Monday, November 30, 2009

whatever you like - anya marina

Freezing Monday night in New York, and all I want to do is lie on the couch and drink gin & tonics. Why not? Like Anya says, you can do whatever you like ...

i would love to move into this room right now ...

All freshness and innocence. I would love to be that carefree child lying there lost in a novel.

I'd also love to have that many plants by my bedside that are actually alive. My black thumb has struck again and I am yet again plantless. Sigh.

Well someday I'll definitely be whole, happy and wide-eyed again, I'm sure of it. And perhaps someday I'll manage to keep some plants thriving and happy too.

Sorry for the randomness. It's the Monday after a long weekend and my brain has turned to mush from cramming for Spanish finals. Hasta luego chicas.


Eating steps away from a fish market is one of life's biggest pleasures. In Tokyo, I had a phenomenal meal at the Tsukiji fish market. In Manila, I shared some incredible feasts with family and friends at the dampa. The word dampa literally means a hut or hovel in Tagalog, but it's come to refer to restaurants that surround a seafood market where one can have their just-bought, ultra fresh seafood cooked. I went to two dampas during my visit, and while both meals were delicious, I found the dampa by Mall of Asia to be the more superior of the two. We started our meal with green mango salad, a combination of diced green mangoes, tomatoes, onions and bagoong, that shrimp paste that only Filipinos can seem to love. I crave for this dish constantly because Filipino mangoes (green and ripe) are impossible to get in the US, and no other mangoes taste like them. When green, they're eye-puckeringly sour and lusciously crunchy. All these ingredients, when mixed up, are the perfect accompaniment to any Filipino dish.

Another dish that I constantly crave for and thus ordered incessantly while in Manila is suahe. Suahe is a variety of shrimp that's small with sweet, succulent meat. My favorite preparation for suahe is just steamed, which you can then dip in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar. At the dampa, we had it sauteed in butter and garlic which is still delish, of course.

Not my most favorite dish but good for a splash of color for this post: pinakbet.

This, however, is one of my favorite Filipino dishes. Inihaw na liempo, or grilled pork belly. Needs no further explanation.

And finally, the dish that people go to dampa for, and that I still dream about (especially on days like today where dinner consists of cup noodles). At dampa, you can order kilos upon kilos of crab legs and have them cooked to your liking. We got one kilo cooked in butter and garlic, and another in chili. The chili was a tad too spicy for me, but the butter and garlic variety was pure heaven. The meat was fresh and flaky, sweet and juicy, and just soaked in buttery, garlicky deliciousness. Man, what I would give for just one pincer right now. YUM.

Hinahanap-hanap kita Manila ...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

black friday haul

For the first Black Friday in three years, I actually had a pretty good shopping haul. I hit up the outlets in Monmouth, NJ and got some good deals. First, I finally got those black toothpick cords that I've been wanting from J.Crew for a grand total of ... $19.99! They're $49.99 on the website so this was definitely a steal.

The other buy that made my day was this Theory puffer coat, which I got for just $190! That is an amazingly low price for a Theory coat, and it was in a petite size that fit me perfectly. I love that I can cinch the waist so I don't look like a shapeless walking marshmallow. Also love the high funnel neck and the ribbed sleeves that I can pull over my hands to keep me extra toasty. I've been on the eternal hunt for a feminine puffer coat, and I think I've finally found one.

I hope you all had a fruitful shopping sesh last Friday, as well!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

i get by with a little help from my friends

Been going through a bit of a rough patch lately, and I have to say, these are the times that make me incredibly thankful that I've been blessed with wonderful friends. They love me and protect me to a degree that just astounds me. I know that I can get through the worst of times because I have them.

So as a lighthearted fashion-y ode to the friends who are propping me up these days when everything else seems to be conspiring to bring me down ... these super fun and very cool images of fun fashion cliques from Teen Vogue:

Thank you for being there for me. I love you guys!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Before leaving for the Tokyo-Manila foodfest, we ... well ... ate. We met up with our friends Chris and Meredith at Apiary, a sleek restaurant in the East Village which serves up excellent New American cuisine for locavores. I love the ambience at this place. It's modern and chic but very warm and accessible. Great for intimate dinners with friends or a possible first date.

We asked for a tasting menu and got the best that Apiary had to offer. Executive chef Scott Bryan started us off with very fresh hamachi crudo with cubes of avocado, slivers of hearts of palm, and jalapeno shavings. Very bright and refreshing, a great way to get our palates going.

Next, an utterly perfect scallop, so tender with succulent and firm flakes. Yum.

Then, a memorable encounter with sweetbreads. I had only had one brief encounter with sweetbreads before but this one made me stop and close my eyes in ecstasy. Sweetbreads are the thymus or the pancreas from a calf or lamb. At Apiary, the sweetbreads have a crisp crust but are melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside. Truly luscious, with a rich and buttery taste akin to foie gras.

