Friday, March 30, 2012

O'sonho Portuguese Fusion

Despite the culinary soothsayers saying that no Portuguese restaurant will ever flourish in the Philippines, O'sonho Portuguese Fusion managed to emerge with two of its branches located at Makati and Eastwood City.

O'sonho meant "dream" and the restaurant is definitely born out of a dream of Cris and Nik Barancik to open a fusion cuisine that would integrate the spicy inclinations of the Filipinos by bringing in a a familiar, closely Spanish-related, Portuguese dishes. Spaniards have brought us the Latino luxuriation of spices, garlic, olive oil, and seafood. The only difference between them and Portuguese is that the latter's cooking is richer and full-flavored, with the spices that are more apparent. It's a lot like Spanish dishes in exaggeration.

The fellow piranhas and Tales of the Tongue troopers stormed the O'sonho in Eastwood just right outside our building, and this is what we have.

Courtesy appetizer.

Spicy Goulash ' Goulash Picante(Php170 + 10%SC), a clear soup mashed of stewed beef tenderloin, fresh potatoes, and plump tomatoes peppered with chill flakes. Collectively, we find it to be a soup that gives a palette a surprising kick.

All-Meat Paella / Paella De Carne(Php480 + 10%SC), a heavy mix of bacon, beef, chicken, lamb and chourico, carefully spiced and specially cooked to satisfy the most demanding meat craving. MobilityReel doesn't like this, he doesn't like rice close to being sticky. Trent doesn't like the taste so I ended up eating more than half of it.

Peri Peri Chicken on Fragrant Chicken Rice(Php210 + 10% SC), tender juicy, butterfly-cut thighs marinated in a Peri peri sauce. This one is a hit.

Trent calls this a O'sonho Fresh Lemon Iced Tea(Php170 + 10%SC) placed in a flower vase. I like the rich, syrupy taste though but my pals don't. It's a freshly brewed tea with sliced American lemons. It's the restaurant's signature brew.

Pasteis De Nata / Custard Tarts(Php130 + 10%SC) - egg custard pies with flaky dough. It was said to be a Portuguese best seller, and indeed it sold us out.

Trent says he couldn't find anything spectacular on the dishes. I felt the same. I mean, I would rather go for traditional, authentic Spanish restaurant in the metro(just like Terry's Selection) serving the best Paella of different variants, rather than a mainstream, commercialized dining spots that offered the same of mediocre taste. What I like about the place though is the fact that it doesn't get crowded during peak hours. My demophic tendencies once again.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Earth???

I am neither Butch Francisco who rightfully tagged movies according to number of stars depending on how it fared to the viewing public's preference, nor am I like MobilityReel who reviews according to artistic content, plotting complexity and cinematic technology. So for this entry, let it be cleared that it isn't a movie review, neither objectively nor unwittingly.

My arcane purpose though is to cite content improbabilities based on the light of a scientific fact.

1) There is a second Earth. If the fact that there is a second Earth with exactly similar geographical features, same meteorologic strata, same atmospheric condition, and absolutely same inhabitants, it has to come from an Extended Universe. It's essentially the same universal sphere that we belong to, only that it is too far that we couldn't see it. Ergo, if there is a second Earth, we will never see it(unless we have come to a point of technological maturity that we have mastered the science of interstellar transportation).

2) A second Earth suddenly appeared close to the Earth. All planets are "gravitationally locked" to their star systems. There is no way that a second Earth was flung out in the vastness of space, only to have been captured in our Solar System. Even if there is one, we would have progressively spotted its trajectory to our orbit, a lot like how we spot meteors, comets and other NEOs(near Earth objects). And speaking of meteors, if this second Earth is hit by a meteor, causing it to have flung out of its orbital path, it would have earned crust scars and inhabitants and all symbiosis of life would have been destroyed. Ergo, the lead character would never have met herself in another Earth.

3) A second Earth orbits beside our Earth. From the previous statement, if there is a second Earth drifting in the vastness of space that will be captured by our Solar System, by gravitational law, it will orbit right beside a planetary body with the biggest mass. Ergo, the second Earth would have been orbiting beside Jupiter.

