Prosciutto before changing area codes

7 09 2010

Buon Giorno!'s Prosciutto A Funghi Pizza

I LOVE prosciutto e melone – paper thin slices of prosciutto (Italian salt-cured ham) wrapped around slices of cantaloupe.  They usually make for perfect antipasto platters, along with artichoke hearts (cured in brine), green olives, kalamata olives, and a board of soft cheeses.

So imagine my surprise to find this ham made into something else – a pizza!  I wondered how much they would put on the dish, knowing how expensive this cured meat could get.  The best is called prosciutto di Parma, paying homage to its provenance where it is said to be hung to cure and air-dry along a mountain range.  Very much like a skeptical chemist (I read something with a very similar sounding title before), I expected only flecks of prosciutto to dot the top of the pizza.  But Buon Giorno! proved me wrong.

Prosciutto A Funghi Pizza does sound so luxurious.  And not being a “pizza person” myself, I wouldn’t ask for it.  But I was with very special company, for a very special reason.  It was my kiddo K-anne’s farewell dinner with my team before she would have started a new chapter in her life in a new area code.  Thankfully, the wifey and Blossom were fine with Paulo staying out late.  K-anne’s best friend Stave was present too, as well as Marge.  Among my engineers, only Adam wasn’t available.  While we were waiting for all the entrées to hit tha table, killing time with animated conversation interspersed with trying to make the image of Taal Volcano through the dense fog, Adam was checking out the pavilions at the World Expo in Shanghai.  As for Brother and The Flash, they couldn’t bail out of a DOTA session anymore.

My kiddo K-anne, one of the best and the brightest engineers I've ever had the opportunity to work with.


Beauty and the Bruschetta


My kiddo's best friend, Stave!


Best friends forever!

Buon Giorno! is proving to be a favorite destination this year.  And as with any favorites, I would always ask for the usuals.  The wait staff handing me the menu is an exercise in futility as I am bound to ask for Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad), Tarragon Tea, and Fettuccini Primavera to be turned into Angel Hair Pomodoro without the vegetables.  And yes, the complimentary bread – left soft, never toasted.

Thankfully, company took care of asking for those that would normally zip past through my attention span.  It was Paulo who asked for the Prosciutto A Funghi Pizza.  And to wash everything down, he had Café Latte.  K-anne, obviously with her own usual, settled for the Gamberretti E Funghi Ravioli (shrimp and mushroom ravioli) yet again.  “The Bruschetta!”  she and best friend Stave chorused, undoubtedly enamored by the flavor and texture of chunks of plump roma tomatoes, cubes of fresh mozarella cheese, shards of basil leaves and extra virgin olive oil heaped on slices of toasted Italian bread rubbed with the cut side of raw garlic.  Marge had the Tagliatelle Verde Gamberi (narrow spinach pasta ribbons with lots of shrimps).  And Stave – not particularly happy with the intense pesto the last time – asked for what I was having, the pomodoro.

Buon Giorno! wasn’t exactly the first choice for the evening’s gastronomic feast.  But I figured, why not take K-anne to a place that is familiar and sentimental?  After all, that will most likely be part of what she will miss when she leaves.  Something I and her friends will too.

Before anybody gave in to all the reminiscing, and with a couple of holes still to spare on our belts as our girths temporarily expanded, we moved to Café Breton where, yet again, we yearned for the taste of the familiar – La Pinay, Strawberry and Vanilla Ice Cream Milkshakes, and Nutella Crepe.  Only the Blueberries and Cream Crepe,  K-anne’s Café Mocha, and my hot Lemon & Ginger Tea were new entries to our dessert repertoire.

I miss you K-anne!  We have to hit the city next time.  Stave can’t wait!

Buon Giorno!'s cozy interiors. Lovin' the colors and that "Tuscan Villa" to the left. That's where all the sumptuous dishes are made.


Bread basket


Complimentary bread... perfect for dipping!


Tarragon Tea




Cafe Latte


Insalata Caprese




The Prosciutto A Funghi Pizza has finally landed!


Angel Hair Pomodoro


A tight shot of the lone basil leaf


Gamberretti E Funghi Ravioli


Tagliatelle Verde Gamberi


The group moves to Cafe Breton for dessert.


