Saturday, February 27, 2010

stuck in the new middle

There's something nice about setting up a home at just the right distance from the craziness of the city center. You're just 5 to 10 minutes away from the essentials - the office, the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, church, a decent sushi place, the train station, THE GAP, etc. That was part of the charm of this little white box almost two years ago, when I moved in full time. It was near enough not to be boring, and far enough to still be quiet. You know - off grid, on radar.

Now, my little part of the metro is turning into a monster.

1. Foreigners are creeping in.

Fortunately, they're not the Noisy Korean types who infest my friend Illyria's bulding. My new neighbors are a different breed. I call them
Chatty European types who live here because their money would go farther in the tropics than anywhere in the EU. They say "good morning" and "hello there" in German/French/British accents. They sunbathe by the pool wearing clothes that reveal more than they should. They actually use the gym and hang out in the garden. They are very... European.

(That sounded racist. However, if you knew me in real life, then you would know that I'm part European. Therefore, that just sounded self-deprecating and honest.)

2. Progress is assaulting this part of town.

I didn't realize just how noisy and congested the road to progress would be.

3. Property values are ballooning.

All the "progress" is doubling the price of the units here faster than you can say bourgeoisie


Why I'm even complaining, I don't know. It's weird; I always knew this place would eventually be developed, and was even proud of the fact that I got first dibs while it was still cheap.

Resistance to change - maybe it's human nature?

How very Parisian.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

the turquoise prada

Three years before Pantone named "turquoise" the color of the year, I bought a Prada Crispy Nylon - Turchese. I have been using it almost every day since. People hardly see me without it.

I got the bag from the Prada-owned and operated "Space" in South Horizons in Hong Kong, where off-season Prada items are marked down. "Space" also has several branches in Italy and other major fashion capitals. It's like an insider secret. The stores are hard to find.

This was the bag's first "unveiling" from its big Prada box, which I first opened (very excitedly) in the suite in The Royal Plaza (which, by the way, is the room that inspired the condo). My heart was leaping out of my chest as I removed all the acid free paper that protected it. Finally:

I quickly took it out for a spin, but NOT JUST around Hong Kong. I whisked it right away to Macau, no less. Here it was on the ferry from Kowloon:

This Prada has since traveled with me to everywhere.

  • It was with me in the Petronas Tower in Malaysia.
  • In Paris, I lugged it around the Louvre and other touristy places. It sat with me in cafes and bookstores.
  • It watched the waves of the Meditteranean coast in the South of France, and then went on a road trip to Monaco.
  • It saw a bullfight in Madrid.
  • I clutched it while tipsy in Barcelona.
  • Heck, it even suffered with me during the dreaded train delay in Montpellier, near the Spanish border.
  • Etc, etc, etc.
This sturdy bag is easy to clean and easy to use. Unlike other designer bags, it does not need too much pampering. It has survived confusing Asian airports and the even more confusing Eurail / has flown economy and business class / has stayed in affordable bed and breakfasts and in 5-star suites. It's so easy to take everywhere.

Some of the Prada's details:

The tags, handles, and the strap are actually LEATHER. They don't seem like they are (because they are shiny), but they are patent leather.

The markings are brass, and the links are very sturdy.

Three years ago, a few people (with poor taste and ugly Louis Vuittons) told me that my Prada's color was too loud. But now, these pathetic trend followers all want my bag because turquoise is the color of the year. Pantone describes the color as "
an inviting, luminous hue, combining the serene qualities of blue and the invigorating aspects of green, evoking thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a languorous, effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world."

What can I say?

I always had taste.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

to hang or not to hang

It sounds a little pretentious, but it's true.

One of the profoundest moments of my life was when I saw a Kandinsky painting in the flesh.

This happened in my favorite city -
Madrid - in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, to be exact. The collection included the following:

Painting with Three Spots 1914
Oil on canvas 1210 x 1110 mm

Murnau: Houses on the Obermarkt, 1908
Oil on board, 64.5 x 50.2 cm

In the Bright Oval, 1925
Oil on board 73 x 59 cm

Delicate Tension, 1923
Watercolour and Indian ink on paper

I nearly cried at the sight of the last painting. I don't know why.

Perhaps it was because I've been holding on to a Taschen book on Kandinsky far too long, dreaming of the day I would see the real deal. Maybe it was Wassily's logical, non-representational forms - the ultimate representation of the semi-reticent, semi-expressive life I (think) I lead. Maybe it just reminded me of the 1993 film Six Degrees of Separation, the first artsy movie I ever watched, in which Kandinsky's art was integral. I don't know why I stood there in front of his art frozen, almost in tears but not quite.

So anyway, I own a print of Delicate Tension, and I am thinking of finding a wall for it. The thing is, I'm not quite sure if I should frame and display this piece of paper; after all, in this age of cheesy "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters in almost every pretend-chic space, hanging a print seems forced and too catalog-y. On the other hand, the print DOES mean a lot to me, so why shouldn't I enjoy it, right?

Perhaps it will find its place on the back of my bathroom's door. I shall look at it while I poop. Delicate tension, indeed.


Thanks to House of Onika for a nice little feature on the condo :) They called the shoebox "innovative, svelte, and refreshing." Wow. My space sounds more attractive than me.

Read Ingrid's Prada-esque home here.


Friday, February 19, 2010

whino (noun: a type of drunk, usually a hobo, who has a preference for cheap wines over the vodkas and whiskeys)

French wines are on sale over at Sommellier Selection, and if you know me, you know that I love 'em reds and whites from Alsace to Loire Valey and beyond. At 30% to 50% off, these wines are bargains! I got seven bottles, and I plan to come back for more before the sale season ends.

I have no place to put them, so they're staying in their boxes for now.

