Just Tried: John and Yoko Cosmopolitan Japanese, Greenbelt 5

I can always count on gyoza to make my day.

My sister is home over the weekend! The two hours I spent waiting for her at the airport was worth it because I missed her so much! The last time I saw her was back in March, when I went to Hong Kong with my friend, Jana. That is why I was so excited to be seeing my sister again.

She arrived a couple of minutes past midnight last Saturday. After getting some sleep, she wanted to have her nails done at Nail Tropics. She estimated that I would have to wait an hour and a half for her to be done. Having very short nails (damn nailbiting habit!), I felt it too expensive to have my nails done there so I just opted to have my eyebrows threaded at Browhaus.

Unfortunately, my eyebrow threading lasted only 15 minutes and I had nowhere to go in Greenbelt while waiting for her. I opted to have coffee or any cold drink somewhere while waiting. My feet led me to John and Yoko, remembering the big poster they had of their milk tea selection (which had like three options only). Learning that it served Japanese food, I decided to order gyoza with my brown sugar milk tea because I was a little bit hungry from not eating enough at breakfast.

I just loved the interior of the restaurant! It was cute and cozy, appealing to my girly side that loved pink and mint green color combo. The place wasn’t packed unlike the restaurants on the same floor, making it an ideal place for me to wait because I dislike very noisy restaurants. Not that I don’t want people talking inside the restaurant, I just get headaches when exposed to too many sounds all at once.

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My milk tea order came first. I did notice that there were huge chunks of ice in my drink to chill it. I was kind of disappointed because I felt like the presence of ice was going to water down my drink when melted. When I took a sip though, the caramel-like taste of the brown sugar tasted so yummy, though a tad bit too sweet for my liking. I then appreciated the ice knowing it will water down my drink a bit if I leave it alone for a couple of minutes, just enough to lessen the sweetness of the milk tea. Still, that drink was yummy and the boba pearls were cooked just right! John and Yoko’s milk tea is now part of my favorite milk teas list.

It took a while to have my gyoza served. It makes me wonder if they did not have pre-made pot stickers just waiting to be steamed because I doubt gyozas took that long to cook. Anyway, I was excited about it when it was finally served to me.

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I am normally not used to being served gyoza with the fried bottom facing up. There was some good browning, with a spot or too a little darker than the rest. Oh well, the gyoza was still gyoza no matter which side was facing up.

I was not prepared at all to love their gyoza so much! I mean, I am no connoisseur and is yet to learn how to describe food other than delicious, yummy, and tasty. I also have not been to a lot of Japanese restaurants to be able to say I have sampled so many gyozas to know what’s good and what’s not. Still, I loved how John and Yoko’s gyoza tasted! The filling was cooked well and the wrapper was not too thick or too chewy. While I did poke some holes due to my struggling with the chopsticks (lack of sleep makes my hands shaky), the wrapper did not tear that easily once you bite into the gyoza. You see, I already experienced having gyoza wrappers fall apart after a small bite, leaving the remainder of the filling between my chopsticks.

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After almost more than two hours, my sister was finally done with her mani-pedi session. I told her to just meet me in John and Yoko. I ordered her another gyoza set and brown sugar milk tea. We also ordered Samurai All-Meat Pizza. My sister ate five pieces of gyoza, one after the other. I knew she was hungry by that time, but hearing no complaints from her meant the gyoza really was good.

The pizza took the longest to be served. I was surprised how small the size was (the picture made me think of larger serving size), yet equally amazed at the amount of meat on that pizza with a super thin crust. They did not skimp on the meat at all! Just take a look at those big pieces of bacon! Doesn’t the pizza look so yummy!

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There were no uncooked chunks of meat and they were not overly salty. I do not know what cheese they used, but it wasn’t the stretchy, stringy kind. However, it was so creamy and it complimented the Pomodoro sauce and the meat toppings really well. The crust was crispy, but not too hard. The only downside though was that the inner slices were a little tricky to eat because of the weight of the cheese and the meat toppings. The outer slices still had some crust to hold on to while eating, but the middle part was not.

We were stuffed at the end of the meal! I really enjoyed what we ate and I am excited to try their other dishes. Overall, I was more than pleased with John and Yoko’s food and service quality. I will surely be back.

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Another Reason to Love OWNDAYS

“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.” ― Helen Keller

I have shared with you my awesome experience buying spectacles at OWNDAYS. Today, I had another reason to love this optical shop.

