A Warm Lunch

I have been back to work this week after a brief break when I went to California to visit my aunt.

(photo taken when we drove to the airport to fly back home)

I have been seeing patients all day in the hospital for the past few days and it has been hectic. We have already seen the first case of the flu admitted in our hospital this season and we are bracing for a more brutal time ahead as the wintry air have started to blow.

I don’t like to bash hospital food, but if I have a chance to eat somewhere else besides the hospital cafeteria, I would do so. I wish there is something like the Manila Sunset Grille (see previous post) in the hospital grounds for that would be bliss.

But I have a busy schedule, and going out of the hospital to get lunch is much of a hassle plus I don’t have much time to spare. So regularly I just go to the hospital cafeteria to grab something to eat just to avoid hypoglycemia. I don’t care if it tastes like cardboard as long as the food is edible. Usually I would inhale my food and then continue my hospital rounds.

Yesterday I was in the hospital cafeteria to get lunch. It was still not that bad as I still had time for lunch for there were rare times that I don’t. The lines were long when I went there. As I head down to the cashier, I was getting impatient as the line was not moving as fast as I wanted. In front of me was an old frail lady who moves gingerly slow. She was taking a longer time as she dug deeply into her purse. It was like watching the character of the sloth who moves in slow-motion in the Disney movie Zootopia.

After the old lady handed her money to the cashier which felt like an eternity to me, she took a look at me. I was wearing my white doctor’s lab coat with my to-go box on one hand and a bottle of water on the other. Then the old lady softly told the cashier that she wanted to pay for my food, as she appreciates people who works in the hospital.

I felt like ice-cold water was poured on the fiery coals on my head. I was having unpleasant mood and yet this lady showed me goodness. Shame on me!

Since I knew the cashier as I am a regular in the cafeteria, I told her not to let the lady pay for my meal. I thanked the lady though but politely declined her offer. I told her that I should be the one paying for her meal, and that I really appreciate her gesture.

Yes, there is still goodness in this world. This old lady made me believe again in human kindness.

I still quickly gulped down my food. But I leisurely savor the warm affection I was served.

A Taste of Home

There are certain things that can evoke strong feelings of homesickness for Filipino expatriates like me. For some it may be witnessing the Manila sunset at Manila Bay. For others it could be the traditional Filipino foods. Maybe for some it is the “fragrant” smell of the kanal and estero (kanya-kanyang trip lang yan).

Last week, I ate some traditional Fililipino food and saw Manila sunset. Manila Sunset Grille, that is!

Manila Sunset Grille is a Filipino restaurant chain with branches mostly in California. I wish they would expand here to the Midwest. Maybe in Iowa?

I flew to California and spent a week there to assist my aunt who underwent cataract surgery. She did not really needed much assistance, except that she was unable to drive for a few days. Driving her around was not a big deal, except that her car is a stick shift sports sedan and I have not driven a stick shift for more than 20 years. But I managed.

It did not stop me either when she suggested that we go and eat at the Manila Sunset Grille even though it was quite a drive through heavy traffic and busy freeways. Stick shift and all, I was determined to go.

Below is what I ordered:

I know, lumpiang sariwa, bibingka and halo-halo may not necessarily go together, but that’s what I have not tasted for a while.

And while I was savoring these food, Jose Mari Chan’s songs were playing over head which adds more to the nostalgic feel. One particular song that stroke a chord was “Christmas in Our Hearts.”

Perhaps it was more than the traditional home food and the Manila sunset that I was really missing. And it’s definitely not the kanal and estero.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

A Day in New York

New York City has such a pull on my heart. You probably know it already that we lived there for a few years, long time ago. It was there where I received my training for my career, a medical specialty that I am now practicing for the past 20 years.

As the song New York, New York goes:


If I make it there,

I’ll make it everywhere,

It’s up to you,

New York, New York.

Anytime is a good time to visit New York City. But the holiday season is even more noteworthy. Especially on New Year’s when it becomes the center of the world’s celebration.

My family spent the last few days of the year 2018 in New York City. Here are just some of the places we visited:

We passed by some swanky restaurants, but we did not dine there.

Instead we were taken by our friend to a quaint eatery that was more quiet and subdued.

The ambience in this place was homey, relaxed, yet festive. The food was excellent. This is not a paid post, but if the management of this restaurant wants to give me a free meal next time, I heartily would accept it.

