Saturday, August 31, 2013

The remains of a paella. And one of the best roast pork I've had in a long time.




Yesterday, I invited five friends over for dinner, to make a merry party of six.

I'd been away for so long, and I was hankering to try out my new paella burner that had stayed in its box since I'd bought it a few months ago.

Scroll down to read more...



FIVE FRIENDS BRINGING VERY GOOD FOOD

So I got five friends over, and they all very graciously volunteered to bring a dish and a bottle of wine over for the party.

A guy from Barcelona was supposed to join us as well, but something happened to him at the last minute.



A PRAGUE GROUP REUNION

Four of them formed part our group that had met up in Prague last year for a wonderful dinner by the river, at Hillary Clinton's favorite restaurant in Prague.

I'd traveled with one couple all over the Czech Republic and Germany, and we'd met up with the other couple in Prague.

Since then, we've been to a couple of other places together on a never-ending Travelife.

Scroll down to read more...




MR. JADED CAN ACTUALLY COOK

Then I'd invited Mr. Jaded to join us because we'd traveled to lots of places together as well. And in one destination, the six of us had actually done a Travelife with a bunch of other really fun people.

Mr. Jaded volunteered to bring some food, too, which was very surprising to all of us.



None of us knew he could cook. He always has parties in his house that can seat 500 people for dinner, but I've never seen him at work in the kitchen.

"I'll bring roast pork to go with your paella," he said to me.

UPDATES ON FACEBOOK

Work in progress. This is what I posted on Facebook.


Then yesterday afternoon, I posted a photo on Facebook of my paella in progress.

Perhaps similarly inspired, Mr. Jaded posted his own photo of a blackened roast pork, with a typical -- at least very typical of him -- self-denigrating caption to accompany it.

I hadn't seen it because I was too busy yesterday afternoon to go on Facebook for a long time. But one of the other guests had, and apparently she'd said to herself: "Looks like that's dinner tonight."

SURPRISE, SURPRISE

Wow. What a revelation Mr. Jaded's roast pork was.

When he brought it over, the first thing he said to me was: "It doesn't look much. And if it doesn't taste good, we don't have to eat it."


See how black this pork is?


I didn't know about his cooking prowess, so I took him at his word.

The roast pork was honestly so black that I thought it was burned and I was almost resigned not to be gushing over it.

Well, it was the most wonderful roast pork I've had in a very long time. And it really went well with the paella, as he said.

CRITIQUING MY OWN PAELLA

Work in progress.
That's the rice getting fried in oil and spices.


As for my paella. It was good enough, but it could've been better. I had high hopes for it because I'd done everything from scratch, including the soup stock.

You really have to watch over the paella as you make it.

Unfortunately I'd left the preparations too late and even had a massage in between cooking. So by that crucial time that I should've been watching over the cooking, my guests had arrived.

Scroll down to read more...


A BURNER GOES AWRY

Then something went wrong with my burner, leaving my household staff to manage the cooking on the regular cooker.

The burner has evenly positioned flame whereas the regular cooker has a hot ring in the middle. This makes a world of difference to cooking paella.

THE MORNING AFTER



And guess what?

We'd ended the dinner at 230 AM so I had a very late breakfast. But this morning, I tasted the remains of my paella. It was fantastic.

Perhaps it just needed some time for the flavors to sink in more, to really make it come into its own.

Now I know what to do better.

And just in time for another dinner, before I get back to my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.





TRAVELIFE MAGAZINE on Facebook

Friday, August 30, 2013

Join us for part 3 of a Travelife to Amazing Sri Lanka. November 21 - 27, 2013





If you were at all thinking of joining us on a Travelife to Sri Lanka last February or last July, you certainly missed two wonderful trips with great groups of people.

We weren't really planning to do a Part 3 so soon because organizing a Travelife is a complete labor of love for us. 

But we already have a couple of people interested in going, so we thought we'd plan our last Travelife to Sri Lanka for 2013.

Scroll down to read more...



Both groups have been incredibly fun so far. 

ABOUT LAST NIGHT

In fact, the second Travelife to Sri Lanka group just had their second reunion since returning to Manila in July. 

It was over dinner at one of the loveliest homes in Forbes Park last night.

Here's a photo from our dinner last night, of the Travelife Sri Lanka group 2 that visited Sri Lanka in July....



Here's what some of our friends and readers had to say
about our Travelife to Sri Lanka so far:

"Thank you so much Travelife Magazine for an absolutely wonderful and memorable trip to Sri Lanka. Can't wait to sign up for the next one."

