Thursday, June 25, 2009

Exploring SM City Annex

We're running low on dogfood and I just can't bear the thought of Rusky and Alpha going hungry so I asked Mamu to go with me to SM City. I usually don't mind grocery shopping alone but I wanted Mamu with me that day.
I wanted to accomplish three things on this errand: one: check out the new 13" Macbook Pro at Power Mac Center; two: the prospect of another longganisa/bagnet-free dinner, although we've had two leftover-free days; and three: another blog entry, this time with Mamu.
Mamu wanted to check out the newly opened stores at SM Annex, though we've been there before I gladly obliged because I wanted this outing to last till dinner.
Our first stop was Samurai at the SM Supermarket foodcourt (near the Annex) for Takoyaki Balls, which I've developed a liking for. Mamu was eyed me skeptically as I finished the whole serving in no time flat. She never liked these octopus stuffed (I highly doubt that Samurai uses real octopus) balls or anything Japanese for that matter.
We stopped by French Baker because we noticed that interior of their Annex branch has a more "Frenchy" feel to it. We also wanted to see the breads that Chef John Lu Koa made when he was featured on Cooking with the Masters.
On the second floor we went inside Bestsellers, a bookstore that specializes in bestsellers, duh! One of the sales ladies told me that this was a sister company of National Bookstore. I noticed that they are well stocked with Young Adult fiction and a whole corner is devoted to this section.
While browsing, I noticed this...
How hard is it the read Harry Potter? I would understand if it was a Faulkner or Joyce novel but Harry Potter?! Honestly!
I didn't get to see the new 13" Macbook Pro because it was sold. Oh well…maybe next time.
Johann (my brother) had been raving about Portuguese Chicken since his first trip to the US last year. When I told him (via Magic Jack) about Peri-Peri Charcoal, a Portuguese chicken place, he told us to try it out. Mamu doesn't like chicken so it took some convincing on my part but in the end she agreed.
Peri-Peri Chicken is available in three variants: Lemon Garlic, Mild and Hot. We both had the Combo C (one-fourth chicken, gravy, rice and one side dish). I chose the Lemon Garlic (which is the bestseller according to the lady on the cash register) and Peri Fries for me and the Mild with Cozido Chorizo for Mamu.
The chicken is tender, juicy and well cooked. Even Mamu enjoyed it. She told me it didn't have the chicken after taste that she doesn’t like. The fries were just okay, nothing to rave about. Mamu said it was "parang french fries sa bahay". The Cozido Chorizo, a stewed sausage of some sort, tasted great, a definite must have. I didn't like the gravy but I'm not much of a gravy person anyway (with exceptions), and it kinda bothered me that it was served beside the rice, it should've been in a separate container.
I loved their Peri-Peri hot sauce which has a fruity, peppery kick to it! I want come back just for the hot sauce. In fact, the fries tasted better dipped in the hot sauce.
All in all, it was a pretty good meal, the place was nice and cozy and it was pretty cheap too, made cheaper by Mamu's senior citizen card.
We couldn't decide on dessert, I wanted Sebastian's Butter Pecan (again) but Mamu wasn't in the mood for ice cream. So we ended up at the newly opened Krispy Kreme. We had Original Glaze, Lemon Cheesecake and New York Cheesecake. Again, Mamu flashed her senior citizen card and we got a 20% discount!
It was nice spending the afternoon with Mamu and the best part about the whole thing is another leftover-free dinner! I’m a happy camper.

On Driving...

The first time I enrolled in a driving school was circa 2000. We just got a new car and I was excited to drive it around. Full of optimism my brother and I signed up for driving lessons. After five days I was pretty sure I can take the car out and drive to my heart's content.

Not as easy as it looks.

Fast forward to 2009...

I enrolled again, this time at a different school, looking forward to the day I could drive Nino. The first session was okay, so was the second, and so on. Until I decided to finally try out Nino. I asked my brother to accompany me. With confidence I went to the driver's seat, revved up the engine, started the car, stepped on the clutch then the accelerator and I was off!

It was a disaster as soon as we turned at the first corner! My mind went blank. I forgot what I learned at driving school. The whole "driving around the subdivision" turned into a shouting match between me and my brother. Until he left, that experience was never repeated again.

But I don't give up that easily. It was just mind over matter. Friends told me that it just takes time and a lot of practice. As an incentive, I promised Mamu that when I finally become a good driver I would take her to Tagaytay and treat her to a day of pampering at Sonya's Garden. She laughed and said "kailan pa kayo yun?".

