Wrong Ramen, Right Company

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Well, if there’s any consolation in missing Malasimbo for the umpteenth time, I got to reunite with my film school buddy Miray over dinner earlier. Prior to this, our last encounter was Direk Marilou‘s wake back in 2012. She relocated to Ireland via her husband’s new job posting ever since.

This catch-up paved away to another “reunion”. While I’ve eaten in Wrong Ramen, Forbestown, BGC on sporadic occasions before, I never got to go back since I moved out of our Fort office. This marks my first visit after nearly two years. And since Miray’s food trips during her 3-month visit comprised mainly of burritos and ramen, this choice is hardly surprising.

I ordered the F.U. Ramen, which is one of my staples next to The Communist (their take on Tantanmen). It’s breakfast ramen topped with sinful morning fare: bacon strips, fried egg, Spam, and a slice of cheddar. It’s basically a vat of calories, and as the name suggests, you will feel the urge to hurl expletives after your first slurp. The best part is when the cheese starts to melt.

F.U. Ramen (P425.00)
F.U. Ramen (P425.00)

The Sea Men Ramen was Miray’s choice. You don’t really have to delve into the apparent innuendo (the menu is overflowing with them). Obviously, it’s their seafood variant.

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Sea Men Ramen (P345.00)

For dessert, we ordered Poop of the Gods. Calm down. It’s just a dollop of Belgian chocolate sprinkled with sea salt and soaked in olive oil. It’s an off-beat combination, but it works.

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Poop of the Gods (P135.00)

Given the establishment’s crammed table set-up, we concluded our reunion at the nearby Starbucks Reserve, which is far more conducive for catch-up banter. There, Miray detailed on her life as a work-at-home wife and her upcoming Vietnam-Cambodia trip. All in all, the reunion was a pleasantly surprising and welcome treat. Way to reignite my dreams of someday visiting Europe. For that, I will keep my fingers (metaphorically) crossed.

These Irish treats bode well for my occasional sweet tooth.
These Irish treats bode well for my occasional sweet tooth.

Breakfast for Lunch and Dinner

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I know a lot of people who consider breakfast as their favorite meal. I also know a lot of people who don’t wake up early enough, but eat breakfast food all day anyway. For those who fit into either category, this new place in Fort BGC, Taguig may just be your instant foodie Mecca.

The Early Bird Breakfast Club offers interesting gourmet twists to your favorite morning entrees all day, every day. With its picturesque, cozy interiors and inviting facade, it’s impossible to miss. I ended up visiting the place 3 times during this past week – once with my teammates Sheena, Redi and Hazel, twice with the 17th floor’s resident glutton gourmand Raf. So even though their menu is still limited (They’re still on soft opening), my multiple visits gave me a chance to try more items.

On my first trip, I ordered the Frittata (P275), or as I would fondly call it, “Glorified Torta”. Despite its seemingly diminutive serving, it was actually pretty filling. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have had that side order of hash potatoes. Their take on the egg-based dish contains cheddar cheese, bacon, and spinach: potentially a winning combination. Too bad I hardly tasted any of the three. In my reckoning, it could use a bit more flavor.

IMG_9474Redi and Hazel each ordered a variation of the longganisa dish. I wasn’t too crazy about the Viva Longganisa (P345), but only because I prefer longganisas on the salty side (My favorite is Lucban). Fans of the sweeter variants will probably enjoy this more.

IMG_9473Same goes for the Longganisa Crisp (P280) which is breaded and served without rice. It’s best ordered as an appetizer.

IMG_9477My favorite savory dish of theirs, so far, is their Adobo Sunrise (P315), which I tried on my third visit. It’s not as crispy as  you’d typically expect adobo flakes to be, but it’s packed with flavor.

IMG_20130130_182730Dessert seems to be Early Bird Breakfast Club’s area of consistency.

The Early Bird Signature Pancakes (P295) is considered of their specialties, and with good reason. Apart from the impeccable presentation, the pancakes have just the right size and texture. And while the combination of flavored butter, whipped cream, chocolate syrup and Vermont maple syrup sounds like a diabetes case waiting to happen, the sweetness is not overpowering at all. Definitely one of their must-tries.

