Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I ♥ New York (Day 1)

After watching Miss Universe 2010 replay last weekend, I had a major, major inkling to reminisce about my work-related trip to Uncle Sam last year. One of the highlights of that trip is a side trip to The Big Apple.

Date of my personal bite of The Big Apple: May 9-10, 2009
Brooklyn Bridge: The bridge that reaffirmed my bubble thought that I'm in New York!

So how did Miss Universe 2010 come in to my reminiscing, you may ask. It's a prevailing fact that Donald Trump is the myth behind the most prestigious beauty contest ever known. So when the cameras showed Donald Trump in the audience, a vivid flashback of The Big Apple came into play. I do remember my excitement when I stood before the Trump Tower in 5th Avenue last year and took a quick picture of it. Oh man, I was giddy with happiness when I saw where The Apprentice was filmed.

Our group took an early morning flight via U.S. Airways from Richmond, VA to LaGuardia Airport but the plane could not land in La Guardia airport due to poor visibility (damn thick clouds) hovering over the whole New York. The only recourse is to land in Lehigh Valley International Aiport in Pennsylvania, so after major, major delay, the airline gave us a free land trip from Lehigh to Fairfield Inn Marriott in LaGuardia where we made room reservation.

Behold the evidentiary support of my own personal bite of The Big Apple.

A popular way of touring New York City is by classic double-decker, hop-on, hop-off guided bus tour. But nothing beats exploring the city on foot.

Miss Liberty wannabes in Battery Park

WWII memorial in Battery Park which faces the New York harbour

My empire state of mind: wacky! 

On a serious note, that giant eagle marker has this:

Erected by the United States of America in proud and grateful remembrance of her sons who gave their lives in her service and who sleep in the American coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Into Thy Hands, O Lord.

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House (originally U.S. Custom House) - now the home of the New York branch of the National Museum of the American Indian as well as the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

26 Broadway (a.k.a. the Standard Oil Building) is a New York City Designated Landmark at the southern tip of Manhattan at Bowling Green.

Arturo DiModica's 7,000-pound bronze Charging Bull, a reference to the bulls (optimists) and bears (pessimists) at the stock market

I'm in Corporate America a.k.a Wall Street!

They say that in order to complete your personal bite of the Big Apple, one has to ride the subway.  We did and we enjoyed every minute of it!

Trinity Church is a historic, full-service parish church in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. It is located at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway in downtown Manhattan.

Isamu Noguchi's Red Cube, a prominent landmark in front of Marine Midland Building (also HSBC
 Bank Building)

Interesting statue of a corporate man in a park near the Ground Zero

Solemn look in an almost solemn site -World Trade Center site (Ground Zero)

Even though I was a continent away when the 9/11 attack happened, the effect still reverberates when I took pictures of the site.

Time to drop our Century 21's shopping loot at the hotel. LOL!

To put to test that NYC is the city that never sleeps, we went to Times Square via, of course, a yellow cab! I have never imagined that I would set foot in the world-famous site of the annual ball drop during New Year's Eve. Also known as "The Crossroads of the World" and "The Great White Way", Times Square has achieved the status of an iconic world landmark and is a symbol of New York City and Uncle Sam in general.


Times Square

The city that never sleeps

Plus, we had a $120-worth of light dinner at the TGIF resto in Times Square. My first day at The Big Apple was almost surreal I even likened it to a childhood dream that finally came true. It came in an unexpected way which left me flushed with happiness up to this day. So, that was my Day 1. Stand by for my Day 2 entry. :) 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What I Cooked: Fettuccine alla Marinara & Bacon!

Date of kitchen adventure: August 22, 2010

First off, the belly bacon and the diced tomatoes in can made a huge difference to my recipe. I owe it to my endless browsing of food blogs. When I went to the supermarket to complete the ingredients, I was damn serious of how to make my pasta dish tastes like real Italian - meaning, very tomatoey and not sweet at all - and a bit vegan as well.

Chopping off onions, bell peppers, carrots and belly bacon

I've learned that having a very sharp knife is a big help in the kitchen.

