Boise in a list of 40

16 06 2014

WE NEVER forget our first.  I mean to say, “firsts,” as well as all other things worth taking note of.  My first sojourn to the land of world–famous potatoes is coming to an end.  I allow myself to wax nostalgic and I’m not surprised that as I sip through my Tall Breakfast Brew with room for cream and brown sugar mixed in, I couldn’t help but break into smiles as my list of 40 unravels.

They say that life begins at 40.  I think I’m off to a great start.

01

I’ve been made aware of Boise and of Idaho more along the lines of being one of the best places to live in the States, and to raise a family.  I didn’t realize that this assignment would inadvertently allow me to tick off an item on another kind of list:  “TheCNN10 Dare To Go” List, http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/05/travel/cnn10-dare-to-go/.

"The CNN 10 Dare To Go" has Idaho on its list!  I have to say, I've ticked this one off!

“The CNN 10 Dare To Go” has Idaho on its list! I have to say, I’ve ticked this one off!

 

01_Arrival_00

eNTeNG, mere minutes from arriving at Boise Airport.

 

Welcome to IDAHO!

Welcome to IDAHO!

 

Ladies and gentlemen, Jennifer Hudson!  "And I DO like...  Hoo-hoo...  Living under your STOP LIGHT...  Hoo-hoo..."

Ladies and gentlemen, Jennifer Hudson! “And I DO like… Hoo-hoo… Living under your STOP LIGHT… Hoo-hoo…”

 

02

Somehow, it is indeed very nice to know that “in Boise, you are just within 15 minutes of almost everything.”

In Boise, all you have to do is hit the open road...  Always just about 15 minutes from everything!

In Boise, all you have to do is hit the open road… Always just about 15 minutes from everything!

 

03

In Boise, nature is beautifully and peacefully juxtaposed with modern–day technology.  I was first able to write about a similar observation on my first ever trip overseas, when I delivered a speech at a UN–sanctioned international conference for students held in Japan in 1990.

Sights in Boise are easy on the eyes.  The Foothills.  The Blue Sky.  The pristine white clouds.

Sights in Boise are easy on the eyes. The Foothills. The Blue Sky. The pristine white clouds.

 

04

I have never driven my whole life.  So that was the first and foremost concern I had when I learned about my trip to Boise.  Cue The Beatles:  “I get by with a little help from my friends”  Cue James Taylor:  “You’ve Got A Friend.”  And of course, cue TLC: “I don’t want no scrubs.  Scrubs is a guy who can’t get no love from me.  Hanging on the passenger side of his best friend’s ride…’  #Ouch!  Hahaha!

 

05

I was able to get my fill, to my heart’s content, of all the Boise State University (BSU) #BRONCOS merchandise I could get my hands on.  Sadly, I wasn’t as fortunate with University of Idaho #VANDALS.

Lovin' my Boise State U #BRONCOS jacket!

Lovin’ my Boise State U #BRONCOS jacket!

 

Hats galore.  The #BRONCOS are for me and my brothers.

Hats galore. The #BRONCOS are for me and my brothers.

 

06

FOR A place with stark interiors, the menu at Dong Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant on Broadway was daunting.  But just like what The Library of Babel T-Shirt says, “You can’t rule the world if you can’t decide what to order.”  So, armed with my own resolve to rule my own world, I zoomed into the taste of the familiar that seemed buried beneath an array of lunch specials and enticing combo options.  I ordered their Pho the first time I was there, and never looked back.  I also never ordered anything else.

Everybody I know has fallen in love with Dong Khanh's Spicy Chicken Meal!  Well, everybody but me.  Not because it isn't any good.  It is excellent.  But I'm all about the pho.

Everybody I know has fallen in love with Dong Khanh’s Spicy Chicken Meal! Well, everybody but me. Not because it isn’t any good. It is excellent. But I’m all about the pho.

 

My favorite Dong Khanh Beef Pho!  Probably the best I've had the world over.

My favorite Dong Khanh Beef Pho! Probably the best I’ve had the world over.

 

The perfect pho benefits from a generous heap of Thai sweet basil, bean sprouts, and jalapeno peppers.  And oh, a squeeze of fresh lime!

The perfect pho benefits from a generous heap of Thai sweet basil, bean sprouts, and jalapeno peppers. And oh, a squeeze of fresh lime!

 

07

YOITOMO in Downtown Boise may not be the best Japanese restaurant around, but their All–You–Can–Eat lunch and dinner specials are right up my alley.  And I give them a gold star for the most creative names for their dishes.

I've eaten all I could at this place.  At Lunch, and Dinner.

I’ve eaten all I could at this place. At Lunch, and Dinner.

 

I would go through at least five of these awesome bowls of the freshest vegetable tempura.  And I could slurp that dipping sauce...  if I could.

I would go through at least five of these awesome bowls of the freshest vegetable tempura. And I could slurp that dipping sauce… if I could.

 

This is how the FIRST sushi platter would look like.  Then a seeming endless flow would emanate from the general direction of the sushi chefs.  Haha!

This is how the FIRST sushi platter would look like. Then a seeming endless flow would emanate from the general direction of the sushi chefs. Haha!

 

For the perfectly cooked Japanese rice alone, I would keep going back to Yoitomo.  And I mean at least four bowls every single time!

For the perfectly cooked Japanese rice alone, I would keep going back to Yoitomo. And I mean at least four bowls every single time!

 

I knew I would miss these jalapeno bombers / poppers too.

I knew I would miss these jalapeno bombers / poppers too.

 

08

The undivided love and attention I usually give to an excellent piece of ribeye steak has finally had to yield to some level of sharing.  How could I not with those amazing sweet potato fries?  My first – Legend’s.

My first plate of steak and SWEET POTATO fries at Legend's.

My first plate of steak and SWEET POTATO fries at Legend’s.

 

A knife through the steak.  And a sweet potato fry through the dip.

A knife through the steak. And a sweet potato fry through the dip.

 

When I did have a hankering for sweet potato fries, the one from Jack in the Box would do it for me just fine.

When I did have a hankering for sweet potato fries, the one from Jack in the Box would do it for me just fine.

 

09

Speaking of amazing sweet potato, the baked version served at Texas Roadhouse, the one with melted honey brown sugar oozing down to the sides, has always been worth subjecting my ear drums to decibel levels that will send me to the EENT someday.

I swear that there would be times that I was ready to totally overlook the steak in favor of that sweet potato!  My heart would've melted way before the butter or the brown sugar did.

I swear that there would be times that I was ready to totally overlook the steak in favor of that sweet potato! My heart would’ve melted way before the butter or the brown sugar did.

 

A close shot of the object of my affection.  Gustatory affection, that is.

A close shot of the object of my affection. Gustatory affection, that is.

 

In my ecstasy over the sweet potato, I have totally forgotten about the rolls at Texas Roadhouse.  Served hot, fresh from the oven, these are arguably the best buns in town.  Haha!

In my ecstasy over the sweet potato, I have totally forgotten about the rolls at Texas Roadhouse. Served hot, fresh from the oven, these are arguably the best buns in town. Haha!

 

This steak had to fight with the sweet potato and the rolls for my affection.  The latter often win.  (But I finished every steak I ever ordered!)

This steak had to fight with the sweet potato and the rolls for my affection. The latter often win. (But I finished every steak I ever ordered!)

 

Texas Roadhouse boasts steaks handcut under refrigerated conditions, within the premises.  The display alone would make anybody's mouth water.

Texas Roadhouse boasts steaks handcut under refrigerated conditions, within the premises. The display alone would make anybody’s mouth water.

 

10

My seatmate on the Portland–Boise leg of my incoming flight told me that real Idaho potatoes could not be had in Idaho.  If they ever could, they would cost an arm and a leg.  Fortunately, to make my now–famous (haha!) chicken–pork afritada and beef mechado, Winco Foods keeps me covered by stocking up on the best potato in the world!