Been trying out fish tapanade recipes for the whites, and the reds are paired with leftover meat and vegetables (with spinach and artichoke sauce). MSP was here yesterday; he's not big on subtle wines like me, though, and prefers the stronger Spanish vino de Jerez. He thinks French wines - and Parisian men - are sissy.

I also stocked up on some cheese. Yesterday, I made omelette with blue cheese for dinner, and then paired it with the light and clean Domaine de la Plante D'Or. Heaven.

* * * *

I'm no wine expert (obviously), but I do appreciate a good bottle paired with the right food. Unlike more sophisticated whinos, I don't really read up on enology - I buy what I like instead of what gets the best reviews. To me, the only requisite to a great wine tasting session is a clear wine glass (NEVER colored, because then you don't see the wine's clarity and other characteristics).

Experts say that serious whinos should at least have Riedel wine glasses, but I don't know that I am ready for them. They are pricey - one serious wine glass costs P5,000+ - and on top of that, they are hard to find locally. What if I break them in a moment of tipsiness? I'll stick to my cheap mall-variety wine glasses, thankyouverymuch.


What I really need are more wine recorkers with vacuum. I only have one (gifted to me by MSP's sister) and it works.

Sommelliers would probably scream at me for even recorking wine, but I have to - I don't finish a bottle in one sitting, as I usually only have ONE glass (two, at most) with dinner. Sometimes, a bottle stays in my refrigerator for a week. A recorker with pump seals the bottle and removes the oxygen, which deteriorates the bouquet.

I also dream of a wine glass necklace, which my Australian whino friend Julie says is a must for wine tasters. She says she would buy me one, but I'm not counting on it. I have never seen these ultra-geeky wine accessories locally. If you know where I can get them, please tell me.


Those who want to get French wines on huge discounts should pop by the Sommellier Selection warehouse in Makati. They're quite friendly. They can advise you on what wines to get depending on your preference. Bring around P5,000 and you can already get seven bottles or so.

Sheeersh! Hick!


Monday, February 15, 2010

valentine's day

Feb 14, 2010


Breakfast. Get some work done. Why are clients emailing on a Sunday?


I decide to prepare what I'll wear for a fancy dinner with the boyfriend at 7pm. What do you do when you can't decide which simple shift is most appropriate? Why, you try everything on, set the camera timer, and Skype a friend for opinion, of course.

Ended up wearing the old black dress - the last one. Clutch is an old Ferragamo. Shoes are Balenciaga, bought on sale in Madrid.


Lunch. Eat leftover everything.


Pack running gear. Text Bismuth on where we'll meet. Can't wait to see her new car.


Run around UP with Bismuth and the boyfriend. It's not too hot, and I actually have Bon Jovi on my running playlist. Yes - that Bon Jovi. I'm so old.


Eat something. Anything. We hit the vendors around the UP Coop. The boyfriend eats corn and drinks buko juice; I eat corn
and tuknene. We share an ice cream.




Back in condo. Get ready for the date.


Head to Sala Restaurant - the old one along Ayala Ave (NOT the bistro in Greenbelt).


Right on time. On the five-course menu:

(Click to read)

My personal favorite is the little egg and caviar, the seared tuna carpaccio on Romesco sauce, and the lobster tail risotto which had bisque sauce. The duck and the Angus are both perfectly cooked; however, the duck is a little too fat.

The table is not so good. We can hear the young Chinese couple to our left. They are very prim and proper, hardly touching the bread basket and hardly leaving any crumbs. Meanwhile, we are eating like there's no tomorrow, exchanging plates like kids (so we can taste everything) and laughing like we are alone. We must be making them uncomfortable.


Yey. The Chinese couple left. Privacy, at last.

We see our chef - Biggest Loser Asia contestant Carlo Miguel. He is very thin now - too thin for a chef, in my opinion. But he does make good sauces.


Whaaaat?? What do you mean the tasting menu only comes with ONE GLASS of Verve Clicquot??
Anyway, the boyfriend and I talk about our past Valentine's day celebrations. We realize that they all involve food, cheap or fancy.


I take the boyfriend's half-finished glass of Verve Clicquot. He doesn't like it. Neither do I, honestly, but bubbly is bubbly. And this one is overpriced. I better drink every drop.


Dessert is forgettable.

And here we were:


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

frayed on the sides

Dear Self,

This is to remind you - when you read this in the future - of the things that happened in January 2010.

You started a herb garden on your windowsill. Now you can make fresh mint and tarragon tea. You can't believe how easy it is - you just need scissors + boiling water. MSP eventually killed your old tarragon, saying that its new leaves need to sprout. You are still in shock. If this "new plant" he speaks of does not live, you might break up with him.

Your running improved. Now you actually run on real pavement, not just on the treadmill. However, after doing nearly 6kms in the UP Oval wearing your red cotton "Madrid" shirt, you got sick for three days (swollen throat) and had to take antibiotics for a week. Never wear non-wicking shirts when running, EVER AGAIN.

You went to many social events where you saw friends, old and new. You did a mental list of (a) friendships you will renew and (b) people you will toss. In one of these events, you saw your "first love" and realized that you never really loved him - that he was merely a fad, like baggy jeans. MSP is the love of your life. He is a trend you will love forever. Even though he killed your tarragon.

Business is finally gaining momentum after the long slump. You're still jittery about the future, but who isn't? Happy anniversary to the company you built with MSP. It is now officially 4 years old.

So there - the first month of 2010 was not so boring, after all. Your body is stronger, your is mind clearer, you still have a nice place to come home to, your bank account is on its way to recovery, and you are still madly in love with the
guy who killed your tarragon. You have 11 months to go before the next new year, and nine months to go before you TURN 30. You better work smarter. Life is way too short.