Friday, 25 January 2013

'Cue Modern Barbecue: where I had a big fat steak

Whilst in Manila, Plaid Boy and I went on a 'proper/normal Filo-style date' (ie house pick-up + mall stroll + coffee + dinner + drinks) *insert yihees here* Okay so we've been on dates before but this was pretty exciting because we've never dated (each other!) in our own hometown as we're both based overseas.

Both carnivores, had dinner at 'Cue Modern Barbecue. The weather was surprisingly pleasant so we decided to dine al fresco. Our candle-lit table faced the quad, perfect for people watching  yet intimate enough to snicker and share inside jokes. *insert more yihees here*

Cue Modern Barbecue

We had the bone marrow and steak tacos (PHP485) to start. There was much hype about this dish and I was excited to try it. I liked how tender the steak was but reckon it could have done with a tad more seasoning. The marrow was alright but bear in mind this is one of those dishes you have to eat straight away; left out cold, it'll get all hard and you'd feel like you're just eating 'sebo'.
Cue Modern Barbecue

I like soft tacos but I'm quite particular with tortillas. Quite happy with the ones they have at 'Cue. They also serve this with a bit of roasted corn salsa and salsa verde which I thought was nice and refreshing. At least, if someone calls you out for the cholesterol you can say it's still kinda healthy!
Cue Modern Barbecue

For mains, we got The Angus Ribeye (PHP1925 for 500g, PHP3250 for bone-in 1kg). I'm not a huge fan of rib-eye as I prefer leaner cuts (ie sirloin, fillet, strip loin) and I like my steak rare. Plaid Boy likes his cooked medium rare with decent marbling so it was his lucky night. 
Cue Modern Barbecue

We sliced through our steak and realised that a fifth of it was... a lot of fat. Nevermind, there's still a lot of meat left...
Cue Modern Barbecue

The cut we had was alright for most parts, but it was a very, very fatty slice of steak. At first I thought it was just the marbling, but the taste of fat was quite distinct.
Cue Modern Barbecue

I did like the good parts, though - especially the parts which were a bit more on the rare side.
Cue Modern Barbecue

Shame I forgot to take a photo of our sides because they were like us: cheesy and corny! Haha! I really enjoyed the home-style mac and cheese (PHP375); the mix of cheeses used was well-balanced and didn't feel heavy on the gut (gooey mozzarella, savoury gruyère and steady cheddar). Plaid Boy preferred the garlic creamed corn (PHP95) which I found ironic because, really and truly, he's the cheesy one (and I'm the corny git).

We were surprisingly stuffed and didn't get to finish everything. I wish I had more space for dessert because I wanted to have a rootbeer float and the chocolate chip cookie cake. Oh well, maybe next time (plus I think my date was sweet enough....*insert yiheeeeees here*)

'Cue was pretty okay although I think we would have been happier if we ordered different mains. Perhaps next time we'll try the ribs.

'Cue Modern Barbecue
7th Ave. corner 29th St. South, Ground Floor, East Superblock, BHS Central, BGC, Taguig
T: +632 621-4052 | E:

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Sobranie: where I learned a bit about Russian food

One of my constant dinner buddies A invited me to try this Russian restaurant Sobranie in Victoria. I'm not familiar with Russian cuisine; the depth of my understanding only involved vodka blinis, borscht and Olivier salad (I have a version of this!) and that most dishes are named after famous/rich people (Pavlova after the Russian Ballerina, Beef Stroganoff and Veal Orlov after a count and a prince, etc) so I was excited to go.

We decided to go for three courses. After ordering, I wondered if we had enough to eat. I've developed an affinity for dumplings from my recent Singapore trip and wanted to try the Russian version called pelmeni. However, A wasn't as hungry as I was so I had to check if we had the capacity to eat with our bellies instead of our eyes.

ME: Are the dumplings as good as sides or are they good as mains? 
SERVER: You mean quite heavy? It's Russian food! Yes, yes, it's Russian food! You will be full!

Perhaps another time.

Determined to taste some other Russian dish, I decided to go for the julienne (£6.50). Nevermind the French name, it's essentially mushrooms baked in sour cream and cheese. It came in a little pot and looked like some sort of brûlée. It was ooey, gooey and delicious. I was quite surprised that the portion was just right (and I even shared it with A)! 