4) A second Earth orbiting very close to Earth without adverse effect on the Earth's geologic condition. You know what happened when a Moon gets close to the Earth? The gravitational tug will create a tidal bulge. Oceans will rise and seismic activities will heighten. Now imagine if another celestial orbit, the size and mass of the Earth comes so close to the Earth, imagine how detrimental it has on our environmental geodynamics. Tsunamis will occur, volcanic activities stirred than normal, tectonic plates will be disturbed. Ergo, either our life or the second Earth's life forms would have been destroyed by its coming.

5) A second Earth pops up into existence close to Earth. Since we have debunked the possibility that the second Earth will suddenly appear to us without noticing its primrose path, or the likelihood of it to halt on Earth's orbit having the median mass in the Solar System, let's take into account the astrophysical probability of a multiverse. A universe close to our universe but remained intangible because of a dimensional parallelism. Now, for the second Earth to pop up near our Earth in an instant, the civilization of that second Earth should be far more advanced than our very own. They should have mastered the aspect of harnessing the powers of the cosmos by blasting a gaping hole to our dimension for them to pass through and appear on our Earth at an instant. A civilization this advance would have known and poked around our String Theory, which is so far one of the most difficult but grandest scientific exploration of our time. Ergo, the people of the second Earth would never be like our very own, they would be highly evolved beings.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Alba Restaurante Español

Aside from our affinity to festivities, with all sorts of mardi gras in most of our islands, and our ardor for performance arts, the hispanic influences of Salsa, Rhumba, Pachanga, Paso Doble, and some Latin artists like Jose Feliciano, Selena, Julio Iglesias, and Shakira, and the 90's wave of Latinovela, there are more to these Spanish colonial detente to our cultural roots.

That influence permeate through our culinary sphere. Our very own Adobo is in fact a Spanish marinade for meat.

Lately I took my lunch at Alba Restaurante Espanol, located at QC premiere restaurant straight,Timog. It has been a legacy restaurant by Don Anastacio de Alba(is he related to the late Panchito Alba?) and a haven for family milestones like graduations, weddings and christenings.

It was nominated as Best Spanish Restaurant during 2008's Manila's Best Kept Restaurant Secrets, but had lost to Terry's Selection. Nonetheless, I like the Alba for its traditional Spanish way of doing things, with a background music that had me singing Besame Mucho, Quando Caliente El Sol, and Regresa A Mi.

Callos a la Madrilena.

Lengua Sevillana.

Pescado Polaris.

Chuletas de Pollo.

Berenjas al Horno. This is cheesy delicious.

Tortilla con Budin.

Croquetas de Pollo.

Chorizos de Alba.

Pescado Al Pil Pil.

Linguini al Pesto. It's essentially a soury Italian pasta mixed with hot Spanish sauce.

Alba Rolls or French Bread. It comes with different dips to choose from, Garlic Mushroom Pate, Quezorizo Pate and Sardines Pate.

Ensalada de Catalunia.

Calamares Escabeche. I still like the Cebuano home-grown escabeche.

Tabla de Embutidos.

Cerdo Frito.

Lechon de Leche. Sounds really familiar, tastes delicious but a word of caution though: Warning: A profuse amount will make you use your health card. :)

Ensalada de Fruitas.

Chocolate Praline Cake.

Canonigo. it's just a Spanish version of the French's Ile Flottante or Oeufs a la Neige.

Mango Jello. Kids love it. Or the kid in me.

Separate from buffet price, I paid Php95 for the Fresh Calamansi Drink.

Roast Suckling Pig. I want it dipped with vinegar and soy sauce but they only have the Mang Tomas-like sarsa.

Callos a la Madrilena and the Berenjenas Al Horno combo.

Fresh greens with Chorizos De Alba on top.

I got the cherry on top of the Mango Jello.

Ensalada de Fruitas and some fresh fruits.

And last of the Mohicans, my Chocolate Pralie Cake with Mangos from the Mango Jello.

The place is a little bit cramped, especially during peak hours, and you have to sidestep when going to the men's/ladies room. And because I despise crowded places, I immediately ejected myself and headed to Tagaytay for a week end cold and breezy sojourn.

The Php450 price point(original price is Php715) doesn't include drinks. But don't worry, their drink selection doesn't cost an-arm-and-a-leg.

Cyma Greek Taverna

My Spartan fondness to Greece was my mathematical credulity the moment I understood theorems by Euclid, Pythagora and Archimedes during highschool, and lately Aristarchus when I studied astronomy and became an astronomical society's officer during college.

