36 Things

12 07 2010

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

Starbucks Christmas Traditions Promo Cards

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Toy Story 3 movie tickets

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

Movie ticket for Up In The Air

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gourmet's Farm's Sweet Basil

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

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

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

Baker's Fair's Ube Ensaymada

Purple yam swirls through the brioche.

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

Chopsticks from Shanghai, courtesy of Tenz.

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

 

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

Zara S-A-L-E, 2009.

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

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

Max's Ampalaya Con Carne

 

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

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

Max's fried chicken

 

Worcestershire sauce does wonders to fried chicken!

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

A pile of this wonderful tea from Ninong Allan Paz!

 

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

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

The family size serving of Cibo's Farfalle Genovese

 

Farfalle Genovese on my plate

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

Cibo's Spaghettini Alla Romana

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

Stave Michael's Chicken Tinola

 

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

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

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

 

These are the best cookies!

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

Buon Giorno!'s Bruschetta

 

Buon Giorno!'s Insalata Caprese

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

The Podium, Christmas 2008.

 

The Podium, Christmas 2009.

 

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

 

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

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

Fresh Chrysanthemum Juice at The Banana Leaf

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

I found Nemo!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Chicken Tikka Masala Curry at The New Bombay Authentic Indian Cuisine

 

Saffron Basmati Rice

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

MIT Cardinal Notes from Mikko

 

kikki.K Daily Notes from Friendship

 

The cover of the Superman notebook I made.

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

Friendship!

 

Batman!

 

Superman!

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

My book of the moment!

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

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

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

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

Adidas Samba shoes... my favorite!

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

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





Going Indian with Batman at the sale at The Podium

3 03 2009

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RECESSION OR not, a sale is a sale.  As I have said in a previous post, one of the three things that stop me on my tracks is big bold red letters that spell SALE.  So knowing that The Podium was going on sale last Friday, naturally I made a plan.  I was just so glad that Batman was in on the adventure.

 

Oh, no, not really that “in” on the adventure as he had work that day.  We just agreed to meet up for lunch.  Then, I’d be off to go shopping and see a movie perhaps.  Then, we’d meet up again for dinner.  It was the most opportune time as we had been meaning to have Indian cuisine, courtesy of The New Bombay Authentic Indian Cuisine!  Batman has been harping about this Indian place from when it first opened at the said mall.  Finally, a chance to see a dinner plan to fruition.  (Though I’ve eaten at this restaurant already at their branch at The Columns…  more about that later.).

 

Unfortunately, I got caught up in last minute issues at work (though I had done my best to prepare and clear up my Friday schedule!).  So tried as I could, I ended up losing all my lead time, got inadvertently caught up in traffic, and missed Batman’s drop-dead call time of 12 noon.  I would have understood if he had lost his cool.  But quite surprisingly, he was very understanding.  I think I had never apologized as profusely as I did, starting at the very moment I saw him waiting at the third floor escalator landing.  As all seats at our restaurant of choice were already taken, and we would have been third on the wait list, we conceded that we didn’t have time anymore for lunch.  So off he went back to his office.  As for me, I had about five hours to burn.

 

I sort of lost my appetite already so I went to the cinema first.  I was hoping I could catch a screening of “The International,” starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, but the timings were going to put me off my pace.  But I didn’t leave the box office just yet.  The mean me lingered for a while as I suspected the mestizo guy next to me was getting so uncomfortable with what he wanted to ask the ticket sales person.  As he was clearly on a time crunch, he eventually, albeit sheepishly asked under his breath, “Miss, what time is the first screening of ‘You Changed My Life’?”  Hahaha!

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I guess being so mean burned too many calories that I finally felt the pangs of hunger.  I almost ate at the Indian restaurant but self-control – not to mention respect for Batman – prevailed.  So off I went to my other favorite place at The Podium – The Banana Leaf.

