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5.365 Linguine in Clam Sauce with Rucola

-Cycle 5, Item 365-
5 (Mon) January 2015

-Italian-
Linguine in Clam Sauce with Rucola

3.0

by me

in my apartment

-Ermita, Manila-

solo

And so Cycle 5 comes to an end.

With 1826 posts to date, including this one, the information has become so expansive/extensive that I can no longer maintain statistics with precision.

In fact, the internal search function can't handle the load anymore, so I have to google my own blog to find information from older posts.

The only number that I can offer is that the blog appears to have generated 106,366 hits during Cycle 5 (calculated by taking the total current hits as of today and subtracting the hits from the previous cycles: 56,319 in Cycle 4, 41,764 in Cycle 3, 16,156 in Cycle 2, and 2,015 in Cycle 1), about 290 hits per day on average.  At this rate, I could achieve the status of a one-million-hits-per-day power blogger by the conclusion of Cycle 17.

In any case, along the lines of how I wrapped Cycle 4 (see generally 4.365 Rice & Egg Porridge), here's the highlight reel for Cycle 5...

MOST HISTORICALLY SYMBOLIC: On the evening of moving into an apartment in Manila, initially for a sojourn of just three months, this meal represents the beginning of what has since become an official expatriation in the Philippines, possibly for years to come; it was also the launch of TERRP (see 5.008 TERRP 1(1.01) C2 Classic Cuisine : Chicken Pork Adobo + Siningag).

WORST DISH: The only 0.0 of the cycle (see 5.019 TERRP 6(1.06) Tempura : Ramen Burger), epitomizing most of the crap endured throughout TERRP.


BEST EXAMPLE OF FOOD CULTURE GONE WRONG: Both the featured abomination and the supplementary stuff about the TV program (see 5.031 TERRP 11(1.11) Wendy's : Baconator Mushroom Melt).


BEST PHOTO: It's all about timing (see 5.066 TERRP 30(1.27) Yasu : Oyakodon).

BEST DISH BY OTHER: Regardless of the maternal connection, she does objectively make the best kimchi (see 5.070 Mom's Kimchi (+ Beef/Pork & Corn Curry Rice).


RUNNER-UP BEST MEAL BY OTHER: Courtesy of CAL, the first of many exquisite Spanish meals throughout the cycle (see 5.081 Home-Cooked Spanish Cuisine, Home-Cooked by a Spaniard).


MOST PROFESSIONALLY SIGNIFICANT: It's what brought me to Manila (see 5.094 Not What I'd Ordered).

 BEST SURPRISE: Regrettably, however, I failed to live up to the faith and promise of Gustaf's care package, preparing just 2 Swedish meals this cycle, including this one (see 5.100 Tomatsill with Baguette); but I will make up for it in 2015.


MOST PERSONALLY TOUCHING: The featured item, as well as the supplementary stuff on tobacco marketing, both relating to the same kid (see 5.102 Potato & Corn Croquettes).


BEST PRESENTATION: Alas, more style than substance (see 5.139 Dragon Sukiyaki).

BIGGEST RIP-OFF: But I'm glad to have tried, if only so I never have to again (see 5.143 Good Award Kobe Beef Steak Course).

BEST RESTAURANT (MAKATI): Spanish, of course (see 5.157 Angulas a la Vasca).

BEST MEAL: Spanish again, this time in Spain, perhaps the greatest meal that I've experienced in my life (see 5.200 Okondo Bolletus Cream with Fried Egg).

BEST DISH (PREPARED) BY ME: I did choose the combination of items and assemble the spread--tasty, easy, fun...Spanish (see 5.201 Livin' La Vida Barca).

MOST RECREATIONALLY SUPPORTIVE: Beyond the food itself (see 5.223 Galbi Tang and More), I've come to appreciate this establishment in so many ways.

BEST?MOST?BIGGEST?WORST? PROJECT: Still not quite sure how I feel about TERRP, even though it did generate a wealth of source material to write about here (see 5.247 TERRP 85(4.11) KFC : Original Recipe Fried Chicken with Mashed Potatoes).

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: The long hard fall from grace (see 5.254 Lamb Keftedes).

MOST CULTURALLY ENGAGING: Made me feel like a local (see 5.278 Local Lunch Again!).

BEST DISH (COOKED) BY ME: A simple and obvious yet nonetheless profound breakthrough, like that guy who first wore pants (see 5.303 Doenjang Jjigae); few candidates in this category with only 34 "by me" items this cycle, compared to an average of 160 in each previous cycle. 

MOST GEOGRAPHICALLY GROUNDED: While the kangaroo and the emu would also qualify, the wallaby dish was the best of the bunch (see 5.338 Wild Harrisa Spiced Wallaby).

BEST RESTAURANT DISH: Confirms that Spanish cuisine may now be my all-time favorite among Western/European traditions (see 5.341 Cecina).

BEST RESTAURANT (MANILA): Where they tie my shoelaces for me (see most recently 5.347 TEITY 31 Highlight : Japanese-Style Corn Soup).