This is my current eye prescription:

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Without glasses, I can still make out shapes and colors, but I cannot distinguish small features. For example, my laptop is currently an arm’s length away from me. Without glasses, I can just make out the edges of the picture above, the black lines, and some black, blurred stuff that are the letters of what I am typing. I know there’s a pink section in the paragraph above (hyperlink) but I cannot read anything at all. That’s how badly I need eyeglasses.

This morning, my eyeglasses met an accident. I forgot that I put it on the bed so I could put on my makeup while standing up. After doing my makeup, I sat on my bed, a little forcefully that I should have. I sat on my glasses because I wasn’t able to see it. The frame got a little deformed and the lens of the left eye popped out. Thankfully, I had contact lenses at home as a backup.

I called up OWNDAYS at The Landmark Makati to inquire how much they charge for fixing my glasses after what I had done to it. Turns out, I didn’t have to pay anything anymore and I could get my glasses after 20 minutes, just like their service time when you get new specs. It was convenient that I was going to Greenbelt to have lunch with my high school friends and that Landmark was only five minutes away.

After giving them my specs, I immediately saw three, beautifully designed cases for eyeglasses. I was drawn to the one with the panda design. Then, I turned my eyes to the sign that gave information on what these cases were about. Turns out, Owndays Philippines is currently helping raise funds for three organizations in the country: World Vision, PAWS, and WWF. For more information on this collaboration, please check out the video below from OWNDAYS Philippine’s FB page.

When I returned for my glasses, they looked like they were brand new. I guess they also performed cleaning on the lenses and the frame.

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Very much pleased, I decided to buy a new case because I was always conscious of the white case. It was the one that I got for free when I bought my glasses and I always feared that it would eventually be looking dirty and yucky from stains or whatever. I got the Panda design for Php 500 and the purchase helped support WWF. They also gave me a free wiping cloth.

OWNDAYS has not disappointed me yet. I hope the company continues being awesome!

Quick Trip to the Past – Visiting Intramuros

“Intramuros! The old Manila. The original Manila. The Noble and Ever Loyal City…” — Nick Joaquin

The last time I was in Intramuros, I was a kid. I cannot recall anything except that we (my sister and I) were brought there once. How that can happen to someone who prides herself with great memory puzzles me. Was I disinterested at that time? Was my mind somewhere else? Oh well. I will never know.

So, when I had the opportunity to tour our visitors from Bangalore around, I was excited for it. I printed out maps and took note of entrance fees.

The thing about going to Intramuros is that you have to go there early if you want to go to every museum and tourist attraction. Having left at 1:30 in the afternoon, we only had time for San Agustin Church, the Manila Cathedral and Fort Santiago. We also stopped by Ristorante delle Mitre for lunch.

Ristorante delle Mitre looked like an antique house that was turned into a restaurant. There was an “old times” feel to the place but not so old that you will hesitate to go in. Their food was delicious and I regret not being able to take photos before we dug in.

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Our first stop was the San Agustin Church that’s practically across Ristorante delle Mitre. There was a wedding that just concluded and the married couple were having their photos taken with the visitors. There was another couple outside having their photos taken. Whether that was already a photoshoot before or after the wedding. Maybe a pre-nup shoot? Anyway, I have to admit that San Agustin Church is a beautiful church to get married in not only because of its vintage facade, but also because of how solemn the atmosphere is when you go inside.

That is until I looked down and saw…

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Oh…my…God! Are there really dead bodies underneath those?!

68429552_UnknownI should not be surprised because when I had my confirmation in San Miguel Church, there were gravestones along the walls and in the front yard. My own great grandfather was buried in that church. Why these gravestones in San Agustin Church still give me heebie-jeebies is beyond me. Maybe because there’s a certain fear that the dead will pull cause a massive opening of the ground and pull my leg? Hahaha…

I started asking one of our visitors about weddings in India. He told me that visitors can reach about a thousand or more when there are weddings there. He even said that it sort of doubles as a family reunion because you get to meet relatives you have never met your whole life. He also shared that the entire ceremony can take a couple of days, sometimes lasting a week. What?! A thousand visitors?! A week of ceremonies?! My introvert self would die!

Still, I cannot help but feel that all the music, the dancing, and the beautiful colors of their attires (Indians love colors, I was told) makes a wedding quite a memorable one. Our visitor said that should I get to visit India and there’s a wedding happening, they will take me with them so I can experience the “Big Fat Indian Wedding.”