Diced tomatoes, mushrooms and spaghetti sauce (beef & mushroom and tomato & cheese variants)

Mind you, it's quite a big leap on my part to use the gourmet variants of Del Monte spaghetti sauce. Before, I always stick to the sweet or Pinoy style sauces which are child-friendly and very Jollibee.

I used San Remo fettucine noodles. Needless to say, make sure that the pasta is cooked al dente.

There's fire on the stove so let's cook.

Sweat off 500 grams of belly bacon in extra virgin olive oil. Hurray to healthy living!

After removing some bacon oil, I dumped the onions, carrots and bell peppers. The mushrooms were also added after a few minutes.

Lovin' marinara

I poured the spaghetti sauce and the diced tomatoes to the bacon-veggie mix. Nice tomatoey smell at this point. Too bad I wasn't able to add some herbs to complete my version of marinara sauce. I added a bit of salt and fresh ground pepper to balance everything. I also added McCormick's minced garlic for some flavor kick. The result: very, very tasty and could compete Sbarro's style! Love your own, you know! LOL!

Sprinkle cheddar cheese. Serve at once. Perfect with ice-cold Coke. More perfect when shared with loved ones and, of course, Coke! :)

My shoes are out of the box... literally!

"There's a little Imelda in all of us."
~ Imelda Romualdez Marcos in a 2009 print interview

Due to lack of outdoor activities during the long weekend, I was forced to do my part in household cleaning. I've lost count how many times my mother would tell me to sort out my shoes. Throw or give away some, things like that, blah-blah. I finally heeded my mother's plea this morning and I got the biggest surprise of my life! 

Magic 27

After throwing out some damaged shoes (say, 4 hopeless pairs of shoes, meaning, beyond repair already) and lining up all my rescued shoes, it dawned upon me that I have a total of 27 pairs of shoes! Well, I think the oldest shoe was bought in 2005. I know I have bought  more pairs of shoes all the way from 2005 which unfortunately didn't survive that long or were given away to relatives in the province. 

Wow, it was very, very nostalgic just staring at my old shoes again. I hope to write some details or memories behind every pair. That would be exciting and fun! :)

Petit Puff by Happy Cream Puff

Out of boredom, I declared a self-imposed break from work one afternoon. Fortunately, the cloud cover seemed so friendly to me that moment that it did not drizzle. I was talking to BF on my mobile while walking mindlessly. Then I found myself at Paseo Center where my favorite cream puff  (a.k.a. profiterole) stall can be found. Without thinking twice, I bought a box of assorted petit puffs as pasalubong for my younger siblings and nephew.

Ten pieces of assorted petit puff (Php 180)

One petit puff costs Php 20, so you actually save Php 20 if you choose to buy the assorted pack which  has  ten petit puffs with different toppings. I personally saw how each petit puff was injected with the yummy custard cream before it was carefully placed in the box.

My favorites are caramel glazed with almond and black and white choco. I'm still looking forward to taste all the varieties of petit puff. I hope it's that easy to just pop one tiny sweet puff to your mouth without the consequent calorie buildup, huh? :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pizza & Pasta at Shakey's Valero

I had the most perfect combo for dinner last Thursday at Shakey's which is still one of the best pizza restaurants we have in the country but often overlooked. Two of my favorite food items in the world were served - pizza and pasta! It's been a while that I haven't dined at Shakey's Valero, so I brought my big appetite with me. Never mind the fact that BF and I shared this quite heavy dinner with two officemates. :)

Iced tea for all

And this is the part where I'm getting hungry just by looking at the pictures again. Argh. I should try cooking penne pasta next time in full support of my quest to find the most perfect pasta dish. For the record, I have been trying my damndest to cook pasta during weekends and, yes, baby steps.

Baked Italian sausage penne (Php 343, platter with loaf of garlic bread) - meaty and chunky Italian sausage on baked penne pasta with marinara sauce topped with cheddar cheese and parsley

High-protein supreme (Php 293, large) - all-meat pizza packed with beef, salami, pepperoni, ham and Italian sausage topped with a tangy ranch dressing

 Halfway gone. I mean, the pizza.

