Monday, November 12, 2018

4 DAYS AND 4 NIGHTs

Tuesday in Centris
Dust, smoke, sweat, sun and my bike
Four days in the trail


Sans Monday, Tuesday
Beer, wine, brandy and whiskey
Four nights of slugging

Monday, November 05, 2018

POBLACION BAR HOP

I spent Halloween attending a workshop in Bangkok and was able to get home before midnight of All Saints' Day. 

Halloween is on October 31 which is the day before All Saints' Day on November 1. 

Hence, Halloween unpacked means "Hallow's Evening" or simply "All Hallow's Eve" which is the evening before "All Hallow's Day" or All Saints' Day. 

The irony is Halloween evolved from Celtic pagan rituals while All Saints' Day is a christian festival in honor of all the saints of the world. 

November 2 is All Souls' Day which is the christian "commemoration of all the faithful departed". 

Thank you Wikipedia for that which means that we in the Philippines got it wrong since we should be doing trick or treat and wearing ghost costumes on October 31, going to the church and honoring our saints on November 1, and visiting our dead only on November 2. 

I missed all three and a long weekend since November 1 (Thursday) and 2 (Friday) are non-working holidays in the Philippines. 

So I made up for that by declaring November 3 as "Family Day" with College Boy going back to the university soon, and that's how we ended up in Poblacion for the weekend.   


But first, we need to scratch Nanay's itch to see the Venice Grand Canal at Mckinley Hill in Taguig, perhaps to compare it with what she saw at the Venetian in Macau, both of which are poor fakes that in my opinion were created for suckers, which could have been time spent exploring the nearby Libingan ng mga Bayani and the Manila American Cemetery.

The only worthwhile take away is our hearty all-American breakfast [pancakes, waffles, sausages, eggs, coffee] at Denny's which made up for the slack.   



No one countered when I proposed cooling ourselves at the Glorietta Malls and from there walked 1.7 kilometers to the gleaming highrises of the Philippines' financial district, a monument of wealth for so few among which is the towering RCBC Plaza of the Yuchengco conglomerate who owned Pacific Plans Incorporated that duped thousands of middle income parents in investing hard earned money in a college plan that went pffft.

I took the brood to the Yuchengco Museum to see the work of some Filipino masters and also to witness for themselves the triump of a scheming genius and the steep contrast of an unequal society.    



Poblacion is the old downtown area of Makati which is 2.1 kilometers away from the RCBC Plaza of the new Makati. 

It is where the first church was built by the Jesuits in 1620 which spawned a settlement and eventually the city of Makati. 

Unfortunately, Poblacion has gained a reputation as a red light district, like Ermita is to Manila and Timog/Quezon Avenue in Quezon City. 

Its gentrification as a culinary oasis is therefore a welcome development and we were there to find out if the reviews are equal to the real thing. 

The Smokeyard 


Our food prowl [bar hop for me] started at 6:30 pm along Don Pedro Street, a bit early it seems since the bar where I plan for an aperitif is still closed, so we detoured into The Smokeyard for a taste of American barbecue. 


I was welcomed by an honor guard of Filipino craft beers but the star of the menu is the beef brisket, smoked and not grilled, slow cooked and not charred, with natural juices permeating from each sliver of delicate meat, just perfect with the coleslaw and buttered corn on the side, almost excellent with my bottle of Exit Wounds IPA until I felt the gradual numbing of my face, and that's when I read in the label that the brew was created in remembrance of the Colt .45 which the Americans invented to bring down juramentados [something that the 38 caliber can't] during the Philippine-American War.      


Pura Vida

That was just one beer and I wonder what's in store for me at Pura Vida, a Costa Rican reggae bar, which thankfully offered their mild Guaro Sour vodka-based house blend to go with a plate of Chifriho --- roasted chicken leg, a rice-bean combination that I don't really like because it tasted like "bombay", salad greens and fried plantains. 

It will do for a decent meal but the cocktail comes in a large jar and in pairs so I asked Bulan have his share, Nanay to sample what a cocktail is, and Balong to have his first sip of alcohol.

But that still left half a jar that I finished off with my full glass thus, my transition from numbness into silly happiness.    



Alamat Filipino Pub and Deli

Finally, Alamat where I was given a tour of their All-Filipino craft beer taps by "Macario Sakay" who recommended Burj for my requested gentle fire, and a plate of their Dardaraan --- a crisp slice of pork rib sitting in a blood sauce and garnished with sliced okra and squash --- which is surprisingly good [I was wary of their mispelled dinardaraan], although the Burj is a disappointment considering that I had better craft beer for much less.    

But I'll be back to try their pinapaitan with cocoa instead of semi-digested cow juice.



Tambai

There's more at Don Pedro like The Wild Poppy [enough of the same building] and Bucky's [closed unfortunately] but we have targets on the other side of Kalayaan Avenue, the first of which is an institution that has elevated the icon of Filipino street food, the barbecue, into a class act without losing its soul, except for the price which has stepped up too like P195 for a single Rib Eye Finger that turned out to be tender pieces of smoked beef that's skewered like a barbecue but tasted like steak and worth every cent.

The roadside barbecue now has a second floor and just behind it are three holes-in-a-wall that will be worth exploring someday.    


El Chupacabra

Right across Tambai is El Chupacabra to whom the credit of igniting the Poblacion food scene is accorded, filled to the street, enveloped in a haze of smoke from its busy grills so it took a while for a waiter to notice us.

