Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chinese New Year 2012

So, how was everyone's Chinese New year?

2012 is the year of the Water dragon. As per my chinese fortune horoscope, 2012 will be a great year for me. (lots of opportunities coming my way). To view your chinese horoscope click HERE

I have a whole lot of things already penciled in my calendar. (got a really cool planner FREE from my local supermarket.- I really loved the way they styled it.--with wide blank columns. Aside from this,  it has recipes at the back too)

inside the planner

So, back to my 2012 adventures. Right before Chinese New year celebrations, I had the chance to attend the HK international licensing fair. It also coincided with 3 other fairs and I had 4 days to finish all of them. WHEW.-- an can I say... whew again? WHEW. - was tired from looking, walking and all that stuff that I didn't care to EAT anymore. (and in HK... you would definitely EAT)..

I also had CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS!!! (and had a chance to take a picture with them too.-- )

hahahahaa.... with me are--- zombie (from plants vs zombies, MR BEAN, and DORA).. ok, maybe they are NOT celebrities but hey, it was fun being silly with them. It was shame I didn't get to have a picture with OPTIMUS PRIME (from transformers)... as I saw him leaving the venue... I guess his time was done and he was "on break" -- but he had on a really COOL costume though. 

mahjong looking cookie collection

So, HK always has something new for me every time I go there. This time, I saw some neat stuff they offered in the coming new year celebrations. If you are familiar with MAHJONG, (see above pic)-- you are familiar with the characters above. These are actually COOKIES that they shaped into mahjong tiles. the money chips are made out of chocolate. (cool eh, was really tempted to buy them for my mother... who, by the way, plays mahjong EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.).. they say people (esp old ones) who play mahjong reduces their probability of developing Alzheimer's disease.  (so that's why my mother is still very sharp in math!!!)

I also saw this pair of magnets -- you gotta love the humor.....

Of course there is the influence of those birds.... (ANGRY BIRDS).. to those who don't know what they are (probably living under a rock)  click HERE

These are red envelopes (ANG PAO) filled with money. A traditional gift by elders to younger kids (or unmarried children) during New years celebration... I asked the bookstore where I saw these on what the envelop says (I had the misfortune of buying some envelopes before where it was saying something else... )

These translated says, "more success in your job"& "may you go up and up" (ok ok... my chinese is NOT good. sue me)

I was wondering why you would give an ang pao to someone who already has a job.... my understanding was that you only give these to kids.. (hmmm..... ) So I just bought the second one. Maybe I would have an opportunity to give one to one of my nieces and nephews. The store clerk told me it would be good to give students. (I am guessing they would need the money)

Hoping every one had a good one. So, to all.... HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!   kong hei fat chai!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tita Monings- Part deux

After the encounter with the "clinic".. I could not wait to get upstairs to the dining area. Walking up the stairs, you can feel the aura of the house from the various family photos lining the walls. The top of the stairs opened up to an upstairs living room. (still filled with photos)

top: painting of daughter, bottom: original Juna Luna
We slowly made our way to the main living area as she directed us to various paintings that dot the house. One of the more amazing ones was the ORIGINAL JUAN LUNA (wow. it's like having a MONET in your living room).

We also toured the rooms which they had converted into private dining areas (2 rooms) except for the room of the daughters.

This room was one of the creepy ones. It had a vanity were you can still see the various collections of perfume still in them and as with affluent people of the time, they had ballet lessons evidenced by the old tutus and ballets shoes in display in the room.

On the vanity, they also displayed the personal items of the girls. like baubles and necklaces. This room was adjacent to the main dining room where we were going to have our dinner.

All throughout the house, you can see a lot of family phtographs from the 1930s to the 1970s and you really feel like you are walking inside someone's (OLD) home. I was half expecting Don Alejandro to come bursting in any moment. (thankfully.. none of that occurred)
daughter's room. vanity and cabinet

ring if you want service.... murano vase.. paella
The table setting was very nice. They even laid out a menu (with burnt edges) in a scroll. I quipped to the maid... I used to do this with a lighter when I was in high school... she giggled and said, "me too!"

 They even had those BELLS were you can call the "help". the table top also had a MURANO vase from the collection of the original owners to keep you company

The dining area also had original plates from the collection of Tita Moning. It is said the plates are now scattered in different descendants.I am told they are heirloom collectibles. Each plate was hand painted in Europe and no two plates are the same.
SABA banana... plate presentation... menu at the table..

Since we were required to choose our menu beforehand, I chose Menu 3

Here's what I thought of the food:  (note, there was a deviation from the original menu. were were served caramelized banana and then TURON -- w/c is banana too-- more on that later)

The appetizers were VERY good. Loved the papaya and eggplant. It was fresh and light. A nice start to the meal. For the second course, I liked the baked fish very much. One of the best I tried. The pancit (noodles) was ok. By the time the main course 2 was arriving, I was already half full. I did not even get a chance to really dig into Paella Valenciana. The pork was ok too (hubby had seconds and thirds)  The sweet yam added to the flavor of the pork. I did not have any room for either the ubod (young bamboo shoot) and the brown rice (I passed on this one-- was too full)

service deluxe

What was really striking was that they were serving the food in platters and you would have to serve yourself. If you ever watched "The princess diaries" were they were serving the royals, the servers were on the side while the royals got a share of the food. Its the same here. You get the feeling that you are somebody quite important. If only we could dine like this everyday eh? ---come to think of it.. the Legarda's dined like this everyday!!!

