In Which Breakfast is a New York Classic…

Time for a cappucino...

Time for a cappuccino…

You know the drill: wake up at the crack of dawn, throw yourself into the shower, throw some clothes on, dash out of the house, sally into traffic, and still get to work late.  This is the scenario that has become all too familiar to anyone who lives in the Greater Manila Area these days.  Things are bad enough that you end up eschewing breakfast all together just so you could try to get to work on time.  Of course, when this happens, you get to work with a very bad temper and an achingly empty belly – and that’s never a good thing.

Because I’ve been told to stop starving myself (not that it’s ever helped me lose any actual weight), I have to eat something at the start of the day.  Otherwise, my energy levels will flag and I will be bloody surly two hours into the workday.  Today, because I wanted to spoil myself a little after the stress of the past four months, I decided to grab at bite at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf where I got a breakfast that’s a throwback to the appetising stores of the more heavily Jewish districts of New York City.

...and a bagel.  With a schmear of cream cheese.  And lox...LOTS of lox...

…and a bagel. With a schmear of cream cheese. And lox…LOTS of lox…

I ask you: can there be anything – and I seriously mean anything – better than a warm chewy bagel split through the middle, smeared over with cream cheese, with thick coral-hued folds of belly lox (cold-cured salmon belly) piled upon it?  It is the breakfast of champions in my book and one that I find a necessary indulgence to guard against the worries of the day.

Have salad, will travel.

Have salad, will travel.

It is a most satisfying thing: smoky and salty; creamy smooth because of the cheese yet crisp and sharp because of the vinegary shallots sprinkled on top of the fish.  Sure, it’s not something I can have every day; but, whenever I do, it is more than necessary fuel.  It puts a smile on my face and, for a little while, I forget the stress at the office and I don’t miss my best friend/sounding board.  For a short while, I can forget that I have CFS and I feel strong and I feel like I can do anything.  For a short while, I can be just a shade happier than I normally am in these rough days.  And speaking of that friend…

It’s Dragonfly Collector (Clem Castro)’s birthday today.  The video above is from a performance at the Boiler Room earlier this year where he performs the title track of his album The World is Your Oyster.  Incidentally, his The World is Your Oyster – Philippine Tour wraps up in Puerto Princesa on Saturday, 12th December 2015.  If you find yourself there, he’ll be playing at Katabom.  Go say hi and congratulate him for me.  🙂

In Which Lunch Was a Respite from Everything…

Udon set, anyone?

Udon set, anyone?

After everything that has happened over the last three months, I’ve made it a point (and rather pointedly, so to speak) to pop out of the office at lunchtime.  It has become more than a break for me; it is an hour’s respite from everything.  It is time for being something other than a copywriter at her desk and glued to her laptop.  It is my time, my hour; and I don’t have to talk to anyone.  I can experience new things, taste new foods; rest up a little and clear my head.

One such solitary meal was over at Tenya recently and I enjoyed it most thoroughly without anyone breathing down my neck and telling me “Oh, you should stop eating fried food!” or “Oh, you’re getting fat!” or “Carbs are so bad for you!” or “Why eat alone?  You have us; we’re your friends.”  Please: my friends are virtually all outside the workplace – and, unfortunately, I haven’t seen most of them in ages.  Anyway, eating alone at Tenya was a welcome respite from everything and with good reason.

Tenya’s All-star Tempura Udon Set is that reason.  Here, you get a basket of mixed tempura – all fresh from the fryer, all crispy and crunchy and good – with a bowl of rice, tentsuyu (mirin-based dipping sauce into which you stir in grated daikon radish and ginger), and a bowl of thick, chewy udon noodles in a shoyu  (soy sauce) broth topped with sliced scallions.

This, in my personal opinion, is pure and simple comfort food.  You get quite an assortment in your basket: prawn tempura and crabstick; kakiage loaded with baby prawns, green bell peppers, and sweet onions; tender squid and buttery salmon; green beans; and – what came as a revelation – enoki and bunashimeji mushroom dipped in batter and made deliciously rich and earthy by frying.  Pure yum.

The udon was deliciously simple: the noodles just al dente and held up beautifully in the sweet-salty broth; a touch of shichimi togarashi further helps to brighten the flavours and makes it more interesting.  Definitely a meal I would order again…especially if things get too hairy for comfort at work again.