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Archive for the ‘Places’

Cavite Caviar

July 16, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places 3 Comments →

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From Sonny Lua at Asiong’s in Cavite City: Huevos de Pescao in Tinta de Choko), fish eggs in squid ink, or bottarga al nero. Eat it on toast and you’ll feel like the Tsar. Before the revolutionaries showed up. Unfortunately it’s available only at Asiong’s in Cavite City (Sonny, you really need an outlet in Metro Manila). We get our supply from Ige Ramos, who organizes food tours to Cavite. If you want to join a food tour and try Cavite delicacies like quesillo and pansit pusit, send Ige a personal message on his Facebook page.

At least they could’ve used real books.

July 11, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats, Design, Places No Comments →

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Photo by Juan Chua

At the W Hotel in Hong Kong, the design theme is “library”. This makes it difficult to locate the buttons for the elevator. Oh sorry, the lift.

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The books, though, are fake. Used books (which can be bought by the meter) would probably have been cheaper than fake books, but they’re harder to dust.

Ask this cat at a book stall in C.M. Recto.

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Photo by Uro dela Cruz

Your favorite school subject is now a restaurant

May 08, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places 2 Comments →

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Chef Chris Locher of My Kitchen in Paco, Manila has not only overcome his recent health issue, he’s opened an excellent new restaurant on Jupiter in Makati. Last week Stella organized a dinner for six hard-boiled media practitioners who know that when Stella says, “You have to try this restaurant,” the only acceptable response is, “Sure!” It’s like the part in the first Terminator where the T-800 has laid waste to a club and Kyle Reese tells Sarah Connor, “Come with me if you want to live.” You just go.

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Pinoy Original CoBe

The restaurant is called Recess, and Chef Chris describes its menu as “eclectic comfort food”. To us, all food is comfort food, not eating food being a prime source of discomfort.

Chef Chris is probably best known for his invention of the thin pizza that you eat in strips with alfalfa sprouts and arugula rolled up in them—a genius way of making people like us eat our vegetables. He can’t use the name of his creation because it belongs to the restaurant he used to work with. At Recess, this dish is called The Original. This being the Philippines, we prefer D’Original.

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The Original comes in a dozen varieties, all named after elements you can see on the ceiling designed as a stylized periodic table. We tried three of the all-day breakfast specials: the CoBe—sauteed corned beef, egg, caramelized onions and potatoes with fresh marjoram; the PoTo—finely-sliced pork tocino, red onions and salted egg; and our favorite, the TiTo—tinapang bangus bits, tomatoes, itlog na pula and fresh red onions.

Recess salad

We were only going to pretend to eat our greens, but it had been a sweltering day and the Recess Salad of mixed greens, grapes, apples, oranges, cherry tomatoes in a grapeseed oil dressing with caramelized almonds was so refreshing.

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In fact we even tried another salad: the J50 with romaine hearts in gorgonzola, pears, a 7-minute boiled egg, and bacon. Bacon makes everything better. To think that as we trudged towards Recess on that hot night, we were telling ourselves that it was too hot to eat. We were wrong hahahaha.

Risotto orbs

At this point we could’ve ended the meal and gone home happy, but there was more. Risotto orbs—crispy fried risotto balls with two cheeses, chorizo and herbs.

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A juicy tuna steak with chimichuri sauce.

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The very tender Carolina-style barbecued mustard lamb ribs. Good thing there were six of us sharing the dishes, or we might’ve eaten ourselves into a food coma. The portions are good for sharing, and by “sharing” we mean “can feed two people who are not on a diet or some other deprivation plan.”

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If we’d been responsible adults, we probably would’ve declined dessert. Luckily, we are not. There was lemon cheesecake,

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a decadent chocolate cake that went beyond decadent,

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and a light, delectable Pavlova. Next to it you see our glass—we finished most of a bottle of Chardonnay and were useless for the rest of the evening. Useless, but happy.

A meal for two consisting of one mini-size The Original, one salad, one lamb ribs and one dessert comes to about Php550 per person. With a glass of wine, add Php200. For the whole shebang described above, probably Php1,500+ per person.

Recess by Chef Chris is at 50 Jupiter Street, Bel-Air, Makati, between Paseo de Roxas and Makati Avenue. Visit their Facebook page. For reservations, call (02) 899 1818.

Subtle Chinese Food

April 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places 2 Comments →

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James and Boboy were having lunch with friends in Binondo, at a noodle place called Lan Zhou La Mien. We took advantage of the comparatively light (but not by much, since everyone stayed in town apparently, and Edsa was being reblocked) long weekend traffic to drive to Chinatown.

Even with Ricky’s navigational skills (can moonlight as a taxi driver) and Noel’s GPS-reading abilities, Binondo is a maze and we stopped to ask for directions.

“Deretso, tapos kaliwa sa unang kanto, kaliwa ulit. Yung pula, siguradong makikita nyo.” Straight ahead, then left, then left. It’s red, you can’t miss it.

