And just like that, the first month of the year is now coming to a close. It’s quite a good month — full of nice memories, food discoveries and then some.
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On our 9th wedding anniversary last December 28, my dearest husband surprised me with an obscene amount of Royce’ Chocolates. It was the sweetest gesture and one that I will remember forever. The Japanese-made chocolates are just some of the most exquisite and best-tasting confections in the world, using only the finest and freshest ingredients. Even in a state of shock, I immediately figured that it was like a year’s supply of the luxury chocolate brand. However, my husband is not very particular about expiry dates and failed to notice that Royce’ has a shelf-life ranging only from one month to three months. So I was forced to give some away, and gorged myself with the rest. For instance, the Potatochip Chocolate only lasts for a month and I got so many boxes of it in all three variants. I munched on it everyday until it was all gone by January 19, a day before its expiration date. I got totally hooked! Just when I think I’ve had enough chocolate-coated chips for the day, the saltiness of the potato chips kicks in and makes me reach for more. So addicting! All the other chocolates in my Royce’ stash will last until March 20th, so I’m savoring them little by little until then: Amande Chocolat (chocolate-covered almonds), Prafeuille Chocolat (thin chocolate squares with mixed berries or caramel sauce in the middle), Fruit Bar Chocolate and Nutty Bar Chocolate, Baton Cookies, Pure Chocolate and many more. I think I’ve already tasted almost everything in the entire Royce’ line. I’ll forget about my waistline for now and worry about it later. So this is what it feels like to be in Royce’ Chocolate heaven. When someone gives you Royce‘ chocolate, you really feel loved. That’s another reason why I’m still so in love with my husband — he surely knows how to make me swoon. LIKE. LIKE. LIKE. LIKE. LIKE. LIKE. LIKE. LIKE. LIKE. LOVE my Caloy so much.
Royce’ Potatochip Chocolate in Original, Caramel and White Chocolate
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As I enjoyed the goodness of real chocolate, I also enjoyed reading my first book for 2013: Chocolat by Joanne Harris. I’d been wanting to read it for so long, but I had a hard time looking for a copy of the book that didn’t have the movie tie-in cover. Just one of my quirks. So I finally found the cover that I really, really liked at Booksale — for only P120. Yes!!! The story takes place in a small rural town in France and presents a variation of a very interesting conflict: Church vs. Chocolate. Tradition vs. Temptation. Hypocrisy vs. Truth. I absolutely loved the book. As for the movie adaptation, it’s a real visual treat. I would have also loved it if only it didn’t depart too much from the book. I guess the author and the movie’s director agreed to make all those changes so as not to offend the sensibilities of the Catholic Church and its devotees. Oh, well. Independent of the book, the film has its own merits. LIKE (for the movie) and LIKE (for the book).
Chocolat : the movie and the book
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Cake lovers are no stranger to Ms. Polly’s Specialty Cakes & Desserts‘ award-winning chocolate cake, which can be described in one word: perfection. It’s always present in our family celebrations and get-togethers, especially since the shop’s commissary is in our neighborhood. But most people don’t know that Ms. Polly’s offers more than just its signature chocolate cake. I’ve already tried its Peach Walnut Pavlova, Sansrival and Brown Derby. When its facebook page announced that its Strawberry Shortcake was available by the slice from its Merville shop, I went there to purchase a slice. Unfortunately, it had been sold out by the time I got there so I wrote on its facebook page that I will just go back the next day. And, of course, I did. Right after my early morning workout, I went to buy a slice. As they were carefully putting my cake slice in a small box, the man at the shop window asked for my name. When I said it, he immediately declared that the cake was on the house. He was given instructions to give me a free sample in case I came back. I insisted on paying for it but he didn’t want to take my money. So I went back home very happy. The cake was amazingly light and berry delicious. With generous white chocolate shavings on top, it earned even my Bea’s approval. I wouldn’t mind paying P115 per slice for it. In fact, I’d love to buy a whole cake just for me and Bea.
