28 December 2009

Tartine's Steamed Gingerbread Pudding

Steamed Gingerbread Pudding (with title)
At my last Christmas party, when everything was just getting started, we were planted idly in front of the local news. The feature story was about a woman whose lover left her 6 years ago (I'm not aware that they shared the reason for the break-up). She was reminiscing about how they adopted dogs together and spent Christmas decorating the tree, etc. Even though they'd broken up, she still decorated the tree and put presents under it (presumably for the two of them), and set up mementos of the two of them together (a pair of Christmas angels). During the entire feature, there wasn't anyone else in her giant house. She said she did all these things in the hope that one cold Christmas night, she'd return and they'd live happily ever after.

"Oh man," I thought, "that is just too tragic."

21 December 2009

Spiced Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread Cake

Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread Cake
Just last Thursday I was able to finally meet the lovely Jen Yu in person, after envying those who were able to attend the recent food blogger conferences. I actually thought I was a little more fortunate since we were able to spend quality time, even if only for a few hours. (My idea of a perfect time would be zooming through San Francisco in search of the best Asian food, heh heh :) From reading her blog and watching her actually speak on video you can tell she's quite engaging, but it wasn't until I met her that I confirmed what others have been saying about her-- her vivacity is infectious. I suppose we all have to exercise a bit of restraint in blogland, so meeting Jen was more awesome than I could have expected.

It reminded me of the time I met Allen and he told me, "You're exactly like how I imagined you." I wondered if that was a good thing. (In case you're wondering, Allen exercises much more restraint in his writing and in person he is a riot.)

14 December 2009

English Gingerbread Cake

English Gingerbread Cake (with title)
When I was in elementary school I once had a friend who, every now and again, asked me what my deepest, darkest secret was. I don't quite recall if I answered the question honestly (after all, what kind of dark secrets do ten year-olds have?), but anyone who knows me, or most people for that matter, will have realized by now that it's probably one of the worst ways to get me to open up.

Many years later, I then had a co-worker who, in the midst of a conversation wherein I was sharing a bit about my family life, told me to not share any of my insights about it because she was still in the process of psychoanalyzing me. It shocked me because I thought we were having a genuine conversation and actually bonding, but in the end it turned out she was just trying to figure me out.

07 December 2009

Claire Clark's Gingerbread

Gingerbread (with title)
Sometimes, just for fun (and not as an obsession, mind you), I like to think about what different things in the world at which I can still be the best. You see, it seems like there's a finite number of things a man can do and at least one person out there has already devoted his life to at least one of those things, so in order to become an authority, I have to think of more and more specific things. Things that are so specific the talent becomes absolutely pointless. For example, no-one has claimed the title of World's Best Cake Baker Using His Feet, so maybe I can work at it until I am that person. That is, if no-one has actually done it already. And even when I do, it's not a distinction I'd particularly enjoy holding, nor will my cakes be particularly edible (oh, they will, if they're not squeamish).

24 November 2009

Tartine's Chocolate Pots de Crème

Chocolate Pots de Crème
So, like I said in my previous posts, this is my first Thanksgiving. However, I'm not feeling the mad rush to produce dinner, since my uncle's dad has already volunteered to do so, which is a relief (though I am thinking about dessert, I hope he doesn't mind). It will also be my first Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving that, as I understand it, there's usually no work and stores slash their prices to encourage buying for the next big holiday. There've been horror stories about this, sadly, but I'm avoiding that rush too and thankfully there's the task of babysitting my cousins while my aunt and uncle go to work (no surprise there, as she works in Nordstrom).

09 November 2009


Fontainebleau (with title)
In about 30 hours I'm going to be leaving- again- for the United States. My US Tour will once again hit New York, a bit of New Jersey, Chicago, Sacramento, and San Francisco. And again there's that pounding in my chest, for several reasons: 1) I feel like this is going to be it- I'm going to get that medical residency, 2) I cannot freaking WAIT to be in the hospital again (sorry blog), 3) I am so afraid of failing, 4) and I am going to miss celebrating my birthday, Christmas, and New Year's eve with my family. But if I do get that residency, that will be something I'll have to get used to anyway. Thankfully, I will still get to spend it with family (my dad's cousin's family), so it's not so sad. But all this excitement and fear is not so great on my internal organs. Must breathe deeply.

02 November 2009

Brazo de Mercedes

Filipino Meringue-Custard Roulade
Brazo de Mercedes (with title)
RP = Republic of the Philippines, just so you know.
When I was in Greenville, North Carolina, one of my kind hosts requested a dessert. Actually there were three mentioned: 1) Food for the Gods (to come later), 2) Tiramisu (unfortunately we couldn't find Savoiardi and I was strapped for time to make some), and 3) Brazo de Mercedes. I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to make something she missed dearly and probably couldn't get any other way in Greenville. It must have been something she really missed! It got me thinking about the things I'd miss most about the Philippines if I were to ever leave.