IMG_9475French toast fanatics should also try the Peanut Butter and Caramel French Toast (P260), which also boasts impressive presentation and delicious, non-overpowering flavor.

IMG_20130127_012451Overall, a mixed bag. But I’m willing to go back once their menu expands. I’m looking forward to their takes on tapsilog and daing na bangus.

Early Bird Breakfast Club is located at the Ground Floor of the newly-constructed Fort Pointe 2 Building (where Pier One used to stand) in Fort Strip, Fort BGC, Taguig.

A Serbian Sausagefest

Yes, I was being literal when I said “sausagefest”.

FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: Hefty servings of Cevapici, Batakand Stuffed Pljeskavica (Loose English translation: Sausages, Grilled Boneless Chicken Breast, and Stuffed Burger Steak, respectively) from BALKAN Yugoslavian Home Cooking. Located in Perea Street, Legazpi Village, Makati.

Last night, I came to the impression that Eastern European cuisine are an acquired taste. Some of the dishes may seem bland at first, but with the right combination of condiments and sidings, the gastronomic experience actually packs a wallop. Pretty interesting cuisine from a country that no longer exists.

Looks like somebody’s happy with his batak. 

Hello again, Cebu.

Currently in Cebu to cover the TV5’s Sugod Mga Kapatid Sa Sinulog event.

We arrived in the city at 7:00am. Which means I didn’t have enough time to get ample shuteye. Actually, that one-hour flight was my one shot at salvaging some sleep. Unfortunately, I was seated in front of that one-man snore-chestra. Could have sworn he was almost as loud as the engine.

Breakfast was hardly Cebuano:

Breakfast platter from Bo’s Coffee.

…Either way, this should be enough to keep me up and about within the next few hours.

 Today will be jam-packed with activities. I’ll be covering a press conference with some of the TV5 talents this afternoon. Some of them are now starting to arrive in the hotel as we speak. Then it’s straight to the Fuente Osmena Circle for the event proper.  We’re also scheduled to fly back to Manila tonight. This is for work, after all, not really a trip per se.

 Nonetheless, I’m psyched to be here in the Queen City of the South again. My first and last visit was late March 2002. That’s two months shy of a decade, if you really want to be mathematical.  So, I might as well make the most out of this 13-hour trip. Later!

Night of Cardiac Assaults

Sheena kicked off her weeklong celebration at The Collective, where we shared this diabolical concoction:

Everyone, meet The Offbeat Burger.

Not exactly heart-attack-in-a-bun, because it doesn’t come in a bun. They use sugar-glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. Well, that, plus the usual thick juicy beef patty, sunny-side-up egg, strips of bacon, slice of cheese, and obligatory fries on the side. Good luck, arteries.

It may take a while to get used to the stark contrast between the savory flavor of the meat and the treacly sweetness of the donuts. Sheena easily chowed down her half, while I ended up eating the ingredients separately. But overall, it’s an interesting find.

And believe it or not, we still somehow managed to save room for these:

Buffalo Chicken Wings from Wingman

Let’s just be thankful that Makati Medical Center is a 10-minute drive away. =p

Shut Up and Eat: 6 Mealtime Expressions that Should be Retired

I just want to share a sudden epiphany I had after having yet another sumptuous dinner at Trixie Ayson‘s house, where caloric intake is virtually unavoidable. Here are 6 mealtime catchphrases so painfully hackneyed that they already take the fun out of the dining experience and should, therefore, die a natural death:

1. Galit-Galit Muna- When someone notices that period of awkward silence while eating.

Dear overly sensitive diner, gastronomic conversation lulls don’t automatically mean I have issues with you. It only means that I don’t want to risk obstructing my windpipes just for the sake of pleasantries and gossip. So, unless you know the Heimlich maneuver or CPR (in which case, please make sure that you don’t have halitosis, for the love of God), let’s save the banter until after we’ve finished eating. I’m sure we both have interesting stories to share. Besides, didn’t our elders teach us not to talk with our mouths full?

