I was waiting for her to pass judgment on my unconventional choice (this was supposed to be a steak dinner!).  But the happy person that she is, she allowed me my own happiness.  Which, at that very moment meant a generous portion of perfectly cooked Hong Kong egg noodles in a robustly flavored broth that was part homage to the La Paz Batchoy of Iloilo and part to the mami of Ongpin.  I fell in love with the hint of fresh coriander that perfumed each quiet (quiet!) sip of the broth.

“Partner, do you think The Boy Wonder came just at the right time?  I mean, you shoo’d him away before.  Good thing, you gave him another chance.”

And as with all good things in this life…  As with all good things that have come in Partner’s life at this point, the fabulous steak came to those who were willing to wait.  Served tilted to one side, our Angus Ribeye USDA Prime Grade Steak was perfectly done to Partner’s desired medium-well goodness, oozing with its natural juices and the goodness of – I surmised – really good extra virgin olive oil.  I told myself, the generous jus and oil would make for a perfect dressing for the delicate greens, the sweet cherry tomatoes, and the slivers of cranberry stilton cheese.  And to bring the salad to overdrive, I would tumble into the salad the slices of succulent steak.  Sinfully good.  For a while there, I could pretend that I was having dinner overlooking a vast vineyard somewhere in Tuscany.  Yet, I was where I exactly wanted to be – with Partner at Mamou.

14-oz. cut of the Angus Ribeye USDA Prime Grade Steak

 

Medium-well. Just as how Partner asked for it.

 

Last couple of slices!... And we thought we were not that hungry to begin with!

 

The best corn pudding ever!

 

Creamed Spinach

 

We started dinner with the excitement and intensity of how it felt for butter to slide down warm rolls (the promise of something new!), managed to let go of the past (that last roll!) and made room for the unexpected (Mamou Mami is mami from heaven!), and at the appointed time, became ready to receive the best of what the restaurant could offer (what a steak!).

I thought to myself, very much the story of Partner and The Boy Wonder’s love.

I politely asked our server, "Is the iced tea good?" To which he responded, "I'll bring you a tasting portion." A tasting portion?!?! If that's not luxurious, elegant service, then I don't know what is. (The iced tea was great!)

 

(I may not be the voice Partner hears first in the morning, and listens to last at night to tuck her safely and warmly to bed.  Mine may not be the strong arms that hold her in a tight embrace whenever the world is cold and she needs comfort.  My dreams may no longer hold as much importance or generate as much excitement to her ears like before.  But Partner is exactly where she deserves to be – with someone I prayed she would be.  With someone who can love her for everything that she is and for everything that she could help nurture in someone else.

 

I am a much better person because Partner has touched my life.  She has done so for so many other people – to family and friends.  It’s about time she allows the universe to pamper her and put her happiness first above all else.  I know The Boy Wonder is up to the task.  He has loved her with a love that was never afraid to take the pain, honest, sincere, unceasing.  I pray for them.)

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





Traditional dinner at an ultra-modern home

28 12 2010

Le Façade

FRIENDSHIP CAME back home for the holidays.  Just really a few days, to be able to spend Christmas eve with her family.  By the time this gets posted, she will have been about 30,000 feet up in the air, on a flight back to be with the Merlion.  She’ll be welcoming the new year there.

In between those days, she managed to invite me and Brother to dinner at their brand new ultra-modern home.  The invitation was actually first extended over lunch at Cibo, on the eve of this year’s presidential elections.  Knowing Friendship and her family, I wasn’t the least surprised that seven months later, the invitation still stood.

Brooklyn Pizza at Town delivered the night’s dinner – pizza, pasta, and lots of chicken wings.  Home-cooked goodness was courtesy of Friendship’s dad’s crispy pata (crispy trotter) that came with a special dipping sauce.  And of course, steamed rice that I myself asked for.