Perhaps, it wouldn't end there. Having travelled far and wide to the splendor that was Santorini(errr…. Santorini of the south), my irrepressible eros grew to a larger scale, and with the addition of Cyma Greek Taverna, it has become stronger.

My second Tales of the Tongue adventure with MobilityReel and Trent took us to the Mediterranean marvel that is Cyma, a brainchild of one of the country's famous restauranteur, Chef Rob Goco.

Cyma Greek Taverna, a 2010 winner of Best Specialty Cuisine in Manila's Best Kept Restaurant Secrets, already spawned several branches nationwide including the ones at Shangrila Mall, Greenbelt 2, Trinoma, and Eastwood. I was told by some of my foodie circles that they already have branches in Boracay and Cebu too.

This time we were joined by our boss, Melanie Jane who, just like us, also has an incessant fondness for good food. It isn't surprising since her family has been in the food industry for quite sometime.

Let's see what we have on our table:

Pikilia(Php480 + 10% SC), a sampler combination of 5 dips, Tzatziki(cucumber garlic and Greek yogurt dip), Melitzanosalata(freshly roasted eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, fresh lemon and evo), Hummous(velvety chickpea, tahini, and garlic dip), Htipiti(creamed feta cheese, hint of roasted spicy peppers and evoo), and Taramosalata(Greek version of caviar- salted fish roe rip).

It's a Pita-overload night. The bread we are all very familiar of. I was supposed to order a rice but the beautiful lady thankfully restrained me by saying that we still have these breads, and true enough they were enough.

Pastisado(Php530 + 10% SC), beef shank braised in Greek tomato sauce, served on top of spaghetti. It's a different spaghetti by the way, it is hollow at the center. For the commoners, it's like a straw. For astrophysicists, it's like an Einstein-Rosen bridge. :)

The phrase on the menu that says "To Share" will have to be taken seriously.

Yiouvetsi(Php450 + 10% SC), Baked lamb with "Orzo", a rice shaped pasta served with grated parmesan, parsley, and evoo).

Again, never underestimate the "To Share" phrase here.

On to our Souvlaki, a Greek Shish-Kabobs, meaning it's a Greek kebab version.

Trent doesn't like the lamb despite our collective penchant over it, so he ordered chicken instead. Chicken Souvlaki(Php340 + 10% SC) is skewered with fresh vegetables.

Lamb Souvlaki(Php450 + 10% SC) is also skewered with fresh veggies and is grilled over seasoned hardwood fire.

All the Souvlaki were done the traditional way of doing it.

The Cyma Greek Taverna is truly a testament of Rob Goco's culinary expertise, as some of his restaurants are, like Charlie and the Burger Factory and Go Greek.

This time, my anchorage for Greece doesn't simply lean towards the quest for Atlantis(I'm kidding), but of the avid search for trans-atlantean food of blending flavors, ensuring a burst of deliciousness for every bite.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

National Astronomy Week 2012: "Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Fate of the Universe"

As what I have posted here, I was slated to make a talk during the last leg of the National Astronomy Week 2012 held at the Astronomy and Applied Physics Department of the Rizal Technological Institute.

While NAW 2012 marks a very felicitous event for the astronomers and astrophysicist alike where this year's theme posits on the very cogent and conspicuous questions about 2012 being the last hurrah of the human race, for me it was simply a reconnection to my roots. Academic in particular.

My professor in Quantum Mechanics, Prof. Christopher Go, also came to make a talk about Deep Space and Planetary Imaging. Go has been acclaimed as a Michael Jackson of astronomy because of his contribution in astronomy including discovery of the Jupiter's souther hemisphere spot called Oval BA turning into red, thus coining it with Red Spot Jr. He is also an integral part of the Hubble Heritage Team to image the Quad Transit in Saturn by using Hubble Space Telescope. With all his numerous contribution in the science of astronomy, he was a recipient of the Presidential Order for Lakandula.

In the picture were: Christopher Louie Lu, NAW Chairperson, Dr. Jett Aguilar, Vice President of ALP, a representative of Cutting Edge, Philippine official distributor of Celestron astronomical scopes and accessories, Christopher Go, and James Kevin Ty, President of ALP.

