December 22, 2010

Best Men and Fathers gifts

I wanted to give the special men in our wedding a little token of our appreciation.
There are so many choices of gifts out there, from keychains to money clip to bottles of wine, but nothing seemed to be personal enough. Finally I found Etsy and I fell in love.
I surfed for hours on the site and found plenty of adorable options. I was psyched.
Eventually I went for quite a standard gift: cufflinks. They're useful and D.'s brothers, who act as our Best Men, as well as both our fathers would be able to wear them during our Big Day. But those weren't just regular cufflinks. I had the customized with our wedding date, the guy's name, his role (for e.g. Best Man) as well as a word that best described them...
Kristin, the woman behind this wonderful idea was super easy to work with. I finally got my package through mail and the result is awesome. I can't wait to give the men their gift!

December 21, 2010

Tik Tok

I have 18 days left until the wedding and feel I am running around like a headless chicken.
I always thought being engaged for a year was way overrated and that I wouldn't need as much time to plan all the preparations. Boy, was I wrong!
My to-do list is never ending and every item I seem to tick off, creates 3 more items at the bottom of the list. I feel like Sisyphus!

But overall I think I got most of it under control. I consider myself an organized person, bordering obsessive-compulsive, so the wedding should be OK.
As much as things have been crazy these days, I force myself to think about the larger picture. The why behind all the craze. I'm marrying my best friend, my soulmate, my partner in crime, my lover.... I couldn't ask for anything more in a man. He might not be the tall, blond, blue-eyed Swede I used to dream of, but he has every quality a woman should look for in a man.
So every night, I remind myself of that and try to relax and forget about the petty problems of wedding planning. 18 more days 'til the rest of my life. I can't wait.

August 24, 2010

Obsession du Jour - Pop Quiz Math Clock

This is for the inner geek in me. Ok, ok, not so inner and hidden. I'm a proud geek!

More brainiac stuff is available on ThinkGeek. I wonder if D. would mind if I hung that in our apartment....

August 15, 2010

Claim to fame

It's quite obvious that every girl believes that her own story is the epitome of fairy tales. So did I, of course. But my very down-to-earth, realistic me also knew that our story, albeit having some cheese-factor to it, was just one amongst a plethora of love stories.

When I decided to answer The Knotty Bride's call for engagement stories, it was more out of shits and giggles and because I liked the idea of bringing this life-changing moment to paper, making it last forever - for me and the endless cyberworld.

I forgot about it and when I got an email from a girl named Alison, it took me a minute or two to connect the dots. She said something about "congratulations, I featured your story."
Huh?! What story? I clicked on the link only to realize that - holy moly - our story was featured on one of the coolest wedding blogs out there...

On top of being among the chosen ones from, I'm certain, hundreds and hundreds of entries, the responds and comments to the post were just the perfect icing on the cake.

So thank you Alison for making my weekend (despite being bed-ridden due to flu!) and thanks to the readers who took the time to read through my novel of an engagement story and to those who only had sweet words to say about it.

August 6, 2010

Obsession du Jour - Sleeping Bag

I have no plans on going camping in the wild anytime soon, but if I did I'd get me one of these ultra-stylish sleeping bags

August 5, 2010

Where are you from?

You would think that with full-blown globalization hitting us from every corner and intercultural being more than just a trend word but rather a reality, a question such as "where are you from?" would be outdated. Well, it isn't.... I've always had a hard time dealing with this question and used to have an inferiority complex for not being able to answer it straightforward. A perfect stranger would ask me this, hoping for some smalltalk with no malice intended, and I would simply sink in to a deep depression manifested by an utter identity crisis, prompting me to shout "I don't know! Leave me alone". Ok, that's exaggerated, but in essence that's it.

A while back I realized I wasn't alone. For one, there was my sister. And then I found out there was even a term for us "Third Culture Kids". We're more than just halfies. We're thirdies, quarties or more....

Where are you from? can generate some interesting answers:

I love it when people argue with me as to where I'm from.
"No you can't be Chinese, you sound American!"
"Actually by nationality I'm British, but my parents are both Chinese."
"So you're not American?"
"Not really, no."
"Are you Canadian then?"
"Are you SURE?"

