On Ice Skating, Pastel Skies, and Korean Food

March has been pretty eventful. School is over and that means summer has officially kicked in! Just the thought of having three months away from school leaves me with an endless list of things to do… and I don’t even know how to start. But in between all that fun and freedom is having to review for college entrance exams, as well as to decide on what to major in for the next four years of life (seriously, knowing that applications are already this May kills me). I try not to think about it, but it’s chasing me like a dog being chased by its owner. Anyway, I don’t mean to burst your bubble as well as mine, so relax, unwind and enjoy the summer heat for now!

My friends and I celebrated the first day of summer—on ice! As Mika (whose blog shall not be mentioned, as per request, but I know it can be found here somewhere, haha) said, it’s pretty ironic how we chose to spend it that way instead of going to the beach or something like that, when it’s summer after all. From school, we headed to Taft to have lunch which was Mariah’s treat, and we went to MoA right after to do some ice-skating.

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Taken at the bridge connecting MoA and the establishment opposite it. I like how the colors of the sky came to be during that time. Too bad we weren’t able to see the sunset at Manila Bay, which I bet would’ve been gorgeous.

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Obviously played around with brushes and curves. I was going for that tourist-y or postcard effect, if there is such thing, because my dad said that the snowy mountain background made it look like we were abroad. Well, I think I ultimately failed at it. Hahaha.

The little kid just came up to us and it seemed like she didn’t want to leave for the picture. Well, the more, the merrier! And she was just adorable… would you just look at those neon purple skates and pink safety gear.

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Well, all my friends were pros in their skates and obviously, I sucked. I don’t expect anything from myself when it comes to things like this, so… yeah. So much for landing on the ice twice. Hahahaha. /wrist

Despite looking like an idiot on the rink, I was sort of able to redeem myself through what else, but capturing these moments through the point-and-shoot!

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To the people who were attempting to push me on the slippery ice and let go off my hand… here’s my revenge on you!!! *insert evil laugh here* Don’t worry friends, nobody reads this anyway. Hahahaha.

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L-R: Filipino, Canadian, Italian, Korean (face not shown).

One of the things I find cool about our group is how “diverse” it is. Unity in Diversity, yeah! We all hail from three different continents. There’s Anna from Canada, the one with the passion for fashion; Tim, the polyglot, born-and-bred in Italy; and Joy, the Korean who is good at everything but denies it. But of course, that doesn’t leave the 3 M’s behind! Mariah, whose pride in coming from Bacolod shows through her statuses in Skype all written in Ilonggo; Mika, who has a good understanding of Kapampangan… and there’s me, the lone Manileñan. Yeah, I’m boring, I got no life story. Lol. Well, my roots can be found in Bulacan, in a town where carabaos kneel in front of the church during fiesta. Tagalog is spoken there, so it sucks that I know no dialect!

It’s always nice to have a good understanding of different cultures. You get to know how things normal for you become so weird for others (like how Joy has nightmares with lechon and an apple on its mouth, I believe, haha). But the best of them all is… getting to go to their country of origin with them, with them being your tour guide. The best culture encounter. Yes! Yes! Yeeeeeees!

And speaking of culture, getting to taste other food is awesome too!

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The day after, my friends from my class and I hung out for dinner at Jang Ga Nae Restaurant in Aguirre. Anya, who loves anything and everything Korean, set up this Korean feast, inviting her fellow fanatics—Jem, Joy (our tour guide), Gabby, and me. Gabby wasn’t able to make it, so it was, well… a girls’ night out over Korean cravings on a Friday evening. We planned this ever since the start of this year, I think, and I was so happy it actually happened!

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Jem gave me this from Taiwan! So thoughtful of her. She also gave me a Taipei subway ticket (!!!!) which I immediately added to my collection! Thanks, Jem!

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Everything was so good and healthy. If you don’t eat vegetables, then I don’t think you’d enjoy this type of cuisine. It was so unfortunate for us that our dinner fell right on a Friday, so we weren’t able to eat meat due to Lenten abstinence. You see that black plate of meat? I wonder who ate everything… ehem, ehem, hahaha.

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Korean friends unite! We’re not Korean… only one of us is, but yeah, the other two are Koreans in their own way too. Haha. DSC01315

Anya: It’s my first time to eat at a Korean restaurant with a Korean!

