Food Strips

Wifey and Marcus are away for a vacation which left me no choice but to liver or rather survive on my own. Without wifey, there’s no one to cook food. Without Marcus, there’s no one around hauling Lego figures on the table during meal times.

So to fill that void I feel inside our house, I have come up with what I will start to call Food Strips where I integrate the Lego characters with my cooking skills–or the lack of it. Kudos to the trial version of Comic Life from Softonics and if I am satisfied using it I might pay for its full version after 30 days if the two still decide to stay put in Batangas.

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“Sometimes quiet is violent.” — Car Radio, Twenty One Pilots

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Weekend is near.)

Golden Kuhol and MBA

The good thing about having US-based customers is that people in the call center industry who support them also enjoy a time off whenever there is an American holiday. So yesterday we did not waste the precious non-working day and spent it mall hopping. It was a day I never thought would bring back so much personal memories.

Our first stop is the farthest among our itinerary and it is for a lunch we planned since last year–our ever favorite Japanese food dine out. The Dad’s buffet routine went like the ones we had in the past—get plate, pick food, eat, get another plate pick food, eat. But the golden kuhol did the least expected. As I remind my son that these are the same snails Jack of Oggy and the Cockroaches cooked, my mind opened up another stored story.

It was sometime around the ‘90’s when I, with two other friends, had a scary experience because of our fondness for these golden snails. We were picking live kuhol from a rice field on a very sunny noon when all of a sudden we heard someone shout from afar. It was an old man who immediately sprinted towards us. Surprised, our adrenalin kicked in but despite our best effort to make a dash across makahiya-filled grounds, we got caught as others heed the call of the old man for help. My friend (the other escaped) and I soon learned—too late—that we have trespassed a private area which we have been frequenting to get the abundant kuhols in the rice paddies. Thankfully, the folks ruled out detaining us in the nearby police station—they must have realized that we are minors—and instead dropped us off at home before dinner time. Ulam was not kuhol, by the way.

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A couple of minutes after the crossover buffet lunch in Megamall, we headed to Rockwell in Makati to claim my 2011 SY yearbook in AGSB and also to give wifey and Marcus time to window shop in the Power Plant Mall. And like my other visits in this posh place, just being around–without even spending a buck except for parking–makes me thank heavens for giving me the opportunity and support to endure two years of MBA education. God must have a plan after all with the lessons and experiences he gave me from a lowly kuhol to a pricey MBA degree.

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Our supposedly last stop on our list is SM Aura. It is new, it is beautiful but I was not impressed. In spite of its extraordinary shape, a far cry from the boxy SM malls, I find its interior dark and its atrium area a bit tight compared with other malls. Well, since it opened only last May 17, I would expect that they can address the illumination issue (I saw several unlit fixtures) soon but definitely everyone needs to get slimmer if they hate literally rubbing elbows with the crowd.

However, if there’s one thing that I love about SM Aura, is its parking—even if it reminds me of the other day’s Instagram pics showing the basement parking partly flooded due to sudden downpour—because it has a direct exit to C5. And I know Marcus also benefited from this since after finding no Filbars store in the mall I made a deal with him that we would only drop by Festival Mall to buy el cheapo Ninjago substitutes if we don’t get stuck in traffic. And true enough, C5 gave us a quick getaway and we ended up reaching Alabang in no time. That makes it four malls in one Memorial Day time off.

Memorial Day time off. (Clockwise from top left): 1. Marcus’ first mallows on stick of the day–he finished about five among others; 2. Wifey and Marcus; 3. Marcus thrilled that one of the cinemas still shows Iron Man 3–he’s a big fan; 4. Inside SM Aura.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Still stuffed.)

Warning: Unlimited Hotdog and Burger

This should serve as a warning to everyone out there on a diet. There is a restaurant somewhere at SM By The Bay that you should stay away from. It is called the Movie Stars Cafe which is a place that will put to shame a burger store’s “have it your way” promise. Last Friday we were there to have a simple celebration for our son’s birthday but it was only then when I learned that the place my wife has described to me as having hundred plus TV screens actually serves buffet. That very moment I heard the word buffet my focus shifted from counting the LCD TVs on the wall to finding the start of the buffet line.