When I am asked this question here in the US, I tend to say "I am from France", since I first came here as an exchange student from a French University. When I am asked where in France... that's when it gets complicated. My parents are living in Paris, so I would go with that. If the person asks me where I was born though... ugh! Brazil. "Oh, wow!" is the usual reaction; since I live in South Texas, people eventually speak Spanish at one point, and I will reply in the language. Ugh again. "Oh my, how come you speak Spanish? Cause you were born in Brazil?" UGH! No, Portuguese is the official language in Brazil. I speak Spanish because my Mom is from Spain, and so am I. Last and most common question: "Where is your last name from?"... triple ugh! Russia. My father's family migrated from Russia to France before WWII. At that point, the person is completely lost and will 1) either try to repeat all I said (and fail); 2) or just make a grumpy look and throw a "oook..." (hence, he/she did not follow what I said).

"Your accent, you're American right?"
Me: "Uhm no"
"Really? You sound like a California girl"
Me: "I was born in Japan, but I spent most of my childhood in South America"
"But your English..."
Me: "International School and then college in the states"
"Ah! That's the Californian accent"
Me: "Actually New York City. (sigh)"
"And now you live in Japan where you are really from?"
Me: "I was only born in Japan, the rest of the time was just me wandering this magical's only one planet after all."
"Now I'm really confused"
Me: (shrug)

Other possible answers:
- Somewhere out there
- Do you want the long or the short version?
- Pick a country - any country!
- Are you where I was born, where I grew up, where my parents are from or what kind of passport I have?
- When I find out I'll let you know
- Um, it's kind of hard to explain
- Do you have enough time for this?
- You know, I wish I knew
- Um, it depends
- I don't know

Nowadays I can answer this question in my sleep and often I just let D. explain it for me. I still feel confused and non-belonging at times. But I have accepted it. I see envy in people's eyes when they hear my story. I envy them for knowing exactly where they belong. We all want what we don't have.

August 2, 2010

Obsession du Jour - Book Clutch

Isn't geek chic the new in-thing on the runways nowadays? For those who are fashionistas and bookworms at once check this out:

Kate Spade's book of the month clutch

Also comes in the versions "Great Expectations" and "The Importance of Being Earnest". Two more "books" are yet to be launched....

Me. Want. Badly. But at $325 a pop, I'll have to be satisfied with just the pretty pictures.

August 1, 2010

Obsession du Jour - The Cool Hunter

Quirky design and architecture from the Cool Hunter. Amazing what people can come up with. Makes me regret that I do not have much of a creative bone in me.

Whenever you feel like a quick nap

D.'s dream kitchen

Bookstore in a church

Cafeteria for a guaranteed headache

The crisis

I've made my peace with Manila and was proud to say that homesickness didn't affect me anymore and that I could call Manila "home". I felt out of place last time I visited Munich and was looking forward to come back to the Philippines were for a while now things seemed more comfortable, more familiar.

Until 2 days ago. Unsuspecting, I hailed a taxi after my pilates work-out. I had a good day, a good training session and was feeling invigorated. Barely sitting in the car, my happy day turned into a nightmare and I have yet to sleep through the night without visual flashbacks.

The short version of the story is that the taxi driver got into a verbal fight with a pedestrian who dared crossing the street in front of the car. After some shouting and lots of bad words, it got physical and the pedestrian kicked shut the door and side mirror before walking away. The taxi driver popped open the trunk, and I first assumed it was accidentally because of the door slammed that pushed him back inside. He was fuming and I tried calming him down. But instead he got out and to the trunk and pulled out a gun and ran after the pedestrian, leaving me in the running car on the middle of the street.

I grabbed my bags and got out of there as quickly as possible. I was scared he might come back and I had to intention in being in a car with a mad man. What if he's ran after me because I saw what he did? I just walked away and around the corner to get away. I didn't hear any gunshots, but I was terrified nonetheless. My body was shaking and I could feel the tears swell up in my eyes. I wasn't physically capable of hailing another taxi, so I just walked back the few minutes to my office and calmed down there. D. picked me up a while after.