I am really such a dessert person... but their dessert is kind of... well... not memorable. We were served the caramelized banana (twas ok)-- I rather like my banana on the firm side (not too ripe) and this was nearly too ripe for me. Then they served TURON. What can I say? The turon was not crunchy (makunat) and banana on top of a previous banana dish was a bit too much. I just tasted one bite and left the rest. The bread pudding was not too die for either. (sorry. I failed to see how it was a specialty of Tita Moning as it failed to blow me away.- also left the dish at one bite). I, however really enjoyed the hot chocolate that came with the bread pudding. It even had a cinnamon stick as a stirrer. (I asked the girl if I could take home the cinnamon stick)

They know how to treat guests for sure. They even took our pictures for their website and had us fill a survey form (customer satisfaction gauge) and we also signed a guest book. To top it off, they even gave me a free gift (a bottled sauce they sell downstairs). Wow. They really made me feel so special. One tip... if you are going, be early. When we arrived, we were the only ones there. Once it reached 8pm.. more people were arriving and the tour got shorter. (due to the number of guests). Being the first ones, we had the whole house to ourselves and had ample time to ask questions, take pictures (without other people being in the way.. etc).

All in all, I loved the experience. The food was not mind blowing but with the ambiance of the house. It was really a MUST SEE. I already booked another dinner for my parents and in laws. I am sure they will have nostalgic moments there. I also highly recommend this for romantic dates. (it's like taking a girl to the haunted house...  with dinner of course)

(side note: I had to use the toilet... which was located inside the girls room... the one which felt a bit eerie.... I had to ask our tour/maid if she had any "sightings" inside the toilet. -- you know, I want to be prepared... she laughed me off... and said it was safe... w/c did not lessen my anxiety... went in and out in record time.. not even wanting to look in the mirror lest I see something other than myself. LOL)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Visiting Tita Moning

Deals are just cropping up everywhere. similar to the US (like groupon) where you get deals from different companies, we have also experienced an influx of deal/coupon sites. Some of these are DEAL GROCER, ENSOGO, PAKYAW, METRODEAL.

I have personally tried ensogo and deal grocer and got a deal for a dinner at a colonial house. It's called LA COCINA DE TITA MONING. (the kitchen of Tita Moning). This is actually a 1930s art deco  house of an affluent family (the Legardas). Over the years, the descendants have moved and the once exclusive area of the rich became a commoners area. The house actually is in the compound of the Presidential palace.
legarda house circa 1930s. (photo from concina website)

We actually went early (actually straight from my office). It is not easy to find and I had to navigate with a map to get there. Weaving our way thru the old streets of Manila, I was surprised that we had to go through a guard house of Malacanang palace (the presidential area). I also noticed we passed through  a street named Legarda st. (which is quite indicative of how influential the former owners of the house were)

The restaurant is really a house. A very old house. Except for the sign, you wouldn't know its the place you were looking for,

We were ushered into the long driveway ( the lot area was probably 2000 sq meters) into a patio. The patio actually reminded me of our old 1970s bungalow with it's stone washed out floor and river stone clad walls. even the garden furniture was very 70s. Waiters served us lemongrass iced tea (w/c in my opinion was a bit strong.. but my husband liked it) and some bread with a homemade cheese (quezo de bola) spread.

We were the first ones there (it was after all only 6pm) and we had the whole patio to ourselves. The "maid"/waitress came in a short while to usher us inside the house for the house tour. The meal we booked (you have to call at least a day in advence to book a preset menu as they do not accept walk ins) was for the whole shebang.. meaning you get to experience what it was to be living in 1930s with maids in uniform serving you at a very manor like house.

The first thing you would see when you walked into the foyer is the staircase and a grand painting by ZALAMEDA originally bought for 3000 pesos in the 70s (about $80-) and now fetches 1 million pesos ($22000)

 Dr. Legarda was also a collector of cameras and radio equipment evidenced by his vast collection.
camera collection of Dr. Legarda, the library

The waitress/maid/guide was very knowledgable in the history of the house and would answer all our quieries whenever we asked them. We were then led to the library of DR Alejandro (who was a noted OBY GYN) and the shelves were filled with very old first edition encyclopedia britannia. yYou could really feel the "old manor" type vibe from just this room. We perused all the antique books, keys and tables. Looking at these kind of gives you an eerie feeling.

Going down the hallway, we could also see old antique waffle makers and hairdryers (photo bonanza!!) which gave me a wow feeling... coz it was after all the 1930s. They also had a collection of antique electric fans, tea servers and telephones.

telephone, radio equipment, hair dyer and old key

electric fan, tea server and key again

waffle maker and paper mache box

The most "eerie" part is the clinic. Since Dr Aljandro was a gynecologist, he had a clinic inside his house.... with an actual human skeleton hanging from a hook (probably purchased from some local morgue)... spooky.... kindda reminded me of HH HOMES (the murder he committed in 1893 chicago world's fair. and selling skeletons to medical schools).. eeewww... I couldn't get put of there fast enough.

It just gave me the heebejeebees..... I was afraid if I stay a little longer, I would lose my appetite.
So off we went to the second floor. (my husband actually quipped that he didn't "feel" anything in the clinic but actually had a hair raising feeling in the library... an my husband can "feel".. if you know what I mean.)

the antique bonanza continued upstairs.... (to be continued on next post)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...