Coffee in a teabag

Finally, local barako coffee manufacturers have come up with a clever idea of selling coffee in teabags. Since jumping motherships last January, I’ve been deprived of brewed coffee at the office.  If there is anything that I miss from the former stepmothership apart from the 15-minute commute, social network access, the considerably decent cafeteria and choices of restaurants around the block, the endless supply of sodas, energy drinks, and teas, it’s free brewed coffee.

And since I’m the coffee junkie who drinks the brew for its caffeine content, the usual 3-in-1s from Nescafe and San Mig don’t cut it with me. As far as I’m concerned, those instants are desserts and not drugs. On certain sluggish days when I didn’t get enough sleep the previous night (or nights in a row) or I had eaten too much rice at lunch, I had to take a trip to the nearest mall and buy a venti latte at Starbucks (no sugar, please).

A recent trip to the SM Hypermarket produced this fantastic thing that has happened in this ever-late-to-the-party corner of the planet: coffee grounds in teabags. Yey! All you have to do is steep it in hot water for three minutes, and then voila! Brewed coffee! At P140 per box of 10, it’s not cheap, but considering that a 3-in-1 pack costs P11 at the cafeteria (or P5 to P6 per packet if you buy a box at the supermarket), or that a tall brew at Starbucks is roughly P85 or more, the Siete Barakos coffee is well worth the price.

Coffee in a teabag
Mmmm…. coffee!

UPDATED: Malaysia 2010 Part 1–Romancing Petronas, haggling for scarves, and engaging in much debauchery

It was a great four-day frantic tour of Kuala Lumpur, Putra Jaya, Genting Highlands, and Selangor in Malaysia, and the newly opened Universal Studios on Sentosa Island in Singapore with badminton friends. I’m still too tired to be coherent, so I’m only posting photos of the trip that used up much of my energy but I would most likely take again if or when given the chance. It’s been years since I went on a trip with the Titans, and I’m crossing my fingers that we’d have more of this again…though I hope in a less frenetic fashion.

Inside the KLIA Express, which took us from KL Central Station to Putra Jaya in 20 minutes. The train was very clean, comfortable, and mighty fast.
Malaysia’s preferred mode of transportation is still driving, therefore although it has very decent railroad and subway networks, more people are going around in their compact cars. And yes, there are more compacts than your typical sedan in Malaysia; more people are driving national car brands than foreign ones, as well. 
The first impression that Malaysia gave me was that it’s infrastructure was top-notch, it’s highways were nothing but impressive. Still, because of the massive number of motorists it hosts, KL is far from being traffic-free. We got stuck for an hour in rush-hour traffic, going from Sogo mall to Petaling Jaya.
Doing cougar-y stuff at Petronas Twin Towers
The steel work on this building is very impressive.
Inside the Skybridge
 Romancing the twin towers, where works the handsomest security guard in the world. Is it time to feel cougar-y yet?

View of the park from Skybridge. It’s pretty, no?

Just below the towers is the upscale six-level mall, Suria KLCC.
Of course, Petronas is grand. It’s pretty, it’s famous, it’s fantabulous! We all know these things already. But what the ladies didn’t know was that the men who made sure that all visitors behaved as they should were just nearly as pretty as the national symbols of might that they guarded.

This guy was scanning visitors’ bags as our batch was lining up for the lift to the 41st level. I thought he would stay by his x-ray scanner, but alas, after everybody entered the lift, he got in, trying to look as if he was about to clobber any misbehaving fool within his sight. But us fools noticed he was tall, and had nice cheekbones, and nice eyes and eyelashes that stretch to out theeeeere!, and that looking stern never looked sexy. Purrr!

And then we all ended up giggling like high schoolers. And then we kept telling, whispering to each other that the man in uniform could give Piolo Pascual a run for his money (plus that he is most unlikely gay). And then we just kept looking at him. And then I couldn’t help it anymore, so I asked Rodel with his hi-tech camera to take my photo with Manong Guard. And then everybody wanted to to have their photos taken with him as well. Bah, nauna ako kay Manong Guard ha?

And then he just didn’t know what to do. Dealing with silly misbehaving women maybe wasn’t part of his “looking stern” conditioning. And then he was helpless; these cougars are fierce!

And then this sort-of smile. The poor man’s shift is 2:00 in the afternoon on weekdays.

Food, food, food and more food!

One of the highlights of the trip was food. Malaysia offers among the best fusion of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisine.  I like my food zingy, but after days of taking in unheard of flavors (and smells) that vary from hot to super hot prior to taking this trip, I began to crave for good old McDonald’s pancakes and fried chicken. Still, for a newbie, Malaysia is a flavor haven, and everything that you could buy is worth a try. I enjoyed our breakfast of spicy rice and sweet-and-spicy chicken at a stall just outside the Asia Jaya MTR station.

Nando’s on the concourse level of Suria KLCC serves good food. Too bad, the waitress that served our food was awfully rude. 