I had smoked salmon blinis (£7.50) to start. I was expecting a plate of cute little round pancakes topped with fish, sour cream (and maybe a bit of caviar), hors d'ouvres/canapes style. Instead, I found myself staring at what I thought looked like a crêpe. Huh? I then found out that blinis, like most pancakes, come in various sizes and forms. 
So what's the difference between blinis and crêpes? Yeast (or some sort of leavening agent) It's used in the batter for crêpes but not blinis.

I had Pozharsky kotlety (£12) for mains. Like most Russian dishes, this dish is named after someone important and has a few 'legends' around this this dish. My favourite is the one about the innkeeper's wife: a merchant named Pozharsky owned an inn famous for its veal dish. One day, the tsar paid the inn a visit  and requested the dish which was unfortunately sold out by then. Eager to serve something, innkeeper's wife disguised the veal with chicken. The tsar enjoyed it so much and congratulated Pozharsky himself, but the latter felt so bad and admitted what his wife did. The tsar didn't really care and the dish catapulted to fame.
Sobranie's kotlety was cooked nicely. The chicken was juicy and tasty and it came with a mountain of buckwheat, but it was not as legendary as I thought it would be.

For dessert, A and I both had the Russian truffle (£5.50) which she misread as trifle, the poor thing! It didn't really look appetising as it resembled some sort of turd but it was quite yummy. It was soft and you can taste a nice hint of rum. The vanilla ice cream wasn't too bad either, but it was a bad idea to finish it that night because it was bloody freezing already!

The bill came in this cute little matryoshka doll.

Overall thoughts? It was an okay meal and was very filling. The service was so-so. The restaurant itself was no Russian Tea Room; the bar area resembled a European 3-star hotel concierge/cafe and the main restaurant was adorned with Christmas ornaments and Eurasian bling-age of some sort. There was a tiki bar for dancing and karaoke nights. Was it authentically Russian? 'fraid I can't say. Would I go back? Possibly, but not anytime soon. Would I eat more Russian food? Absolutely, and I'd love to learn more about the history of the dishes. I'm also eager to visit the country! One for the bucket list!

Sobranie Russian Bar & Restaurant
8 Fountain Square, London SW1| 02072337000
Ave spend pp £35 with wine. Three-course set menus available for £21

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Six tracks for January 2013

Here's a steady chilled-out playlist for January. It's a bit subdued and relatively mellow but I think it's great for these cold wintry nights.

DJ Earworm- United State of Pop 2012 (Shine Brighter)
Okay, I just had to! I've been waiting to hear DJ Earworm's homage to pop this year as we've had a whole string of LSS and cringe-worthy pop tracks - I am sparing you guys by not listing them here. It's far from my favourite as I think he's done better stuff but hey, let's do this one more time (and thank heavens he didn't include that crazy Korean song).

Errors - Magna Encarta
Here's a lovely tune from Glaswegian band Errors. Quite fittingly, this track makes me remember the good bits of last year and also makes me look forward to creating awesome ones this year. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. Indeed.

Atoms for Peace - Judge, Jury and Executioner
Yay this tune, because I have massive respect for Thom Yorke and Flea. I love listening to this track after work, walking my way from Covent Garden towards Victoria Embankment. The wintry temperature drop is crisp to the bones and the worst case of jet lag is beyond control but this tune really gets me into a zen-like state. Can't wait for the full album to come out.

Balance and the Traveling Sounds - Something About Us
(Thank YOU for reminding me of good coffee conversations)
Daft Punk's original was brill and the video was kickass. BTS's cover doesn't steer too far from it; the band just added a bit of swag with rap ad libs and raw, meatier drums. This has a live lounge session feel and it's cool because it feels rather raw and more organic. There's a sweet, sticky guitar solo halfway and you get into a cool, steady haze. Awesome.

Jesse Boykins III' & Melo X - I'm New Here
JB3s take on Outkast's Prototype was one of my favourite covers of the song (there's a hint of Seals and Crofts' Summer Breeze before the ad lib). His vibe is clearly influenced by Maxwell; late night smooth R&B you either take to the tub or to bed. His collab album with DJ/Producer Melo X Zulu Guru is a great slick piece for cold January nights.