Then we went to Midtown Manhattan. Of course we used the iconic New York subway to get there.

Our kids together with some friends’ kids went ice skating.

There are several ice skating rinks in New York City. Perhaps the most famous is the one in Rockefeller area, but that is too small. Then there’s also one in Central Park.

We went to Bryant Park. This is near the New York Public Library. The ice skating rink is surrounded by New York’s skyscprapers. You could even catch a glimpse of the Empire State building from there.

The skating rink was very crowded though. There was a long line of people waiting and it took more than two hours to get in. But our children did not mind, as they chatted away with their friends while waiting in line.

I did not join them and was just satisfied watching the skaters go. Though there were some skaters that fell on the ice, but who cares, at least they were enjoying themselves.

I probably would be included in those falling a lot on the ice if I skated. I tried ice skating before, at least twice, and I would say that I could glide over the ice. Whether I was standing, or I was on my or knees or worse on my butt, but at least I could glide.

Besides watching people skate, the best part for me was watching this big machine sail through the ice.

This is the Zamboni machine, named after it’s American inventor and engineer. This machine smooths the surface of the ice.

I also spent time talking with our friends, catching up with them, while our children skated. Including an old friend, a classmate back in elementary and high school days. He now lives in Massachusetts.

We were in this place for several hours and my fingers and toes got numb from the cold. I had to walk around to keep warm and many times went inside the market stalls surrounding the place where there were heaters.

It was already dark when we call it a day.

We went back to our hotel which was located across the Hudson River, so technically it was in New Jersey. But you cannot beat the view from there – a view of the New York City skyline.

From New York, I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New year!

Pinoytransplant

(*photos taken on the eve of New Year’s Eve)

Eating Out

It is officially summertime in our area. Summer solstice was June 21, so our days are long and hot. Time for picnics and grilling outside.

A couple of days ago, I came home early and my wife asked me to accompany her to the grocery store. She said she’s going to prepare a special dinner and needed to buy some items.  She saw in the internet this “summer dish” and wanted to try it.

After we got home and after some time and much loving effort, our dinner was ready. The new dish my wife prepared is called the Italian grilled vegetable salad. I am not a food blogger, so I’m not enumerating the ingredients needed to make this dish nor would I pretend that I know how to prepare it. Though I think some of you can figure it out just by looking at the photo below.

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I know it’s a deviation from our usual Filipino food we have at home. Where’s the pancit? Where’s the adobo?

It rained heavily early that afternoon so it cooled down a bit. The temperature outside was very comfortable and did not feel like an oven. We checked the forecast too and there should be no more rain the rest of the day.

So to make it a perfect summer dinner we decided that we should eat out too. No, not eat out in a restaurant. I mean eat out, outdoor in our deck.

The earlier downpour plus the strong winds also drove the insects away. Many times there are lots of flies around that you can’t eat out without having a fly swatter in hand. Besides, the rain already washed our outdoor table and chairs clean.

Eating outdoor is popular during summer time. Even fancy restaurants here have patio outside where you can dine. However, I still feel uneasy sometimes when the tables outside the restaurant is near a street where people passing by can see your every bite or can even grab your food. Maybe it’s just me.

After elaborate preparation – setting our table and taking all the food out, we were ready to eat. Of course we took a photo first before we chomp down the food (photo below).

IMG_6707.jpgNote how presentable and artful our table was. It was Instagram worthy. For you readers, I want to let you know that we usually don’t dine like this. Most of the time we scoop our food to our plate directly from the pots and pans. And knife and table napkins, who need those? Please also note the tomatoes, not on the table but on the planter near the table. They are not ripe yet though.

After saying grace and after we literally took our first bite, the rain started falling. Yes, rain! Darn! Can’t trust those weather forecasters.

We hurried back and carried all the food inside. We ended up eating inside our home just like we do everyday. Our “perfect” outdoor dinner was ruined by the rain. Though it would take more than rain to ruin our evening or break our spirits. We remain thankful, after all, it was still a very satisfying dinner.

At least we can claim we ate outside. Even for one bite.

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(*photos taken with an iPhone)

Pinoy Transplant Visits the CIA

Yes, you read the title right. Take note of the “CIA” sign at the door, on the photo below.

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But it is not Central Intelligence of America. It is rather the Culinary Institute of America.