 Breakfast at Nando’s: bread, sausages, eggs, and grilled tomatoes. Not mine, though. I bought a blueberry and chocolate muffin from Starbucks to go with my usual latte. Coffee is not a popular drink in Malaysia, but they have really good milk teas.

Lamb kebab set served at a Persian restaurant at central station. The kebabs were drier than I was used to, but were super filling, no less.

I could have five of this super delish pistachio yogurt ice cream in one go.

A pork-and-tofu soup dish that went well with steamed rice. The pork used tasted like luncheon meat, but how did they know that I loved the flavor of cilantro?


Our best and biggest meal was at the buffet shabu-shabu restaurant in Selangor. Here, we were waiting for the broths to boil before adding crabs, shrimps, veggies, noodles, shomai, and seaweeds.

You need to get there as early as possible to avoid the long line. We waited for more than an hour to get a table, but the food was well worth the wait.
 


Something familiar: meatballs and fries in overflowing gravy and blueberry sauce, cheesecake, chocolate chip muffin, and bottomless cherry soda at the Ikea food court. I must have paid only RM16 for these. I’d love to go there again!

Carbonated Benadryl never tasted this refreshing! This Poly Strawberry-flavoured soda was bought at a stall in front of the mosque in Putra Jaya.

Now this, I am used to. Even their MickeyD coffee cups are prettier.

Haggling for shawls and scarves

I wasn’t planning to buy scarves, but seeing the girls going gaga over the pretty things at this old shopping district that sold modesty stuff made me lose my resolve and gave in to the colorful lovelies that were a coral pink glossy pashmina shawl and a marine and aqua blue silk scarf, all for only RM18, or roughly P200. The Pakistani stall owner was no match to our haggling charms.

The Café Scene

“The story of how Paris became what we now think of when somesays ‘Paris’ is the story of men and women who were able to reinvent the wheel in many different domains because they understood the fundamental importance of these two concepts: Stick to the high-end and forget the low. Never underestimate the importance of décor and ambiance. Take, for example, the café. The coffeehouse became an institution in England, the Netherlands, and Germany in the 1650s and 1660s. The original coffeehouses were fairly modest affairs; men frequented them to drink coffee and beer and to smoke. This concept had no appeal in France. And then, in 1675, the humble English coffeehouse was reinvented and quickly became an essential part of the new capital Paris was then becoming.

“Francesco Procopio transformed the coffeehouse; he made it exquisite. His peers referred to him as an ‘artist’: he had, after all, created the formula that made the café a way of life in Paris. Elsewhere, cafés featured nothing worthy of the name décor, whereas, at Café Procope, the tables were made of marble, crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, the walls were decorated with elegant mirrors, and coffee was served from silver pots. Beer was banished from these elegant surroundings; patrons sipped exotic cocktails instead. And they could snack on delicate pastries and sorbets in flavors such as amber and musk. The Procope, was, in short, the original chic café.

“Its example was quickly emulated: by the turn of the eighteenth century, the world’s first café scene had been created in the newly fashionable Saint-Gemain-des-Prés neighborhood. Parisian cafés attracted a very different clientele than their counterparts elsewhere in Europe–elegant women, who would never have set foot in a coffeehouse, frequented cafés to see and show off all the latest fashions.”

–de Jean, Joan. The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour. New York: Free Press, 2005.

Photo source

I wasn’t planning to get into the Starbucks planner mania this year, but since I and a few friends had been frequenting the Starbucks branch at our building, I thought I might as well try to collect stickers and see if I would get lucky.

starbucks 2007 planner

Good thing, I didn’t have to buy all the 21 brews required to get the planner. Instead, I solicited receipts from everyone, especially those who were either not getting the “freebie” or had already completed the required number of stickers. So, thanks, my “sponsors”.

starbucks 2007 planner

It looks better than last year’s planner, and comes with a pen and a notepad. However, last year’s item had coupons for free brews that customers could use on certain occasions throughout the year, as well as discount coupons for Starbucks items–all of which I never got to use even though I frequented Starbucks too.

Photos from eBay Philippines.

Coffee and History

I had always been curious about the Intramuros branch of Starbucks. So last Saturday afternoon, while waiting for my scheduled badminton games, I decided to hang out at the said coffee shop which was, luckily for me, a mere block from Feathers ‘n Strings, to have my favorite tall unsweetened hot latte. Located at Puerta Isabel II along Muralla St., this branch is one of the coziest and is in fact rather unique in the sense that it combines globalization and a bit of Philippine history. I’m not sure though if the dungeon where the shop is situated used to be a torture chamber for suspected criminals, spies and revolutinoaries. There are also talks of prisoners of war buried alive under the dungeon floors by the Japanese towards the end of their occupation of Manila.

Perhaps because it was a quiet afternoon, the absence of chattering students and noisy hangers-on added to the place’s charm.

Here be the pictures:

starbucks intramuros manila

starbucks intramuros manila

starbucks intramuros manila

Starbucks is indeed everywhere.