*     *    *

"We jumped at the chance to join the Travelife Sri Lanka Tour. 

We absolutely loved the personalized touchgreat hotelswonderful sites and luckily met a bunch of great people who are also passionate about travelling."

*     *    *


"The people who joined the trip were well travelled in the truest sense of the word. Their real world perspective was surprisingly inspiring. 

It made me think more of HOW I traveled rather than to where I traveled. And that, to me, is what makes TRAVELIFE different from the others! 

*     *    *



This is definitely the time to visit this small but culturally rich country -- before the rest of the world discovers it.


FOR MORE INFORMATION ON 
THE TRAVELIFE TO SRI LANKA November 2013:
Please email travelife@travelife.biz
or contact Meg Caligner at Travelife Magazine
Tel 8138400/ 8922620



TRAVELIFE Magazine’s
Enchanting SRI LANKA Tour
November 21 - 27, 2013

in partnership with 
the Embassy of Sri Lanka 
and the Sri Lanka - Philippines Friendship Association

& Thai Airways

*    *    *

Visit the country’s three top UNESCO World Heritage sites
Stay in two of Sri Lanka’s most famous hotels
Shop in Colombo’s best stores for gems, crafts and clothing 

*    *    *

Travelife with us to the next big destination in Asia
for lovers of culture, nature and shopping

Day 1: Thursday, 21 November 2013
MANILA - COLOMBO via Bangkok
on Thai Airways


Depart early afternoon for Bangkok and onwards to Colombo via Thai Airways.

After arriving late at night in Sri Lanka, clients will be welcomed & transferred to a nearby hotel for an overnight stay.

*    *    *

Scroll down to read more...



*    *    *

Day 2: Friday, 22 November 2013
COLOMBO – DAMBULLA 


After breakfast leave Dambulla. Lunch and check-in at a historic hotel designed by a famous architect. 

In the afternoon, visit the Dambulla Cave Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.



The Dambulla Cave Temples date back to the 1st century BC. 

These caves sheltered the Sri Lankan King Walagamba during his 14 years of exile from the royal capital of Anuradhapura. When he regained the throne he built these magnificent cave temples in gratitude for his safety.

Day 3: Saturday, 23 November 2013
DAMBULLA - SIGIRIYA - DAMBULLA



After breakfast, climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World and home to the 5th Century “Fortress in the Sky,” which is perhaps the most fantastic manmade wonder in Sri Lanka. 

It is also known as Lion Rock because of the huge lion that used to stand at the entrance to the fortress.

Those who don't wish to climb can choose to stay and relax at the hotel or to visit the Sigiriya Museum adjacent to the site.



On its summit are the foundations of what was once a great and sumptuous palace and gardens complete with swimming pool. 

On one of the stairways is the only known ancient work of Sinhala secular painting in the form of frescoes of life sized damsels, all the freshness and delicacy of their original colour still visible.


Day 4: Sunday, 23 November 2013 
DAMBULLA – SIGIRIYA – COLOMBO


The morning will be at leisure to enjoy one of the most iconic hotels in the world. Lunch will be at a beautiful restaurant by the lake.

In the afternoon, head back to Colombo for dinner and a stay at one of Sri Lanka's newest luxury hotels.

Day 5: Monday, 24 November 2013
COLOMBO

After breakfast, enjoy a city tour of Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. It’s a fascinating city, not only for its comfortable blend of East and West, but also for its easy mixture of the past and the present. 

After lunch at one of the city’s most fashionable restaurants, spend the afternoon shopping at some of Colombo's top retailers for crafts, clothing and gems.



From Arab settlers in the 8th century to the Portuguese, Dutch and the British up until the 20th century have all fought over Sri Lanka’s treasures including precious gems, scented woods, spices, and tea.



The island remains a popular shopping destination within Asia

Highlights include clothing with many well-known European and American brands available at discounted prices, antiques and furniture, contemporary home accents and jewelry.

Day 6: Tuesday, 25 November 2013
COLOMBO 

Free day and sightseeing/ shopping options will be available for those who wish to avail.  Late night transfer to Bandaraike International Airport for your flight back to Manila via Bangkok.


Day 7: Wednesday, 26 November 2013
COLOMBO – BANGKOK - MANILA

Early morning flight to Bangkok, and onwards to Manila. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Please email travelife@travelife.biz
or contact Meg Caligner at Travelife Magazine
Tel 8138400/ 8922620



TRAVELIFE MAGAZINE on Facebook

A detox lunch at Kasbah and a trip to France next year


Yesterday, in Manila living a Travelife, I had two enlightening conversations with two good friends: one at lunch with my friend M at Kasbah, my favorite North African/ Middle Eastern restaurant, and one at a healthy detox dinner at my home.