I couldn’t devote my concentration on the food as I was in awe of the house – from the all-white façade, the floor-to-ceiling glass panels that surround the house on both levels, the staircase, and the all-white interiors contrasted only with accents of dark wood and touches of chrome.  But for me, the best part that demanded my attention – quite a feat as it meant pulling me away from pasta – was the kitchen!  I swear, theirs is a kitchen FoodNetwork TV show dreams are made of.

The only other things somewhat successful at distracting me from my fascination with the kitchen were the array of desserts Friendship and her family spread out.  There were cookies from Ju.D’s by Ju.D La’O of Greenmeadows, a frozen tiramisu cake, a buko pandan ice cream from Pampanga, and a really moist chocolate cake from Cielin’s.

The simple yet elegant place setting

 

My plate. This was just my first helping!

 

Chocolate Cake from Cielin's

 

As traditions would have it, I got my own box of Ju.D's scrumptious chewy chewkies. I could finish this whole box. And I almost did!

 

Hands down, one of the best cookies I have ever tasted!

 

One of the many drink options made available to us by Friendship.

 

The Starbucks tea was actually full loose leaf tea that came elegantly packaged in a mesh pouch like this.

 

One thing that Friendship, her sister and I share is a passion for wristwatches!

 

Friendship's new Technomarine Cruise!

 

So lovin' the ceramic feel and look of this ToyWatch wristwatch!

 

One thing I like about Friendship's sister's new ToyWatch is that it is the exact same one used by Sandra Bullock's character in her Oscar-winning role in "The Blind Side".

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





One day I farfalle*

17 12 2010

 

“FARFALLE ALLA GENOVESE?”

Iron Man furrowed his brows and looked back at me, parrying my seeming inappropriate question with an expected questioning look.  Expected because I threw in my question right smack when he was negotiating a stringy portion of lechon (roasted pig) he was served.  As for me, I’ve totally sworn off lechon, allowing me time to pester the superhero to my right.  I caught him mid-bite, my question throwing him off from all the concentration he had focused on a yummy piece of meat.

I motioned to him to carry on.  Besides, the question was rather rhetorical.  And Iron Man knew exactly what I meant.  It’s amazing how, between friends, thoughts and intentions can be reduced to one line.  And in this case, reduced to the name of a pasta dish asked like a chant-like intoned prayer – “Farfalle alla Genovese?”

Iron Man, a reflection, and Brother

We were actually at the reception of a good friend’s son’s christening – yeah I know, all the more that my question reeked with insensitivity – but soon enough, I did get my prayer answered.  And before long, off Iron Man and I went to Town to meet up with Brother for a movie (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1) and, you guess it right, Farfalle Alla Genovese!

Where else but in Cibo!

Checking the time at Cibo

When you’re like me who can get obssessed with a dish for months on end, you would want to ask for it right away the moment you get comfortably settled in your seat.  But I have to admit, whatever little gastronomic propriety is left in me, it tells me to still ask for at least a starter.  For this dinner, we decided on the Spinaci Zola (spinach and gorgonzola dip), served with toasted and soft melba toast rounds.  I swear by Funghi Praga, a recommendation of Friendship’s, but in deference to Brother’s restrictions, “bawal ang pork!”

Bread and a fabulous dip took care of the necessary formality, and I didn’t allow any other – soup or salad – to get between me and my farfalle!  Oh, I spoke too soon.  There was Iron Man, with whom I shared the family sized-serving of this wonderful al dente bowtie pasta tossed with a fresh wild mushroom cream sauce and basil pesto, topped with a fresh grating of the best parmesan cheese and a few grinds of the pepper mill.  For someone like me who favors tomato-based sauces over cream ones, Cibo’s farfalle alla genovese is the foremost exception.

Farfalle Alla Genovese!

 

First serving of the pasta for Iron Man.

 

Brother, ever the carnivore, opted for the Costolette D’Agnello, a duo of well-done (his preference) grilled lamb chops, doused with a sauce of red wine reduction perfumed with mint, and served alongside a parsley rice pilaf.  I’ve often heard that nothing beats tasting Italy in springtime than with the tenderness of lamb, grilled to perfection as the classic Costolette D’Agnello.  I couldn’t vouch for that.  But Brother could, evidenced by whatever remained – or didn’t – on his plate.