Joy: It’s my first time to eat at a Korean restaurant… with Filipinos!

Wonderful firsts, right?

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Cold noodles! I wasn’t able to take note of what it’s called, but I’m sure Jem and Anya know the name just by the sight of it. The one surrounding it is ice. Wow, the other day, we were stepping on ice, and day after, we were stuffing it in our mouths. Just something I realized right now.

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As we stood up with happy tummies, this guy, whose name shall not be mentioned (haha, his name is Martin), appeared out of nowhere. I’m posting this because I know that one day, this guy will go places. And we can all say, “Hey, that guy knows us!” Hahahaha photo op right there. I told Joy that it would be perfect if he would audition for PBB because he’d get in. He would. Really.

These past two consecutive days were great, and just when I tell myself that I’d finally catch up on some rest at home, another gimmick is on its way, with another group from my class. But who am I to complain—I love going out with good people, wherever, whenever! The only downside of all this is that it leaves me with empty pockets, but, yes, you wouldn’t trade a good conversation over good food for anything.

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Maita in the Kitchen: Okonomiyaki {Savory Pancakes}

Semestral break productivity: check!

Written on my to-do list were to blog, catch up on Asian dramas, read Chinese books borrowed from the library, go online on Skype and QQ, clean my room, play the piano, and cook. Among all these things, I think it was the last activity that drained most of my energy, but at the same time felt so fun and fulfilling.

I was able to make four dishes during the vacation: tuna pasta, mango sago, fried rice, and this one!

I can cook to save my own life but not to the point where I can make a tummy happy. Being an only girl is another reason why I’m often found in the kitchen if I’m not in my bedroom. Oftentimes, I am the one assigned in the household to heat the food on the stove, to cook rice, or to thaw frozen dishes. Or when there’s no dish prepared, I try to whip up some simple dish like pasta. Or egg. Scrambled egg. Haha. I believe this is something every girl my age should have knowledge on more than any household chore. One doesn’t need to be good at it, but at least know her way in the kitchen, but yeah, if you can be good at it, why not?

I was looking for a simple and easy recipe, with familiar and affordable ingredients and ingredients that are typically found in the pantry.

And I ended up cooking something Japanese — Okonomiyaki that is, which I got from Yummy.

I’ve always thought that the process of making this was so tedious with hard-to-find ingredients and extenders, but I was proved otherwise!

Japanese mayo will definitely do wonders in this dish, but it’s really expensive so I used normal mayonnaise.

What happens when you fry bacon in oil?

I had a hard time mixing the batter because I felt that there was something wrong with the proportions of the water and flour. Nothing seemed to happen.

I guess it turned out fine!

It’s supposed to fill the whole pan, but I thought of making mini versions so that I could make more.

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I overcooked two pancakes! The cabbage slices were already burnt… oh well.

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I got too excited that I spread the sauce and mayo unevenly in the weirdest manner. It’s not supposed to look like that, lol.

The remarks were positive, and I guess that’s an achievement! Definitely making this again, and yeah, definitely gonna spend more time in the kitchen cutting vegetables (which is my favorite thing to do), boiling water, battling with hot oil splattering on my skin, and experimenting with new dishes. I think I’ll make Chow Mein next.

A little contemplation that might turn into a life-changing event: I think I want to learn Japanese. Oishi!

Not So Sweet Sixteen

My sixteenth birthday wasn’t any glamorous celebration at all.

It wasn’t anything close to a grand feast — no birthday cake, no happy-birthday-to-you tunes to sing along with, no candles to blow.

On that same day, a girl from somewhere around the world must have been dressed in this baby pink cocktail dress, or if she were the more dashing type, in neon red, with her hair locked in curls, trying to look at her best with grace and poise, packed with a sense of maturity, at her super sweet sixteen bash.

Although mine wasn’t planned that way at all, the way that day turned out to be was way far from what I imagined it to be.

Exotic edibles and folk art are what consisted of my birthday celebration… all in an unfamiliar but not so faraway place.

One word: adventure!