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As it was quite late already for lunch, they had run out of my favorite Stir-fried Malaysian Noble Leaves with Garlic.  But I didn’t fret as I munch on the complimentary prawn crackers.  I just settled with my other favorites, starting off with their Tom Yum Kung (Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup, Php 198.00).  They make almost-authentic Tom Yum, though all I sensed was lime, lime… and even more lime.  They had probably run out of fresh coriander because not even a speck was in my soup.  But it was okay.  They more than made up for it by being generous with the straw mushrooms.  Unfortunately, not the same could be said about the two prawns.  But they were really fresh and were of perfect doneness.  The flesh burst with each bite, and was naturally sweet.

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For my main entrée, I asked for the Hainanese Chicken Rice Set Meal (Php 198.00).  This has got to be one of my ultimate comfort food options.  I first fell in love with this dish on a trip to Penang in Malaysia and I haven’t looked back since.  Once back at home, and before discovering Hainanese at The Banana Leaf, I would ask hotel chefs if they could make the dish for me.  The most memorable was the one made for me by the lobby coffee shop chef of the Makati Shagri-La Hotel…  at past midnight!  He made an authentic rendition of the dish, complete with all the requisite condiments and the perfect rice, that I couldn’t help but write him a very heartfelt note of thanks.  That was the very first time I wrote a note of thanks for a chef.

 

The secrets to the perfect Hainanese Chicken Rice are how the chicken is cooked (definitely NOT overcooked, just boiled ever so lightly, and then left to simmer in the broth for a couple of hours); how the rice is cooked; how the accompanying chicken soup tastes; and of course, the condiments – grated ginger in oil, thick sweet soy sauce, and chili.  So far, I will have to say that The Banana Leaf makes the best Hainanese Chicken Rice.

 

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For my drink, I asked and finished (to the last drop) a couple of their Chrysanthemum Iced Tea Shake (Php 68.00).  I couldn’t think of any other beverage to perfectly cap a filling lunch.

 

As I don’t want to rattle off any of the purchases I made (was there another wristwatch thrown in in the bag?!), I’m going to jump off to dinner time and share with you the joys of authentic Indian cuisine.  Oh, but before that, there is indeed something from the shopping bag I want to share!  You see, if Batman could only go to one store everytime he is in the mall, it would surely be Astrovision (or Astroplus)!  We got a lot of DVDs, but mine were only a couple – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “The Devil Wears Prada.”  I had finally seen the movies, and especially in the case of “Breakfast…,” Batman is recommending that I write here what I think about the movie!  We’ll see.

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So where am I?  Oh, dinner!  Right on the dot, Batman was back at the mall.  And after spending quite a while at Astroplus (again!), off we went to The New Bombay Authentic Indian Cuisine.  My initiation to Indian cuisine happened – wherelse?! – but in India!  I was fortunate enough to have spent a weekend in Bangalore, a week in Goa, and another weekend in Mumbai as part of a team delivering our company’s top management training program (to Asian participants).  Apart from the very spiritual experience I had there – communing with nature, meditating by the shores of the Arabian Sea – it was the cuisine that left the most lasting imprint in my consciousness.  It was so good that in my “Rickshaw Diaries,” I accounted for every sensory-gastronomic adventure, extolling even the in-flight cuisine of Air India.  It was that good.

 

But prior to that first-hand experience, my pseudo-initiation to authentic (so clearly the Filipino “yellow” chicken curry doesn’t count) Indian cuisine was when I first saw chef/author Maya Kaimal cook on the FoodNetwork show “From Martha’s Kitchen,” right around the time she was promoting her book “Savoring the Spice Coast of India.”  The heady concoction of fresh and dried herbs and spices that she put in to her “masala” filling for her bluefish had defined for me the wild, exciting, and unexpected ride that could only be Indian cuisine.  I think she mentioned that the recipe she was using for her masala could vary from the next Indian chef, as the many available spices render themselves to a host of interpretations.

