Frankly speaking

18 10 2014

THE VITRINE had literally vanished from my field of view with the intensity – and it has to be said, some semblance of a most deep longing – at which I stayed transfixed at this then newly unveiled time teller.  The debate in my head had drowned the sales associate’s repeated enquiries (“Sir, do you want to try it on?”), limiting my multi–tasking to only gazing at the object’s rather unusual dial with a consuming, tempestuous, fervent desire I had only read about in books.  Until then.

The limited edition "FRANK GEHRY with FOSSIL" GH–1011, with a solid titanium case and a mirror dial

The limited edition “FRANK GEHRY with FOSSIL” GH–1011, with a solid titanium case and a mirror dial

Yet, I passed up on the opportunity to strap it on – the limited edition FRANK GEHRY with FOSSIL wristwatch.  The year was 2004.  And it has turned out to be a regret that shall haunt me through these years, especially since it has proven to be so elusive, inexistent even in the deepest recesses of the connected cyberspace.

It was as if I was living with a frazzled fate built upon the thought that I shall never come across such a beautiful ticktocker ever again.

Fast forward to 10 years hence, an assignment in the City of Trees, a fateful visit to Google, and a serendipitous tickling of the keyboard.  I secured the find, breathless in anticipation all throughout the three–day wait for the auction to close, and with the reckless abandon I would channel at karaoke, blurted out. “the search is over.”  Haha!

I have the utmost respect for architects, and clearly for their collaborations with mainstream brands.  Frank Gehry the American–Canadian famous for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, among many other works that include his house in Santa Monica, California, is at the pinnacle of my list.

A recent feature on Singapore's The Straits Times, "HEAD OF THE CURVE" by Natasha Ann Zachariah brought Frank Gehry – and the wrist watch he designed for FOSSIL – back to mind.

A recent feature on Singapore’s The Straits Times, “HEAD OF THE CURVE” by Natasha Ann Zachariah brought Frank Gehry – and the wrist watch he designed for FOSSIL – back to mind.

 

One of Frank Gehry's more recent projects is for Louis Vuitton!

One of Frank Gehry’s more recent projects is for Louis Vuitton!

Finding the FRANK GEHRY with FOSSIL GH–1011, with a solid titanium case and a mirror dial, felt like an accomplishment.  I wore it first to the opening of The Amazing Spider–Man at the downtown Edwards Cinemas, and then tucked it away in its box.

The watch comes in a most beautiful metal box!

The watch comes in a most beautiful metal box!

 

Don't you just love all the things they put on the back of the watch?  I mean, except when it's an automatic and an exhibition caseback.  Haha!  Notice that this says, "solid titanium case"?  That's why it looks hefty but is nowhere near heavy at all.

Don’t you just love all the things they put on the back of the watch? I mean, except when it’s an automatic and an exhibition caseback. Haha! Notice that this says, “solid titanium case”? That’s why it looks hefty but is nowhere near heavy at all.

 

The inscription on the casual center bar metal buckle is just a lovely touch.

The inscription on the casual center bar metal buckle is just a lovely touch.

 

I saw this wall at Edward's and couldn't help but scream, "I blend!!!"  Haha!  Ok, the proper caption here is that the first time I wore the wrist watch was to the opening screening of The Amazing Spider-Man.

I saw this wall at Edward’s and couldn’t help but scream, “I blend!!!” Haha! Ok, the proper caption here is that the first time I wore the wrist watch was to the opening screening of The Amazing Spider-Man.

I had long professed that for me, the wrist watch is my ultimate material expression of the highest regard I could give someone.  So I would be the least surprised if I’d give this away.  The thrill of the find – after all – had been satiated.

I find that the beauty of this design lies in the imperfection of the handwriting, which to me is the art that is really endangered ("Tell me, when was the last time you wrote something by hand?  Signing the credit card receipt doesn't count!").  I just love Gehry's "signature" and the way the hour markers really have the handwritten feel.

I find that the beauty of this design lies in the imperfection of the handwriting, which to me is the art that is really endangered (“Tell me, when was the last time you wrote something by hand? Signing the credit card receipt doesn’t count!”). I just love Gehry’s “signature” and the way the hour markers really have the handwritten feel.

