Boodle Fight Night

Boodle Fight Night

I had my first Boodle Fight meal. I can’t believe that I have never engaged in the style of eating before, especially since I am Filipino. It was a great and delicious experience.

Boodle Fight is a Philippine military style of eating a meal. It’s a style of eating that celebrates camaraderie and brotherhood (or in our case, sisterhood). Banana leaves are laid out on the table  (usually a long table) and food is served in a pile in the middle. No plates are used. You use the banana leaves that are on your side as your “plate”. You also don’t use utensils. You use your hands to eat which is called Kamayan. Kamay is the Filipino word for hand. Traditionally, Filipinos eat food with bare hands which is a a centuries old practice. It’s messy but fun.

So how did this Boodle Fight Night come to fruition? Well, every year, my friends and I get together for our birthdays. This year, we decided to do wine and game night which later turned into seafood night and eventually turned into a Boodle Fight night. As you can see, we added wine to our Boodle Fight.

We had king crab, shrimp and corn on the cob. We also added some roasted garlic to the pile. The sauce was delicious and even a little spicy.

There were only 5 of us. Boodle Fight is best when done with a big group of people. However, our little sisterhood of 5 women  was perfect for this night. We had plenty of food and even some leftover shrimp and corn.

What a great way to celebrate camaraderie with your friends.

Today I am grateful for sisterhood, camaraderie and Boodle Fight Nights.

Camden Market

On our last day of London, we spent the day at Camden Market. Sabrina lives in Camden Town so it was just a brief walk. Before going to Camden Market, we stopped at Blue’s Kitchen for a burger. My burger was delicious and so were the chips!

Yum…

After lunch, we were off to Camden Market. I enjoyed the atmosphere. All the shops and stalls had quirky, interesting and artsy items for sale. All things related to fashion, art, music, etc. There were also places to eat. One of them was Cereal Killer Cafe. They offer over 100 different cereals. You can order different types of milk and toppings to go with your cereal. The memorabilia inside the cafe is from the 80’s and 90’s. If you are a cereal lover, this is the place for you!

His face tho!

It was fun exploring Camden Market. Here are some of the interesting things we saw:

Statue of Amy Winehouse

bowls

Art tiles

Lamps

I love these lamps. Sabrina asked me what I want for Christmas and I told her to bring me one of these from London!

We spent the night at Sabrina’s flat. It was my favorite place to sleep because it was her flat. I felt so comfortable and at home. It was a small space but I loved it! We spent the night talking, talking, talking.

I brought a care package to Sabrina and in it was this picture which she framed and put in her room immediately.

Our afternoon tea tradition

My best friend from high school, Marylisa, and I have a tradition of trying new places for afternoon tea. We have been to many places for afternoon tea together. In the San Fernando Valley, there was a place called “The Guilded Rose”. It was a purple house and inside it was like an English cottage. They served afternoon tea and that was always our place to go. Unfortunately, they closed down and that is when we started looking for other places to go for afternoon tea. The places we have tried in the past were the Huntington Library, the Four Seasons, the Chado Tea Room and the Elle C Garden Cafe in Santa Clarita.

Cute tea cup and saucer

This year we tried the Madeline Garden Bistro in Pasadena. This restaurant had a very European feel to it because of it’s decor and atmosphere. It was tres chic.  We ordered the Royal afternoon tea and it was very different than the usual tea sandwiches,  scones and dessert. This tea offered a soup or salad, a hot tier, a cold tier, scones and dessert. For my tea, I ordered Earl Grey. That was unusual for me because I usually like to order teas that I haven’t tried before and that have an unusual combination. I still enjoyed it and as usual, I added milk and sugar to my tea. Delicious.

The first course came out and it was actually the scones. We ended up saving that for later and then our soup and salad came out. I chose the tomato soup.

You say tomato, I say tomato…soup

Then the tiers came out. The first tier was the hot tier which included steak, potatoes au gratin, a hot crab salad and shrimp.

the hot tier

We started on the hot tier, of course. Then the next tier was the cold tier.

so cold

This tier included the tea sandwiches that I always look forward to. The sandwiches that were included in this tier were the salmon and butter tea sandwich and the  cucumber and cream cheese tea sandwich. There was also a caprese salad skewer and a shrimp cocktail.

