Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Learn about single-origin chocolate

Learn from chocolatier Benjie Pedro (and get to taste some chocolate too!) FOR FREE!!

Do yourself a favor and attend :-) Read my account of the first time I went.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chocolate Appreciation 101 @ Heavenly Chocolates

It's 4am and I'm enjoying a nice bit of hot chocolate. I've been a fan of chocolate all my life. I grew up in Batangas which is tablea land, and in my godmother's yard there used to be a cacao tree. Imported chocolate bars weren't as readily available back in those days before globalization, and my mother used to limit after-meal chocolate to one-square rations. I guess she figured my brother and I were hyper enough without the theobromine rush. Back in those days I thought that the Goya Fun Factory actually existed and the big dream was to dive into the chocolate pool. Of course after seeing the fate of Augustus Gloop in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", my enthusiasm was tempered a little.

I learned to temper chocolate in culinary school. We worked with white, milk, and dark Callebaut couverture. That's when I decided I wasn't going to be a chocolatier, because it broke my heart when tiny bits of chocolate got left on the utensils and in the piping bags and stuff. I wanted to eat it all!

And so when I got the invitation to Benjie Pedro's "Chocolate Appreciation 101" at his shop Heavenly Chocolates. I was in it for the chocolate tasting. I wasn't uninitiated, and I knew all about the history of cocoa, the different bean varieties, cacao harvesting, the many stages of chocolate processing and all that.

That's what I thought. Little did I know that I was about to have my mind blown.

The session begins like an AA meeting "I'm Benjie Pedro, and I'm a chocoholic," and then Benjie took us on a journey peppered with fun trivia, candid revelations and personal anecdotes from travels around the world chasing the food of the gods. What was very new to me was single origin chocolate. Like fine wine from grapes grown with care, these chocolates were just as luxurious and unique. Ghana (mostly Forastero beans) was smooth and gentle, with notes of coffee. Madagascar (Criollo) had hints of citrus, with a fruity finish. My favorite was the Ecuador (Arriba a different variety of Forastero), very dark and bold, not for the timid. Benjie's passion for chocolate is infectious. He treats chocolate with both the sophistication of a wine connoisseur and the playfulness of a kid in...well, a chocolate store.

Benjie had us sample some Sachi Nama chocolates. Nama is all the rage these days and the reason is obvious. I have not tried Royce's, but many of those in the know say they prefer Sachi. He also has some other tricks up his sleeve. One of the offerings at Havenly Chocolates is penne with chocolate sauce. The dish was good though not quite mind-blowing. It's still well worth a try for anyone who has never had chocolate in a savory dish. The chocolate-coated potato chips were a treat, as was the chocolate fondue (choose your single-origin to go with it). Benjie is all for challenging the senses; he got us to try something in development and not yet on the menu.

I'm looking forward to going back to Heavenly chocolates tomorrow. Benjie says he has some new single-origins: Mexico and Bolivia.

Chocolate Appreciation 101
March 28th at 2PM and 6PM. For details, please call the shop at 666-22-08 or email Benjie Pedro at benjaminvpedro@yahoo.com.

Heavenly Chocolates
127 Roces Avenue (near corner Tomas Morato), Quezon City.
Telephone: (63 2) 666-22-08

Photo by Azrael Coladilla.

Sarah, Benjie Pedro, me, Steph. Photo by Azrael Coladilla.
Sarah, Benjie Pedro, me, and Steph. Photo by Azrael Coladilla.

Photo by Azrael Coladilla.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Science of Cooking demo at my old high school

Well I still haven't fully recovered from several utterly sleepless nights cramming preparing for last Tuesday's Alternative Classroom Learning Experience (ACLE) at my highschool alma mater Philippine Science High School (PSHS). It's been 17 years since I graduated from "Pisay" and I was excited about this opportunity to "give back". I'd been kicking ideas around but hadn't really gotten enough focus to lay an outline down on paper. I'd spent much of the weekend bogged down in other projects, though I made some progress ACLE-wise last Friday when Papa & I drove up to Pampanga to buy 3kgs of liquid nitrogen for the demo. I had already solved the logistics problem by getting my culinary school CACS to sponsor most of the ingredients and equipment (LN2 not included, but I got Pisay to reimburse that, and I coughed up the rest for some other ingredients. Hey Hagee I forgot to pay you for the tube ice!)

