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Posts Tagged ‘family’

So I was this weird Negrense who never got to eat at Pendy’s. For thirty-three years. Yep, I lived under a rock.

I did finally get to have dinner there one night, and I can honestly say that I am happy to be scheduled to eat there for a few more nights this Christmas season.

I was ill-prepared for this first foray, however, as R, the Babii and I had a late lunch, followed by coffee and cake at tea time, leaving us quite stuffed come dinner time.

In an effort to “go light” for dinner, we ordered the Vietnamese spring rolls with peanut sauce and a Greek salad as appetizers.

 Pendy's Vietnamese Spring RollsThe last of the spring rolls which I couldn’t bring myself to finish.

Then the Babii chose a tuna sandwich, I asked for a club sandwich, while R and friend B ordered Angus steaks. R couldn’t resist giving a little speech about how “you don’t go to Pendy’s to order a sandwich, you go to Pendy’s to order steak.” (Well next time, we’ll skip Calea before dinner, ok?)

Ironically, they were out of steaks that night, so R and B ordered the Curry Shrimp in Lychee Sauce and Fish Fillets in Kaffir Lime Sauce instead.

Pendy's Curry Shrimp with Lychee SauceIf I wasn’t allergic to shrimp, I would have dug into this at the first instance.

Pendys Fish Fillet in Kaffir Lime Sauce

The spring rolls were great, and would have been greater if I didn’t ask them to take out the shrimps. But one can’t have everything. Sigh.

As for the Greek salad, it’s hard to judge this one after having eaten so many Greek salads made by actual Greeks (or close to Greeks). Plus I’m sure the cost of olives in Negros is horrendous, so I’m cutting the restaurant some slack.

The fish had a good balance of flavors; distinct but not overpowering, filling but not heavy. My kind of dish. The shrimp dish looked promising as well, but I didn’t feel like embarking on a massive public breakout so I skipped it. R and the Babii vouched for it and that’s good enough for me.

The club sandwich was a regular club sandwich, small by Western standards, but just the right flavor for me (and most other Negrenses, I suppose). In the end, we were so full that the Babii and I only finished half of our servings. I had the leftover sandwiches for lunch the next day.

Aside from the food, what I really liked about the restaurant was its distinctly Negrense vibe. There are no words to capture that aura perfectly, but it is in the way the waiters remember their patrons, the way they talk, the honesty of the food  and its flavors (no complicated plating and pretentious names here).

In this era of kitchen Olympics, it is oddly refreshing and comforting.

The next time I eat there, I’ll make sure to skip the cake, coffee, and maybe even lunch.

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This is one of those rare times when we eat fast food.

We have a soft spot for Jollibee, a national icon with flavors that strongly to appeal to the Filipino palette.

Jollibee Chicken Joy

When the Babii was much younger, however, she preferred the “other” (read: international) brand. Chalk it up to some savvy marketing aimed to attract children.

We were holding out to have our first Chicken Joy meal together as a family, but things being what they are, the Babii ended up eating it with her aunt. Apparently, SOMEONE forgot to brief her on the “eat together as a family” plan.

Nevertheless, we went back together the next day. As I was exclaiming over the new offerings, the Babii blurted out: “Chicken Joy is the best.

I think we have a convert here.

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Flying saucer cake

All my fault, I swear.

I tried making this sinful chocolate cake from homecookingrocks.com about a year ago, with disastrous results. I left it too long in the oven and it came out hard and crumbly, more like a giant biscotti than anything else. No exaggeration there.

A few weeks ago, the Babii decided she wanted to give it another go. So after showing her the principle behind the double boiler, she set to work.

I was given the simple task of putting the batter in the cake pan. I remember I was in the middle of cooking something as well, and hurriedly poured the batter in, gave it a few taps, and told the Babii to chuck it in the oven.

A few minutes into the baking, we noticed that a ring had formed at the top of the cake, making the sides poof out like a pizza. At the end, the cake looked like this:

 Sinful Chocolate Flying Saucer CakeAaaah! It’s a flying saucer! No, it’s a giant chocolate ravioli!!!!

It was only when I sliced the cake that I realized there was a GIANT BUBBLE underneath that did not pop. Yes. Shoot me now.

At the end, the cake turned out to be all it promised. Crisp and flaky on the outside and moist and gooey on the inside. The Babii has promised to bake it for the MIL’s birthday. I just hope I don’t fudge it up again.