5.364 Grilled Shrimp & Olives with Couscous in Tomato Sauce

-Cycle 5, Item 364-
4 (Sun) January 2015

-Spanish-
Grilled Shrimp & Olives with Couscous in Tomato Sauce

3.0

by me

in my apartment

-Ermita, Manila-

solo

When CAL packed up and left last week (see generally 5.351 Chili Prawns), I was honored and grateful that she presented me with a bag full of unused/leftover ingredients from her pantry, most of which she'd purchased at home in Spain and brought here to prepare at her famous dinner parties (see for example 5.081 Home-Cooked Spanish Cuisine, Home-Cooked by a Spaniard).  She knows how much I've appreciated her cooking (see for example 5.151 Chipirones en su Tinte) and come to adore Spanish cuisine in general (see for example 5.201 Livin' La Vida Española).  

I will do my best to make her proud--even if my creations aren't authentic/traditional (see for example 5.243 Spaghetti with Oyster Mushrooms in Sardine Oil).

About the ramyeon, she brought in a pack one day to work (acquired during a mission to Korea) (reasons unknown) and asked me how to make it; at first, I was confused by the question, thinking maybe that she was asking me how the product had been manufactured; but she didn't know how much water to add or whether other ingredients needed to be added and in what order, etc.; funny that something so obvious to people who've grown up on instant noodles here in Asia could be confounding to a person, even an excellent cook, from other parts of the world.

5.363 Pasta + Sandwich for the Elite


-Cycle 5, Item 363-
3 (Sat) January 2015

-Korean-
Pasta + Sandwich for the Elite

1.5

at Asiana Airlines Business-Class Lounge (Satellite Terminal* - Incheon International Airport)

-Incheon-

solo

The Prodigal Son Returns to Welcome the New Year, Day 6 (see previously 5.363 Nakji Bokkeum).

After spending Christmas with the family in the Philippines (see most recently 5.357 Chicago Cowboy Steak), I came back with them to Korea to celebrate the New Year, arriving Monday night, returning to Manila tonight.

All of a sudden, I'm an Elite Member of the Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Miles Club.  I discovered this at the airport in Manila on the way here, at the check-in counter, when I was handed a boarding pass stamped "ELITE" and a ticket for lounge access, even though my ticket was for economy.  Haven't flown enough miles to qualify, so I'm thinking that maybe the recent business-class flight to Australia (see generally 5.335 Chicken Tausi) bumped me up.  Don't care why.  Kinda afraid to ask, in case it turns out to be a mistake.  The lounge will be particularly welcome in Manila, where the airport terminal is uncomfortable and boring and absent of decent dining/drinking options; priority baggage claim will also be nice given the ground crew's insufferable slowness that sometimes requires nearly an hour's wait for baggage.  I'll be flying PAL a lot more, here on out.  Win-win.

Incheon International Airport is split into two sections: the main terminal (for bigshot flights, mostly Korean Air and Asiana, to/from long-haul destinations, like the US); and the *satellite terminal, accessible via 2-minute tram-ride (for scrub flights, mostly non-Korean carriers, to/from nearby destinations, like the Philippines); perhaps because passengers on scrub flights tend not to go business, the Asiana lounge in the satellite terminal was largely empty.

Free unattended booze, thank you very much.

The food, however, was meh.  Snacks, no real food.  Whatever--I'm not there for the food (not really).

Business-class travel presents the passenger with a peculiar gastronomic surfeit.  For starters, the lounge offers a variety of items to eat and drink in unlimited quantity, usually of decent quality (though not here, apparently).  Then, during the flight, the food and beverages are also bound to be pretty good and plentiful (see for example 5.286 Chili Mango Prawns...).  Too many choices.  As with most things in life, the opportunities are broader and deeper for those who don't need them.  

If I arrive early enough to secure a seat by the exit...

...and if I pack my own goodies (e.g., like figs and brains), then I could very closely emulate a complete business-class experience.

5.362 Nakji Bokkeum

-Cycle 5, Item 362-
2 (Fri) January 2015

-Korean-
Nakji Bokkeum

2.0

at Seolmaene

-Sinsa, Seoul-

with Wife, Cho JH + Kim KH

The Prodigal Son Returns to Welcome the New Year, Day 5 (see previously 5.361 Palbochae).

After spending Christmas with the family in the Philippines (see most recently 5.357 Chicago Cowboy Steak), I've come back with them to Korea to celebrate the New Year, arriving Monday night, returning to Manila on tomorrow evening.

While Seolmaene is still one of my favorite restaurants in the city, one of my favorite restaurants of all time (see most recently 4.125 Bossam), I confess that I'm getting a bit tired of the limited menu.

Or maybe I've been spoiled by the manifold menus of Manila (see for example 5.347 Japanese-Style Corn Soup).

 Tangpyeongchae (3.0)

Nokdu Jeon (3.0)

Bossam (2.0)

In any case, the meal didn't quite satisfy as before.  The nakji bokkeum, which hasn't previously been covered on the blog, had a nice charred flavor on the octopus itself, but the rest of the dish was blah--perhaps the most disappointing dish that I've ever experienced here.  Everyone else also seemed less than thrilled.  