We had not gone 5 meters when we realized that every sign in Chinatown is red.

“Easier if he’d said yung hindi pula,” Noel pointed out.

So we asked another guy who was watching cars.

“Deretso lang, yung pula na sikat.”

By this time we were close to a hysterical giggling fit.

“What does Lan Zhou La Mien mean?” Ricky asked.

“Yung pula na sikat,” Noel translated.

Luckily we were spotted by James.

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La Mien is deservedly famous for its hand-pulled noodles, which have the best texture of any noodles we’ve tried lately. Along with the Beef La Mien and the excellent steamed kuchay dumplings, the waiter brought a pair of scissors in a bowl of hot water. These scissors are not for warding off diners hovering by your table urging you to leave (It’s a small place). They are for cutting the noodles, which are very long. We stabbed at our bowls a few times, and were ready to eat.

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The Beef La Mien is wonderful: delicately-flavored yet filling. We could only finish half the bowl before throwing down our chopsticks in surrender. Ricky recommends eating the la mien as quickly as possible because the noodles absorb the broth and expand.

Subtle Chinese, and only Php120.

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Of course no trip to Binondo is complete without a visit to the Temple of Hopia, Salazar, winner of our Hopia Challenge.

Lan Zhou La Mien is on 818 Benavidez Street in Binondo, Manila.

Is this art?

April 17, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Places No Comments →

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Ivar in London

If I suddenly exit, is that performance art?

The Castle of Citizen Kane

April 10, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: History, Movies, Places 3 Comments →

facadeSan Simeon photos by Juan

After a recent conference in Vegas, our friend Juan took a road trip to San Simeon, California to see the Hearst Castle. The hilltop palace was built by William Randolph Hearst, the American newspaper magnate who was the model for Charles Foster Kane in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane. (More recently it was the location of a Lady Gaga music video.)

Hearst was not amused, and did everything in his power to suppress the film. He tried to stop the studio from screening it. Failing that, he forbade all his newspapers from mentioning Citizen Kane, and ordered them to smear Orson Welles.

Citizen Kane did decently at the box-office and got some Oscar nominations, but it should have been Huge. Much of what we take for granted in cinema today was invented by Welles and his collaborators, notably cinematographer Gregg Toland. Orson Welles was 25 when he made that movie, and it was his first (though he was already a stage and radio sensation, having caused a panic with his War of the Worlds broadcast). He cited sheer ignorance as the source of his nerve—”There is no confidence to equal it. It’s only when you know something about a profession that you are timid or careful.”

Ironically, Hearst is largely remembered today as the inspiration for Citizen Kane, one of the greatest, most influential films in history.

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Kane reflects on his life. Reflects, get it? Citizen Kane screenshots from Movie Images.

But Welles’s career was badly wounded by the Hearst propaganda, and for the rest of his life he would have trouble getting movies made. Charles Foster Kane was a man who had gotten everything he wanted, and then lost it all—the same could be said of Orson Welles.

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The Roman pool at Hearst Castle, not to be confused with the outdoor pool.

“The castle is a bit sad now that it is devoid of glamorous people,” Juan reports. “The most frequent guest was supposed to have been Clark Gable, who visited 42 times.”

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“The longer you stayed, the farther away you sat from Randolph Hearst, who was always seated at the middle. P.G. Wodehouse had to leave when he found himself at the end of the long table one night.”

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Compare the actual dining room with the one in the film. The movie version is practically minimalist.

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“The conceit of the guy was not in building a castle but in building it on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere and giving it the comforts of a modern home. Indoor plumbing, lighted tennis court (first in California), heated swimming pools. Imagine the infrastructure of water, sewage, electricity that had to be built. Highway 1 had not been constructed yet so the castle was extremely isolated and difficult to get to.”

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The library of the man who invented yellow journalism.

“In the late 1930s, Hearst owed $127M and had to downsize a lot. The family wanted to donate San Simeon to UCLA but the cost of maintenance was too much to bear (and there was no endowment for upkeep).”

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The ornate ceiling. Hearst bought a lot of art from impoverished European nobility to furnish his castle.

“Paul Getty wanted to buy it and break up the art collection; the family refused. So it ended up with California government. I guess they had to do it as part of the estate settlement.”

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Does that window give you the urge to confess?

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“Randolph supposedly left control of his company to Marion Davies (his mistress, who was friends with Herman Mankiewicz, who wrote the screenplay of Citizen Kane after he’d been barred from the castle for drunkenness), but she handed it back to the family.”

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“I doubt that we will ever see something of this scale built ever again.” (Don’t count out the nouveaux riches just yet.)

The connection between William Randolph Hearst and Philippine history: During the Cuban revolution, Hearst and his newspapers inflamed public opinion against Spain, and this was one of the factors that led to the Spanish-American War. Which ended with the Philippines becoming a possession of the United States—a precursor of Vietnam and Iraq.

Citizen Kane was our godfather.