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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Going Gaga Over Eyewear

I was at a coffee shop the other day while waiting for The Hubby and had a grand time browsing through fashion magazines. I’d usually take note of new make ups, shoes and bags but what had me glued to the pages were photos of models and celebrities wearing fashion eyeglasses.

Do you know who is the celebrity that wears shades most of the time? It's no other than Lady Gaga.


If there is one accessory that I wish I could use more and with confidence, it's a stylish sunglass. I like how a simple outfit can be turned into something fabulous and dramatic by just wearing shades or spectacles.

Not too dramatic like this please...


I remember when I was just starting to earn for myself, one of my first purchases was a pair of Ray-Ban. The Hubby (we were still dating then) also got himself a pair similar to mine. It's like our 'friendship band' and we wore it whenever we had the chance.

Then one unfortunate day, as The Hubby and I were walking along Recto Ave., some scumbag passed by and swiftly snatched my Ray-Ban. From then on, I stopped buying designer sunglasses and settled for inexpensive ones. However, the inexpensive ones make me dizzy instead of doing its job as a protective eyewear. Anyway, the only time I am seen wearing shades now is when I go to the beach as the sun’s rays can be quite unforgiving to my eyes.

The Hubby, on the other hand, continued his love affair with sunglasses, wearing his pair of shades daily on his way to work while driving. I know he's been eyeing a new one, something he can use during his mountain biking escapades with his buddies, but has not found the chance (maybe the budget) to snag it.

Eye-wear or glasses have evolved from protection and vision aid to a fashion accessory. When I was a child, wearing glasses denotes ageing and the only people I see wearing them were grandparents. Fast forward to today, teenagers wear glasses sans the graded lenses just to look hip.

The trend these days are the huge framed glasses, those that cover almost half of your face, with super dark tints that hide the eyes. I also like aviator sunglasses. It reminds me of handsome pilots and all the glamour that comes with traveling. It's so Hollywoody and I wonder even if I got a confidence of a rock star that I could pull it off.

I doubt, but there’s only one way to find out and that is to buy a pair and wear it. We’re going to the beach for my birthday and what perfect timing, I need new shades! Having said that, it means I must go shopping for stylish sunglasses soon. (My inner fashionista says soon means Now!)

The Best Kesong Puti by Mr. Moo

Just when I thought I have tried Tagaytay's best and finest, someone whispered to me that perhaps not all since I haven't tried the best kesong puti.

Kesong Puti (white cheese) is fresh, soft cheese and usually paired with hot pan de sal. It is made from fresh cow's milk, salt and a coagulant called rennet.  The mere thought of kesong puti made me crave for its slightly salty, rich and creamy taste so I made sure we stop at Mr. Moo's Fresh Milk and Kesong Puti on our way back to Manila.

The stall can be pretty easy to miss going down from Tagaytay to Sta. Rosa Exit, one must really keep an eye and spot the colorful signage. Try not to miss it, but be careful as well when negotiating to stop as the road is down hill and it's along the highway! Any cheese, no matter how delicious, is not worth your limbs.




Mr. Moo's sells fresh milk, cheese, yogurt, and other milk by-products from cow, carabao (Philippine water buffalo) and goat.

The milk are guaranteed fresh and hand-squeezed by farmers (now this made me chuckle, hehe). The sales lady said the animals are organically fed to ensure high quality and abundant production of milk.


check out their prices

I only bought what I came for, my precious kesong puti, which the sales lady wrapped carefully and packed with tons of ice to retain its freshness (the milk didn't go through UHT) 'til we get to Manila. That's so nice and responsible of them to take that initiative even if customers didn't ask them to.

I got all three variants. It's my first time to try kesong puti made of carabao's and goat's milk. Honestly, I had second thoughts if I'd buy the goat cheese but my mom said it's the healthiest of all milk and contains the least amount of fat compared to that of cow and carabao.


My verdict? They were indeed the best - fresh, smooth and tasty. The cheese from carabao's milk has a slight bitter taste but it's creamier. The goat's milk is a bit bland at first bite but boasts a very smooth texture and leaves a cheesy yummy after-taste. I was lucky curiosity got the better of me and I bought goat's kesong puti.

Kesong Puti prices:

Cow (150g) - Php79
Carabao (200g) - Php89
Goat (150g) - Php135

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Date Night at Seoul Korean Barbecue

The Hubby and I like to go on dates, normally to dinner as we are both foodies who like to search and sample the best dining venues in Manila. This has been our practice since we started earning our own money and back when we were still dating.