I love grocery shopping so much that I would often have my photo taken in front of WinCo, among others.  All the time I would wish that a breeze would make those broad stripes and bright stars wave.

I love grocery shopping so much that I would often have my photo taken in front of WinCo, among others. All the time I would wish that a breeze would make those broad stripes and bright stars wave.

 

Seen at WinCo – New Crop Idaho!

Seen at WinCo – New Crop Idaho!

 

My now–famous Chicken/Pork Afritada.  #BBF Steele became fond of this.

My now–famous Chicken/Pork Afritada. #BBF Steele became fond of this.

 

I did bring my very Filipino Chicken/Pork Afritada to the office for #BBF Steele.

I did bring my very Filipino Chicken/Pork Afritada to the office for #BBF Steele.

 

I would often go to WinCo not only for the potatoes but for – and actually more so – the tomatoes!

I would often go to WinCo not only for the potatoes but for – and actually more so – the tomatoes!

 

11

Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine, the current office cafeteria concessionaire makes the best Sugar Cookie.  She doesn’t make a lot of it per batch so when she does, I would hoard them.  I share some and the rest, I portion and ration to my own self as much as I could to delay the ultimate gratification.

Amazing Sugar Cookies by Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine!

Amazing Sugar Cookies by Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine!

 

12

I wish I spoke Italian.  So that I could fight with someone so fiercely, which is the perfect excuse to later make up over a pint of Haagen–Dazs gelato.

I did fall in love with Haagen Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato.  Guilty as charged!

I did fall in love with Haagen Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. Guilty as charged!

 

Gelato reigns supreme over ice cream.  Well, sometimes.  Haha!  As you can see, there is real space devoted to frozen delights in my freezer.

Gelato reigns supreme over ice cream. Well, sometimes. Haha! As you can see, there is real space devoted to frozen delights in my freezer.

 

My eyes were always wide open for amazing deals such as this.  I'd see this and there would only be one logical course of action to do – hoard!

My eyes were always wide open for amazing deals such as this. I’d see this and there would only be one logical course of action to do – hoard!

 

With TOP NOTES and FINISHING NOTES, it felt like consuming edible perfume.

With TOP NOTES and FINISHING NOTES, it felt like consuming edible perfume.

 

13

For more wholesome pleasures, Tillamook Cake Batter ice cream is the perfect choice.  I can finish the half galloon all by myself until I get sick.

Tillamook's Grandma's Cake Batter is so good I could finish this whole 1.75QT tub in one sitting.  And on one occasion, I did.

Tillamook’s Grandma’s Cake Batter is so good I could finish this whole 1.75QT tub in one sitting. And on one occasion, I did.

 

14

The best store–bought gelato is Talentis Tahitian Vanilla Bean.  I get it for US$5.99 at Albertson’s.  And for US$3.99 only at WinCo!

I saw this pint on the shelf at Albertson's and just had to take a snap.  I took it home with me, fell in love, and haven't looked back since.

I saw this pint on the shelf at Albertson’s and just had to take a snap. I took it home with me, fell in love, and haven’t looked back since.

 

Talenti Gelato comes in a number of really scrumptious flavors.  And for just $ 4.39 a pint at WinCo.

Talenti Gelato comes in a number of really scrumptious flavors. And for just $ 4.39 a pint at WinCo.

 

Talenti Gelato goes for only $ 3.99 at Fred Meyer!

Talenti Gelato goes for only $ 3.99 at Fred Meyer!

 

I have to say, I fell in love the most with these two.

I have to say, I fell in love the most with these two.

 

15

A pint of Ben & Jerry’s will set you back by about US$ 4.00 at your friendly Albertson’s, Fred Meyer, or WinCo.  In Singapore, it costs S$ 15.00.  The exchange rate is US$ 1.00 to S$ 1.30, typically.

Gotta keep lovin' Ben & Jerry's for not being boring.  Well, anybody who makes Red Velvet and Coffee ought to be loved.

Gotta keep lovin’ Ben & Jerry’s for not being boring. Well, anybody who makes Red Velvet and Coffee ought to be loved.

 

16

Nothing beats homemade goodnessChase Mecham’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, his grandmother’s (secret) recipe, is so good it belongs to a prominent place on the supermarket frozen section aisle.

The perfect Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is homemade, and is by my awesome friend, "Chef" Chase Mecham.

The perfect Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is homemade, and is by my awesome friend, “Chef” Chase Mecham.

 

I intentionally set aside half of the pint Chase gave me.  On my actual last day in Boise, I savored this amazing homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream while waiting in line at the DELTA counter at Boise Airport.  I think it was the best edible item to cap a most amazing 120 days in the City of Trees.

I intentionally set aside half of the pint Chase gave me. On my actual last day in Boise, I savored this amazing homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream while waiting in line at the DELTA counter at Boise Airport. I think it was the best edible item to cap a most amazing 120 days in the City of Trees.

 

17

My first real experience of Mexican cuisine was at my mentor Ralph Kim’s family dinner at his sprawling home of a house.  I had a taste of unforgettable tacos and that killer of a key lime pie!

My mentor Ralph Kim and his wife and family put out a huge spread of authentic Mexican tacos.  It was a great first time experiencing this cuisine.

My mentor Ralph Kim and his wife and family put out a huge spread of authentic Mexican tacos. It was a great first time experiencing this cuisine.

 

Ralph made Carne Asada on his awesome, Bobby Flay-caliber outdoor grill, chopped them up, and it was the flavorful, juicy, meaty filling of the tacos.  I smothered mined with onions, cilantro and the homemade salsa.

Ralph made Carne Asada on his awesome, Bobby Flay-caliber outdoor grill, chopped them up, and it was the flavorful, juicy, meaty filling of the tacos. I smothered mined with onions, cilantro and the homemade salsa.

 

The flour tortilla was also homemade!

The flour tortilla was also homemade!

 

The Mexican dinner ended with a dessert sampler!  With the brownies and the "leche flan" is the unforgettable key lime pie.

The Mexican dinner ended with a dessert sampler! With the brownies and the “leche flan” is the unforgettable key lime pie.

 

18

I think the Boise Factory Outlet Mall is seriously underrated.  When you’re done shopping, you can actually soak in the awesome view of the Boise Foothills.  (Okay – I can hear you sayin’ that the same could be had right smack from the parking lot.  You have a point.)

 

19

Speaking of the Boise Factory Outlet Mall, I had a couple of field days there, rummaging through the CLEARANCE section at LeVI’S.  I used to only shop where it says S–A–L–E in big bold red letters.  But LeVI’S has changed this to big bold red letters that spell C–L–E–A–R–A–N–C–E.  I got several pairs for myself at only US$ 9.53 each after a further 40% was cut from the lowest–ticketed–price of US$ 14.98.  #SWEET.

"Take an additional 40% off already reduced items."  Were sweeter, more profound words ever uttered?!  Haha!

“Take an additional 40% off already reduced items.” Were sweeter, more profound words ever uttered?! Haha!

 

A wall of denim is always a good thing.

A wall of denim is always a good thing.

 

A pile of denim is also a good thing.

A pile of denim is also a good thing.

 

Sometimes, I just fold my jeans exactly how they would do it at the stores.  I find this...  what's the word...  ah, therapeutic.  Haha!

Sometimes, I just fold my jeans exactly how they would do it at the stores. I find this… what’s the word… ah, therapeutic. Haha!

 

20

My good friend Chase Mecham, the generous Baker King himself, would usually make his own mix of nuts, seeds and spices that he would throw into his dough mix – the image in my head involves a lot of wrist action like in flouring a counter top on to which the dough would be mercilessly slammed – but on the one he brought for me to sample, he used a mix he found at random at Trader Joe’s.  It’s called DUKKAH: A Nut & Spice Blend.  It was a whiff of inspiration.  Chase’s homemade bread had become my favorite.

