11 July 2016

Aida's Chicken Inasal, Bacolod Food Review by RA

Chicken inasal is the “go to” food of Bacolod – just as how LeBron James is the “go to” scorer of Cavs. Chicken inasal is eaten with garlic rice, chicken oil, oysters, and soft drinks.

Aida’s Restaurant can be found in a place called "Manokan Country” in Fr. Ferrero street a few meters away from SM Bacolod. Wow. It must be some kind of "country." Imagine their nationalism.

Avril and I like it here because their food is consistently authentic.This restaurant is unpretentious, pompous, and doesn’t bull shit. The rule is simple: you eat or leave. Never mind that their toilet is as trashy as a bunk of squalid drug den, or that the server of oysters seems bipolar and needs to be treated with anti-psychotic drugs. If you are looking for the “go to” of chicken inasal in Bacolod – Aida's Restaurant is the shit.

Wash your hands thoroughly because inasal is eaten with the hand. Don’t expect a choice of cutlery. The use of spoon and fork here is laughable. Hand to mouth is the way, the truth, and the light.

You can choose what kind of water to wash your hands – deep well or faucet water. It's amusing. It took me a while to realize that it is a contingency measure. No water from the local water district? No problem, there’s deep well water and vice versa.

Aida’s chicken inasal is as tender as marshmallow, soft and juicy, with a faint hint of ginger and other spices. I usually order "pa-a," the leg part, but you can also choose from pecho, pak-pak, or pecho-pak, atay and isol. Isol is chicken ass - gorgeously flunky and unhealthy, but claimed to be damn good.

The garlic rice is served generously. It is made-golden by chicken oil, a dash of crisp garlic, and a pinch of sea salt on top.

Talaba, on the other hand, is served a plate full. Locals eat talaba together with soft drinks. They believe that soft drinks neutralizes whatever biological dangers and perils oysters carry. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do believe though that you should not eat talaba with an empty stomach or when pregnant. Needless to say, eating talaba is like playing Russian roulette and for good reason. This tasty, slimy mollusk is a “janitor” of the sea.

Aida’s imperfections are part of its appeal. You need to be patient to people who serve your food. The key to satisfactory eating in Aida’s is to follow up your order and your extra orders, or else, it might  never see the light of day.

Just like quarter-life or mid-life crisis, we’ve all hit that point where we can’t figure out what to eat. You feel isolated, absurd, and bored with the choices available. But perhaps “go to” places like this can help you discover what you want. 

Sometimes, the best way to figure what you want is by a little bit of trial and error. Finding out what is hidden behind the usual surface of life even if it might involve some kind of risk -- like death or illness from eating raw talaba. 

The usual food bill dining for two is around 350-500 Pesos.

02 July 2016

Finding Dory (2016) Movie Review

by RA

“Finding Dory” is Pixar's sequel to the “Finding Nemo (2003).” It takes off where Finding Nemo left. Dory, a regal blue tang fish, lives with Marlin and Nemo in a happy a curious marine neighborhood. As part of her everyday struggles, Dory is aware that she keeps on forgetting things. She suffers from “short term memory loss” - which sounds cuter compared to its actual debilitative effects. Meanwhile, spontaneous trigger of words flashes back her childhood. She remembers her parents. She wonders what might have happened to them. She blames herself as the reason behind their loss. Facing danger and against all odds, Dory and her friends embark on an adventure to find her parents leading them to a marine institute in California. What she finds out there changes her life.

Story aside, Finding Dory’s animated graphics is a joy to watch. The details of the background and the characters themselves are astounding. I had to be reminded by my seatmate, Avril, to keep my voice down, when I involuntarily blurted “WOW!” in my amusement as the movie started to unfold.

Frankly, it is too much to ask for Finding Dory to surpass and out-do Finding Nemo in terms of originality, high emotional focus, and entertainment value. I don’t smell anything fishy in this regard. But, I think, the strength of this movie lies with how it was able to deal with issues like friendship, parenthood, and going through life in the face of disability.

I learned in this movie that there is a Dory in each of us.  And, while life may sometimes be a fine kettle of fish, nevertheless, there are people who are like Jenny and Charlie (Dory’s parents) who show us how loving, caring, and being patient can transform another soul. These sort of people believe in us when no one would. They remind us that despite life’s setbacks, goals can be achieved - if you just put your mind into it.

