a place in the world

Date archives February 2012

Food / Philippines

Lolo Dad’s

Lolo Dad’s has always been on my ‘someday’ list, until the opportunity presented itself by way of a Deal Grocer offer. The deal wasn’t really a steal to begin with, 38% off for a thousand pesos worth of food– and this strictly applies to one diner; meaning you can’t use two vouchers for one person. While a thousand pesos (US$ 23) barely covers the cost of an entrée, I’m still glad to have finally tried this restaurant, it is one of the best in the country after all, and it definitely did not disappoint.

I was looking forward to trying the menu dégustation to sample the specials of the season, however, they didn’t offer a tasting menu that evening.

Freshly-baked dinner rolls with herbed butter, served hot and are very tasty
Lolo Dad's

Ahi tuna loin and marinated salmon, grilled watermelon with soy vinaigrette and aioli (P264, modest portion)
Lolo Dad's ahi tuna
There was a certain flavor in the salmon that was quite off-putting, and the vinaigrette in the salad is too sharp for my taste. Loved the ahi tuna and the grilled watermelon, with the brown sauce that quite tasted like rendered beef fat. I actually finished those components last, as what I usually do– I eat the best ones last. 😛

Not my dish, but had a taste. The crab salad and the soft-shell crab were very good– but the flavors aren’t out of the ordinary. Soft-shell crab fritter on Gribiche sauce with Dungeness crab, mango, and cucumber (P378, modest portion)Lolo dad's soft shell crab

refreshing lemon sorbet in a clay pot served on a bed of dry ice
Lolo Dad's sorbet

Herbs de Provence crusted rack of lamb, 3-cheese risotto (Roquefort, Gruyere, Parmesan), forty melted garlic and tomato confit (P1,525, regular portion)
Lolo Dad's rack of lamb

I usually don’t like lamb because of the aftertaste, but I’m glad I picked this dish. The lamb was PERFECTLY COOKED. I have learned by now that meat shouldn’t be ordered well-done, and chefs would usually scoff at those who ask for their food to be cooked this way. This was a medium– with no traces of blood, juicy and tender (except at the bone). The herbs de Provence was subtle and not overpowering. The 3-cheese risotto is to die for. The roquefort, I reckon, is the tastiest and added the most depth to the dish.

another angle, with the forty-melted garlic
Lolo Dad's rack of lamb

pan-fried fillet of seabass with blue crab potatoes and smoked salmon filled mushrooms in oyster cream sauce (P1,320, regular portion)
Lolo Dad's Chilean seabass
Now I know why seabass is very pricey. Aside from not being locally available, it literally melts in your mouth when you cook it perfectly. I didn’t believe it until I tried. The flavors are fairly simple– fried fish seasoned with rock salt; and still it was very good. The creamy potatoes are generously drizzled with truffle oil.

dark chocolate and almond layered cake with quenelle of white chocolate mousseline and vanilla almond ice cream (P290, regular portion)
Lolo Dad's dessert
Truth be told, I love savory stuff more than sweets. My favorite part is the mousseline and the fresh berries.

Lucky to have ordered the bestseller entrées, without even having to ask for recommendations from the waitstaff. That being said, I wish I have ordered different starters instead. The dessert isn’t that great, but it’s not bad either.

Service is attentive and unintimidating. I dislike pushy waiters telling you to order more than you should, e.g. wine. The staff at Lolo Dad’s are nothing like that, and I’m glad they aren’t the snotty types either. The place is great for cosy, intimate dinners, and I would be glad to go back again to celebrate special occasions.

More of my Philippines someday list:
The Goose Station
Antonio’s Garden Tagaytay

Lolo Dad’s Cafe
http://www.lolodadscafe.com
899 Pres. Qurino Ave. cor. Leon Guinto St.,
Malate, Manila
Phone: (632)5242295
Mondays: 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Tuesdays to Saturdays: 11:00am – 2:00pm; 6:30pm to 10:30pm
Sundays Closed

France / Writing

Walking along Rue Cler

After slight museum fatigue caused by the overwhelming number of art pieces at Musee d’Orsay, we head to Rue Cler for a little walk and to grab late lunch. It was very cold out and as mentioned, we were not dressed appropriately; our mistake for not checking the weather before leaving the flat. Not much pictures because the cold has spoiled my mood a bit.