My favorite homemade bread is by Chef Chase Mecham!

My favorite homemade bread is by Chef Chase Mecham!

 

What's one of the best things in the world?  Butter melting and sliding down hot toast!

What’s one of the best things in the world? Butter melting and sliding down hot toast!

 

21

I was running an errand at Sephora one day when I stumbled upon a kiosk that sells artisanal olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and focaccia so good I must’ve finished all the samples – cubed morsels of rosemary–perfumed goodness – while I carried on an animated conversation with the lovely shopkeeper.  She was so nice I ended up requesting a selfie with her.  And yes, one huge loaf of the bread!  The shop is called Olioteca.  They are online at http://www.olioteca.net/.

Zeppole Ciabatta is the perfect tasting bread to Olioteca's artisanal extra virgin olive oil.

Zeppole Ciabatta is the perfect tasting bread to Olioteca’s artisanal extra virgin olive oil.

 

Artisanal olive oils by Olioteca!

Artisanal olive oils by Olioteca!

 

My lambskin bag of French provenance was the perfect carrier for the very Italian loaf I carried around Macy's.

My lambskin bag of French provenance was the perfect carrier for the very Italian loaf I carried around Macy’s.

 

The requisite #selfie with the very lovely shop keeper.

The requisite #selfie with the very lovely shop keeper.

 

22

My good friend Jonathan Young makes a spicy marinara sauce so good, I had to restrain myself from licking the Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ in full view of the Building 36 lunch crowd.  Sometimes, whatever little sense of propriety a person has always comes in handy.

Al dente angel hair and smooth marinara sauce live together in perfect harmony.  Side by side on this Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™...  sometimes, why don't we?

Al dente angel hair and smooth marinara sauce live together in perfect harmony. Side by side on this Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™… sometimes, why don’t we?

 

The life cycle of this pasta ended with Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ so clean, short of being licked!

The life cycle of this pasta ended with Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ so clean, short of being licked!

 

23

I may have no problem strapping a Rolex on my wrist but at the same time, I do derive as much pleasure – if not more so – from all the discounts I have managed to score, shopping at ROSS, Marshalls, and TJMaxx.  And trust me, it is amazing the bursts of clarity that come with psychotic retail therapy.  I had formed some of my more brilliant ideas while taking a pause beside the clearance racks.  Right there, just beside the further–reduced bins.

 

24

I would wait for the Macy’s commercials on TV.  I love how the word “doorbusters” rings with much profundity.  My favorite Ralph Lauren Trail Sweater in navy blue cost me only US$ 19.60 + tax after 80% was slashed off the original price.  Major score!

Going all–out with Ralph Lauren, starting with this Trail Sweater that I got for a steal!

Going all–out with Ralph Lauren, starting with this Trail Sweater that I got for a steal!

 

25

I collect the beautifully designed “scent swatches” (cards) that are used to test perfume or cologne in department stores.  I re–purpose them into gift cards where I write my signature personal notes that come with whatever I give away.

 

26

I thought I was good at making the Filipino leche flan.  And then my good friend Chase Mecham‘s crème brulee came along, by way of one ramekin all to myself!  Same holds true for Filipino specialties that I realize could be made so much better by others – Rafela Sim’s mom Mamita makes the best “ginataang halo–halo”, Arvin Daguro’s wife makes the best “ginataang hipon”, and, Ricky Victor’s wife makes awesome pasta.

Rafela's Mamita whips up the best "ginataang halo-halo."  I had this regularly, lovingly sent over to me the whole time I was in Boise!

Rafela’s Mamita whips up the best “ginataang halo-halo.” I had this regularly, lovingly sent over to me the whole time I was in Boise!

 

I finished about five cups of piping hot steamed white rice with Arvin Daguro's wife Lea's "ginataang hipon."  (Shrimps in coconut milk)

I finished about five cups of piping hot steamed white rice with Arvin Daguro’s wife Lea’s “ginataang hipon.” (Shrimps in coconut milk)

 

27

#BBF Steele Stone’s lasagna developed in me a deeper appreciation for pasta doused in sauce that has been simmered for hours.

Major fist–bump–worthy homemade lasagna by my #BBF Steele.  The sauce is a study in patience as it is usually made to simmer for hours!

Major fist–bump–worthy homemade lasagna by my #BBF Steele. The sauce is a study in patience as it is usually made to simmer for hours!

 

#Selfie with #BBF Steele!  Of course I wore the Superman shirt in his honor.

#Selfie with #BBF Steele! Of course I wore the Superman shirt in his honor.

 

#BBF Steele with my other best friend, Zach, at the wheel.  They brought me out to lunch on this day.

#BBF Steele with my other best friend, Zach, at the wheel. They brought me out to lunch on this day.

 

28

#Hump_Day_Wednesday means a box of a dozen donuts – often from Country Donuts – shared with the best people you know.  This I learned from the example of #BBF Steele Stone.

It was inevitable that I had to account for my growing vocabulary while I was in Boise.  An eighth of my white board took down terms that would soon pepper my own sentences.

It was inevitable that I had to account for my growing vocabulary while I was in Boise. An eighth of my white board took down terms that would soon pepper my own sentences.

 

This unassuming box of Country Donuts has always been a welcome sight on Hump Day Wednesdays!  I miss these donuts.

This unassuming box of Country Donuts has always been a welcome sight on Hump Day Wednesdays! I miss these donuts.

 

#BBF Steele would often let me choose a donut from the box.  Like this chocolate–glazed one!

#BBF Steele would often let me choose a donut from the box. Like this chocolate–glazed one!

 

29

Eating gluten–free is not a fad.  With all the pasta I devour, I couldn’t imagine an easy existence if I were allergic to gluten.  So I give mad props to all those who whip up edible works of art that pack all the flavors and nutrients sans the allergens.  I’ve been fortunate to sample muffins and (Bundt) cakes made by Sandy Kralik and Heike Brown.  “There’s even no sugar in there eNTeNGJust bananas.”  They were so good that I went bananas.

The Sandy Kralik "There's–Not–Even–Sugar–In–There" Muffin!

The Sandy Kralik “There’s–Not–Even–Sugar–In–There” Muffin!

 

Heike Brown's luscious Bundt Cake.

Heike Brown’s luscious Bundt Cake.

 

30

Gotta love those oatmeal cookies made by Nick Kaiser.  I had to send him my 10–second review from the very first bite.

Not much to look at and doesn't photograph well (or maybe it is my limited photo skills) but these oatmeal cookies by Nick Kaiser are just awesome.

Not much to look at and doesn’t photograph well (or maybe it is my limited photo skills) but these oatmeal cookies by Nick Kaiser are just awesome.

 

31

Some of the best gifts I have ever received this past four months are handwritten notes.  And I would be remiss if I’d not make mention of all the handwritten cards I did receive.  I’ve been reading them over and over again.

Some of the handwritten notes, cards and letters I received while in Boise.  I have to say, these are the best things I'd remember the place – and my time there – by.

Some of the handwritten notes, cards and letters I received while in Boise. I have to say, these are the best things I’d remember the place – and my time there – by.

 

32

I would start my day with happy, fast songs that I think would put the spring to my step.  I can’t listen to Tiesto’s Red Lights without images of South Federal Way buzzing like neon in my head.

This song comes on the radio and my day would be set.

This song comes on the radio and my day would be set.

 

33

I am not afraid of color.  I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  On two occasions – once in Singapore and once here in Boise – I was told by someone that I bring “Gummy Bears” to mind.  Haha!  I find that to be a huge compliment as it came from two people whose opinions count.

Yes, I am a Gummy Bear!

Yes, I am a Gummy Bear!