So I was up all of Monday night finishing my powerpoint slides. I had trouble getting some of the videos to embed, and come presentation time they wouldn't play :( But I had fun compiling them. Next year they'll be good to go. I had scheduled to meet my team (chefschool classmates of mine that I'd arm-twisted had volunteered) at Cafe Ysabel 7am to pick up the equipment: portable 5 butane stoves, assorted pots and pans and other cooking implements (part of my discussion was to compare materials used in cooking vessel manufacture -- aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, copper etc etc). I already had 3 crates of ingredients (I had spent some of the night before making eighteen 10-inch pizza crusts) but I had a few additional things to pick up at the grocery (peppermint gum for a demo on taste fatigue, a bag of lychee jellies for a demo on inhibiting enzymatic breakdown of proteins, and some plastic cups). I finish my groceries and then my car would not start! Call Papa, call the mechanic. Call my team to tell them to get the gear and meet me sa Pisay. Dang, I'm out of phone credits. Car started and phone reloaded, I chug over to Pisay. Now I get to haul all my gear to the bio lab by myself. Besides the crates of ingredients there's the tank of nitro, my blender, the videocam, laptop, Cafe Ysabel promotional stuff, sound equipment (1 tiny wireless lapel mic, and one monstrously heavy 300watt powered speaker) and a large cooler for the---oh dang I forgot the ice! SOS to Hagee. He'll buy the ice. Thanks, buddy! :D

It's almost 9am (class is scheduled for 10am) and my gear isn't ready, my powerpoint isn't ready, I'm physically and mentally exhausted, and I'm all alone in the lab. Worst of all, I'm not having fun. Steph arrives (she'd been forced to skip work by a busted harddrive and so was available to help out) and then Hagee, then Tim. Hagee sets up laptop and LCD projector. Tim sets up audio. Steph sets up video documentation and then she helps me set up the "kitchen" though it's all just ingredients as my cooking gear isn't there yet. I'm freaking out. I know I will have to wing this. I change shirts as I'm sweat-soaked from exertion and stress. I'm no fun to be around.

Around 9:50am students start arriving. Where the heck's my team?! I change to my chef duds and rifle through my note cards. My team calls from the gate; they're held up by security. I talk to security on the phone and they're let in. Tim meets them at the back lobby. 10am my team comes in and immediately sets up the gear. The student in charge tells me we're still waiting for 20 people (40 had signed up). I force myself to relax. Just enjoy this, JB, and the kids will too. Ma'am Docto (my Bio teacher from way back) peeks in and I say "Hi!" she asks if she can watch and I say "Sure!" (she doesn't show again)

10:40. Session begins. I am introduced, and I introduce my team. I have the kids put on their lab gowns and wash their hands. Should've had them do that while waiting duh! Not a great start. I begin with showing them how a kitchen is like a laboratory and then go full on into Molecular Gastronomy. The kids are starting to dig it :)

On to kitchen myths debunked, and then Forms of Heat Transfer. I'm on a roll now 8) Next it's the materials physics discussion with the cooking vessels. One student knows what PTFE is..cool! "If Teflon is so slippery, how do they get it on the pan itself?" Oh dang, my video with the answer doesn't work so I describe the process (sandblasting to etch, and then a PTFE-spiked primer before the PTFE itself), and I show them a couple of pans the school had had re-coated. Ma'am Bawagan (my History teacher senior year) asks me where we had it done and I have to tell her I don't know hehe :oops:

Kitchen Chemicals: The kids identify water and table salt from molecular diagrams. They don't do too well with lactose, though they know what it is when I identify it. They get sucrose right off. I show them a triglyceride and explain what "saturated" and "unsaturated" mean on a molecular level. I'm getting ahhs and wide eyed "now I get it" looks. I'm enjoying this :D Ooh look at the time! I gotta skip topics.

Chemical Changes During Cooking: I show them how to make caramel and explain the exothermic chemical reactions taking place. I show them how to use an invert sugar to prevent recrystallization. Next up it's the homemade sausages for some Maillard browning reactions. "Rusted" apples to illustrate enzymatic browning. Then it's my pineapple puree enzymes attacking their lychee jellies.

On to Leavening Agents, mechanical, biological, and chemical. I activate some yeast, and I get some baking soda fizzing in some lemon juice. I had planned to fizz the baking soda in some melted caramel (forming caramel crunch, locally known as tira-tira) which we could've used as ice cream topping later, but I forgot. Then an explanation of single and double acting baking powder.