25 October 2009

Tartine's Gougères

Tartine's Gougeres (with title)
The strangest thing happened to me when I was walking the streets of San Francisco last month. For some reason I wanted to enter a camera shop so I can find a way to clean the lens of my Powershot G7 and a good tripod. Being a tourist (and click-happy at that), I was always armed with my G7 hanging around my neck, but I found that I couldn't enter the camera shop. Because there were enthusiasts hanging outside the door. With their spiffy SLRs.

Can you believe that? I was embarrassed. I'm trying hard to think whether I embarrass easily. There was a party where I once set the dance floor on fire-- and not in a good way. But I was completely untouched by alcohol; I just did it because I liked moving my ass. I eat out by myself all the time. And I am not ashamed to fall hard on my ass on the skating rink; I just laugh it off (serves me right for going so fast). But just put a group of photogs together and I shrink.

18 October 2009

Southern Comfort (Greenville, North Carolina)

East Carolina University
Already I have new pictures from San Francisco, but as many of my friends have just come from there, it seems pretty lame to post them so soon. For now, I'm going to be talking about the place I spent most of my time in during my last trip to the States- Greenville, North Carolina.

I have to be honest, before coming to Greenville I was readying myself to be sneered at, but all in all, I can say that the people I encountered- from my fellow doctors to the patients to random people on the street- were mostly quite nice. The picture above welcomes you to East Carolina University, the third largest university in the state. Go Pirates!

12 October 2009

Tartine's Pumpkin Pie

Tartine's Pumpkin Pie (with title)
The food culture between countries sometimes differs at the most fundamental level: for instance, how you treat a fruit or vegetable. Here in the Philippines, just like in at least Brazil, avocados are treated as a dessert fruit. It bothers me (not genuine bother, more of an amused wonderment) that people have called it a vegetable when it is clearly botanically a fruit, but also that people are surprised when it's used for desserts. Here the addition of avocados to sandwiches and salads is a recent phenomenon, and still quite uncommon at that. Guacamole was more well-known, but people in the provinces would scoff at it. What truly bothers me is how clumsily avocados are used in desserts in the Western world, like recipes for ice cream that are essentially sweet frozen guacamole. Yuck. Avocados here are very simply enjoyed by scooping out the flesh and introducing a river of sweetened condensed milk into it.

07 October 2009

Tartine's Pumpkin Tea Cake

Pumpkin Tea Cake (with title)
THANKS to everyone who read, commented, and most especially contributed from last week's post. I'll be replying to the comments soon, but for now I'm glad to have touched people enough to give in a time of despair. You are all so, so awesome, in case you didn't know that yet.

In college we once had an assignment in Communications class: think of one funny thing you witnessed. It can't be a funny story you heard from someone else, it can't be something you saw on television. It had to have happened to you (or, at least, in front of you). I think I must have written down the lamest story about how some lame teacher was tormenting me, thinking it was probably marginally funny. Well, it wasn't. Truth is, it was hardly that funny, and to no one's surprise, it was even less funny to everyone else.

The sad fact is, even though I am a laugher (I consider myself a sitcom guy) and I never fail to see the humor in everyday situations, I could only remember the laughs and the belly laughs, but not what made me laugh. Or if I could, it was from some line from The Simpsons or something.

30 September 2009

Tartine's Lemon Bars

Tartine's Lemon Bars (with title)
Hi. This is a difficult post to write, but truth be told, it's going to be difficult to write about food in the midst of so much suffering for a very long time, so I might as well start. Long story short for those who don't want to read the rest: please visit this site on Google to find out how you can help the victims of Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines- it has ways for people overseas to help. Thanks so much.

EDITED TO ADD: Make a donation to UNICEF for this cause today, and your gift will be matched, doubling your support.

When I was in high school, my friend and I had this well-meaning discussion about giving to the poor. He said that his parents always taught him that it's usually better to give to big charities (I think he named the Church in particular, though it's not really a charity) than to beggars for several reasons: the organizations know how to systematically dispense goods so it provides the most benefit (rather than a beggar buying a big meal, then is hungry again), you never know what beggars do with the money (e.g., buy cigarettes), it encourages begging instead of working, and encourages organized begging syndicates (watch Slumdog Millionaire to get the gist of it). "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for the rest of his life."

26 September 2009

Welcome to the Jungle (New York part 2)

Times Square
Wow, what a crazy weekend to "decide" to go home from San Francisco. This weekend, a ton of friends are having fun in San Francisco, making me totally jealous (but, can you believe I have yet another post to write on San Francisco in the future? One of my favorite places, ever). As my plane approached Manila, the pilot said, "the weather is... not great," and no shit. A typhoon submerged part of my country's capital- the greatest flood to hit it in maybe 42 years. My family and my home are unscathed, thank God, but there'll be a lot of rescue/relief work going on.