Sundae + Ddeokbokki (3.5)--afternoon snack at my favorite food stall (see most recently 5.267 Ddeokbokki + Sundae), now a neighborhood joint--always satisfying.

5.361 Palbochae

-Cycle 5, Item 361-
1 (Thu) January 2015

-Chinese-
Palbochae

2.5

at Hong Myeong

-Nonhyeon, Seoul-

with Kim HJ, Park HY

The Prodigal Son Returns to Welcome the New Year, Day 4 (see previously 5.360 Mul Naeng Myeon).

After spending Christmas with the family in the Philippines (see most recently 5.357 Chicago Cowboy Steak), I've come back with them to Korea to celebrate the New Year, arriving Monday night, returning to Manila on Saturday evening.

Another full circle (see also 5.359 Jaengban Ban), the last time that I had dinner with my colleagues from AUSOM was exactly 365 days ago (see previously 4.362 How I Earned a Free Bowl of Mul-Naeng-Myeon).

Yes, I'm aware that these aren't pure coincidences, just that I always have dinner with the same groups of people around the same time of year.  

Taking a glance at my DSLR camera, the owner offered us a complimentary bottle of hooch and asked that I be generous in my review--the second time that this has happened to me (see also 4.331 Special Nigiri Set).

Hong Myeong is a Korean-Chinese restaurant.

The food was hit/miss.  While the ingredients were clearly very fresh, and the preparations exhibited a skilled hand, the seasonings fell a bit short.  The palbochae, for example, the best dish of the meal--fresh seafood is pretty good regardless--was kinda bland.  Whatever.

Good times nevertheless.

Happy New Year!

For brunch earlier in the day, as per New Year's tradition, my mother made ddeok guk; personally, I feel that her style is too spartan--she likes food to be "clean" in appearance (see for comparison 5.269 Ddeok Galbi Tang). 

5.360 Mul Naeng Myeon


-Cycle 5, Item 360-
31 (Wed) December 2014

-Korean-
Mul Naeng Myeon

4.0

at Samwon Garden

-Nonhyeon, Seoul-

with the family and the folks

The Prodigal Son Returns to Welcome the New Year, Day 3 (see previously 5.360 Jaengban Ban).

After spending Christmas with the family in the Philippines (see most recently 5.357 Chicago Cowboy Steak), I've come back with them to Korea to celebrate the New Year, arriving Monday night, returning to Manila on Saturday evening.

Whereas the mul naengmyeon here (see generally 4.308 Mul Naengmyeon) has consistently capped out at a 3.5 rating (see most recently 5.083 Mul Naengmyeon), probably because of a lingering prejudice on my part against MNM that isn't strictly PYS, technically CS-PYS (see generally 4.261 Pyongyang (Mul) Naengmyeon), I've finally decided to give this dish the full 4.0 that it deserves.  Personal preferences aside, this may objectively be the best MNM in Seoul.

Perfect meal to wrap an excellent year.

The following is a geographic breakdown of where I spent 2014 (unit: days):

Philippines: 259
Republic of Korea: 55
Taiwan: 3
Japan: 5
Lao PDR: 3
Fiji: 6
Hong Kong: 2
Spain: 7
Thailand: 4
Papua New Guinea: 7
Australia: 7

That's 12 countries, including 12 cities that I experienced for the first time (Mabini, Tagaytay, Taipei, Kobe, Osaka, Nadi, Suva, Getxo, Bilbao, Barcelona, Port Moresby, Melbourne), not counting 4 cities that I touched in transit, even though I did register meals in them (Frankfurt, Munich, Hanoi, Doha).

Can't wait to see where 2015 will take me.

5.359 Jaengban Ban

-Cycle 5, Item 359-
30 (Tue) December 2014

-Korean-
Jaengban Ban

2.5

at Pyeongyang Myeonok

-Nonhyeon, Seoul-

with Jang HJ, Lee SW

The Prodigal Son Returns to Welcome the New Year, Day 2 (see previously 5.358 A Typical Korean At-Home Meal).

After spending Christmas with the family in the Philippines (see most recently 5.357 Chicago Cowboy Steak), I've come back with them to Korea to celebrate the New Year, arriving yesterday night, returning on Saturday evening.

On this final trip home at year's end, the evening after getting in, I'm eating the same dish* at the same restaurant that I had on the evening before I shipped off to Manila at the start of the year (see generally 5.003 Jangban Ban).  Full circle.

The last time that I had dinner with this group of friends was exactly the same date last year (see previously 4.359 Yangjangpi).  Full circle.

Maintaining this blog, I appreciate the patterns that it reveals, however coincidental they may be (see for example 5.351 Chili Prawns; 5.349 Lumpia).

 Because the noodles in Pyeongyang-style mul naengmyeon contain little if any starch to provide structure, overcooking by mere seconds will result in an unpleasantly doughy texture; a clear sign of overcooking is when the noodles don't lump together, as shown above--if that's the case, demand a redo, as we did...

...until the noodles come out properly coherent, as here.

*Wasn't as good tonight, the meat being a bit gamy.