Tag: food

The Sunday Currently Vol. 6

Feel a bit gross today – could be a cold catching up or the leftover effects of Friday night (more on that later), so will save my usual rambling for the currentlies themselves!

Reading

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, the first in a series of historical fiction about Thomas Cromwell/the Tudor court in the times of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. It feels like a long time since I’ve sunk my teeth into some good complicated fiction, the last one being Haruki Murakami’s Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Is this a good time to confess that I’m not the most avid reader of literary fiction? Actually, my fiction reading overall is significantly lower than what it ought to be — something I hope to fix this year.

Anyway, Wolf Hall is engrossing, the sort of book I look forward to savoring in snatches of the day. It’s not the kind of book I could power through in a couple days, though I’m a fast reader. Mantel’s writing is beautiful and fluid, and takes you through dimensions of time and space and dreams in a few short sentences. One second you’ll be caught deep in a haughty cardinal’s confidences, and the next you’re drifting through the mythological origins of Britain where shapeshifters and kings of prophecy reigned. That’s probably why I can’t read it quickly; it takes awhile to ground myself again and remind myself of the complicated cast of characters, as well as what is actually happening.

I highly recommend it, and am looking forward to going straight into the next book, Bring Up the Bodies.

Writing

This is kind of cheating, but last week I started a short story set in the South Pole. It took a lot longer than I expected to finish (and was rightfully chastised for not hitting the deadline, huhu) due to getting caught up in researching Antarctica and the specific project my character was to be involved in. The project itself is called the IceCube Neutrino, designed to track the faint traces of the Big Bang as they crash into pure, unsullied Antarctic ice deep underground. The story is going to be a lot longer than expected (I’m thinking 6 or 8 thousand words, rather than the original 2) but we’ll see.

Cooking

The kitchen is more or less in order! I have my cast iron casserole (not Le Creuset, but one from Sainsburys which people on the internet claim is just as good), an awesome chef knife, and mixing bowls. Last weekend I cooked a risotto-paella hybrid, which is something my ex boyfriend’s mother made once and I have never forgotten (though hers tasted infinitely better). It’s basically risotto parmesan with paella toppings. I also made a beef minestrone soup (so good on cold days) and chocolate chip banana bread, which when eaten with clotted cream ice cream feels like winning X Factor.

Today I cooked a chicken roast dinner, but because I feel ill I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted.

Feeling

Very under the weather. Not sure if it’s because I’ve finally caught the cold that’s been sweeping through my classmates, taking them down one by one, or because of Friday night which, to summarize a thousand words, went like this:

I’m too old to be partying like it’s 1999. But it was a 90s theme party (note the wall decorations) in what looked like someone’s basement (but wasn’t), and they filled the wine glasses up to the brim, so of course horrible and amazing things were going to happen. The days of bouncing back from a hangover in time for drunk brunch are long gone.

Needing

To sit down and really sort through my goals for 2015. Because there’s only 11/12ths of it left. Lolcry.

Clicking

This article about a woman whose writing career is sponsored by her husband is a must-read. I commend her for her honesty – it’s far easier to pretend that successful people get by on their own merits. In no way does this discredit writers who have to juggle family life and jobs with writing, and in no way does this say that you have to be supported to be a writer. I think it’s saying that if you have privilege, acknowledge it. It’s no crime to be lucky, but dangerous if you pretend your success is independent of the fortunate circumstances of your life.

My truth is, at the moment, similar to hers. I am where I am not because I’m a good writer, but because I’ve had the incredible good fortune to have parents who subsidize my dreams. It’s super annoying when others with even more opportunities whine about how they got to where they are solely because of hard work. Oh, so it had nothing to do with your connections or surname or family money?

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It seems like a slap in the face to people who actually did get to where they are without any of those.

That said, some people get their foot in the door faster than others, or can choose from more doors, but at the end of the day everyone has to work hard to get to where they want. There’s no one path to success, so why pretend yours is something it’s not?

Perhaps I’ll leave things on that rant…might try to get more tea in me before calling it a night!

[EDIT]

I didn’t really want to leave things on that rant…so here are Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments for Work. We are kindred spirits, and for anyone who knows the feeling, this is for you!

Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments. #writers #amwriting

A photo posted by Bea Pantoja (@dalagaproject) on

The Sunday Currently Vol. 4

This feels like the first Sunday in awhile that I’ve not had the pressure of a major assignment (though the feeling is an illusion, as I have a big paper due on Friday). It was also the first day that I’d experienced a Christmas dinner in London, and the two combined made for a very enjoyable day.

There were Christmas crackers waiting at every seat when we got to the pub. I’ve never had a Christmas cracker before. You cross arms with the people next to you so you’re each holding onto the ends of a cracker and give it a tug. With a great pop, the cracker splits and out tumbles a variety of things you’ll use once and never again: a crown made of colored tissue paper, a little toy (mine was a plastic hairclip; Matt got a paperclip, and others got eyepatches and star cookie cutters), and jokes and riddles. Everyone puts on their crowns and tests their friends on their riddle lore, and when it’s combined with enough booze it can be great fun.

On a side note I seem to have drunk more in the past few weeks than I have all year. That fact combined with the swiftly chilling weather has led to a less than desirable amount of sniffles, zits, and general deadness behind the eyes.

Our dinner was in a pub tucked into an alleyway that led straight to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which has not stopped being beautiful no matter how many times I’ve seen it. After dinner we circled around and saw a portion of the dome illuminated through tree leaves like black lacework. Our last view of St. Paul’s for the night came from the other side of the Thames, in front of Tate Modern, where the cathedral unobstructed and bright as the moon..

In three days I head back to Manila (!!) and I’m so excited to see my family again. I’m going to do my best to see as many friends as possible but I’m only there for two weeks. If it’s difficult to coordinate a get together normally, imagine the task at Christmas when everyone is dealing with their fair share of family, extended family, balikbayan family, and all else. Never mind budgeting 3 hours just to get anywhere! (I’ve been sympathizing with people who have shared their travel and commuting woes this season).

Anyway, on to the Currentlies:

Reading

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Curry. I’m slowly making my way through this book but every time I read a few pages I always feel guilty about the lack of structure in my life and poor self-discipline. While not every artist followed a stringent ritual, many of the most prolific ones adhered to a schedule that would make Phineas Fogg feel ashamed.

For example, did you know that Gertrude Stein could only write half an hour an day? But much of the day was devoted to thinking of what to write for that half hour (often by driving around fields staring at cows — and it had to be the right cow. I’m not joking! Then again I never did care for Stein’s work). Also, Stein relied heavily upon her partner, Alice B. Toklas, to do the household and admin work, a trend that runs commonly throughout the book.

Aside from a fastidious routine, I’m learning that to be a productive artist I must also: pretend the real world does not exist and hope someone is willing to go through hell and high water to give me my “creative space”; rely heavily on some substance, whether it be cigarettes or alcohol or worse; eat simple breakfasts (HAH NO THANKS); be in possession of a spacious country retreat; commit to working every day, even if nothing gets produced.

I’d love an updated version of this book with more true-to-life and diverse examples (aka, not dead and white).

Writing

Christmas shopping lists, mostly, though I have a big paper due on Friday. I don’t know how I’m going to get that done.

Listening

This afternoon, I listened to a semi-complete orchestra of senior citizens perform a string of Irish ballads and Christmas carols in the bar. Currently I’m listening to some vintage Maaya Sakamoto: she was a Japanese voice actress-turned-singer (aren’t they all?). I’ve learned that my music tastes haven’t evolved much beyond high school, so I listen to the same songs for years and years. Like this one, from 2001:

Cooking

Not much these days — I haven’t had much time to cook! Whenever I’m mildly hungover though I’ll cook a huge breakfast — scrambled eggs and shredded fried potatoes. It’s all just a grand excuse to shovel as much cheese as I can into my system, even though cheese is terrible for me.

Thinking

A lot lately about the role of social media and how much we should let it control our lives. Not too heavily — perhaps I’m just annoyed by the sudden influx of people on my feeds complaining about how people judge them for their social media activity and how what they post doesn’t say everything about them.

To some extend I agree: as a person who loves Instagram but also loves privacy, it would be hypocritical of me not to agree that social media doesn’t say everything about a person. At the same time…the loudest critics I’ve heard tend to be highly active on social media and are smart about leveraging it and their personal assets when it suits them, but the moment they’re criticized for it it’s all, “OMG you don’t know my whole life story okay?”

I don’t know! Basically, I believe it’s a safe assumption and common knowledge that people have more varied interests than what they choose to make public, but if you’re so worried about what people think about you based on social media, maybe you should revisit how much you rely on other people’s opinions of you — or what you post on social media.