In other words, one way to interpret Finding Dory is to look at it as an introspection of our own personal disabilities and how it affects our personal goals in life. Each person’s goal is unique. While others may be eyeing more riches or more advancement in their careers, some goals are as noble as taking care of those who have less in life. Each step towards the accomplishment of one’s personal goal is a battle that must be fought. In relation to them, what we need is to be more tolerant and understanding.

It took thirteen (13) years for “Finding Dory,” the sequel of the “Finding Nemo (2003),” to come out. A lot of things has changed ever since. Even the voice of Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) has noticeably aged.  All these years, I guess it is only now that I am starting to realize what Dory stood for.

Perhaps, Dory is a reminder for us not to over-worry and overthink, but instead, to take action. Despite the dangers, it is only by taking action that we can accomplish what we aim for. Arguably, acting on her goals was the key to Dory’s triumph from the very start up to the very end. When life gets you down, “Just keep swimming.” This is the sort of Dory-ism that I hope to remember, even long after this movie has been forgotten.

27 June 2016

Tom N Toms Affogato, Choices, and High Beams

It was gnarly hot. In my room, the fan won’t start because of some “power issues.” I decided to go to Tom N Toms here in Bacolod to take advantage of their aircon and their electrical outlet. I wanted to charge my laptop so I can watch reruns of Neon Genesis Evangelion and House M.D.
It started to drizzle as I was about to get my keys to MuXiE, our horse. Then, just like that, the sun shined again. The weather is getting erratic now a days. It’s a sign - the end of this age is imminent. Change is coming.
I don’t usually order fancy coffee and drinks, but for a change, I ordered Affogato at Tom N Toms. This coffee place has Starbucks Gangnam Style vibe to it. The baristas let you know your drink is ready with their vibrating “thing.” They do not yell your name pronounced in an ~uncertain way(?).
Affogato is simply two (2) scoops of vanilla ice cream and a shot of espresso resulting to a dazzling play on temperature and texture. Hot and cold, bitter and sweet.
It tastes just like our moral choices. How exactly do we make choices anyway? Isn’t it that what we have is a world of gray areas instead of black and whites, goods and evils? How do we choose between two competing bad choices, or two opposing uncertain choices?
Life is as uncertain as Conjuring 2. Last night, while I was driving down the high way. Some douche bag driver beamed huge lead lights directly to my eyes and by golly I was instantly blinded. I wish I had a huge mirror so that I can beam his monster light back to his face.
Should I fight this evil beast with merely one high beam? Or should I fight this ogre with a combination of high beam + fog lamps + hazard lights + cabin lights and my android phone lights, perhaps? Should I slow down, look away the blinding beam and focus on things I can still see - like the side of the road and the line that divides it?
To be sure, hate night driving is not my thing. Affogato by the way is One Hundred Sixty Pesos (₱160.00).

06 January 2016

Plane Bistro Classic Fried Chicken

As a reward to myself for running 10 kilometers today, I went to treat my self to Plane Bistro which is located at the corner of 'Ped Xing' and Espana Blvd. I ordered their 'classic fried chicken' because, well, it is the cheapest, only 130 Pesos. When it was served by the lady wearing a flight attendant's uniform, I was surprised that it turned the heads of other customers. The fried chicken is the size of my fist. It is about as golden as a glowing pumpkin. On the sides are toge adorned with slices of carrots shaped like flowers. The gravy has what seems like swimming mushrooms. The rice resembled a white upside down cup. ■

03 January 2016

First Order of the Year - Go Back to Running

This year, my goal is to finish a full marathon on time. I had to give up running for a while to give time to my other life goals, like passing a grueling exam and finding work. But finishing a full marathon on time is still an unfinished business that I'm still dying to accomplish. I hope this new kicks  jump start my training. I have to run, endure, and be a better runner this 2016. I am starting today.

"I would rather be happy than dignified." Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre

Grateful for 2015

I thank everyone who had been part of my year 2015. It was a challenging year, but filled with extraordinary joy. In January 2015, I proposed marriage to Avril, the love of my life (she said yes!). In May, I was appointed to my dream job. I won my first case and almost all of my subsequent cases. While 2015 was not perfect, as fortune and skill was not always in my favor - I learned and stood up with every fall. May God bless us in 2016 and each moment of our days. Happy New Year!