Growing up here, D. was worried but not shaken to the core as I was. People seem exposed to that type of crap around here. I had never even seen a gun until I moved here. These type of stories make the news in Munich and I don't know anyone who even knows anyone to whom something remotely similar happened. So how does one get over this experience and move on?

I had to ride another taxi going to work today and my pulse was racing throughout the trip.
If I were unpractical (and rich), I would pack my bags and hop into the next flight to Munich or Paris. I find myself wondering if I could deal with such things in the future. Can I raise children in such an environment. D. wants me to get a car, but there have been plenty of carnapping stories in the news lately and I'm not talking remote areas in the middle of the night, but streets I pass regularly. Is safety a sacrifice I have to make living here?

I want to forget about it sooner rather than later and be able to live without wondering if I'd be better off living in Europe. I used to see all the advantages of living in Manila, now all I see is the negative. I still hope prevails that time will heal wounds and erase memory.

July 31, 2010

Food Tasting

The wedding is only 149 days away and there are still a thousand things I need to take care of. My to-do list seems to grow with each day rather than shrink. Invites, guestlist, flowers, gowns, shoes, rings, music... It's neverending.

One point that I was looking forward to was the food tasting. At least you get instant satisfaction (assuming the food is good) from it unlike other items on the list where the result is only seen the big day itself. My sister/maid of honor and D. joined me for an earlier dinner at our reception venue Marriott Newport City.

We decided on a sit-down, 4-course menu. For the food tasting we got to pick 3 dishes for each course. Our decision was unanimous for soup, appetizer and entrée. We are still torn when it comes to desserts, as they were all so delicious that we'd actually want all of them. We'll probably end up with a mash-up of the choices we had.

Meanwhile, here's a sneak peek of what's to come.... There are still tweaks here and there, improvements on presentation and increasing/decreasing of portions or certain ingredients, but this is more or less it. Bon appétit!

Soup: Cream of cauliflower with toasted almonds and truffle essence
Verdict: We requested for some more truffle oil to be added as we're big fans of the taste.

Appetizer: Sweet harbour prawns, tomato avocado salsa, spicy remoulade and salmon caviar.
Verdict: Presentation is a mess and the chef is working on coming up with something visually more inspiring. But the prawns taste fresh, fresh, fresh and the avocado salsa is tasty.

Entrée: Grilled Australian rib-Eye, sautéed rock lobster tail, asparagus, potato dauphinoise, truffle sauce
Verdict: We knew from the start we wanted a surf&turf. This version exceeded our expectations. I'm not a huge fan of lobster, but this was delicious and D. and I fought about who got the last piece. We switched the truffle sauce to a simple red wine sauce as to not overpower the taste of the steak and lobster. Portions are obviously very generous, and I hope even our most hungriest guests will be satisfied.

Dessert: Banana Split cheesecake, rhubarb&pear crumble
Verdict: I'm still salivating just thinking about it. Not everyone is into rhubarb&pear though...

Dessert, option 2: Chocolate banana spring rolls with fresh lychee and fresh mango
Verdict: This is a glorified turon with a chocolate ganache in it. Home food with a sophistication.

Dessert, option 3: Chocolate crème brulée, chocolate mille-feuille, chocolate almond cake and whiskey sauce
Verdict: Chocolate overload. The mille-feuille reminds me of my dad's favorite dessert whenever we were on vacation in South of France.

July 30, 2010

Obsession du Jour - Wall Stickers

Not the type to hang your grandma's artwork on your walls? How about a different type of art? Wallstickers are such a cool and easy way to give your home a little ooompf without having to commit to it like you would if you'd paint your walls a bold color.

I've been browsing Acte-Deco looking for ideas and already planning nursery rooms for my yet-to-be-conceived children. Can't wait to decorate our new home. Well, we'll have to find one first. But once we do, I have plenty of ideas already.

July 27, 2010

Obsession du Jour - Bridal websites

As a bride-to-be, I'm obviously a sucker for everything wedding-related out there. I have a thigh-high stack of bridal magazines at home and suffer from acute analysis-paralysis because of the overload of inspirations I bookmarked.

