Monday, November 15, 2010

confessions, confections and coffee sessions v.02: Sweet Poetry, Revisiting Sonnet XVII Over Dessert and Coffee

Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

It was a rainy weekend, I was hanging out in Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at the Gateway Mall when I stumbled into this sonnet again. I remember reading this through my very good friend, Cams, who posted it in Facebook months back. Now, I'm posting it here to share how much this moved me... I really can't help not to admire the thoughts this sonnet conveys to its readers, especially its idea of true love: that certain dark things are to be loved and that it should be straightforward, without any complexities or pride. If asked what would be my favorite line, I might say this: "I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where..." such simple yet astonishing words showing that love is truly magical, same as with my love for food and all the wonders it could bring.

As my admiration for this sonnet goes deeper, so as my intense likeness for the Turtle Pie that I slowly consumed during that time; indulging at every chocolaty flavor that I could taste. Its balanced sweetness and flavor are overwhelming, add to that the texture and bite that the pecans had brought the whole ensemble. Just like the poem, it's sweet, smooth and rich - perfect pair with the Moroccan Mint Tea Latte. Also, I loved how the tea latte melted the chocolate in my mouth. The aroma and flavor of the tea highlighted the smoothness and richness of the turtle pie. The Moroccan Mint Tea Latte is spectacular in its own right - relaxing, rich and aromatic - but when paired with the Turtle Pie, one can actually find true love.

I may not have found my special someone yet but that doesn't hinder me from loving poems that discusses what true love is. Call me hopeless romantic but I believe that there's someone out there who is also waiting (or may be searching) for their perfect pair, someone that can make them realize that true love does not only exist in novels and in poetry. Love is all around us and as for me, I will always be happily in love with food, my family and friends. I have been saving this great love in me and in time, in God's own time, I know, I will be able to meet someone who can spend special coffee sessions with me.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Amazing Grace, all thanks to Mary Grace...

It's always fun to eat with friends that are truly close to your heart. That's why when Mommy Daney & Ian invited me to have dinner at Mary Grace Cafe in Trinoma, without any second thoughts, I immediately gave them a loud YES! Nothing can stop a foodie like me from having a good time eating, especially doing it with friends who also offer interesting stories that make every dining experience pleasurable.

From the South, after hanging out at Blendz Coffee in Megamall to finish some unpublished posts and attending the Sunday afternoon mass, I hurriedly rode a cab and politely told the driver, "Manong, Trinoma po... :)" (yes, it's not just a smiley, I did really smile while telling the driver my destination... hehe...) Then after about 30 minutes of seemingly-like-forever taxi ride, I found myself warmly greeted by my peers, all excited for me to check out what we will be having for that Sunday Night Chillout.

Since we all can't wait to taste the delicious food that Mary Grace has to offer, we immediately asked for the menu and checked what they got for us. As a soup person, I decided to first get their Seafood Chowder. We Filipinos usually only have soup during the rainy days, aside from our traditional "mainit na sabaw" but this chowder has more than what we think of compared to the others. I cannot deny that fact that this straightforwardly delicious soup made it to my list of favorite soups of all time! I was amazed by how balanced the creaminess and the seafood flavor was. It's consistency is just right and I love how every bite of the clams, shrimp and squid adds a depth of flavor to the whole dish. It was served on a very beautiful, mustard colored soup bowl (that I badly wanted to bring home with me... haha!), very simple yet gastronomically awesome!

Seafood Chowder

After having the soup, I tried the different pasta dishes that we ordered. I had Seafood Pasta, Pasta Amatriciana with Italian Meatballs, Leeks, Saffron and Cream Dory Fish Fillet, and finally the Spanish Sardines with Olives Pasta.

The Seafood Pasta was simple yet very appetizing; with those generous amount of fresh seafood tossed with the al dente pasta covered with tasty pasta water and olive oil, every seafood lover will surely have a blast and enjoy eating this one.

Seafood Pasta

Pasta Amatriciana with Italian Meatballs is also great. The pasta sauce was really tasty, loved how they have infused it with italian herbs and spices. Unlike the traditional Italian tomato sauce that is a bit sour, this has a balanced combination of sweet and sour taste. Add to that the layers of flavor coming from the chunky and juicy meatballs, herbs and parmesan cheese, this dish is a sure hit to every Italian pasta lover. I am so glad that we're able to get this one because as for me, any pasta experience is not complete without being able to taste a tomato based pasta sauce.

Pasta Amatriciana with Italian Meatballs

Next is the Leeks, Saffron and Cream Dory Fish Fillet. The dory tasted really good; very fresh and succulent and it has absorbed the flavors from the leeks, saffron and lemon very well. Consuming it with the olive oil based and tangy lemon sauce plus the pasta makes it really a star - a very healthy, simple and complete meal good enough to fill a hungry foodie. But what really made my taste buds run crazy was this last pasta, with its different taste and savory oil sauce, I must say that it had been very close to my heart (or should I say my stomach?? what do you think?? haha!)
Leeks, Saffron and Cream Dory Fish Fillet

Spanish Sardines with Olives is stellar that night. Of all the pastas that I have eaten, this one surely made a real impact on me and how I adore oil-based pasta dishes. I loved how the pasta was generously covered with the sardines and its spicy, savory sauce. I was also amazed by how the tomato chunks softened the whole spicy ensemble. Truly, this has made my whole pasta experience really scrumptious and memorable.

Spanish Sardines with Olives

Along with this yummy dishes were refreshing concoctions. Mary Grace was known for their flavored drinks so we decided to order three of their best sellers: Sangria, Citrus Fruit with Peppermint and Apple Cinnamon Iced Tea. All were very good and a great partner to the dishes that we had. Mary Grace has truly proven that they do not only offer delicious cakes and pastries but also dishes that are affordable, flavorsome and cooked with love.

Aside from the good food and drinks, you'll also love the ambiance that this cafe offers - rustic, homey and artsy. Their wooden walls and stained glass lamps really made the cafe very accommodating and warm (I was hooked by those lamps, I also wanted to take it home... haha!). I love how they plate their dishes, on ceramic plates with artistic and lovely patterns and designs. Their food is not just really delicious but is surely very pretty and inviting to look at. Price wise, all of their servings were good, I think, for two and costs around 200php to 300php, very affordable for such great gastronomic experience. All in all, Mary Grace is one cafe worth dining for. It has all the qualities of a great cafe and resto should have - good food, delicious desserts, warm ambiance, affordable prices and friendly servers - such an amazing grace, so, what more can you ask for?

Words of one happy foodie customer... ^__^
You can leave messages under the glass the covers their wooden dining tables!
Such a great and creative way to get feedback from customers.
Great decorative ideas too! ^__^

Cafe Mary Grace
Tel: 823 7746 | 823 2954 | 383 1340
Cell: 0917 861 6885

Special Thanks to my dear friend photographer, Ian and his wife Mommy Daney! Love you both!
To my friend Cj and my best friend, Bherry and her man, Louie, glad that you're able to join us! thanks a lot! love love!