Costolette D'Agnello

 

Brother let me have the grilled zucchini that came with the lamb.

 

Brother prefers his meat well-done. And these chops are well-done and yet still tender and flavorful.

 

See what I mean? This is one of the things that I love having dinner with Brother. We're both such "enthusiastic" and "appetizing" eaters!

 

Iron Man and Brother loaded up on anti-oxidants by way of red grape shakes!

 

Of course I had my favorite Tomato Juice! Lycopene-loading!

 

*For five nights in a row, I’ve been putting “Moulin Rouge” on.  On a couple of nights, to send me to deep slumber.  But on the others, to put the “Your Song” clip into heavy rotation – singing along all the time.  For this blog post, the song “One Day I’ll Fly Away” came to mind and inspired the title above.

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





An icon’s 24-year food journey

3 08 2010

Margarita A. Fores and her 24-year food journey

LECHON (ROASTED pig) in sinigang (meat in a usually tamarind-soured broth with fresh vegetables) with sweet watermelon wedges – unlike flowers for spring in “The Devil Wears Prada” – is groundbreaking.  The first time I had it at Café Bola in Greenbelt 3, I knew all the more just how very special its innovative creator was.  And still is.

I ended up frequenting the place, and the first time I saw her walk in to her restaurant seated to full capacity, I was starstruck.  Her Balenciaga motorcycle handbag and her signature wristwatch gleamed against her dusky skin.  She went straight to the kitchen and I remember catching snippets of her animated speech, punctuated by the hearty cracking and chuckling of her plesantly raspy voice.  I thought to myself, she was more like a friend to her staff, a far cry from how mass media had portrayed the privileged to be snobs – stuck-up, and uppity, and snooty.

She walked out of the kitchen, a small dip dish in her hand – the one free from the dangling leather handbag – and joined a big group at the center of the dining area.  It was her family, I figured.  My sight was still transfixed at her when I realized a lot of the other diners were as well.  That was when it occurred to me!  We were in the presence of real beauty – one capable enough not only to demand our attention but also to hold it captive in its ethereal glow reminiscent of leading ladies in Renaissance paintings.

Right there and then, I knew I had become a fan.

Margarita Araneta Fores, arguably one of the culinary icons of our time, looks back to her 24 years in the food business through her essay “My 24-Year Food Journey” in last Sunday’s The Philippine Star.  A score and four years that gave birth to Cibo, Café Bola, Pepato, Lusso, The Commissary, and soon, Gastroteca di M.

I once wrote here, after having seen her on Secrets of the Masters, that hers is a personality that transcends the barrier and the limitation imposed by the TV screen.  Now, add to it the written word.  I devoured her writing the very same way I would approach her gastronomic innovations – allowing myself to be teased with the first quick taste, the first small bite, only to yield unbridledly in yet another work of (edible) art and heart.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





36 Things

12 07 2010

36.  AFTER THREE unsuccessful attempts, I’ve finally completed the Starbucks® Coffee Company’s Christmas Traditions Promo Card.  I redeemed my 2010 planner at their Las Piñas store on New Year’s morn, just hours after I was treated at the hospital for firecracker-related injury – also a first.

Starbucks Christmas Traditions Promo Cards

My Starbucks 2010 Planner, plus three bags of New Year's gifts.

 

35.  I’ve been in the same job for the past 14 years and two months.

34.  My beverage of choice be it at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or at Starbucks® is Hot Chai Tea Latte served over ice.  Strong on the freshly steeped tea, easy on the steamed milk.  Unfortunately, neither has perfected it, just the way the Sodexho Coffee Bar at Intel Corporation in Folsom makes it.

The very kind staff at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf didn't mind me taking a shot of their fragrant chai tea loose leaf blend. It was a bouquet of cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and fennel, with hints of ginger and black peppercorn.

My chai tea latte over ice is finally served! Notice that it's quite milky white, unlike in the States where they put more of the steeped tea. Chai tea latte should be a mug of spicy black tea with milk and sugar, profuse with notes of cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, fennel, ginger, and black peppercorns.