Smelling

Fresh laundry.  We’re doing as much as we can before heading to Manila. This has resulted in accidentally doing wools on the Sports Intense setting and dyeing all of Matt’s white shirts blue (damn you cheap Adventure Time T-shirt!).

Hoping/Needing

To get everything I need done by Wednesday.

Wearing

Guerlain Rouge G L’Extrait Orgueil after a long period of neglect. It does transfer a bit and needs some touching up, but it’s such a gorgeous color especially for Christmas dinners!

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Wanting

To find nice but affordable decoration and furniture for our new flat, which we’re moving into the first week of January! I won’t be able to do much to it until I’ve seen the place again and once we have our stuff in, but I’ve started Pinning ideas.

Loving

Miso soup. Just the thing for icky sicky feelings. I saw a suggestion online to add a poached egg and noodles to miso soup, and thought this was a brilliant solution — until I realized that that dish exists, and it’s called miso ramen.

Feeling

Reflective. This weekend we went to Matt’s house to meet the family before Christmas, especially his new baby nephew. The baby was only 2 days old when we went, and I got to hold him for a little. I was terrified — that my arm wouldn’t support his neck, that I was dirty and grotty from the train, that he’d be uncomfortable and upset, that I would drop him — but it was a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t say that it switched my maternal instincts from 0 to 60, but perhaps I have a better understanding now of the “magical moment” that mothers describe. At least until the babies learn to cry and say no and run around, haha.

I wish my siblings would have kids that I could be a cool Auntie for – so I can hand them back when they need changing!

Eating

For today’s Christmas dinner, we had a 3 course meal at the pub: chicken liver pate with chutney and greens, lamb with lentils and roasted potatoes with vegetable sides like cabbage and brussel sprouts, shredded red cabbage, and carrots and parsnips, then profiteroles filled with Bailey’s cream. Aside from a few glasses of prosecco I had a chenin blanc then a pinot grigio. All delicious.

 

Original Sunday Currently

An Ode to Potatoes

Raclette in Borough Market

O knobbly bulb! O root of joy!

From whose divine bosom did forth thou’st spring

To cushion the teeth with the apples of heaven?

Thy grim visage, thy skin like stone

Yielding, in coronation, to sun-stained flesh

Adorned with thy crown of butter and cream!

– Bea Pantoja, 1787

The potato, like the egg, is a food of humble beginnings and infinite possibilities. Have you heard anyone say “I don’t like potatoes”? Of course not! If you have, back away slowly because you are not speaking to a human. The potato is so amorphous that there is at least one form that people enjoy. With a basket of potatoes in your kitchen and some salt, you can do pretty much anything.

Of course, it helps to have more elaborate accoutrements, especially in the winter when you crave rich, hearty foods to warm your bones with an extra layer of blubber. Potato purists may scoff, but the more fat my potatoes are drowning in, the better. I like my potatoes the way I like my men: loaded.

That said, here are a few delicious potatoes I got to enjoy while in London.

Raclette

Raclette from Borough Market

Raclette is a dish originating from the Swiss Alps consisting of boiled potatoes topped with a pile of roasted cheese. In London’s Borough Market, they’re served with a crack of pepper, gherkins and pickled pearl onions.

Raclette in Borough Market

There’s always a line for raclette, especially when the crowd picks up on Sunday afternoon, so you have the pleasure of watching the process before it’s your turn. A row of 3 industrial raclette machines, each fixed with half a wheel of cheese, burn at once, melting the exposed surface of cheese into a pile of bubbling goo. If you’re lucky, you get one that’s been under the fire a little longer, and the cheese has become just slightly singed and golden.

Raclette in Borough Market

Next, the cheese is generously scraped over the potatoes. They’ll ask you if you want this or that – say yes to everything – and then it’s in your hands. Now you’re on the clock.

Eating raclette is a race against time, more so when it’s cold. You have mere minutes to wolf it down before the cheese hardens again, and the steamy softness of each potato chunk disappears. This is not a problem for Matt, who sometimes forgets to breathe when he eats, but I’m not so lucky. The law of diminishing returns come down hard on this dish: the first few bites absolute heaven, the final few an unfriendly struggle.

I definitely enjoyed it more last year, but it was spring, then, and I wasn’t as sick, and it had the advantage of being a novelty for me. This won’t stop me from eating it again, but I’ll split with someone next time!