 

34

Trader Joe’s opened in Boise on February 28, 2014.  Of course I was there.  After taking several snaps of the bottles of Cookie Butter on the shelf, I had the urge to clean all 35 bottles on display.

Of course I was there to welcome Trader Joe's to Boise!

Of course I was there to welcome Trader Joe’s to Boise!

 

I just had to take a photo of the display before I cleaned off this shelf.  I has to literally elbow my way to getting ALL of these.  I also got approached and asked about what cookie butter is and why I seem to be in love with the stuff.  I was happy to explain!

I just had to take a photo of the display before I cleaned off this shelf. I has to literally elbow my way to getting ALL of these. I also got approached and asked about what cookie butter is and why I seem to be in love with the stuff. I was happy to explain!

 

When I may not be in the mood for the butter, I nibble on the actual cookies that inspired the spreadable concoction.

When I may not be in the mood for the butter, I nibble on the actual cookies that inspired the spreadable concoction.

 

By my second visit to the store, they had already stocked up on the Cookie & Cocoa Swirl version.  This one gained a lot of fans.

By my second visit to the store, they had already stocked up on the Cookie & Cocoa Swirl version. This one gained a lot of fans.

 

A pretty common sight after just a few minutes at Trader Joe's.  Haha!  Yes, all I would need is about 10 minutes – in and out the door and DONE.

A pretty common sight after just a few minutes at Trader Joe’s. Haha! Yes, all I would need is about 10 minutes – in and out the door and DONE.

 

Made a friend at Trader Joe's.  Eric would always ring up my purchases and yes, I had to explain to him too my fascination with Cookie Butter.

Made a friend at Trader Joe’s. Eric would always ring up my purchases and yes, I had to explain to him too my fascination with Cookie Butter.

 

35

The very first car at the parking lot that I took a snap of has the license plate “BELLA”.  I thought the owner was a Twilight fanatic.  I couldn’t be more wrong.

Hello Gorgeous!

Hello Gorgeous!

 

36

I don’t drive but I do lust after cars from time to time.  I’ve had the longest and deepest longing for the MINI COOPER.  Some of the more recent important days of my life had been punctuated by a sighting of a MINI swooshing by.  I think of it as some sort of lucky charm.  There is a nice MINI I would see at the parking lot on some days.

eNTeNG & the MINI, at the Boise Factory Outlet Mall.

eNTeNG & the MINI, at the Boise Factory Outlet Mall.

 

... and at Albertson's.

… and at Albertson’s.

 

...  and even in Chicago!

… and even in Chicago!

 

37

I think I will miss my cubicle of 120 days – that little corner by the door of Room 113A.

The accounting of the final month of my assignment was handled by the Accounting Firm of Stone & Pritchett.

The accounting of the final month of my assignment was handled by the Accounting Firm of Stone & Pritchett.

 

And then...  it was DONE.

And then… it was DONE.

 

38

I am ending this assignment feeling so well taken care of by locals.  By those who have given me a ride to and from my apartment and “dream” destinations.  And by all my friends at…  Boise City Taxi!

I Heart Boise...  City Taxi!

I Heart Boise… City Taxi!

 

39

They say life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.  I would say, life is what happens when you actually live those plans.  I couldn’t have been anywhere else better in the last 120 days than in 83706, in this Gem of a State.

With this chocolate, I shall remember always.

With this chocolate, I shall remember always.

 

40

Food that provides real comfort could prove to be perfect for mopping up tears – cue here those singular nights of homesickness – and when made really really well, they could move an old man like me to tears.  Such was the oxymoronic delight that is the Blondie from the Mecham family kitchen, which, as I have unabashedly declared here, is equal parts home baking goodness (by his wife Jen) and a treasured family recipe.  For sure, I will miss this Blondie.

The BLONDIE of my wildest dreams.  'Nuf said.

The BLONDIE of my wildest dreams. ‘Nuf said.

 

The sweetest card came with the sweetest treat.  Thank you so much, Chase, Jen, Natalie & Elle Mecham!

The sweetest card came with the sweetest treat. Thank you so much, Chase, Jen, Natalie & Elle Mecham!

 

Copyright © 2014 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Kuya Mike and pasta

29 06 2013

THE DIFFERENCE in time zones is the loophole of lapses in thoughtfulness.  Clearly, I mean this about friends who have oceans between them – blame it on the time zone, so to speak.  If this post had made it to the third week of May or at most the one after that, then I would claim my opening sentence to be nothing but absolute truth.  Or, at least my scapegoat.  But this post obviously is more of the really belated kind.  No loophole could justify the delay.

Well, I guess there’s one – I actually know when his birthday is, independent of any post on his facebook wall, and I always remember to greet him.  But then again, it is indeed way too late.

So let this be just one of those posts about my few but well thought out friendships.  It’s coming at a time when the cinemas are rumbling with the 40–minute pivotal action sequence in one of the more definitive superhero movies of our time.  So clearly, this post that talks about one of the superheroes in my life, is quite appropriate.

I’ve never really seen any of the cinematic installments but from what I’ve read about Tony Stark, it’s Kuya Mike who embodies him the most among my friends.  We came to Singapore together, had our first day at our new jobs together, and have since been waging our battles together.

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Kuya Mike a.k.a. Iron Man clearly drives for Scuderia Ferrari!

It’s amazing the clarity that comes with being down on your luck or just unexplainably sad.  You realize who your real friends are.  And you resolve to do your best to keep them.

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Linguine ai Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio (Linguine with Seafood “in the bag”). This has turned out to be Iron Man’s favorite pasta dish!

 

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I saw this pile first thing one morning and I knew that Iron Man was back for his hectic, full-packed two-week break from his assignment on the isle of Sicily. I said in jest that his “pasalubong” for me has had a consistent theme – an “I heart (place)” item and a… notebook! The one the chocolates are on came from his layover in Amsterdam.

I’m quite thankful to be really close friends with Kuya Mike.  That is, Iron Man.  Over a week ago, he took a Royal Dutch Airlines flight back to Italia.  I’m quite happy that he has this chance to enjoy God’s creation in a totally different place.  He deserves every good opportunity that comes his way.

And my special, limited edition airport send–off service.  Hahaha!

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Every airport send-off starts with a snapshot of the control tower as our taxi approaches. My trusty Canon IXUS 860IS really does have great stabilizer.

 

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We’ve arrived! It has to be said that Iron Man may seem to be the conscientious traveler. But he actually travels quite light, packing everything efficiently. If I were to go to Italia, I’d probably lug around twice as much. Haha!

 

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While Iron Man fusses over his stuff for one final accounting before checking in, my attention was demanded by this dynamic work of art. I didn’t bother to check its name out just yet. All I could make of them at the time was that they seemed to be golden droplets of rain making beautiful patterns suspended in the sky.

 

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Here are those golden rain drops, suspended on parallel planes. Observing my being mesmerized, Iron Man quipped, “Boss, ngayon mo lang nakita yan?” (Boss, you’re just noticing that now?)

 

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Iron Man took the Royal Dutch Airlines.

 

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Trust Audemars to give accurate time check. Iron Man’s flight leaves past midnight.

 

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The blogger and the superhero. That’s Iron Man at the check-in counter.

 

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Something in common with Iron Man: We travel in shorts!

 

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I asked him to post for a photo in front of numbers “3” and “4”, two of my favorites.

 

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Like with most of those I had sent off at the airport, the first post-check-in activity involves… F–O–O–D.

 

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I realize that I have been in Singapore for two years, yet I haven’t been to Aston’s. This dinner with Iron Man was only my second time at the place – in the space of two days! It felt like a revenge for missing out. Both were such treats.

 

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I loved this chalk work on the board that I asked permission to photograph it. (Lest the store manager screams, “No photo please!”)

 

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It was departure time so Iron Man was fielding text messages that were coming in a-plenty.