I've kept these beverage rewards cards all these years.

 

33.  I’ve been meaning to prop up my Americana Wooden Birdhouse at the terrace.  But I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it.

32.  The first time I’ve ever seen a movie on 3D here at home was when I saw Toy Story 3.  I thought the Dolby 3D glasses over my Emporio Armani prescription spectacles were putting too much strain on my eyes.  I didn’t know the lump that was forming in my throat had managed to escape through my eyes.

Toy Story 3 movie tickets

31.  The best motion picture I’ve seen in the past six months is Up In The Air.

Movie ticket for Up In The Air

30.  During flights, I take photos of the airplane’s wings at 30,000 feet.

Took this photo of an airplane wing on a flight from Penang in Malaysia to Singapore.

29.  I’ve never seen an episode of Glee.  But I never miss watching Royal Pains weekly – on its original time slot and on both its encore screenings on Saturdays.

28.  While I prefer tempura batter to be light and fluffy, I don’t mind the heavy batter Healthy Shabu-Shabu uses on their mixed tempura.  My favorite in their platter is the shiitake mushroom caps.

A small portion of Healthy Shabu-Shabu's Mixed Tempura

27.  Gourmet’s Farm grows the sweetest, most fragrant basil leaves.  I bought one packet, stuck it in the fridge, and forgot about it.  Three days later, when on a whim I made my angel hair pomodoro, I got arrested by the unusually heady, invigorating scent that tearing Gourmet’s Farm’s basil leaves emanated.  Basil had never smelled that good to me!

Gourmet's Farm's Sweet Basil

Really fragrant Gourmet's Farm sweet basil leaves ready to perfume my pomodoro sauce.

The actual Angel Hair Pomodoro I first used Gourmet's Farm's Sweet Basil on. Sumptuous!

26.  Mapúa Institute of Technology, where I studied in high school, was near Baker’s Fair where I used to get my favorite hopia monggo.  Nineteen years later, I serendipitously discovered their ube ensaymada.  Simply scrumptious!

Baker's Fair's Ube Ensaymada

Purple yam swirls through the brioche.

25.  I eat noodles using chopsticks from Shanghai that my friend Tenz gifted me with.

Chopsticks from Shanghai, courtesy of Tenz.

My favorite chopsticks piercing through a pile of Beef Tendon Noodles from Kim Hiong!

 

24.  The big Zara S-A-L-E is going on.  There is one item I didn’t get before – because it was still full-priced.  Hahaha!  I wonder if it’s still available.

Zara S-A-L-E, 2009.

23.  One of my principles in life is:  “Never pay full price!

22.  The only vegetable entrée I consistently ask for everywhere is Ampalaya Con Carne (bitter gourd with beef in a fermented soybean sauce).  At Max’s, I’d rather have that than the all-you-can-eat fried chicken they are currently offering at a very reasonable – almost a steal – Php 165.00.

Max's Ampalaya Con Carne

 

At Maxim's Tea House, Ampalaya Con Carne with Rice can be had to go.

21.  I prefer fried chicken to be doused by nothing more than a good Worcestershire sauce.

Max's fried chicken

 

Worcestershire sauce does wonders to fried chicken!

20.  My tea of the moment is TAZO Mint Blend, courtesy of my Ninong Allan Paz.  It’s a caffeine-free herbal infusion described as a bracing blend of mint with a pinch of tarragon.  Doesn’t that sound lovely?!

A pile of this wonderful tea from Ninong Allan Paz!

 

The description of this tea blend alone is half the fun already!

19.  I adore Cibo’s Farfalle Genovese.  This dish of farfalle (bowtie pasta) in a wild mushroom cream sauce with fresh basil pesto is both heaven on a plate and a party in your mouth.

The family size serving of Cibo's Farfalle Genovese

 

Farfalle Genovese on my plate

18.  Still at Cibo…  I always ask for extra slices of fennel bulb and fronds whenever I have a plate of their Spaghettini Alla Romana (spaghettini with sardines in oil, fennel, and red pepper pesto).

