My favorite candy store on the cinema floor of the mall had run out of sugar-free Russell Stover and Whitman Chocolates. I was dismayed. Everything else was sugar-ful candy, and I thought, strictly for kids—bright pink and green sour gummy worms, striped purple and yellow fantasy belts, strawberry lances, orange squiggles, mini butterflies, cola belts and gummy Santas.
A dignified gentleman with white hair stood resolutely in front of the counter and asked to buy two each of the kiddie stuff. I couldn’t help commenting, “You’re gonna eat all of that??!” He patted the bulging paper bag in his hand, smiling mischievously, and said, “All mine!”
I was green with envy. Life is so unfair. I am a borderline diabetic. I don’t like to cross the border, remembering how my diabetic mother almost got her leg sawn off before she died.
As usual, I tried to change my mood around by remembering all the restaurants I had happily eaten in within the last two years, none of them in foreign lands. I tend to be an unimaginative loyalist, ordering the same dish over and over until I can stand it no more.
The last place I ate in was familiar, chosen by my grandsons since they can afford Mister Kebab. The nicest branch is on West Avenue, a wide, open-sided structure with at least 30 ceiling fans and a roomy parking space behind. I love the lamb chelo kabab with beryani rice—the boys loved that, too, and liked everything else they ordered besides.
‘Paté de foie gras’
Buenisimo by the Café Ysabel owners is a much classier place at 24 Scout Tuazon Ave., Diliman, Quezon City. Always trying my best to be healthy, I ordered two green salads. One with white cheese and the other with a dollop of paté de foie gras on it (hehe).
For long conversations (meaning-of-life chu-chu), Ning and I go to UNO restaurant on Scout Fuentebella. We love their imaginative and changing cuisine, their fresh breads, their caring waitresses Joy and the other cute one and Mari Relucio, chef patron, most of all.
Moira Lang brought me to his favorite hangout, Tapenade, at Discovery Primea, Ayala Avenue, a lovely place with a light and healthy pica-pica buffet. Our secret game was guessing which waiter or waitress was male, female or gay.
Greeka Kouzina on D. Tuazon, Quezon City, with three or four other branches (Google na lang), is a favorite stop. I am addicted to their huge salad, a generous mix of walnuts and dried figs, and their lamb. I am a Cordero, after all, which means lamb, and I love eating it. I should have been a Greek like Athena or Aphrodite!! I adore Greek lamb and Zorba the Greek (with Anthony Quinn, it’s downloadable). Aside: I have only lately understood the difference between download and upload, between stand up and stand down, the restaurant signs closed and close (none).
There used to be a place in Maginhawa that Jetro, Robert and Ryan Villamael and I loved to eat in. Called Uan and Sally, it has a table around a living mango tree with all kinds of colorful cacti clinging to it. The place served nice simple dishes and slices of a strawberry cake at least six inches tall. But the last time we went, it was firmly locked—I hope not permanently.
Even when I’m alone, I eat in Bellini’s in Cubao X. It is an institution by itself. All I ever order is their large-size pica pica— with a double serving of pickled anchovies and of course, a loaf of focaccia. Señor Bellini is always a pleasant host. The rest of the afternoon can be spent in the small antique/junk shops at the end of the compound.
Babeth Lolarga and Rolly Fernandez treated six of us to their 31st-anniversary lunch in Chef Tatung’s Alab (now no longer located in an old house, but in a smart, real restaurant). Their cheesecake bibingka is irresistible.
On Sunday when my sons Arcus and Mol visit and talk endlessly about gourmet food they ate in their travels, I tune out. I feel no envy. They are both overweight. I weigh the same.