My Joys with Joy

I got busy. And when I get busy I get sick.  Conceptualizing takes a lot out of me.  I have work induced OCD.  Working on a project basis do have its’ perks- like I can crash after.  The downside is I get more stressed out when the work is few and far between.  Anyway, I can’t complain.  My body does :p
My pick-upper were morning pancakes, weekend binges with my friend Joy and work weeknight dining.
I am a one woman brainstorm so I work alone and after work bonding with clients is not exactly “restful”.  Married friends have to rush home and fix dinners so Idon’t bother them.  The Lone Diner eats again! I am not complaining.  Apart from the inability to order and scarf down from soup to nuts (or sweet)  and spread the calories around, eating alone is no big deal.
My friend Joy is the exception to the “married friend who don’t go out worknights or weekends”.  She is based in Manila (work) and hubby is in Mindoro (business).  Her life pretty much is the way it has been.  The newly hyphenated name hasn’t redefined her lifestyle.  The hubby is the most gracious, nicest guy I know and is even comfortable joining us.  Needless to say they are adventurous and fun!  It is also fortunate that they like driving (me home) so I get to stay all hours with them cruising for food.  I do not feel like a third wheel .  How cool is that?
I met Joy when I was still working a regular job at an airline.  She was born here but was educated abroad.  We became fast friends because we both love to write. She doesn’t get to write as often as I so it’s the exchange of ideas – mine weird and fanciful; hers factual and practical – that made our talks funny and looonnnggg!  It was after I left the company that we got together more. She was the one I took to Gab’s Tunahan at Bulalohan  in Quezon City a couple of years ago.  It wasn’t exactly a hole in the wall place, more like a roadside eatery that grew, nourished by a steady stream of cab drivers sneaking in a meal.  Pretty soon the “de kotse” (Tagalog for “with car”) crowd got drawn in. We had mussels and sigarilyas cooked in coconut milk and tuna with onions served in a teeny tine saucer – the kind usually used to hold four calamansi fruit (which you squeeze for a sour kick to the condiment of choice –patis (fish sauce) or toyo (soy sauce) or straight into your pancit (noodle dish).  The flavors were so rich that the small serve turned out to be filling enough, taken with a cup of rice and free soup.  Our bill was a whopping one hundred pesos (a little more than 1$)!  My treat hehehe.
We don’t get to go to Gab’s anymore because there are lots of other places  and we have our favorites.  
 Banapple has been much blogged about and no wonder.  The place is cutesy craftsy (pink walls, chandeliers, cottage knicknacks and marble topped tables - playing marbles that is) and the meals are reasonably priced, hefty and delish! A personal favorite is the lasagna roll stuffed with plenty of creamy cheese to make me happy.  Btw, Joy likes eating out with me because I have an instinct for ordering  the best dishes at places I’ve never even been.

Another haunt is Som’s at Rockwell, Makati.  Used to be a hole in the wall now a proper yet still unassuming restaurant (on a side street to boot).
We love Thai food and Som’s serves up real tasty ones.  Joy usually orders pad thai and is crazy over suman and mangga (rice cake with coconut milk sauce and half a cheek of mango),  
I have a new favorite:  masaman beef curry! Very tomatoey, redolent with lemon grass, rich with coconut milk and studded with sweet onion pearls, baby potatoes and bits of beef.  More rice please!  Granted the beef bits are just that but it’s not so expensive you’d go amok demanding “where’s the beef?”.  The sauce is to die for – spicy, sour and sweet all at once! 
Which, except for the lemongrass addition and some recipe’s coconut milk omission, may have a kinship with our caldereta, my other (okay, Spanish  influenced) favorite dish (after morcon).  No wonder I am also taken with  Chef Laudico’s Kaldereta Mac – basically beef caldereta  reincarnated as baked macaroni filler at Pugon Roasters at the Ayala Triangle Gardens. 

Did I mention pancake mornings? McDonald’s is it when I am cash strapped and needs to eat fast.  With sausage (only looks like a burger. Not!). I love that they serve Anchor butter with it.

If I want to indulge and linger I would breakfast at Pancake House.  They have salted caramel and walnut pancakes.  A mini stack is all I can handle.  For crunch (contrast in texture) there’s a smattering of walnut and oats (streusel). Sometimes the salted caramel drizzle is…well…just that.  They’d give you more of the regular maple if you ask though.  Besides, the scoop of whipped butter more than makes up for it. That and the side of crisp bacon. Oh, dear.
 Back to Joy:  We bonded more when I did the beadwork on her wedding gown.   My other friend Kim made the gown:  a beautiful A-line, Audrey Hepburn-ish  (all you need were long white gloves) watered ivory silk tafetta. Simply beaded but has lots of flare.  Elegant, of course but practical! You'd never know just looking at it but it has deep pockets for an abanico (fan) and a hankie.
Joy already had a gown of embroidered ivory pina blend  (pineapple fiber) made elsewhere. That one was relatively inexpensive.  She thought the fine embroidery is the showpiece.  She wanted simple.  She thought she wouldn’t care much (being such a practical person and the wedding but a formality and logical end to a very long engagement).  
She didn’t want to be a bridezilla, too mired in detail she couldn’t  lose herself  in the moment.  I told her I never met a bride who didn’t end up wanting or caring more on her day of days.   True enough she cried  when she saw her gown. It wasn’t made well, didn’t fit, the embroidery all scrunched up because it was sewn onto the pelon (interlining or lining that gives delicate fabric shape and form).  Joy was a very strong, no frills woman and it astounded me to see her uncharacteristically upset.  Moral of the story? Even if you go to one of the country's embroidery capital and you happen to walk in to a shop that has nice displays and offers tailoring too, you better do a more thorough scouting.  You have to make sure you are on the same design page, not to mention some seriously flawless sewing going on.
I set up an emergency run to Gakuya and picked up the gown I pushed Joy into trying on back when she didn’t have wedding  plans. This is the one.  This picture was part of one of Gakuya's very first portfolio and photoshoot. I credit the photographer, whoever you are.J
You know how the cloud clears suddenly or something dawns? That’s what happened with Joy and her Gakuya gown.  Yeah, yeah I take credit for part of her happiness that day and on her day J
Kim was in Canada for fashion week so it was left to me to finish sewing on more crystals and pearls. The gown was altered to fit Friday morning.   I didn't sleep all Saturday night.   I have to finish before Joy flies off to Laoag, Ilocos Norte Sunday morning since she is getting married in historic San Agustin Church in Paoay on Monday! .  
It was all worth it.  She said everyone gushed over her gown and wished they’d had such a wedding (horse drawn carriage, bagnet pizza at Herencia Cafe and all.  She and her hubby have been thanking me ever since, hence the eating adventures whenever there is time.  I couldn’t be at her wedding but I am happy I got to be a lifesaver J Anything for a good and loyal friend!


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