Borgers with No Borders.

our lives, our loves — through our earthly adventures.

Self-Reliance.

“Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom.”
~ P. Sampsom

Some of you might start thinking that I have either gone psycho or am heavily into drugs.  No.  I am neither of those.  I am just home-sick.  Now I realize that spending two months of the summer vacation has its minor drawbacks.  But hey, I’m not complaining.  I just want my ensaymadas.

Huh?  Did anyone just say ensaymadas?  Again???  Are you still on that page?  Hasn’t your craving already been satisfied by two dozens of them coming all the way from New York?

(Take a deep breath….)

Nope.  I’m afraid not.

I did a whole lot of research on the good old web for the perfect recipe that would match the ones in my dreams.  (Not that the ensaymadas of Chari didn’t match my dreams.  They did.  Only I would be a fool to ask her for the recipe!)  Turns out, the daughter of a friend who just finished her “stage” days at Alain Ducasse’s resto here, has a friend who has a (supposed) killer recipe on hand.

I am truly blessed.  How these things just happen to fall on my lap is a good sign.

I knew I could not keep ordering ensaymadas all the way from California and having them shipped over to me in Paris, right?  I knew I could not keep begging my sisters to send me some.  I knew my hubby would not dare ask his airport friend for more.  I knew.  I knew I just had to be … SELF-RELIANT! Because it is only when one is self-reliant that he is truly free!  At least that’s what they say.

So off I went into the kitchen this morning to cook up a storm.  My first attempt at making my very own, self-reliant, from the heart, ensaymadas.

Lesson # 1:  Freakin’ don’t ever try to cook ensaymadas using muffin pans.

Lesson # 2:  Try and try until you are happily and securely self-reliant.

I’m not there yet.  As you can see from the pictures.  But I will not give up.  And when I do get it right, by golly, I will share with you my very own, labored-on, tweaked, tried and tested recipe of my self-reliant-making-ensaymadas.

Someone is hiding some secrets which I have yet to uncover.  Like:  How do you keep the grated cheese from not falling off the top of a round ensaymada like that?

Stay tuned.  :)  I promise I will be back.

P.S.  I just ordered 12 brioche molds.  Then I’m back to the kitchen!  :)

Home is where …

Home is where the heart  ensaymada is.

After spending two months of our summer vacation in Manila — which we consider to be our REAL home — we were faced with “la rentrée” blues.  Not that we were complaining to be back in Paris — but just reveling at the wonderful time we had at home with family, starting with all the food indulgences we embarked on and … well, ending with that.

I must have been terribly homesick because two weeks after we returned, I found myself writing on my Facebook status:  “I would do anything to have an ensaymada and a gallon of Chef Tony’s Popcorn right now.”  And what do you know?  Glorious FB does its magic… and soon enough, I had over twenty comments and tons of “Likes.”  It was comforting to know that other people who were not in Manila could identify with this sudden urge to eat ensaymada.  It was more than an urge.  It was an impatient craving, and one that would not wane.

Enter my dear high school classmate, JF, who lives on the other side of the world:  in America, where, I believe, you can find anything your heart desires.  She whets my appetite even more and tells me about a friend of hers who lives in California, who makes the best-ever tasting ensaymadas in the whole wide world.  Two days later, I find myself writing this much-acclaimed ensaymada maker, asking her if she would please send me some via DHL.  The cost was not an issue, knowing that it would cost me more to see a psychiatrist to manage this urge than to actually satisfy it myself.

So I met my Ensaymada Goddess who so lovingly humored me by actually finding a way to ship it to me!  Then, suddenly, the heavens opened — and I swear — I saw those God-like-sun-streaks pass from the clouds straight into my window … just as I realized that my hubby was actually going to NYC… and would be back in four very short days!!!  (Times like these remind me that there REALLY must be a God!)