I'd been away for awhile and so I hadn't seen many of my friends for ages.

And yesterday, I had a catch-up lunch with M over hummus and salads at Kasbah.

Scroll down to read more...




A DETOX AND CATCH-UP LUNCH

Actually, it was only supposed to be a healthy lunch of hummus and an assortment of salads.

We both agreed to detox -- or actually I suggested a detox lunch and she gamely agreed.



But faced with the menu and a waiter hovering us, we caved in and ordered a chicken tagine to share, plus couscous and a scrumptious chocolate tart.

There went the detox.

But M said: "It's all food that's good for us anyway."

We're very old friends and we never meet up often enough; but when we do, it's like no time has passed at all.



INSIGHTS ON TRAVEL.
AND WHY WE ALL NEED A TRAVELIFE.

And yesterday, M had the most insightful things to say about travel -- which is refreshing.

Most people usually expect me to be the one sprouting philosophical ideas about why we all need travel in our lives.

Why we all need a Travelife, in other words.

I can't divulge most of what we talked about, unfortunately. But we certainly had a few good laughs.

Scroll down to read more...



TRAVELING WITH GOOD FRIENDS

As for the topics we discussed that I can share, M and I were talking about traveling with friends.

M said, "It's really a great opportunity to get to know someone, when you're taken out of the everyday and in an entirely different situation together. There are not too many opportunities like this."

She continued: "When you travel together, you assume you'll come away from the trip better friends. It's really unfortunate when that's not the case."



I completely agreed.

In fact, that's how she and I became very good friends in the first place.

We'd traveled to Europe together when we were very young, and what a fantastic time we'd had. It still ranks up there with one of the best trips I've ever taken in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



SEE YOU NEXT YEAR, FRANCE

And before lunch was over, we'd planned another long-overdue trip next year, as we hadn't done one together in a very long time.

We decided to go to the south of France to paint and to brush up on our French speaking skills, on another amazing adventure in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.






TRAVELIFE MAGAZINE on Facebook

Philippine Travel Mart at SMX and other Philippine tourism celebrations this September, organized by PHILTOA


PHILIPPINE TOURISM WEEK
Schedule of activities

September 1
TAKBO PARA SA TURISMO 
Race for Change 2013

September 2-3
1st Philippine Tourism Forum 
Asian Integration in Tourism

September 4
Trabaho sa Turismo 
One Day Job Fair

September 3-6
Biyahe Info Seminar 
Student Forum

September 5
Philippine Travel Exchange 
Business to Business Meeting

September 6-8
Philippine Travel Mart

ABOUT THE PHILIPPINE TRAVEL MART

The Philippine Travel Mart is being organized under the theme TRAVEL MORE. LIVE MORE. It’s More Fun in the Philippines.

Scroll down to read more...


LOOKING TO 2015

On a related note, tour operators and tourism-related industries in the Philippines are brushing up on trade practice to meet a new service standard for tourism that will take effect by 2015 in all ASEAN countries.

This is based on the conditions provided by the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreement.

The development came as the country braces for the upcoming ASEAN integration, which will see the implementation of the ASEAN Competency Standard to all tourism professionals and workers in Southeast Asian countries. 


ONE VISION. ONE COMMUNITY

Aside from tackling political and socio-cultural issues, the initiative will also facilitate regional economic cooperation, of which tourism is a major factor.

For tourism, the ASEAN integration aims to facilitate new regional products, establish travel connectivity, and increase quality of services and facilities.

Scroll down to read more...



According to former ASEAN Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan, the strategy is designed to help build global recognition of Southeast Asia as a competitive, world-class tourism destination.

“Our focus is on drawing visitors to the region and encouraging them to visit more than one country. As each has its own unique attractions, we will capitalize on the sophisticated marketing capacity and resources of our individual national tourism organizations to spread the word,” he added.



A LONG WAY TO GO

Currently, the Philippines ranks 7th among 8 Southeast Asian nations surveyed in the latest ASEAN Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report.

The study measured competitiveness in terms of government policy; business environment and infrastructure; as well as human, cultural, and natural resources.

Scroll down to read more...


THE ROAD TO 2015

Locally, private tour operators are contributing by investing in skills development and the generation of competent human resources. 