Where all the crepe magic happens!


Some of the beautiful pottery that Cafe Breton showcases on their second floor. I think they make these too.


Farm fresh eggs by the kitchen counter... which I think are more for effect than actual use in the batter. I think the batter gets delivered to each branch already mixed and ready to hit the griddle.


The batter is ladled on to the hot griddle as the third of our three crepes was to be made.


My Lemon & Ginger Tea, beside which stands a bottle of honey that brings back childhood memories.


Cafe Mocha


My Nutella Crepe, with the spread kept to the side this time!


Blueberries and Cream


La Pinay


La Pinay and Blueberries and Cream


"OMG! K-anne is leaving?!?!?!"


Santino, is that you?!... May Bukas Pa!


Saw these three lanterns at the cafe beside Buon Giorno!, across Cafe Breton. Christmas is just 'round the corner. But I think these lanterns remind me of three stars in my life - K-anne, Francis, and Stave.



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

Dinner, dessert, a typhoon, and two new Superheroes

21 07 2010

Buon Giorno!'s Special Salad

MY BIRTHDAY comes and goes just like any other day.  It has been the case since far too many candles had been needed to top my birthday cake.

But I still manage to observe it with a few important people in my life.  Aside from dinner with family, I have dinners with friends.  I mean, real friends.

One such dinner was with The Flash and The Green Lantern at Cliffhouse in Tagaytay.  Actually, it was dinner at Buon Giorno!, then dessert at Café Breton.  Brother was supposed to be with us but he had to attend to really important personal matters.

At Buon Giorno!, I allowed The Flash and The Green Lantern to take their time perusing the huge menu while I attempted to start with the complimentary bread.  I was intent on making it a leisurely meal, even as the beauty of the Taal Volcano had by then been fogged by dense formations of water droplets suspended in the air near the ground.  (It turned out to be a portent of the typhoon that came pummeling down by midnight.)

The complimentary bread

The Green Lantern makes the bread dip. I love Buon Giorno!'s two-in-one extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottle.

My mind began to wander, thinking if the mist would reveal a demigod that had descended from the clouds, or perhaps a goddess from the lake within a lake, when The Green Lantern lifted his face up from the menu, and with wide-opened eyes beamed, “I want the Buon Giorno’s Special Salad.”  This was already the second Buon Giorno! meal that I was sharing with this Superhero so I was half-expecting for this salad to figure in front of us.  The salad has never disappointed.  The arrangement of plump tomato wedges, navel orange sections, cucumber slices, apple thins, grapes, and sticks of carrots and turnips nestléd on a bed of the crispest Lolo Rosa was always one of the most visually appealing and stunning, their bursting bright colors slightly tamed by a light stain of Buon Giorno’s “well-revered” dressing.

The Buon Giorno!'s Special Salad makes it to the table!

Extra helping of Buon Giorno!'s "well-revered" salad dressing

From the menu’s antipasti section, we decided on the Fritto Misto De Mare, “a succulent mixed fry of the ocean’s bounty.”  The Flash had to ask what it was, and I quipped, “seafood platter.”  Don’t get me wrong, I love love love how restaurants’ menus describe their dishes really fancy.  My calling the dish a “seafood platter” was not to demean it at all but to stay true to what I knew we’d get on the plate – really fresh succulent jumbo shrimps being the best of them.  It was served with a couple of lemon wedges and tartar sauce.  A light squeeze of the lemon brightened up the seafood flavors.  But I’ve always been partial to marinara sauce so I asked for it.

The "Seaood Platter"

A closer look at the day's fresh catch! The jumbo shrimps were really plump and succulent!

For me it's marinara over tartar sauce.

The Flash and The Green Lantern took time deciding on their main courses.  I turned to The Flash, and before I could even open my mouth to ask, he uttered, “Whatever The Green Lantern is having.”

And The Green Lantern was quick to decide on the New York Pizza for his entrée, offering to share it.  As I have never been a pizza person, I politely asked for my favorite pasta – the Angel Hair Pomodoro – which, I very well know, isn’t exactly on their menu.  The closest to it is their Fettuccini Primavera with Pomodoro Sauce.  All they had to do was replace the fettuccini with angel hair, and take out the vegetables.