Before I could spell ensaymada, I made a paypal account payment, emailed Chari (the Ensaymada Goddess) a hundred times to give the hotel address, arrival date, departure date, and all other information that would guarantee that the precious shipment would make it to NYC in time to make it to Paris.  Chari got everything perfectly done … including getting an insurance, yes… an insurance! … to make sure it landed in the right hands at the right time.

Of course, during all this frenzy, my hubby had no clue about what was soon to arrive in his hotel room.

Very sheepishly, I sent him an email saying:  “No need to bring me something from NYC (like he does in all his trips).  Just bring home the box that will be delivered to your room on Monday.”

Monday comes along… and I get this text:

HUBBY:  Received your “pasalubong” (present from a trip) but it is quite a decent box and I don’t know how to fit this in my suitcase.  Remember, I’m taking a motorbike transfer from the Airport when I arrive.

Gulp.  My ensaymadas were treading in dangerous waters.

MY REPLY:  Darling, just throw the box and put them all in a plastic bag, then squeeze them all into your suitcase.  I don’t mind if they get squashed.  Pretty Puuullleeeezzzz?

No answer.  Couldn’t sleep a wink.

Wednesday morning, hubby comes home from the airport and hands me a big shopping bag with a huge box inside.  He said, “This is a present for you from the Filipino guy at the airport who has become my friend.”  Apparently, through his travels, he met this very kind Pinoy at the airport who has become a friend… and as he was leaving, he had mentioned to the guy that he was bringing home ensaymadas for me.  The Pinoy goes, “Your wife loves (understatement) ensaymadas?  Wait here!  I’ll be back.”  And in an hour, he was back at the waiting lounge with this big box of something for me.

I shook the box a bit, smelled it … and ransacked it only to find… not Chari’s ensaymadas… but someone else’s ensayamadas!!!  Just MORE ensaymadas than I had ever hoped for!  Pinoy Kind Man apparently had a sister who owned a bake shop in NYC, not far away from the airport.

Now if that is not serendipitous… I don’t know what is.

I think I must have jumped and skipped at this point.

Stunned (but still with a sharp mind), I stared at my hubby and said, “… But where is the box that I asked you to bring home for me?”

And he revealed … these two ever-so-lovely boxes, daintily wrapped in goldish ribbons, slightly squished but not losing an ounce of its familiar grandeur.

In a flash, I was in the kitchen, zapping Chari’s ensaymadas for 15 seconds, watching the butter, the cheese, and the sugar slowly melting into a sumptuous oozing blanket of plain and unadulterated goodness.

One bite.  And suddenly, … I felt like I was home again.

Order yours now, cause I ain’t sharing.

Chari’s E-Mail:  charis.kitchen@yahoo.com
Mobile:  (U.S.) 626 7555014
She is also has a Facebook account (Chari’s Kitchen) which you can find here

Bagatelle Beckons

The task of a leader is to get his people from where they are… to where they have not been.  ~ Henry Kissinger

 

Two Sundays ago, my boys and I went to see the first flowers of Spring at the beautiful gardens of Château de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne.  In the 1700s, this amazing garden was a “glorified playground” — a maison de plaisance — for the powers-that-be.  It was built at record-speed on a wager, taking only 63 days, 800 workers, and 3 million livres.

And there I was, standing in awe at the huge land where this grand château rested, watching the peacocks that roamed freely.

Then I whispered to my husband:  “If I lived in a house like this while in Paris — I may never wish to leave.”

Days like these make me believe that indeed, Paris is stupendous in very many ways.

Come on, Mom... Take the picture already!!!!

A Face I Love.

Did you ever come across a face which, with one look, makes your heart melt?

I think everybody needs a face that will instantly change one’s mood from *bleah* to anything minimally ecstatic.  When I look at this face, I feel the same deep love that hits me when I see my children fast asleep.  I think of bright sunshine flowing through French windows, of happy groovy times spent with my sisters, of shopping days when you think your credit card has no limit.  It’s a face that simply transforms my day by making my heart melt.