As the resto’s name suggests, I soon discovered upon getting a clear view of food at the buffet area, the restaurant’s menu are moviegoers’ favorites. Set along the buffet table where a huge head of a seemingly hungry T-Rex hangs overhead, are dishes anyone will find hard to ignore. The queue starts strategically with hotdog rolls and burger buns followed by–to name a few–a variety of juicy sausages, hot off the pan burger patties, chunky fries, chicken teriyaki, and desserts. Everything’s just so irresistible that the glutton in me reared its ugly head and by the time I reached the end of the line, I had so much on my plate that I swear the sharp-toothed dinosaur would have considered me a real threat to his food chain if it were alive.

Diners in this place are also in for other treats. The place has lots of movie mementos including picture frames of Hollywood celebrities and life-size figures of movie characters like the Stormtrooper, Spider-Man, Batman, and Iron Man. Movie Stars’ waiters and waitresses likewise complete the cinematic details as they too are in character with their costumes identifiable with those we see in the big screen. But wait, there’s more! There are a couple of shows which include mask dancers with someone in Darth Vader costume but one who is rather graceful than intimidating. If someone plans a second trip to the buffet table, these shows are best ways to buy time to let that stuffed feeling go away.

(Clockwise) From top right: V for very naughty; Marcus’ shot of Iron Man; Trust me, this batmobile is to die for; Three of us.

Worry not, however. Despite its ambiance that will remind people of Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood and other similar movie-themed restos, patrons of Movie Stars Cafe won’t have a tragic ending to their movie dining experience.For the price of about P700/pax, everyone will leave with still enough budget to enjoy the other attractions along the the stretch of SM By The Bay. Expect though to walk out the door with the realization that you are far from fitting inside one of Iron Man’s armors. And so once again, you have been warned.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (On HBO…without the unlimited burger. Reality.)

Five Things I Learned From Pizzas

1. A great dough is the result of skill and patience combined.

2. Having the complete ingredients help but spreading everything evenly matters most.

3. An expensive pizza cutter does not guarantee equal slices.

4. If it is good, everyone will love it.

5. Sometimes it pays to be a bit cheesy.

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Mood: 3/10! (I blame last night’s pizza.)

Oatmeal Breakfast

Oatmeal breakfast: both a confession and a penance.

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Have had sinful diet in the recent days, from wifey’s baking (like her Christmas cookies and one that’s ongoing which involves cream cheese) and the dine outs at work (with female colleagues who seem to have a different idea when they say that they’re on a diet). And with the holidays fast approaching, the trend is likely to continue thus the challenge in appeasing the palate while keeping my waistline in check could be a tough one.  Thankfully, there’s always the reliable oatmeal to the rescue though honestly, I really think that it is one boring meal just like any vegetable.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Wifey’s been making me help manually mix her batters. It’s tough. She needs a mixer.)

The Christmas Leftovers and I

People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.” – unknown.

It’s been three days already since I’ve been eating the chocolate roll that we had for Noche Buena. My diet since then has been on leftovers and thankfully, it looks like this day will be the last unless our refrigerator reveals another Tupperware with foods waiting to be consumed.

Leftovers, however, need not be boring. Thankfully wifey is good at cooking that leftovers get some twist during every other meal. Like yesterday, the embutido met up with the excess spaghetti sauce, and presto, instant spicy recipe that went well with rice for lunch. The dessert is the seemingly immaculate chocolate cake but paired with a couple peach-sago salad transformed into something better.

I’m not sure yet, if what’s happening right now inside my body as the last time I had an intense activity was when I joined a badminton dual-meet two weeks ago. After that whole day of flexing, jumping and smashing, I was on calorie collection as if some polar bear stacking body fats for hibernation. Now, I’m trying to avoid stepping on the weighing scale. What you don’t know won’t hurt you, right?

I don’t know if I could fit some real cardiovascular activities among some other plans I have during this vacation period. The nearest I can get some sweat out are cleaning up, detailing the car (which I already did from 7-12 noon yesterday), and fixing stuffs inside the house.

Fitness gurus say that what matters most with each person’s well-being is looking good and feeling good about his own self. Well, I think I’d prefer for now that ‘feeling good’ part. Let’s worry about the looking good aspect next year while I compete with those running the treadmill in the gym.