The Lumineers - Flowers In Your Hair
Ahhh... The Lumineers of Ho Hey and Stubborn Love fame. There's something about folk-rock singers/bands that blow me away. Partly, it's the grand idea of jamming in a barn over bourbon, plaid shirts and hay. Mostly, it's the way they tell a story through lyrics and sound. Reminds me of my father all the time.

Excited for all the great music to come this year! =)

Friday, 11 January 2013

Thank you AZTA. I felt pretty.

A few weeks before my flight back to the Philippines I realised how badly my hair needed TLC. I thought about having it done in London but a) I still haven't found a stylist/salon good enough to visit regularly; b) the stylists I actually liked are gone (Ash Covent Garden is closing!); and c) it's not worth paying heaps for something I'm not 100% into (I once paid almost £200 for three haircuts in two weeks, as none of the salons I visited got it right and I ended up looking half-butch and half-Eurovision camp).

I decided to wait until I'm back in Manila so I can entrust all hair problems to my favourite salon of all time, Azta Urban Salon.

I've been to the Eastwood branch a few times before and I really like their space; it's bright, airy and they play pretty good tunes! The staff's very welcoming and their new store manager, Val, is such a bubbly character.

Creative Director Jo Tabuena was my superstylist for the day. I'm extremely glad to have been able to book him as he was actually my hair fairy in the Katipunan branch back in college. He knows what I like pretty well, so much so that I didn't have to give much direction as all his ideas sounded great to me. He chopped my hair off to a shorter do (but still long enough to be able to play with) and gave it a bit more body and vavoom. He also suggested to go a few shades lighter, which my supercool colourist Charlie executed well.

Before and After
(I've heard nothing but awesome compliments about the hair colour. Even my London mates think it's great.)

The next day, I had a wedding to attend and as I didn't have much time to prep, I visited Azta Katipunan so they can style my hair and gunkify my face. It was awesome to see familiar faces and stylists whom I've worked with previously. Miss Julie was in charge of my look that day.

The awesome crew

Miss Julie gave me a natural look and she suggested curling my hair. I'm steady useless when it comes to sorting myself out for events like this so when everything was done I was really pleased with the result. 

I felt... purrrty =)

If you haven't yet, go visit an Azta near you. Here's a menu of their services (click each box to enlarge) and here's a link to their Facebook page for more deets. They offer a lot of promos and other hip new hair/beauty technology.

A friend said that every lady should have a go-to salon and I'm really glad to have found mine. Nevermind that it takes over 6600 miles and a long haul flight to get there; every visit has been worth it and everytime I leave one of their salons I can't help but feel good about myself. And my hair.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Temporary lapse

DISCLAIMER: I started this blog wanting to keep everything all positive and sunshiney happy. 2012 was my positive year and I wanted to spread good vibes all over; the idea was to share snippets of joy and butterballs of great stuff with you guys. So excuse me for this sort of lapse.

I said goodbye to her and it broke my heart. I can't explain the feeling because quite frankly I'm confused.

I spent last week trying to figure out whether I felt like a) a nervous new grad whose fate is reliant on dippy economics; b) a bulimic who binges on memories and tries to forget; or c) a constipated passenger stuck in traffic praying to get on for relief. Unsure. Truth is, even after after all the 'therapy' and 'dedication to normalcy' I still had the shakes and the doubt if I will ever be good enough. The desire to vomit every ten seconds. The need to let it all out.

I said goodbye to her and it sucks because I am so tired and wasted. I feel like I've downed ten bottles of triple distilled vodka. There's an intense heat running down my stomach attempting to kill my insides and I just let it. The desire to sever all senses is so immense and I would love to - for at least a couple of hours - not feel anything, not think of anything, not sense anything. But I am failing like hell. In the most random moments I hear her laughter and I see her face. It's all good until the giggles turn into screaming and her smile turns to tears. I begin shutting these memories out until I realise I can only have her in those moments. I just want to go to fucking sleep. 

I said goodbye to her and I miss her so much. I've moved to the biggest room in the house I'm renting and as I stare at my brand new kingsize bed, my still-unopened and unsorted luggage, my 'Welcome Back' cards the empty feeling is slowly taking residence in this massive space. I feel like kicking my head 12,000 times. Did I really need this much space to feel how lonesome I am?

I said goodbye to her and I am, again, at a loss.