We opted for the best selling Carne Asado from its street taco list and Cheese-Garlic Enchilada that were gone in four big bites, plus a roll of Ground Beef Burrito that took a while perhaps because it tasted like Indian curry which I tried to vanish with a bottle of San Miguel Pale Pilsen [they only serve local beer].  


Kite Kebab Bar

We crossed over from Felipe Street to the other side in Ebro via Polaris and Durban for a sampling of Mediterranean cuisine which in the Philippines basically means kebab. 

At the Kite Kebab Bar, that means a Classic Kebab of ground beef grilled in a flat skewer and Rib-Eye Steak Kebab which is sliced beef cooked the same way, both served with whole roasted tomatoes and a yogurt garlic dip, both more than okey although I felt I've been had by a small glass of Sapporo Beer that cost P180. 


Senor Pollo

As the name implies, Senor Pollo is about chicken-South American style and we had a plate of the Senor Pollo Roast with baked beans and cheese-and-mac on the side but by then, our overworked taste buds might be failing us because we cannot differentiate its taste from the lechon manok of the roadside grills in Munoz, or maybe because I was more interested in La Chupadita --- a pink cocktail that tasted like lemonade laced with rhum [Tanduay Rhum 5-Yeard Old to be exact].

We are full and my alcohol-induced happiness has ebbed so Seor Pollo turned to be our last eat for the night, which means Crying Tiger and Pink Panda that are also in our list will be the reasons for a second food prowl [and bar hop].   


Kanto Freestyle Breakfast

The next morning, we walked to the old church from whom Poblacion and Makati sprung where ninety meters away in a street corner, churchgoers congregate at Kanto Fresstyle Breakfast, allegedly the best breakfast place in Manila and the epitome of the modern Filipino carinderia.

The eclectic menu feature the signature Silog breakfast fares --- Crsipy Corned Beef for me, Danguit for the wife, Vigan and Lucban Longganisa for the kids --- and interesting fusion options with fancy nakes like spicy fried rice, chocnut champorado, grilled buttered suman and taho panna cotta that we should have ordered.   



We blew around P10,000 in last night's Poblacion food prowl [and bar hop] but the marrow of life does not come cheap.

We parted ways with Bulan at the lobby of the Red Planet Hotel where working girls engaged in reluctant goodbyes with their clients and taxi drivers wait for a prey to be overcharged.

Poblacion did not disappoint and there's a few more that will require another food prowl and bar hop. 

Friday, November 02, 2018

THE DEATH OF SOI 38 / HUNT FOR THE BEST PORK TROTTERS

The Soi 38 Night Market is dead, slain and sacrified in the altar of "progress and development".

That I know but being Halloween, it is but proper to pay my respects and see for myself the shell of what was once a virant night market and street food culture.

Soi 38, once acclaimed as the best food street in Bangkok, is now mostly deserted except for a few brave stalls that may also disappear soon.

I walked through it in a futile mission to locate the old man who is said to make the best pad thai in Bangkok but who probably must have been driven away by the noise of ongoing excavations and the demolition of quaint houses that once lined the famous food street.          



At a corner with the Thong Lo BTS Station is a small food court that I think is a vain attempt in keeping the spirit of Soi 38, a seafood-and-barbecue standing guard at the entrance, several stalls encircling plastic tables where a lone Caucusian nurse a bottle of Chang, and just lots of sad and empty spaces.     



That unforttunately is my memory of Soi 38 and I greatly regret not coming earlier when it was still alive with people and the smell of cooking food, but I have to move on from that disappointment to the Siam BTS Station where I changed trains for the Saphan Taksin BTS Station of the Silom Line in the Bangrak Market area in search for the "super tender braised pork trotters" of Khao Kha Moo.

And that is how I found myself at a corner of Charoen Krung and Silom Roads staring at the State Tower Building, in the right location but not knowing where to go, shelling out 164 baht for a beer and the right to sit at the tables of Cafe Ice, get wifi connection and access Google Maps, which led me to a narrow alley and a red sign where an old man told me they close at 1:30 pm and I should come back tomorrow at 7:30 am when they open.    


Now that is too much disappointment for a day which even a roasted duck and pork dinner at Ped Prachak failed to assuage, and it was a long ride to the Nana BTS Station and a sad walk to the Holiday Inn Express Hotel but it's Halloween and this must be a trick on me so I took a seat at the Apoteka Cocktail Bar where I sought comfort from a bottle of Lao Beer and getting into the rythm of a band's take on Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" while eveasdropping on the conversation of two women tourists wearing pirate hats.


The next day was Todos los Santos in the Philippines.

I worked on another revision of a Theory of Change that has been hounding me, took a shower, lugged my backpack, skipped the lousy hotel breakfast buffet, bought a ticket to the Saphan Taksin BTS Station, walked through the Bangrak Market, and presented myself to Khao Kha Moo who obliged me with their famous braised pork trotters, super tender indeed but not as good as our patatim or even the tiims back home in Bakal 2. 


I refused to be disappointed though since that is a must-do ticked off from my Thai culinary bucket list which is perhaps a fitting conclusion for a day spent in the B+HR Lab where I struggled to keep awake amidst a buzz of words from a group of mostly UN expats discussing what most who are there already know.

In four days, I pedalled 38.8 kilometers with Bulan in Munoz, tested the meager gym of Holiday Inn Express in Soi 11 and slept through a workshop at The Courtyard by Marriot in Bangkok, and wondered who is Susan somewhere at NLEX during the bus ride to Bakal 2.