To make matters worse, there's an array of A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E blogs and websites in the cyberworld that post the cutest pictures from real weddings, ideas for the Do-It-Yourself Bride and other snippets making me exclaim in awe "Ooh! I could do that. This would look pretty!". Here are the ones I visit daily (sshh! don't tell my boss):

I will still be browsing through Style Me Pretty even long after i'm married.

The most gorgeous and ethereal real weddings are featured on 100 Layer Cake. I wonder if they'll post my pictures...

La Belle Bride makes me swoon and pray that I'll look just as radiant and stylish as the brides on the website.

Inspiration boards galore on Snippet & Ink and plenty of links to browse through and "waste" an entire working day.

July 26, 2010

Obsession du Jour - Laptop Envelope

Another find from Totally Funky is the Undercover Laptop Bag.

This ratty, wrinkled brown envelope is actually a padded, waterproof, tearproof laptop sleeve. In a country were you can get mugged for a lot less than a laptop, this is one ingenious idea.

July 23, 2010

Obsession du Jour - Paper Plan Wash Bag

I love stumbling upon quirky stuff like that while surfing. So I've decided to add a new category to my blog called Obsession du Jour. This could be anything from gadgets, websites, pictures, food, anything really.

Today: Paper Plan Wash Bag, available at:

This wash bag is the most adorable gift for my bridesmaids. It's designed to look like an old-fashioned package shipped via snail mail complete with string, stamps and that brown paper look. Instead of the address there's a slogan that says "Wash Your Face and Wash your Feet, Now it's Time to Fall Asleep".

They also have a make-up bag inspired by a postcard. As Rachel Zoe would say: "I die".

July 6, 2010

Every 4 years...

... the world comes together. For 31 days. To stand apart.

No other event encourages nationalism and patriotism as much as the FIFA World Cup. But what do you do if your heart belongs to more than one country?
My filipino blood doesn't call for attention during football season, as the Philippines has yet to be able to perform well in this sport. But my French blood as well as my German upbringing, split my support in two. I haven't seen a match yet, in which my two countries went head to head, so I was never forced to side for one and abandon the other.

With France embarrassing exit of this year's competition. My hearts and lungs (I lost my voice after the win over Argentina) root for Germany.
Unfortunately, the World Cup is not as big a celebration here in Manila as it is back in Munich. So I'll just post some pictures from 4 years ago to reminisce the only 31 days every 4 years, that Germans are proud and loud about being Germans. Deutschland vor! Noch ein Tor! (or in this case: Allez les Bleus!).

July 4, 2010

Random thoughts

From as early as childhood, we are told to always strive for more. Faster, higher, stronger like the Olympic motto. As if life was a constant competition. Always try to be richer, more beautiful, more successful etc. Society often judges and measures us by these criteria. And we comply to it. At least I do. Financial stability is a major concern in my life. I wonder every day how much life would be simpler, had I not to worry about money. Goal: be richer. And everyone knows that girls have body issues. I'm getting married in less than 6 months, of course I'm not happy with the way I look. I've started a strict no-fried food, low carbs, no softdrinks diet and am considering taking it to the next level and going on a strict South Beach diet. Goal: be more beautiful. And work... Ah work!! It's so stressful lately with so many things going on. I got promoted earlier this year and still I want to do more, achieve more, hit higher targets. Goal: be more successful.

But what if that pursuit is actually our biggest roadblock to achieving happiness? What if our focus on always wanting more hinders us to live the moment?!
It's such a simple theory, as if I'm stating the obvious. But the truth is, I am feeling pressured. I am my own roadblock to bliss. Or at least I was. I mean I still want to achieve all of the above goals and pressure is still on, even the more so when I think that a) I need more money to support a child, b) need to get in shape before I get pregnant and c) need to achieve more in my career before I settle down, but the pressure has definitely lessened. I've learned to take a step back and look at my life and appreciate it for what it is. It's a tiny step and I hope that with time I will be able to take some more, but I'm grateful for what I have. I have someone by my side that loves me for who I am and I know that no matter the challenges I will face, at least I won't be alone anymore but have someone standing next to me.