 

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Between Iron Man and me, the count was two wristwatches and three phones. If it were one of those days I fancy to strap on two watches, then it would’ve been three even.

 

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Tag Heuer and Technomarine – live together in perfect harmony… Channeling Stevie and Paulie. Hahaha!

 

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The food has landed!

 

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The same thing in the space of two days – the Prime Ribeye Extra Cut, with sides of french fries and steamed vegetables. I would’ve wanted the Macaroni & Cheese but given the lateness of the hour, they had run out.

 

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This is exactly how I want my meat – medium rare.

 

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See, nothing left. Hahaha!

 

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Dinner’s done! It’s time to head to the departure area.

 

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Iron Man was a walking advertisement for UNIQLO. And North Face.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





The Summit rises

14 05 2013

I LOVE surrounding myself with people who are far smarter than I am – or ever could be.  That way, if I’m very lucky, one could be a teacher to me.

I love the company of my female friends because while I may be so close to a female first cousin, I still technically do not have a sister.

I love that no matter how much you feel like you already have all the people you need in your life, there will always be room for someone new.  And how you meet this someone new could be the stuff of stories worth looking back to.

I love that even with all the oceans and seas geography puts between people, there is always a way to get in touch.  And keep in touch.

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One of the definitive farewell dinners I had before leaving for Singapore was of course with the Summit. This was at The Podium, June 2011.

 

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She handled the extensive buffet spread in style.

Last year, one of my closest friends left the Philippines as one of the principal scholars of the Fulbright Classic Program.  She was one of only three PhD students in a fellowship of nine – how so Lord of the Rings! – and was the only one in Communication.  Specifically, she is taking up her PhD in Rhetorics, Communication and Information Design.

She told me that she is working on “a research that will focus on web video, the politics of the everyday, and the cultural identities we embed, create, and recreate as our mundane interactions become more and more mediated.  This is true especially among diasporic Filipinos.”  Her fascination has always been with the web and visual communication.  And she wants “to be able to author studies that will be of use to societies, especially among Filipinos.”  I remember these to be her words.  I recall these now and I feel that I’m at the mercy of Meclizine HCl.  I get nauseous just attempting to fathom her depth.

But before I could even launch into a dizzying spin, I get reminded that this is the same person who, at one point in the past, orchestrated a shopping day for us by first presenting me with a formal, well-written “project proposal” – the kind that gets presented to venture capitalists.  Depth, a sense of humor, and yes, biting sarcasm are a lethal combination.

I look forward to the right time when we’d share a lazy day in the sun, shop ‘til we drop, have coffee, and trade stories.  Nothing does beat surrounding myself with people smarter than I am.  I’ve found one teacher.  And what’s actually better – I’ve found in this teacher yet another real friend who has my welfare at heart.

Today, the 14th of May is her birthday.  Happy birthday, Data!  I can’t wait to call you Data, MA, PhD!

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Data, my friend who I fondly call as “The Summit”, recently participated in the Twin Cities Fulbright Enrichment Seminar. (Photos are hers unless otherwise stated.)

 

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The Twin Cities Fulbright Enrichment Seminar is a melding of cultures and the brightest minds of today. Who says that intellect is not akin to having fun? Here are Data and her fellow participants in a seeming “telenovela” pose. I see the Patriarch of a rich clan caught in the midst of his three warring daughters. Haha!

 

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This photo brings South East Asia and Central America in one frame.

 

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Group Dynamics is one reason to engage in a lively discussion. Or argument. Haha! From left to right: The Philippines, Spain, Germany, and Indonesia. This photo is owned by Patrick Muhire of the Twin Cities Fulbright Enrichment Seminar Group.

 

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Data in another group photo. Again, Data… HAPPY BIRTHDAY! It’s such a vicarious thrill to see you living your dreams. And not stopping to learn more in this world. I already feel smarter just by my association with you. Take care!

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Jo to the world

18 04 2013
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Ms. Jo and her “dearest eNTeNG,” meeting up in Singapore for the very first time ever. I love how she has always referred to me that way.

MANY PERSONALITIES make me up.  So it is always a monumental task for someone to get me “get me”.  When I find people who do, I try not to lose them.

Where I used to work, I have never been made to feel really understood or really important any better than by Ms. Jo Damian.  She used to be the Senior Executive Assistant to a number of our company’s General Managers (think, Country Managers) before taking on the role of Senior Human Resources Business Partner.  At some point, she was – for all intents and purposes – our HR Manager.  She was a major force behind getting us all here in the Lion City, although nothing was in store for her for doing so.  I guess she got something better – unspoken appreciation, lifelong gratitude, and much love.  She is guaranteed of those, at least from me.

I worked with her on the biggest and highest level programs, and together, we handled most of the Site’s communications.  Our collaborative efforts culminated with the coffee table book “Faces of Memory,” to commemorate all the men and women who were part of our former company.  Call it vain, pointless conceit but that book is on my all–time Top 10 List.  Hahaha!

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Our official photo as the Editorial Team of the coffee table book “Faces of Memory”. With Ms. Jo and me are Jack (left) and Alfie (right).

 

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This was actually my favorite of all the photos. Haha! I love to have been immortalized in this reclining position. Notice the two wristwatches I have on? I do love stacking them.

 

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I’ve always felt that Ms. Jo treats me like her own son. Although she’s more like my big sister.

 

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Ms. Jo wrote me a note on this page of my copy of “Faces of Memory”.

 

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What Filipino photo shoot is complete without the requisite wacky shot?! Hahaha!

Ms. Jo was here for a couple of days last week.  And while I missed the dinner in her honor, I was at least able to take her to the airport and see her off.  I put more weight to the latter, knowing all too well that that is one gesture I do only for the truly deserving.

Thanks, Ms. Jo.  And I shall see you again!

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We didn’t play with ramen. But we did have it for lunch. Alvin and I with Ms. Jo at Ajisen Ramen on the day of her flight back to Manila.

 

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Welcome back to Changi Airport Terminal 2!

 

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Ms. Jo took a Singapore Airlines flight back. I don’t know a better way to fly.

 

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Just two small pieces of luggage – a check-in in her favorite shade of purple and a carry-on (which is actually her laptop). The red bag contained lots of her favorite Bee Cheng Hiang beef jerky. The lambskin leather bag is actually my Longchamp Parisi, just joining in for the group shot.

 

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Ms. Jo knows me like the back of her hand. So when she had made it to the end of the line to the check-in, she knew that I would be grabbing that opportunity to snap shots away. She turned around on this one just in time to catch me striking a pose. Hahaha!

 

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This is the proper one.

 

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Alvin and Ms. Jo.

 

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Then it was my turn.

 

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Ms. Jo, in head-to-toe Marks & Spencer, against the backdrop of Changi Airport Terminal 2.

 

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Spectacles – Ray-Ban Classic Wayfarers in white. T-shirt – “Last Night The DJ Saved My Life” from Malaysia. Bottoms – Adidas running shorts. Wristwatch – Philip Stein Signature Large. Bag – Longchamp Parisi in lambskin leather trimmed with cowhide and/or goat skin. Shoes – TOMS in red corduroy.

 

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“Goodbye… it’s time for me to go…”

 

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Just one more for the road

 

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My reflection on the stainless steel frame of the departure area gate. We waited until Ms. Jo had cleared immigration.

 

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One more time for a selfie!

 

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Take away some FRESHNESS – a slice of New York Cheesecake and a venti Caramel Frappuccino.

 

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eNTeNG, Starbucks Coffee, Changi Airport Terminal 2, Singapore.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Almost home

1 04 2013
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Best friend Darryl on the phone with his wife, Brenda, right after checking in all his luggage. No excess baggage!

I’M NOTHING if not fiercely loyal to my family and my friends (who are actually quite few).  I find that to be very Filipino, having grown up on Social Studies classes that always associated the words “family” and “closely knit” to no end.