Our main entrée was Peking duck breast served with parsnip puree, caramelized endive, and tokyo turnips. This had to be the best duck I've ever had. The meat tasted rich but was not at all fatty as duck tends to be. It was almost like having a fine steak. Just absolutely divine.

We tried four different desserts, but my favorite was the Granny Smith apple tarte tatin with whipped crème fraîche. The pastry was nice and flaky, and the dessert was not too sweet, which is how I like it. So comforting.

If I remember correctly, dinner plus wine cost us about $90 a person, which was quite a deal considering how much great food we had. Prices are quite reasonable at Apiary, considering the amazing quality of food you get. A three-course prix fixe meal is offered from Sunday to Thursday for just $35, though I don't think I'll be trying that soon. There's just too many things I still want to order a la carte, particularly the braised rabbit papardelle. I recommend visiting Apiary on Mondays, their "Free Corkage" night.

Apiary is located at 60 Third Avenue at 11th Street, New York, NY. Tel. (212) 254 0888

Sunday, November 22, 2009

alexander mcqueen ss2010

Having a bit of a dark day, and needing some distraction. Alexander McQueen's otherworldly collection works. Going out for a cup of coffee ... hopefully a little sun and caffeine will do me some good.

the good, the bad, and the utterly sinful

I went back to the motherland for the first time since I left three years ago. And because there were so many delicious things that I hadn't had in years, I threw all restraint out the window and just ate up a storm. When my aunt asked what I'd like to eat as soon as I got there, I shamelessly asked for lechon, pig roast on a spit and dubbed by Anthony Bourdain as the best roast pork he has ever had. You cannot imagine how much joy I got from eating this.

The next day, my dear friends Mica and Ria took me out to lunch at Fely J's in Greenbelt 5. We started off with some yummy sisig, which is chopped up parts of the pig's face seasoned with chili, liver, onion, calamansi and vinegar. If you're not Filipino, your mouth ceased watering at the words "pig's face", I would imagine, but this is some amazing stuff. So good Anthony Bourdain said it's worth coming back to the Philippines for.

For (one of) our main course(s), we ordered Crispy Pata, deep-fried pork's leg. Crispy Pata is one of the best things in the world. The skin is fried to a delicious crisp while the meat is just delectably tender and juicy. Dip in a sauce of vinegar, soy sauce, crushed red chili and garlic, and eat with garlic fried rice. Sweet Jesus.

On a dinner with my girlfriends (+ boyfriends and hubbies) at Cafe Juanita, three of us shared the guilt on this utterly sinful dish. This, my friends, is aligue pasta. Aligue is crab fat. This was SO good. It took every ounce of self-control to keep myself from ordering a plate just for myself. The sauce was rich, buttery and creamy .... so delicious.

Another guilty pleasure was some inihaw na liempo from the Dampa near Mall of Asia. Long before pork belly became all the rage, Filipinos were already enjoying grilled pork belly. Slabs of pork belly are marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, ground black pepper, crushed garlic, and a bit of sugar or a splash of 7-up, then grilled over charcoal. SO GOOD.

The last evil thing I consumed led me straight to bed at 1oPM on a Saturday night. I had my aunts clucking their tongues and shaking their heads at me for this. See, high cholesterol runs in our family so I was really tempting fate here. But I couldn't help it. I had to order the bulalo when we had dinner at Lorenzo's Way in Greenbelt 5. Bulalo means bone marrow, and the dish consists of a comforting soup with beef, bone marrow, and vegetables. I had all the bone marrow to myself. I scraped it all out and mixed it with my rice, which I then ate with the beef. Ohmygoodness.

Sometimes being bad is just so, so, so good.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

sushi in unexpected places

One of the coolest places we chanced upon in Japan is this Standing Sushi Bar at a train station. No chairs, self-service green tea, and pretty darn good sushi served in a flash. We were pretty surprised at how fresh and yummy the toro and engawa were. The only thing that makes this different from pricier places is that the slices of fish are a tad smaller. But the quality of the fish is excellent. And this is just train station sushi!

Another place we went to with unexpectedly good sushi was beside a car wash. How cool is that? You can go there to get your car cleaned and eat great sushi while you wait. We thought it was hilarious how many guys go and wash your car. The Japanese are thorough, if anything.

The sushi was awesome. We started with engawa, both raw and lightly seared. The aburi engawa is lightly seared on top with a blowtorch, giving the engawa a whole other dimension. The texture becomes softer and the flavor is amplified. Very yummy. Then we had some aji sushi, which was awesome as usual. Still blows my mind how much milder and sublime mackerel tastes in Japan compared to the US. The mackerel served here tends to be much stronger and fishier in flavor.

