Ikot-Ikot by Sarah Geronimo

Sunday, 27 October 2013

I have a confession to make. I am 37 and I am a POPSTER.

I first heard of Sarah Geronimo in 2003. I was on my home to Zambales from the airport when my cousin played "To Love You More" on the car stereo and he asked me if I knew who sung the song. And because I have always been a fan of Celine Dion, I said it was her. But apparently, it was 14-year old Sarah Geronimo. I was amazed by her rendition of the song, so I became an instant fan. I don't  think I even need to elaborate on why I so love this girl. Just by looking at her pretty face and listening to her voice, you will know why.

For now,  I just want to share her latest single Ikot-Ikot which has been my Last Song Syndrome (LSS) for the last two days. It's a very good anthem.

And I am so glad that she's finally back in ASAP 18. Now, I have a reason to watch the show again.

Naks, fan mode lang ang peg ko.

tintin x

Oysters at Richard Haward's in Borough Market

Saturday, 19 October 2013

I am a recently converted oyster fan. I never liked fresh oysters because they look weird and smell like the sea (obviously). But because my friends are into it, I thought I'd try and see what happens. The first time I ate oysters, I had what it felt like food poisoning. So I promised myself never to eat oysters again. But then again, some promises are meant to be broken. It's really hard to keep a promise especially if you are constantly being thrown into the same thing- just like eating oysters. 

Since we discovered the oysters at Borough market two years ago, we have been going there at least every other weekend, so it was difficult for me not to give those monsters a second chance. Watching those oyster loyalists eat like it's the most delicious food on earth made me so jealous. So when I tried it again this time, I couldn't eat just one. I had four and yes, I wanted more but I didn't want to overdo it.

There are two oyster stalls in Borough market, but we always go to Richard Haward's. And because we have been going there for sometime now, the oyster boys already know us. The last time we went there, we managed to get a discount. :)

And yes, there is a queue for the oysters.

I think the reason why I liked the oysters better this time is because I put a lot of vinegar and onion. That's the trick I guess.

Meet the original oyster club:

And the converts:

And if you're wondering who Richard Haward is, I had the chance to meet him the last time I was at his oyster shop.

So now I can officially say that I am an oyster fan. These days, I always look forward to going to Borough Market on weekends for two reasons: Oysters and Paella. I will tell you more about paella next time.

tintin x

The Scones At High Tea of Highgate

Sunday, 29 September 2013

I came across scones about 9 years ago when I visited Cornwall. Since then it has become my favourite Afternoon Tea treat. So far, I have tried scones from Harvey Nichols, Marriott hotel, Le Pain Quotidien, Balthazar , Sainsbury's and High Tea of Highgate. Among those places, my least favourite is Le Pain Quotidien. The scones I had over there was not only hard, but the cream they used was more of like what you would put on your hot chocolate. In other words, it was not clotted cream. On the other hand, my favourite scones so far are the ones from High Tea of Highgate.

One of my friends introduced me to this little teashop in the heart of Highgate Village 2 years ago. And although I have been to other cafes after that, I would always go back to High Tea, not only for their scones but also for the cosiness of the place. Whether you would like an "alone time", catch up with friends or have a good tea-time experience, High Tea is the place to be.
High Tea's scones are freshly baked. You could actually smell the freshness of it when it's served. For me, a good scone should be fresh, soft and crumbly....
And of course, it is served with my favourite cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam.

When I attended my friend's baby shower, some British folks asked me what the proper way of eating a scone is. Having no idea at all, I showed them how I would normally eat my scones.

I don't know if there is another way, but I cut my scones in the middle then I spread my clotted cream first, always.

And then I spread the strawberry jam on top. I eat them one after the other. Again, I am not sure if there are people out there who put them back together and eat that way like a sandwich. But, however you would want to eat it, what matters most is that you enjoy your scones. And the best I've had so far are the ones from High Tea of Highgate.
50 Highgate High Street
London N6 5HX

Since I am talking about scones, I might as well tell you what I think of Balthazar's scones. Well, they are beautiful. They are served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. But I think they are too commercialized. They are so beautiful to look at, but it actually doesn't give you that authentic texture and taste of a true scone. It's always worth a try I suppose.

I love their packaging though.

