Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Food for thought

Great minds discuss ideas
Average minds discuss events
Small minds discuss people. Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What's in a name?

In the rose garden of the Filoli estate, I have an amusing time reading the names of the hundreds of roses that are grown and bred here. There is an Ingrid Bergman, a Dolly Parton, Secret, Double Delight, Iceberg and yes, Bacardi. I’ll drink to that! And the fragrance that permeates the air is a French parfumerie’s dream.

The rose garden is just one of many in the property. There is the Knot Garden, the Perennial Border with rows of purple lavender, the Sunken Garden, Yew Allee with its stately yew trees, the Fruit Garden, the Walled Garden and meadows and terraces! Colors change with the seasons.

The house and gardens with the Crystal Springs watershed at its backdoor couldn’t be better situated. But there’s more to discover about Filoli. When Shakespeare asked “What’s in a name?", little did he know that centuries later Mr. Bourn, the first owner of the estate, would pack so much into a name. Mr. Bourn’s favorite maxim was “Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.” Take the first two letters of the key words Fight, Love, Live and it spells Filoli!

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Images by Rosario Charie Albar

Monday, September 11, 2006

Favorite Eats in Oahu

I arrived in Honolulu late in the evening on Friday and all I could think of was saimin. From the airport my sister and a friend drove me to Zippy's where I satisfied my craving. It was as I remembered it. Slices of char siu, fish cake and green onions added a bit of flavor to plain noodles. After dinner I bought apple fritters from Zippy's own bakery.

I was in Honolulu for the weekend to close a chapter in my life. Famished after two and a half hours of hard work emptying my storage space of 20 years (!), sweating as if we've been soaking in a sauna, my sister, her friend and I found ourselves in a dive in Kalihi for some heavy duty lunch on Saturday afternoon. The crab wonton was a revelation. Inside the crisp wonton was crabmeat dipped in cream sauce.

After lunch we drove around the island, stopping to ring the bell for good luck and happiness at the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe. Continuing along Highway 83, we got out of the car to view Chinaman's Hat rising from Pacific waters and admired the beautifully carved walls of the Koolau Range. Then we treated ourselves to ice cream and mango smoothie in the North Shore.

On Sunday we met for a well deserved brunch at my favorite restaurant, Michel's at the Colony Surf. As we sat by the open window overlooking the beach, we helped ourselves to grilled salmon on a bed of almond rice pilaf and asparagus spears sprinkled with mango cubes over a thin but rich layer of sauce vierge. Lance chose the medium rare beef tenderloin and he couldn't stop extolling how "it melted like butter" in his palate. He was quiet for a while as he savored every bite of the exquisitely prepared steak served with Lyonnaise potatoes and portobello mushrooms.

I decided not to eat dessert although my guests shared a dark chocolate cake with compote of berries and vanilla ice cream. I had been dreaming of malasadas and wanted to save my appetite for that.

We drove to Leonard's on Kapahulu Avenue for their famous Portuguese pao doce. We bought some puff malasadas as well as a dozen of the plain version. I chose the haupia (coconut) filling, my sister had the custard and another friend wanted to try the pineapple filled malasada. We couldn't wait to eat the goodies which were still hot from the oven.

Later that evening, I would have gone to Keo's Thai Cuisine for dinner but we were pressed for time. We had to catch a flight back home so I'll have to return for the pad thai.

I must say that visiting Honolulu was a walk down memory lane happily sprinkled with visions of saimin, the incredible view from Michel's dining room and their 4 star cuisine, sugar coated malasadas and Kauai Kookies (to take home). That's my paradise!

Images by Rosario Charie Albar

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Q Prague

The beautiful city of Prague on the banks of the Vltava River will be the venue for the weeklong Philippine Products Exhibition from October 3 – 8 of this year. The event is the brainchild of renowned Filipino fashion designer and Prague resident, Noubikko. The exhibition will feature Philippine made products which will be displayed at the Q Prague near the Hilton Hotel. Exhibitors are encouraged to contact Noubikko at for this fee free products expo.

Q Prague
The Q Prague is a three-story club with a bar, disco and cellar for private conferences. Each floor is equipped with its own sound system so guests can sit where the music moves them. In the summer its terrace is the place to gather and enjoy warm evenings. Q Prague opened in early 2006 and has a decidedly modernistic feel. The Q is at 44 Pobrezni, Karlin, Prague 8.

About Noubikko
Noubikko is a former Bay Area resident who was smitten by Prague’s baroque splendor. As a couturier whose designs have been paraded in the runways of San Francisco, Seattle and Paris, to list a few, Prague appealed to the artistic sensibilities of Noubikko. Among his many projects, Noubikko is involved in the restoration of the Church of Our Lady Victorious, home of the Infant Jesus of Prague. This is also where the Filipino community of Prague gathers on Sundays to listen or sing with the all Filipino Choir.

Noubikko continues to reach out to the Filipino community. The Philippine Products Exhibition will feature Philippine cuisine which will be prepared by resident Filipinos. This event is a fine example of Filipinos working together to show the best of the Philippines. It’s one more reason to visit Prague this fall.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Adrift on the Nile

We drifted leisurely on the Nile, from Luxor to Aswan, and marveled at the temples and tombs of the kings. Every morning I woke up to a spectacular sunrise and the promise of new discoveries. Our guide took us to a historical site early in the day (before the crowds arrived and while temperatures were bearable) and there he would nourish us with interesting vignettes on pharaonic civilization. The evenings were devoted to sampling delectable Egyptian cuisine and colorful local entertainment. The unhurried and gentle life on the Nile with tremendous views of green riverbanks, bordered by sand and rock, will stay with me always.

Images by Rosario Charie Albar