Monday, February 25, 2008

Bangkok Diary

This is pretty much an international working crew. Thailand, Korea, China, India, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and the United States are represented. Missing are the lads from New Zealand and Vietnam.

All work and no shopping makes for a pretty dull stay. I'm not really a mall person. I just look for stores that sell books, music, sports apparel, and curio shops. Like I previously wrote, Siam Paragon and the malls beside it -- Centre World, and Discovery are okay but it's in MBK and Chatuchak that are more fun buys.

This was my lunch one time at the K Kafe located at the ground floor of the Empire Tower. I ordered mushroom soup, panfried pork steak served with salad and freedom, er French fries to go with mixed seasonal fruits for dessert. K Kafe is a laid back dining lounge where 10% of every order goes to the support of the Lamplaimat Pattana School which provides education to kids in the rural areas.

This is the menu to Monjya Nonya, a Japanese soul food restaurant at the ground floor of the Ascott Hotel in Bangkok. There's a twist to the cuisine here -- it's deepened with Singaporean flavors!

The menu is pretty cool because it reads like a fashion mag catalogue. Hahahaha.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Okonomiyaki Cooking in Bangkok

Six steps in cooking yummy Okonomiyaki:

1. Stir ingredients in a bowl.
2. Pour all batter on a hot plate.
3. Make the pancake into a circle and cook for around 10 minutes.
4. Turn over to cook other side.
5. Spread Okonomiyaki sauce.
6. Eat!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ascott Hotel Lobby

Bangkok Digs

The Ascott is located in South Sathorn Road right in the heart of Bangkok's financial and business district. Sathorn is also home to the corporate office of multi-nationals and embassies. I stayed at the corner of the 18th floor that offered a nice view of Sathorn Road and the BTS train. I'll post the vid of it with the next few days.

The room was plenty big enough featuring a king-sized bed, a nice flat TV, a sala, a kitchen area and a spacious bath. I've always like the New World Hotel rooms for its elegance and comfortable rooms. After this week, the Ascott is right up there.

I wasn't able to go and sample the night market at nearby Silom with its popular restaurants and coffee shops because I was down with the flu. So instead I caught up with the 2008 NBA All-Star game.

For buffet breakfast the following day, I had a choice between Asian and a American dishes. I tried both and helped myself to a lot of fruits. Take note of the sports pages of the Bangkok Post.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Date with an Angel

I was surprised to learn that Angel Aquino was a former Tulong Dunong scholar from Barangka, Marikina. Angel says that TD and meeting and learning under Fr. James O'Brien and Onofre Pagsanghan changed her life. "Education steered me clear the direction of my family's life. It gave me a sense of purpose. And learning from Jesuit-trained students fascinated me. Even hearing the students speak in English fascinated me. It was like 'English could be spoken well enough by Filipinos.'" TD brought her out of Barangka to St Bridget's high school then to UP Baguio. So you know because of her background that she's not squeamish about street food and public transportation. Upn meeting her, you'd never get that impression.

She's currently working on a drama series for ABS-CBN titled "Habang May Buhay" where she plays a mother to Judy Ann Santos, a youngster with psychological problems. "That's a tough role considering I'll never pass off for Judy's mother," says Angel. "So they had to age me. And I have to really study how parents handle children with these disorders. But I like it. I prefer challenging roles as well as wholesome ones."

We chatted for an hour and a half and towards the end of it, one of the buntings in Kopi Roti -- a heart since it was Valentine's Day -- fell beside us. We both looked at it and laughed hard. Then I said, "I'm sorry. I'm taken." And we laughed even harder.

The moment we stepped out of Kopi Roti, a cab --without us flagging it down -- immediately pulled over. Iba na, I guess, ang magandang babae. Without any pretensions, she went back to Barangka (she resides in Cainta) where she and her sister operate a business. I went to Ateneo to watch football.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oatmeal and Tomato Soup

Over dinner at the Bohol Bee Farm, my mom was raving about how good her tomato juice was and true to form began asking everyone to taste it. I wasn't sure if it was really that good or she was just trying to make herself feel better for that risky choice. But after my aunt shared with much gusto how her friends (all in their 60s) are now enjoying the benefits of a daily dose of tomato juice, I vowed to get a hold of a can the moment I land in Manila.