Anyway, as promised, here is my post about my trip to New York from earlier this year (part 1 of my New York trip is here). Above is the tourist trap, Times Square. I didn't spend a lot of time here except for the now-closed Virgin megastore (I don't recall buying anything, either).

20 September 2009

Big Sur Bakery's Baked Beans

Big Sur Bakery's Baked Beans (with title)
So I am back from my observership from North Carolina- and if you've been paying attention, it won't be long before I have a travel post on it. I'm not quite sure if anyone's interested, but of course I'll try my best to make it interesting. Certainly it was a good trip and I enjoyed my time there thoroughly, but a lot of it had to do with my time inside the hospital, and of course I did my best not to take any pictures of anyone in the hospital or the surroundings (there were some really endearing patients along the way, but I'm protecting their privacy of course). So we'll see what I'm able to write. But I'm here now, in case you were wondering if I died or something. Observership gave me a cold hard look at how much time I'd be spending on my blog if I had work (and observership isn't even work!) and the sad fact is, it's nearly zero hours. Well, unless you count the time I spend actually cooking. Maybe I can spend my one free day cooking and the free day next week blogging. Two posts (or less) a month, ha ha ha!

Now I wait. I applied for a not-small number of hospitals and now I'm expecting the first invitation to interview. Annnnny day now. In the neeeext minute. It must be their coffee break. I'll check again in ten minutes. Just kidding- they actually have tons of applications to go through and if I've learned anything from this whole experience, it's to be confident of the skills you've acquired, because no one else will see it if you don't.

30 August 2009

Tartine's Pecan Maple Pie

Tartine's Pecan Maple Pie (with title)
Medical school can certainly be a strange place for people who went through college together. In undergrad, you take courses in a semi-random order you prefer, but in medical school, everyone has to follow the progression in the hierarchy. So, being naive enough to ignore this, I thought working with my friend, who was a year higher in Biology but now a medical resident (while I was an intern), would be nearly the same as it used to be. Not so. For some reason, instead of my name, she called me "dear."

23 August 2009

Cherry Macarons

Macarons Cerise
Cherry Macarons (with title)
(Gosh, can anyone guess how many times I've used a Beatles song for a post subtitle?) Again with the craziness! This week-end is going to be one of my silent ones, comment-wise, as I'm currently in a rush to pack respectable (read: physician-style) clothes and gifts for half the Filipino population in the US, as well as make the finishing touches on my application for residency in the United States (the applications are electronically sent to the program directors on September 1. AAAGH!!). I know I said I'd share part 2 of my New York experience from last Winter, but those posts take the longest to write, and I'm trying to save time, so I'll get to that post when I've settled.

16 August 2009

Dulce de Leche Flan

Dulce de Leche Flan (with title)
When I was in college, there used to be this strange yearly event for freshman orientation wherein various organizations compete to be the best. At what, I don't know, because it involved racking up points for 1) collecting as much newspaper as you can and 2) hanging out at a particular building in campus during your spare time for the most amount of hours. It was considered to be a chore because let's face it, there's a ton of places better to go than some ratty building wherein you played board games until everyone went postal from having to hang out with each other (er, never happened).

09 August 2009

Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad

Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad (with title)
I've heard someone say that one of the worst ways to start a speech is with an apology. I'm glad then, that this isn't a speech, and I'm me, and I am rarely too proud to apologize when I have to. Again I dropped out of the blogosphere for a whole week, except for the few times I logged on to Twitter and had a nice time chatting with a bunch of folks. You see, I'm trying out this thing where I only read and comment on blogs once a week.

03 August 2009

Amy's Breads' Monkey Cake (Hummingbird Cake)

Monkey Cake (with title)
Some bizarre things happening in my life right now, so I can't think straight enough to relate a story to this post. Don't worry (if you are ;), I'm not in any trouble or anything bad, just a little more anxious than usual, but still happy (contrary to what my previous post may suggest, heh heh). Instead you will get two of my favorite music videos and a story behind this beautiful cake.

27 July 2009

Tartine's Lemon Meringue Cake

Tartine's Lemon Meringue Cake (with title)
Huh, I can't believe this is my 251st post! Thanks to all those who have tuned in.
It's already nearing the end of July, and most of my friends who sojourned to the US for residency are wrapping up their first month. I have almost no idea how they felt about it. You see, about two months ago, I decided to remove the column on Tweetdeck that updates me on people's Facebook statuses. Even though I have an (admittedly loose) policy on not comparing my life to other people's, especially not my friends', some of the updates were starting to get on my nerves.