Cibo's Spaghettini Alla Romana

17.  My favorite Chicken Tinola (chicken in a gingery broth with chili leaves) is not my own, but my friend Stave Michael’s.

Stave Michael's Chicken Tinola

 

This has got to be the best homecooked Chicken Tinola I've ever had.

16.  My favorite commercially available cookies are Mama’s Kitchen’s Mango Chewies from Iloilo City.

A box of Mama's Kitchen's Mango Chewies from Iloilo City

 

These are the best cookies!

15.  Buon Giorno! at the Cliffhouse in Tagaytay makes amazing Bruschetta and Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad – tomatoes, basil, buffalo mozzarella).

Buon Giorno!'s Bruschetta

 

Buon Giorno!'s Insalata Caprese

14.  Of the many malls, The Podium gets decked in the best Christmas decorations.

The Podium, Christmas 2008.

 

The Podium, Christmas 2009.

 

In Christmas 2009, Victorinox Swiss Army held an exhibit at The Podium.

 

I loved the golden Christmas trees that hung from the ceiling.

13.  Whenever it’s on the menu, I ask for fresh Chrysanthemum Juice.  Here, I get it only at Banana Leaf and at North Park.

Fresh Chrysanthemum Juice at The Banana Leaf

12.  Long before Up and Toy Story 3 wrung my lachrymal glands dry, Finding Nemo had done so seven years earlier.

I found Nemo!

11.  I waited for the results of the voting in the 121st IOC Session, and I was quite saddened when Chicago lost in their bid to host the Games of the XXXI Olympiad (the 2016 Summer Olympics).

One of the placards in downtown Chicago as the city awaited the announcement of the winning host for the 2016 Olympics.

10.  The Highlander Steakhouse at Tagaytay Highlands makes an excellent Salad of Hearts of Romaine and Smoked Salmon.

Tagaytay Highlands' The Highlander Steakhouse's Salad of Hearts of Romaine and Smoked Salmon

 

I served myself with a lot of the smoked salmon! Greeedyyy!!!

  9.  I’ve had the best Chicken Curry dishes at over 30,000 feet up in the sky, on board Air India and Jet Airways flights.  The New Bombay Authentic Indian Cuisine at The Columns on Ayala Avenue and at The Podium is a nice place to go to here at home.  Besides the curry, I super love their Saffron Basmati Rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala Curry at The New Bombay Authentic Indian Cuisine

 

Saffron Basmati Rice

  8.  I have three notebooks in current (simultaneous) usage status – the Superman notebook I made, the Cardinal Notes from Mikko, and the Daily Notes by kikki.K from Friendship.  They’re for my essays, work, and all other notes of personal importance, respectively.

MIT Cardinal Notes from Mikko

 

kikki.K Daily Notes from Friendship

 

The cover of the Superman notebook I made.

  7.  More than ever, I have become really grateful for friends far and wide.  Not a single day passes by without me having conversations with Friendship, Batman, and Superman – no matter how busy each of us may be.

Friendship!

 

Batman!

 

Superman!

  6.  I’ve developed a deeper appreciation of Anderson Cooper, anchor of CNN’s AC 360O, after reading his memoir Dispatches from the EdgeA Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival.

My book of the moment!

  5.  I woke up with Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning playing incessantly in my head.  Sang it a number of times in the shower.  So it turned out to be a looong shower.

  4.  For three years in a row, Batman has always been the first one to greet me on my birthday.  And there has always been a gift.  I sure hope he does keep that tradition this year.  Hahaha!

  3.  I’m craving for the U.S. Beef Ribcap Tapa & Garlic Overload at Mr. Jones in Greenbelt 5.  TheCorporateTeener highly recommends it.  “Tapa” in this context loosely translates to strips of beef that had been cured.

  2.  I believe in this: “There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won’t anymore…and who always will.  So, don’t worry about people from your past. There’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.”

Adidas Samba shoes... my favorite!

