Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taste the Dream at O'sonho

I was pissed and I was hungry. I needed good food fast.

After a particularly boring seminar in Makati, I decided to pick up my sister in her office along Jupiter Street with full intention of drowning my malcontent in grub and fodder. At around 8 p.m. we walked along Jupiter towards the direction of the MRT and decided to choose a restaurant we haven’t tried before – Discovery Day for Sisters. All my sister knew was that there was interesting Portuguese place that starts with an O. It wasn’t hard to find. After passing Gerry’s Grill, we found O’Sonho.

O’Sonho turned out to be Portuguese for the Dream. In fact, that’s how they advertise their food : Dreamy. I am inclined to agree.

I admit I have difficulty distinguishing Portuguese cooking from the more common Spanish fare. But having eaten at O’sonho taught me that Portuguese love their spices, and they aren’t as tomato-based as most of Spanish dishes are. The menu offers fish, meat, salad and desserts. Price was not unreasonable. The All Meat Paella caught my eye immediately. I love a good paella and I realized I am dying for one. We placed an advanced order since it takes 15 minutes to prepare.

I wish I took better pictures that could better justify it’s excellent taste. It wasn’t as savory as Spanish Paella where the tomato adds richer taste. Portuguese Paella was all saffron and cumin, a combination I also love. The rice wasn’t as soaked in the juices of the meat as I would’ve preferred, but the selection of chicken, lamb, beef, Portuguese chorizo and bacon all grilled to perfection makes up for what’s missing.

Looking around the various newspaper clippings displayed near their front door, every each one of them praised the Chorizo sisg, so we made a decision to try that as well.

Honestly, I couldn’t distinguish it from pork sisig. But is it good? Heck yeah! It isn’t as oily as pork victuals, and it’s not as “nakakasuya”. I enjoyed it, and for the price of P 210, it’s not a bad additional viand. But I don’t know if it’s worth all that praise as newspapers make it out to be.

My sister’s favourite is the Peri Peri Chicken dish. We both had no idea what exactly Peri Peri sauce is like, so this one was a nice surprise. It turns out it’s a slightly spicy marinade, while the chicken is grilled. I don’t know how they made the skin slightly crunchy, but however they did it ---- it’s gooood.

I also liked the ambience. It’s simple, warm but no-nonsense. Wine bottles adorn the walls, and there is an impressive wine bar; if you’re into good wines that’s a definite plus.

It’s too bad the restaurant is far from the swarm of other places along Jupiter, can be hard to find for the less courageous and more directionally-impaired. But believe me you --- it’s worth finding.

Go try them now and have yourself some food from Magellan country. :D

The Wall of Fame
The Wine Bar

Our cushioned booth

It's right in front of Buendia Car Exchange.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cafe Juanita: Kitschy and Kewl

Dates could get a tad bit routinary, I realized. But then again, nothing's wrong with routine as long as you know how to color it up a bit. So I have a plan that every month, my friend and I would hold a Discovery Day and visit restaurants I researched on the net. The first on the list is Cafe Juanita. The original restaurant is in Kapitolyo and I was told it was homey as it was Oriental-esque. The Cafe Juanita we went to is the one in Burgos Circle, The Fort.

My companion and I never even knew there were hidden gems in Burgos Circle. The restos up in Bonifacio High Street have been hogging all the fame. Parking was convenient (underground) and since we were early for the lunch crowd, we immediately found space to park. One short flight up (this was important to me and my friend), and we were on the right side of the circle and gustatory delights were at hand.

Upon entering the restaurant, one would be accosted by color -- LOTS of THEM. There are chandeliers with fabric hanging artfully from the spines, drapes and drapes of cloth, flowers and leaves growing from chairs and tables and walls. For a split moment, I was worried the place was too girly or date-y for my guy friend. But it helped that there was a family dining at the first table and the men looked comfortable enough. Fancy that. This is the view of the main entrance from where we were seated.

There were plenty of tables for two people --- right, we get it, it's a date place. I could only imagine the place at night, when the chandeliers are all lit. Here's our cozy space, near the books.

