Sunday, October 5, 2014

I'm one of the last Generation X-ers - and yes, I remember when Il Ponticello first came into the scene. This is way before my "mommy" days - and hence, I remember Ponticello as wine, music and good company! Recently, they have had a relaunch but since I am not based in Makati (for work) anymore, it has been tough to stop by. 

A couple of months ago, the SoMoms bade our dear friend Jenny of My Mommyology a "see you again" dinner at Il Ponticello. Thankfully, I was in Makati that day for some meetings - and so I decided to drop by. It was my first time to be back since they relaunched. The atmosphere was the almost the same - warm and relaxed, with just the right level of noise to make the place busy, but not too noisy that you cannot have a good conversation. I hadn't seen the SoMoms in ages, so it was perfect for a "catching up" dinner too. We immediately got started with some Ponti spritzers. Yep, moms drink too when they are out - and my breastfeeding days are long gone, so it's safe!

For our main course, we had minestrone soup, pasta ala vongole (which was sooo good, I have to go back very soon for more), the amatreciana, and porchetta. Each dish was cooked from fresh, authentic ingredients (the clams weren't your regular tiny clams - they were plump and juicy!). It definitely feels like a real Italian table. I had been looking forward to the porchetta (as I've been seeing it make its rounds in the usual foodie IG and FB accounts). I must say, it did not disappoint. The skin was crunchy, and the meat was tender - and had just the right amount of fat. Il Ponticello really did well with that one.

They put the plate of porchetta in front of me... like they never wanted me to stop.
Here's a closer shot! Yummmeeeh!

Dessert was served in this beautiful glass cake stand - clockwise from the top - that's bread pudding, cheesecake panna cotta, tiramisu and vanilla ice cream. Nothing extra fancy, but very homey and warm.

As I write this, it's pushing October. The cool October air always brings with it a sense of festivity for me. It's partly the anticipation building up for sembreak (which takes on a whole new meaning now that I have kids of my own). It's also partly the lingering thought that December (and Christmas) is near enough to plan for now... buy Christmas wrappers, have your gift tags printed, and think of the theme for your Christmas tree. People always say that the "ber" months bring in Christmas cheer - for me, it's October that feels truly Christmas-y. October is when you start planning for dinners, get togethers, reunion events, and the like. This season, when you think about reunions and gatherings (especially with officemates) - consider Il Ponticello, in the heart of Makati. It's got a special place in my heart as I used to work at the building behind Ponti (as we fondly called it) - and it was always a go to place for a nice, relaxing lunch. Ponti is open again and like me, you will surely make good memories at Ponti. Try it soon!

Il Ponticello
Unit 203 2F Antel Corporate Center
121 Valero Street,
Salcedo Village, Makait
(02) 553-9971

Mon-Thurs: 11am-2:30pm   5pm-12:00am
Fri: 11am-2:30pm  5pm-2:00am
Sun: 5pm-2am

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bento Making 101

I've been following The Bento Mommas for some time on Instagram. I can only
imagine the amount of time they spend on making those beautiful baon boxes.
The only attempt I've had that's remotely "bento" is to make mini
sandwiches using cutters to make Hello Kitty shapes. 

Through the
SoMoms' Better Me events, Oreo and The Bento Mommas joined together and
invited a group of mommies (and kids) to a bento making workshop. My
daughter was so excited - she was counting down to the day of the
workshop (it helped that there was a very long weekend for her at that
time). Despite how daunting each bento looks - it is surprisingly easy
to make a simple bento box that is sure to delight your child come
lunchbreak. I asked my daughter recently what she remembered about the
workshop - and she gave me clear instructions on how to make animal
faces for bento boxes! And here are her instructions... see if you can
follow create a face from this. 

1. Get two small balls of rice to make ears.
2. Get one bigger ball and make that into a face.
(At this point, I asked her, can you touch the rice with your hands?)
3. Her answer: No, use a plastic bag to shape the balls.
(Kaye likes to use ziplock bags).
4. Use a little smaller flat ball to make the nose.
(I asked: how do you make the face?)
5. Cut up seaweeds into shapes to make the face.

To cut up the seaweeds - you can use clean punchers (make sure they
are for food use only). And there you go - 5 simple steps to make an
animal face. Once you have the animal face - then you can proceed to
add other "decor" all around the face. Use brocolli as "plants", use
shape cutters to shape other objects to decorate... or simply fill up
the rest of the box with apples, grapes, and Oreo cookies.

Oreo cookies are a great way to perk up the boxes because they
come in different flavors! Did you know that? I always thought that
they only come in black and white (and I have to admit, I used to NOT
eat the whites - my husband was really lucky, he got double stuffings
each time we ate Oreos). According to this page, there are more than 30 different
kinds of Oreo flavors all over the world. And they are still creating
more as I write this... the other day I was shopping for food when i
saw some Chinese Oreos with really unique stuffings! 

Even at your local grocery stores, there are non black and white Oreo cookies to make your bento stand out.

And before I end this post... let me share some other tips on how to
make your bento nice:

1. Use a combination of white and brown rice to make your rice animals
look more "alive."
2. You can put a light dab of ketchup to make the cheeks red!
3. A heart is always a cute shape to use as a nose.
4. To stick on the facial parts made from seaweeds - you can dab a
little ketchup or mayo to the back and use that as "paste."
5. For the fruit slices - soak in a bit of Sprite of 7-Up to prevent
them from browning.
6. Try to put as much color into your box as possible - use carrots,
green vegetables, colorful fruits as garnish.

This was my daughter and my entry to the create a bento animal using Oreos contest for mommas...