The 5 Basic Tastes: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, and Umami. Some of the kids actually know what umami is. My non-Pisay chef-school classmates are amazed :wink: I go into chlorophyll degradation via heat and how to inhibit it. The mint gum experiment fails; we're unable to replicate documented results. The kids enjoy it anyway :)

I use the yeast discussion as an excuse to cook pizzas for the kids. I had wanted for the toppings to have come from a scientific discussion too. Well we had the sausages from the Maillard rxn demo but the mozzarella and basil were just throw-ins. I get all five stoves going with my team to supervise, and the kids laid on the toppings themselves. Ma'am Caintic (senior year Physics) comes in for a peek at this point. I cheerily greet her and wonder if she remembers my senior year hijinks haha!

12noon I want to do the no-tech ice cream (hand-squished in a bag submerged in an ice bath rendered sub-zero by the addition of salt: an illustration of freezing point depression) but I'd already gone overtime so I brought out the liquid nitrogen. I'd had my team prepare the custard base as I was starting the session, and now I got one of the kids to bash up some Oreos. The LN2 froze the ice cream in under four minutes. The kids ate it up in under two :lol:

Session officially over, a bunch of guys hung around and we finished all the pizza. I also start some pasta going and I keep quizzing them: "Will this water boil faster lid on or lid off? Lid on, you say? Tell me why" They're really into it, posing hypotheses. I give them a hint: The Ideal Gas Law. I'm really having fun with this, and it looks like so are they.

Students gone, I finish cooking the pasta as cleanup is in progress. Ernie chucks the leftover pineapple, lemon juice, ice and sugar into the blender. Lemon pineapple smoothie! It's really good! Now if we only had some vodka :twisted:

Hagee calls us up to the 2nd floor. I regret not having come up earlier..we could've met the rest of the lecturers. Heck, with all our gear and ingredients we could've fed them all and Pisay wouldn't have had to spend on catering. Oh well.

Back downstairs to pack up. It's raining Felis catus and Canis lupus familiaris outside. The other driver and I slosh through rain and flood to get to the vehicles. My car won't start again. Finally get it going but it overheats on the way home. Got that under control at the Shell station on Visayas Ave, leave my car at home and we all pile into the other car to head over to Cafe Ysabel and return the school's gear. I'm swaying on my feet, totally spent. When Steph and I get to her place I crash on the bed and am not heard from til late morning. No, actually Steph said I kept sitting up and blathering on about magnesium in the chlorophyll and stuff like that. She had stayed up to install her new hard drive and watch me lecturing in my sleep. :lol:

All in all an exhausting but fun & fulfilling day. I'm still in recovery, and my other project deadlines are breathing down my neck but already I'm thinking about how to fine-tune the session for next year's ACLE. I've also set up a PSHS Molecular Gastronomy yahoogroup for the kids so we can continue discussing. I'm having the time of my life! :D

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More Market Basket

Well we made it to the Western Market Basket Finals too, but we lost in the final round of both Asian and Western competitions. Gotta be happy with what we got, though for a moment there I really thought we were going to win the Western Cuisine competition when the chefs named our Meunière of Lapu-lapu (grouper) and Crab-Meat Mousseline with Leek Creme a favorite.

Both championship rounds were black box, of course: as in the ‘Iron Chef’ TV shows, specific ingredients available for the competitors' use were a mystery to until the match began. In addition, a "black box" containing mandatory ingredients was a huge factor. Not only were you required to use the black box ingredients, a quantity limit was also set (e.g. 1 cup butter maximum for the western cuisine competition).

I must say I learned a whole lot and had a lot of fun. The ref raids I always do for fun at home turned out to be good training. These competitions were tests of nerves and composure as much as of cooking skill, and a sense of humor, though it didn't bag us the win, proved to score points.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thoughts on Foodie Workshop at Serye Restaurant

Saturday last week I started the day excited about the food writing & photography workshop I was to attend at Serye Restaurant at the Quezon Memorial Circle. I had never been to Serye before. I’d passed this branch a dozen times on morning jogs and noticed that they were open for breakfast, but had never tried it. Well here was my chance. That morning though I was more excited about the learning than the eating. Organizer Jayvee Fernandez had told us to bring blindfolds…the day promised to be interesting.