My "love" affair with oatmeal started years ago in Chicago. It was always fashionable to attempt to lose weight when you get assigned abroad -- maybe to wow Manila when you get back. Unfortunately, for someone who can eat 5 cups of rice with 3 pieces of siomai (yes, that's Super Siomai Rice for the Ateneans), it remains a noble attempt everytime. One time in Costco during my weekly grocery-shopping, Quaker Oats stared at me and I got a big bucket to take home. And that was the start of my get thin plan. Or so I thought. Three days after making fancy oatmeal cover-ups ("oatmeal with milk, oatmeal with fruit, oatmeal with this and that..."), I placed my big bucket up the cupboard never to open it again.

I love eating tomatoes. Drinking it shouldn't be so bad. Last night, I took a cup and filled half of it with tomato juice. Gulp. It really was like drinking pasta sauce without the meat. My mom may have lied.

I cannot let my Tomato Juice go the way of my big bucket of oatmeal. So I googled for anything which would use it as an ingredient. Tomato Pesto Soup! That would have been great except I don't have basil lying around. (Soupe au Pistou of Cafe Mediterranean is one of our favorites.) I scrolled down and saw Oatmeal and Tomato Soup. I didn't exactly follow the recipe but the result was good. Okay, fine, it's nothing fancy. I'm no Nigella Lawson.

Here's what I did.

(1) Chopped onion and garlic and threw it in a pan with margarine.
(2) Got a shaker of McCormick's Oregano and put it in the mix. (We have these fancy spices on the cupboard which we buy and use maybe once a year during the holidays when we'd open a cookbook and think, what if we cook something different today!)
(3) Got a cup of hot water and dissolved a chicken cube. Poured in the pan.
(4) Added 3 cups of tomato juice.
(5) I always liked creamy soups so I opened the ref and found an almost empty bottle of low-fat milk which I emptied. That would be around 3/4 of a cup. (Notice how everything now is either low-fat or lite. My dad thinks they just put that so they can raise prices. I sure hope Coke is telling the truth.)
(6) I microwaved a cup of oatmeal for 1 minute just to brown it a bit. I don't know why I had to do that but I put that in the mix as well.
(7) Oh, and I sprinkled salt and pepper to taste.

Eat up and Enjoy!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Let me take you down to Strawberry Fields

One day I sang along to a radio (that I had borrowed
from a friend and hoped never to return)

and the stars were never aligned again.
How many hours did I spend in my room dreaming.

My mind swirling.
Playing an air guitar to the strains of the Merseyside lads.
With visions of vinyl revolutions in my mind. 
I'm a million miles away yet a heartbeat apart.
On windswept cliffs deep in my soul. 
Did he say that the youth have hope
because they're depressed about their future
yet the freedom they have is dangerous?
It's a deliberate purpose to find out what life is all about.
Where's your sense of sin?
Grammatically incorrect phrases
and four-letter words in all the right places.
Subversive in black, hair grease, and rip-torn jeans.
I shout from the rooftops trying to sound urgent.
Taking aim with a six-string, I imagine: love parades under blue skies.
Bearing a heart-shaped box to that supernova in the sky.
I gave my youth to the Beatles
and walked out of that long winding road
to Strawberry Fields the end of my travels.

Strawberry Fields
Summer 2004

That's me in front of the gates of the Dakota Apartment.
The driveway behind me is where John Lennon was shot.
The Dakota is at the corner of West 72nd and Central
Park West. Cross the street and you're at Strawberry Fields,
the 2.5 acre landscaped section of the world's most famous
park. Take the B or C train going here.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A great cameo for a legend

I have the vinyl album, the CD and its special edition, and the newer vershann that comes with a DVD.

And seeing Will Smith pay tribute to the Bob Marley and his music. Damn. Got me teary-eyed.