20 July 2009

Ruins Longanisang Hubad

Ruins Naked Filipino Sausage
Ruins Longanisang Hubad (with title)
It's my first time to participate in Marc and Susan's event, Dinner and a Movie (see the announce), this month for Breakfast at Tiffany's. I thought it would be a good one to participate in, because it is such an iconic movie and I'd never seen it before. It would be really easy for me to talk about being afraid to fall in love or being a slut (er, not really), but as I tweeted while watching it, I just couldn't get over particular scenes involving Mr. Yunioshi, and how he 1) acted like no Japanese person I know, and 2) could ever stoop so low as to play such a stupid and misinformed stereotype. It turns out, he wasn't Japanese at all, and was played by Mickey Rooney in yellowface (well duh, Manggy).

15 July 2009

Winter in New York (New York Part 1)

Park near New York University
As usual, just click on any photo go to to the Flickr page, where you can view it full-size.
Welcome to the first of my 2-part feature on New York, the last stop of my "tour" of the US from last Winter (second part comes next month). Actually, I have a few pictures from New Jersey, but it's kind of pathetic because I only managed to take pictures of the food in one restaurant, and not much of anything else (though it's obviously not representative of the number of good places you can eat in New Jersey, as you'll find in Off The Broiler). Anyway, I found the sheer number of pictures I took in New York daunting to process, and that's even as I skillfully evaded places like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Even Rockefeller Plaza, and I am a big fan of NBC programming and ice skating. BUT I did get to meet three bloggers, and up there is a picture of the park where Marc and I ate Australian ice cream while talking about the job market.

07 July 2009

Mango Parfait with Orange Anise Jelly

Mango Parfait with Orange Anise Jelly (with title)
I transferred from another elementary/primary school to high school. As a result, many of my classmates knew each other from before, and my classmates had friends in other sections. In the Philippine school system before college, sections of 40-50 students are stationary in the room, it's the teachers that moved around, so I never really got to meet anyone outside my 49 classmates in 4 years. Anyway, there was this boy from another section about a year older than me who was a paraplegic (? functionally, if not totally) and therefore always walked with crutches all over the campus. I knew his name but I didn't know anything else about him.

02 July 2009


Week-end (with title)
When I was in medical school there was this little-known (HAH) release by R. Kelly during his strange phase called "Ignition (Remix)". There's a line that goes, "It's the freakin weekend baby, I'm about to have me some fun," which I really loved because it's easy to feel fried by the end of the week as a student. During my later years it was even more precious to have a free weekend because clinical duties have little concern with what day it is, except those who don't have overnight duty can go home at noon. Big whoop, right? (By the way, I call it R. Kelly's strange phase because prior to that he was primarily known for his ballads. Anyone remember "I'm Your Angel" with Celine Dion?)

I'm sure my friends thought it was pretty strange of me to be rejoicing over the weekend, because I was one of the uncommon types who, instead of staying behind and hanging out with friends, I packed my bags (and dirty laundry of course) and headed home with my family every weekend I had a chance. I bet they were wondering if I had any actual youth-y fun.

25 June 2009

Tartine's Summer Fruit Bavarian

Summer Fruit Bavarian (with title)
While doing my usual rounds of the food blogs, I came across a banner that intrigued me: it was from BlogHer, asking us (you?) if marketing to women is all about stereotypes. I couldn't quite remember the content of the articles I read from that link, but one writer was lamenting about a sparkly pink candy "just for the ladies" (I can't remember if this is the article I read about the controversial candy bar called "The Finger") while another one, about a "misguided laptops-for-women site." I found myself agreeing with the content of the articles, and of course I am for gender-neutral advertising, for the most part. But don't think men have been dealt a better hand.

19 June 2009

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken (with title)
Sitting on my virtual desktop I actually have a text file that contains several topics I think I may eventually want to talk about on the blog. Whenever I think of something and it turns into an essay in my mind, I file it there just so my food, for some reason, can have a pinch of loopy in it. However, looking at the file and scouring my brain for any sort of content I want to accompany this dish (it also determines the subtitle in the picture), I realize I didn't want to talk about anything at all. I am aware that sometimes you probably don't feel like reading or commenting on anything except the dish, and sometimes I just go on and on not realizing I didn't say anything about the dish. Oops. Well, today's a good day because this one's a no-brainer. Aaah!

11 June 2009

Tales of the City (San Francisco Part 4)

Sur La Table, Ferry Market Building
"Is San Francisco still boring?" A friend of mine asked when I told him I was there, and it totally short-circuited my brain because I have no idea how anyone could think that. Granted our trips there were years apart, but in my opinion it's one of the liveliest places I've seen (not that there's anything wrong with peace and quiet-- they both have their benefits). Perhaps it's because there's been considerable growth of the food scene in the interim. I'm posting this slightly ahead of schedule to give Caitlin a better idea of what to expect or search when she goes there. As it turns out, it opened my eyes to even more things I still want to see/eat when (not if, hopefully) I return! (... and please don't badmouth my anonymous friend, I won't allow it.) Above is a photograph of the always-lively Sur La Table at the Ferry Market Building.