I was actually glad we ordered their French Onion soup because it was amazing!! This, I would recommend. No doubt about that.
4-6 Russell Street
London WC2B 5HZ

My good friend H actually recommends Delaunay's scones, so I probably would try it there next time.

tintin x

London 10k at Finsbury Park

Thursday, 12 September 2013

A couple of weeks ago, my friend invited me to run the Women's Running 10k race at Finsbury Park. I was hesitant at first because I have already ran 10k before, so I wanted to level up. But then I heard the bad news that my good friend's cousin has been diagnosed with a throat Cancer. I wanted to help in any way I can so I decided to run so I could raise funds for her, and of course so I could run for Keith again.

Although I only live 8 minutes away from the park, I turned up late because I had to wait for my friend. By the time I got to the park, the race has started but my friend hasn't turned up. Worst of all, I was not ready. I have not put my chip and my number on, so Don was getting really angry at me.

My friend eventually turned up and we started the race on our own. We were 6 minutes late but I felt really special.
The lady in black looked familiar but I couldn't remember her at that time, then I later on thought that it could be Nell McAndrew.

Since my friend and I haven't seen each other since July, we had some catching up to do.

But that didn't last long, because at the end of the day we were there for the run. So it wasn't long until we both started running and I went ahead of her.

Six minutes late, but soon enough I was ahead of about 200 runners and it felt great! 

To be fair, most of the runners probably haven't ran in Finsbury Park before. I have done it a few times and I must tell you that the hills in the park are killers. I would normally slow down a big deal on my regular runs, but at that time, I had so much energy that I was racing up the hills.

Although I have ran 10k before, this was another level as I managed to finished in 62 minutes despite the hills. And now I can perhaps run on flat surface faster than before. I have yet to try since but I know I can run faster now.

There you go, my second 10k race in 62 minutes.

Since I started running, I have always ran with Keith's favourite toy, Meowmeow.

Keith has always been my inspiration in joining races.This time, I did it for him and for a friend. Two inspiring people.

Have you challenged yourself lately?

tintin x

A Trip To Heraklion, Crete in September

Sunday, 1 September 2013

I can't believe that it's been three years since our last trip to Greece. It was the year 2010 when we did a lot of traveling. We gave traveling a miss this year because we're preparing for something big, but as soon as we get things sorted, I'm sure our itchy feet will be back on track.

It was September 2010 when we decided to visit Greece. In fact, we only wanted to go to Santorini, but since air fares to Santorini were quite expensive, we looked for cheaper alternatives. We found a cheap flight from Bristol to Heraklion, Crete. So from there we took the ferry to Santorini. As we didn't really plan our trip to this place ahead, we only managed to visit a few places.

Our hotel wasn't exactly in the centre of town but it was close enough, about 15-20 minutes walk. It was also about 6km or 10 minutes bus ride to Knossos.

The Knossos is an archeological site and is considered as the oldest city in Europe. It is located about 5km south of Heraklion.
After a couple of hours in Knossos, we headed to the Venetian harbour to pick up our ferry tickets to Santorini. Then we had lunch at a restaurant by the harbour. Unfortunately, I was not able to take down the name of the restaurant where we ate because I didn't think at that time that I would be blogging about our travels one day. But I can assure you that the food is very good and the price is just right. Besides, you will have a great view of the harbour.
The  Venetian Harbour
Grilled Octopus
Greek Salad

Although we didn't have enough time to spend in Heraklion, we still managed to see most of it. From the harbour we walked to the centre of town.

For sure we also had a wee bit of time to go the beach, but unfortunately the resorts were closed at 6pm.

Heraklion is so worth of a lay-over. Whether you are looking for a weekend get away, or just an overnight stay in Greece, think Heraklion.

tintin x

Petit Sarap Macarons

Monday, 26 August 2013

The macaron I used to know is made up of desiccated coconut and is baked like cupcakes. But a few years ago, I was introduced to the French macaron, which instantly became my favourite. Honestly, I have only ever tasted the macarons from Laduree and the Turkish shop in Piccadilly Circus. Until of course a month ago when I touched base with an old friend A.

I came across her macarons through her sister's instagram. The photos looked very convincing that those macarons are a "must try". So I immediately contacted A and asked her how to get hold of those yummy-looking macarons. Luckily, we now both in London so it was easy to meet up. 
For a "taste-test", I ordered pistachio, malteaser, salted caramel and yema. A added two blueberry for me to try.

Sorry Laduree, but I now have chosen Petit Sarap over you. Not only that it's cheaper of course, but it's also less sweet yet flavourful. I also like the fact that they're incorporating Pinoy flavours- gives me more reason to buy. I know they're only new to the world of macarons, but watch out for these girls because they can give Laduree a run for their money. One day.  But serioulsy, Petit Sarap's macarons are worth a try. 

