Archive of ‘food’ category

a very fountain pen day

Learning of my new fondness for fountain pens, a friend gave me one of his, acquired in the early ’80s.

The pen is gold-plated with a pattern of closely-spaced parallel lines. It was in horrible shape – no nib (my friend had taken it apart when he had spread the tines pressing too hard), the aerometric-fill system was leaky, and the grip’s threads were loose. No nib. The clip was broken in half. The top and bottom tassies were discolored and showed brassing. No nib!

So today we took it to Luis Store at 375 Escolta. (Call them at (02)241-3484) I first learned of the shop from Leigh’s old blog and immediately wanted to visit. I asked my friend for landmarks; I was surprised when he told me he actually knew the shop founder and used to buy and have pens and lighters repaired there forty years ago. “Nandoon pa ba ‘yon?” he asked.

This friend of mine remembers going to the store when he was in high school (early ’60s) when all Mang Luis Pua had was a stall beside the road. Today, Mang Luis’s widow Mrs. Pua and their daughters Terrie and Rose carry on the business, now housed in a fairly new building; the shop is a haven for local pen connoisseurs in the know.

Once there, Terrie uncapped the pen, and went, “Where’s the nib?” My friend shrugged. “Lost,” he said. Mrs. Pua then came along, took a look at the pen as well, and said, “Where’s the nib? Gold ‘yun!” By that time he was red in the face and mumbling, “Saan na nga kaya ‘yon?”

The shop is a dream for collectors. They do adjustments and repairs, and have vintage and new stock of Parker, Sheaffer, Montblanc, Waterman, and others. I saw a Parker 51, which I really want, also a vintage Sheaffer ballpoint similar to what my mom has (she says it belonged to her mother, my grandmother Beatriz Ledesma Lacson).

So we left the pen for repair, mainly nib replacement. We asked Rose and Terrie a good place nearby to have lunch. “Turn right at the corner and look for the French windows,” they said. “Order the grilled pork chop.” Same thing they told Leigh. I’m glad I took their advice. The pork chop was great, along with sides of fried egg and potato salad. The place is called 9 to 6 Foodhouse, along Tomas Pinpin corner Escolta.

9to6_meal

Back at the office, I checked Lih-Tah Wong’s excellent online reference Parker 75 Fact Book and found out that the pen is a Parker 75 Milleraies, made in France. (Milleraies is French for “a thousand lines”).

My friend has another Parker 75 which he identified as a Grain d’Orge (barleycorn pattern).

He says he used to own a Parker 51 which he found really annoying to use (it was skipping) so he took the nib apart. He couldn’t put it back together again the way it was so he stopped using it. (Rose and I, in unison: “Where is it?!”)

My friend is amazed that the pens he used when he was younger and took for granted as “just pens” are now worth a fortune. Well, a small one anyway. Luis Store’s cheapest Parker 51 is P28,000. ”And to think my classmates and I used to stab our pens nib-first into the tops of our wooden schooldesks,” he said. As I looked at him in horror he said, “Eh matibay naman kasi eh.”

Later that same afternoon, I visited Leigh ‘s office to pick up the Platinum and Sailor “21″ pens. It was our first meeting and I was so happy as Leigh is so sweet and friendly. The pens are in beautiful shape, and she even gave me a black Platinum Preppy and a Platinum pen box.

The highlight of our encounter was when she showed me her lovely pens (Omas, frog Danitrio) and let me try out her Piccolo Nakaya and gold Danitrio with a cursive italic nib, both loaded with lovely light brown ink. Now I feel that I have seen and tried out real pens, and know what I should be collecting.

Yay for pens!

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cafe juanita: food and fancy

Restaurant Review: CAFE JUANITA

This is a cozy, homestyle cafe with surprisingly sophisticated fusion dishes, a must-try for the adventurous gourmet.