Ms. Polly’s Strawberry Shortcake: LIKE / Ms. Polly’s Customer Service: Super LIKE
Ms. Polly’s Strawberry Shortcake
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“To love another person is to see the face of God.”
The first movie I’ve seen this year: Les Misérables. I admit I’ve never read Victor Hugo’s novel, have not seen the 1998 film adaptation starring Liam Neeson nor the musical theater production. So I was really excited to watch the movie musical on the big screen. Not even my take-out Mongolian Quick Bowl lunch inside the movie house could make me take my eyes off the screen for one second. I was completely engrossed during the entire movie. Production design, cinematography and acting were excellent. With the exception of Russell Crowe, all the other actors gave very powerful portrayals. In my opinion, Crowe was a miscast — it hurt to watch/hear him sing. Someone else could have played Javert more effectively. But what do I know? Anyway, despite the seemingly monotonous drone of the sung-through lines, a few of the songs were really hauntingly beautiful. I’m just so happy that I’ve watched the movie. Really LIKE.
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At the start of every year, I draw up a list of restaurants that I wish to try and call it my “Eat List”. It’s only January and I’ve already dined at 3 out of the 12 restaurants on my list. Great. One of them is Little Tokyo in Makati — not exactly a restaurant but a whole compound housing several Japanese dining establishments. It’s supposedly the place to go to for authentic Japanese cuisine. So, together with my Yumyum Monsters groupmates, Bea and I wandered off to this little piece of Japan in the city. My first impression? Stinky. The compound reeked of urine and stale cooking oil. We first dined at Hana, touted as the best place to go for takoyaki. I ordered a bowl of miso soup and 6 pieces of takoyaki and waited forever for them to be served. I almost walked out after 20 minutes of waiting for the miso soup, which the waitress obviously forgot. Aside from the lousy service, the place is cramped and a bit filthy for an eatery. I saw a small cockroach crawling on the stack of drinking glasses on the shelf, and observed how the kitchen staff completely ignored the same creepy crawler as it made its way inside their refrigerator. All I can say is yuck. The takoyaki wasn’t even that good. I’d pick Karate Kid‘s version over Hana‘s anytime. Can you fault me for not leaving a tip?
Takoyaki from Hana
After that, we tried Seryna in Little Tokyo. But while the place was much bigger and tidier, the service sucked big time, too! With each item we ordered, the waitress warned us, “Matagal ho ma-serve ha, kasi masyadong maraming tao (It will take a long while to be served because we have too many customers).” To which my friend wittingly replied, “O sige, mga ilang days? (Okay, how many days will it take?)” Way to go, Irish! The height of rudeness was when she gave us our bill even though we hadn’t asked for it yet. Apparently, the restaurant closes at 2:00 p.m., whether or not we were finished eating! My gosh, now I don’t understand all the fuss about Little Tokyo. I have not been to Japan so I wouldn’t know if that’s really how it works over there but I hear the Japanese are some of the most courteous people on earth. Hana and Seryna were such big disappointments. DISLIKE and DISLIKE. Never going back.
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Another restaurant on my “Eat List” for 2013 is Lugang Cafe. Undeniably, the name of the place can be a real turn-off. But after learning that this Shanghai-based restaurant chain that serves Taiwanese and Cantonese specialties was named after the small Taiwanese town of Lu Gang, I quickly understood. It’s widely popular for its bestselling Steamed Pork Xiao Long Bao, so I tried it as well as the Oyster Omelet. But my favorite has got to be the Three-Cup Chicken. This very aromatic dish with a salty-sweet caramelized sauce proved to be a wonderful choice for a main course. A traditional Taiwanese dish that derived its name from the equal proportions of its wet ingredients (1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup sesame oil and 1 cup rice wine), it gets additional bursts of flavors from garlic, bell pepper and fresh basil leaves. The serving is good for 2 persons but I was able to finish it with a steaming cup of rice all by myself. Mmmm…. LIKE.
Lugang Cafe’s Three-Cup Chicken