09 June 2009


Paella (with title)
Susan once told me over at Twitter that she imagined I wasn't a problem child and gave my parents no headaches. That's probably true... To some extent. I didn't hang around the kids in my neighborhood (plenty of cousins to keep me entertained), didn't get to any fights, and was quite content to stay indoors and draw away on my sketchpads, and a bunch of other introverted hobbies like origami or listening to music.

03 June 2009

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding (with title)
When I was in my fourth year of undergrad (positively the Dark Ages), one of my friends who was frustrated with me told me point-blank that I cut people too little slack. As a result, she said, I hurt one of my closest friends at the time, who said I made him feel stupid. You have to be thankful for those moments when people are being brutally honest with you, because during the 90% of the time when people are just being mindlessly polite, you can't accurately make an assessment of yourself and your values. (Hopefully not too often, though, because it can get depressing.) However, even though I felt really bad for how he perceived me (for the record, I never thought he was stupid), I never said sorry for the things I made him feel.

28 May 2009

Tartine's Brownies

Tartine Brownies (with title)
I'm not too good at remembering my dreams. There are a few that stick out in my consciousness-- like my favorite one, where I am being chased by a dinosaur on ice, and I have my hockey skates on. It wasn't scary, the feeling was more like being on an amusement park ride, with obstacles. In some of my more boring dreams, I am driving and it's totally natural, not the stiff and nervous way I drive in real life. I had one bizarre dream where I got married to a friend of mine, and there's totally nothing there (unless my subconscious is telling me otherwise), but at the reception I start talking to her, quite worriedly, that we don't have any money to fulfill our dreams together. It seems that I have to wreck even my dreams with my real-life worries.

22 May 2009

San Francisco, Part 3 of Hopefully a Lot

Caltrain terminal, Mission Bay
Not long ago I was talking about how difficult it is to really get bored, no matter where you are. If you can't vary the places you go to, you can vary your interests, vary your company (in this case, it changed from last year to mostly just me, without my mom and my brother), or vary your activities. And always, always (unless you never plan on coming back) leave something for next time. When it comes to San Francisco, you'd have to be a dead fish to finally run out of things to see or do, or you're just one of those people who don't like what San Francisco stands for. Above is a pic I snapped of the Caltrain terminal between Mission Bay and SoMa. (There's no logic in the optics of this one-- the lens blur was applied in post because my camera can't achieve depth of field well.)
Castro Street stores
I mean, just look at the cheeky shops you can see on Castro! Even the restaurants seem to have joined in on the fun. (That, or I'm just that filthy.) Under One Roof is a great shop filled with little gadgets for the home and furniture, and their proceeds benefit AIDS research.

14 May 2009

Mango Mille Crepe

Gâteau de Crêpes aux Mangues
Mango Mille Crepe (with title)
Whenever I go on a shopping trip and my brother is around (especially when we were in the States), we have a gag where if the shop has unexpectedly expensive stuff, I'd reenact the taunt of the shopkeeper in "Pretty Woman." "It's very expensive." "We have nothing for you here." Of course, I don't take it as personally as Vivian did (not to mention no shopkeeper would be that rude).

I would make a terrible socialite. Not because I consider myself antisocial, but I just don't care about the trappings of status. And even worse, I don't particularly care for being part of a group that makes me jump through hoops just to feel worthy of them (employment excepted, heh). And all those secret conversations that these exclusive groups revel in... They can't be that important. Being a man has its perks here: no-one labels you a bitch/weirdo for not caring. You're just being the strong silent type. However, instead of yapping on and on about hundred-dollar handbags, you're now forced to keep up with impressive cars or something. Shrug. (Sorry, Marc.)

07 May 2009

Frosted Banana Cake

Frosted Banana Cake (with title)
Before anything else, I'd like to share that Uncle Rob of The Curious Blogquat is going to give away an Espresso Maker for what he judges to be the best summer potluck recipe! Now you've got to be crazy not to want that, so go go go! I'm still deciding what I'll contribute. I want that prize so bad! Espresso makers are eeeexpensive here.
Over the weekend I'll be looking forward to more RSS-feed post accumulation as I will be heading to the beach with my buddies (friends from undergrad-- the closest friends I have). I'm trying to remember the last time I went to the beach with them, and that was when I was still in undergrad. Somehow nobody ever suggests that we go hiking in the mountains. What is it about the beach that repels me in the first place?

29 April 2009

Tartine's Deluxe Double Chocolate Cookies

Deluxe Double Chocolate Cookies (with title)
Finally, after enduring treacle-slow internet due to... the flapping of a butterfly wing probably, as my ISP is the worst ever, I can get on with blogging, then tomorrow it's off to read everyone's wonderful posts over the last few days. I've been trying to deal with the online paralysis by doing the laundry (still fun, so far) and making a few desserts. Sometimes I wonder why we keep up with things that are so unbelievably horrible (escalation of commitment comes to mind).

