Today my friend J invited me for lunch. We’ve both been busy and traveling, but we found this window today for a pretty relaxing meal together.
When he’d asked me to lunch, it was on BBM on his new Blackberry. And just as I was thinking of a restaurant I wanted to eat in with him – and I mean a restaurant I wanted to eat in with a friend that didn’t involve some semblance of work – he messaged back almost immediately: “No, we are not going to Masseto or UMU.”
A HANDFUL OF CHOICES
I smiled when I read this. He knows me too well, you see, and he knows I basically choose only a handful of restaurants for the very few times I actually go out just for the fun of it. The third choice is XO46 and its sister restaurant The Visayan Room, but he also knows the owners are good friends of mine, so he doesn’t need to take me there.
He then suggested the newly-opened Mango Tree at the Fort as we’d both never been, although I’d been to Mango Tree in London and he’d been to Mango Tree in Macau.
Frankly, anywhere was fine with me as long as it had enough space to just talk and eat without anyone else eavesdropping on us. It's always a busy week for me, so I like really relaxing places for the few times I don't have work on the agenda.
FOOD AND CONVERSATION
CAN MAKE OR BREAK A MEAL
When I got to Mango Tree, J was already there and the table they'd given us was sandwiched in between a gaggle of girls and another fairly large group. I moved us over to the quieter part of the restaurant where I didn't have to hear other people's conversations and they didn't have to hear ours.
J asked me: "So, are you going to blog about this?"
I smiled at him and said: "Depends. Depends on whether the food or the conversation is good enough."
Then I added: "By the way, our blog's getting so many hits."
J asked me: "Even without J in it?"
It was true. I hadn't written about J in a long time but I did write about him a lot at one time, and he'd been a very good sport about it all. Maybe I just wasn't writing about him because he'd gone into hibernation or because there were so many travels, events and other people to write about. But anyway I replied teasingly: "Maybe it's getting more hits precisely because J's not in it."
THE FOODIE CHOOSES LUNCH
J's a foodie and he picked the restaurant, so for lunch I let him also choose the dishes. He ordered a fried fish dish, a duck curry, and the Thai version of kangkong. Everything was okay -- nothing to particularly wax rhapsodic about -- but I liked the duck curry best. It came arranged very prettily in a pineapple, with tender slices of duck simmering in a red sauce.
J told me: "You like the duck curry because it's got coconut in it. Anything with coconut's bound to be good."
We talked about a lot of things including travel itineraries, places we'd been to recently, and restaurants we both liked and disliked. We'd both recently been to a Michelin three-star restaurant in Tokyo which foodies in Manila seems to wax rhapsodic about; but neither of us had liked it much.
|Sauteed morning glory|
THE MOST MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
Then J told me he wants to go to this place in the middle of nowhere next year. What's with me and these guys who all either have gone or want to go to middle of nowhere places?
Last night I met a guy who'd been to the most far-off place I'd ever heard of; and then now J tops it off with a place even further than that. You actually need a foreign power's military might to get there. I wish I could say more but that would be giving J away to people who still don't know who he is in this very small town.
DESSERT TO SHARE
|Yummy sticky rice with mango|
J said: "We ate every single bit of that dessert."
I said: "It was the best thing we had today."
Then, just because I like to tease him, I just had to remind him that he'd ordered most of lunch and I'd been the one responsible for that very successful dessert: "By the way, that was the only thing I ordered today."
But J was quick today. He replied: "Yes, but you asked the waiter which he recommended."
Whatever. It had been a nice enough lunch and the dessert had rounded it up nicely. The conversation hadn't too bad either.
Just another day in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife. And tonight, the two guys who came along with me to Sri Lanka are coming over to my house for dinner and another evening of what I expect will be non-stop psycho-analysis and laughter.
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