Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dining with self and another

On the road back to Quezon City, while the bus was rolling along Scitex yesterday, I received an SMS from a news organization where I freelance for that my check was ready. Needless to say, I got off on EDSA not too far from Vera Files' West Avenue office which it will vacate soon for what I suppose be a better site (old office is on the fourth floor of a building where the elevator hadn't been operating in months). I was able to encash the modest amount, and I headed next to Cubao Gateway where I had three hours to kill before dinner with Rustie old boy, my dear pensionado, retired newsman pal Mr. Otico.

First things first: I bought refills for two refillable sign pens in blue and black ink at the nearest National Bookstore. When I later dropped by Fully Booked and checked out its office supplies, I was dismayed to find that all they were selling were disposable ballpoint pens. And I thought Fully Booked was a more progressive store (they carried Haribon ballpoint pens) than NBS.

The long, five-hour journey from home and not having a proper lunch stoked my hunger pangs so I ducked into what I thought was a familiar sign: Cafe Adriatico. 
Cafe Adriatico's chandelier decked with Christmas lanterns.
I have many good memories of its mother branch that started the whole chi-chi cafe business in the Adriatico Cicle in Manila. So many after-work evenings when a newspaper issue was laid to bed were spent there.

I found a quiet corner and didn't have to study the menu. I have the favorites memorized by heart: pancit palabok to be followed by grilled ensaymada with queso de bola. What I was served did not disappoint. I could've shed a tear from tasting those comfort food after a long spell.
Pancit palabok, perfect comfort food for the hungry traveler
What was left of my grilled ensaymada after I remembered to take a picture of it
While waiting for them to be served, I had time to scribble in my journal to test my renewed sign pens. Solitary dining is a rare pleasure. I live part of the time with my original family--unmarried siblings and mom. The rest of the time I am in Baguio where I share family meals with spouse, daughter, grandchild and our efficient kasambahay Mackenzie. So the times I am by myself, relishing a meal and observing the people and the interiors of a place, are blissful to mind, heart and belly. 

Later, when I had tired myself from window-shopping, which, I must confess, I don't enjoy, I treated myself to a mani-pedi at this Gateway salon called Menage. Meanwhile, Rustie texted that he was stuck in a traffic snarl in Imus, Cavite, and would I mind waiting for another hour? Would I mind if my feet were being massaged and toes thoroughly cleaned?

Then off again to Cibo to reserve our table for three. At 7:30 p.m. exactly, Rustie, to use our common friend Amadis Ma. Guerrero's favorite verb, "sashayed" into the restaurant, aided by his nephew Edmund who will soon enter medical school. Rustie, who had quit the newsman's vice of smoking after his stroke episode over a year ago, confessed that he was so relieved to get off the MRT in time for our dinner appointment that he went outdoors to sneak a puff. Tut tut tut.

Gentle Rustie turned out to be a returning Cibo regular. He knew the waiters by their names, and Thor attended to us, pouring us wine and refreshing Rustie's memory about his favorite pasta dish--linguine with tuna, capers, olives. Hold the chilies, please. 
Cibo's tiramisu, yummylicious to the last crunch
I was happy to see Rustie up and about and going on an "excursion" like last night's. He took his sweet time to sip his glass of red wine before we parted so he and Edmund could catch the last bus to Dasma, Cavite.  I hope to see more of him when the holidays sashay in.
Three satisfied diners: Edmund and Rustie Otico and the grinning blogger

Food photos by Babeth Lolarga
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