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





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.





Me will eat a cookie

5 05 2014

WORDS OF wisdom are often quite lofty that when they do take form, it is only proper to pause and acknowledge that the words have taken tangible form.

Or sometimes, you are just simply reminded of one such passage.  Trust a well–meaning friend to share with you a snippet of wisdom on your birthday that somehow sticks with you.  The following has run in an unceasing circle in my head for about a year now.  And while it is NOT entirely true, it never fails to put a smile of my face as I hoard my now–favorite Sugar Cookie, concocted by Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine, our cafeteria concessionaire.

Words of Wisdom from the Cookie Monster.  In my case, I just live by the part that says, "ME WILL EAT A COOKIE"!

Words of Wisdom from the Cookie Monster. In my case, I just live by the part that says, “ME WILL EAT A COOKIE”!

I like my cookies really chewy.  And this sugar cookie hits the spot every single time.  When I feel like extremely decadent, I would break it into chunks over my other new favorite, a gelato which I shall talk about on a separate post.

Amazing Sugar Cookies by Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine!

Amazing Sugar Cookies by Pastry Chef Karen of Thomas Cuisine!

 

Part of the appeal of this sugar cookie is the actual sugar crystals on top.  They're like...  a dusting of diamond brilliants.

Part of the appeal of this sugar cookie is the actual sugar crystals on top. They’re like… a dusting of diamond brilliants.

Last Friday, my lusting after cookies went into overdrive when I found a cookie variety bag of Mrs. Fields® cookies!  It came from my good friend, the Kelly Linden.

Between the two of us, he is the real Cookie Monster.

Yet another pleasant sight at my desk.  A cookie variety bag of Mrs. Fields® cookies!

Yet another pleasant sight at my desk. A cookie variety bag of Mrs. Fields® cookies!

 

One of the varieties is ...  a sugar cookie!  Mrs. Fields®'s is just more colorful.

One of the varieties is … a sugar cookie! Mrs. Fields®’s is just more colorful.

 

I have to say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

I have to say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

 

 

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





Breaking bread

5 05 2014

WATCHING BUTTER melt on hot toast – a slice from a hearty homemade loaf – is a sight so comforting that I couldn’t help but stretch my legs and rest my feet on the ottoman, clasp my hands behind my head, and think that all is well in the world.

A most scrumptious treat!  Butter melting on a hot slice of my good friend Chase Mecham's specialty bread!

A most scrumptious treat! Butter melting on a hot slice of my good friend Chase Mecham’s specialty bread!

And all is indeed well, especially when one realizes that a friend made this loaf.  In this day and age of information that travels at lighting fast speeds and emotions packed into 140 characters (or less), posted much sooner than when the emotions are actually felt right down to the bottom of your soul, the ultimate luxury is time.  And making bread takes time.

Ok, he did make use of the dough hook to help with all the mixing and probably, some of the work needed to knead.  But still, not too many people will opt to make bread.

This whole grain bread arrived at my desk tightly enrobed in cling wrap.  What made it all the more special was a mix of seeds and spices that permeated the wrap and escaped in coy luscious whiffs.  Once the loaf was sliced, the whiffs I caught translated to a subtle flavor on the dense crumbs.  I first tasted the grain, then the nuts while my teeth negotiated popping the sesame seeds.

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 this time, he used a mix he found in random at Trader Joe’s.  It’s called DUKKAH: A Nut & Spice Blend.  It was a whiff of inspiration.

After having savored a slice bare, it was time to butter it up – literally.  And it stood well, no matter how I heated it up – on the conventional toaster, or zapped for 15 seconds on the microwave – ready to receive dabs of butter all too willing to melt and slide down.

DUKKAH was meant to be used as a dry “rub” after a hunk of crusty bread has first been dipped in olive oil.  By mixing it into the bread, it has to be said – the Baker King has cut to the chase.

I started with these couple of slices and popped a DVD in!

I started with these couple of slices and popped a DVD in!

 

This loaf passed the perfect doneness test!  (Do you know what that is?)  Notice the bits and pieces of the nuts, seeds and spices that beautifully dot the bread, in and out!