Perfection isn't the goal. All those superlatives are great but they're not essential. To put in some cheesy words: the journey is the destination. I know it sounds like something of, it actually is. But happiness is found in trying to achieve it. I've made peace with my past, but now I've also made peace with my future.

June 25, 2010

Wedding gown and Drew Barrymore

I had Veejay Floresca in mind as my gown designer as soon as I saw some of his work in the local magazines. I checked out his blog and liked what I saw as well as what I read. He seemed passionate about his work and had connected on a personal level with each and every bride. I remembered his name from Project Runway Philippines. And while I hadn't watched the show, I am an avid fan of the US version. Veejay sounded like someone I had to meet and see for myself. So I emailed him, set a meeting and went to his atelier a few days later.

Veejay is bubbly and sweet. A little shy at first - people say I'm intimidating - I hope he warmed up to me. He liked the style of gown I was going for and agreed that it fit me bodytype-wise as well as personality-wise. I like things to be clean, simple, minimalistic. I want to accentuate my hourglass shape and would love a little architectural design in my gown. This is the sketch that Veejay came up with. We talked about the importance of fabric choice as the gown itself didn't have any embellishments or beadings, hence the fabric had to be of quality.

We chatted a little while longer while I was waiting for D. to pick me up and out of the blue Veejay interrupts me and tells me I look like Drew Barrymore. I don't know if you've all seen the latest Covergirl ads, but Drew is hoooot. At that moment, I wasn't sure if Veejay was serious or if this was simply a sneeky way of hypnotizing me into signing a contract with him. No matter, it actually worked. I was pretty much set on getting him after seeing his work and his attitude.

I met with a few more designers, but none were as excited and genuinely friendly as Veejay. I signed the contract and made the downpayment. Now he might have simply be the smartest of them all by wooing me and complimenting me, but beyond his negotiation skills, I know he's talented and truly believe he'll make my wedding gown just the way I envision it.

June 16, 2010

Easter/Western stereotypes

D. had to take this personality test for his admission in the EMBA-Global Asia program. Turns out, he is very quick to say yes and very low in emotionality. Big surprise! Not! I blame the latter on him being a archetypical guy who runs away as soon as he smells conflict and has no clue on how to express empathy. But high level of agreeableness and gregariousness, I believe are very cultural. In general, I always felt that Filipinos were extremely friendly people – reason why they excel in service-oriented industries.Of course, those are stereotypes and I don’t want to generalize an entire nation into a tiny little drawer, but it was quite interesting. The word “no” is very rarely used in the Philippines. I would hear “maybe”, “sure, I’ll try” and “of course” rather than a person admitting he/she can’t do it or can’t make it to a certain event. This is just my theory, but saying “yes” to all is probably a result to wanting to please people all the time (going back to being service-oriented, no?) and avoid disappointing; although by over-promising and under-delivering you are meant to disappoint at one point.

Another possible explanation, and here comes the big Western/Eastern clash, the respect (or sometimes fear) for authority. You don’t deny an authority figure, may it be elders, parents, bosses anything and in no way are you to disagree with whatever they have to say.
Again, I’m grossly exaggerating and stereotyping. But then again, where there is smoke, there’s probably a fire. Stereotypes have to be based on some sort of empirical data and even if not 100% accurate, there is truth behind them, so think about it… I see those stereotypes in my fiancé – he is the most confrontation-avoiding human being I have ever met. And I see them at work.

Harsh criticism is taken in as a personal attack, people are “scared” to voice opinion or even worse: disagree with superiors. Being driven and trying to get ahead is frowned upon, everyone always worried about stepping on someone else’s toes. Stereotypes exist for a reason, they are meant to be broken. Now while they definitely hold a lot of truth (and also have a positive spin to it, which I didn’t discuss here), I truly hope that my hypothetical kids will get a good mix of both my Western and D’s Easter stereotypes and turn out to be respectful, peace-seeking, yet strong-minded, ambitious. Best of both worlds.

April 24, 2010

Trying out raw food

I've always been a bit iffy about eating raw fish and have limited my intake to smoked salmon (I know it's not even raw) and the spicy crunchy tuna from Sugi. You could chase me with sashimi, sushi and the likes.

