In Which an Ensaymada was a Welcome Change…

Ensaimada con manzanas y una taze de chocolate espeso y sabroso

Ensaimada con manzanas caneladas  y una taza de chocolate espeso y sabroso

Happy New Year, lovelies!

I know that I was off the radar, so to speak, for virtually all of December.  It has been a busy time: work deadlines to meet before going off on vacation; lots of baking for family and friends; shopping for presents, for ingredients, for comfort.  It has been a busy time and I daresay I’ve been lucky to get some rest.  However, this Season has also given me time to think: while I am earning a more than decent wage in advertising, I have been wondering about options outside of a field I’ve been involved in since I was seventeen.

The landscape of the advertising and PR industries here in the Philippines and throughout the rest of the world has changed a great deal in over two decades and many of these changes have not been pleasant.  The field has become less open to proper creativity: many campaigns run more to how much interest can be drummed out of the public and, consequently, how much can certain products earn for Big Business as opposed to a creative legacy that can fire up the minds of another generation.  There is a great deal of ruthlessness, a horrible amount of backstabbing and in-fighting within and among agencies.  I was seventeen when my career in this field began; I’m 39 now – and I learned the hard way that there is more to life that the monetary bottom line or corporate one-upmanship.

In the past year, I’ve done things I didn’t expect to do at all.  I’ve released a book on my own and am now preparing another for publication this year.  I have been mentored and I have mentored others in return.  I’ve begun to contemplate going into business for myself…and taking it seriously, as a matter of fact.

But a final decision hangs in the balance for now.  In the meantime, I want to take a break from just about everything.  And so, I found myself trotting out of the house for an ensaymada and a mug of hot chocolate over at Cafe Mary Grace.

But such an ensaymada! Rather than the standard-issue butter-rich coiled bun smeared with more butter and snowed under with grated cheese, this one came to the table topped with a chunky, cinnamon-spiced apple compote on top of a bun grilled long enough to torch the cheesy, sugary topping into a bruleed crust that crackled as I cut into it.  The apples were a crisp contrast to the softness of the bun and the cinnamon added just enough oomph to keep things from getting too sweet and stodgy.  Plus points to the fact that it came to the table hot all the way through.

Oh, and the chocolate?  A classic cup of chocolate Mexicana spiked with cinnamon and ground chilies; a warming and invigorating thing to sip on a day that turned out chilly and rainy in southern suburbia.  Its spicy bitterness was the perfect counterpoint, playing against sweet and tart.

And as I sat there nibbling through my ensaymada and sipping the chocolate, I tried to gather my thoughts together into something more cohesive.  No one, of course, knows what the future brings; heck, even the best psychics and cartomancers can’t tell us what will happen next.  But I will go through this year with a plan in my head and a map in hand…and then we’ll see what happens next.

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