This loaf passed the perfect doneness test! (Do you know what that is?) Notice the bits and pieces of the nuts, seeds and spices that beautifully dot the bread, in and out!

 

An All-American healthy bread on top of my Italia bag.  This was such a welcome sight!

An All-American healthy bread on top of my Italia bag. This was such a welcome sight!

 

 

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





Marinara I want to master

5 05 2014

WHATEVER PROPRIETY remains in me – not to mention the little elbow room one is allowed in the caféteria – was all that prevented me from licking my Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ clean of what arguably could only be the best marinara sauce I’ve ever had that I didn’t reach for from the supermarket shelf, pour on a deep dish, nuke for a minute, and then toss with breathless–in–anticipation angel hair.

image (5)

A rosemary leaf perched atop a fork-ful of angel hair in the amazing Jonathan Young Marinara Sauce.

Except that in this instance, the last two actions – nuking and tossing – couldn’t be helped. This superb pasta meal for today’s lunch is, it has to be said, a lunch box treat from a dear colleague at work – the Mr. Jonathan Young.

It’s his own recipe. And for making the huge batch that he just did (they’re hosting a pasta dinner at home tonight), he used canned tomatoes – which to me is surprising as all the flavor I got from the first bite was a smack of fresh goodness. I could tell that the generous amount of finely minced garlic was allowed to sweat much in the extra virgin olive oil, rendering the sauce with a hint of “smoky”–ness that’s not arresting, like, if the garlic had burned. And like a bouquet of subtle perfumed essence, fresh rosemary leaves dot the sauce sparingly – and in the mouth, teasing the palate here and there.

I was warned by the “Chef” that this could be quite spicy. It was, but not the kind that hurts. It was actually like a subdued flavor layer all its own. The kind that allows the tart and the slight sweetness to manifest themselves first before it creeps from nowhere, making its presence known only by a gentle warmth that encompasses the robust flavors that I now call as indeed the best marinara sauce I’ve had in years.

It’s my friend’s own recipe. No, make that Chef Young. And how I wish I could just as easily reach for it from the supermarket shelf, pour it on to a deep dish, nuke it for a minute, and then toss it with angel hair.

Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ make for perfect containers to separate the pasta from the sauce.  Notice how smooth Jonathan Young's Marinara Sauce is, yet it is dotted here and there by finely minced garlic.

Rubbermaid™ TakeAlongs™ make for perfect containers to separate the pasta from the sauce. Notice how smooth Jonathan Young’s Marinara Sauce is, yet it is dotted here and there by finely minced garlic.

 

A smack on the tissue was all that prevented me from licking the containers!

A smack on the tissue was all that prevented me from licking the containers!

 

The experience, as posted on my Instagram.

The experience, as posted on my Instagram.

 

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





Oven–Roasted is love at 400 degrees

28 04 2014

NOT QUITE unlike some B–list celebrity who hopes to revive a career by appearing on Dancing With The Stars, the tomato–based pasta sauce is one that renders itself to a number of incarnations. In both cases, necessity is the mother of invention – or, re–invention.

These bright red plump already-seeded  halves of roma tomatoes have been dusted with freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt, ready to be roasted!

These bright red plump already-seeded halves of roma tomatoes have been dusted with freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt, ready to be roasted!

Last night, it was all about subjecting bright red, plump, and juicy Roma tomatoes through the fire.  Well, as close as their triple–washed, cored, and seeded halves – dusted with freshly cracked black pepper and yes, freshly cracked sea salt – could get while nestled on one layer on a Pyrex dish, at 400F, for exactly an hour, in my trusty HOTPOINT™ oven.

After some of their sugars had caramelized, yielding to a slightly browned exterior, it was time to peel the skins off, and chop them roughly, as I put my heavy–bottom pan on a low–medium flame.  I continued to chop away as three cloves of minced garlic, spiked with three shakes of the cayenne pepper, slowly sizzled on a thin film of extra virgin olive oil.  I went easy on the extra virgin olive oil this time.

All the perfumed oil needed was for the chopped oven–roasted tomatoes to be tumbled in.

I like this sauce doused on to Barilla® Angel Hair, then sprinkled with Tillamook® Italian Blend grated cheese.

Buon Appetito!