I am lucky to have one such face, thanks to the wonderful combination of Greek and Polish genes. Two friends who worked hard for this baby and got everything that they deserved.  And more.

Tell me what this face does for you.

Hope your holidays were full of cheer, and your New Year overflowing with health, love, happiness, and peace!

Loss.

She passed on this morning, two days after we had visited her in her “home.”  And even then, I knew.  That time was running out, and she no longer wanted to live life that way.  Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease.  It changes who you are, and reinvents your memory.  But even in her illness, she was still lovable, truly gentle, and sweet as only sweet can be.

She will be missed.

Time is the only comforter for the loss of a mother.  ~ Jane Welsh Carlyle


Dreaming of a White Christmas…

… I am NOT.

The snow storm in Paris last Wednesday (08 Dec) caused so much chaos, it was unbelievable.  The news said that it was the most snow the city had experienced since 1987.  The airport temporarily closed, flights were delayed, the buses of Paris stopped running.  The traffic was horrendous, the streets empty with shoppers and tourists.  While I… squeezed myself into the sardine-can-metro to make it to a teacher’s appointment at my daughter’s school.

This is how it looked while I was waiting for her to meet me.

Then of course we had to URGENTLY rush to get her a pair of high-heeled shoes for her piano recital on Saturday… which left us slippin’ and slidin’ through the slush of the Parisian streets.  I must say though, it was a good day for shopping because everyone else was (intelligent enough to stay) home!

It took us 30 minutes of waiting at the Bus Stop until we gave up.  We literally slid to the closest metro thereafter, let four trains pass us by (refusing to have our noses stuck on the windows!) before finally squeezing ourselves in.  I had a whiny daughter who was clad in her fashion-before-comfort shoes, close to tears because she was convinced her toes were suffering from frost-bites.

But we made it home, safe and sound, defrosting ourselves with a bag of chips to calm our frustrated nerves.

Whoever dreamt of a White Christmas was surely not living in Paris.  :)

Je reviens!

Literally, “I’m back!”

Mostly because I came across this fantastic, super duper Dior commercial that just must be shared. In case you haven’t seen it yet.

After spending a productive, fun, relaxing two-months back home , I .. well, dragged my feet back to Paris. Goodbye sun, goodbye glorious beaches, goodbye to my dear sisters and brothers. Three days after we arrived, I went back to my usual task of playing tourist guide to some very special people who visited for 10 days. And it is only now that I am slowly sinking back into our regular routines.

Kids are back in school, I am back on my computer, itching to cook as soon as I shed off some pounds I’ve put on over the summer. I am back indeed.

Today, I watched “Mange, prie, aime”  (in version original, of course). Loved it, but not as much as the book. Enjoyed it thoroughly if only to watch Julia Roberts play the character of Liz.  And the ad of Dior just before the movie was just what made me think of going back to minding my blog. For some strange reason, watching it made me giggle, happy to be back in Paris again.

Perhaps it might just make you want to come to Paris too?

Tall Story: For you, and the child that lives in You.

I’m taking a break from my french travel files and cooking adventures to share with you a different kind of story.  A Tall Story.

When I was a young girl at school, I had this classmate who just totally amazed me with her drawings.  She could sketch anything at all — with almost no effort — and it would turn out GREAT.  Her characters were mostly fat and pudgy, looking almost like they all sort of came from the same family tree.  And if I closed my eyes today, more than 40 years after, I can still visualize her drawings.  Back then, I thought:  One day, this girl will be famous.  And indeed.  That day has come.

Candy Quimpo-Gourlay, a Filipino, based in London for the past 20 or so years, was that classmate of mine.  And her day of crowning glory has arrived as she launches her first novel — “Tall Story.”  I have pre-ordered my copy of her book — and suggest you do the same.  Candy’s humor and realistic perspective on life is certainly one worth enjoying.  Whether it is for you, your children, or the child that lives within you.