Charles Foster Kane’s marriage didn’t work out because he talked too much.


2. Sira ang Diet/Kailangan ko na mag-Diet – When you think that partaking of the food automatically negates your chances of making it to Sports Illustrated

It’s borderline condescending and almost short of saying “I don’t want to become an amorphous blob of fat like everyone else in this table.” Hey, it’s not like we’re force-feeding you through a funnel. Sheesh! Equally sinful is referring to less-than-healthy concoctions as “sinful”. It’s tantamount to saying “I’m on a diet, you heretics. Burn in hell”.

“Pare, makasalanan daw tayo?”

 

3. Buhay pa! – When a piece of the food ricochets off the plate

When that wayward morsel actually starts crawling off the placemat, stares at you and shouts “You just poked me with a fork, dick!”, I’ll believe you.

This is what happens when you deal with anthropomorphic food way too often.


4. Hinuhuli pa ang *insert protein source of choice here*- When your order is taking forever to be served.

This would only be relevant if we are 1.) a pack of carnivorous animals, 2.) Neanderthals 3.) Survivor castaways or 4.) supernatural predators like vampires/werewolves/aswangs.  Other than that, please don’t expect me to believe that there are huntsmen prowling on the vicinity of the restaurant. This isn’t the Stone Age.

One Smilodon a la Pobre, coming up!


5. Ay! May darating na bisita – When a dining utensil falls off the table

I never believed in superstitions, especially gender-coded ones: men = forks, women = spoons. It gets uglier when your homophobic dinner guest quips, “You don’t use sporks here, do you?” And, what if a soup ladle falls? Or a teaspoon? Does that make you obsess about the size of your hypothetical guest as well?  Word of advice, butterfingers: Sexism went out of fashion decades ago. Blame gravity.

Whatever you do, don’t drop the kitchen knife. Or else, he’ll arrive.

 

6. Nagka-hiyaan pa – When everyone refuses to eat the last piece of food on the plate for fear of being viewed as barbaric

Just attack the damn morsel and smugly say, “Makapal mukha ko. Bakit?” I won’t judge you. I promise.

Nigella, you have no shame!

Contributions, anyone?

Cryogenic Tagaytay Monday

My cousin Charlotte arrived last week for a month-and-a-half visit. This is only the second time that she retured to the Philippines after relocating to Bahrain in 2004, so it was only fitting that Mom and I took her out.

Now, the past couple of weeks have been cold. Unusually cold. Not by Nordic or Arctic standards, of course, since we are still after all living in the tropics, but it was still strangely chilly. Friends were telling me how they would jog in QC wearing their hoodies and news broke that Baguio temperature hit a record low of 9 degrees Centigrade. Blame climate change.

So you can only imagine how perfect timing it was for Mom to bring her to Tagaytay. Getting there was no trouble at all, since we’re based in Paranaque and her family lives in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. So we tagged her father Tito Rey and her younger sister Kricket along. 

Our first stop was Sonya’s Garden, which is famous for its scrumptuous fresh salad buffets and its lush gardens. It’s a popular destination for wedding receptions and intrepid shutterbugs and it also happens to be my mom’s favorite spot. 

After stuffing ourselves of the restaurant’s healthy fare, I took the family out for a stroll around the garden. Charlotte, being a photographer herself, enjoyed taking snapshots of the garden’s unusual colorful flora. And even struck a pose in front of some of them in the process.  

“Plants vs. Zombies”?

After a few more rounds of strolling and snapshots, we then took the family to see, what else, a scenic view of Taal Volcano. Once we stepped out of the vehicle, the cryogenic breeze went ballistic on us. Temperature was more or less 20-23 degrees and it almost felt like Hong Kong on a regular day. To think I was crazy enough to even consider NOT bringing a jacket.

Then again, the afternoon I spent with my cousin definitely made the cold weather worthwhile. It was my first time to really bond and converse with her since she left the country before I was even old to drive and, not to mention, endure my quarter-life crisis. Turns out, we share a similar wavelength when it comes to life issues. LOL!

 And I definitely hope to go out with her again before she returns to the Middle East.

She’s shivering. She just hides it well.