Since we saved our scone for later, after our cold tier, we decided to eat our scone with the clotted cream and jam. The waiter said it was a Christmas scone so it had pieces of dried fruit in it, like a Christmas fruitcake.  It was pretty good.

The dessert tier was next. It was very elegant. It had creme brulee, a macaroon and a chocolate brownie with frosting and peppermint sprinkles on top.

I really enjoyed this experience. I liked the European decor. Our table was set nicely. We sat on elegant couches with cute fluffy pillows. On this day, there was a guitarist playing music in the background. I would definitely go here again. They also serve tapas and champagne brunch. They have very good service and are very friendly and accommodating.  Interestingly, our royal afternoon tea came with champagne but our waiter forgot to give it to us. They apologized and gave us a discount on our bill. I think it would have been fun to drink champagne with a high tea. I will try that next time.

Paris, baby

During our trip to London, we planned a weekend getaway to Paris. We took the Eurostar which was a 2 hour train ride to Paris. When we arrived, it was already late at night. The next day was our first full day and it was raining!

Rain in Paris

Our first stop was to a restaurant that Sabrina really wanted to try. This restaurant only serves steak and fries (steak et frites). Sabrina really enjoyed the food at this restaurant and the experience was so Paris. It was also Josh’s first time eating steak and he thought it was delicious.

We then took a walk to see the Eiffel Tower and on the way, we passed the Arc De Triomphe.

On the way to the Eiffel Tower, we also stopped at the stores to go shopping. We also bought macaroons at Laderee.

Inside the Laderee boutique

Our macaroons

My choices for the macaroons were orange blossom, vanilla and rose. Even though vanilla is a basic flavor, it ended up being my favorite because it was the most flavorful.

We finally made it to the Eiffel Tower.

The next day, we took a walk to see the Louvre. On our way, we passed the Eiffel Tower again and this time, we had crepes for breakfast.

Chantilly Crepe for breakfast under the Eiffel Tower

We finally made it to the Louvre.

Unfortunately, we didn’t go inside.  We were talking about seeing the Mona Lisa. Maybe next time. Afterwards, we went inside the Carousel De Louvre to go window shopping.  While there, we stopped at McCafe and ordered cappuccinos and macaroons. They weren’t as good as the Laderee macaroons but it was fun  to buy macaroons at McDonalds in Paris!

McCafe coffee and McMacaroons!

I loved visiting Paris and I will certainly go again.

 

 

London, baby…

We spent our Thanksgiving holiday week in London with a weekend getaway to Paris. The reason for our visit? To visit my daughter, Sabrina, who is living in London currently while she works on her Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management at Kings College.

The original plan was for my son, Josh and I to stay in her flat. She lives in student housing. She shares a flat with about 7 flatmates. She has her own room with a bathroom and they share the kitchen and common area. I was really excited to stay with her in her flat even though it is a small room and we would be very crowded. It turned out that it wasn’t in the plan and instead, my daughter got us an Airbnb in Bermondsey. In Bermondsey, we were right by the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. On one of our days in Bermondsey, my son and I spent a day at the Tower of London while my daughter was in class. I think his favorite part of the Tower of London was learning about the knights, seeing their armor and touching the chain mail and seeing the weapons that they used. We walked on the Tower Bridge to get to the Tower of London and then afterwards, we did more strolling and sight seeing.

Josh strolling through London with the Tower Bridge as his view.

Josh at the Tower of London

We also spent a day sight seeing with my daughter. Living in London, she knew all the places to go and how to get there by walking (which we did A LOT of) or by taking the tube. Our first stop was to eat fish and chips at Fish! Kitchen at the Borough Market.

We then took the tube and our stop was Westminister to see Big Ben and Westminister Abbey.

Big Ben was under construction at the time of our visit so I didn’t get to really see it. We thought that was funny since it was one of the attractions I really wanted to see. We then took a walk to to see the London Eye and then another walk to Sabrina’s school, Kings College.

Sabrina at Kings College

At night, we went shopping at Oxford Street.

The next day was spent taking a brisk (one hour) walk to Sabrina’s school. We had a lot of fun walking and Josh had a great time running and jumping through the crunchy fall leaves.

While Sabrina was working on a project at school, Josh and I went to Somerset House to go ice skating. I think this was Josh’s favorite part of the trip. He was so excited! The ice was great and the weather and scenery was delightful.

We also went to Winter Wonderland at Hyde park at night. We had fun shopping for candy, playing games and walking around the park.