I loved this simple candle holder. Reminded me of Old Filipiniana pictures.
Someday, I want a picture taken of me holding this, and only this. :))

There were only two of us so we could only order two viands for fear of not being able to finish it; more importantly, we were also on a budget. We decided on a pork and fish viand plus dessert.
This is the Bagnet on top of Pinoy Salsa. Crunchy, just the right level of salty and made interesting by the weird green veggie on top. Have no idea what that is though. Maybe Kutchai? Sorry, I don't know my vegetables. Hehehe :D

Making a right contrast, we also sampled the Fish in Kare-Kare sauce. It's like taking the 2 best traits of 2 well-loved dishes: the peanut butter soup on steamed fish. I thought the serving was small, at first. But then I realized the fish meat was so packed that a normal serving would be only half the dish. Perfect for two. And did I mention it comes with really, really good bagoong? We actually requested for more because tit went well with everything.

Dessert put us in quite a quandary. Cassava Cake or Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream? We decided on the latter. And we weren't disappointed at all! I planned to share the dessert with my friend, but it was so good I finished it all before he could even taste a spoonful. So we ordered another one and still, I couldn't help but get one more spoon in. Hehe, May baon naman akong gamot eh.

The staff were also very courteous, offering a mini-stool for my bag and making sure our water glasses are always filled. They offered to clear the table, but refilled our drinks indicating that we aren't supposed to hurry up. It's a good place to just sit and talk and tell funny stories with tummies full and satiated.
The cost isn't that expensive, but would still need some saving up for, especially for beleaguered NGO workers like us. But it's worth it. I suggest that if you're on a date, don't make like us -- go at night. But just like us --- bring lots and lots of stories.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Birds and the Bees and the Stork

Book in Hand: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Burbery
Song in Mind: Today Was a Fairytale by Taylor Swift

The other day, Sex Education for Children was mentioned in one of our office lunch conversations. It seems there's a disparity in opinions about what age should sex education be taught to children. Some say be as honest about it as early as the first time they ask about it (that could be as early as 4 years old when they ask how are babies made) or as late as 12 years old at the onset of puberty. Funny enough, the topic came up again during a ride home with a friend.

The discussions reminded me of my own childhood where sex and anything pertaining to carnal activity was screened by my parents with utmost vigilance. Yes, they were the type to cover my eyes when actors kiss on TV. They only bring me to movies advertised in posters with a minimum of 54 bright colours and always has some sort of fluffy animal or an adorable kid with freckles featured in it. I was always sent upstairs when guests start bringing up adult conversations.

My parents NEVER sat down with me to discuss the Birds and the Bees. I had to learn from what I can glean from misplaced videotapes, Judith McNaught books, watching Little Women and my classmates. One can see how a young child may be so grossly misinformed.

As a Looney Tunes kid, I actually believed in the Stork who carries bundles of joy in a sling with their beaks. That was until I chanced upon an interesting videotape inside an aunt's house when I was 8. It wasn't my fault it was between Rocketman and the Last Action Hero, was it? All I knew was when I opened the flap, there was a picture of a man and a women doing interesting things. But before I could scrutinize it any further, a panicked shriek ensued from my yaya, the thing was snatched away from me, and she started babbling about "Bastos yan, wag mo sasabihin sa mummy at daddy mo na nakita mo yun ha? Papaluin ka nila." I never told. But that was when I started suspecting adults know something they're not telling me about.

I only had to wait three years before an enlightened classmate whipped out a 2nd year Biology textbook during recess, and like a guru, proceeded to divulge to us the truth about the Human Anatomy. Using a number 2 pencil, she pointed out things of men that goes into stuff of women. Then like some kooky flashback, I remembered the video tape and it all became clear. I had no concept of porn yet, so I decided it was an instructional video for people who didn't know how to make babies (well, I was still kinda right, wasn't I?)

Entresvous the Movie. In my last days of innocence, it was my utmost conviction that kissing scenes done by 2 actors (who, I was aware weren't really husband and wife in real life) were actually mirror tricks. You don't get it? They were actors, right? So they acted like they were kissing someone and there's a mirror in between them. It must be some camera miracle to make it look like their lips were actually touching. All these wobbly justifications crashed and burned when I watched Winona Ryder in Little Women. If you watched this film, you will remember Jo and Teddy's kissing scene in the woods. The tongue and the mishmashing and the Saliva. That could NOT be a camera trick. That's real gross spit!

Then romance novels with titles like 'Whitney, My Love' and 'Windmills of the Gods' started making the rounds in school and that was the end of innocence. At this point, there was no doubt about the How anymore. Books like these just gave us a very skewed, hi-dry explanation about the Why. And then years later, as adults, you hang on to this hard-earned knowledge and go totally paranoid if nothing goes like the way it did in these movies and books.

So if you ask me, YES. Kids have ferocious imaginations and need guidance. Parents should find some time (and courage) to talk to their kids about Sex. It's their call if they will tell them the truth gradually as they grow up. But tell them. As much as possible, tell them straight, and avoid aphorisms like the Stork and Birds and Bees, and Flowers and Rain. I heard these make for very weird fetishes once people grow up, haha. I know we're Catholics, and that might limit our explanations a bit. But maybe we shouldn't make it out as some dirty secret that only the perverse engage in. Save them therapy years and years later by teaching them to make good decisions. But more than making good and doing right, let's tell them how they must be brave and be responsible for the decisions they make, even when, especially when, it leads them to paths unexpected.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Status Update Addicts Anonymous

Book in Hand: Whodunit? edited by Philip Pullman
Song in Mind: Love the Way You Lie - Rihanna

My name is Olivia and I am a Facebook Status Update addict.

They say that acceptance is the first step to overcoming any addiction; so here I am. How I came this far, I have no idea. It was only 3 years ago when I thought Facebook was for the social degenerates of society – attention whores and oversharers of information. Maybe my fall from grace was meant to happen --- I admit my point of view was a bit harsh and needed a bit of revision. Well, a lot of revision.

But I never meant to fall so hard. Not to the point of compulsively checking new status messages from people I’m connected to every ten minutes. Not to get to the point of no return where I start thinking in 420-character mode. Not when I annotate my life in 5 lines or less. Not the fact that those little red flags on top of the page excites me more than a smokin' hot photo of Paul Bettany.

Sure, brevity is a skill for writers, and sometimes, a gift to the people who have to read them. But it also takes out much of the flavour in writing. Not to mention limiting your tone to just one of the myriad possibilities: caustic, sarcastic, whiny, dreamy, happy, bored…. You get the idea.

Facebook killed thousands of bloggers worldwide. Why blog, when you can Tweet or SU, and get more and faster responses from people worldwide? The concept is exhilarating! You actually start thinking you have a fan base now; people who hang on to your every message… and yes, I mean you, Annabelle Rama (I mean, who cares what you Tweet?). I fell into the attention-whore trap, and only managed to snatch my soul from the claws of the Oversharer.

My rude awakening came when a couple of contacts started using their FB account as their online shrink. I admit, I have done my fair share of whining online and more than the usual number of “sad =’( “ statuses. But when I read their status, it just made me feel icky --- begging, begging for people they barely know to tell them they’re in the right, that they feel sorry for them, to be patronized and consoled --- even if they weren’t in the right and they weren’t guileless, at the very least.

FB has become a mechanism for perpetrating self-licking behaviour. In some ways, it helps you feel connected. But in a lot of ways, it infringes on the ability of people to tell truth from fiction because of course, self-propaganda reigns supreme.

And I fell for --- all of that. Damn shame.

So detox starts now. No more petty and trivial status messaging. No more useless “hahaha” or “lol” in other messages that aren’t really that funny at all. My SUs, if I do share it to Everybody, would be few but precious. Moderation is the Way. In the meantime, I return to the blog (and just import it to FB). Although it also poses the same risks of oversharing, it will take a couple more brain cells to express myself, a chance for common sense to catch up with thought, and edit if needed. Quite an effort, but I dare say it’s worth the prize of erudition.

My name’s Olivia and I am a Facebook Status Update Addict. It’s been 10 days since my last update. I plan to make it to 21 days to break the habit completely.

May God have mercy on my soul.