Monday, October 3, 2011

Dinner with B

Today my good friend B returned to Manila from New York and we had dinner after I'd attended the Korean National Day celebrations. We decided to go to Opus for old times' sake, as we have many good memories there. One night, we'd started dinner at 9 pm, then headed for the bar; and then we'd moved over to Republiq and we actually stayed at Republiq until about 530 AM. I remember that it was really late -- or actually really early -- because we'd toyed with the idea of having breakfast at the Peninsula lobby on the way home, and I'd seen joggers doing the rounds at Fort Bonifacio as I got dropped off.


B and I have had a couple of memorable breakfasts at the Pen lobby, by the way. Off-hand, I can remember still how we'd had a big Filipino breakfast in the lobby at about 5 AM after the amazing opening party for the Salon de Ning last December. That was probably the best opening party of the year and it had everyone floored; Moet and Salon de Ning champagne were flowing like water and it was dancing all night on the dance floor and on every space available. I had a really wonderful time capped with a daing na bangus and tapsilog breakfast in the Pen lobby. It's funny to think that was just nine months ago, because to me it now seems a lifetime ago.


Anyway, today, we made it to dinner by 9 pm again because we'd met after the Korean party. But tonight wasn't one of those all-nighters as we both have a very long week ahead of us.

Even our dinner tonight was one for old times' sake. We ordered everything we always used to have at Opus, including my all-time favorite beef short ribs done sous vide style, and the pavlova for dessert. We always order our own beef ribs at Opus because it's too good to share, and we always share a pavlova because we're (or at least I am) counting calories by the time dessert rolls in. But the pavolva is just too good not to order.

Once I made the mistake of ordering something chocolate for dessert simply because I almost always order chocolate for dessert. This was on one of my first visits to Opus. But someone seated next to me had ordered the pavlova. I took a spoonful of his dessert and ended up eating most of it because it was so good; and I never looked back. I've always had the pavlova or something fruity since then.

The appetizer, however, was something new on the menu. On the list of appetizers was something called "68 degree egg." I read the description and it reminded me of the stuff served at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck, for some reason, so I decided to try it. It was incredibly delicious, with a lovely egg on a bed of crispy shredded potatoes, covered with thin slices of parma ham and arugula leaves. If I hadn't been so engrossed in conversation with B, in fact, I would have waxed rhapsodic more about the food. I really like the food in Opus, and last night, I enjoyed every single thing I ordered so much that I would eat there again this week if only I actually had another free evening this week. But I don't.

It was a big plus, too, that at about 10 PM, great music started coming out of the bar next door.

"This is the kind of music I'd like to play at the AIESEC party on October 21st," I told B. It was the kind of music that reminded me of the days of college, or the days of just after college.


So today was really like old times, although not quite. And the old times I'm talking about are more like nine months ago rather than nine years ago.

"Are you going to blog about this?" B asked me, as I was taking a photo of the short ribs with my Blackberry. "You never blog about me anymore."

I smiled. "I blog about you when we meet. But I haven't seen you since July." Until the middle of this year, when B moved to New York, we were meeting up for dinner or something fun at least once a week for a couple of years. We used to live within the same square kilometer so we were always planning things together. We'd had lots of dinners, and also we'd spent not a few afternoons and evenings shooting the breeze at The Last Chukker or the cogon huts of Polo Club. And we most definitely closed down the Salon de Ning a couple of times, especially when it first opened.

And even when we didn't plan anything, there was a good chance of meeting anyway at some party or event in this very small town. But since July, B's been gone and I've been too busy to have much fun, although fortunately work itself has been lots of fun. But, frankly, Manila's just not been the same again.


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