On a recent trip to Miami, I ended up in a Peruvian restaurant known for their ceviche. Great. Now, the purist might tell me that ceviche isn't per se raw as it is "cooked" in lime juice. But come on, cooking involves some sort of heat source in my world!

So here I was, in this modern, trendy, industrial-designed restaurant in Downtown Miami aptly named Cvi.che105. Sitting amidst a mixed crowd of South American locals, trendy yuppies and families, I reluctantly watched my boss order a big plate of their specialty Ceviche, "Simply close your eyes and enjoy this treasure made into a ceviche. It will make you revive the unforgettable Pucusana. It's fresh, tasty, and just a little spicy, with that something you will never forget". WHAT?!?! I had no clue what I had gotten myself into.

I decided to follow the instructions of the more than cryptic menu and simply close my eyes.
To my surprise it wasn't as bad as I though it would be. I was expecting slimy, glibbery texture (I'm weird about textures), but the fish was smooth and the taste was tangy with a kick.
I tried twice more and was pleased at my widening of culinary horizon.

For main we all shared Cvi.che105's best-sellers. The Arroz Chaufa de Marisco was reminiscent of fried rice or Nasi Goreng with bits of seafood, chicken and meat mixed with rice and some veggies. It was by far my favorite main dish of the night, albeit very Asian in nature.
The Sudado de Pescado is somewhat of a fish stew. It was OK, nothing exciting. I don't have anything bad nor grand to say about it. I wouldn't have ordered it for myself, but I ate it when it stood in front me.
The menu didn't elaborate what ingredient were in it, but something in there threw me off. I'm not sure what it was, but I wasn't so fond of it.

Full and satisfied, well and exhausted from an entire of work at the American Academy of Dermatology, we skipped dessert. So unlike me, I know.

105 NE 3rd Avenue

April 21, 2010

A taste of Ironchef cuisine

I've always been a sucker for Ironchef and other cooking shows and was more than ecstatic when my boss told us he'd bring us out for dinners in restos of celebrity chefs.

First night in New York, we headed to the casual dining concept of Mario Batali: Otto Enoteca Pizzeria. Located on Fifth Ave. and Eight St., Otto is supposed to be designed like an Italian train station. Upon entering you get a ticket with a city name on it (we were headed to Firenze); the big destination board on the entrance wall flips regularly to inform you once your table is ready. The place definitely has the hustling and bustling of a busy train station. It's very casual and the crowd is mixed from yuppies, to college students, young families. The front is occupied by the enoteca and you see happy people sipping wine for the extensive wine card. The back portion is the pizzeria, which is far more spacious than what it looked from the outside and the noise level of people chattering all over definitely doesn't make Otto your romantic dinner rendez-vous hotspot.

Our waitress wasn't the most friendly, but we got served rather efficiently so I credit her for that.
We started off with some cheeses and cold cuts. We got a selection of all meat antipasti and some of the cheeses (Parmigiano Reggiano, Aged Peppercorn Goat Cheese and Gorgonzola Dolce). The highlight for me here were the condiments. We were served 3 little plates of stewed apricot, black cherry compote and the star of the night, honey infused in black truffles. The condiments complemented the cheeses perfectly. I will never eat parmigiano without honey anymore! Once the cheeses were gone, we dipped the meat and the fresh crunchy bread into the dips. Delicious.

As main courses, we all shared 2 pizzas and a pasta dish. We settled for classics such as the Quattro Stagioni and Spaghetti Carbonara as well as an Otto special Pizza Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese. There was a mistake in the kitchen and we got served Quattro Fromaggi instead, but we were too starved to wait any longer. The pizzas were scrumptious: super thin crust and very tasty tomato sauce (I wonder if Mario would email me his recipe...). The pasta was good and I had seconds, maybe even thirds, but I wasn't blown away. After all this was Mario Batali's restaurant. I suppose my expectations were too high. Not to mention that I was bummed because Mario wasn't there.