This beauty almost converted me! Almost!

I didn't go gaga over the pizza, yes. But I picked out from the toppings. See that almost caramelized ring of white onion? I loved that!

The Green Lantern was a happy camper!

My Angel Hair Pomodoro!

The Fettuccini Primavera With Pomodoro Sauce is the closest to my Angel Hair Pomodoro. Buon Giorno! has never turned down making pasta that is not exactly on their menu. Their kitchen has never shied away from improvisation.

I washed everything down with a pot of really soothing and fragrant Tarragon Tea, akin to Ninong Allan Paz’s favorite Tazo Mint Tea with a pinch of Tarragon.  As for The Flash and The Green Lantern, they opted for the taste of the familiar – their favorite Grape Shake.

Buon Giorno!'s signature Tarragon Tea.

I took off the tea pot lid to allow whiffs of tarragon to perfume my immediate surroundings as well.

I put some of the tarragon leaves in my cup to allow the tea to steep further.

The Flash and The Green Lantern's favorite grape shake!

Two Superheroes toast to a better future!

By the time dinner was over, the typhoon’s advance party was starting to wreak havoc in the surroundings.  But being in the company of Superheroes, I didn’t feel fear nor the need to rush.  Instead, I stuck to our plan to have dessert at Café Breton, just across the piazza.

A portion of Café Breton's menu. "Salade Bretonne" was the inspiration to the salad that became Superman's usual.

I could have Café Breton’s crêpes plain, folding them many times over to create the illusion of stacked thin pancakes just doused with really good French butter.  Even before getting it in my mouth, I’d be drooling endlessly as the melted butter cascades down the sides of the towering pile.

The crepes are turned once. It actually starts with the light batter poured on to the hot griddle, then spread in a swift circular motion with the use of a rolling pin-like wooden implement. Bubbles forming on the surface tell that it's time to turn.


Slices of ripe mango go into the center of the "La Pinay" crepe.


...Then, lots of chocolate sauce!


The "La Pinay" ends up being folded to ensconce the luscious filling, while the "Nutella" crepe is folded into halves, then quarters.

But the evening being a celebration of my birthday called for a little decadence.  And I thought that a slathering of Nutella hazelnut chocolate spread was just the right kind of sin.  I didn’t intend to share it (Hahaha!) so the Superheroes had to share their own La Pinay dessert crêpe – ripe mangoes drizzled generously with chocolate sauce before being ensconced inside a folded crêpe.  A luscious scoop of vanilla ice cream turned the dessert a la mode, as more chocolate sauce was drizzled – on everything.

The Nutella crepe!


The "La Pinay" crepe! A scoop of vanilla ice cream and lots of chocolate sauce complete the presentation.


The Green Lantern and The Flash fight over the "La Pinay"!

Going into overdrive, all three of us continued to revel in sweet indulgence as we all asked for ice cream milkshakes – coffee for me, and vanilla for my two friends.

Dinner and dessert with The Flash and The Green Lantern made me realize how fortunate I am to enjoy great food with people I can really talk to.  People who can make things easy no matter how hard the realities are.

No wonder that the worsening weather conditions as the night went on didn’t bother me at all.

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

36 Things

12 07 2010

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

Starbucks Christmas Traditions Promo Cards

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Toy Story 3 movie tickets

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

Movie ticket for Up In The Air

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gourmet's Farm's Sweet Basil

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

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

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

Baker's Fair's Ube Ensaymada

Purple yam swirls through the brioche.

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

Chopsticks from Shanghai, courtesy of Tenz.

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


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

Zara S-A-L-E, 2009.

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

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

Max's Ampalaya Con Carne


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

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

Max's fried chicken


Worcestershire sauce does wonders to fried chicken!

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

A pile of this wonderful tea from Ninong Allan Paz!


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

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

The family size serving of Cibo's Farfalle Genovese


Farfalle Genovese on my plate

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

Cibo's Spaghettini Alla Romana

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

Stave Michael's Chicken Tinola


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

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

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


These are the best cookies!

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

Buon Giorno!'s Bruschetta


Buon Giorno!'s Insalata Caprese

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

The Podium, Christmas 2008.


The Podium, Christmas 2009.