22 April 2009

All That Jazz

The El (O'Hare)
I have to confess, even though the thought of finally going to Chicago excited me, I had no idea what it was all about. Early Edition, Alinea, that musical-- fragmented impressions picked up from blogland, film, and television. When I got an invitation to interview there, I scheduled my flight so that I'd get a few more days to explore, and carefully searched for a hotel that would be priced reasonably enough to allow me that. Thankfully, there was Holiday Inn (you're great, Mariott, but too rich for my blood). I was lucky in a way to get my reservation, as it was fully booked just the night before because The Killers played nearby. Another good thing about Holiday Inn was that I only needed one ride on The El directly from O'Hare (thank you, 3-Day Pass), although I had to lug my 35-pound suitcase up 4 flights of stairs at the Clinton-Blue station.
Chicago Skyline
I'm glad I got this chance, as it's just one of those cities that rewards those who really endeavor to scratch beneath the surface. I'm not quite sure if I'm one of those people, but I know what (and who) I wanted to see, and that's enough for me, at least till I get my first big paycheck and that will open a few more doors for me (ahemAlineaahem). But as a simple traveler, I still managed to enjoy myself a lot.

16 April 2009

Chocolate Amaretti

Amaretti di Cioccolato
Chocolate Amaretti (with title)
Ah, I've finally started answering your comments. But I just managed the Strudel and the Blintzes posts. I don't know why I thought I'd go through them faster. Clearly reading, thinking, and replying take time!
Yes, I know the image title isn't a word. But since I returned, I've gone mad from meeting random relatives and family friends. Why? Because no less than ten people have told me, "mukhang tumaba ka!" (Translation: It looks like you got fatter! Unsaid: ... Porky!) And while just the plain words written out just seem baseline-offensive, the thing that drives me crazy is the way they say it. With a giant smile on their faces! Like somehow they think it's a good thing to tell someone that they have chubbed up. Twisted.

Without speculating too much, I think there may be a cultural/ generational difference going on here. And not in the way that the Romans thought that overweight women were attractive or something. You see, if we're just talking about my own circle of friends, the only time we'd talk about it is (1) asking point-blank ("Do I look fatter?"), in which case the answer is always either "No!" or "Not by much, don't worry!" or (2) a male friend poking fun at another guy. But it's always undesirable, unless we are talking about my friends who have difficulty gaining weight, curse them.

09 April 2009

Baked Blintzes with Fresh Blueberry Sauce

Baked Blintzes with Blueberry Sauce (with title)
Hi everyone-- thanks to all those who gave words of comfort and encouragement after last post's sadness. I'm really touched. Anyway, my dear Jen of Use Real Butter has featured my humble kitchen in a recent post, do take a look if you like! And my right column now has links to 5 of the most recent reviews from my newest baby, The Gastronomer's Bookshelf. I hope you drop by (and subscribe)!
It's never a good sign to have to preface your posts with reassurance that you're alive, but since I got back to the Philippines, things have been crazy. I won't go into the details, but the worst among the things that have piled up is that the internet connection has now been reduced to intermittent. After giving me around 4 minutes (30 if I'm verrrry lucky) of blissful browsing, the line will die for maybe another 4 minutes (30 if I'm verrrrry unlucky), then repeat ad nauseam. Not exactly ideal circumstances for catching up on the blogs you've missed reading so much, as well as responding to my own comments and e-mail. Graeme once told me, "If you have time to blog, then you have time to comment." It's just common courtesy. Sooo... It turns out, I couldn't blog either. (By the way, just to drive the point home: The Philippine Long Distance Company is the worst broadband service in the history of telecommunications. Congratulations!)

Instead of pulling my hair out, I ended up doing chores, the most pressing of which (ooh, pun) was washing and ironing the clothes I'd brought back from my trip. Having become used to washing my own clothes when I was in the States, I thought I'd flex those self-dependence muscles by usurping the person we hire to do the laundry, and at the same time learning to treat my clothes with respect (i.e., actually following the care instructions on the tags). Never mind that chapter one of "self-dependence" actually involved calling Duncan up and asking him how to iron a shirt. Oh, we grow up so fast! (And yearn for no-iron shirts!)

23 March 2009

Tartine's Banana Date Tea Cake

Banana Date Tea Cake (with title)
So, there are a few of you who are probably wondering what happened in the almost 2 weeks I didn't post on this blog. Big changes. HUGE changes. They are changes in plans, though-- as in real life, what I instead have is a giant stop sign in front of my face. You see, I failed to match for a hospital (read: the four hospitals I interviewed for went another way). What followed is almost a week of malaise, juggling trying to "feel the feelings" (as my friend Allen puts it), smacking myself in the head for inadequacies, smacking myself more in the head for realizing that there are people out there with real problems and this: coming to the United States to grab an opportunity, missed as it was, does not even rate. However, even though we can argue about what the factors were that led to this outcome were-- internal or external-- the fact remains that I could only have really influenced the internal factors, and that's what really kills me. (Especially since it worked for some of my Filipino peers, but not for me.)