A couple other things that I do find to be very Filipino are – as I have always said on this space – welcoming loved ones at the airport or sending them off.  Trust me, stop by the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) at any given time and you will find throngs gathered as if they are there to topple a dictatorship.

I use this as one of two excuses to either pick up or send off friends at the airport.  The other excuse is that Changi International Airport is just so beautiful.  I call it an urban oasis where the tummy can be filled, the senses satiated, and where serious retail therapy can be had.  And I actually only need to hop on the Purple Line and take a couple of short interchanges before I soon find myself within the halls of Terminal 3, imposing with its cavernous, cathedral ceilings that render the place nothing short of hallowed.  I emerge to a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf shop to my right, ask for their Red Velvet Cake, sit back, and feel that I wouldn’t want to be someplace else.

Yesterday, I was back.  This time, to see best friend Darryl off.

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“I see the tower! I see the tower!” “Fast approaching Changi International Airport. Darryl, a stickler for keeping schedules, told me that he had to be at the airport at exactly 4:00 AM.

 

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Darryl arrives at Changi International Airport Terminal 1.

 

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Long-standing friends eventually develop patience for me. Because as you can see, I will keep on asking them to… pose for second here, here, here. Hahaha!

 

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“It should just be here somewhere.” Darryl, though quite sure that every piece of luggage meets the airline standards, still wanted to have a final weigh-in.

 

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On the way to the industrial-grade weighing scale by Door No. 5, I saw this Audemars Piguet wall clock. See, we were able to beat our goal!

 

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Darryl soon realized that I was actually of no use. Hahaha! Yes, I accompanied him to the airport but I just let him do the heavy lifting all by himself. Haha! Sorry about that. You know me and my camera, we sometimes have a world all our own.

 

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Everything was weighing in according to Darryl’s expectations. Good job!

 

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Note to self for future reference – that’s how much a 40-inch flatscreen in its original packaging weighs. All of 20.55 kilograms!

 

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The stroller for the TV was checked in separately. It’s what airlines call as “irregularly shaped” items (for check-in).

 

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Now that the weigh-in is done, It’s time to head off to Row 07 for Darryl’s check-in.

 

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We couldn’t walk past this very “old school”-looking information counter and not take a snap. At some point I had to mention to Darryl that Singapore should seriously consider lobbying for Terminal 1 to be made into a UNESCO Heritage Site. The place just feels so historical in all its well-preserved glory. I couldn’t say the same for the NAIA, sadly.

 

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“Hold it right there! Say cheese…” (Ok, not really a very popular word right now. Hahaha!)

 

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Darryl goes through his papers while he waits for his turn at the counter.

 

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It was not a long wait. But of course I still managed to squeeze in a self-portrait session. Hahaha!

 

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Row 07 check-in counters are right beside the entrance to the departure area. Time check after clearing check-in? 4:10 AM! Everything’s going on smoothly.

 

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Time in one’s hands is a good enough excuse to… eat! Hahaha!

 

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I love it when a place speaks my language!

 

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We decided on KFC for breakfast! Very important reminder: Outside food is not allowed.

 

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My platter of a breakfast! The eggs were nice. I particularly loved the crust on the original recipe chicken (fillet). Quite peppery. Some like it hot!

 

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Darryl had Blueberry Pancakes and a side of Scrambled Eggs.

 

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Something to slather on to the pancakes

 

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Breakfast was on Darryl. Thanks a lot!!!

 

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KFC has this sweeping view of the airport check-in area. Notice how this scene is beautifully awash in blue.

 

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I really like the orange-and-white color combination on the Jetstar Boarding Pass.

 

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For some reason, I find the Jestar logo design to be quite smart, catchy, and with good recall. Speaking of recall, the logo brings to mind a skinny tie I had eons ago. It’s black silk, with – you guess it right – a star subtly embroidered on it. I would wear it to gigs to give me an instant boost of… stardom. Hahaha!

 

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At the airport, a traveler checks and checks again his stuff.

 

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On the way to the Departure Area, guess what Darryl saw? A tarp for QANTAS, the flag carrier of Australia!

 

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We just had to take one last selfie before we hit the road – I mean, before I hit the road and Darryl hit the sky at 30-plus-thousand feet up in the air.

 

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Buh-bye!

It was practically his last day in the Lion City, en route to a place where the opera house by the water is considered to be one of the first marvels of modern architecture.  The route he is taking is by way of a week-long break in the Philippines, then an hours-long layover in Singapore to pick up his remaining luggage, before it would be time to scoot to the Great Outback.

There, his wife Brenda – along with their plans for a new life – awaits.

I know it is still a matter of a few more days to the day.  But it is so close that best friend Darryl can already smell the kangaroos.

All the best, Darryl & Brenda.  You know I will miss you!

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I love looking at the Flight Information Board at airports!

 

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I would’ve wanted to wear a DLSU shirt in honor of the traveler. But I realized that I don’t have one. HAHAHA! I thought a green shirt would do. But then I saw this “UC DAVIS” shirt and just put it on.

 

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After seeing best friend Darryl off, it was time to hop on the Skytrain to Terminal 3.

 

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Inside the Skytrain, I got transfixed on to this ad. Nice visuals. Hahaha! Oh, the key message bears repeating – you get 7% savings on the GST if you shop at the Changi International Airport.

 

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Gotta have another shot of me in my “bagong gising” (just-out-of-bed) look. Conceited much??? Hahaha!

 

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I can buy my month’s worth of magazines at Times Travel in one go! I had to come back later because it was still quite early and they don’t open until 7:00 AM.

 

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Changi Airport presents “Fascinating Russia” from 16 Mar – 7 Apr 2013!

 

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Prepare to be fascinated by Russia!

 

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Welcome to Red Square!

 

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I saw this part of the “Fascinating Russia” setup framed in my Canon IXUS 860IS and I knew right there and then that I want it printed on a shirt and I’d wear it!

 

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I can’t help but feel so tiny whenever I’m inside Changi Airport Terminal 3. And I’ve always loved the ceiling treatment. I’m not sure if those panels serve a specific, important purpose. Better ask my brother!

 

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I can get stuck in Terminal 3 and never want for anything. Haha! This board has my name written all over it.

 

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I love giving feedback. So when I saw this terminal, I knew I just had to write something for all the amazing people behind Changi Airport. Besides, I had plenty of time to kill while I wait for the shops to open.

 

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The keyboard has a very Apple feel to it. Though one of the keys clearly says otherwise.

 

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Didn’t take me long to fill out the online form.

 

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Of all my TOMS, this one in red corduroy has racked up the most mileage. One of my brothers got this for me as a send-off gift on the day I left for Singapore. On the wya to the airport, we stopped by Alabang Town Center. There, he asked me to try on TOMS (he was the first one to go crazy over these shoes) ans whichever I liked, he said he would get for me. The sales people ended packing up what I had on as I decided to wear this pair on my flight.

 

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Accompanying me while I waited for the shops to fling open their doors was my Longchamp Parisi in lambskin leather. It’s not as obvious given that it is in black, but I can tell by the feel of the supple leather that this bag has been developing a lovely patina.

 

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Again, given that I had a lot of time in my hands, I decided to go to the Information desk and clarify what time the shops will open. Impatient much?!?! Hahaha!

 

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From the Skytrain/Departure Area on Level 2, the Information personnel recommended that I check out the shops on the Arrival floor.

 

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I saw this panda at a promotional booth and wanted to buy it. Hahaha! “Jia Jia” is the name.

 

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See, there’s recreation at Changi Airport. This one is called The Slide @ T3.

 

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I don’t think I’ll survive this slide. I got nauseous just staring at it.

 

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Just about anywhere there is a mirror. Hahaha!

 

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I took this photo as a shout-out to my Italian big brother Kuya Michele!