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Read the rest of this post...
Saturday last week I started the day excited about the food writing & photography workshop I was to attend at Serye Restaurant at the Quezon Memorial Circle. I had never been to Serye before. I’d passed this branch a dozen times on morning jogs and noticed that they were open for breakfast, but had never tried it. Well here was my chance. That morning though I was more excited about the learning than the eating. Organizer Jayvee Fernandez had told us to bring blindfolds…the day promised to be interesting.

As soon as I walked in I found the place very inviting. Inexplicably I was reminded of my lola, even though I couldn’t honestly picture her in a café. The place had the appeal of the familiar, and the warm-cozy atmosphere of a bistro-café. As I spoke with the very friendly staff the cake selection beckoned but I resisted. First, to business.

Introductions first. I was amazed that lecturer Christine Nunag had actually taken the time to read each and everyone’s blogs, and remembered little details about all of us, including little personal details we’d each put in our profiles. This put me at ease real quick. What followed was a very informative, often funny but always thought-provoking exchange of ideas on viral marketing, food writing in the traditional media & parallels with the (relatively) new blog medium, the blogger’s responsibility to moderate reader comments, the late, great Doreen Fernandez, strange food stories, developing one’s observation skills, and sharpening one’s senses.

That brought us to the blindfold. Blindfolds on, we were walked through a food-sensing exercise. Eight food items were brought before us, and we smelled, prodded, tasted, chewed, swished-in-mouth, “mmmm”-ing and “yumm”-ing all the way. In spite of some people (me included) dribbling spoonfuls of soup on their chins, and almost putting forkfuls of meat up their noses, there were no major injuries. They say that when you can’t see, the other senses kick into overdrive. It’s true. Here’s a quick rundown:

 Sizzling Pork Sisig
Sizzling Pork Sisig

At first whiff I knew it was pork. At the first crunchy nibble I knew it was sisig. Unfortunately it wasn’t sizzling anymore (a small timing problem; the food had been ready some time before the discussion ended) but amazingly the sisig retained its crunch. It wasn’t drenched in oil, as some places serve it, but had just enough of the pork fat to give it a nice buttery mouth-feel & flavor. At the reveal I found that it came with a special sauce which I’d missed at the tasting.

Sinigang na Tiyan ng Bangus
The sinigang broth had moderate sourness, nice body, and thankfully no detectable gabi hehehe. The bangus was firm, and the vegetables were pleasantly crunchy. I think I would’ve liked a fattier cut of bangus, and more bite to the broth, but ah that’s just me. This dish was nice and familiar, and I settled more comfortably in my chair afterwards.

Boneless Chicken Barbecue
Boneless Chicken Barbecue

The first morsel of meat told me this was barbecued chicken. It was tender, had perfect caramelization, and went well with the smooth, peanuty sauce. I thought to myself, “Hmmm..tastes like the famous chicken barbecue from Aristocrat.” I was spot on, as it turned out. We were to discover later that our host Miña & her co-owners/siblings were of the 4th generation of the Reyes family of the Aristocrat Restaurant. The name Serye was in fact an anagram of their family name. By this time there was joking and chatting all around, especially as Chris Haravata started shooting pictures blindfolded.

 Miki Bihon Guisado
Miki Bihon Guisado

My mouth could tell there were two kinds of noodles in this, a great play on texture. Flavor texture and further tactile surprises were delivered by the crunchy sitsaro & carrot, shrimp, sliced kikiam, and a hint of chives & a sprinkling of sesame oil. At the reveal we found the color palette was just as lively as the dish was on the palate.

 Serye Express
Serye Express

With this dish the familiar ended. More accurately, it became harder to pin down. At first whiff I identified coconut milk. As I went through the dish though the flavor profile was at once familiar and elusive. Was there meat in it? Is that langka ginataan Bicol style? I was pleasantly bewildered. At the reveal Mina explained that Serye Express was a marriage of pinakbet and bicol express. Genius! Despite the playful juxstaposition this dish had coherence. Attractively served in a traditional palayok, it was at once a group favorite.

Ox-tail Kare-kare
Back to tradition with this dish. I have never been big on kare-kare, except when it is impeccably executed, and this was one such occasion. Missed at the tasting: steamed rice & bagoong alamang.

Serye Iced Tea
First I got the foamy head in my nose. Then I discovered the drinking straw. This was a refreshing draught. Real tea and real citrus. We all slurped it down to the last drop.