"It's time to go back to the house, pack your belongings, and go. Home." In all probability I'll give it another $hot. Even though there are $ome problem$ a$$ociated with that. But frantic sublimation a week after falling flat on your face is a little superhuman, don't you think? (The start of the next application period is September.) Though I try to be a Tiffany, I usually end up a Rebecca, which is probably for the best because the last thing I need is Tyra yelling at me how to feel. But I am trying, Tyra! I want to take control of my destiny!

11 March 2009

Reading, Between the Lines

Lancaster train station
(or, Trains, Trains and Automobiles.) I think I have to make something clear about my travelogues: I don't write about a place where my itinerary isn't up yet. So, when I wrote about Akron, I'd already left. And I'm not going to write about New Jersey, New York, or San Francisco till a few weeks after I've gone back to the Philippines (which is April 4). Now, last January 26, I headed to Reading, Pennsylvania, which was my last stop in my interview tour. It would be self-contradictory to say that it exceeded my expectations, because I had none. Before I applied for the hospital there, all I knew about it was that it was one of the four railroads in classic Monopoly. Trips to Wikipedia and various other sites were needed. And now, I'm going to be one of those sites. I think.

I totally dropped the ball as a commuter, though. After my $45 Amtrak trip to the nearest Amtrak station, which was Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I had to spend $70 plus tip on the 30-minute taxi ride to Reading. And then another $45 and $70 for the trip back. Ouch. Greyhound ($45) would have taken me straight to Reading, though it would have been nearly a 6-hour trip from New Jersey. Although if I'd gone the extra mile and gotten a license valid in the States (and enough driving chutzpah), I could have driven from New Jersey or New York, which would have taken 2 hours. Grrr.

01 March 2009

Tartine's Mango Galettes

Mango Galettes
Oh, hello again! Some of you might be wondering what hole I fell into since the last week. What happened was that my laptop finally decided it's tired of this life and severed its adapter jack from the motherboard. I guess it's served me kind of well over the last three and a half years considering in the last few months its battery no longer worked and wasn't really in stock anywhere. So, not super-portable. And since that time, I flew to San Francisco and didn't acquire a new laptop until recently. And nooo, it is not a Mac. I know some design freaks out there poo on PCs, but I don't really get the belly-aching. I work remarkably well with a PC-- we have a rhythm.

Anyway, so I'm out here, and meeting two of my faaavorite bloggers (and, since my social Venn diagram isn't super-expansive, that means they're two of my favorite people as well), Allen and Joe, and Marvin (more on those later). Without my trusty sidekick, I was able to devote a lot of time to doing fun activities with my host family's kids (my cousins), like cooking lunch, helping with the homework, and indulging the occasional need for a playmate (though chess isn't really challenging against a seven-year-old, Mario Kart on the Wii is). And then there is the simple joy of the Wii fit telling you every day to keep up the good work as you go through yoga poses in the exact opposite way you should be (screaming).

16 February 2009

Bolognese Meat Sauce

Ragù alla Bolognese
Bolognese (with title)
It wasn't long ago that I showed you guys a Cathy comic of the title character gorging on all sorts of comfort food during the holiday season-- and that started with Thanksgiving. President's Day (my first ever, not that anything really happened today) is nearly over, and yet as Phil the groundhog said that there'd be six more weeks of winter, the waist on my pajamas is threatening a coup. Well, not really, and though I feel a little, er, cuddlier than normal, this very kind scale next to me says I'm fine. The problem is every time I fix a meal for myself, it turns out to be a million calories, because at freezing temperatures you feel like rewarding yourself with really tasty food.

Thank goodness that I'm not licensed to drive in this country and I love walking (even if it is at dermis-fracturing temperatures). So to get to the local Path-Mark, I have to walk 1.9 miles at least. That's most of the afternoon getting there and back (don't worry, there's a produce market 6 minutes away by foot). Part of me is thinking that as long as the produce market is there, I should really stay away from meat and dairy if I'm not going to go to the gym like I did back at home. The part of me controlling my hands made deelicious burgers and spag bol.

09 February 2009

Raspberry Macarons

Macaron Framboise
Raspberry Macarons (with title)
This is my entry to the 29th Edition of The Blog Rounds, hosted by Dr. Em Dy of Pulse. The theme is LOOOOVE! Ack.
When I was standing in line at 4 in the morning on New Year's Day at the check-in counter of the airport, there were two American women behind me who made Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie seem like the kindest, most intelligent creatures ever. In whiny voices, they'd think (using the term loosely) out loud, "Why are we the only ones in New Year wear?" (uh because only people who absolutely HAVE to leave for their jobs leave on New Year's Day instead of spending it happily with their families?) "What airport doesn't have a McDonald's? I'm not going to be eating in no fucking Jollibee," and other such gems. I thought to myself, Lord, if ever I get married, let it not be for this.

