My last five days in Manila and I was panicking. How in the world was I going to fit into a bikini by the weekend? I'm scheduled to leave for Siquijor (via Dumaguete) on Saturday and have booked three nights at Coco Grove.
"Are you having dinner here tonight, " my mom asked.
"I'll be home but I won't have dinner. I'm dieting, " I informed her.
"Should I tell you what we're having, " she teased.
"NO!" I stormed off.
30 minutes later...
Me, calling from downstairs: "Mom... What are we having for dinner???"
So, this week, while I've been home, I've been trying (not always successfully) to cut down on the carbs and skip breakfast and dinner. It's a totally different story once I step outside the house.
For instance, while waiting for a cab after my Kinesis workout last Tuesday, I wandered into Legend Hotel (the gym is on the hotel premises) and saw a new pastry display and now I can say, with absolute authority, that their mini carrot cake slices are to die for, the red velvet cupcake has too much cream on top but who cares, and their chocolate chip cookies don't look very appetizing but are actually pretty good.
On Wednesday, I met fellow foodie (and part owner of JT's Manukan), Michael Torres, for lunch. We've both been wanting to eat together ever since we decided to try every single item on SPOT.ph's Best Food of 2013. (We're such geeks, we both made spreadsheets, mapping out which area had what food to try.) We were planning on trying out some of the restaurants mentioned in the Ortigas area, but I had been fixating on Dixie Mabanta's new fried chicken joint in Quezon City so, even if it wasn't on the list, Mike joined me there.
I'm not sure if you know this already but I absolutely LOOOOOVVVVE fried chicken. And I was fully expecting to sit down and wolf down a few fried chicken thighs at Señor Pollo but, alas, it was not to be.
Well, first of all, you can't order just chicken thighs at Señor Pollo. It's either a thigh and a leg or a breast and a wing. Michael would have gone for the breast, the heathen that he is, because it's bigger than the other parts. I, on the other hand, am not a fan of tasteless flesh so I insisted on ordering the dark meat.
Secondly, Michael doesn't do "wolfing". He's a nibbler. He'll have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, then take the rest of it home. Shocking, I know, but it only meant MORE FOR ME. Yipee! I wasn't going to have any of that "take it home" nonsense. Not if I could help it.
Which meant that, by the time Mike and I parted ways four and a half hours later, I was ready to die.
At Señor Pollo, we ordered the quarter roast chicken (P135) and the two-piece fried chicken (P195), which came with two sides each. We liked the spicy rice, the Latin coleslaw and the patatas bravas. I'm not a big fan of beans, Colombian or otherwise, which Michael ordered. And I can't tell if he liked it because, well, the nibbler barely touched it.
For dessert, we had the flan de naranja (P150), rather, I had the flan de naranja.
All in all, we liked the food at Señor Pollo. At those prices, it was good value for money. It would have been better if the chicken pieces were bigger and if I could have only thighs.
After lunch, Mike suggested that we head for Mrs. Graham's Bakery nearby, whose macaron's made it to SPOT.ph's list. He said it was towards Morato and, as I stepped out towards that general direction, Michael called to me from the other side of the road, "It's this way, Gai. I know this place."
This was the second time Michael had mentioned that he was familiar with the area. The first time was when I sent him a text message with instructions on how to get to Señor Pollo, only to find out that Michael was already at the restaurant. So even if I was 100% sure that Morato was just around the corner, I trusted him since I am notoriously bad at orientation and - what did I know? Maybe Morato ran in a circle.
Two blocks later, after peering in various restaurants along the way, Michael finally asked a waitress where Morato was. Sure enough, she pointed to the direction we had just come from.
"Er, so what's that street ahead of us?"
"That's Mother Ignacia."
Right. We walked back and found Mrs. Graham's Bakery almost right beside Señor Pollo. Mmmmhmmm... Let's just say I will not be so trusting of Michael again.
Well, at least, we had already had a bit of a walk before having more dessert.
I'm not a big fan of macarons and, although I really enjoyed the ones I had in Belgium, I can't imagine ever saying to myself, "Gee, I'd really like a macaron right now." But since we were already at Mrs. Grahams Bakery, where the only thing actually baked by Mrs. Graham are the macarons (everything else is from a supplier), I ordered the cookie dough macaron (P45) and the macaron-of-the-day, champorado with tuyo/dried fish (P60).
Still not my cuppa.
I did, however, enjoy the following:
The creme brulee cheesecake, on the right side of the cake picture, is fantastic! I must have a whole one! The chocnut one (P130), although still very good, paled in comparison. Re the cupcakes, the chocolate yema one (P75) on the left was better than the lemon something-something that Michael ordered. I never would have ordered it. I never trust a pastry with white peaks.
(I also bought some cookies to take home. The chocochip cheesecake cookie and the Oreo cheesecake cookie - P50 each - but, alas, they were too sweet.)
The service staff were lovely and offered us a complimentary pot of tea.
In the cab to Makati, where I was supposed to meet Raffy, Michael's cousin, for yoga, after covering a wide range of (unfinished) topics, given our sugar-aggravated attention deficit, Mike proposed that we stop at Grace Park so that he could tick off another item off his SPOT.ph's list, the Savory Eaton Mess. Since I had eaten most of the dessert, the mere thought of it almost made me sick But I agreed because what else did I have to do?
It was the most unsavory revolting mess. Ugh. Even now, the thought of all that cream mixed with the scent of truffles is making me violently ill.