  1.  My favorite shoes are still the Samba by Adidas.  They’re the best!

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





A heroine in Friendship

14 05 2010

NATIONAL BROADSHEETS have hailed the Filipinos as the true heroes of the successful May 10 polls, our country’s first ever automated elections.  I totally agree with them.  But for examples worthy of emulation, I need not look far.  One of my bestest friends, Friendship, exemplified to me the kind of patriotism our country needs in these times.

With Friendship, a "Bagong Bayani" (new hero) in the truest essence of the word.

Friendship flew all of 1464.2 miles of air travel distance from Singapore where she is currently based, just so she could assert her right to vote and effect change in the national leadership.  Yes, the Sunday before the elections was Mother’s Day, making her trip dual-purpose.  But knowing Friendship, she would’ve surely taken a separate trip for the elections had it been far off.

Her couple of days here were full-packed.  And I’m quite thankful that she invited me over to lunch with her and her mom and sister.  Restaurant of choice was one of our favorites, Cibo at Town.  Dessert was at Starbucks.  Of course, she had pasalubong for me!

It felt like an era has passed since the last time we broke bread together and shared boisterous laughter.  Naturally, talk this time was all about the elections.  As well as catching up with each other’s goings on.  And oh…  shopping!  (Just talked about it!)

The next day, like a BMPM (“Boto Mo, I-Patrol Mo!”) correspondent, she kept me posted on how her voting experience turned out.  After braving the long lines for at least a couple of hours, under the unforgiving heat of the summer sun, Friendship was on her way to the airport to catch her flight back.  If that is not love of country, I don’t know what is.

Thanks a lot, Friendship!  Amishoo!

Friendship had "Farfalle alla Genovese" - farfalle (bowtie pasta) with mushrooms, basil pesto, and fresh cream.

Friendship's sister had "Tagliata di Maiali" - slices of roasted pork tenderloin, with garlic and rosemary, and served with bread.

Friendship's mom had "Linguine alla Ghiotta" - linguine with mushrooms, bacon and cream!

Of course I had my all-time favorite "Spaghetti Alla Romana" - spaghetti with sardines, extra virgin olive oil, fennel, chili peppers, and a dollop of red pesto. And, as printed on the receipt, I asked for "extra fennel please."

A pretty fennel frond sits atop the red pesto with every serving of this pasta dish!

Just one sardine in a generous amount served with every order.

Frosted rum cake at Starbucks

That's a pretty dense cake!

For the first time, I tried Friendship's sister's favorite caramel blended, no whipped cream drink. I loved it!

Goodies in a nice bag - Friendship's pasalubong!

One of the pasalubong items was this bag of chocolates, Kinder Schoko-Bons! I just couldn't get over it yet! Really good. (Partner, you like kinder too, right?!)

What's not to love?!

Friendship's sister was toting a Cath Kidston to lunch. She's only the second person I know who has this!

A closer look at Cath!

Thanks Friendship - and Friendship's Mom & Sis - for yet another great lunch! I had a great time.

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Yellow

13 05 2010

LOOK AT the stars,

 Look how they shine for you,

 And everything you do,

 Yeah they were all yellow…”

– from the song “Yellow” by Coldplay

 

"Tie a yellow ribbon 'round that old oak tree..."... somewhere at Alabang Town Center, 2009.

 

Nike yellow baller ID, together with a blue and an orange one.

 

Yellow ribbon, yellow Guess? Jeans "DIVE IN" shirt, and yellow Technomarine.

 

Yellow ribbon 'round a Joseph Schmidt Carrot chocolate box.

 

Nike yellow baller ID, together with a blue one, and a Philip Stein on a friend's pink day.

 

Royce' Nama Chocolate in Banana (seasonal)

 

Yellow Technomarine

 

Technomarine Raft Chronograph with Yellow Gel Strap, orange and yellow baller IDs.

 

Swiss Army automatic wristwatch with yellow and blue baller IDs.

 

Yellow and blue, a good combination.

 

Yellow and blue, with a Morellato.

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.