Recently, they introduced Ube to their flavours and although it's also good, I like the yema flavour better. So far, our favourite is pistachio.

I have made three sets of orders so far and I will definitely be one of their regular customers. 
7 out of 16 macarons in 10 minutes.

If you're looking for a treat, try Petit Sarap's macarons. You will not be disappointed.

Follow them on instagram: @petitsarap

tintin x

Keith Ashley's 2nd Birthday In Heaven

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Saturday (August 17), was Keith Ashley's second birthday in heaven. He would have been 13.  I was not planning anything for his birthday because I was feeling so low. Besides, I have made the 28th of January (the day he left us) the official K Lighter Day. So all I wanted to do was go to church and light up a candle for him. But since I have amazing friends and an ever inspiring angel, my gloomy day  instantly  turned into a K Lighter Day.

After crying buckets the night before, I was woken up  at 7am by the sound of  Keith’s favourite song “Lighters”,  which has been my alarm sound for over a year now.  It wasn't that bad when I woke up because I received a message from my sister-in-law that Keith's friends were at home. Somehow, knowing that his friends kept the tradition of having lunch at home on Keith's birthday made me feel better. I managed to speak to them via wechat for a bit and then I went on to do my own tradition in remembering our beloved Keith on his birthday.

Our first stop was St. Paul's Cathedral. I think lighting up a candle and saying a little prayer for Keith is always the best way to start a K Lighter Day. Meowmeow, his favourite toy was with us of course. I always bring Meow with me on special occasions. 

On our way to meet up with a friend, something weird happened. While walking along the Southbank from St. Paul's, amidst the noise from tourists and the trail tracks was the comforting sound of a violin. I know this was not the first time that I heard someone playing the violin in London. But the fact that I just came from the church and heard it on Keith's birthday was a bit telling for me. And then, the lady played one of Keith's favourite songs- "Where is the Love?" by Black Eyed Peas. Although we were already late for our meeting, I was compelled to stay and listened to the music until it finished. 

It was as if Keith was trying to tell me something that day because after a few yards from where the lady violinist was, I heard a very familiar sound of a classical music. As soon as I realized that it was Keith's favourite classical piece - Canon by Pachelbel, I ran so fast that I almost tripped. I became very emotional and cried in public again. But I knew at that moment that my angel was with me.

Then it was time to meet up half of my friends for merienda because they couldn't make it to dinner. I was deeply touched that even baby E was wearing Kuya Keith's colours. I know Baby E wasn't feeling 100% that day because he just had his jab, but he still came to remember Kuya Keith on his birthday.

What I was not expecting was some sort of an exclusive mini-birthday party for Keith. I thought we were just having a normal dinner, but when we arrived at the restaurant, my friends' cameras were on me. I was like, "Why are there cameras? Paparazzi!". I didn't realize that that was a surprise dinner party. There were decorations and all of them were also wearing either white or blue. I was so overwhelmed, I didn't know what to say.

There was even a cake. How I wish Keith was there to blow the candle though. It's just a shame that he didn't get to meet my amazing friends.

And it didn't end there. More surprises. D brought out post-its so we could write our birthday wishes for Keith. Those messages were supposed to go with the sky lanterns, but unfortunately it was windy so we didn't get to fly them.

We managed to light up one though....

But it didn't fly towards the sky. Instead, it rolled on the road towards the cars parked on the side. I panicked and chased after the lantern. All I could say was, "Oh my god, oh my God!". I was so scared the cars may blow up. Everyone burst into laughter. They all watched me as I try to put off the fire from the lantern. I could imagine Keith laughing at us.

As much as it hurts knowing that I will never spend even one birthday with Keith ever again, I am somehow relieved knowing that I have family and friends I can share his memories with. I can't thank my friends enough for spending Keith's 2nd birthday in heaven with me and for making it a K Lighter Day. And for Keith who continues to inspire me and other people, thank you. You may no longer be with us in flesh, but you will forever be in our hearts. Thank you for bringing those people in my life. I know I always say that people will never know what I have gone through and still going through unless they also have lost a child, but these people know exactly  what to do to make me feel better. I will forever be grateful to have them in my life.

And to everyone who sent their birthday wishes for Keith, thank you. Your thoughtfulness is very much appreciated.

Hope you're all having a K Lighter Day!!

tintin x

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