A long overdue Valentine's Day story

Friday, March 11, 2011 Jonette 0 Comments

Featuring FOOD!

Thus goes the rom-com of me and James, where Com is definitely bigger than the Rom most the time, and it still turns out into a kooky-quirky kind of Rom altogether in the end. We're kind of awesome that way.

So! I am quite happy to say we absolutely did not go anywhere to celebrate this Valentine's Day, and with very good reason. Why go out and spend big bucks to celebrate when you can pretty much do the celebrating at home? 

Nnnnnnno, not just that way, and I'd appreciate it if you could put the hur-hur-hur-that's-what-she-said away, thank you very much. 

We were both at work on Valentine's eve, but since I got off work earlier, I wondered: what would be a quick, easy, and fitting way to celebrate Happy Hearts Day without breaking our budget?

Banchetto is a midnight food fair that happens every Friday night/ Saturday early morn. A portion of Ortigas' Emerald avenue is closed off, and three long columns of tent-sheds are pitched. Soon, the sounds and smells of excited chatter, lively hawking, and sizzling, grilled, steamed, what-have-you food waft above the silence of the sleepy business strip. Here, one can very much feast on almost-gourmet food for less. Angus beef kababs? check. Freshly-chopped lechon? Check.Salads and freshly-made fruit juice and smoothies? Check. crepes made right before your eyes? Check. Cakes, macarons, and local bonbons? Check! Customers are free to sit on tables, plant boxes and stone steps and enjoy their meals al fresco.

My many thanks to great galpal Jicel for taking me here, urging me to try a crepe, and giggling over sweet treats with me.

Pictures! I wish I'd taken more, but you can only do so much with a sputtering battery.

If you think the Oreo cheesecake is mouth-watering, wait 'til you try their Ube cheesecake. 

From top to bottom: Buko Pandan Flan; (left to right) Macarons in rose, green tea, and coffee flavors; (left to right) Macarons in strawberry and melon flavors. 

I was quite excited to try the macarons, and I did. I sampled their green tea and coffee flavors, and decided they were not bad. Not bad at all for P20 a pop. I wonder how different or similar their Parisian counterparts would taste like. ^_^*

Fried finger-food! From left to right: homemade fish balls, crispy crablets, chicharon bulaklak (deep fried pork intestines), and freshly-popped chicharon (pork rinds) for P20 a cup. I surprised James in the morning with crispy crablets for breakfast, and he exclaimed in surprise over their tastiness and price.

A stall full of local goodies I and my folks grew up with. See all those giant packs of biscuits and candy? They go for under P60 each. I remembered scoring a big pack of 30 chocolate-covered mallows for P50, and a large pack of sultana cookies for P60. Did I mention they also sold gem cookies, chocolate covered pretzel sticks, and other schoolyard treats? Heaven

A pasta stall, bright and ready for the wave of hungry folk. 

My crepe in the works! I ordered choco-manggo. See those jars of hazelnut spread behind the lady? I'm willing to bet those run out by the end of the shift. I love how their crepes are actually solid and slightly toasty-crispy; it's a delight to chew and can hold in more fruit and goodies a lot better than their mall-made counterparts. 

I have every intention of bringing my mom and dad to check this place out one of these days. 

So, between James and I, we didn't really have a lot of time nor money to plan for a grand Valentine's romp. Or grand gifts. I made the best of the situation by popping by Banchetto that night and planned the menu without breaking the bank. 

Meet Dinner, everyone. Dinner is -- was -- two medium-sized lobsters, and a few large shrimps thrown in by the shop lady for good will. (I honestly thought they were an unusually-large-sized specie of shrimp, when Jicel gasped in amazement and corrected me. Well, wow, lobsters.) I served these babies with hot rice and butter dip. Not bad for a P200 couple's meal, eh? At the end of the meal, the picked-away remains were shared with other stray cats in the area on an abandoned small plastic tray. We like the thought of spreading the love. 

The rest of the day was spent enjoying our anime-viewing line-up, ooh-ing and aah-ing at lovely art, perplexing the cat, and relishing each other's company.

Simple, cheap, very satisfying & very sweet. That's Valentine's day for you. 

I look back and do wonder: when did James and I stop giving each other Valentine presents again? I can't recall, to be quite honest. Right now, it really doesn't matter to me whether or not he shows up with a bouquet of flowers or a big teddy bear or glass slippers,-- or any kind of gift, for that matter, -- on my doorstep. I'm glad we don't need gifts to be happy together and celebrate us, celebrate love. Being together and and knowing just how wonderful it is that this smart, funny, considerate, thoughtful, brave, and gentle person thinks you're just as amazing too -- that's enough, more than enough for us. 

 My friend Tobie could never have said it truer: Love. Just celebrate it. 

Hope you all had a Happy Hearts Day as lovely as ours! 


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