Stopping for coffee, somewhere near Musee d’Orsay
Rue Cler sandwich shop
Rue Cler croque monsieur
Solferino Metro station
Paris's Solferino Metro station

Rue Cler is a small market street and Rick Steves cannot recommended it enough. There were about a handful grocers, a flower stand, patisseries, a butcher shop, a discount store. The place was almost empty, there were no shoppers around, perhaps because it was already half past one. The scene was a bit disappointing, it was not the lively Parisian market street I pictured in my head. I suppose we were better off coming early in the morning, or head instead to Rue Montorgueil.

boucherie
Rue Cler boucherie

Cherries and blackberries at Rue Cler and fleurs!
Rue Cler cherries

Rue Cler blackberries
Rue Cler fleurs

We had late lunch at Cafe du Marche and it was fantastic.

France

Musée d’Orsay, one of the best museum collections in the world

Admittedly, I do not know much about art. As a child I remember poring over a children’s art history book, and I distinctly remember reading about some artists and their works; Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the ballerina sculpture by Degas, the picnic scene by Mary Cassatt. Many years later, I find myself in Musee D’Orsay, where a lot of the works from my children’s book were housed. 🙂 This museum, I daresay, has such a very high concentration of popular and important works of art in a relatively small space. I say “relatively small,” because compared to the massive Louvre, it is small at 170+ meters, and you can see all exhibits in about 2-3 hours. Most displays in the Musee D’Orsay holds mostly French art from 1848 – 1914. Built in 1900, the building used to be a train station– the Gare D’Orsay.

Sculptures outside Musée d’Orsay
Sculptures outside Musee d'Orsay
Sculptures outside Musee d'Orsay

The “normal” queue to the museum. We were in a faster-moving one as we had very convenient Paris Museum Passes.
queue at Musee d'Orsay

Photos weren’t allowed inside, and I didn’t dare break the rule, because of some irrational fear of sounding off an alarm or something like that. I’ve been to museums (in Vienna) where alarms would go off when you come too close to the display. In the future, I should bring a small, unobtrusive point and shoot for times like these.
Museum interiors: photo from Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, a part of the museum was under renovation during our visit, the clock (horloge) included. I was so set on sneaking some shots from the clock, only to find out it was all boarded up.

Some favorite & memorable pieces: La Source (Ingres), Whistler’s Mother (Whistler), Petite danseuse de quatorze ans (Degas), Self-portrait (Van Gogh), The Artist with the Yellow Christ (Gauguin), Blue Water Lilies (Monet) , Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (Renoir), Starry Night (Van Gogh – but not the more popular one on my bucket list, which is in MoMA in New York), Olympia (Manet).

Really enjoyed looking through almost everything at Musee D’Orsay, even if we were very cold (didn’t dress appropriately for the day’s weather) and hungry. We head to Rue Cler to have late lunch at Café du Marche.

Musée d’Orsay
http://www.musee-orsay.fr
Open 9:30am – 6pm
closed on Mondays
Thursdays until 9:45pm

France / Writing

Pique-nique

After Giverny, we are back in Paris and didn’t have anything planned for the evening. Decided to people-watch and have a little picnic at Champs de Mars, the large open field stretching from the Eiffel Tower grounds all the way to École Militaire. It used to be the marching grounds of the officers from the famed military school.