Our next stop was the Manila Cathedral which was about four minutes away from San Agustin Church. It was also nice walking in the afternoon because it wasn’t so hot anymore.

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There was another wedding going on in Manila Cathedral. I guess it was a day to get married as it was a long weekend and people could party out all night.

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While it has a vintage facade, inside was a little bit more modern. The church has air-conditioning system so it wasn’t very warm. Near the entrance/exit doors, there was a lady selling necklaces with crosses and medallions with saints on them. There were also small statues/images that were beautifully carved and painted.

Processed with MOLDIVI bought a Saint Benedict medal necklace for myself since I gave my previous one to my former boss. It flips like a time turner so I never have to concern myself which is the right way of putting the necklace on. It’s also two-toned so I can pair it with my other accessories be they gold or silver.

Surprisingly, they do not sell these at a very expensive price. That is awesome because tourist attractions usually have sellers pricing goods at exorbitant prices to take advantage of tourists who still feel they are getting stuff at bargain prices. This medal only cost Php 50.00.

I love how despite only one of our three visitors is Catholic, the other two did not just stay outside the churches we visited. In fact, they showed interest on what was inside the churches! Oh yeah, gotta love diversity and inclusion!

As it was nearing sundown, we decided to go straight to Fort Santiago where the entrance fee was only Php 75.00. The site was not crowded with people so, it felt nice to walk at a leisurely pace.

We saw a lot of pigeons along the way. Thankfully, none of them flew and landed on our heads.

Alas, we have reached the main gate of Fort Santiago! Inside are prisons and dungeons that housed several prisoners. One of them was Jose Rizal, the unofficial (but very much loved) national hero of the Philippines. I shared with our visitors that he was considered a hero because despite not using violence in his fight against oppression, his written works inspired a lot of the other heroes to fight for the country’s freedom against the Spaniards.

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Once inside, we went to a little corner that led us to see the Pasig River. It was not that pretty of a sight but at least it does not smell too funky anymore. I truly wish more efforts will be put into cleaning up this river to make the water clear again.

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There was a staircase leading up to God-knows-what. I think that’s where soldiers stayed on the lookout for approaching enemies. Well, I did not see any, but I did see the beautiful beginnings of a sunset.

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That was basically the end of our Intramuros trip. We then went to Mall of Asia to spend the rest of the evening.

On the way to Mall of Asia, we shared our experiences about learning history. Some of us loved the stories but hated having to memorize all the dates and specific places. Despite that, the lessons that history taught were what we treasured most.

To Grandpa With Love

Dear Abuelito,

Last Friday, you would have celebrated your 107th birthday. I wonder if you celebrate birthdays in heaven.

I do not have much memories with you. Mom did say you used to pass by the house and visit me as a baby. Turns out, you still drove a car at 80. I feel so good about knowing you used to spend time just to look at me sleep. I wonder if you carried me a lot because I happened to love being carried as a baby and as a toddler.

I do have a picture of you holding me. I looked so small in the arms that had fought battles and wrote books and letters fighting for war veterans. I will not sugarcoat things. You have had blood on your hands, fighting for the land and for the people you have sworn to protect with your life. But, look at how gentle your hands and arms were as you carried me. I guess even the mightiest heroes have gentleness in them too.

I remember visiting you in Fort Bonifacio from time to time. You were this huge man who, even at over 80, still demanded respect when he stood. Eventually though, you were always in bed. How many times were you in and out of the hospital? Ah. Even the strongest fall. But, I wish you were stronger for a little longer.

The last memory I had of you, I accidentally stepped on your swollen toes when I went near you to kiss you. You cried out of pain and I ran a high fever afterwards because of fright. I still regret being clumsy to this day. I would have wanted a much nicer last memory with you. But, you showed me how strong you roared. I wonder how much stronger you did when you were in the battlefield and barking orders. I guess you can take a soldier out of a war, but you can’t take the soldier out of the man.

Let’s admit it, Abuelito. You are no perfect man. You left a lot of broken hearts in your trail and Abuelita’s was one of them. I never really understood that side of you. I never ever will. Sometimes, I wish I could ask you why you were the way you were.

Despite your flaws, I always looked for parts of me that mirrored parts of you. That’s how much I looked up to you. I find that I have your nose and your left dimple. Maybe the shape of your face too and the wide forehead. But, that’s pretty much it. It’s my sister who got the twinkle in your eyes–the one I have always wished I got as well.