Oven-roasted roma tomatoes are just the sweetest!  The resulting sauce is often milder, less tart, and as mentioned, sweetish.

Oven-roasted roma tomatoes are just the sweetest! The resulting sauce is often milder, less tart, and as mentioned, sweetish.

 

Food_04272014_Oven_Roasted_Tomatoes_04

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





The chicken sopas makes it Stateside

28 04 2014

THE HUMBLE chicken sopas (Filipino style chicken macaroni soup) – at least my version – has gone global. Usually prepared back at home in the Philippines during the rainy season, here at zip code 83706, I declared that I cooked it to help deal with the – prepare for the snootiness ahead – “spring chill”.

Food_04272014_Chicken_Sopas_01

eNTeNG’s Chicken Sopas. This version made use of Barilla Medium Shells n.393.

And it has to be said, to much acclaim. Actually, to exactly two – from the two best friends I’ve made here in Boise. For any aspiring culinarian – or as my Asian Food Channel shirt banners, “chef wannabe” – that is all that matters.

Where it all starts – with my chicken broth!  This pot has two bone–in chicken breasts, carrots, stalks of celery, cloves of garlic and one medium white onion.

Where it all starts – with my chicken broth! This pot has two bone–in chicken breasts, carrots, stalks of celery, cloves of garlic and one medium white onion.

 

Food_04272014_Chicken_Sopas_02

Some dishes get better the longer they stand. This bowl was from leftovers of what I brought to work.

As with all soupy chicken–based dishes I whip up, my chicken sopas starts with my homemade chicken broth. The recipe can be found here.

 

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





Capellini Pomodoro Parte Uno

22 04 2014

(Sent this to seven of my colleagues and friends who have been brave enough to try my cooking.)

ON A ‘culinarian’ whim, I had the sudden inspiration to make my “signature” “Angel Hair Pomodoro” last night.  It is one of those moments when I feel that I have the best of two things – not feeling to be under the tyranny of a strict recipe, and, being able to fling the door of my refrigerator open, see a seducing pile of roma tomatoes from WinCo (all 24 of them) and knew exactly what to do.

Only the freshest ingredients go to my basic pomodoro sauce.

Only the freshest ingredients go to my basic pomodoro sauce.

The sauce I made only has the following:  WinCo Roma Tomatoes “picked” at the “pick” of freshness as they sat in crates , Bertolli® Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 6 Cloves of Garlic (minced atop the golden film of oil, using Wolfgang Puck’s all–stainless steel garlic press), A Few Shakes of Ground Cayenne Pepper, and 18 fragrant leaves of Simply Organic Basil, hand–torn at the moment of addition to the gently boiling sauce.

The tomatoes were handled all by hand – cored/seeded, scored (the skins!), blanched, peeled, and roughly diced.  I have a dedicated cutting board for tomatoes (#NO_TO_CROSS_CONTAMINATION).

The pasta of choice is Barilla® Angel Hair – cooked 30 seconds shy of package instructions.

The cheese will be Stella® Parmesan, shaved not grated – bagged in Ziploc in separate portions.

My own chef wannabe ideals dictate that I serve pasta fresh the whole time – from the stovetop to the table in mere seconds.  But I’m taking a chance today J…  The pasta was cooked, prepped and refrigerated at around 2:00 AM, and the sauce was done about 5 minutes after that.  It was cooled and then refrigerated while still in the pot.  It was later scooped to the serving containers a few minutes before darting through the front door as my carpool honked.  Haha!

Unless they’re obviously in the blue GLAD, I am using now the two–compartment rectangular wonders that are the Rubbermaid take alongs J

The containers are not to be returned.  While the OEM does espouse re–using their wares, eNTeNG’s Catering Services devotes dedicated serving containers to its topnotch clientele.  You may recycle, re–use, re–purpose as you deem fit.

Every care and attention to detail have been given to the edible work of art that shall be delivered to your desk.  If you feel the sauce is not enough for the amount of pasta , please feel free to adjust just how much noodles you’d consume, to your preference.

Homemade pasta …  can be brought to you by eNTeNG.

For everything else…  there’s MasterCard.  Accepted the world over.