TALL STORY:  What you want is not always what you get.  Even when your wishes come true.

Bookseller says of the book: “Candy Gourlay combines wry humour and profound comment on cultural identity.  It is an astute coming-of-age novel.  There is an assured quality to the writing which wholly envelops readers in this convincing, witty and poignant story about difference, assimilation and family dynamics.

Out in the UK on the 27th of May, July 2010 in the Philippines, and early 2011 in the United States.

I know I can’t wait to get my hands on my pre-ordered copy.  :)  And I will be lucky enough to be in a high school reunion with Candy soon … as we celebrate her first big break in the great big wheel of Life.

Snippets of Nice (Part 3)

We head into the town center, park our car, walk up the dark stairway … and voila!  You are greeted with a buzzling, terra-cotta-colored town center, palm-trees and all.  I could live here, I thought.  Surely less crowded than Paris, a permanent view of the seaside, probably more friendly people, and lower-stress levels I assume.

And when I feel I am beginning to look pale and sick … what couldn’t be more inviting than this?

Well, a bit rocky and probably painful, if you ask me — but heck, beggars can’t be choosers, right?  Or … if you don’t have the license or the right to bare it, perhaps we could settle for a walk.

And when you’re tired and worn out, go slow and visit the brocante (flea market) — which will surely do more than just arouse your curiosity.  It has everything — from clothes, to jewelry, to silver cutlery, to vintage Louis Vuitton bags.  And while you’re shopping, errrr — resting your feet, there’s even enough groove to cheer you on.

Just a warning to would-be tourists to Nice or anywhere else in Paris:  When you want a photo taken near  a performer, a statue-look-alike, or any of such artists along the streets — it is common courtesy to drop a coin in their hat.  If you don’t … be ready to take the screaming that will follow after you press your camera’s shutter!

We enjoyed a whole afternoon just walking along the narrow streets with laundry lines criss-crossing old homes that seemed to each have their own stories to tell.  The shops were homey and quaint … and these items were the ones that blew me away.  Salt … and soap.  In every conceivable flavor, aroma, and color.

On this day, I knew, that if one day my life should flash before me — it would surely be worth watching.

Sinking in the South of France: Nice, Part 2

As if our 4-hour lunch followed by a 2-hour nap was not enough … life kicked in once again at cocktail time!  Whoa!  Isn’t this just the perfect vacation ever?

Hubby woke me up and literally pulled me out of bed to make sure I do not miss a beat with the action in the kitchen.  Starting with this:

… and this:

Yep.  That’s my dream kitchen in the background — with my dream stainless steel drawers, stainless steel cupboards, and that massive industrial stove!  If that kind of equipment doesn’t make you a great chef, I don’t know what will!  I could easily see myself setting up camp in that kitchen anytime!

And you know what else was shining in this stainless steel splendor?  This thingamajig, which was roasting a cuchon. Indoors.  Wooooooooooooow, right?

So, the indispensable champagne glasses started to clink while le cuchon was cooking.  (Wait.  Do you see that uber long nail-looking thing on the left side of the awesome grill — just waiting for a kebab to happen???)  Wooooooooooow again, right?

A roquette salad (picked from their garden!) with freshly carved pata negra (in case you missed it, check out picture #1 again!), artichokes, and those crunchy flower-shaped tomatoes from Italy called “Merenda’s.”  Some very baby carrots on the side of le cuchon … and roasted potatoes drizzled with garlic.  One bite and again, I thought I had died and went to heaven.  :)

How can such simple cooking result in a meal that is one you will remember forever?  Someone once said that along with a Chef’s ability to put flavors and textures together, is his successful choice of using only the best quality ingredients.  I couldn’t agree more.  When you have the best quality of pork, carrots, potatoes, … down to the best grain of salt, butter, and olive oil — there will be very little reason to fail.

Truly, simple home cooking … at its best!

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