Mom said you were a little knock-kneed like me and that we walked the same. If you only knew how much I got teased in school for that. But, it’s okay. I eventually learned to accept parts of me that I was born with and could not do anything about. I am sure the way you walked just added to your charm. I just hope your knees did not give you a difficult time during the war though.

Mom also said I got my generosity from you, recalling that your house was like an extension of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. There were those who paid for your legal services in the form of animals and food. And along the way, you made some really good friends. One of them even had the marble cross for your grave made just for you.

I was told that when soldiers retire, they get promoted one level. You retired as a general but wanted your cross to bear colonel instead. Mom said it’s because you believe that you did so much more as a colonel. Your humility made me respect you even more.

I really wish you got to stick around for much longer. I would have loved having a grandpa. I lost the other one when I was five. I lost you when I was eight. I missed out on a lot.

I would have loved showing you all of my accomplishments and showering you with hugs. I would have loved listening to your stories, regardless if they were about the war you fought in or your battles in court. I would have loved you so much.

I wish I were as courageous as you. I wish I could demand even only a tenth of the respect you could when you were alive. Your strong personality seems to have all gone to my sister. Hahaha…

I miss you so much, Abuelito. You have not visited me in my dreams for a while now. I hope you’re still watching over us.

One day, I will see you again. I hope not too soon though because I still have a lot of things I want to do. But, when that day comes, you and I will have an awfully good time.

Hugs and kisses,

Monique

Just Tried: Restoran Garuda

“The taste of your life depends on the spices you used to brew it. Add laziness to it and it becomes bitter as the bile; put a cube of good attitudes into it and you will lick your lips more and more due to its sweet taste.” Israelmore Ayivor

On the same Sunday when I attended the workshop on caging crystals, I got to have my first Indonesian cuisine experience from a restaurant. I am not sure why I have never tried going to any Indonesian/Indonesian-inspired restaurant all these years. The closest I got to eating Indonesian food was when Mom made chicken sate (or satay) or nasi goreng at home.

It was not planned but that Sunday noon, Restoran Garuda was the only restaurant open near the workshop venue. Having left the house very early to go to church service, and with only one and a half hours from the end of the service to the expected arrival time at the workshop, I did not have the luxury of time to be walking around looking for a place to have lunch. I was also very hungry already.

But, unlike Japanese or Chinese food that I can order easily, I was so confused with the items on the menu. I was not sure whether I wanted to be adventurous, ordering something I am not totally familiar with or going for something that sounds safe based on the description. I was also wary because everything sounded spicy. I am very sensitive to spicy food! Thankfully, a member of the staff was helpful and directed me to the less spicy items on the menu. I ended up ordering the Nasi Goreng Spesial (Special) with Daging (Beef) and a bottle of Indonesian Iced Tea.

Nasi goreng translates to fried rice, very known in Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as other countries such as Singapore and Brunei. It is delicious because it is infused with delectable flavors and spices. The possibilities are endless, I think, there being so many variants there are, depending on the type of rice, meat and other ingredients used.

Because of all the yummy goodness infused in it, it smelled heavenly when they brought me my order! And boy, was it a huge serving!

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In front of me, I saw this message that made me chuckle. This must be the motto of people who love spicy food! I may not love spicy food as much but I agree with the statement. Cheers!

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I was surprised with the Indonesian Iced Tea. Apparently what the word Tehbotol meant in the menu was that it was going to be bottled iced tea. Made by a company called Sosro, it turned out to be sweet, jasmine tea.

As fond as I am of the jasmine scent, I am so sorry that I never really liked jasmine tea. When I drink jasmine tea, it’s so sharp to my tongue that I feel like I am drinking water with diluted soap. It’s not the taste that’s as bad for me. It’s the sensation in my mouth that turns me off. I didn’t consume more than a quarter of the drink then.

Now, let me discuss the nasi goreng spesial. It was so flavorful that I cannot imagine how many yummy goodness-filled ingredients got put into it. The rice really absorbed the flavor, making it seem that the rice was not just tossed into the sauce/flavorings before serving. Rather, time was really spent to allow the flavors to infuse into the rice.

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I told you the serving was huge, right? Thirty minutes of eating made me notice that I have not even consumed half of the bowl. And I am actually a quick-eater! I was so full already and had to go to the workshop so I asked the restaurant staff to have the remaining food packed to go.

