Dedicated to all September borns
This month is where "the days dwindle down to a precious few." But rather than engage myself in meaningful activities, I sometimes feel I'm eating my way to, god forbid, an early grave.
This month I've been rushing from one "meeting" (a.k.a. reunion) to another in different cities (Pasig, San Pablo in Laguna, Baguio, La Vista in Quezon City). These meetings are the kind that transforms your waistline to ek-ek-ek (the way Thai salesladies pronounce my size or the third to the last letter in the alphabet).
Cousin Beng Valdellon flew in from Virginia laden with traditional pasalubong, Bath and Body Works products being the most popular. She had some birthday celebrating to do so off we went to Alba on Polaris street, Bel-Air in Makati, for its Spanish buffet. Before the head waiter could announce, "The buffet is open," there I was scrutinizing the appetizers and picking out the excellent cheese and chorizo pates to go with thin round slices of toasted bread. The secret of attacking a buffet is pacing, many times I had to remind myself as I loaded my plate with paella, followed by callos madrileña, lengua estofada, cochinillo. I skipped the fish and chicken dishes. Same with the salad.
The dessert table had limited fare but everything had the just-right sweetness from the marshmallow dome with chocolate mousse inside, jello with lychees and the classic canonigo with custard sauce. Over lunch, Beng and cousin Eileen Lolarga planned a trip to the former's San Pablo home which she hadn't visited in three years.
Isang kalabit lang ako, and I was with them two days later, aghast at how urbanized that part of Southern Luzon has become, with rosaries of tricycles making navigating through the highway a pain. Thank heavens for restive, rumbling tummies (hallmark of Lolarga cousins) and Beng commanded the driver to stop immediately in front of El Mare, a simple countryside restaurant that advertised bulalo. So we had hot comforting soup, fatty meat and leafy veggies and a modest cup of rice each. El Mare also served a nice kakanin in dual colors of violet and white, shaped like a filled-up tube and eaten with roasted coconut sprinkles.
Let's hurry on to Baguio (or fast forward within the same week). There, conversing meaningfully with one's life partner constantly involves scheduling and rescheduling, even if we share the same roof. Sometimes, his corny side takes over and he adamantly refuses to go anywhere but home. He becomes accommodating though when I say the magic phrase "Hill Station" which is located at the renovated, revived, beautifully restored Casa Vallejo on upper Session Road (take that, SM!). I noticed last Thursday he couldn't wait to get his office duties done in as quick a time as humanly possible when I uttered the other magical sentence: "I'm treating."
And that was how I ended up paying for two consecutive dinners at Hill Station and having my fill of its flan sevillana (hurray for our Spanish heritage!), diabetes type 2 be damned.
Consider this note just the appetizer.
Photo shows my favorite dining companion, especially when he's picking up the tab.