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CIA is a premier culinary school, and boast to be the best in the world. An institution specializing in culinary, baking and pastry arts. It’s main campus is located in Hyde Park in New York, which is the one we visited.

The school campus is nestled in a beautiful location near the Hudson River, with surrounding views that is conducive for learning and artistic inspiration.

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Touring the CIA campus is a gratifying experience in itself as you see the beautiful and clean premises and also take a glimpse of the students honing their crafts.

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Just watch out for crossing chefs.

But dining and tasting their food creation is another whole experience of its own. And that’s what we did.

The CIA New York Campus operates four public restaurants. If you don’t mind to be a “guinea pig” of these budding chefs, because in a sense their creation is part of their training and test, and your satisfaction could be a part of their grade. But I’m pretty sure these students are under the watchful eye of certified master chefs.

We dined at Bocuse Restaurant, which serves traditional French Restaurant. If there’s a restaurant there that serves traditional Filipino food, that’s where I’ll go, but there’s none.

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I was not disappointed. From the ambience, the service, the presentation and the food were all excellent. The food I ate there, is one of the best food I ever tasted. I have been to fancy restaurants before, but the appetizer, entrée and desert I had in CIA was a league of its own. An absolute gastronomic delight!

Whoever prepared my food, he or she definitely passed with flying colors, in my humble opinion.

By the way, their wine list is exhaustive as well. But since I dont’ drink wine or any alcoholic drink for that matter, for personal and health reasons, so I did not have any.

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One unique policy they have in their restaurants is that they don’t accept monetary tips from customers, as part of their student’s education is to provide outstanding service even without tips. To this I tip my hat.

From the CIA campus,

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Pinoy Transplant

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(*I did not receive any commission for the above post. However if CIA would like to give me a free dinner next time I visit, I will definitely accept it.)

(**Photos taken with an iPhone)

Farm Dining

Since we moved in Iowa several years ago, we have dined in different restaurants here in metro Des Moines area. From formal to casual, from fancy to rustic, from pricey to low-cost, and from long-sit-down meal to on-the-run fast food. This also encompassed several international cuisines, like American, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Italian, French, Vietnamese, Laotian, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian, Indian, Greek, Ecuadorian, and Lebanese.

We also enjoy Filipino cuisine here, but it is not in a restaurant. It is my wife’s home cooking.

But when you’re in Iowa, I believe there’s a restaurant that embodies this state’s culture. The restaurant is the Iowa Machine Shed.

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The ambience is farm-themed, and the dining experience is relaxed, warm and family oriented. The establishment prides itself as a restaurant that honors the American farmer.

Outside the restaurant are some old farming equipments that adds to its distinctive appeal.

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my son on the tractor

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old gasoline pump

They even have a complimentary tractor ride that takes you around the neighborhood of the restaurant, and let you catch a glimpse of the “Living History Farm*” next door, that the restaurant supports.

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tractor ride

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Since the state of Iowa is the number one producer of pork and corn in the US, and probably the whole world, so it is not surprising these are what greets you at the door.

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Inside the place, they have a small store that you can browse through while you wait to be seated.

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The dining area, the tables and chairs, gives you a feel of a farmer’s kitchen or even a barn.

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The waiters and waitresses are in their denim overalls, that I wonder if they are dressed to harvest the corn and milk the cow, as well as to serve us our food.

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Even the silverware and glassware are uniquely farm-like: sturdy and rustic. Here’s what my son did to the glass, knives and the water pitcher. Good balancing act!

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I know that the most important part of the restaurant is the menu and the food it offers. Of course this restaurant serves lots of bacon and pork chops. But I assure you, they offer more than pork chops and corn on the cob.

I don’t have any photos of the food they serve on this post, for I intentionally left them out for you to come and visit, and personally see and try them for yourselves.

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Lastly, when you dine here, appreciate all the farmers and all the people and their efforts that brought food to your table. And besides there is a sign near the counter that says, “complaining to the cook will be hazardous to your health.”

From Iowa,

Pinoytransplant.

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(*Living History Farm is an outdoor museum in Iowa that tells the story of how Iowans transformed the fertile prairies of the Midwest into the most productive farmland in the world.)

(**This is not a paid post. But on second thought, maybe they should give me a free meal on our next visit. Just wishful thinking.)