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R and his family are regulars at Hinobaan, a town by the sea at the southernmost tip of the island of Negros. I had been hearing so much about the place for the past decade, and I was quite excited when a weekend trip was planned during our holiday.

First off, the trip was pleasure mixed with business, although thankfully not mine. It took us most of the day to navigate our way south, taking a few detours to Isabela, Binalbagan, Hinigaran, Ilog and Sipalay. For those who know Negros geography, yes, we went back and forth a little bit.

HinobaanThe shores of Hinobaan are peppered with vacation houses for rent.

We arrived after dark at the rented vacation house and got busy getting dinner ready (I assigned myself chief fanner of the charcoals for the grill). A note of caution for city dwellers: when it’s dark in the countryside, it’s really dark. Street lights are few and far between, and of course, there are no lights on the water except for the fishing boats. We fell asleep with the cool wind and the sound of the waves.

The next morning presented better opportunities for photographs.

HinobaanLook, a chicken! Oh yeah, and coconuts too.

There were so many chickens happily walking around. I suspect we ate some of them for lunch. A little tough but quite tasty.

R and I spent most of the time lounging around under the shade of the coconuts, keeping an eye on the Babii as she happily toasted herself in the water to the color of a perfectly done lobster. I experimented with the camera (which I have never really learned to use), but the blinding sun made it hard to see the pictures I had taken. (I realized only much, much later that my lens was dirty. Dirrrrrty. Que horror!)

HinobaanSpot the difference.Pun intended.

Somewhere along the way, a sand crab wandered towards us which R (of course) had to pick up.

Sandcrab

Something really has to be said about my family and bugs. A few weeks ago the Babii picked up a snail and chased me around the house with it. The night we arrived in Hinobaan, I had my revenge when R chase her with a labug-labug (coconut beetle). Thankfully, this time around R was too busy helping me get a good shot of the crab that he forgot the time-honored tradition of chasing me with bug in hand.

SandcrabAlthough technically, a crab is not a bug.

We ended our last day with a beautiful sunset….

Hinobaan sunsetThe Babii basking in her sunset.

Although we live in Jaffa right next to the Mediterranean, it is not so easy to catch the sunsets. But the Babii just loves them. I think it has something to do with some singing mermaid with an orange pearl.

On the way back we took the ubiquitous Ceres bus. The trip took about five hours, with a few rest stops along the way.

Things I learned from this trip:

1. Most stores close at 6pm in the countryside.

2. Most stores are closed on Sunday in the countryside. (Ah, the good old days.)

3. Most of the food you need are available at the public markets, perhaps even in more organic forms. But mineral water may be hard to come by.

4. After two hours of sitting in the bus, your butt starts to hurt.

5. Wearing a sundress on a Ceres bus is NOT a good idea. (But I ran out of clothes!)

6. When going to the beach for three days, remember to bring the other half of your swimsuit.

7. If you forgot to bring food on the bus, have no fear! The manuglibod (ambulant vendors) will bring you banana cue, mineral water, candies, peanuts, siopao, hard boiled eggs, and sandwiches. Take your pick.

8. Negros has a lot to offer in terms of tourism. It still needs more development, but I think the local government already understands this and has taken steps in this direction. I just hope that whatever development we get, it will be sustainable and beneficial for everyone.

For more information about Hinobaan, click here.

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tooth extraction

The tooth fairy had a close call the other day. She woke up late and had to be reminded by a phone alarm of her…. er…. delivery duties. Unfortunately, the subject in question woke up while her hand was under the pillow groping for the tooth.

“Why is your hand under my pillow?”

“Because I want to hug you.” (Of all the #%&@# lame excuses.)

Hug and cuddle.

“Where’s my tooth?” (@#*&$! Quick, grab the tooth. Crap, she’s taking my hand. Drop the money on the floor!)

“I don’t knowwwww……”

In the end, she found the money while rooting around the bed sheets.

I don’t think I can survive another year of this. I’m just not cut out to be a secret agent.

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Fat Cat

It always hangs out in our garden and gives me intense stares as if it’s trying to tell me something.

I remember one of Neil Gaiman’s stories where a stray cat comes to live with a family, and each day the father notices that the cat has new wounds. Then one night, he stayed up to spy on the cat and realized that each night, the cat defended the family from a demon trying to enter the house.

That’s one creepy story.

How did I even get here? I just wanted to say that this cat seems to like us very much. But it likes the piggies best of all…. with a side salad…. 😛

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Whoa! December already?!?! Where does the time go?

This year would have been our third Christmas here, but due to family obligations, we will be spending it back home in the Philippines. And who doesn’t want a true blue Filipino Christmas, eh?