 

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I really find the elevators at Terminal 3 to be such marvels of architecure, or in a simpler term, construction. This for me is a conversation piece with my youngest brother.

 

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Yey! Times Travel had finally opened! I immediately hit the magazine racks that occupy almost two walls.

 

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I picked up all the titles you see on this photo. Obviously, I’m a believer of Style, silver linings, and Oz The Great and The Powerful!

 

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These wall clocks hang above the men’s magazine section. i looked up and saw them as if they were my shining stars. Hahaha!

 

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I saw that the Robb Report’s latest edition features wristwatches so I’ve just got to have it! It was a pleasant last-second addition to my already heavy stash.

 

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First the wall clocks. Now these editions of The Lonely Planet. Singapore and Australia side-by-side. What are these, portents of things to come?

 

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“Ring up my purchases please!” Notice that the sales associate was kind enough to double up my carrier. It was THAT heavy. It would be a considerable journey by train so I figured that all these reading materials would come in handy. It was still quite early so there should be plenty of seats on the train on the route back.

 

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Even this escalator ride to the MRT station just has an air of grandeur and elegance that speaks of a budget that didn’t allow for any corners to be cut.

 

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Changi Airport MRT Station

 

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The last text. See, only a real best friend can make a reference to a nonexistent lovelife. Hahaha! Notice that Darryl’s number is still recorded on my mobile under his wife’s name (who used to use this number). Darryl would keep on reminding me to update my records. I didn’t get around to doing it. Hahaha!

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Leaving on a jet plane

25 02 2013
Departure - 13 From the cab

The Control Tower at Singapore Changi Airport. Beautiful and all-lit up at night.

I HAVE as much love for being seen off or welcomed at the airport as I do for being on the other end.  As a guest of this amazing country for a while now, I feel I’m doing good with all the great things being here has afforded me when I return the favor – even in the little things.  Seeing great friends off at the airport is one of those.  I make them feel that I am their non-local “local” over here.

Besides, with all honesty, I make up every possible excuse to go to Singapore Changi Airport.  It’s one of my – drum roll please for the irony up ahead – happy places in the Lion City.  I say irony because in the distant past, I associated the airport to sadness.  I guess not so much anymore.

Especially in Changi where the multifarious pleasant noise of the many shopping and dining options at each of the three terminals could make the runway, airfield, control towers and hangars seem like an afterthought.  “Oh, since we’re made everybody congregate in this concrete tundra that we’ve created in the tropics, why not allow planes to take off and land on that strip over there?”  Hahaha!

Last Friday, the 22nd of February, the two MichelesKuya and the third Michele I’ve come to know – had to bid Singapore “arrivederci!

Micheles_eNTeNG_Italians_01

Time to say arrivederci… eNTeNG and the Micheles

Kuya left by way of Terminal 2, on the midnight Lufthansa flight that would take him to a layover in Frankfurt for his connecting flight to Italia.  Michele’s was in the four–year–old Terminal 3, the Singapore Airlines redeye to Milan.

And just like that, Kuya is once again gone.

Departure - 00 Alberto Kuya Michele

Alberto, Kuya’s childhood friend from Milazzo and now based in Singapore, saw the two Micheles off at the hotel. (All photos taken with my Blackberry Bold 9780)

 

Departure - 01 Terminal 2

We made it to Terminal 2! Kuya checked in first. His was the earlier flight.

 

Departure - 02 Skytrain to T3

Kuya’s check-in all took a jiff! Before we knew it, we’re on our way to the Skytrain to Terminal 3, where it’s Michele’s turn to check-in.

 

Departure - 03 Skytrain to T3

The skytrains continuously ply the routes between the three terminals that there really isn’t a lot of wait time.

 

Departure - 04 Skytrain to T3

Even in the airport, there’s only one thing to remember: “Berhati hati di ruang platform!”

 

Departure - 05 Skytrain to T3

“Aha, you’re taking a photo again!”

 

Departure - 06 Kuya

It is just here somewhere…

 

Departure - 07 Skytrain to T2

Back to Terminal 2 where Kuya boarded his flight.

 

Departure - 08 Skytrain to T3

… And back to Terminal 3 one more time.

 

Departure - 09 Time Check

Time check!

 

Departure - 11 Flight Information

I love going through the Flight Information boards.

 

Departure - 12 Flight Information

Oh, there’s the flight leaving for Frankfurt!

 

Departure - 10 Magazines

Whenever I travel, or find myself in the airport, I hoard magazines. On display last Friday were British Esquire with Leo Messi on the cover. He is not Italian but his name does sound Italian. Haha! Style:Men on the other hand has a cover story on the fashions from Milan.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Salad days and a piece of cake

29 07 2012

IN EVERYTHING we do, we make memories.  In time we come to accept that there are memories we fail to make.  And that we don’t have to regret those.  But those that we can make, while we have the time, we have to and we do.

Dinner at BrenDarryl’s

So yesterday when I received an SMS from my good friends Brenda and Darryl that they’d love to have me for dinner at their place, I knew it was time to put a stop to work on a Saturday, hop on the train on the purple line, and meet them up at the block that has become one of my homes here in Singapore.

The photos doesn’t do enough justice to Brenda’s Almond Berry Chocolate Cake. I agree with here that baking your own cakesounds intimidating, “sounds” being the operative word. Because it is quite easy and fun once you get the hang of it. Her chocolate cake is fast becoming the stuff of legends. It started with an inspiration from the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten. But as is always the case with Brenda, she puts her stamp to it. Here it is in an incarnation that includes a filling of berries and slivered almonds, and a frosting kissed with the goodness of espresso. Yum!

 

A thin slice of the cake. This is fit only as a starter because you will end up asking for more. Notice the dense crumb? It’s dark, moist, and absolutely scrumptious. The filling of berries and almonds, and the frosting dotted with the same, provide another layer of flavor and texture. I love this piece of cake.

Thoughts of finally having a taste of Brenda’s Barefoot Contessa-inspired chocolate cake were too good to pass up.  From my end, I realized that it was a chance to treat them to my Australian Baby Wild Arugula with Green Granny Smith Apple and Green Argentinian Pear Salad in my now-signature Honey–Calamansi dressing, topped with shaved Parmesan Cheese and served with pan-grilled honey-glazed Prawns on the side.

While I prepared the prawns, I put the grill pan on to a low-medium fire so that it would be waiting for me to get ready, not the other way around. By the way, this is now “my” grill pan. Hahaha!

 

Preparing the prawns. For this salad, I reckon that five prawns per serving portion would be great. Five happens to be my favorite number.

 

The prawns have to be washed well, shelled leaving only the tail intact, and then deveined.

 

Most of the ingredients for my now-signature salad. So far I’ve been making this for only the really special people in my life. I still have a list to work through – more people I want to make this for.

 

The calamansi makes all the difference in the dressing. Brenda and I agree that it wouldn’t be the same if we use limes.

 

Only when the salad is to be served do I start grilling the prawns. It goes without saying that the baby wild arugula should be kept in the refrigerator crisper at all times.

 

The prawns are lightly marinated in a mixture that echoes the flavors in the dressing. Lightly, and only for a few minutes because you don’t want them to be a ceviche. On a whim, I would crack on to them a few rounds of the black pepper mill.

 

Much like a good piece of steak, I turn the prawns only a single time. They are allowed to cook on each side for only a couple of minutes or less, never more. My rule with prawns is that the moment they curl up, it’s time to turn them over. And then I probably would count only 30 seconds then they are done!

 

The Brendarryl, “Australian Baby Wild Arugula with Green Granny Smith Apple and Green Argentinian Pear Salad in eNTeNG’s signature Honey–Calamansi dressing, topped with shaved Parmesan Cheese and served with pan-grilled honey-glazed Prawns on the side” is ready to serve! That’s how I will call it on my restaurant menu.