All what my dad said was that we were going out of town during lunch time. What first popped into my head was going to the province, but I thought it would be impractical to do so, and if we could spend it at a nearby restaurant or at that mall by the bay, then I would be more than happy. Well, I am a person who is very easy to please.

A few of my friends asked how I spent my birthday. I honestly didn’t feel like telling them what happened because I wasn’t interested in starting a conversation of sauteed frog legs and fried crickets!

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We went to Balaw-Balaw Specialty Restaurant in Angono, Rizal. It sounds like a far place from the city but it actually took more or less an hour to get there. I guess my dad got the idea of eating at this place when we were watching the Now Boarding: Philippines feature on TLC where the restaurant had been featured in both of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain’s shows.

According to what was written on the menu, “Balaw-balaw” is a sauce or appetizer made of small shrimps mixed with gruel and an herb served with sinigang. It has become part of the culture of the people of Angono.

 

Angono is the Arts Capital of the Philippines, and it is known for the Higantes Festival, where giant figures (as high as ten feet) made of paper mache are paraded during the street event. Of course, the ones above are only of miniature size!

Masks of the Higantes Festival. They add so much character to the restaurant. There must be a significant reason why they all have troubled and weird expressions!

The place was also a gallery of artworks and religious icons, as well as folk art.

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Crispy Alagaw, a medicinal herb deep-fried in batter.

This one is called Minaluto, the best seller of the restaurant. I was so glad that this wasn’t part of their exotic cuisine and I chewed and swallowed with no hesitation. Surrounding the steamed rice was a mix of mussels, crustaceans, salted egg, greens and a tomato and on top of it was pork adobo, all neatly placed on a banana leaf.

And now, the most bizarre of them all…

I’m no food blogger and I believe I made the food look 100x more unappetizing. If you think you might throw up or lose your appetite for your next meal after you scroll down this page, by all means, please scroll up, or better, click the X button on your browser. Now!

I was up for the challenge. I had no choice because I was hungry. But on my birthday… wow, I couldn’t believe it either!

Adobong palaka.

Kamaru.

Okay, maybe they don’t look visually appetizing, but I tried my best to devour them like they were my everyday meals. I ate those crickets like peanuts and the frogs legs like chicken adobo!

Even up to this day, I can’t believe I did all that. This experience sort of changed how I viewed myself. Well, not exactly in a bad way, but here’s one thing: you’re really much stronger than you think. Heck, I wasn’t up for eating amphibians or bugs, especially on that day I turn a year older!

Not the sweetest way to celebrate a birthday, but it was still as memorable as a seven year old kid’s children’s party.

Whether your birthday was a  feast of all your favorite food, a simple dinner out at a nearby restaurant, or however way you spent it, it’s the people you were with — the presence of the people that matter to you celebrating that special day with you makes the occasion worth remembering.

Not so sweet sixteen. This is how I will remember my last birthday in case the world ends this year (jk, I don’t believe in that!).

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I hate how buffets force you to eat more than what you usually take. Eat-all-you-can = gluttony. I don’t know how to enjoy buffets, just because I don’t know how to make it all worth it. Ginoogle ko pang “how to eat at a buffet”. Haha, wala lang.

According to the source I read (which happened to be an article about this same restaurant), it said that the kinds of food you don’t usually have at home are the ones supposed to be eaten first. I didn’t exactly follow the writer’s advice of lobsters, crabs, sugpo or steak though. Getting adobo or omelet is a big no-no!

I ended up getting sashimi and sushi first. It’s not the “least common” food out there, but it’s not something you get to eat everyday, I guess.

Yay, sashimi!

 

Mango and chocolate cashew ice cream, red velvet cake, blueberry cheesecake, and ube.

The obligatory shallow me-and-my-food-at-the-resto pic.

Ang awkward kong humawak ng chopsticks, seryoso. Haha.

Right after, I took a short walk facing Manila Bay. You know, to feel a little bit less bloated. Lol.

Ang ganda sana kung sobrang linis ng tubig!

And that concludes this shallow food post.

Bon Appetea

050912. What the day consisted of — cha, cha, and more cha.

I see a 我爱奶茶!post-it right there!

The yellow-green post-it on the left — hahaha.

Purple Royale + Blueberry Yakult + Ambrosia

Lalala, I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it. See you both tomorrow, M&M! 😀