Although some people find it impractical and unnecessary to spend on expensive dinners, it's a small luxury we both enjoy. We see it as a form of reward for a stressful week at work and providing for the kids' needs.

Sometimes we make a joke out of it when we hear unsolicited comments about our dining escapades, 'kesa naman mag drugs kami no?' (should we just take drugs instead?)

Anyway, we had a chance to dine, just the two of us again (yey!), a couple of weeks ago at Seoul Korean Barbecue restaurant which I've been itching to try for sometime now.


As in any Korean barbecue restaurants, a set of free appetizers is a staple. I am just not sure if they are refillable just like in Ye Dang as we didn't even finish the initial serving.

From their set of appetizers, I like the beansprouts best - they're huge, fresh and obviously imported.


The Hubby who likes to have soup in every meal ordered Kimchi Soup. I am a kimchi fan but this one was a spicy soup that really kicks and I couldn't bear it.


What I love is their Kalbi Jiim. The melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of the beef is worth every penny we paid for this dish. There is a generous serving of meat, a good portion of tendon and the sauce is not too thick compared to other kalbi jiims.

This is also the only non spicy dish that we ordered and everyone knows I am not a fan of spicy food, so naturally, I enjoyed this more than the rest of our dishes.


For our third dish we thought we've had enough meat for the week so we'd try seafood. The order taker suggested Spicy Squid.

I realized it was a big mistake ordering that as soon as the plate hit our table. Why aren't we so smart tonight in pairing our dishes? As anyone can tell by the same outrageous red color of this squid and our Kimchi Soup, they taste the same minus the squid.


The serving size is normally good for two and prices are relatively fair (from Php250 up) although some dishes are more expensive compared to Ye Dang. I also noticed that diners here do not 'grill on the spot' and if one orders a grilled item then it's cooked in the kitchen. They don't even have an exhaust tube per table like the ones at Ye Dang.

If you're a foodie who likes to 'cook on the spot', you might get disappointed here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Finding Manila's Best Crepe: Crepes and Cream

My next favorite choice (after dark chocolates) when my sweet tooth is doing cartwheels is crepe. I can have crepe everyday if that's the only food available and I won't complain.

Crepe, pronounced krep (I just NEED to mention because I've heard many people order creep in many restos, haha), is a very thin pancake made of flour, milk, eggs and butter. It is usually served with a variety of fillings from fruits for dessert, to cheese and meat for a savory snack or meal.


The best crepes I've had so far were from hotel restaurants, thanks to my frequent business travels in the past 5 years. In Manila, the crepes made on-the-spot at the crepe station of Sofitel Hotel's Spiral buffet is by far the best I've tried (I wonder how much it would cost to order them from their ala carte menu). The others I've ordered in various restaurants were all forgettable - either too thick it's almost like pancake or they put too much filling and whipped cream that I almost drown in calories.

I'm now on a hunt for the best crepe in Manila which may be a difficult one as it is not a common fare in most restaurants. I guess it's logical to start with specialty shops that sell nothing but crepes.

I went to the most accessible, Crepes and Cream at SM Megamall and watched as they cooked and assembled my crepes.


There's a wide array of flavors and combinations to try from their menu. Customers can choose from their Savory selection (Pork Floss Cheesy Omelet is highly recommended) and Sweet Crepe (because isn't crepe a dessert after all?).

Adventurous souls can also 'personalize' their order through their Create Your Own Crepe menu. Anything goes!


My slight disappointment with Crepes and Cream is their presentation. There are tables and seats for dine-in customers so I wonder why they serve their crepes on a paper cone and not on a plate with proper utensils? Perhaps it's the concept of eating crepe like ice cream but I found it quite hard to enjoy my crepe with a spoon and biting the crepe like a burger or sandwich.

Anyway, my next orders were all for take out so I can enjoy my food more.

the left one is my Create Your Own crepe ( banana, hazelnut spread and
whipped cream topped with strawberry syrup), the right is BLT savory crepe

Taste-wise, the crepes did not disappoint. I particularly love the taste of the crepes, even without the filling. Price range is between Php99 to Php149 which is quite fair considering the portion/serving.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, Ze Koloring Book!

If there's a play or musical that I really enjoyed watching, it's Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, Ze Muzikal in 2009. The film was shown in 2006 but nothing beats watching the play where the stage actors sing and act live.