 Serye’s Filipino Fondue
Serye’s Filipino Fondue

The last item was several pieces of miniature turon, but each piece seemed to have a different filling. Langka, saging na saba, sago. There was a small piece of some sort of creamy soft bread which turned out at the reveal to be cute mini ensaymadas. The Filipino-style (er Spanish) chocolate was a great accent to each piece. It was easy to imagine Ibarra & Maria Clara enjoying this dessert. It seemed fitting that the minds behind this dessert were the new aristocracy of the restaurant business.

trigger-happy food bloggers

The writing workshop officially over, we all gathered for lunch. Yes, more food! We enjoyed more of the great pancit, the barbecued chicken with java rice, Serye Express, the wonderful iced tea, and platters of Boneless Crispy Pata. Tender meat, crispy skin, and look, Ma, no bones! Awesome dish! I had promised my doctor I’d lay off the pork, but between pork day at chef school and this dish at Serye, I've surrendered!

Boneless Crispy Pata
Boneless Crispy Pata

It’s sometimes supposed that bloggers are men and women of few words—shy types who speak little and need the written word, and the relative anonymity of the internet to find expression. Either that was untrue of this group, or merely because good food loosens tongues, or perhaps because the warm atmosphere & the solicitous Reyeses made us feel truly at home, but we were truly loquacious in between mouthfuls of crispy pata. Chris regaled us with his account of hunting wild boar and cooking it sinigang style in the wilds of Bataan, Betty talked about the horrors of traveling this far north, and I offered my thoughts on how the pata was deboned. Now I had a new reason to go to QC Memorial Circle. I kept wishing I hadn’t waited this long to try this resto out. The dishes are at once familiar, steeped in tradition, and new and playful. Similarly, Serye is a great place to bring family and old friends, and as I did that day, make new friends. Perhaps the name of the place has another meaning to it: you’ll want to keep coming back.

Serye Restaurant
Elliptical Rd.
Quezon Memorial Circle
Quezon City
Tel. 924-3411, 924-3394

More later: The photography workshop facilitated by Markku Seguerra & Jayveee Fernandez.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

School's Cool

Day 2: Basic Nutrition

Go foods, Grow foods, Glow foods. Those LDLs...they're bad for you. But dang does fatty food taste good!

Day 3: Basic Culinary French

I have never taken lessons in French. Being me though I've picked up a few phrases here and there (a little knowledge always being a dangerous thing, of course), specially as I self-taught myself more and more about cuisine. "Je connais!" which I will probably hardly ever get to use, and "Je ne comprends pas." which is most probably as far as I'll get in a conversation after I get past "Je m'appelle JB."

woman: "Sugar?"
Mr. Bean: "Oui."
woman: "Crème?"
Mr. Bean: "Non."
woman: "Your French is very good!"
Mr. Bean: "Gracias!"

Now my vocabulary extends a bit more than ratatouille, en papillote, bouillabaise & vichysoisse. Speaking of ratatouille, I can't wait for the movie to come out!

Day 4: Culinary Math

And you kids fresh out of highschool thought you could escape math by taking this course! One of my class mates remarked, "Totoo pala sabi ng tatay ko: 'gagamitin mo din yan [math] balang araw.'" I of course already knew this, as cooking at home & for Regali Kitchen has had me converting between British & Metric, scaling recipes, crunching cost control numbers for some years now. Math on the fly is of course essential when at the market & grocery store. It's all just basic algebra of course - we're not talking differential calculus here - but it's gotta be fast, and it aint kid stuff. Beyond math, I find that the scientific method is my friend in the kitchen. Boy am I glad I learned something in highschool!

Day 5: Introduction to Gastronomy - "Eat, and Eat Ink!"

Cuisine being all-encompassing, this discussion mixed equal parts history, psychology, pop and classical culture, flavored with sprinklings of political economy and archaelogy, simmered in sociology. Man oh man I love that kind of stuff, and I want seconds! Eat ink? Yeah, ink has always been my favorite.

Day 6: Sanitation - "Happy Birthday to You 2x"

Go wash your hands. You heard me.

