Jodythinks · Restaurant reviews

Todd English Food Hall: More than just a macaron wheel

Honestly, I was skeptical about the Todd English Food Hall. I have read bad things about the celebrity chef that it’s named for, and the food hall concept seemed for me, a little too easy. It is a huge space, and the acoustics travel a bit, so expect to hear a bit from your neighbor’s table, and hear plates being put down here and there. It’s pretty, with white, black, wood, marble and leather all around, with the splashes of color being the food, the items for sale around open shelves all on the walls, and the decorative Ferris Wheel on the dessert bar that carries different, brightly colored macarons. A buffet type concept, you don’t really eat all you can, but there are stations that are separate through the 900 sqm space where the restaurant is.

Confused yet?

To make it simple, it’s the same as any sit down restaurant, just that the chefs aren’t all in one crowded kitchen in the back of swing doors. They are the kings of their domains, with separations for sushi, the raw bar, the grill, pasta, brick oven, and desserts.

The menu is pretty well curated. It offers everything for all types of eaters, from the traditional meat and potatoes to those watching their weight, or those who love their pasta.

I am a steak girl (thus, please slap me when in new posts, I will say I’ve turned vegan, because that is a load of boo-hockey and shouldn’t be believed. Nothing gets me more excited than a well-cooked steak.) and thus, asked the person who recommended the joint if the Hanger Steak with Bone Marrow (P590) was good. She said it was her favorite thing to order, and bone marrow (!) so I had to have it.

This was what I got:
Hanger steak with truffle fries

Unfortunately, they didn’t have the bone marrow that night, but offered me truffle fries to trade before he left to get my order fired up. Having never had truffle fries before, I agreed, but was still a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the truffle fries were really good. Awesome, in fact. But if you were expecting marrowy goodness, it’s still a bit of a letdown to get an alternate. Kind of like going to a play and finding out that the lead is out for the night. It’s capable and probably some people prefer it, but you were expecting something else.

I also had half the Food Hall burger (P390), as the menu had a whole section for burgers, we figured it would be hard to go wrong.
Food hall burger

And it didn’t. The patty was cooked well and was juicy with just enough bite. The Gorgonzola made it a bit more interesting, and definitely not for the faint of heart. Only caveats for me were, the brioche bun fwas too soft, I should have asked for it to be toasted, and I couldn’t taste the bacon. And if there’s anything that is sad, it’s not tasting your bacon. I was having too much fun with the fries in the beginning to notice though.

And now on to dessert.

We got recommended the OMG cake here:
OMG cake

(I have to confess, I forgot to check the price, I just started digging into the 3 plates we ordered. Yes, three plates. I looked it up and ShootFirstEatLater said it was P420)

It was a chocolate lover’s dream. All kinds of textures, and different temperatures. The piping of the mousse prompted a poop joke here and there but we forgot about all crudeness after we dug in. I couldn’t stop myself from decimating those plates. It was definitely a return item, and my favorite from all the things we ordered.

Verdict: Go try it. There’s bound to be a dish for you to like. Don’t forget the OMG cake!
Price per head: Around P700-900

TODD ENGLISH FOOD HALL
5/F SkyPark, SM Aura Premiere, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Operating hours: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., Monday to Sunday
Email: toddenglishfoodhallmnl@gmail.com
Telephone: +632 621 4002

funny · Jodythinks

I still haven’t found my metabolism

I am twenty frigging eight years old, and about 4 years ago, I lost my mutant metabolism. The one that allowed me to eat like a construction worker after 8 hours of backbreaking work in the summer without gaining a pound, I just, lost it. Now I am saddled with extra poundage, because I didn’t, and still haven’t adjusted my appetite to the slowing pace of my body, telling me to cool it if I still want to be able to fit into all the dresses my mom made me in the past 7 years. I love food. It makes my day. When I’m stressed, it’s what I turn to for comfort, because food I can predict. I know how it works. If I can’t go out and find a meal that will make all the craptastic day go away, I am bound to be able to make it. I spend my weekdays planning the meals I’m going to experience on the weekend. I cook for people when I’m particularly frustrated. In a way, it helps me take out the annoyances and put it somewhere productive. That instead of bawling or ranting, I can create something that actually helps the universe, or in my case, usually the people I’m with.

But what does this mean for me? Well, the comments on how much weight I’ve gained, or the effect that it’s had on my body isn’t a walk in the park. Sometimes it can really get annoying when you try on stuff that were loose that are now pretty snug. Having to buy clothes in a bigger size just because you just can’t button that top button anymore. In my relationship, I’ve been lucky to have someone that just wants me to be happy. In whatever shape or form, he says. No pressure on losing the pounds I’ve invariably put on since I’ve rediscovered my love for going out (will expound on that in a future post). No passive aggressive comments on working out. Just a good, supportive environment where he encourages me to go for what I want, and this includes what I want for me, and what I see in the mirror.

Yet I do see what a couch potato existence and no control of portions can do to someone’s body. My family has gone through gallbladder stone removals (four people in one year). Diabetes plagues my mother’s side of the family. Cholesterol levels are shooting up the roof. My grandmother, who I love to pieces, takes about 8 different maintenance meds a day, costing upwards of P250 because of our lifestyle.

I don’t want that for my future. I’m scared of having to watch my sugar intake or go into diabetic shock. I don’t want a heart attack when I’m 40.

Don’t get me wrong, I love food, and I will continue to still love it, but I will make better choices. Maybe not eat that third plate of food just because there’s still some left on the table. Drink less soda. Choose the food that is worth it. Because I’m not a kid anymore. And because I want to be able to be able to have that choice in the next 50 years.

I am also trying to start a routine of being more active. Seeing what I want to get into. Make sure that the equipment I have at home is used. It’s a little more challenging, with what I was diagnosed with my knees, but that just makes it more worth it. It will help me not do whatever I want halfway, and try different things to see what fits. So if you’re enjoying your workout, sport, or anything that gets you up and active, please let me know and let me join you, because I am curious.

I am not giving up on myself, and neither should you.

 

 

food · Jodythinks · Restaurant reviews

Te quiero, Boqueria

I cannot claim to be the expert at Spanish food. Like everyone else of a Filipino heritage born and raised in the Philippines, what I know of Spain is that we were colonized for 400 years, we took inspiration from a lot of dishes, instilled in ourselves the language, and found a trace of lineage here and there (some more than others, me, I do not think even 5%). I do like what I’ve had, food wise at Boqueria, even if it may not be the most traditional, or the most avant garde. It is, for me, just good. The two times I’ve been have been great, the first got me so excited about a new kind of food to try, I forgot to take photos. The second time around this Wednesday, I was ready. We started with the Alcachofas de Jamon Serrano (P388), which the menu translated to hearts of artichoke topped with Jamon Serrano. Baby artichokes with jamon serrano This was unusually good.The artichokes were a little tart, the jamon serrano salty and smoky, the onions sweet and caramelized, the alfalfa sprouts just a touch of freshness. All in all a great start to the meal. We then got a repeat, the Pulpo a la Gallega (P280)

Baby octopus and potato gratin

Simple and well done. The potato gratin was velvety, complementing the nice, chewy goodness of the slices of baby octopus. Only caveat, after a while the dish tends to pile on the oil, but that’s quickly remedied with a side order of bread to sop up the sinfully good sauce of tomato and olive oil. You’d think we wouldn’t have space for more, but we did, because the next dishes were what we came back for: Manchego and Chorizo Paella

The Paella Queso Manchego (P408). Paella with spanish chorizo and manchego cheese. Carbs, cheese and smoky sausage, how can you go wrong? Rich, melt in your mouth, with just the right amount of bite, this paella is the paella even those who don’t like the dish will like. Stay careful of the oil though, because after the two dishes, the oil might be overwhelming. Which is why you should have the churros (5 pieces, P248).

Churros

We got the 5 piece to split between two people, and we wanted to get extra chocolate but we were too full to think. These are churros that put others to shame. Crispy but soft on the inside, with dark, rich Valor chocolate to dip into. Other churros can’t even compare. Verdict: I want you, I want you so bad. Prep around P800 a head when going, but for those pinching pennies, it’s well worth the money, I have to tell you.

Boqueria is at: 3/F SM Mega Mall Fashion Hall, EDSA corner Julia Vargas N/A Mandaluyong, Philippines

Mon – Sun: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm

631-91-02 / 0917-546-3370 boqueriaph@gmail.com http://twitter.com/BoqueriaPH

food · Jodythinks · Restaurant reviews

A bowl of something good at P.H.A.T Pho Serendra

P.H.A.T Pho

 

I like pho. Well, I like bowls. Bowls make it easy to eat. There’s less spillage, soup is contained, and you only need one utensil, thus saving on washing dishes. Pho is one of those throw it all in dishes that is instant comfort, but in reality takes almost 24 hours to make.

Much like Japanese ramen, pho is a seemingly simple amalgamation of flavors that people rarely make as good at home as they get in specialty places. Those that prepare their broth for almost a day, boiling soup bones, mixing flavors, intermingling subtle flavors to come up with this soothing yet exciting dish, that no ready made bouillon can fake.

My boyfriend is a pho enthusiast. I say this as there are too little places to get it in Manila, and the quality is okay at best. Chain pho places get the meat wrong, or the broth blah, or offer too little condiments, which is part of the essentials of pho, making it your own. His memories of pho goodness come from his hometown that offered a lot of pho places, which were apparently perfect for college post drinking binges, and will cure a hangover of any proportion. I like pho, but was, and still am, limited to the choices of Manila’s unexcited offerings of Vietnamese broth, and was frustrated at not being able to share in the fanaticism of a good bowl of noodles that he craves for every so often.

So when we read about P.H.A.T Pho in the Cebu Pacific in flight magazine on the way back from a trip, we knew we had to go. Even if we are fairly limited to our nooks in the North and East (I like to think, Winterfell and Dorne, I KID) since we’re not much to go South, this sudden, next day trip to just have food was, a journey to good food.

And it proved a good one. When we walked into the joint, it was really nice. Quiet, as it was around 2:30 pm post lunch rush on a Saturday. The walls were chalkboard black and offered how-tos on how to perfectly season your pho bowl. Red chairs, black and red chopsticks, and open kitchen, it was casual, hip and comfortable.

Now let’s talk about the pho. Broth was perfect. Flavorful but still enough of a canvas for us to add our own mix of hoisin, lime and sriracha. Little caveat, the beginning serving platter of flavoring sauces was a little too sparse for us, as we mix in hoisin and sriracha, and have a separate dipping bowl of the stuff for the meat. But kudos to the servers who didn’t flinch when we asked for more. And the meat? So good. The menu stated it was US Angus beef, meatballs, tendon, all good for me. I like the differences in texture in each one, and I am not one to shy away from tendon, and this one was almost buttery in its softness. The beef, really fresh, put it in a class in above all the other pho bowls we’ve had over the city.

Verdict: A return item. We didn’t try anything else, but from one bowl, we are fans. Phat Pho, expect us back, especially in this rainy, cool weather.

You can get your pho fix at Phat Pho:

Mon – Sun: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm

G/F Serendra, Bonifacio Global City

8430820

 

Jodythinks

Lost.

Growing up, I’ve always been told to be good to others. Work hard. Do what you can. Try your best. My parents raised me to be a good person, keep my head down, and know that if something is due you, it’ll go your way.

As I am becoming an adult, I have learned the hard way that this isn’t necessarily true.

A cookie and a kick to take back the cookie, that's what life is.
A cookie and a kick to take back the cookie, that’s what life is.

Life isn’t fair. People don’t necessarily get what they deserve. You don’t get treated well by people just because you treat them well, and even if you do your best, you won’t get what you were hoping for.

I am not one to deny my fairly sheltered existence. I have had great opportunities, I went to great schools, had food on the table three times (or more) a day, got all that I needed and were given chances to get what I wanted.

I’ve had a good life and that’s more than a lot of people can say and I know that.

It’s just now I’m just a little bit lost.

I guess not getting what you thought you were due or strove for can do that to you. The direction you were going, what you had in store for you because the plan was to achieve what you were to achieve by doing all you can, doesn’t work out, the dreams you thought you had, are destined to be just that, dreams that will stay in your subconscious.

So what do you do when life kicks you in the shin and takes the cookie you had back?

If you’re like me, this would be your initial reaction:

Lie on floor

 

And I can’t blame you. Disappointments can be debilitating. It just makes you want to ignore the rest of your day, curl up on the bed, or just lie on the floor.

I am not saying that this is necessarily a bad thing. Dealing with what you’re feeling is good. Keeping things locked away won’t help you, it can actually make it worse.

Take the time to deal with what you’re feeling and let it out. Cry. Eat. Rant. Do what you need to do to get it out of your system and make sure it’s been addressed in the way you need to.

 

But now what?

What do you do when the direction your life was headed is no longer headed that way? When the plan is no longer possible?

Find a new plan. A new dream. You are not a tree. If you don’t like where you are, move. (I read that somewhere and it stuck)

I am finding a new dream. Formulating a new plan. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. Good thing is, I have the resources and ability to rework the plan. I have been educated. I have been equipped with what I need to see my life through and I will be using these to find the new dream, the new plan, the new direction.

Wish me luck.

 

Jodythinks

The calm after the storm.

Everyone is okay.

I woke up today and saw a yellow sky. It always reminds me of storms, whether an impending or just past. It’s an eerie calm that always leaves me staring up until it goes away.

Yesterday was pretty scary for most of the people in Metro Manila who saw what the winds and rain could do to nature. Our little nook got a lot of fallen leaves, a huge branch of the mango tree out, our dogs wet at some point or another, electricity out, but otherwise fine.

Hoping others out there are fine as well.

Jodythinks

The Picture Perfect Life

Life isn't perfect
That, ladies and gentlemen, is my bedroom floor, and that is my flipflop on the lower right. My life is definitely not picture perfect.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs. Almost everyone has a public life nowadays, and mostly, it’s picture perfect. Exotic vacations, awesome food. gorgeous gifts. We’ve all spent hours checking someone’s Instagram feed, or Facebook tagged photos, looking, seeing if this person has actually, any flaws at all. Feeling bad about ourselves after because our lives aren’t that glamorous, or we’re not that photogenic, or thinking that we can do better, because we work harder, we treat people better.

Well, life isn’t fair, and your life, no matter how #blessed it is, doesn’t compare to the person in college who moved up from poverty and now travelling the world, or the girl who left you for another woman who’s now head of their office’s Philippine team.

Think about it though, are people’s lives on social media really that great? With their fabulous outfits, hunky boyfriend, cute dogs and endless travels? Then think about your life, how much is really on social media, how little you actually share versus the iceberg down below that is your real life. The tiny struggles, the huge problems, the petty fights, the most private, amazing things that make your life yours versus the public’s.

I would like to think I have a fairly public life, that with my blog, and social media accounts, people generally know how I’m doing. However, that doesn’t mean they know the whole story. I don’t air my dirty laundry out into the world. I keep (most) of the specifics about my family or significant other, or lack thereof offline. I admittedly keep my musings fairly positive just to send out good vibes out into a critique laden internet community. I am not photogenic. My outfits are not planned out, I mostly have an outfit planned for an event (everything in my life is an event, I work from home so it’s an effort every single time I go), change 5 times because it was better in my head, and then go out in the same thing I wore the week before. Food is mostly on my feed since I like to eat, and that is most of what I venture out for. I will not take pictures of myself in a bikini right now because of you know, the sentence just written.

My life isn’t picture perfect. And it never will be. I am a person that is flawed, messed up, and my life changes and is not ideal for anyone. But somehow it works.