We liked it soooo much that BFF and I got front/center seats and even purchased the souvenir programme, CD, and the book Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah - Collected Edition.


My special Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah book was signed by no less than the author himself, Carlo Vergara.


For two years, I've tucked this favorite book away, taking it out occasionally to read when I need a generous load of chuckle (and to review my sward speak skills, hahaha. ), until last week when I found Zsa Zsa restyled and fitted with newly colored costumes by Eone!


Did she ran out of coloring books that she decided to 'style' the characters in the book?


How the book fell into her hands, I don't know, as the book was placed at the top most shelf primarily because it is for mature readers only. Although it's purely illustration (comics), the content is still sensitive.

Oo neng, bakla ka, kasi purple ang hair mo!

I asked her why she colored MY book and she said, 'Because the walls, the hair and the people are all white and it's ugly'.

Well, may point naman ang bagets, diba?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Sandwich Project

The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results on Filipino families who experienced involuntary hunger (for lack of anything to eat) during the second quarter of 2011 significantly declined to 15.1% (roughly 3 million families) from 20.5% during the first quarter or 4.1 million families.

The families who experience hunger are the poor living in the depressed areas, and I will bet my entire annual salary that the average number of children in these families is anywhere from 5 to 8. We don't need to be geniuses to be able to equate that more mouths mean less food for each, assuming there is very little to partake to begin with.

And so I ask for the hundredth time, why oh why do these people, who knew in the first place that they cannot afford to feed even themselves, still produce offspring so abundantly?

I feel terribly sorry for these children who roam the streets begging for money instead of going to school. I try to imagine my own children in that situation and my heart bleeds. It's almost unthinkable!

A couple of weeks ago, I had to attend a meeting in Intramuros. As I and my colleagues were going to the parking lot, we saw this woman sorting plastics of leftovers and scrap food. In our homes, we call these scrap as 'kanin baboy' - roughly in english it is called swill which is a mixture of liquid and scrap solid food intended to be fed to pigs. For this lady, it's called lunch.


(The pictures were taken secretly and very discreetly. I am sorry if that's a violation. I was too embarrassed to ask her if I can photograph her while she sorts out what would be her lunch. I intentionally took it from behind to hide her face.)

Whatever comes out from her sorting will be washed and then sauteed with onion and garlic (if they even have a pan).


It's heartbreaking just to imagine she and her family will still eat 'that'. It's degrading. It shouldn't happen. But for those whose choice is only between taking what's for the pigs and going hungry, the decision isn't that difficult.

I wonder what this woman would say if she gets included in the hunger survey. Will she say, 'No, they didn't experience involuntary hunger', because she found a way to feed herself?

After this encounter, I made a vow to launch a small project which I hope to do on a weekly basis. I'm calling it The Sandwich Project. One day each week, I will take a sandwich with me when I go to work and give it to the first less fortunate stranger that I will meet on the street that day. That person could be a child, a beggar, a janitor, or even a security guard.

Each sandwich shall be prepared with love - using the best available ingredients I can find at home and hopefully new each week. My other goal is to have at least one Soup Kitchen program for children outside our village at least once every quarter.
 
I pray that through this little endeavour I'd be able to inspire (not the world) my children to be better persons, to act rather than just observe and be thankful for the kind of life they have.
 
I am excited for the very first Sandwich out of my kitchen, and even more excited to meet its very first recipient!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shopping Bonding

I can't remember anymore how early we started tagging Eone along our trips to the grocery. I recall the first time she sat on the cart was at duty free when The Hubby went home from his 3-month business trip to Tokyo.

For Enoe however, we've started taking him to malls, shops and groceries much later due to his allergies. I am happy he's getting lesser bouts of the itchy-itch the past months, thanks to a much carefully watched food intake and bathing regimen.

Speaking of allergies, due to my recent discovery of his reactions to peanuts, I've banned all peanut products in the house. It's better to totally shut out whatever can cause allergies to the boy as accidents (Eone sharing food to her brother) can always happen.

Anyway, back to the grocery.

As I was saying, we took Enoe with us to Shopwise. I like doing my groceries there, even if I have to drive a few kilometers instead of just getting our supplies from SM Taytay. I find the products fresher, the weighing more accurate and the variety/brands wider than SM.

Look at our 'full' cart with 2 kids in tow. There's not a room even for a tray of fresh eggs!


