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Finding a Place to Stay in Manila through Airbnb

February 2018

When I used to travel back to the Philippines many years ago, I would stay with my aunt in Malabon or cousins in Quezon City.  Those visits were typically short in duration so I did not mind that my movement around the city was restricted.  But now that I am semi-retired, I like to stay longer:  to reconnect with a large extended family and to explore the city I used to know.  My stay coincides with winter in the Midwest when temperatures get stuck in varying freezing degrees for days.  In contrast,  temperatures in Manila, from December until February, are usually in the mid to high 70s.   And humidity is mostly absent.

I heard about Airbnb through an article in the Los Angeles Times and decided to try it out three years ago.  I have been using the service since then and I have been a satisfied customer, except for some glitches here and there (see details below).   I even booked a condo in Taipei last year.  So far, I am hooked.

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Panzanella, Italian Bread Salad

Now that you have plenty of challah to eat, as is, or for something else, how about reducing  the guilt of eating lots of bread by making a salad out of it?

Panzanella typically uses crusty Italian bread and is similar to fattoush, an Arabic salad.  The latter uses sumac, a lemony-sour spice, according to my dentist whose husband came from Lebanon.  I will have to try the Arabic version next time.

But for now, let us continue with my version of panzanella using toasted challah.

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Challah, a Versatile Ceremonial Bread

Most of the people I know here in the Midwest, perhaps the same is true with my friends and relatives  in Asia, do not know anything about challah (ha la).  But mention the braided bread and everyone seems to have seen or tasted it at some point in their lives.

Challah is a ceremonial bread, typically eaten on the Sabbath or Jewish holidays.  For those who follow strict Jewish dietary law, challah is “parve”, meaning it does not contain any dairy.  It has something to do with the restriction about mixing meat and dairy in meals.

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Fresh Spring Roll, the Vietnamese Way

In my previous post, I mentioned loving “bun”, the Vietnamese noodle/vegetable dish and the fresh spring roll.  The roll is quite different from the Philippine version as the vegetables are not cooked at all.  Besides the vegetables , the roll is filled with thin slices of pork and pieces of shrimp.  The wrapper is quite different also from the lumpia wrapper.   It is sold dry and it has to be dipped in water before using. I have been wanting to make these rolls for a long time so with my leftover ingredients from my “bun” project, here is the result of my experimentation.

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A Bowl of Bun, My Favorite Vietnamese Dish

A few years ago, when I was working in Indianapolis, I told my co-worker about missing my favorite California Vietnamese restaurant so he told me about this hole-in-a-wall place in a gritty part of Indianapolis. For about a year and almost every week, I would buy two takeout dishes and would portion them so that I would have enough meals for two days. As a creature of habit and because they were good, I would go for the fresh spring rolls and “bun” with grilled pork barbeque and fried spring rolls.

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Morcon, a Dish From My Childhood, Reinvented

March 18, 2017, Spencer, Indiana

Morcon is a dish I loved to eat when I was growing up in the Philippines. It is typically reserved for special occasions or fiestas when the maternal head of family would showcase her cooking expertise for her large extended family and friends. A tough cut of beef, typically skirt, is butterflied and layered with boiled eggs, chorizo or sausage, and vegetables. It is marinated in soy sauce and calamansi, Philippine lime. The meat is rolled and secured in place by a string; then browned for color and simmered in tomato sauce until tender. Oh, the presentation is absolute perfection when the meat is sliced showing the colorful filling inside.

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Taipe 101, Once the Tallest Building in the World

Jan 2017

The building is skinny and tall, rising above 101 floors from the ground with five basement floors below.  It used to be the tallest building in the world until 2009 when a building in Dubai got the distinction.

It also used to have the fastest elevator in the world, now overtaken by an elevator in China.  It is still pretty fast, taking tourists from the fifth floor (where you get the ticket) to the 89th floor and observatory deck in 37 seconds.

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