Day 7: Meat Fabrication Part 1

Cooked this:
Entrêcote à la Bordelaise
Roast Beef Tenderloin w/ cognac demiglace
Veal Escalopes w/ Wild Mushroom Sauce
Ox tongue preparation
Veal kidneys preparation

Day 8: Meat Fabrication Part 2

Cooked this:
Grilled Lamb Medallions w/ Mint Jelly & Orange Confit
Roast Ribeye w/ Port Demiglace
Scallopini à la Marsala
Osso Buco preparation
Ox tripe preparation

Today, during a momentary lull, Chef Gene gave the class a huge compliment. The compliment was this: "I want to push you further." At the start of the course he said that if he feels that we have what it takes he will push us harder. So that was real cool!

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

JB goes back to school

Para bang Tommy Lee Goes to College? Hehehe.

When I was five my parents asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, and I said that I wanted to be a chef. Even though I did eventually develop a passion for cooking some decades later, my having said that when I was five was just a funny anecdote for most of my life.

So at 33, it's high time that I enrolled in a professional culinary course and got on track to becoming a real chef. So I'm finally doing it! I've enrolled for the professional program at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies.

A few weeks back I got all excited and bought a pair of black slacks, white undershirts, and black socks. Hahaha feeling schoolboy talaga!

Needed high school credentials so wrote to Pisay para humingi ng kopya ng diploma. My mistake: binanggit kong mag-aapply ako sa culinary school, and I barely escaped getting into a huge mess, and taking Hagee & Eileen with me too! My bio teacher back in HS, now-registrar Dra. Jess Yazon was very nice about it, even while she was implicitly threatening me with breach of contract. The heck with that. You could say I wasn't thinking. I'm so sorry that it's more natural for me to tell the truth. So sue me. Oops, I take that back--don't sue me.

Here's another back to school story: I need to submit my UP transcript of records to my new school, so I went back to UP early this week. Hanap ko ang registrar's office sa PHAN...sorry, wala na dun! May bagong building na ang reg dun sa may malapit sa what used to be ISMED. THAT made me feel old.

First day high
Yesterday, my birthday, was the first day of school! Knife skills. Fun! I think I already have a slight edge (pardon the pun) over most of my classmates. We only had one casualty: one of my group mates cut himself & spurted blood onto his neighbor, and the minced onions.

Birthday blues, and growing old
After school Steph & I hooked up and she treated me to dinner. Then home for some time with the family. All in all a fun day. Still not the kind of giddy happy birthday back when we were young, but special people still made it special.

My friend Kidlat once wrote, "Although I still really believe a lot of aging has to do with how you feel and how you look at the world... if you feel old you will look old hehehe..."

I agree. Now that explains why we in our barkada look much younger than all our highschool batchmates. I was the oldest person in class today (no surprise, though you do often get older people in culinary school) but no one knew it. People always think I'm much younger than I actually am. In any case I'm invariably finding my age (and the accompanying experience) an advantage when I'm with groups like that.

I think my annual birthday blues (which were pretty bad on the approach this year) don't really have much to do with feeling old. I think they've more to do with a feeling of getting left behind. But that's a whole different thread, and anyway, I'm finally fulfilling my childhood dream, so full steam ahead!

Avel, another kabarkada, once wrote, "This wasn't what I pictured myself doing when I was in [highschool]. But, just like what John Lennon said and what JB had on a pin that he wore before, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans". I used to think that that should mean you should stop making plans altogether. Nowadays, I think that you shouldn't have any regrets doing what made you happy."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Societa' Dante Alighieri

My 2nd cooking class today with "DanteManila." I must say Chef Giorgio is the best cooking teacher I have ever had (after my mother, of course)! When I first saw the list of sauces we were to learn I was a little disappointed. I thought some of them were much too familiar: carbonara, puttanesca, a quattro formaggio, pesto Liguria; but there were some surprises too: penne in a sauce that he called boscaiola, and another one of his own invention which he simply called tagliatelle dello chef. I thought wrong about the sauces I thought I was already too familiar with; I learned quite a few secret tricks that I never would've thought of, and realized there'd been some things I'd been doing wrong. So now I'm learning from a real master! Man, that stuff was good!...more on that when I have the time

As I mentioned I learned a whole lot today, some of which goes against traditional (Filipino?) kitchen wisdom. It was good for psyching me up for another catering gig tomorrow, and Dine & Jam 4 next week...

By now you'll have realized I don't intend to give out any recipes or cooking secrets here. I'm not being selfish, just careful. After all, I intend for my own resto to come out of all this. Do Email me if you're curious about any of my recipes.

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