But the sweet tooth that I am, I couldn't resist ordering dessert, despite my pants stretching from all the carbs we just enjoyed. We finished off with ice cream: Olive Oil Coppetta with Olive Oil Gelato (like nothing I've ever tasted before! Intriguing and addicting at the same time!), candied clementines, kumquats, lime curd, tangerine sorbet (refreshing) and fennel brittle. As well as a cup of Pistachio and Creme Fraiche Gelato. The scoop of pistachio reminded me of all the reasons why I love pistachio ice cream in the first place. It's a little salty, a little nutty, a little sweet all at the same time. Perfect. The Creme Fraiche Gelato was probably a terrible idea considering my upcoming wedding, but then again with bread, pasta and pizza, the damage was done anyways... It was creamy and thick and tasty. I was scared that it might just taste like cream but it had a distinct flavor and held its own against the other flavors.

Overall we had an outstanding dining experience, with great food, good wine (according to my companions) and lots of laughter. The service could be more cordial, but then again the place is so packed and busy it's no wonder the staff looks harassed. If you expect privacy, candle-lit dinners and plenty of attention from your server, Otto is not for you. Otto is the perfect hangout for friends who look for a taste of Italy at decent prices.

I would definitely go back during my next trip to the Big Apple as I think it's worth the hype. I'm still dreaming of that truffle-infused honey on cheese!

Otto Enoteca Pizzeria
1 5th Ave. corner 8th St.
New York

April 20, 2010

The hardship of getting married

Now who would have thought that it could be so difficult to get married to a foreigner?

There is dizzying barrage of documents and requirements we need to submit in order to be even allowed to file for even more requirements. I feel I'm running around like a headless chicken when all I really want to do is get married to D.
Bureaucracy I do not heart you. At all.

Interestingly enough, it is the French administration who makes the process quite complicated. The Church needs a document from me entitled Legal Capacity to Marry in order to process my application for clearance to get married in a Filipino church to a Filipino citizen. Now the French Consulate won't simply issue this piece of paper, but requests 10 other supporting documents before they do.

My favorite "you-must-be-kidding-moment" was when they asked for a proof of citizenship and I showed them my passport, little did I know that in bureaucracy-world a passport didn't qualify as a proof of citizenship! Really? Why did you issue it to me in the first place then?

So now, I need to apply for the proof of citizenship, in order to apply for the legal capacity to marry all while applying for re-issuance of birth certificates as supporting documents, so that i can finally get clearance to get married. Still following? No? Me neither.

D. had it easier. The National Office of Statistics delivers all certificates after you fill out a simple form online. Done.

I keep telling myself that this is probably a test for engaged couples to determine whether they are actually ready to enter married life. If you can get through the labyrinth of paperwork without suffering a nervous breakdown: Welcome!


A recent trip to New York introduced me to the most sinful and unforgettable hot cocoa experience I have ever encountered in my life. Mouth-watering, scrumptious, divine are just some of the words that cross my mind when I think about City Bakery's hot chocolate.

I had seen a feature about this famous hot-spot on TV and remembered it from Sex and the City episodes. While in New York, I stayed in Chelsea and had to walk a few blocks along Broadway to get to the office of our PR agency where we held our daily meetings. On one particularly chilly, windy day, my New York insider colleague suggested me to go to City Bakery to get their world famous hot chocolate. I didn't make the connection and just walked in the direction she pointed me at. Just a block away from my temporary work place, on 18th St. between 5th and 6th Aves. to be exact, I stood in front of a loft-type coffee/bakery place that looked so familiar and then it hit me. This is the place I saw on TV before.

I went in and ordered their signature hot chocolate with home-made marshmallows. It was rich, thick and extremely chocolat-y. The marshmallows gave it extra flavor although I think, it would have tasted even better, maybe too good, without the marshmallows as these added too much sweetness and I liked the slightly bitter taste that cocoa has.

City Bakery also offers muffins, bagels and other breakfast items. But the hot chocolate was a meal in itself and the perfect companion on my walk back to the agency under the blue but freezing sky of New York.

So if you happen to be in town, freezing your buttocks and craving chocolate, City Bakery is the place to stop by to grab a hot and thick cocoa. It's on the pricey side at $5 but it's so rich it replaces the muffin you might have ordered on the side.

City Bakery
3 West 18th Street, near 5th Ave.
New York


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