Tartiflette

Tartiflette from Herne Hill Market

This dish originates from a region not too far from the birthplace of Raclette: the Haute Savoie region in the French Alps, which borders both Switzerland and Italy on the west. It is basically the richer, more in-your-face cousin of potato gratin and made with: reblochon cheese – a pungent, nutty cheese that melts into a uniform cream; lardon or smoked bacon, and caramelized onions.

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Luckily I didn’t have to go very far to enjoy this, as it was available every Sunday at the market by Matt’s station. A massive frying pan of sliced potatoes drenched in cheese and bacon and cream cooked by a good-looking Frenchman? Shut up and take my money.

Tartiflette is served with a light crisp salad on the side, which helped immensely to cut through the heaviness of the dish. I wasn’t able to finish it all in one go, but as it came in a foil pan, I just popped the leftovers into the oven the next day and it was good as new.

French Fries

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I will never call them chips. Representing actual Britain in this British were the simple yet noble french fries, usually enjoyed in a big heaping pile at Nandos. Matt loves Nandos so much that we were able to redeem a free whole chicken after finishing up the rewards card – twice. This meant a lot of chicken, and even more fries.

Okay, I lied. I will call them chips this one time, because to call them “Fish and French Fries” is stupid. But look at how many you get for dinner!

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Dinner for one. An admittedly tiny fork for scale. By the end of this meal, eating tartiflette every night would have been considered cutting back.

Yes, that is a bread roll stuffed with french fries behind the beer can.

Fancy Pants Sausage & Mash

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When I ordered sausages and mash for a late lunch at The Book Club in Shoreditch, I didn’t expect it to come out looking like this. I probably should have known better, given that I was in one of the “trendier” cafes in the neighborhood, but considering I’ve never even seen a gussied-up English breakfast, why should sausages and mash be treated any different?

This was a delight to eat, though. The sausages had a thin, crispy skin and a slightly charred flavor, and the potatoes were creamy and substantial but not too dense. The sweet onion gravy it came swimming in added dimension to what can normally be a bland dish, though a little went a long way. Several forkfuls stacked with a bit of each, washed down with cold lager, and I was well-nourished – and sufficiently buzzed – enough for an afternoon of writing.

I hope you liked this spudly feature! I’m a little burned out on makeup already, but instead of stopping the momentum I will just try to blog about other things. What are your favorite ways to eat them taters?

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These Bronuts Ain’t Made For Fisting

As is customary on this blog, I always like to be the first to cover the biggest trends, local and otherwise. Hence, this exceptionally timely spotlight on cronuts.

:/

To be fair to my belated ass, this spotlight shines down on one special brand of cronuts — the kind imagined by a 10-year old kid in the throes of a sugar rush. “And then — and then what if we put CHEESE and BACON and STRAWBERRIES inside and NUKED it till it EXPLODED!” Because with flavors like cream cheese and bacon, pork floss, and strawberry yogurt, this idea is not far from the truth. So, the name Bronuts is quite fitting.

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Bronuts are big. Bronuts are cronuts on steroids. Bronuts have no patience for their original incarnations — wow, your cronut’s got jam in it? How nice. Go fuck yourself! Bronuts want to be better than you, but not as much as they want to be better than each other.

Bronuts are attention-seekers. Bronuts spend hours grooming themselves into frosted perfection in order to catch your eye.

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Belgian Salted Caramel

Bronuts care about size. Real Bronuts stand tall, each accordion-like layer of pastry filled with puffs of air (not too dissimilar from the human bros you might find at Republiq). Yet bronuts know when to surrender. At the first bite or curious poke of the fork or finger, down they go, flaky frame and filling deflating with tiny crackles and a squelching sound that’s almost obscene. Because deep down, real bronuts just want to make you happy.

Pylones

Pylones

Bronuts think sharing is caring. Bronuts consider the problem to every solution to be: more, more, more. More chocolate. More cream. More bacon. MORE BRONUT. Just check out what’s coming next, if you didn’t think the originals were decadent enough.

It’s easier to judge a Bronut than a bro by his nuts, but kudos must go to Bronuts’ bro founders for their commitment to quality. Bronuts are baked fresh the day of sale, even though baking in advance could have satiated the long lines that gobbled up Bronuts by early afternoon when the kiosk first opened. Expensive ingredients are not doled sparingly: our sour cream and bacon Bronut had plenty of both.

