Simple Joys

Long time no post yet again.  Haha.  I got busy. And when I get busy I get sick.  Conceptualizing takes a lot out of me (I do marketing and events).  I have work induced OCD.  Working on a project basis do have its’ perks- like I can crash after.  The downside is when there's work, there's way too much to do and limited time to do it.  Everything was needed yesterday! Anyway, I can’t complain.  It's my body that does :p
My pick-upper were morning pancakes, weekend binges with my friend Joy and work weeknight dining  -technically a consultant brainstorms and presents alone so it’s not like bonding with clients beyond work is a given and married friends have dinners to fix for their significant others.
 My friend Joy is an exception.  She is newly married and work is based in Manila while her hubby manages businesses in Mindoro.  Her life pretty much goes on the way it did when her name didn't have a hyphen.  Occasionally we get to have dinner with the hubby when he flies over.  They are a very nice couple, adventurous and fun!  It is also fortunate for me that they like driving me home so I can stay all night with them cruising for food.  I do not feel like a third wheel and we have a lot of fun talking.  How cool is that?
I met Joy when I was still working a regular job at an airline.  She was born here but lived 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 often. She was the one I took to Gab’s Tunahan and 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.  We had mussels and sigarilyas cooked in coconut milk and tuna with onions served in a teeny tiny 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).  Or a doll's tea saucer haha. 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 !  My treat hehehe.
We don’t get to go to Gab’s anymore because there are lots of places to go to these days and we have our favorites.  
Banapple has been much blogged about and no wonder.  The place is cutesy and craft-y (I have a thing for chandeliers and light fixtures) and the meals are reasonably priced, hefty and homey-delish! 

A personal favorite is the lasagna roll stuffed with plenty of creamy cheese to make me happy.  And barbecue ribs! Ok, chuck in the crowd favorite banana cream pie. Btw, Joy likes eating out with me because I have an instinct for ordering  the best dishes even when I’ve never been to or have read reviews of the place. 
Another haunt is Som’s at Rockwell, Makati.  Used to be a hole in the wall, now a proper, still unassuming restaurant.  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 a half cheek of mango) while 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 a dish that you’d go amok demanding “where’s the beef?”.  The sauce is to die for – spicy, sour and sweet all at once! I can't find my picture file on these though so you will just have to imagine haha. No worries, it was simply good food plated just as simply.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 Pugon Roasters (serves chicken inasal and pinoy fast food at the Ayala Triangle Gardens) Kaldereta Mac – basically beef caldereta  reincarnated as baked macaroni. 
And the eggsaimada!  The typical ensaymada (Spanish pastry origin) is made of dough, shaped (but rounder) as you would a cinnamon roll and then slathered with butter, dusted with sugar or lots of grated cheese.  The best ones would be crusty outside, golden and chewy inside, buttery, soft and the cheese over it is Queso de Bola.  Enjoyed with coffee or the more luxurious hot chocolate, the ensaymada is a Filipino favorite merienda (snack).  The eggsaimada has creamy egg and longanisang Lukban bits in it!  Scrumptuous!  I had to have two cups of coffee to finish it all.  It was just one piece, halved, but it was a lot for a solo and slow eater like me (good excuse to linger). Yes you need to eat it all.  Stuff you don't want to take home (when you're not going home right away) are eggsaimadas and burgers with everything on it (tomatoes, onion relish and lettuce makes the burger bun soggy - not good).  
Joy loves the nutty donut at J.Co's and never failed to order it.  My ensaymada love extends to their version of it known as the Cheezy Rich - aptly named - part of their J Club sandwich donuts.  I especially like that it's a combo, with coffee, deal haha.
Did I mention pancake mornings? McDonald’s is it when I am cash strapped and needs to eat fast; Pancake House when I am indulging.  They have salted caramel pancakes, which is a stack of banana walnut pancakes with salted caramel syrup and for crunch (contrast in texture) there’s a smattering of walnut and brown sugar crumble.  Sometimes the salted caramel drizzle is…well…just that.  They’d give you more of the regular syrup if you ask though.  I needed more contrast and crunch so I got a side of bacon. Oh, dear. I've had pancakes and waffles at the Wildflour
but they're not that different from the others and much pricier.
I make pancakes from scratch at home anyway, classic flapjacks and this chocolate flecked stack (sometimes I put butterscotch chips in).

Back to Joy:  We bonded more when I did some of the beadwork on her wedding gown.   My other friend Kim made the gown:  a beautiful A-line, semi fishtail Audrey Hepburn-ish  length of watered ivory silk with minimal beadwork (it was originally made for a fashion show).  Joy already had a gown of embroidered ivory pina blend  (pineapple fiber) made elsewhere. That one was relatively inexpensive and Joy had a specific design in mind.  She wanted simple.  She thought she wouldn’t care (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 (that paper-ish material used to “hold up” filmy delicate fabric to give it form).  Joy was a very strong, no frills woman and it astounded me to
 see her uncharacteristically upset.  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 any wedding  plans.
You know how the cloud clears suddenly or something dawns? That’s what happened with Joy and her Gakuya gown.  She didn’t realize until then that she’d met her gown and hadn’t known it like I did.  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 I took it upon myself to finish the beadwork, not sleeping all Saturday after the gown was altered  to fit Friday morning because Joy has to fly Sunday to Paoay, Leyte for her wedding on Monday! Whew!  Till the hour she came to pick up the gown I was sewing on crystals and pearls.  It was all worth it she says, everyone gushing over her gown and wishing they’d have such a wedding (horse drawn carriage, laing (taro leaves) pizza, bagnet (fried pork) 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!
p.s. this was written months ago!  And my picture files are all messed up haha.  I've been eating and compiling for future posts.  Joy and I are still at it, eating and coffeecupping being our shared joys, which I will be posting soonest!  What's yours?

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