We Hung out..

I pretty much buy into really going out there and living life. Life's too short, and if opportunities come along, ride that wave the best way you can, baby! 

Having said that --- sometimes its best to follow what your gut tells you.

The other day I got this invite to dinner at a friend's house, all the way in the Katipunan area. Not that far, really, but these days with these monstrous traffic jams, traveling around the metro can be a bitch. 

 Tonight's crew at our Host, Carina's beautiful home.

Tonight's crew at our Host, Carina's beautiful home.

Scheduling (insert Bretess accent pliz) initially got in the way, but all of a sudden, the appointments fell away one by one and I decided it was a sign to attend, if ever there was one. 

It rained, of course, and that kinda freaked me out (hey - don't we all freak out when there's heavy rain??). Thankfully the DJ was on a roll on the radio -- despite the unnerving Himlayang Pilipino Heritage Park adds -- and after a pitstop for coffee, I made it to dinner.

I really wanted to go because the guest of honor was Hung Huynh - a US Top Chef winner - and his culinary school classmate was our host, Carina Guevara-Galang. The dude just popped up here from an extended stay in his home country Vietnam, where he was vacationing. Upon the insistence of some friends, he decided to check out the neighboring countries and see what was up. 

Since he came here on a cold call, you can bet your barong that Manila twirled him around in a not-so-good way: traffic, malls, guns, and more traffic. Having done no research whatsoever, the circumstances he had to deal with was all but a guarantee that we lost another foreign visitor.

Good thing Carina was quick on her feet --- she was surprised to see his FB post that he was here and not quite loving it, and did what any true Pinoy should do in that situation: she invited him over for dinner.

So lucky me, along with a few others, got to break bread with him, and man, he was a hoot. From sordid Top Chef tales, to restaurant info swapping, to some porn (oh yes! It was THAT kind of evening) - the laughter and jokes came fast and furious. The best kind of gathering.

It helped, of course, that Carina, also a chef, prepped a feast: fried pig face, cut up and looking like a cool take on lechon kawali; kare kare done the Pampangueno way, with ground up rice and nuts; a rocking kinilaw with coconut milk and mango and chicharon; and the piece de resistance of crabs and swamp cabbage (kangkong to you and me) in coconut cream. Hung and his pal Wil did a number on all that food. Twas indeed a joyous site! 

These days, you never know who you're going to bump into in Manila. I've heard many tales of chefs from all over sniffing around here and seeing what's up. We're in for delicious times ahead, folks: the world is watching us (and they want to eat with us too!) 

ANYWAY.. below is the food porno shots of what the good chef Carina prepared for us. Home cooking, but not really just any old home cooking. More like fiesta home cooking! Carina, by the way, is not to taken lightly as a chef --- in one of her jobs in Chicago, she once made steaks for the great Michael Jordan himself, one that he would come back for again and again: grilled ribeye "Bistek Filipino". Take a bow, Chef Carina!  And to Chef Hung -- "sa uulitin!"

  KINILAW WITH COCONUT MILK, MANGO & CHICHARON. This was one of my favorites for the evening - refreshing and satisfying. Oh, and the little bits of chicharon helped too. Hehe!

KINILAW WITH COCONUT MILK, MANGO & CHICHARON. This was one of my favorites for the evening - refreshing and satisfying. Oh, and the little bits of chicharon helped too. Hehe!

  KARE KARE VEGGIE SYMPHONY.   Veg on the side, so they don't become soggy. This is a sign that the kare kare was prepared by someone who cares!

KARE KARE VEGGIE SYMPHONY. Veg on the side, so they don't become soggy. This is a sign that the kare kare was prepared by someone who cares!

 KARE KARE. Pass the rice. NOW! 

KARE KARE. Pass the rice. NOW! 

 GRILLED PANGA (JAW) NG TUNA. Simply done, with fresh tuna from the market -- can't go wrong with that! Meat in all the nooks and crannies!

GRILLED PANGA (JAW) NG TUNA. Simply done, with fresh tuna from the market -- can't go wrong with that! Meat in all the nooks and crannies!

 FRIED PIG FACE.  Literally half a pig's head, scored and fried! It looked like Lechon Kawali served in the form of a pig's silhouette -- pretty cool in my book!

FRIED PIG FACE.  Literally half a pig's head, scored and fried! It looked like Lechon Kawali served in the form of a pig's silhouette -- pretty cool in my book!

 CRABS AND KANGKONG IN COCONUT MILK.  The star of the evening -- a get down and dirty kinda dish.  Best eaten with your hands, sucking all the coconut cream off yo' fingah!

CRABS AND KANGKONG IN COCONUT MILK.  The star of the evening -- a get down and dirty kinda dish.  Best eaten with your hands, sucking all the coconut cream off yo' fingah!

 BIBINGKA.  Sorry kids. Was too full to eat this! Looked yummy, though!

BIBINGKA.  Sorry kids. Was too full to eat this! Looked yummy, though!