Eat Eastern Ho

It really is a sorry state of affairs if a hotel can't keep up appearances. Some hotels hide it so well you wouldn't know that they are close to filing Chapter 11. Other less fortunate operators have to go through the fiscal year with properties so dilapidated that customers have to think thrice before booking.

And then there are the ones who don't care. I have observed one such hotel in the last two months because my projects have brought me within striking vicinity. The Great Eastern Hotel along Makati Avenue used to be a very good mid-scale hotel. One of my favorite places to eat steak when I was a lot younger.

But it has run down lately, and it shone a shining beacon to show its mediocrity recently...

Now it was curious they let this happen. So, feeling like a good Samaritan at the time, I went to the hotel to let them know that their sign is sending the wrong message. It's been years since I entered the lobby, and I was surprised at how sleazy the place has turned out. Waiters playing cards in a vacant restaurant; dark corners made creepier by dirty marble floors. A lone receptionist told me coldly there are no supervisors or manage on duty. I showed her the picture. She just shrugged and said she will note it down.I left, thinking it's no loss to me.

Two weeks pass and that signage still held up, until it got repaired to show the full sign. Perhaps somebody else noticed. The absentee manager? Yet, two nights later it broadcast-ed a different message...

Now do they have a new product? A new incentive to patronize this hotel? I never bothered to go back. The receptionist was blase about the faux pas anyway. That sign stayed up for two and half weeks before it got fixed.

But a few days after that was hilarious...

The Manager obviously does not care. A month goes by and it still is blazing its red letters that way. I wonder how many got duped into thinking that there is that to eat?

Mediocrity. Along Makati Avenue. Eat. Eastern. Ho.

Have you seen equally disturbing hotel signage elsewhere?


Split bread in the hot springs

photo by Koyaya via TripWow
It was a light rain I woke up to this morning. Sky was dark and grey. The streets were still shaking off the night's downpour. Yes. Manila was on it's fourth day of swimming through the Monsoon. The news on the TV were not the kind of motivational cadre that one would set his to-do list to. And I was not going to let myself down that rabbit hole, because there mas much to accomplish this morning.
At half past eight this morning I got into the car with fellow Chef Tom by the Expressway turnoff. Settling into the climate controlled cockpit, we planned our agenda for that morning. After a quick stop at a local coffee shop along the expressway, I could see that Chef Tom was excited about the project. We were tasked to work on a local bakery that sold pan de sal, and the owners wanted to take it to the next level.
The rains were still pouring, but we managed to find the place after a few wrong turns and a bathroom detour, about an hour later. Into the mountains of Los Banos Laguna we went, parking just before the State University gate. The air was much cleaner here, and a light fog just settling over the hills.This is where people come to relax. This is the place were numerous hot springs dot the mountains. This is maybe where I would like to die someday.
The restaurant space was tiny, but it was specific for its purpose. Selling out-of-this-world bread.And the location was a great magnet for students from the University and residents from the surrounding area. And judging by the competition, Chef Tom found that they could have a niche. So much of a niche that they could milk it even more by yogurt ice cream. The owners were a young delightful couple, Carlo and Chel Vega. Having very little restaurant experience, we were there to help them out.
After hashing out a menu and measuring space and equipment dimensions, we said we would meet back in Manila to discuss blueprints and marketing. The meeting was a positive, and were more excited.
After parting ways, the rains came down heavily as we made our way back to the Metro. Floods were creeping up again.
Chef Tom dropped me off near my home, and by the time I opened the front door, the rain coat I was wearing was reduced to a wet rag. After a hot shower and a hot cop of instant coffee, I reviewed the days events and contemplated the pleasant consequences. As the the afternoon drew its veil, I took settled into the warm bed and fell blissfully into sleep. No use going to work. It was flooded everywhere in Manila. So being stuck was really not a bad idea. I will resume my professional life tomorrow. Bear with me.



On the third day of continuous pouring rain. And I am loving it. The cool breeze. The clean air. It really is invigorating when you take that first sip on that hot coffee and watch the droplets washing every grain of worry away.
Its the third day. And I actually enjoyed being stranded at home. Just not doing anything but be hypnotized by the sensory pitter patter of rain on the roof and the cool grey sky. Though the sun is blocked out by the ominous clouds, the water enhances the color of most everything.
It is terrible news to hear of people suffering because of the rain. Best we can do is pray for them. Considering we can't venture out into the floods ourselves. So I appreciate more the comforts that we afford ourselves when caught in the downpour. A roof over our heads, warm clothing, and a bowl of soup.

caramelized pumpkin soup

800g pumpkin, peeled and deseeded
30 ML olive oil
20g chopped garlic
60g chopped red onion
1tsp dried oregano
1L chicken stock
80ml cream
Salt and pepper

Season pumpkin and coat lightly with some of the oil
Roast in 350F oven on a tray until golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool.
Saute garlic and onion until tender in olive oil
Add pumpkin and toss until toasted, about 10 minutes
Pour in stock. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Pass through a processor until smooth
Return to pot and reheat. Add the cream and season to taste

Best to enjoy a steaming bowl with some crusty bread. How do you enjoy the rains?