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


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

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

Fresh Chrysanthemum Juice at The Banana Leaf

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

I found Nemo!

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

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

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

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


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

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

Chicken Tikka Masala Curry at The New Bombay Authentic Indian Cuisine


Saffron Basmati Rice

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

MIT Cardinal Notes from Mikko


kikki.K Daily Notes from Friendship


The cover of the Superman notebook I made.

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






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

My book of the moment!

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

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

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

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

Adidas Samba shoes... my favorite!

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

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

Buon Giorno, Pietro!

1 04 2010

ROBERT DE Niro was not waiting.  But still, I found myself talking Italian.  That was about for a week and a half, when our new friend Pietro Leonardi came visiting.

My team with the Pietro Leonardi

Pietro is a Senior Engineer from our company’s offices in Italy.  He was gracious and generous enough to come over for a few days and provide my team with training on the many new products that we have just recently started up locally.

Pietro with the majestic Taal Volcano right behind him

And after being very cool – tolerant even – of the limited lunch options that our cafeteria offers, he sure deserved a treat, hopefully to help remember this trip by.  Our good ol’ Filipino hospitality thought it best to bring him to a place to remind him of home.  Buon Giorno at the Cliffhouse in Tagaytay seemed to fit the bill.  Comforting and hearty Italian food, surrounded with a captivating view of the Taal Volcano, under the sun.  I almost said… Tuscan sun!

Welcome to the Cliffhouse in Tagaytay! Buon Giorno! (This photo was taken from inside the car, just when Melo was making the turn to the parking lot. Gotta love my Canon's stabilizer!)


Perhaps, the many things I have been making Paulo accomplish, have turned him pensive. Hehe.


Stave and the volcano. Stave was deep in thought too!

The place has been one of my usuals, though I haven’t been back for a while.  But a couple of the waiters surprised me, when, after I asked about their chocolate pecan pie, they quipped: “Ang tagal nyong hindi bumalik, Sir!”  (“Sir, it’s been a while since your last visit.“).  Oh well, showing our new friend Pietro ‘round town was reason enough to come back.

Grazie mille, Pietro!  We hope to see you again!



Paulo loved this bruschetta that Pietro prepared for him... in a very Italian way! Pietro smothered the juices of the tomato-and-cheese topping on the "coal-roasted" surface of the bread before topping it with the lovely mixture. Yum!


Trio of crostini, with a chocie of three dips – chicken liver paté, mushroom, and pesto.


Just the way I like my bread – only extra virgin olive oil for my dip. Didn't really like to spike it with the balsamic vinegar. And I think it's quite Italian to sprikle the bread with a good dusting of salt before dipping. A couple of cracks of the pepper mill wouldn't hurt too.


I just find that Buon Giorno's extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottle is quite ingenious!


I just loved the contrast of the blue glass against the perfectly frosted wine glass.


Stave's smallish portion of Buon Giorno's Special (House) Salad. I particularly notice the wedge of mandarin orange!


My favorite – Caprese Salad! I can live on just this! Buon Giorno's version is quite special, beginning with the really "meaty," juicy and plump slices of tomato. I would usually just dress this with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. But Buon Giorno's special dressing just kicks it up a notch!


My share of the fabulous caprese!


Angel hair pomodoro with vegetables


I've never put vegetables on my angel hair pomodoro. But this turned out lovely. I may try it at home one of these days.


Pietro was quite pleased with the lamb chops with red wine sauce. I snapped a shot of this plate as a silent homage to Brother who loves lamb!


The pizza! I'm not quite sure if the menu said it's "New York" style pizza. I don't think so.


The pesto had a very rustic feel to it and was quite strong-flavored. Nothing wrong with that though.


Shrimp and mushroom ravioli


I call this photo, "A symphony of glasses." That tall glass of fresh lemonade was mine. They were out of the tarragon tea at that time.


Our parking validation


The gang's all here! Oh, except The Tycoon who was tied up with meetings.


I love these white wooden benches outside Buon Giorno. Right behind them is the award-winning Fire Lake Grill. My dear Partner had a birthday celebrated here!


The white benches looked so much better with K-Anne and Stave sitting on them!


Taal Volcano, bathed in the brightness of the sun.


In the car, K-Anne and Stave battled it out on PSP!


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