When I got home, I had the remaining fried rice re-heated to eat for dinner. There really was a lot left. You might not believe it though but it tasted even better than it did while I was at the restaurant! Maybe because the food had more time for the flavors to marry and get infused into the rice? I don’t know. I just know that there are food that taste better a day or two after they were prepared.

So far, jasmine tea aside, my taste buds had a party when I ate this nasi goreng spesial. It was exceptionally good! I should probably try out the other fried rice items in the menu and just specify to make the spice level ultra mild. Haha…

Please do try out Restoran Garuda! You may book a table via Zomato and Booky. I believe though that Booky has a promo wherein you can book a table and get Php 300 discount when you book 30 minutes ahead and reach a Php 1,000 minimum spend. So, it might be the better deal of the two. Remember that Booky gives a free trial upon signing up which gives one Php 1,000 worth of savings that you can use in the form of Buy 1 Take 1 coupons or restaurant booking discounts. Go check it out now!

Just Baked: Pionono

“You just gotta roll with it.”

Another weekend, another baking day for me! This time, I shall be making pionono.

What is pionono? This is difficult to answer. You see, depending on where you are from (e.g. Spain, Philippines, South America, etc.), we may not be talking about the same thing. Pionono varies depending on where it is made. The common factor though is that it is said to have been named after the Italian name of Pope Pius IX, Pio Nono.

In the Philippines, these are small, Swiss roll-like cakes. I loved them as a kid and used to buy them at the Landmark, Makati when they still had Fortune Bakery. Today, it’s not very often that I see pionono in bakeries and I truly missed them lately. That’s why I decided to make my own.

Actually, this is already my second attempt at this because I did not document my first try. Half of the first one I made went to my aunt who came over to visit. Mom mentioned lately that she wanted to have it again because she did not get her fill the first time. So, I decided to make it for her as soon as the weekends came.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 150°C/300°F. Separate the whites and the yolks of 5 large eggs. Make sure the egg whites will have no trace of the yolks.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, gradually adding 30 grams of white granulated sugar. Add in 25 ml milk, 1 tsp vanilla, and 25 ml melted butter.
  3. Sift 1/3 cup cake flour and 1/8 tsp salt and add to the egg yolk mixture. Fold in gently and stop once combined.66060928_unknown
  4. With a clean whisk/beater attachment to the electric mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and continue beating. Gradually add 70 grams of granulated white sugar and beat until stiff peaks form and the egg whites do not slide or move when you tilt the bowl. This is the meringue.
  5. In three batches, add the meringue to the egg yolk mixture and fold in gently. Be careful not to over mix to avoid knocking all the air out from the meringue.66061200_unknown
  6. Line your baking tray with a parchment/baking paper and gently pour in mixture. Gently spread it around to get to the corners of the pan. Give the tray a light tap on your counter/table.
  7. Bake at 150°C for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean.66061312_unknown
  8. While still warm, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Then, cover the top with parchment paper. Get another baking tray and flip the cake over. Gently remove the parchment paper that was used for baking.
  9. You may either divide into four or six portions to make small, individual rolls or just make one big roll. Gently roll the cake into a log using the new parchment paper to guide it. Let it cool while rolled into a log.
  10. While waiting for it to cool, combine 1/4 cup of softened butter and 2 tbsps of powdered sugar. If using unsalted butter, you may add a pinch of salt just to liven the taste of the filling. You may just use butter or margarine too. That should work fine.
  11. Once the cake has cooled, unroll it and spread the filling. Make sure to leave one inch on each side without filling. Then, gently roll back the cake into a log.
  12. If desired, you may brush the top of the cake with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

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When it came out of the oven, it smelled strongly of eggs. It’s not a wonder given that five eggs were used in making this treat. I was too lazy to make 6 individual pieces out of the whole pan I baked so I decided to make it into one big Swiss-roll like piece.

I might have been a little impatient because I realized that it has not cooled enough to keep the butter filling from melting. Tsk. Also, I have to work on making a tighter roll.

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The good news is, it still tasted great! It tasted exactly like the pionono I loved as a kid. Even Mom liked it too. She was even teasing me that when I was younger, she baked and I taste tested. Now, it’s the other way around.

It’s true. I learned how to bake from my Mom. We just used a stove-top oven because we could not afford an electric oven yet. Today, we still dream about a large oven and a stand mixer. Hence, I must work very hard to be able to afford these.