I spend time to prep the tomatoes well – cored/seeded, scored (the skins!), blanched, peeled, and then, roughly diced.

I spend time to prep the tomatoes well – cored/seeded, scored (the skins!), blanched, peeled, and then, roughly diced.

 

My trusty Wolfgang Puck Garlic Press!

My trusty Wolfgang Puck Garlic Press!

 

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





A Blondie in Boise

14 04 2014

THE TITLE of this post is rife with suggestive thoughts. Not the impure kind, but rather the purest that only equal parts home baking goodness and a treasured family recipe can conjure up.

Beautiful Blondies, a family specialty, from my colleague and friend Chase and his Wife.

Beautiful Blondies, a family specialty, from my colleague and friend Chase and his Wife.

The first half is taken care of by my colleague Chase’s wife’s pastry skills. The second, by – if I remember it correctly – Chase’s grandmother’s recipe.

The result is a confection that is equal parts pretty to look at and yummy beyond crust–deep. The sweetness is not coy – shy and innocent are not the words. It is actually the kind that is unapologetically bold, defiant of the expectations better left for pretentious saccharin sweetness.

I was overwhelmed with the first bite, enough to articulate the contents of the thought bubble that formed above my head, “This is a blondie so good it is life–changing!”

But as I munched on the crunchy exterior that yields to a gooey, chewy, most interior, punctuated by the generous sprinkling of quality chocolate chips, I am reminded that food so good doesn’t really change one’s life – but affirms it.

This blondie is redolent of flavors so reminiscent of the butterscotch I would often have back home in the Philippines. And as I enjoy these bars at a totally new zip post code, I couldn’t help but realize that home is not only a place – but a reflection of the things we value most in life.

A reflection of the flavors that bring us back.

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





The heat is on in Saigon

7 04 2014

 

FOR A place with stark interiors, the menu at Dong Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant 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.

My Pho Beef at Dong Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant on Broadway in Boise, Idaho.  It is now my "usual".

My Pho Beef at Dong Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant on Broadway in Boise, Idaho. It is now my “usual”.

In a seeming defiance towards the tastes of my Compadre Dennis dL and Cher Hong, Yulia, and Victor who all asked for the humongous Spicy Chicken (or Beef) lunch plates, I asked for the Pho Beef – a huge bowl of thin glass noodles swimming in flavorful broth, served with a side of bean sprouts, sweet basil, slivers of jalapeno peppers and a wedge of lime.

The size of greens that add new layers of texture and flavor to the soup.  Staring at these make me feel like I had already made penance for all the fat I had consumed.

The size of greens that add new layers of texture and flavor to the soup. Staring at these make me feel like I had already made penance for all the fat I had consumed.

The self-proclaimed expert in me – on anything noodles – sees the beauty of Vietnamese cuisine, the pho in particular, in its simple, clean flavors that allow itself to be customized to one’s taste.  And this is achieved exactly with the medley of the sides it is served with.  Dump the bean sprouts in and a new layer of texture (crunch) is instantly added.  Tear the basil leaves to perfume the already restorative broth.  Wake up your senses with the interplay of chili and lime.

The popular – and ginormous – Spicy Chicken plate!

The popular – and ginormous – Spicy Chicken plate!

But Dong Khanh makes the best pho this side of Mountain Time zone because they start with arguably the cleanest, most flavorful broth I have ever tasted in the States.  And when I come to think of it, I would say even in the Philippines and Singapore.

Linda, who attended to us, was the most convivial of servers I have encountered of late.  She was quite attentive without being overbearing.  She told me they don’t have fresh lemonade on their drink menu but with a smile said that she won’t mind giving me iced water and slices of fresh lemons if I’d consider it.  I’ve often been told that if the food sucks, the service would be impeccable.  I have held that as absolute truth.

Well, Dong Khanh disproves that absolutely.

Compadreng dL™©, Cher Hong, Victor, Yulia, and, eNTeNG.

Compadreng dL™©, Cher Hong, Victor, Yulia, and, eNTeNG.

 

Dong Khanh Vietnamese Restaurant

Address: 2137 S Broadway Ave, Boise, ID 83706

Phone: +1 (208) 345-0980

Hours: 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, 4:30 PM – 10:00 PM

 

 

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