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Mood: 3/10 Honks!

 

Big Fan of Breakfast

Just a couple of hours after the sunbeams peaked out of the clouds I declared my day complete already. Why? Because I had a great breakfast courtesy of wifey. It’s been a whole week of patiently waiting for this moment and today she did it.

Wifey is not known to be a morning person and often times I’d give her a couple of minutes to move after I purposely jump out of bed to wake her up. She must have some Garfield blood that makes her cling unto the pillows despite any disturbance and even if the sun rays penetrate the curtains. But it was with the pledge ‘…for better or for worse…’ that I learned to adapt to the personality somehow.

The good thing though about her hibernation during day-offs is that it enables her to store energy to cook. This morning was like watching the Rachel Ray show but with the difference that this one doesn’t have any takes or cuts. This live cooking talent demo by wifey is spontaneous. Once in the kitchen, she can prep up the stove and pans, slice and dice the spices, and eventually come up with a good meal usually just within a 30-minute time frame. Today’s breakfast could make UCC Cafe or Pancake House a run for their money. Two thumbs to you wifey. You really know the way to my heart.

omelet
Picture doesn’t do justice but trust me this olives omelet made my day.

A Week of Interviews (Part 1)

It is a fact and a cliché that time flies so fast. And so today I was surprised to see that the last time I did a blog was on August 31 and fifteen days after that, I’m still wondering what I’ve been thru since then. Now I’m in the middle of the much awaited months for us Pinoys–the BER months. And being the 15th which is the payday for most employees, I can just imagine the throng of people in the mall, in the clubs, and those in the beer bars—all likely enjoying at least a couple of Christmassy tunes in the process.

In spite of losing track of my activities, the freshest memory that still lingers in my mind are the things that we did last week. In work terms, work week 37. Last week, my wife and I underwent a couple of separate exciting interviews amid my untimely colds that was made worse by the enduring rainy week. But having prepared for these interviews for so long, not to mention that the stakes are high, we proceeded undeterred.

The first one was in the US embassy in Manila. It was actually my wife’s idea to try our luck in getting a US Visa (tourist). Although, I’ve been thru this before for my week-long Wisconsin training trip, I was a bit pessimistic in acquiring a new one as I’ve seen a couple of times the disappointment it gave my parents upon every denial in their quest to visit my sister abroad. Lately though, according to wifey, a lot of her peers got theirs without much ado. And true indeed, after a couple of anxiety-filled hours inside the embassy, our visa application got approved as well. My wife went out of the hallway skipping like a kid promised with a weekend beach picnic. “I feel like I’ve just won the American Idol audition”, she quipped. Well, that probably puts me in William Hung’s shoes when he got the record deal. (What made it greater was that our Visa expires in 2018 but the news today regarding the end of validity of the green passport by 2010 looks trouble to me.)

One thing that my wife and I are totally in synch with is that both of us agree with rewarding ourselves with every success that we had; more often than not, we love food treats. And this time we dropped by MOA (Mall of Asia) looking for something new. Then we saw Cheesecake Etc. Inc. It is a small (approx. seats 10-15 person) restaurant but with cozy feel to it. Obviously, we ordered a couple of cheesecakes and coffee to match it. What we got were lovely shaped treats plus great plate decoration. Price was also fair. I recommend this place as an alternative to Starbucks.

Walle

After satisfying our sweet tooth, we headed to the cinemas just in time to catch the movie Wall-E. It was time to feed our craving for comic relief.

Like any other Disney movie we’ve seen, this movie didn’t fail us. The scenes in the movie despite being subtle and comical packs a serious message of what our (humans) future awaits if we lose the awareness on our environmental obligations. It also sends a strong warning to everyone who tends to entrust our lives to technology with the belief that it is there to give us convenience. Convenience that if not controlled will eventually produce more bad than good effects in the end. Does garbage problem and obesity sound familiar? If there’s an animated counterpart to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth movie, this is it. This is a must see movie for both young and old alike. (I love this one so much that I can’t wait to get its DVD.)