Diners step into a converted house, wildly decorated with antique chandeliers festooned with silk roses and fairy lights, strings of beads hanging from the ceiling, butterflies, gayly-colored parasols, lamps, tree branches, and all the oddments of a lifetime spent collecting by the owner, a doctor who loves gourmet cuisine. The decor will put you in mind of an eccentric maiden aunt who was a pack rat and never threw anything away.

Everything in here is for sale. The centerpieces, which could be anything from a green-glass “Desteleria Ayala” antique bottle to a basket of dried pinecones, have price stickers on them. So do the frames of vintage Coke posters near the bathrooms; the two-foot tall teal glass electric lamp shaped like a teddy bear; the furniture; everything. As they say, one man’s junk could be another man’s key decorating piece.

Philippine Tatler magazine has bestowed at least two “Restaurant of the Year” accolades on this quaint eatery. Try their bagnet, crispy hito and green mango salad, and the lengua estofado.

Do not, under any circumstances, leave without having tried the sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream. One mouthful of that  sweet bliss, which mingles the warmth of the oven-fresh pudding with the cold of the chocolate-sauce covered ice cream, will curl your toes with pleasure and make you glad to be alive.

Cafe Juanita is at #2 United cor. West Capitol, Bo. Kapitolyo, Pasig. Call (02)632-0357 for inquiries.

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gael greene: insatiable

When I choose books, I go through these steps: first, the cover grabs my attention with its artwork – vibrant, colorful, interesting? drab, dark, morbid? I then check out the title and the author – heard, or never heard?

Next I turn to the back for the blurb. If the synopsis there (written, I am sure, by savvy marketing people who know that the blurb is the quickest and best way to grab the consumer and not let go) tweaks my curiosity even to the slightest degree, I then flip through the pages. The language must jump out, awaken my senses, make me reel in the headiness of the words, the prolixity of thought and verbiage coming together like a potent drug. If the book has this effect on me, then I get it.

Insatiable is one such book, penned by the famous food writer of New York magazine. Gael Greene is witty, intelligent, an unabashed hedonist who enjoys the pleasures of the table with the same sensuality that she explores the pleasures of the bedroom. It is honest and alive with detail; Gael holds nothing back in describing her lovers, her meals, her friends, the delights of the senses that encompass her world and make up her life story.

Be sure to read this book on a full stomach, as the exquisite description of French and Italian cuisine will make you hungry and want to go on your own gastronomic adventures in our food-obsessed Manila.

Excerpts:

“We are going to have a nice salade composeé,” said Julia (Child) in that rolling profundo that promised if she could cook it, you could, too… I must admit I was disappointed. Disappointed? Shocked. What did I expect? Nothing complicated. A lovely cold pork roast. A deviled chicken. I was not demanding a suckling pig turning on a spit or a laborious ballontine requiring birds be boned and gelatin gelled… To be with Julia… it should have been enough. What an ingrate I am to have expected lukewarm loup de mer with a sauce gribiche. Forever the Insatiable Critic. (p. 241)

I remember thinking, Okay, show me. And to my astonishment, she (chef Alice Waters) did. There was something radically daring in the simplicity of every perfect vegetable, the pristine leaves of baby greens that had not yet hit kitchens in New York, the clarity of an oddly shaped tomato. Until that moment, heirloom meant a hideous vase you dare not send to the thrift shop because it had been your grandmother’s. If there were zealots reviving forgotten spieces of tomato or twenty strains of heirloom potatoes on the East Coast, I was not yet aware of it. (p. 172)

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market coffee

In 30 Oct 2007, some friends and I visited Garing’s (a coffee grower for generations) in Lipa City, Batangas, where they display roasted Excelsa and Liberica (barako) beans in glass cases. You select and buy the beans you want, which are then ground right then and there. Fresh! The aroma is heady and heavenly.

Prices are cheaper in the market – around P170 per kilo of ground barako – compared to manufacturers like Figaro, Siete Baracos, and Merlo. However, the manufacturers offer blends and flavors not available in the market.

To brew coffee the “farm” way: in a saucepan, boil fresh ground coffee and brown sugar to taste.

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