Wednesday, July 23, 2008

trekking in wawa dam

This was a school field trip unlike any we've taken before. It was hot, humid, wet, muddy and a whole lot of fun. It was nice to see the girls (and the other moms) outside their usual habitat. It was good to see them walking on a muddy trail, crossing the monkey bridge, getting sweaty and dirty. It was amusing to see them outside their air conditioned, concrete and carefully controlled worlds. There were still some ubiquitous bodyguards in back up cars but they didn't seem inclined to do the trek themselves and
pretty much let the little princesses cope on their own. There was a lot of complaining and whining, but they didn't look any worse
for the wear. In fact, they did look like they enjoyed themselves.
I'm not really sure what kind of lessons they will draw from the experience but I'm just glad they saw and felt a bit of what the outside world looks like.

In the post-Florence world, every new experience counts and playing Mommy to Yso is still the best way to spend the day, no matter how hot and humid...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The post Florence world

Like an opium high, the fall is hard.
What could've, didn't. What if's don't count.
What happened was uplifting, not depressing.
There isn't one major decision. It's a series of little choices.
In the post-florence world, home is still Mandaluyong.


Disappointment comes from a lot of different sources. If serendipity is an unexpected source of happiness, what do you call an unexpected source of sadness?
Meanness cannot be undone, cannot be taken back.

panna cotta

Panna cotta

This was one of my favorite desserts learned from the cooking class. It's something I've always wanted to learn how to do as it presented me with limitless options for flavoring and topping. My only apprehension was finding the gelatin sheets here in Manila as it's not something I was familiar with. I've only worked with the powdered and the "gulaman" blocks. So when I was in Santi's buying meat for the fileto balsamico and I saw them sheets, I immediately decided to get the cream and take a spin at doing my own panna cotta.

My ingredients were 2 one liter packs of cream, 1 liter milk, 230 g of sugar (which I googled and found to be roughly one and a third cups)
and 25 g gelatin sheets and peel of one lemon and one orange.

I boiled the milk, cream and sugar with the lemon and orange peel. While that was cooking, I soaked the gelatin sheets in tap water. Aft
er heating the milk and cream mix, I added the softened gelatin sheets in the mixture. THIS was where I think my mistake lay. The gelatin sheets didn't just soften, I think a large part of it dissolved in the water. So I don't think I put in 25 g worth. The water I soaked it in was kind'a thick already by the time I retrieved the sheets. But I put the mixture into little serving dishes , hoped and prayed and let them cool and put them in the ref to set.

I left them in the ref overnight and found cream soup the morning after. Saaad. Carmen (my trusty sidekick) thought of re-boiling the crea
m mix and adding some more gelatin. We didn't soak the sheets anymore but just dunked them in the water to soften before adding it to the cream mixture. We also didn't do individual servings anymore as it was taking too much space in the ref. We just let them set in bigger plastic containers.

Well, the panna cotta was rescued. In class,Chef made a strawberry puree and I was thinking of doing mango. Ysobel declared them a success and didn't even want to put any sort of topping on it.We scooped them into chilled martini glasses and reprised the orange flavoring by putting orange wedges on the side. We served them to guests who came for a dessert one evening. It was perfect because it was light and refreshing and something you won't have to worry about going to sleep with.

In the post-Florence world, humidity is a factor. Failure is a possibility but rescue is an option. :-)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

my heels are made for walking

Averaging seven kilometers a day on foot in Paris kept the weight and alcohol consumption in check. This also allowed for a lot of serendipitous moments as otherwise unseen nooks and crannies were discovered. Of course, tree lined streets and wonderful architecture made the walk a lot more pleasant and interesting. In the post Florence world, I decided to give walking another run (mwahahaha).

Ok, so the streets of Makati are not exactly tree lined but there were some trees along the way, too. The architecture is not quite as interesting and the sun was just too hot! I also had to dodge motorists who don't quite get that pedestrians get right of way especially where there are perpendicular lines on the road. No, it wasn't a pleasant walk, any way I look at it. I arrived at my destinations hot, sweaty and smelling of l'eau d'enfume. But I'm willing to give it a chance. I resolve to walk more, thinking that at least it will reduce my carbon footprints. It should also burn the same amount of calories. And yes, my heels should be made for walking.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

magic hour

Going down Makati-Mandaluyong bridge around 645PM last night, I caught a glimpse of the magic hour sky. It was that melancholy blue with streaks of magenta peeping through. The lamps on the riverbank were turned on and for a few seconds there, I had a fleeting Florence feeling. Magic hour is my favorite time of day. It always gives me pause depending on the kind of day I've had. It has on occasion driven me to tears and this time, it was very comforting. Yes, there are pesky electric cables, Pasig is not quite Arno, and squatters do live by the river. No, Mandaluyong is not Florence, but magic hour can still be magical... even in Mandaluyong.

fileto with aceite balsamico

A perfectly cooked slice of tenderloin steak, brown on the outside and a rosy pink inside.
Purist beef lovers may scoff at the idea of putting so much "sauce" on a perfectly good cut of meat. But this is the kind best eaten on a mound of warm fluffy rice, or with crunchy, hollow bread to mop up the sauce around it.

Start by dusting the tenderloin pieces with some flour. Place in a pan with hot olive oil. Season with salt on the side that's on top. Cook for five minutes, flip and season the other side. After another five minutes, splash in some aceite balsamico (gasp!) and worcestershire sauce (an even louder gasp!). Just before serving, add a dollop of cream to the sauce.

This piece of Florence was rather well received back home. There was a bit of grumbling over the not-so-tender-loin (I used local meat) but I think it may have also been because the cuts were not as thick as what we had in Florence so it was a little overcooked. It being the debut dish, it was also not a big surprise considering it tasted a little "familiar". It had an uncanny resemblance to our local bistek (with balsamic vinegar instead of kalamansi though) and could have been a cross between salpicao and beef stroganoff.

In the post-Florence world, this dish would be a keeper. It can move towards comfort food category, best enjoyed with steaming rice, a full bodied red wine and a refreshing dessert.

post florence world

After a month long culinary trip which was an exercise in pleasing and educating the gustatory sense, this blog will attempt to recreate the sensations and tastes sampled, best of all in Firenze.

Results will not be altered. Hopefully, Firenze (and Paris, and Nice, and Rome, and Portugal) will be a moveable feast.