Sour Cream & Bacon

Sour Cream & Bacon

This is why, even though cronut craze has died down, I would still consider indulging in a Bronut. It will be interesting to see how the existing cronut shops fare as we fickle, food-loving Pinoys hop onto the next  trend. What is it now, those cups made out of cookies?

But I’m rooting for Bronuts – because their cronuts are food porn fapworthy, because they are delicious, unapologetic blasts of sugar and fat, and because everyone there seems so freaking nice.

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Bronuts ask you to live a little. They are the enemy of strict diets, and manna for those who starve themselves of simple pleasures. Bronuts are kind of intense that way, so hold back if you have diet-related health issues. But most importantly, bronuts don’t care if you’re fat or not. They ask of you only three things: what kind? how many? and will that be one fork or four?

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Bronuts are available at SM Aura Food on Four and Century City Mall. They are a very fair P110 each.

Singapore Food Interlude

Before mosey-ing over to London I had about 7 free hours of nighttime to kill in Singapore. Naturally, a majority of this time was spent eating.

I came out of the airport to this:

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Oh Zee. There is no water in the world now that can quench the fires of my ego. Now I can say The Dalaga Project is “internationally recognized” and point people to this picture as evidence. :3

We picked up Giselle and headed to the one place we knew would be open till the late hours: Newton Hawker Center.

Those familiar with Singapore may advise against Newton as the best quality provider of hawker food, as it is the main destination for tourists looking to experience local cuisine and so the stalls may pander to that. But as a late-night reunion destination that happens to serve tasty food, especially all our favorites, it was perfect.

We started with some ice-cold sugar cane juice.

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Giselle took pictures. I took pictures of Giselle taking pictures.

singapore-interlude-3Zee ordered the Singapore essentials from the Beehive Lady, so nicknamed for her voluminous hairstyle.

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Some oyster omelette. Look at that solitary slimy piece up top – yum yum.

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Some carrot cake, which is not at all like the Western dessert. The carrot here is referencing the radish that dominates the dish, which is sauteed with rice cakes, garlic, egg, and green onions.

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Some vegetables cooked in garlic sauce, to provide the illusion of a balanced meal and to cut through the chewiness of the other two dishes.

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And finally, some grilled stingray piled high with chili sauce. Zee demonstrates the art of squeezing calamansi juice over the stingray with a fine flourish.

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Even after pushing most of the sauce away and stuffing my face with vegetables after each bite, my tongue burned from the chili sauce. I also paid for it dearly in the wee hours of the next morning – not the best dish to eat before long-haul flights, but it was worth it.

At some point in the evening Bryant came by on his motorbike. Though we’d all attended the same school and three of them now live in Singapore, we’d all gone years without seeing each other. It’s funny how you might live in the same city as someone and not see them often – Zee and I used to live on the same block in NYC and would go without months seeing each other! Not ideal, but sometimes it is how it is. You know it’s a friendship that will last when you pick things up as if you were never apart.

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People at school used to mix Zee and Bryant up. What do you think?

A brief nap at Giselle’s and back to the airport. Prerequisite goodbye shot (previous word initially contained a typo that, while inappropriate, wouldn’t have been entirely inaccurate as a summary of the morning activities):

singapore-interlude-11With a couple minutes to kill before boarding, I swatched the Clinique Chubby Intense lip balms. They really are like a cross between a lip balm and lipstick. Super smooth, glides on like a dream, and quite opaque.

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Do you like my hairy hands?

I’d been lusting after these for awhile and was surprised to find I didn’t actually like them as much once swatched. I’m gaining more appreciation for the more subtle colors in the original line (like Whole Lotta Honey) and I’m not fond of the micro glitters in a majority of the Intense shades. Also, I thought I’d be into the bolder colors more but if I were to get a Chubby Stick Intense it would be the most neutral color of the bunch – Curviest Caramel. We shall see. I’ll think on it more.

I also swatched more of the light-colored Guerlain Rouge L’Extrait Liquid Lipsticks, which I liked a lot more, but I can’t even think about Guerlain right now.

Just realized how obnoxious that sounded. “I can’t even think about Guerlain right now. Ugh, don’t even talk to me about Tom Ford! And let’s please not get into Suqqu ever, I cannot even. Cannot. Even.”

Drama queen, out!