Well, no wide shots from my camera, I was too lazy to change lenses. Regretting it now.
Champs de Mars
Eiffel Tower

The queue to go up the tower! No thanks.
You may actually reserve for slots online, and I tried to one week before the trip. Unfortunately even with a few days lead time most daytime and early evening slots were already filled, and we didn’t want to go late in the evening.
the line to the Eiffel Tower

Cheap sandwiches from the supermarket, and a Hoegaarden s’il vous plait.
Champs de Mars picnic
I ended up not liking most of the pictures, my hands are shaky and I failed to capture the blinking lights. This is Angela, we are heading home, walking to the École Militaire metro station.
Eiffel Tower at dusk

France / Writing

A glimpse into Claude Monet’s Giverny

I learned about Claude Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny from a blog and when I saw the photos, I knew we ought to go there. Giverny is 81 km. (50 miles) Northwest of Paris, bordering the Normandy and Île-de-France region. There are tour companies that offer day trips from Paris but we chose to take the train and go there on our own, at a much lesser cost.

To get here, one must take the train from Paris’s Gare St. Lazare train station to Vernon, a 45-minute journey. From Vernon, take the shuttle bus to Giverny, around 20 minutes. Trains depart from Paris every two hours, starting at 08:20, and there are 4-5 trips in a day except in the winter season. A second-class round trip train ticket costs 25,60€. There are corresponding shuttle services from Vernon to Giverny, and a round trip ticket costs 4€. You may want to get the timetable from the Gare St. Lazare information office to know about the daily schedules– they have a fixed train schedule from April through November, but these may change on public holidays.

We planned on taking the first trip to Giverny but we woke up late, so instead we decided to take the train the leaves a little after noon. Getting to town was fairly easy. It was leisurely 15-minute walk from the bus stop to Claude Monet’s house, and along the way there are plenty of little shops, ateliers, galleries, B&Bs, cafes.

Giverny

the town of Giverny

the town of Giverny

Claude Monet, the great Impressionist painter, moved to Giverny in his 40s, along with his wife and 8 children. He stayed here until his death, built a lovely family home with green shutters, planted a garden and dug a waterlily pond. He continued to paint until his death.
Claude Monet and the entrance to his maison

When Monet died in 1926, his son Michel inherited the property but abandoned it, leaving it in a decrepit state. It was only restored in the late 70s by Gerald van der Kemp, the same person who restored Versailles.

It was forbidden to take photos inside the maison but I sneaked in a few before getting scolded by a British old lady. Each room in the house was painted a different color, exactly as they were when Monet and his family lived here. I particularly liked the kitchen painted in sunny yellow, the rustic long table and gingham drapes.. so shabby chic. There are plenty of prized 18th-19th century Japanese prints all over the walls of the house, and I particularly recognize the Waves by Hokusai.

The crowds and large tour groups can be a bother and might keep you from taking good pictures, so we usually took our sweet time and waited for them to leave. I heard somewhere that the Japanese are big on Monet for some reason, and that explain most of the visitors are from Japan.

Le Clos Normand- the 1-hectare walled garden with trellises of ivies, roses, lilies, irises, and other floral species I cannot identify.
Claude Monet's gardens

“It’s maybe because of flowers that I’ve become a painter.” -Claude Monet
purple flowers at Claude Monet's gardens
Maison Claude Monet
Claude Monet's rose garden

You could clearly see Monet’s interest in Oriental / Japanese aesthetics with the bamboo garden and the Japanese bridge.
bamboo garden at Maison Claude Monet
Claude Monet's Japanese water garden

Lucky to have been there when the nymphéas (waterlilies) are in bloom. (Not quite sure if they are perennial or not, :P) This scene also inspired a series of Monet’s famous paintings – “Nymphéas”
Claude Monet's nympheas

Scenes from Le Jardin d’Eau, the water garden.
Claude Monet's water garden
Giverny love
Japanese Water Garden
Japanese water garden

It’s almost closing time but in this side of the world, the sun is still up until 10pm. Artists arrive with their canvases as soon as the tourists leave.
painters

So very glad that we went out of our way and took a little day trip to this charming village, it was lovely to be able to walk through the gardens as if stepping into an Impressionist painting. What the gardens look like now still look eerily similar to Monet’s paintings from a century ago.

Claude Monet’s house and gardens
84 rue Claude Monet – Giverny
Open: April 1st – November 1st; 09:00 – 18:00
Fees: Adult 8€; Child 6€
fondation-monet.com