Yesterday, I practiced again, this time with Mamu. I drove Nino around the subdivision. It was somewhat better, but still "no deal"! I'm starting to believe that I don't have the driving "gene". How come I just don't get it?! Really!

Looks like Tagaytay seems to be getting farther and farther away. Mamu's Sonya's Garden pampering will have to wait. Indfinitely. Haay naku...

With fingers crossed, hopefully, this will be me in our Tagaytay roadtrip with Mamu.
With fingers crossed, hopefully, this will be me in our Tagaytay roadtrip with Mamu.

A Leftover-free Dinner at Chili's

Before my brother left for the US he and Mamu joined a medical mission in Vigan. Feeling guilty about leaving me alone for four days, Mamu overcompensated with her 'pasalubong'. She brought home two five gallon containers of Sukang Iloko, five kilos of Vigan longganisa, ten pieces of empanadas, a box of torta, a chiffon-like cupcake similar to mamon and a kilo of bagnet, the Vigan version of lechon kawali, melt in your mouth taba yummy and really deadly.
Sadly, up to this day we're still trying to finish the bagnet and longganisa. We'd have longganisa for breakfast, bagnet for lunch and a choice of either longganisa or bagnet again for dinner. Well... in between there's the roast chicken which is another leftover but that's another story.
So when my friend Rivka told me that she was setting up a dinner with old college friends I gladly agreed to go. Even when there was a last minute cancellation because another friend got sick I insisted on pushing through with dinner because I was already looking forward to a bagnet/longganisa/roast chicken-free dinner.
She decided on Chili's at Greenbelt 5.
I was the first one to arrive and was promptly escorted to our outside table because this was what Rivka requested. It was quite humid that day so we requested for a table inside and immediately as soon a table for 3 was vacated we were transferred.
We decided to skip the appetizers because the servings are big and there are only two of us, another friend cancelled and Henry, the last of our company is as usual, fashionably late. We decided on the Mountain Jack Fajita, juicy, marinated grilled chicken/beef smothered with Jack cheese, bacon and fresh sauteed mushrooms served with onions, bell peppers and our roasted tomato salsa (as the menu described) and a side order of corn-on-the-cob shredded (go figure). Since I was already having a roast chicken overload we requested for both beef and chicken. First to arrive was the corn on the cob and soon after the Mushroom Jack Fajitas which was composed of a sizzling plate with the mushrooms, beef, chicken, cheese (which I only noticed on my second fajita) roasted peppers and onions; a small platter of pico de gallo, sour cream and grated cheese on a bed of shredded lettuce; and another platter with three pieces of tortilla (you can request for two more). The beef was cooked just right and so is the chicken. I liked the roast pepper and onions. Although it was challenge to eat the fajitas without eveything falling off, this is a fun meal because of the do-it-yourself factor involved, perfect for a barkada get together.
Henry finally decided that it was time to grace us with his presence. He ordered the Old-timer Burger which is always a good choice. Chili's burgers are always a tried and tested favorite. Never got to taste the burger though because I had three rolls of fajitas but the fries were good.
We had the Brownie Sundae for dessert. A sinful concoction of warm walnut brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. This was yummy, yummy, yummy and the best thing about's free! Yup, free courtesy of Rivka's Ayala Malls A Card. Indeed, the best things in life are free!
Chili's is definitely worth going back to. It was a fun..f night. We all had good conversation, good food and a great laugh.

Roadtrips with Mamu

After months of thinking about it, weeks of talking about it with friends (eyes roll everytime the topic comes up) and days of researching I finally have my own blog! Yehey!
This was actually harder than I expected. I've been staring in front of the monitor for than two days contemplating on what my first blog should be. My friend (Henry) told me that it should be something about the site, sort of a bird's eye view.
So here goes... My brother left for the US a couple of days ago to pursue his medical internship training at West Virginia. Judging from the daily calls my mom and I could easily surmise that he was homesick. So to ease his homesickness and to keep him updated with what's going on I decided to start blogging.
Who is Mamu? She is my beloved Mamu who who like me, misses Johann (my brother). I promised her that we would be taking trips together to ease both our pangs of loneliness. I hope to take her to drive her around, that is when I finally learn how to drive, wherever the road will lead us.
In a nutshell, this is what the site is all about. Happenings in the Philippines to keep a loved one abroad updated and somehow ease their homesickness. I'll write about food, trips, experiences and anything about home.