Our first few days in London was fun and exciting. It was a wonderful experience. Our next adventure was a weekend trip to Paris. Stay tuned…

Our first week apart

My daughter Sabrina is having a great time before she settles into her school in London. After dropping off her stuff at storage, she finally had a chance to explore her new surroundings and her new school. She sent me some pictures of King’s College in London. It looks so majestic and regal! Watching her snaps on Snapchat of her adventures in London and on her trip is so exciting. What a cool vibe it is over there! Afterwards, she was on her way out to go on a mini vacay. She visited Dublin and had a great time. Her next stop was Prague with a slight layover in Amsterdam. I love Amsterdam!

Amsterdam. Photo cred to Sabrina

I still remember walking the streets of Amsterdam late at night with Sabrina in a stroller when we stayed in Amsterdam for a couple of days. She was only 18 months old. I bundled her up in her thick pink winter jacket and an extra blanket so that we can walk and explore Amsterdam (at night). It was a fun adventure. I remember it so vividly because it is one of my favorite memories. I would love to go back to Amsterdam with Sabrina!

After Amsterdam, Sabrina went to Munich. Her main reason for going to Munich was to attend Oktoberfest, a beer festival. I know that she was really looking forward to it and it seems that she had a great time.

How exciting for Sabrina to experience (and re-experience since she is an avid traveler) so many different cultures.

As for Josh, the first week for him was very hard. He missed his sister so very much. Sabrina made a picture frame with a couple of pictures of them together in it. When Josh misses her, he looks at that picture. He also placed it on the table near his bed so that he can look at it before he goes to sleep. Unfortunately, it makes him miss her even more.

He also looks into her room (so do I).

Where’s Sabrina…

When he misses her, he opens the envelopes that she left for him. So far, he has opened the “open when… you are sad” and “open when… you miss me”. It makes him feel a lot better. He also goes into the box that Sabrina made for me with all the little papers with sayings on it and picks one to read. He realizes that he keeps picking the same one which says “Have a great day”. It makes him smile.

Everyday, Sabrina and Josh and I text with each other. We also had a chance to video chat a few times. Josh looks forward to her texts. He loves texting with his sister and updating her on his life.

A few things that he texted to her:

He went to Red Lobster to eat his favorite, snow crab. While there, he took a picture of a lobster and sent it to her. I took a picture of his food (because that’s what foodies do). He loves the process of eating a crab. It’s so messy but fun.

and he ate every bite!

He tried out for flag football, picked out his jersey size, had his first practice and bought some really cool football gear. His favorite are the sticky football gloves. He can’t wait to wear his cleats.

oh, you fancy

He also went to a new dentist. This dental office is geared specifically for children. He liked going there because the hygienists are so gentle and so nice. He also liked watching a movie while he was having his teeth worked on. He watched Finding Nemo. Later the hygienist let him pick a movie and he picked Ice Age. We were there for almost 2 hours! But the good news is that he has no cavities. He especially enjoyed taking the panoramic x-ray of his teeth. He is excited that he might need braces. At the end, he got a toy! Wow.

Yes, that’s a smiley face on your lap

The first week was hard but Josh is doing much better now. Sabrina was so worried, but that’s what loving big sisters do.

Today I am grateful for loving big sisters, little brothers who love their big sisters, London, Amsterdam, adventures, different cultures, fond memories, snow crabs, sticky football gloves and smiley faces.

Goodbye Presents: She’s leaving on a London plane

My daughter Sabrina is leaving today for London. She is working on her Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Management at King’s College. She will be gone for a year.

We have been spending some good quality time together before she leaves. At the end of one of our days of fun, she gave me a goodbye present. It was a box that she decoupaged herself and filled with little pieces of paper with little sayings that she wrote and a cute little book called “Why You’re So Awesome”.

It was my turn to give her my goodbye present. I wrote quotes, advice, encouragement and praises on cards and pasted photos on the back. She loved them!

We love giving homemade gifts to each other!

She gave her brother a great goodbye gift too. They were envelopes filled with notes that he can “open when…” One is “open when you are happy”. Another one is “open when I leave”. She instructed me to make sure that he opens it when we get back from dropping her off to the airport.

Open when….

She is leaving today. We are leaving in an hour and a half to drop her off at the airport. We are very sad and will miss her terribly but we are so proud of her for following her dreams.

Dream big, Sabrina. Reach for the stars.