(to be contintued…)

 

Busy Eater

Just woke up. I’m now catching up on my emails; catching up on forum updates; staring blankly at the Badminton Olympic match on TV. At last I’m at home and I’m staying put, at least for today. For the past few days, I’ve been on the go and I’ve been longing for one good day of rest and I think today is the day.

The lull in activity gave me time to think of what kept me recently occupied. I can’t believe that I’ve been so busy that I miss my afternoon siestas so much. So what was it really? Work? Maybe. My new motorcycle? Maybe, but not quite. Now I remember. Surprisingly (or not), I’ve spent so much time lately on mall-hopping and food. Yes, you read it right…F O O D.

Last Wednesday, on a trip down memory lane with my wife to her alma mater in Taguig (I was surprised that it made me reminisce my own memo- ries of the place) we decided to have lunch at Shakey’s Magallanes while having a break from the school clearance process. The last time we were in Magallanes was more than 10 years ago when our manufacturing plant was still in Makati. The whole place has significantly improved; other restaurants are now available and several other establishments have opened up for business. Shakey’s pizza (and shakes) of course still continue to perk up my palate. One thing I miss though is having the real Tabasco to come with my pizza. Anyway, my wife pointed out that even other restaurants have changed their hot sauce to cheaper brands in the name of cost cutting.

Thursday last week was Saisaki day at the Glorietta Mall. I’m once again with the company of my wife and her colleagues. Despite working with another team (which requires me to file a leave), what makes me comfortable joining hers is the fact the most of these guys are also Japanese food lovers just like I do. Well, Saisaki day just doesn’t mean pure Japanese foods as the option to do a crossover is always picked, thus lechon, turkey, and ginataang kuhol (escargot) never fail to be on the plate–at least on my plate. And normal side trips with them always include San Mig lights beer and a coffee stopover to cap the night. (Note: 1 beer bottle per hour is always followed when I drive).

From Friday to Saturday, I reported to work on a night shift. Normally being on this shift gives me chance and excuses to go on a diet as the cafeteria food especially at night, pardon the word, sucks. Saturday however wasn’t the case this time. My colleagues got totally bored of canteen food that they decided to have rice, lechon manok and liempo for our meal. Desserts were chocolate rolls and a super sweet pastry. If I were to count calories I might need a calculator to do so.

Coming from the graveyard shift, Sunday was a day off that was supposed to be a rather light day for us. Instead, after a 5-hour sleep and a trip to the dentist, wifey and I decided to go to MOA (Mall of Asia) with the intent of either watching a movie or buying my helmet. But once we reached the mall, it seems like my teeth having come from the dentist wanted a test of their biting power. My wife suggested UCC Vienna Café. I eagerly concurred and I promised, “I’d take only coffee and a light food.” But the sight of Risotto in the menu changed all that as I’ve been so intrigued with this food every time I watch it featured in cooking shows on TV. I thought that it’s just lugaw cooked by an Italian chef. After tasting UCC’s chicken, cheese and curry risotto, however, made me a fan of this food. Their Sumiyaki coffee and mango crepe were remarkable as well. Prices in this restaurant are worth it.

Monday was no different. And I blame it on the absence of good movies. After we arrived at ATC, we learned that Wall-E and X-Files are still not showing. We decided instead to eat at North Park where once again I or- dered their lechon rice toppings. This food is good all the time and this is one of the restaurants where food is a bang for the buck. Now if only ei- ther of the two movies is available, then I could have had coffee and donuts only for lunch. In Festival Mall the movie titles haven’t changed as well. Good thing I was able to stand firmly that I’ll have only coffee and muf- fin in Kenny Rogers – although the call to have baby back ribs is almost inescapable.

I have now lost track of the calorie pile up – or scared of knowing the exact score. I’m also thinking how many liters of gas we’ve actually consumed the whole time.  It was indeed a busy week where we’ve been spending money, burning gas and piling up calories. And now I’m quite sure that my 3-hour badminton and gym session yesterday wasn’t enough to undo the calorie damage. But there’s still hope. But then again there’s activity in Batangas next Sunday – it’s someone’s birthday. Will there be food? Your guess is as good as mine. I think it’s about time I get my wife a helmet and a pair of riding boots. At least we’ll save on gas.

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