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

April 19, 2010

The evolution of Twitter

Unless you've been hiding in the woods or living under a rock, you must have noticed the hype of social media. I read somewhere that you could describe Facebook as your Home, Twitter like a Bar and LinkedIn like your Office. Now, I'm not quite yet hooked on LinkedIn (honestly I don't understand it) but I use Xing for business networking (which is the European version), but I've had Facebook for a while now and love how it put me back in touch with long lost childhood friends. Twitter is my newest addiction.

It seems like wherever you go, wherever you look Twitter is omnipresent. It's not so much about reconnecting with friends, as FB is, but more of a quick way to go through interesting sites and blogs. Some sort of newsfeed filter. My main account is used for personal and work for branding and customer service purposes, but I have a separate account solely to interact with fellow brides-to-be and get the newest on wedding inspirations, tips&tricks (twitter.com/busy_bride).
A few weeks ago, I got one of these forward-emails entitles "The 46 Stages of Twitter".

I have to admit that I am at stage 38, but just because I check my work emails first thing when I wake up.

1. Hear the word Twitter. Scoff.
2. Hear it again from someone else. Scoff again.
3. Hear about famous celebrity who is apparently "On Twitter." Scoff, but make mental note to check it out.
4. Log into Facebook to comfort self.
5. Sign up for Twitter.
6. Give up because it seems dumb.
20. Log off for 4 months.
21. Come back, just to see.
22. Post something relatively funny.
23. Get RT'd.
24. Discover that RT means ReTweet.
25. Make it your life mission to get RT'd.
26. Install Twitter app on your phone.
27. No longer ashamed to say "I've gotta Twitter that."
34. Compulsively check phone all day every day.
35. Tweet that you compulsively check phone all day every day.
36. Alienate actual people in your life in an attempt to impress ones you don't know.
37. Lose weight because you forget to eat.
38. Place phone by bed so you can check first thing in the morning.
39. Defend Twitter to the death from detractors.
46. Twitter it.

What can I say? I'm a geek and proud of it.

April 18, 2010

Good things come to those who wait

This comes a little bit delayed as the events below happened more than 2 months ago. But life has been on high-speed lately and blogging just got left behind. I promised myself to catch up...

February, 2010

All good things come to those who wait.

And the good things have definitely been coming to me.
These past few weeks have been filled with positive vibes, making me wonder if I should be maybe buy a lottery ticket. First of, I got promoted to Manager for Global Markets! Woohoo! I celebrated my birthday (although that isn't quite an accomplishment).
I then opened my first VMV store in Hong Kong; the first of its kind outside the country! Months of preparation, endless emails and calls, coordinating with our partners and finally, there it was all pretty and shiny. I felt like a proud mama.

I felt like on top of the world that week and got back to Manila late night exhausted but happy. D. picked me up from the airport and brought me home. I was ready to hit the shower and hit the sack right after. He mumbled something about being hungry and wanting us too cook. I was simply to tired to care and brushed him off - little did I know I would regret being so cruel to him just seconds after...

I walk into my bedroom to find a little red (not tiffany blue) box, open on the middle of my bed with a ring in it. I was dumbfounded. I just stood there, shaking my head, it didn't even cross my mind to pick up the ring. I walked out of the room again and D. was standing there grinning his grin. He knew he had chosen for the perfect moment to surprise me, as I had been expecting this to happen every time there was some sort of occasion (Christmas, New Year's Eve, romantic dinners, our birthdays...); every day except today!

I kept mumbling things like "really, today? of all days, today?" and "look at me, I'm a mess!". Of course, I cried. This was nothing like I pictured it to be. It was so much better. Real, raw, unexpected. All the smart things I thought I would've said in that moment, all the smooth moves I thought I'd had, forgotten and lost.

Home is where the heart is, has gotten a whole new meaning for me.
A new chapter has begun...


Related Posts with Thumbnails