I still remember the first Christmas that we spent outside the Philippines. I had been out only three months, and R and the Babii flew all the way from Bacolod to join me. For the Babii, it was her first trip on a plane and her first trip abroad. The total number of flight hours was 15, I think, plus a 9-hour lay over in Bangkok.

Alone with a hyperactive six-year old, R half-carried, half-led her by the hand all the way here. You have to give the man an award for patience and fortitude.

rainy day in jerusalem

We started out for Bethlehem early on a rainy Christmas morning. Bethlehem is located on a hill near Jerusalem, and to say that it was cold is a gross understatement.

Our first stop was Shepherd’s Field, so named because it is claimed to be the site where the shepherds were sleeping when Angel Gabriel came to announce that the Messiah had been born.

Ok, ok, before the religious zealots crawl out of the woodwork, let me just state unequivocally that I am not here to promote any specific religion. I, however, have a very strong interest in history, archeology being my first love. But don’t tell my husband.

Moving right along….

At the site are archaeological excavations of a 5th century A.D. Byzantine church and the community that surrounded it. One can see remnants of ovens, olive presses, rooms and kitchens. Sites like these always send tingles up my spine.

Shepherds Fieldsite

A little bit to the right of the dig site is a new fountain, then on a higher incline is the new church run by the Franciscan Order of the Roman Catholic Church.

(Note: Most of the holy sites in the Holy Land are run by the Franciscans as the official Custodians. The story behind it is quite interesting and makes for a good epic novel as well, but deserves a post of its own.)

Shepherds Field church

Inside, the church is small and round. The entrance to the church are two beautiful, engraved solid brass doors. I don’t have a decent picture, sorry.

Shepherds Field painting

The circular wall is surrounded by paintings of that night more than 2000 years ago. On this one, the Angel Gabriel appears as a stunning vision to the shepherds.

The altar which, stupidly, I have never taken a proper picture of, is a slab of stone resting on four crouching men. Or angels. I forget now. In various states of ecstasy. Very emotional imagery.

Shepherds Field altar

Around the altar is a row of plain wooden benches. I love how the church is so simple and initmate. No pomp and overwhelming borloloy.

The grounds around the church are quite extensive. Bethlehem is actually a hill peppered with caves and tunnels, and there are a few grottoes where people can pray or hold their own services. And no, it doesn’t have to be a Catholic service, although I suppose it should be Christian.

Some things to remember:

1. Entrance is free to this site, but visitors are welcome to give donations. If I remember correctly, there is a donation box inside the church.

2. Be prepared to be accosted by vendors selling all manner of local souvenirs at the entrance. Asians (especially Filipinos!) are so polite, they tell them “later” when they mean “no.” If you are not interested, just say no firmly. Local culture requires you to be direct. Don’t worry, they won’t take offense if you refuse. For them it is just business.

3. If you come during Christmas season or anytime around winter, be prepared to meet a host of other tourists come to experience Christmas in Bethlehem. It will be hard to take pictures without people’s heads or other body parts. Some camera acrobatic skills are an advantage.

4. If you are like me, who HAS to light real candles in the church, there are no candles or candle racks here. But you can light candles at the Church of the Nativity or the Milk Grotto (coming up in the next posts!).

5. If you have toilet issues like someone I know, have no fear, there are pretty decent toilets at tourist sites or nearby. Some, however, ask patrons to pay one shekel (approximately 12 pesos/$0.30) per trip to the toilet. For a clean toilet with running water, toilet paper and soap, that’s good enough for me. And no, your one shekel cannot buy you anything else here.

6. There are a few local restaurants outside the site. Just a few. Like three, the last time I was there, which was a few months ago. If you are starving, you will not die of hunger. But aside from the usual local fare (shawarma, kebab, falafel), there are few other options.

A little bit down the road, though, is a restaurant called Tent Restaurant which serves good local food. The interior is that of a large (what else) tent, the waiters are very friendly and the servings HUGE. The place, however, is usually jam packed with tourists during lunch hours. So bring your own stash of sandwiches, cookies, candies, water, etc. But mothers and other OC people already know that.

7. Water can be bought, but cost tourist prices. It is better to buy from grocery stores near your hotels and take them with you. Sometimes the water costs two to three times more in tourist traps, but I would not recommend suffering your thirst over ten shekels. The air here is extremely dry, and people get dehydrated very easily even when they are not sweating. So if you forgot to bring water and are extremely thirsty, buy the water!

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