A ’show of hearts’ and how online shopping made our Valentine’s Day

Sweet Little Miss Wifely Steps has an ongoing blog carnival entitled “Show of Hearts” where readers and friends are invited to post anything heart-related.

My entry of course has something to do with the just-concluded V-day. The bf was by his usual thoughtful self and made it in time for our Valentine celebration across time zones. Thanks to the magic of online shopping; never really gave this thing a thought, until My Sweet told me to check out a few Filipino-owned sites and how their prices compared against each other. He finally settles for makulay.com because their items were reasonable, and of course they were able to actually deliver the items to my doorstep!

The heart-shaped strawberry buttercream cake from Goldilock’s was a revelation. Never really tasted this cake before and we loved it… the mild strawberry flavor blending well with the creamy center.

Hmm, I wonder why the bouquet of flowers I got didn’t contain a single rose, but I was certainly glad to find a number of edible roses on the icing of the cake! :P


A Valentine meal for My Sweet

I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Am a hopeless romantic but I suddenly turn weak when I see the much-vaunted romanticism displayed to the extremes in other people. I also dislike the traffic, chaos and mad rush associated with this overrated Day of Hearts. As a result, I wouldn’t it be nice if some of us can just “eat in” instead of “dine out” on V-day, to save oneself the time, stress and energy?? (saving it for later,duh. ) Just got the idea of serving My Sweet some online cuisine, since I don’t have flowers or chocolates to give him On this special day. This can’t be a one-way street, right?

Some important things to remember when you’re setting the mood for culinary romance at home:

1. Set the mood. Spruce up the table with flowers and candles, even if it has to be Liwanag Candles. Ugh.

2. Don’t cook something that will take too long or is too complicated. That will take the fun out of it, we tell ya! You are meeting your beloved, not his ancestors. I like handling fish since it can cook in 10 minutes. Be creative and multi-task. By all means, chop the greens while the soup is boiling and your entree is baking in the oven. That’s three dishes at one time!

3. The appetizer is you :P By all means, don’t come out of the kitchen frumpy and smelling of garlic and onions. Remember to shower, gargle, spritz up, wear something earthshaking-ly sexy… whatever it takes to compete with the main course. Huh. :P

The menu:

Soup: Garlic-Cheese Chowder

Saw this recipe in a supermarket leaflet and I absolutely liked how this went. Noticed that My Sweet can’t live without soup to kickstart his meal and this has got to be it. Down-home comfort food and easy to make!!! Plus it incorporates two of my favorite ingredients: garlic and cheese.

Greens : Kani Fruity Salad

Gotta have a salad because Teh Sweet can’t live without it, again. I even remember how he savored the camote tops salad in Batanes with our very own shrimp paste or bagoong! This salad dish was adapted from the Good Housekeeping cookbook. The original recipe called for mango but I substituted it with melon, grapes and of course greens. Drizzle with dressing (garlic, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt & peppper), toss, mix and you’re ready to go!


Ma Mon Luk : still and all, one of the best noodle meals one can have in the city for less than a hundred bucks!

From Lung Center, I found myself in the auto spare parts haven that is Banawe, Quezon City to have my buggy repainted and fixed. Guess what was waiting for me across the street: the ageless Ma Mon Luk restaurant, still looking like it hasn’t shed its hangover from the 1940s!

You know if a resto is still at it by the number of cars parked outside its doors. It was a usual busy Sunday at the last surviving branch of Ma Mon Luk, the best place in (or near) Manila to savor a hot bowl of Chinese noodles. Okay, don’t forget the siopao. See this related post.


The Lung Center Sunday market: more than just food….


I love weekend markets, never mind if I have to go there groggy from my graveyard shift. These places start very early, and it’s well-advised to go there as early as 6 am, so as not to miss the morning bustle. This was how I found myself in Quezon City’s Lung Center of the Philippines Sunday market yesterday.

What can I say…. a tiangge or bazaar in the middle of hospital grounds? Tell me again. Comparisons to the Salcedo weekend market in Makati come to mind. Salcedo is clearly for the condominium -living, well-heeled crowd; this one was more hoi-polloi. You’d be better off blending here if you’re a ‘cowboy’ and don’t mind being seen in your sando, shorts and slippers. Also, the Lung Center market is definitely more sprawling. It’s more than just about food, and food-related products. Cas, a newspaper colleague I bumped into, told me everything was sold at the Lung Center market, “from the common nail to an aircraft carrier.” That’s just a figure of speech of course. But it’s true that on some days, some fella can just park in there, auctioning a boat or vehicle!


The budget traveller’s guide to Batanes : food, hotels and such…

Like most remote islands in the Philippines, it is hard to fly to Batanes on a budget. The Sweetheart paid $450 $425 for each of us on three-day, two night package tour arranged by a travel agency. Of course you know what happened after that - our three days became nine days which posed a challenge to our budget, considering that no credit cards were accepted and there were only government ATMs on the island.

I figure that what makes travelling to Batanes expensive is the airfare, which stands at something like $250 to $300 for a return trip. The route is not competitive at all (meaning no other airlines fly here) and I don’t know about Asian Spirit’s role in dictating the prices. Maybe it is not lucrative for them at all. It would have been cheaper if you can SAIL to Batanes, even if takes forever. There is a ship departing the island, but it only goes as far as Currimao, Ilocos Norte. We heard merchant vessels are going to ply the northernmost route from Manila soon. Don’t know how reliable this will be, given the island’s weather temperament. Let’s just wait and see.

My opinion is that Batanes shouldn’t be ‘unreachable’ at all to the ordinary traveler, especially Filipinos who dream of going there at least once in their lifetime. Paying $300 for airfare to see a beautiful, albeit, isolated part of the Philippines is an anachronism in this age of budget air travel when flying to Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Kuala Lumpur, Taiwan, Bangkok and Vietnam can cost you a little less than $200, taxes included. Surely, there is a way to travel by cheap to Batanes? Here are my notes and recommendations: