Weekends are somewhat of an addiction of mine. Since moving back, I count the hours til the clock finally ticks Saturday. I’ve vowed to resuscitate my liver by drinking only on weekdays, although it seems to be slightly less effective in terms of sobriety. I also took up diving to compensate for my lack of eagerness to go out, so my weekends are my special days. Those two days of sheer solitude usually end up becoming opportunities for things I used to do ritualistically when I was living in sunny California.
The intense addiction to weekends is actually the cause of this blog, Trip or Treats
. My friend B once told me on YM: J, I never know where you will be until I find out on FB that you are either here, or there or everywhere. It’s like you want to escape Manila. You should be a travel writer. Well… not quite, but this is a pretty good attempt, right?
My weekend rituals are quite simple really. I love to drive, preferably with the view of the Pacific Ocean on either side of the window and/or driving to some far off destination aka LONG DRIVE. I love being near the water to watch the sun set or rise. And lastly, ahhh… I really enjoy feeding people with food that I prepare myself.
I did all three this weekend when my adopted famiglia and I went to Punta Fuego to enjoy the long weekend with some driving, sun and food.
I L.O.V.E to drive. Of course, it helps to have a sweet ride, but it’s not so much the physical manifestation of driving that delights me, as it is the mental clarity I get when maneuvering the brake and gas with my bare feet while hearing the engine respond fully. It feels like an orchestra performing a symphony with driver as conductor. Having a banging playlist also does wonders to soundtrack the fast paced lights running across the windows.
Manila bound, I haven’t had the opportunity to drive as much as I did back in the days, around 50000 miles to be exact. First off, I’m not really in the mood to go to war with the jeeps and busses unless I have something worth evading the driver for. Second, Driver. Ahhhh…. I take advantage of them as much as possible because once the parentals get hold of them, they are impossible to utilize. Admittedly, drivers make me a lazy city driver. Lastly… have you checked the roads lately? Suspension, alignment, transmission, yadah yadah yadah. I’ve been spending too much on car service these days, I’m thisclose to whoring myself out for some auto parts.
Especially with the incident that happened last week when, on our way up to Baguio via zigzag Kennon Road, Car stops on incline and would.not.move. Engine still running and everything seeming normal, Car wouldn’t respond nor rev when the gas pedal was stepped on. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ZIGZAG! Reverse was also out of the question. So the series of events were the ff:
- Car atop zigzag road, stops.
- Car towed to hotel to assess if it’s the gas, the oil, the transmission, the ANYTHING
- Car turned on at hotel… Car won’t turn on
- Car towed via flatbed to Autosport in Manila (My casa. AMAZING with foreign cars)
- Autosport gives me the lowdown: Fuel Pumps. Replacement. BOTH
- J picks up car, writes a check, sheds a tear… maybe even a kidney
- Car comes out: TADAAAA
YEAH RIGHT… but I can dream, can’t I?
Because of that, I vow to keep Car always in toptop shape by using it more often. As soon as I picked it up, I went off and headed to my weekend drive-a-thon to Punta Fuego. I convoyed with my brother and his fam to Fuego after lunch…. not a good idea to bring 2 crates of fresh eggs in the trunk while trying to keep up with Kuya’s driving. Surprisingly enough, only 1 egg cracked. I’m such a good driver.
Upon arrival at Casa Chua, we were courteously greeted by the butler, Cookie.
Cookie escorted us inside the house where the peeps were situated.I immediately set up shop and headed down to the deal breaker of the house
Last time I stayed, there was only a deck on the lowest floor (the house is 5 stories). Since the introduction of the ultra-pool, morning sun, afternoon cocktails, and sunset swims will never be the same again. Kids seemed to love it too. Speaking of the sun setting…
Punta Fuego definitely carries a sublime sunset. The crew sometimes found me staring at the sky with that glazed look in my eye.
I can’t help it. There is something about the subtle deepening of the sky’s hues that is worth stopping time for. No matter how stressed or distracted I may be, a picture perfect sunset will truly captivate me and put me in a trance.
Obviously for the whole ambient light to be effective, it is best set atop an ocean, lake or peninsula. Last Thursday though, while driving around Makati, I saw one of the most beautiful purple and orange of a skyscape amidst the skyscrapers and traffic lights. I wished I was in Manila Bay to watch the sun go down.
But at the end of the day, sun or no sun, beach or no beach, I need to eat. WE need to eat. And I like to cook, so it became almost a no-brainer when our host emailed us details and responsibilities, yours truly jumped in and set the menu on track. So for dinner, the F siblings played host and made the Capampangans proud. Kuya made our signature Sinigang with pork ribs and gabi (sour tamarind soup with beef ribs and taro), while I decided to make my Chicken Adobo with eggs.
Adobo is the one-pot wonder of chicken (sometimes pork) with some vinegar and soy reduced down to a nice brown sauce. The variations come with the territory, or province, you come from… but I’d like to say that, from LA to NY to Fuego, people seem to agree that my version is on the shortlist of yumminess.
The main accoutrements are so simple it can be found in a bomb shelter: black pepper, garlic and bay leaf
I like to put everything in a big pot, chicken, gizzard, accoutrements, soy, vinegar and an equal amount of water to keep the sauce tasty yet not too salty. Cooking it for an hour also lets the sauce reduce and absorb the flavors of the chicken and the spices. The result is a tasty concoction that doesn’t taste sour, but hints at a certain acidity to offset the saltiness of the soy sauce. For some reason mine ends up becoming a bit sweet. No clue.
My secret weapon was to add hardboiled eggs to the Adobo, but I was having a blonde moment as to the boiling time of the eggs. Eggs are added to the sauce about 10 minutes before serving to absorb the flavors and render the whites a nice caramel color. K to the rescue from reboiling to peeling. She saved my eggs, literally.
The dinner buffet
A good adobo is like a good bottle of wine, it just gets better with age. I made sure to keep some extra sauce to reduce for the next day, when breakfast would be graced with the nostalgic flavors of Adobo Rice. Think garlic rice laced with adobo sauce… Topping it with adobo flakes would’ve sealed the deal, but I couldn’t flake it coz people wanted to eat Adobo for lunch again! Everyone ate adobo three meals straight! The rest of the meal included Giac’s famous spicy squid marinated in red wine. Delicious and worth burning your tongue over.
For lunch, we had a lighter option:
Gorgonzola and greens salad with pears and a cranberry vinaigrette dressing
My corner pasta joint in Santa Monica, Fritto Misto, made a very good version of this with chicken chunks and a nice honey balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It might inspire me to create it one of these days
All this cooking reminds me of my culinary stints in my tiny apartments for my vacacionero friends:
4am breakfast hits in Santa Monica
Dinner al Due in midtown Manhattan
Christmas Dinner Extravaganza
The Christmas pic above is clearly back in Manila… Just goes to show the extent of my wrath once my Martha Stewart mode goes on whack on crack.
- Penne w/ vodka creme sauce
- Rosemary parmesan roasted baby potatoes
- Piedmont Eggs
- Ribeye Roast with a herb mustard rub
- cheese and meat platter
- etc etc
I think I need to find another hobby that doesn’t involve cash, cooking and fuel. Any suggestions?