I keep chuckling every time I remember the travesty that was Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson's marriage. Each time Nick would finally get a brief respite from inane questions about what's inside a can of tuna and gets to party with his male friends, Jessica calls him up to ask him whether bratwurst is made of beef or pork. How unfortunate that his severe loneliness was documented, but at least now he's out of it. Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt of The Hills seem to be heading for the same trainwreck, and I'm beginning to wonder if Heidi deserves Spencer (he who would name his adopted African baby "Dunk" (skip to 6:27 in the clip)) if she doesn't get out now, blinded by the promise of multimillion-dollar deals if they tie the knot. That's two less idiots to infect the pool of single people.

03 February 2009


downtown Akron
Hi everyone and welcome (again)! Today's weather in beautiful Noo Joisey is probably a snowstorm. I'm not too sure because when you say storm/typhoon in the Philippines, it usually means extremely heavy rain and strong winds that sometimes howl. Snow is deceptively light and benign-looking, though I'm aware there's a lot of danger in it. And since it's not falling straight down, I guess that means it's a snowstorm. I took the opportunity of being stuck indoors to clean the bathroom, throw a robe over my pajamas so as not to titillate my neighbors too much, and struggle with the garden hose outside in the snow to blast the patina of germs on the trash can into oblivion. And now the time has come to post again, yay! And I begin with a tour of the first non-Joisey city I visited in the East coast: Akron, Ohio.
First thought: wow, it's kind of a winter wonderland. Only lake Erie is separating it from Canada. So cold that the skin of my legs threatened to progress into an ichthyosis-like state. My heels progressed as much, and I got two cracks on each foot, minute but enough to cause sharp pain with each step. I didn't let that deter me from getting my "tour" in, though. By now they are completely healed (and lint-from-socks-free, ugh) thanks to CVS Pharmacy's Heel Balm (for general and diabetic foot care) and a pumice stone (healed amazingly quickly-- 3 days). Rest of my skin managed with advanced therapy moisturizing lotion.

26 January 2009

Tartine's Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis aux Cerises
Cherry Clafoutis (with title)
AGAIN with the long delays! I'm nearing the end of my interview tour-- just one more to go in Pennsylvania-- then I'm off to read the posts I so sorely miss. Just wanted to get this one out.
Books, and cookbooks in particular, can get incredibly expensive. Unless you're the type who has patience for the $5 bin where books the likes of "50 Low-Fat Desserts" written by Anonymous languish, you probably suffer through rows and rows of books that cost anywhere between $25 and $50. I suppose the higher cost is justified by the beautiful color plates (an antiquated term, heh) that pictures of food require, hardbound construction, and sturdy pages. Factor in the losses you get from the cookbook fanatic with grubby hands who rips the plastic carelessly (ha ha), and a smaller audience compared to Oprah's book club, and you have even higher costs. (Though in fairness, there are VERY good books in the $25 or less range, you just have to look hard.)

With prices like these, it would be a shame to not use the books, as that is of course where you get the value of your money. And it is finally decided if the book is ultimately worth it and has paid for itself, or if you might as well have burned your fresh $50. Which is why I'm proud of my project with Duncan-- The Gastronomer's Bookshelf-- because various people are able to share their experiences with cookbooks, and not only do readers get to determine what is gold and what is crap before spending the dough, but also, hopefully in the long term, writers and publishers will churn out better and better product.

15 January 2009

Pineapple Lime Mascarpone Tart

Pineapple Lime Mascarpone Tart

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

The next day the little prince came back.
"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you... One must observe the proper rites..."
"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.
"Those also are actions too often neglected," said the fox. "They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all."

Those are my favorite parts of the book The Little Prince, which I realize is predictably schmaltzy on my part but you can also predict that I don't care. There are some good parts after those passages but I kept it essential-- if you haven't read the book yet, I highly recommend it. Far too many people have bought into the whole reality television illusion (The Bachelor and its kin, Rock of Love, and worst of all, Paris Hilton's My New BFF) and foolishly believe that friends and relationships can be formed instantly. You put on your best Sunday frock, make a great first impression, and bam-- you're in love. What Saint-Exupery has shown in this lovely parable is that it takes commitment for trust to form. If you suddenly dropped out-- like, say, NOT POSTING IN YOUR BLOG FOR TWO WEEKS, people will get confused, some will forget who you are, and think that you can't be relied upon. Not what I wanted to happen at all. I hope you'll understand that it's been a little difficult to write (civilization will not advance one iota until blogging is possible on airplanes). I just arrived from Akron, my first interview-- and I'll be telling you about that experience soon.