Anyway, there you go, guys. My go-to recipe for pionono. What’s the pionono like in your country? How do you make it?

Tarot 101 Workshop by Jammi

“Divination is the quest to understand more about the past, present, and future. In other words, Tarot readings are an attempt to understand ourselves better and discover how we might live better in the future.” ― Theresa Cheung, Teen Tarot: What the Cards Reveal About You and Your Future

You might remember that I previously went to a journaling and tarot workshop two months ago. I greatly enjoyed that workshop and have since then tried to learn more about tarot reading.

However, my busy schedule does not permit me so much time to pore over books, trying to memorize the meaning of the cards and the meanings of their different combinations. My tarot deck took a backseat for some time and I was completely focused on my work and my blog.

CaptureOne night, while unable to sleep, I started looking for workshops to look forward too again. In my search, I came upon an event posted by Persephone – A Seasonal Kitchen (a restaurant) on Facebook. It was a tarot workshop on May 13. It was to be headed by Jammi Nedjadi, a Reiki-Shaman and full time Lightworker who has been reading tarot and oracle cards for roughly fifteen years by now.

I immediately signed up for a slot, praying that it was not fully booked yet. I sent the message on Friday and the event was already that coming Sunday. Luckily, the universe granted my hopes to be able to attend this workshop.

img_7190The restaurant was just 15 minutes away from my house so I did not have to hurry up so much to leave. It was a cozy place that offered what looked like very yummy food to me. But, I just had my brunch two hour ago and was not really hungry. So, I just ordered my favorite leafy chips: fried kangkong (water spinach). Oh my gosh! It’s my new favorite already, bumping off the same dish from Kanin Club! I love it so much!

Soon after I got there, the event began. We started my a mini reading from one of Jammi’s friends, Jennifer. Basically, the cards told me that in order to be successful in the endeavor I had in mind, something from the past has to end. I think I know exactly what that is!

After the mini reading, we were given decks to use throughout the workshop. They were not all tarot decks. Some were game cards, I think. My partner, Aya, and I were given Dixit cards.

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The practice was to use our intuition in reading. Jammi mentioned how intuitive reading helped her friends learn tarot reading much more quickly than by memorizing the meaning of each cards. She gave us tips on where to buy cards, how to read reverse cards and how questions are appropriately phrased.

Aya and I took turns, eventually switching partners with Kia and Paula. We also had a fun time reading, Paula and I.

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The workshop did not teach us the meaning of each cards. Rather, we were taught to listen to our intuition and to the universe. It was quite amazing how, even by just using playing cards, we were able to make readings that had each other saying “woah!” and “spot on!” every now and then.

The event did not just teach me about tarot. It also allowed me to meet people who came from different backgrounds but were still awesome in their own rights. I learned a lot from the experiences they shared too, making me feel like I also grew in maturity that day.

I look forward to learning more about tarot and meeting more awesome people in the process! I also look forward to trying other dishes from Persephone – A Seasonal Kitchen because the menu looked very, very promising!

Missing Hong Kong

My sister is home!!!

I picked up my sister at the airport and I arrived just in time when the plane she was in landed. Talk about timing!

Anyway, while I was waiting for her, I started walking around. Then, I noticed this:

Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s got the same name as the Kowloon’s shopping and nightlife district. I started wishing I was in the airport to go to Hong Kong instead.

I miss traveling. That’s the thing I miss about my previous job as an internal bank auditor. I got to travel to so many places that I did not have to spend a single centavo for.

I shall make it a point to travel this year whether locally or internationally. So, I must save up!

Hearty Meal at El Corazon

“Perhaps it takes courage to raise children.” -John Steinbeck, East of Eden

It surely is tough being a mother. I have seen my mom in action over the years, making things happen when they have to. She’s resourceful and so smart about a lot of things which may be a product of how she grew up.

So, for mother’s day, we went out to dinner to the new mall nearby that we have not visited at all. I figured we should go out and eat somewhere we’ve not been before so we went to Uptown Bonifacio in BGC, Taguig. We also wanted to see the branch of All About Baking there so we were hitting two birds with one stone.

In our search for a place to dine in, we came across El Corazon, a Spanish-Filipino restaurant. Being partly Spanish, surely she would appreciate this place so I suggested we tried the food here. We did not have to wait long to be seated, luckily.

My mom isn’t one who is game when it comes to posing for photos though. The woman rarely smiles at them anyway. I wonder why because she looks so pretty when she smiles. But, we got convinced by the restaurant staff to pose for one. They said they were giving us a free copy as souvenir.