 

Cold Storage didn’t have the Argentinian pears I use for this salad. So I only had the Granny Smith apple this time around. This and the previous photo are courtesy of Darryl.

 

Brenda said that the prawns were perfectly cooked. And that the greens were just kissed enough by the dressing.

 

The Brendarryl, the star salad at the restaurant in my head.

My friendship with Brenda and Darryl has been perfect in all its imperfections.  It’s the kind that is give-and-take, and in time has been beautified by shared interests and experiences, and in a few instances, weathered through an overcast sky of misunderstandings.  In a world where a lot of things have become so cheapened, our friendship is one that has refused to be so.

Brenda & Darryl – Wherever you may be, I know that with you, I will always be home.  Yes, compared to when you first told me about this change in your life, it’s finally sinking in.  I will definitely miss the two of you.

Brenda

 

Darryl

 

 

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





Sister and the City

24 07 2012

BEING BORN to a brood of four brothers, I’ve become cognizant of the fact that while I may not have a biological sister, life has the fondest thoughts of me in mind when it sent some people my way.  I always feel this whenever I think of Agnes – make that, “Sister”.  After all, I see her as one of the sisters life forgot to give me.

Back in the Philippines, she, Brother (Edu) and I started off as officemates, and in time forged a bond only real siblings do share.  It’s the kind that transcends and as a matter of fact, celebrates idiosyncrasies, varying points of views, evolving passions, and different circles of other friends.  Our friendship is nowhere near perfect.  It has weathered storms, hurdled obstacles, and in the process emerged beautified by adversity.

Brother and Sister

Another Brother and Sister

After almost seven years of not seeing each other, we finally met up again when she came over for a series of important meetings with her counterparts in our company’s Singapore office.  As it is with real friends, it seemed like no time has passed between us.  It was just like one of those long nights or sleepovers that Brother and I would spend with her and her family in Makati, where we were always constant, well-received guests.  Except now, our little “Sister” is actually the loving wife of Jim, and the loving mother of just the cutest, prettiest toddler Kailey.  I’ve been totally remiss, inactive on facebook for about a year at least, but that much about Sister’s life I know.

It was just like the good old days.  We shared a lot of food – to this day, I acknowledge that my recipe of tortang talong (grilled eggplant omelet) came from her family’s kitchen – and quite expectedly, a lot of conversations.  And true to habits that are just hard to break, we hung out till the wee hours of the morning, reminiscing about the past and catching up on one another’s affairs.

Sister, it was so nice to see you again!  I hope it won’t take another seven years!

This was the image of Clarke Quay that greeted Brother and me as we emerged from the MRT station.

I’ve never been to Swissotel Merchant Court Hotel. But as is always the case here in Singapore, it is hard to get lost. There’s always something pointing you to the right direction.

Found it!

I saw this Hublot wall clock and immediately fell in love with the hotel. “How much is a night’s stay?” I almost asked! Haha!

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror…”

 

Of course, it is requisite to have this photo with Sister and that Hublot!

 

Brother and Sister on the yellow line.

 

Sister has arrived at the Sands!

 

The Angel Wears Prada

 

Sister shows me how to properly take a shot at the poorly illuminated Louis Vuitton storefront. Here she is working on ther settings of her compact camera.

 

Sister at Rasapura Masters

 

I had the fishball noodle dry. Sister had the soup version with kway teow instead of my favorite mee kia.

 

Braised Tofu

 

Brother had on his plate the most amazing, sweet, succulent grilled squid. Sister and I ended up picking on his food. Haha!

 

He also had a huge serving of Beef Caldereta, which is essentially Filipino beef stew. This one was almost perfect.

 

Louis Vuitton always has amazing window displays!

 

Coffee or tea?

 

Of course, on the eve of Sister’s departure, I just got to be there. Here, together with Philip Stein, Glycine and Blackberry.

 

Now on the Circle Line, just a station away from Bayfront.

 

I was late to dinner. When I enquired for directions, Iron Man simply told me to follow directions the moment I alight from the train. “Follow everything that says Gardens by the Bay.”

 

I saw this and realized it was going to be a long walk. I told myself, “this is Alay Lakad.”

 

Not even the escalator ride is spared from “self-portrait” moments. Hehe.

 

I still see signs pointing the way to Gardens by the Bay. So clearly, I didn’t feel any rush. Did I mention I was already running late? Haha!

 

I saw this colorful wall and suddenly, “‘Pop!’ goes my heart!”… Clearly, I wasn’t alone in admiring the burst of hues!

 

But I still had to have my alone time against this backdrop. I chided myself for deciding against wearing my colorful Ralph Lauren shirt for which I earned the monicker “Gummy Bear” from one of my friends at work.

 

One of those present at dinner is my good friend Mitzi.

 

For dinner, I had wantan mee. This was delicious!

 

This soup came with. It looks pretty plain and simple but it was full of flavor.

 

We walked from Gardens by the Bay to Marina Bay Sands for coffee and cake.

 

But you know me, I won’t stop at coffee and cake. I’ve got to have something substantial. I espied Aglio Olio at the next table but eventually decided on the Caesar Salad.

 

Not the best Caesar Salad I have ever had but simply scrumptious just the same! i finished everything on this plate!

 

I will definitely come back for this Red Velvet Cake! Deep-red, undeniably laced with delicious vanilla, this cake has a good crumb that’s moist, with hints of cocoa in the background. The cream cheese frosting was divine.

 

The gang bonding over coffee (that was yet to come). Clearly, you see all are all ears to what Mario was saying.

 

Back at the hotel, I asked for the Chicken Congee on the In-Dining Overnight Menu.

 

The Chicken Congee was very delicately flavored and served as the perfect blank canvass for the fixin’s it came with. Sister sure couldn’t help but comment that my appetite hasn’t changed in the seven years we haven’t seen each other. Haha!

 

The sides include pickled vegetables (behind the dough fritters), salted egg, crisp-fried shallots, spring onions, and as mentioned, dough fritters.

 

Parting shot… Sister, I miss you already!

 

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





Arrivederci, Kiddo!

28 04 2012

I WAS once a young, impressionable new hire myself, just fresh out of college.  It’s been eons, but up to this day, I vividly remember all of those who made me feel so welcome, and those who have helped me become who I am.  So whenever I meet someone new at work, I try to pay forward all that I have been so blessed with all these years.

eNTeNG, Kia Leh, Kwang Fook, and Kuya Mike

Kia Leh, who I fondly call as “Kiddo”, is off to her first assignment abroad, where the canned San Marzano tomatoes originate and are so good, any mislabeling or misbranding of lesser variants could get you into serious trouble with the Carabinieri.

While I know that her inquisitive and persevering nature will see her through this assignment, the fact that soccer – no, make that “calcio” – is this country’s most popular sport, will help take care of keeping her entertained and less homesick.  Fresh from her team’s victory in last week’s soccer carnival, she couldn’t be in any better, more fitting place, than there where the national football team has won the FIFA World Cup four times.

We can only be too happy she’s off to this place.  She promised to take photos of soccer games from a vantage point so close that beads of perspiration from the star players would put her camera’s – or, iPhone’s – water resistance to the test.

Kiddo, you already know that Yong Run, Kwang Fook, and Kuya Mike will miss you, but I think it bears repeating here.  Haha!  And of course, I will miss you.  I mean, who am I kidding?  Haha!  I will be so sad.

Dear Kiddo...

 

I've always believed that travel affords us the chance to experience all this creation in a new place.

 

We will miss you, Kiddo!

 

Just a little something...

 

I know Kuya Mike's sendoff present is in the other paper bag. I hope you liked our little gifts.

 

Kuya Mike, Kia Leh, Kwang Fook, and eNTeNG

 

Let's try that one more time: Kuya Mike, Kia Leh, Kwang Fook, and eNTeNG. Kuya Mike, thanks for the Starbucks!

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