 In the recently concluded general membership meeting of the Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), representatives from tourism-related industries have put necessary steps in place to prepare the sector for ASEAN integration.

THE 1st PHILIPPINE TOURISM FORUM

 At the forefront of local initiatives will be the first-ever Philippine Tourism Forum, which will happen on September 2-3, 2013 at the SMX Convention Center.

As one of the highlights of the 1st Philippine Tourism week (Sept. 1-8), the forum will bring together industry leaders, government representatives, and other stakeholders to formally discuss the country’s steps until the ASEAN Integration on 2015.

Scroll down to read more...


PHILIPPINE TOURISM WEEK EVENT PARTNERS

The event is organized in partnership with:

1) The Department of Tourism (DOT)
2) ASEAN Board Advisory Council
3) Global Leadership Initiatives for Sustainable Tourism (GLIST)
4) The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP)

Other Tourism week highlights include the Philippine Tourism Exchange ( PHITEX), which will allow Philippine tourism stakeholders to meet with international foreign buyers, to discuss and market the latest tour offerings of the Philippines.

Scroll down to read more...



THE 24TH PHILIPPINE TRAVEL MART

Of course, the 24th Philippine Travel Mart is another major highlight.

The Philippine Travel Mart is the largest and longest-running tourism expo in the country showcasing the premier and new destinations in the Philippines and biggest Sale ng Bayan on Philippine tour packages, tickets and accommodations.

Showcasing over 350 exhibitors from all over the country, the Philippine Travel Mart is the country's largest annual tour expo aimed at promoting sustainable domestic and inbound tourism in the Philippines.

Scroll down to read more...


ABOUT PHILTOA

The Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA), Inc. is an organization of tour operators and allied members actively involved in the advocacy of responsible tourism.

www.philtoa.org



TRAVELIFE MAGAZINE on Facebook

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Detoxing from dessert and men


There I was, in the car, on my way home from the office to prepare dinner for two friends coming over for a catch-up meal, when my phone pinged.

It was my never-endingly prodigal friend with a BBM message. And thus began another one of our hilarious conversations.

Scroll down to read more...



BBM WHILE MAKING DINNER

This conversation actually started earlier in the day, when he'd called me at the office.



And then we'd continued on BBM all while I was back home preparing a healthy culinary feast.

I still remember that I was typing him a message while pureeing some chickpeas for a hummus dip to go with my original tabbouleh.




A SOLEMN PROMISE



I wish I could blog about our hilarious conversations, but I've promised to be as circumspect as possible since a couple of months ago.

Or at least to try to be.

And considering that I promised him once again not to blog about our conversations just this afternoon, I can't very well recall our exchanges today.



PERFECT TIMING

Anyway, our last exchange took place just as my doorbell rang and the first of my two friends arrived.

Perfect timing. So I put the phone away to concentrate on being a good hostess.

Scroll down to read more...




DETOXING ON EVERYTHING

"I've made all healthy foods for tonight," I said to her. "I hope you don't mind, but I'm trying to detox."

Yes, I'd made hummus, three kinds of very fresh salads and a pumpkin soup from scratch. And I was serving San Pellegrino instead of wine.



Well, she said: "You're detoxing on food, and I'm detoxing on men."

Oh wow. I had to sit down for that one. I hadn't seen her for the last five or six weeks, of course, as I'd been in Japan for the Tokyo summer, and it seems a whole lifetime had happened to her in between.

Apparently she'd just had some ups and downs in a relationship that was neither nor there.

UNDERSTANDING MEN



She said: "I can't understand men. One minute they're hot and all over you, and then another minute, they're all cold and they don't know what they want in life. Or they don't know if they want you in their life."

I sighed. I'd heard this story a thousand times before.

So I replied: "Guys can be like that. And if you push them, they'll just run away. So it's best to just concentrate on your own life and be happy when they're there, and forget about them when they're not."

TO LIE OR NOT TO LIE



Then I continued, using the word "we" just to make her feel like I was talking about the enlightened female race in general, rather than just her specifically: "We're lucky because we have options and we can live the kind of lives we want, and this isn't dependent on a guy."

This is when she shot me down with a clincher I had no rebuttal for.



"Yeah, yeah, yeah," she said. "We can sugarcoat this all we want. But let's face it: all women want a guy in their lives. And any female who says otherwise is lying."

Then she added: "And you can quote me in the blog. I've been reading it and you need to spice it up."

How's that for a never-endingly eventful Travelife tonight?






TRAVELIFE MAGAZINE on Facebook