A unique piece of sushi we tried featured was crab "brain." Surprisingly good! Then came some beautiful seared salmon sushi and my favorite uni. After the uni, I was quite stuffed (It was past midnight by then, after all). So I let the men wolf down more sushi and just snapped away at the parade of food. I wish I'd had enough space in my tummy to take in the ebi sushi, which looked so amazingly fresh. Very far from what we get elsewhere in the world eh. Then came an oddball piece, which I think is some kind of liver. I wasn't curious enough to try it. After that came some pretty sushi with greens. The last piece I tried had a hefty lump of diced toro. YUM.

I haven't had much of an appetite since coming back to New York. Must be going through Asian food withdrawal. Or it's a reaction to the massive cholesterol-fest I took on in the next leg of my trip: the Philippines. Stay tuned for how I tempted heart attacks for seven days straight.

Friday, November 20, 2009

new moon

I'm quite resigned to the idea that New Moon will not be the best movie ever (since I didn't even really like the book), but I am still SUPER excited to get my Edward Cullen fix! Looking forward to spending Sunday afternoon staring deep into Edward's eyes. Any of you guys watching?

In the meantime, I'm kinda loving these pictures of Kristen & Rob from the current issue of Harper's Bazaar. From relative anonymity to the cover of Harper's Bazaar in a little more than a year? They've come a long way, baby.

leica m7 hermes edition

As if a plain old Leica camera wasn't covetable enough. Now they've gone and teamed up with Hermés to create the Leica M7 Hermés edition, which is really JUST. NOT. FAIR.

It's a super limited edition, of course, with only 200 pieces to be sold. As a camera, it's a standard M7 with a Leica SUMMILUX-M 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH. wide-angle lens, lens hood, and LEICAVIT M winder. The Hermés touch comes in the calfskin leather accents in either orange or etoupe (pictured here). I much prefer the discreet look of the etoupe to the loud Hermés orange—not that my opinion matters because I will never own this piece of gorgeousness. I mean, the Leica M7 Hermés only costs ₤8,550 (roughly $14,000). More droolworthy pictures below.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

uniqlo + j

One of my regrets during the Japan trip was not being able to get something from the first collection designed by Jil Sander for Uniqlo. I tried, believe me, I did. But every other small boned Japanese lady seemed to have the same idea and I couldn't find the peacoats I liked in small sizes. The collection is supposedly in the Soho store too, but I swear to God, the sizes are smaller (and thus better for me) in Japan. I doubt I'll find the perfect fit here. So I'll just salivate ...

Uniqlo, you break my heart.

japanese burgers

Wouldn't you know it, of course Japanese burgers are really, really yummy too. These babies from Mo's Burger, in my humble opinion, give In-and-Out a run for they money. I like how these burgers aren't greasy, and it helps that the veggies tucked into the bun are super fresh. We also tried the shrimp burger, which of course, had actual pieces of tiny shrimps inside. Awesome. Later that day, we passed a Freshness Burger joint, which is apparently another one not to miss while in Japan. Not wanting to spoil our appetite for dinner, we shared a tofu burger. So simple, but so good. And that iced latte was pretty yummy too.

Oh you Japanese people you. God bless you for your uncontrollable need to perfect everything, from toilets to burgers. God bless you ...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


My reward for being a good girl and sitting quietly all afternoon at the Mezz Cues factory in Tomiyoka City, Gunma Prefecture was an awesome yakiniku dinner. Yakiniku broadly refers to meat and offal cooked on a gridiron over charcoal. We started off with some delicious beef tongue. Because I didn't grow up in Japan where everything seems to be ridiculously fresh, I'm used to beef tongue with more of a chewy, gummy texture. This was so fresh that I actually asked, "What am I eating?" and was surprised when I was told it was beef tongue. The thin slices of tongue were super tender—not gummy at all. Very delicious.

And then we were asked the question, did we like raw meat? Hellz yeah! So we were served this:

Wikipedia tells me that this dish is called yukhoe, and stems from Korean cuisine. Essentially, this is beef sashimi. There are slices of tender rump steak flavored with soy sauce, sugar, salt, sesame oil, scallion, ground garlic, sesame seed, black pepper and Asian pear juice, all topped off with a raw egg. Similar to a steak tartare and very yummy in my opinion.

And then, more meaty goodness. Not sure what cuts of meat these are since our host didn't really know, but I can tell you that they were awesome. I mean check out the marbling of fat on that meat ... a quick trip to the grill and we were in heaven.

Life, I've found, is not always a bed of roses. Sometimes it can really truly suck. But other times, if only for a few hours, it can be really, really good.

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