Anyway, the food selection looked very, very appetizing and scrumptious but we did not want to order so much that we could not finish so we decided on three dishes first.

Soria|Mushroom Salpicao – ₱225

It smelled wonderfully upon arriving on our table. You can see the mushrooms were sliced just right; not too big and not too thin that it would look too plentiful.

I love mushrooms! I love salpicao! So this should be great, right?

Except for the strong vinegar taste, everything else was great. The mushrooms were not over or undercooked. The oil was not overwhelming. Garlic? Just right too. But, yeah. The vinegar was too strong in this dish for my taste.

Campeador | Pork Binagoongan – ₱350

Binagoongan means it was cooked with bagoong, which is a Filipino condiment (a paste) made from fermented fish or krill.

I know it sounds unappetizing but wait until you try it! It goes great with green mangoes (the sour kind) and is used in a lot of dishes in the country. I personally love bagoong with sinigang, a sour soup/stew.

Going back to pork binagoongan, I was surprised that the pork was not covered in the bagoong already like how most restaurants serve this dish. Rather, there was an eggplant covered with lots of bagoong, with the pork sitting on top. I guess it helps the diners determine how much bagoong they wanted with the meat.

I loved this dish so much! The pork had a crunchy top and was not too chewy. The bagoong was absolutely yummy too! It wasn’t too fishy for my liking. I didn’t bother with the eggplant though. Mom and I do not eat that vegetable.

Paella Valenciana – ₱695

I had high expectations from this dish. It did not disappoint!

Filled with prawns, squid, mussels, fish fillet, chicken, pork, chorizo, vegetables and egg, this was an entire meal all on its own! The best part is that I did not have an allergic reaction to the seafood like I normally would. This means they used fresh, quality ingredients!

It was so good! The flavors blended so nicely that you could not determine whih meat was which unless you took a good look before putting it in your mouth. It was so flavorful in the right way that you did not need to cleanse your palate very often.

We had leftovers that we ate the following day at home. You know what, it tasted even better the day after! Maybe because the flavors had more time to meld and blend together and seep into the rice. Gosh, makes me want to go back for more.

The Spanish and Filipino in my mom was happy that night. Mom has a tendency to scrutinize and critique the food when we eat out but it looked like she was really satisfied. Okay, one piece of the pork binagoongan that she got was a little tough, she said. But, that was all the criticism I heard that night. Which means, I did a good job choosing the place!

Thank God we didn’t order more than three dishes because we still had leftovers! I want to go back so we can try their other dishes too. I will have to find out if they deliver via Food Panda. 😁

My relationship with my mom is not perfect. We had our share of misunderstandings in the past. But, my mom has been a constant figure in my life, and is always there when I need her. Who I am today is a product of how she raised me. And even if we do not see eye-to-eye every time, I know that she will always be there for me and my sister.

Keep it Klean

When I was in grade school, I carried the biggest water jug a kid could carry to school. It was a red, half gallon Coleman jug. I drank so much water as a kid that I am sure I exceeded the suggested 8 glasses of water a day.

To this date, I still drink lots of water but I do not carry a jug to work because that would just be awkward. But, I did used water bottles and have moved from plastic bottles to glass. But recently, friends have been telling me to get Klean Kanteen.

At first, I saw it as just another overpriced insulated water bottle. In my head, a bottle is just a bottle and any bottle will do.

Until I learned that this bottle could keep liquid hot or cold for more than 12 hours. I was curious so I went to search for reviews. Oh dear. All I read were good reviews.

After trying to justify in my head why it was okay to buy a PHP 1,850 (roughly USD 36) bottle, I gave in. I got a 20 oz Klean Kanteen insulated bottle that boasted keeping liquid hot for 20 hrs and cold for 50 hrs. I got a purple one because which was the only one of its color left when I shopped for it.

Was it worth it? Yes! Oh my gosh, yes! I haven’t tried 50 hours but at 12 hours, I have proven that ice put in has not melted yet. After about 15 to 18 hours, despite the ice having melted already, the water stays cold as if you just got it from the fridge. Amazing!

I do not mind anymore that it’s a little bit heavy. I found a pouch at home to put it in because I didn’t want to put it in my bag without any protection from possible scratches from my laptop charger or umbrella.

My purchase was really worth it. Some things are really worth the price tag.