Enoe, although new to this whole hullabaloo, enjoyed himself by feasting on anything he can grab. He must be thinking how fun it was having an entire warehouse of goodies at his disposal (especially when I wasn't looking)


Obviously, I had to grab my own cart for the 'real' groceries although from time to time I'd check the kids' cart to see if they've picked something from the shelf that I already have, like juices or snacks. Anything that contains peanuts or unnecessary (like another box of crayons or a huge lollipop that looked like it's from last Christmas) gets removed secretly. I had to do this before we get to the cashier as Eone can be very persistent and I know I'd end up paying for them.

It's like a family outing we were having at Shopwise - The Hubby, myself, the kids and the 2 nannies all shopping together. Someone out there must be thinking this is a cheap form of bonding with the kids than taking them to the zoo but they are wrong because by the time we got to the cashier, they've finished 2 packs of jelly, a couple of juices, biscuits, wafers and whatnot. It was almost embarrassing paying for empty plastics while the kids smile sheepishly, effectively showing off their chocolatey-teeth.

On the other hand, this whole exercise is indeed a good way to spend time with the children. I mean, it's like shooting two birds with one stone. We get to accomplish a chore and at the same time be with Eone and Enoe. They also can choose what sort of food they like, especially for my princess as she brings snacks to school.

The only downside I can think of is it takes longer for me to finish my shopping list (and it's impossible to stick to the shopping list too, when the kids are shopping with me!) because even if the nannies are there, the kids ask for all sorts of things to buy and a lot of negotiations take place while we push the cart.

Anyway, the positive outweighs the negative big time. My children will always win when we're setting priorities. So off we'll go to the next shopping spree? Definitely!

Monday, July 11, 2011

CBCP Apologizes Over Luxury Vehicles Issue

Following the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office controversy where 7 bishops (who are all identified allies of then PGMA) received luxury 4x4 vehicles as 'gifts', the Catholic Bishops Conferenece of the Philippines (CBCP) has finally issued a statement which can be interpreted as an indirect apology.

PASTORAL STATEMENT

Our Dear People of God,

Our Mother Church has been deeply wounded by the controversies in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office that have erupted in the past two weeks. Some members of the church believe in the innocence of the bishops involved in the issue, while others do not. There is no doubt that everywhere in the Church there is great sorrow. We your pastors are one with you. As shepherds struggling to love you like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, we are sorry for the pain and the sadness that these events have brought upon you.

We are saddened that many of you especially the youth, the poor our Basic Ecclesial Communities have been confused because of the apparent inconsistency of our actions with our pastoral Preaching.

As we express our sadness, we also ask you to be slow in judgement and to conscientiously seek the whole truth behind the controversy. Let us seek the truth always in charity.

We assure you that the bishops concerned are ready to accept responsibility for their actions and to face the consequences if it would be proven unlawful, anomalous and unconstitutional. We assure that their actions were done without malice. Out of their sincere desire to help their people they failed to consider the pitfalls to which these grants could possibly lead them. They have also expressed their readiness to do everything that is necessary to heal this wound so we can all move forward in hope.

We also assure you, our beloved people that we shall re-examine the manner of our collaboration with government agencies for purposes of helping the poor making sure that pastoral sensibilities are respected and the highest ethical standards are observed. We shall examine our values in light of our vocation to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We commit ourselves to the long journey of personal and social transformation required of all disciples of the Lord. We plead with you to walk with us in this path of constant renewal.

We express again our deep sorrow for the pain that the recent events have brought to you our beloved people. The good Lord knows our love for you. The words of the psalmist come to our mind. "My sacrifice, a contrite spirit, A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn" (Ps 51). As the same Psalmist addresses the Lord, we take his words as our own to encourage and challenge us: "Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me wisdom."

For the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines,

Signed

Nereo P. Odchimar, D.D.
Bishop of Tandag
President CBCP
July 11, 2011


It was revealed last week in a Senate Bluer Ribbon Committee hearing how Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos who wrote a letter to then Pres. Arroyo asking for a 4x4 Mitsubishi Montero as a birthday gift.

"I know I can do more to promote and work for peace. It is in this view that I am asking a favor from his Excellency. At present I really need a brand new car, possibly a 4x4, which I can use to reach the far-flung areas of Caraga...I hope yo will never fail to give a brand new car which will serve as your birthday gift to me. For your information, I have with me a seven-year-old car, which is not anymore in good running condition. Therefore, this needs to be replaced soon. I'm anticipating your favorable response on this regard," the Bishop wrote in his February 9 letter to then Pres. Arroyo. The letter was then endorsed to PCSO for 'appropriate action'.