My talk is entitled "Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Fate of the Universe." And here is a short summary of it:

The matter composition of our universe is not just us, it's not just an ordinary matter we all see around. It's the Dark Matter that acts like ghost particle because it hardly interacts with ordinary matter except gravity. It's relevance to our existence is being the scaffolding in space where stars and galaxies clumps together in its virtual filaments like spiderwebs. Had it not been because of Dark Matter, we would have had flung apart into the vastness of space due to our Solar System's extremely speedy orbital motion around our galaxy.

And that there's 23% of Dark Matter, we(baryonic matters made of atoms) are only about 4.6%. The rest is already Dark Energy, the repulsive force that stretches the fabric of space exponentially apart for every unit of time. Eons of time, far greater than the geological time scale, astrophysicist already calculated the abysmal fate of the universe. And there are cosmological models and mathematical postulations to support that, apart from the direct evidence gathered by probes, telescopes and detectors.

Before there were theories suggesting that the metric expansion of the universe will suddenly reverse and recollapse into what is known as a Black Hole singularity. Others say that the finite scale factor of time will become infinite that even strands of our atomic structures will be ripped apart because of this speeding expansion. But the most commonly accepted theory is that the universe will just die in ice because of the exponential expansion in the fabric of space and time, tearing our affinity with the thermal energy that gives us life.

Of course, our event ended up with free stargazing activities for the public to have a first hand experience in seeing these wonders of the cosmos. I wasn't able to join the gang because I have a dinner reservation at a hotel.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

KOMRAD - Mao's Hunan and Sichuan Kitchen

This is my first entry of the Tales of the Tongue series, a gastronomic escapade citation conceptualized by one of my colleagues at work, Trent (perhaps he should apply a patent for it), who despite of some of his voracious fluctuation, never grow a waist inch.

Just like what this post is all about, Komrad is also a citation restaurant for Chairman Mao Zedong, China's communist founding pillar, hence the name Komrad(Mao's Hunan and Sichuan Kitchen). But what does Trent and Mao possess in common. Nothing. Mao is from the northern part of China, Trent is from the southern part of Luzon. Mao's genetic composition is to rule, Trent's DNA is to spend. Mao is known for his rural practicality, Trent's signature demeanor leans towards urban extravagance. Mao speeds up mainland China's road to progress, Trent accelerates at a main thoroughfare's road to his vicissitude.

Enough of Mao-Trent Apple-to-Apple(err Durian) comparison. I took a picture of the group I was with, that's MobilityReel and Trent.

Komrad Garlic Siomai(Php185 + 10% SC). Ordinary Siomai Hunan style. And when I say Hunan, I simply meant drowning it with spices.

Pinapple Fried Rice(Php198 + 10% SC). I was wishing they'd place it in a real pineapple fruit the way it is served in the provinces of China. Take a look at my Lugang Cafe post to see how it is done.

Komrad Fried Rice(Php198 + 10% SC). I actually couldn't find much discernible difference with the Pinapple Fried Rice.

Beef in Spicy Pot(Php285 + 10% SC). Dried chili swimming in the vast ocean of Sichuan spices. I super like this.

Pork Belly Stew with Garlic(Php288 + 10%SC). Nothing is what it seems, and just as any covert operation where everything's covered up, the pork here is covering a mount of preserved veggies.

While the interior design elements were spectacular despite a smaller space, Chairman Mao's picture at the center, and some photos depicting his communist reign slapped into the wall, one would notice that this is not an authentic Chinese restaurant. No calligraphy, no huge round tables, and no large aquariums with "fortune-flapping" fishes.

Oh well, all of the celebrity-turned-chef Marvin Agustin's other restaurants were a dazzling display of interior tapestry, just like John&Yoko and Marciano, which is actually good as a chill out place. Komrad also offers a bucket of Tsing Tao beer for only Php695.

This is a concerted brainchild with Raymund Magdaluyo Red Crab restaurant group, the same restauranteur who brought to you Red Crab and Seafood Club, Heaven & Eggs, Paloma, Clawdaddy Crabhouse, American Grill, Hula Hula, Blackbeard's Seafood Island, Sumo Sam, Mr. Kurosawa, Red Crab Cafe, Texas Smoke Em, Flying Pig, Blu Fish Coastal Cooking, etc.

Located at a Veranda wing of Eastwood Mall, Komrad is a fearless venture as most dishes served in the Philippines sprung from the south of China, the widely accepted Cantonese entrees which had been an integral part of our culinary fusion, such as Sio Mai, Roast Duck and Braised Pork, etc.

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