I am an ardent lover of Filipino Cuisine and I deeply mourn the dying traditions of food preparation that require the women-folk (with an army of household help if lucky) to slave away in a sweltering kitchen whipping up calorific dishes. No sarcasm there.
Since I haven’t the luxury of time to unleash my inner domestic goddess and I no longer live with my mommy (and her army of household help), I find myself drawn to restaurants that harks back to my delicious childhood.
For my birthday, because I was being extra-nostalgic, Toni and I ended up in Crisostomo in Eastwood. I took quite a while deciding on where to eat since the new Eastwood Mall is replete with all sorts of restaurants all vying for my attention. We passed Crisostomo, where the manager lured us with the promise of a free dessert. I don’t eat desserts (because I never leave room enough for it!) but the jars of the taba ng talangka (crab fat paste) they were selling did it for me.
Crisostomo, I suppose, is named after the protagonist of the classic Jose Rizal novel. Most of the names of the dishes are allusions to it: Crispin at Basilio (tokwa’t baboy), Doña Victorina (sautéed prawns), Noli Me Talong (Tortang Talong Pie) et al. Naturally, they also have Tinolang Manok, which had a crucial, if small, role to play in the novel. Theirs is a step above our standard Tinola, with green papaya and buko (coconut) thrown into the mix. While I do have an adventurous palate, I prefer my Tinola with sayote and I don’t care much for buko.
Interiors were cute, especially the oddly-shaped powder blue chairs. The wallpaper and the rest of the decor reminded me of a cross between plush early 80s/ late 70s Pinoy living rooms and Mrs. Robinson's living room in the movie The Graduate, I don't know why.
We ordered Tadiyang ni Tiago, Monggo soup with Chicharon and Tuyo and Callos, one of my favourite dishes. Naturally, I had very high hopes for that one. They offered, I forgot to mention, unlimited servings of rice! I was in heaven with bowls upon bowls of steaming white rice for clouds!
Tadiyang ni Tiago- soft, juicy and crisp all in the right measure. I cannot praise this enough! We thought the serving was small but it turns out our eyes are bigger than our appetite. We couldn't even finish it! The Callos was delicious, a little too watered-down and tomato-sour than what I prefer but it had green olives, which I really liked. I must tell my mom about it. Her Callos is still way better.
We ordered the Monggo soup as an afterthought and I scalded my taste buds after one careless spoonful and lost all sense of taste after that.
For dessert Toni had a forgettable ice-pandan with jelly and milk thingamajig than deserves far less words than I’ve already allotted for it. Harsh? Sorry, I really have no love for most desserts so don’t take it personally.
The Verdict? Well, most everything in the menu made me figuratively salivate. I intend to try them all!
I've been slacking off. In fact I only started reading on the 28th. I find that March, the begining of summer and my birthday month, is plenty distracting that it almost waylaid my best laid plans. Not to worry, I completed my --not four, but five books with plenty of time to spare.
1. Percy Jackson : Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordian
I wasn't supposed to read anything of the Percy Jackson kind this month. But, truth be told, Paolo Coehlo's Brida gave me the creeps! Imagine reading about witches, worlocks, tarot cards and the occult late at night -that's when I usually read- in a dark, empty and old house. I needed a break and...
2. Percy Jackson : Titan's Curse by Rick Riordian
...I didn't want to read a YA novel about vampires. I really wish this vampire-mania blows over soon. The Percy Jackson books have all blurred together in one puddle of mush in my head. I can hardly distiguish one book from the other...
3. Percy Jackson : Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordian
...but I really, really like the series and I'd recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone. I like that it's easy to read, very easy on the eyes (written with dyslexics in consideration perhaps?) and fun, too. I particularly enjoy reading modernized takes on old characters from Greek Mythology like Circe and Daedalus.
4. Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
It might be a good idea to include one chick-lit a month. I'm not a big fan of the genre but, as I learned while ploughing through this month's reading list, the "easy" and "fun" books are necessary to get me through. Good in Bed was likewise not part of my original reading list for March, but I needed a break from the wordy and emotionally disturbing Lolita.
The heroine is Cannie, an overweight writer. I suppose you could say that the book resonated with me at many levels and not just with her weight struggles. After all, I vacillate from sizes 6-8 petite for tops and 8-10 petite for bottom (pear-shaped, y'all!). I'm no Olsen twin but that's hardly plus size!
She lost a love, lost some weight and got a big career break while at it. In the end she gets the guy and a baby but she did gain back some of the weight she lost. For all intents and purposes, it is a happy ending. She came to accept her weight and learned to love her body regardless of size. Well, I haven't given up on becoming a size 2 so those coming-to-terms-with-your-current-weight endings don't really sit well with me.
5. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
What can I say about this one that hasn't already been said? It's shocking, immoral, sad, perverted, disturbing and everything it's touted to be. It's also very beautifully written, the language and the imagery are simply divine -and it gave me a migrane! I like to finish books in one sitting but I couldn't do that with Lolita, where 10 minutes of reading felt like several hours.
Sentences are long and languorous, pretty though it may be it's torture after a few pages. I like that the narrator, Humbert Humbert would intermittenly and without warning switch to French sans the English translation. My meager units of French back in college weren't such a waste after all.
Lolita has become one of those must-read books but I actually prefer the movie (Adrian Lyne, 1997). It keeps the best lines (light of my life, fire of my loins, my sin, my soul), and the gorgeous cinematography and clever use soft-focus goes a long way in turning the otherwise depraved to something tragically beautiful. The movie version Humbert (played by Jeremy Irons) is only half as dispicable. Though I suppose that has a lot to do with the movie leaving out a lot of the more disturbing details of H's life pre-Lolita and because Jeremy Irons is one inbelievably dreamy guy! (Stanley Kubric's Humbert was not nearly as pretty).
I have not a shred of sympathy for book version Humbert Humbert, nor for the titular Lolita. How ever beautifully written, it does not make what it is about any easier to stomach. Nonetheless, Nabokov's talent is unquestionable and I'm excited to read more of his works.