Penne pasta for the win! The marinara sauce reminds me of the flavorful diced tomatoes I used in my fettucine pasta last weekend. Yum yum.

Shoe Haul: Charles & Keith and Pill Sandals

Apparently, BF is generous. I must have thought out loud one day that I badly need a new pair of sandals. After more than a year of working at the Makati CBD, I find wearing sandals more comfortable than wearing pumps or even ballet flats. With all the walking I do in the CBD due to strict implementation of traffic rules, I like my feet to breath and not enclosed. 

Charles & Keith multi-colored sandals 

This is my first ever pair of Charles & Keith, so please indulge me!

Done in the spirit of foot vanity

I wore it to the office the following day. Two days after, I wished I had another new pair of sandals. I love my Charles & Keith so much that I don't want my lovely pair to be overused. BF heard my wish. So off to The Ramp Glorietta I went. Voila! I found this comfy gray sandals which can be worn with corporate casual clothes.

Pill sandals

A big thanks to BF! Much love, Mommy.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dinner at Tokyo Tokyo - for the nth time!

Eating at Tokyo Tokyo always evokes memories of my major, major fascination with sushi way, way back. For me it's like the minimalist version of complying to a classic meal ritual that one should eat rice. BF and I had a quick dinner at the SM Megamall branch last Monday before heading home. As always, I had sushi or makizushi, to be specific!

Red iced tea

Prawn and vegetable tempura bento meal (Php 190 with iced tea) for BF

Chicken ninja wrap has chunks of chicken teriyaki and shredded cabbage wrapped in a pita-like bread (Php 49).

I give 5 stars for this innovative addition to Tokyo Tokyo's menu. The teriyaki sauce spells perfection!

My Tokyo Tokyo meal will never be complete without maki. (Php 39)

Fruity jelly

I never get tired of eating Japanese fast food. In fact, I had another round of Japanese fast food at Karate Kid the day after with Super BC and Gaby. :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Karate Kid: Enjoying Japanese Fast Food with Super BC + Gaby

Super BC* refers to the awesome pair of husband and wife, Jay & Weng, who are both my good friends. The couple is blessed with a little princess named Gabriela Jelena (my godchild) and manages their own travel agency. Why "Super BC"? Click here if you major, major wanna know! In fact, they were our travel buddies last February in Hongkong and Macau. 

Peace out to HKers!

One Tuesday afternoon, BFF Weng told me that we should meet in Ortigas area to - what else - catch up on each other's lives. After several months of not seeing each other, we finally met in SM Megamall for dinner. Due to lack of material time, we decided to have a filling meal a la fastfood style at Karate Kid.
Apart from enjoying dinner, one of the topics that was extensively dicussed during dinner was the hijacked bus with tourists from HK. God bless the OFWs based in HK and all the Filipino tourists who still pick HK among all tourist hubs in Asia. Awful things sometimes happen without warning.

Like father, like daughter

My godchild seems to personify the phrase "bibo kid". She is quite confident in making choices and hates dull moments.

The tale of Gaby and the strawberry jelly mouse

Okay, presenting our tummy fillers that night... 

Beef ramen for Pareng Jay

Gyudon for BFF Weng

Ebi tempura for Pareng Jay

But, of course, tempura goodness will be much, much appreciated with rice.

Japanese burger pasta for yours truly

I heart pasta. I can't imagine my foodie life without pasta. It's that simple yet complicated considering I'm really gaining weight from all the pasta dishes I've gobbled up the past few days. Burp.

Iced royal milk tea for me and BFF Weng... Yey!

Best of all, we all shared hearty laughters from this bio-magnetic bracelet which still elicits amusement from yours truly until now. Oh, but that's another story. For now, while writing this, I am happy that I'm blessed with wonderful and generous friends! Merci beaucoup, BFF Weng! Muchas gracias, Pareng Jay! :)

*BC Travel Services
Unit 302 3/F Integrated Professional Offices Building
Dona Josefa #14 Quezon Ave, Quezon City
4684431 / 09228858498