Michael wagged his finger at the SPOT.ph editors. "How could they even think of considering this for their list?" I could believe it. While I agreed with some things on their list, the stuff that I didn't agree with were so horrifically bland (-Michael and I agreed that one of their recommendations tasted like dishwater) that I couldn't possibly respect the taste of anyone who could register those in their consciousness as something even remotely good.
Michael joined me for a spot of shopping at the Power Plant Mall afterwards, all the while tossing various ideas at me for other food stops we might consider but, in the end, good sense prevailed. Or so we thought.
Less than an hour after we parted ways, Raffy sent Michael this photo:
Of course, later on at yoga, I totally regretted having that egg salad sandwich, the taro chips, and everything else I had had that day.
Raffy and I clowning around with GuRosan before Kundalini yoga at Tantra Yoga.
Last week, I complained to Rosan that she wasn't challenging her students enough so, this week, boy, did she put us through the ringer. As I write this, my legs are still stiff from her class. As they should be. I do love my muscle pain.
Er, if you think that was the end of that day, um... Rosan and I still had a dinner appointment with her friends at Colin McKay's newly opened restaurant, Blackbird (- reservations are a must: +63-2-828-4888) at the Nielson Tower along Makati Avenue.
It had been raining the whole day and the traffic was so bad that, by the time we got to Blackbird, we had almost missed the appetizers. (The little that we had of the leftovers: the bread, and the soft-shelled crab were very good.)
Most of us ordered our mains off the grill, since that's what the restaurant is supposed to specialize in, and they were good quality and pretty straightforward, as far as grills go. But it was the desserts that had us oohing and aahing (particularly the burnt butter ice cream and the sticky date pudding).
Will most definitely return. I'm interested in trying the non-grilled items on the menu, and the cocktails! And the place is truly beautiful. The Nielson Tower's undergone the most magical renovation.
Yesterday, as I was waiting for a cab to take me to Core Kinesis, I got a text from my trainer. Session was canceled. Ah, well... I took a cab anyway. I figured I'd get my errands out of the way.
At the mall, I remembered Señor Pollo's fried chicken. It didn't help that Jollibee (and its Chicken Joy) and KFC were right next to each other. It was only 10:30 AM when I caved. I was going for the Chicken Joy (my favorite) when I thought to check out KFC for anything new. They had a cheese-coated chicken. I had to try that. "One thigh part, please, and one crunchy thigh as well." Yeah, I know the crunchy KFC is ancient news but it's only recently that I've overcome my aversion to spice so it was new to me.
I liked the crunchy chicken but the cheese-covered one was gross. It wasn't actually covered in cheese, but rather in cheese-flavored Clover Chips.
While I love Clover Chips and I love fried chicken, a unconscious uncoupling they should have remained. (Whoever conjured up that idea must have been smokin' some bad shit.)
On my way home, since it was still early, I thought I'd swing by Crisgard and get some lunch for the folks. Crisgard is a hole-in-the-wall Filipino turo-turo ("turo" means "point", so it's a joint where you point to whatever you want to eat that's displayed in a glass shelf), which was introduced to me by Lorna, the chocolate chip lady you met in my last blog entry.
They make a mean lechon kawali, which is what I come here for.
I brought home about P1000 worth of pork in different incarnations. What can I say? I am what I eat. I'm a pig.
After lunch, my mom and I went through our usual song-and-dance of "Are you eating here tonight?"
Today, I went to the opening of Bruce Lim's Rustique Kitchen (where La Regalade used to be on Arnaiz Avenue in Makati). Am still unsure what to say about it so will reserve comments for another time.
After lunch, I went to meet Michael and Raffy at Magnum Cafe at SM Aura.
Magnum Cafe would be my idea of heaven, if it was populated by hot people and if it had no children.
This is how the Make-Your-Own-Magnum Bar works. First, you choose three toppings. I chose freeze-dried strawberries, white chocolate chip balls, and pistachios.
Then you choose your the flavor of your Magnum bar, chocolate or vanilla. I chose vanilla. then you choose whether you want it coated in dark chocolate, milk chocolate, caramel, or white chocolate. I went with white chocolate.
Then your server spreads your chosen toppings on top of the Magnum bar.
Then you choose a drizzle, milk or dark chocolate. I chose dark chocolate, of course.
All for P100.
Cue Love and Rockets' "If There's A Heaven Above":
It was beautiful. It was glorious. It was everything I imagined it would be.
We wanted more, and more we had.
Well, we also had to order at least two items from the ala carte menu if we wanted to sit at a table in the cafe FYI, the Rogue Magnum on the left is to die for.
If you haven't been to the Magnum Cafe - GO!!! They will only be open for 500 days and who knows what day they're at so go, go, go!
With Chef Him de Baron, who also owns the Nomama restaurants. He of the fabulous chorizo jam that I tried at Manly Eats two years ago. He says he'll start selling it when he opens a sandwich shop around Shangri-La Plaza some time this year. I could be making that time frame up.
Note: If you're at SM Aura and you like chocolate chip cookies, head for Gourmandise Patisserie. You'll thank me later.
After that, I had to rush to Shangri-La Plaza for dinner with Tricia and Sandy. Rushing involved an hour of queuing for a taxi, and a 30-minute commute. We had drinks and sausages at Brotzeit (- meh) and a lot of cheese at Green Pastures (-yum!).
And, now, it's almost 1 AM and I have to pack for Siquijor and leave for the airport in six hours, and I have no time to edit this or to try to figure out how to fit into a bikini but, well, I'll see you back here in a few days and let you know how that turned out.