 

As in any cuisine, while the main ingredient and its freshness – be it meat, fowl, or vegetables – take centerstage, in Indian cuisine, it is the curry that is the cornerstone.  This pungent blend of spices serves as the fundamental ingredient from and around which a whole dish is developed.  A typical curry powder may contain the redolent smokey-ness of cumin, the parsley-like essence of coriander, the deep aroma and intense color of turmeric, the biting heat of chili powder, and the licorice sweetness of fennel, among many others (cardamom, cinnamon, cloves).  Depending on the proportions, and the region where a dish originates from, one may have a “tika,” “tawa,” or “goan” curry.

 

And those are exactly what Batman and I tried.  Though he actually left much of the ordering to me.

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But before getting to the good part of the dinner spread (the curries!), we started off with the Butter Naan.  Rightfully so, New Bombay couldn’t go wrong with their Naan, one of my favorite Indian flat breads.  I have had the experience in Goa to really watch while my naan was being made, right by the beachfront.  I didn’t mind the heat as I stood so close to the open-mouthed clay oven they used.  The chefs would stretch the leavened dough (imagine pizza crust being tossed) and then they would throw it right smack onto the walls of the clay oven.  In minutes, what came out was a bread blistered by the heat (direct fire), and made perfectly chewy.  I would dip this in chutney or curry sauce.  Yum!

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Vegetable Tawa Masala

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Chicken Tikka Masala

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Shrimp Goan Curry

Then, I asked for a number of curry dishes – a triumvirate actually – that I hoped would introduce Indian cuisine to Batman.  We first asked for the Vegetable Tawa Masala, a medley of vegetables and tofu, with lots of green peas (you wouldn’t miss them!).  It turned out to be the spiciest of the dishes.  And I could feel for Batman as he kept wiping the beads of perspiration forming on his brows.  He kept assuring me that it didn’t take away from his enjoyment of the meal, but still, I thought we could have really asked for “mild” spiciness instead of “medium.”  (But me, I want curries REALLY spicy so I was okay).  For meat, we had the Chicken Tikka Masala, which is chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast and thigh meat marinated in spices to a deep red, matching the intense color of the curry sauce.  It was the least spicy, though I really liked the version at the The Podium branch than at The Columns on Ayala Avenue (where I first had this dish).  The meat was really flavorful and moist, which was quite an achievement for me because it would almost always be easy to dry out chicken meat – even when doused in generous sauce.  But New Bombay did deliver with their chicken tikka masala.  For seafood, we had the Shrimp Goan Curry.  This one felt like it had endless fresh, plump, sweet shrimps because everytime I dunk my spoon in, there was just some more!  Its spiciness was actually just right and I guess this was the one Batman liked the best.

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We enjoyed all these curry dishes with a generous serving of Saffron Basmati Rice.  The menu said that they make this usually with dried fruits.  But since I’m not crazy about that, I asked the chef to tweak the dish a little.  I had the dried fruits removed and instead asked for chopped white onions to be thrown in the mix.  And the resulting dish was fragrant from the saffron, nutty at times, and bursting with sweetness from the onions!  It complimented the curries really well.

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Wiped out!... I love these stainless steel serving dishes!

Apart from their authentic dishes, what I did like about The New Bombay Authentic Indian Cuisine were the serving dishes they used.  They were in all stainless steel, bringing back memories of how things are really done in India.  Besides, the curries and the bread on stainless steel provided a stark contrast that was pleasing – and more importantly, appetizing – to the eyes, and then to the palate.

 

I washed eveything down with a tall glass of Iced Indian Tea, made with Indian tea, milk and cardamom!  This one put Starbucks Coffee’s Chai Tea Latte to shame!  New Bombay’s drink blended well the goodness of tea and milk, which I would instantly get with every sip, before the strong, unique, distinctly floral goodness of cardamom would explode in the background.

 

Batman and I wiped off the dishes clean!  And that could very well be the best compliment we could pay the chef and the staff.  I would definitely keep coming back to The New Bombay Authentic Indian Cuisine.  No wonder it was full for lunch that day!

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I saw this shirt on someone at the restaurant... So nice! I'm green with envy!