It's appalling if not altogether disgusting at how funds aimed to serve those who have less in life specifically in health care are being misused by those who are in authority. People line up at PCSO, taking with them copies of medicine prescriptions, laboratory tests results, doctors endorsements along with supporting documents only to receive Php3000 while bishops get Php1.7M by just whisking a birthday letter?

In the heat of the argument on the Reproductive Health Bill which the Church opposes with  deadly passion the enactment of the law, notwithstanding being accused of meddling with the affairs of the state, this expose comes as as a means to many politicians to counter attack. Who's got the guts now to call anyone immoral?

I am not saying I hate the church and I no longer believe in its teachings. That's not exactly how I am feeling about this issue. But it's hypocrisy to say that I am not disappointed at how the church leaders are misbehaving. With the issue of the RH bill, they have resorted to various means to influence the church-goers to where they stand regarding the issue. A certain bishop has even gone to the extent of sending people who are in support of the RH bill out of the church during mass.

If our opinion is not the same as yours, does it mean it is wrong? If I don't take the same stand as you are, does it mean I am at the wrong side? If there's something I am praying for our church leaders to realize, it's the need to respect other people's decision. They need to junk their 'it's my way or the hi-way' frame of mind.

I'm still holding on to my faith, after all, I pray not to the priest at the altar but to the God above. My God, our God who sees it all.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

It smells like a morgue in your kitchen...

Filipino dishes are not as popular to foreigners compared to cuisines of our Asian counterparts. I have yet to meet someone, say American, who would say he'd eat chicken adobo instead of chicken teriyaki. I think we are more known in the exotic dining category for our balut and other out-of-the-ordinary food we put on our dining table.

What's strange and unique with our food is that the ones that taste great have repulsive smell, well, at least to those whose nose are not accustomed to Filipino cooking.

Friends from the US or Australia can attest at how neighbors complain at the aroma of tuyo as it fries to crispy goodness. Or how one commented to a staff who brought bagoong at work that his desk smells like a morgue.

But the champion in smell without question is Buro (Balaw-Balaw) which is pungent, sour and bitter all combined. I once overheard someone describe buro to be the 'foulest smelling food in the whole world' and I am quoting him verbatim. For the Kapangpangans, what's nasty to their noses is a wonder to their taste buds and buro is definitely a staple in every Pampangueno's table.


I'd say appreciating buro is a like a courtship process - you must get past the 'getting to know you stage' before finally falling in love (and madly, I tell you) with this appetizer made from fermented rice and fish.

There are several varieties of buro aside from the common dalag (mudfish) and shrimp, talangka (shore crab) is also popular in the north. Any kind of buro goes well with steamed veggies and grilled or fried fish.

The process of making buro is quite simple (feed your dog with lots of rice and then beat him 'til he vomits, hahaha, im kidding! dont call PAWS!) but I was told not everyone can make buro. My mom can attest to this as she has never done one, and instead buy from Pampanga when she gets the chance.

Ingredients:

◦250g or 1/4 kilo suahe shrimp with heads removed
◦43.5g salt
◦1.2kg or 6 cups of cooked rice  (must be of the C4 variety and cooked slightly wet)

Procedure:
1.Mix salt and shrimp in mixing bowl. Mash thoroughly until the shrimp absorbs the salt. Let stand for 2 hours.
2.After 2 hours, put cooked rice in a mixing bowl. Add salt/shrimp mixture then mash to mix ingredients thoroughly.
3.Add the remaining salt to the mixture and mix. Set aside.
4.Transfer the mixture into sterilized bottles. Leave a centimeter head space from the mouth.
5.Cover bottles with polyethylene plastic. Cap tightly. Set aside for 10 days to ferment.
6.On the 10th day, the balao-balao is ready to be served. To cook, saute with garlic and onion.

Recipe from mixph.com

Friday, July 01, 2011

It's Hamburger Day at Brothers Burger

For those who missed the 50% offer of Brothers Burger on their half-pound burgers last June 23, here's a chance to grab their huge slab of flame-grilled protein at only Php97.50.


Valid from July 1-12, from 2pm to 6pm in ALL Brothers Burger branches.
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