Monday, November 15, 2010

My Authentic Ilocano Pinakbet


I was born with an Ilocana mother who hails from Northern part of Ilocos called Dingras and that's the reason why it enables me to cook most of the dishes from this region. Although I often hype my flagship claim to be a true blooded Kapangpangan (from Pampanga province) than its feud province Ilocos. The reason behind it is simply because Pampanga is the culinary capital of the Philippines and I am proud that it's where my father come from. Everyone believes that people who hail from that province are mostly natural cooks. I can attest to that because most of my aunts are really good especially my GrandMother from the father side where I learned my basic of cooking skills.


But Ilocano cuisine is something that I also grew up with and my GrandMother from my mother side cooks the perfect Pinakbet! I remember I was only five years old when I first and last came to Dingras. Even though I was a little child during that time I had a vivid memory about the things I saw and experienced. I saw the backyard of my GrandMa filled with all the planted vegetables that are mainly the key ingredients to cook a Pinakbet. I am just happy to do this dish based on what are the available ingredients here in Vietnam.

hugs,
joanie xxx

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Back from UK & Europe Trip

(Around London during Sandeman Tour)

Hey LOVE! (How English people do it like when Aussies say mate!)

I am back in Saigon and back to blogging at long last. It's been two months that I was away. September was the busiest month of my life-- I struggled and fought so much about my trip so my boss will allow me for an almost month-long vacation to UK and Europe. Pretty much I succeeded in fighting for my ultimate goal to fly by October.

October first came and I departed Ho Chi Minh City and landed at Heathrow International Airport on October 2. Above is the first photo I took from the most expensive city in the world--LONDON! I stayed there for a few days and fulfilled all my fantastic experiences about my Jamie Oliver journey. I had tours in his offices, stock room, studio and private test kitchen. What amazed me the most was the moment I met my one big LOVE... JAMIE, live flesh and blood! More of the detailed story when I finish writing my journey meeting the man and it will be published at his website in the news segment. Thanks to Danny Mc Cubbin his editor for requesting me to narrate my one-of-kind story. Later on I flew to Liverpool for the BEATLES tour where I met Michael Mc Cartney. Then later on I had my special dinner at Jamie's Italian restaurant in Paradise Street, Liverpool. That's pretty much about England for now.

After the Big Ben and Strawberry Fields, I headed to Brussels and enjoyed the Pissing Boy, waffles, beers, fries and chocolates. The next day I also went on a short trip to Bruges with my former colleague and my Belgian friend. Bruges is a UNESCO world heritage that is surrounded by some nice canals that are cleaner than Venice and more quaint. Belgium is quite fast for 3 days or less. But I was I was excited to go to Paris after Belgium. Paris is an expensive city as well as London but I did enjoy it most of the time by eating all the food I love while gazing at the amazing sights the city has to offer. One of them is the location of my hostel in Caulin Court somewhere in Montemarte where the Moulin Rouge can be found. Around that area you can also find the location of Amelie the movie and the magnificent view of the city from La Basilique du Sacre Coeur. The metro was the only thorn in my itinerary at Paris because they had strikes most of the time so I failed to go to Versailles and decided to go to LOUVRE instead. It's all worth it though. Paris is Paris and I love it!

Now I have to be more excited heading to Barcelona! This is my favorite city in the world where we can find the Sagrada Familia church designed by Gaudi. I was lucky to have my BNB just beside this incredible architectural landmark. My city exploration started when I went to an old castle called Castel de Montjuic and then I visited Fundacion Miro the museum where all the paintings of my favorite painter Joan Miro were archived. I also had an outskirt trip to Montserrat where I met an amazing man who happened to be an English-Scottish but born and raised in Montreal, Canada. I spent the whole day with this person in Montserrat 'til we went back to Barcelona for dinner. We also had an amazing conversation at my BNB that night that I would say we never ran out of story despite talking to each other the whole day. Too bad I have to leave early for my Milan flight the next day. We could've spent more time together. But now I can say I have gained an interesting friend in him.

My last leg was Italy and it's quite tiring because I went to bunch of cities namely: Milan, Venice, Pisa, Florence and Rome. They are all old and quaint but has its own beauty and charm for you to distinguish one from the other. Although Rome is different because it's quite big and busy city compared to the rest. But the city that I really liked the most is Florence or Firenze in Italian. I'd probably go back next year for several reasons. I found a good university for me to pursue my culinary dream. Florence is also the most romantic and cinematic city that I have ever been. Everything I saw and experienced there were just like scenes from the movie. I met one amazing Italian whom I will consider the person who touched my life and made me realized the possibilities of life. I learned to let go of the residues of my past which I have been holding on for two years. I am glad those stuffs are no longer in my baggage. What a relief. Only one incident can change the landscape of a person's life. That's one good thing about travelling by yourself, you will learn a lot and see the world in a brand new perspective. I am telling myself now that the world is really huge!

I am having a hard time now choosing from the 5,000++ photos I took, so for now I just chose the first and last photos I took from my trip. It's also very hard to summarize everything that happened to me during the 24 days I was away. I was brave enough to conquer the other side of the planet all by myself. Learning to navigate myself from top to bottom is one big achievement for me. I am so proud and happy about the trip I had and definitely I will be back in Europe and UK soon.

During the trip, my eyes were bloated by the beautiful sceneries by each city but what amazed me more are the people I met along the way which filled my heart with overflowing joy. I can't remember all of them because they are quite a lot and I am thankful because each of them helped me in one way or another. And to those people I remember for sure they touched my life in the most special way. They are amazing people. I think in my post per city I would be able to mention each of them. But the biggest achievement I had during this trip is meeting JAMIE OLIVER! that up to these days I cannot fathom that it really happened. Shall I say mission accomplished? Indeed! Now I have new set of dreams about Jamie and there's no greater joy to replace that moment I met him.


(At Rome Termini going to Fiumicino Airport)

To all my readers I am happy to share this to all of you. And to those who don't like reading my blog and the details I share, you are not obliged to do so. Life is short and lets just embrace the things that we like and happy about.

hugs,
joanie xxx