To Greener pastures

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Our hero was last seen teetering over the first drop of roller coaster 2K16 looking over to the horizon where the sea of Pantone 15-13919 met the Rose Quartz sky. This one pulled out all the stops.

Factoring in more shallow drops, what it lacked in deeper meaning it replaced with multiples lows. The internet became ever-increasingly volatile in reaction not limited to the equally ever-increasingly volatile global occurrences. The principles of action and reaction were challenged by the rise of the social-media empowered neo Cro-magnon – the noveau stupide. There’s entitlement to opinion and then there are entitled opinions, hubbub where there should be none, cudgels taken up instead of chill pills and camps within camps within camps. Brownian Movement now even more so danced disjointed to the beats of Brownman Revival’s all-time, greatest social-commentary hits.

Change was an even bigger byword last year and being careful for what one wishes for was a huge moral lesson to this particular story. I’d throw a lit match to the gunpowder trail leading to kegs of politics, religion and everything in between but enough have been said to fill in these blanks. See previous paragraph.

I still haven’t given up on cheese and while some of that fire has been blanketed by everything else in the scene; or my personal one, at least; more and more options and avenues have become more available especially with the molten cheese scrape trend of late. The Cheese Scraper from Manila came down for a two-day pop-up selling out several blocks of Raclette. Local pick-ups served Italian Mozzarella and Swiss Emmental while more familiar flavors came by Quickmelt Cheddar and Monterey Jack. For all other cheese, local culture has amped up supply albeit “non-dairy”.

The midyear crest came with multiple twists and turns, some gut-wrenchingly thrilling and others turning out plain gut-wrenching.  Of course, many enterprises began on the pretense of pretty making the plate. Their survival into the next year now largely depend on mass appeal, extension of millennials’ trends and how much these would allow one to pinch a peso. The upside had molecular gastronomy basics becoming more common with sous-vide already quite de rigeur changing the game to a focus on quality ingredients. Unless labeled otherwise, what you had on your plate was probably organic. Vegan and its less restrictive variations sat happily alongside meat and other by-products, hands up in the air with each loop-de-loop of dinners and pop-ups.

Rising above the tired lechon ad infinitum fame, we finally came into the Michelin-Star light tunnel with the opening of Jason Atherton’s The Pig & Palm. Local purveyors were not to be outdone with the opening of Anzani Prime and the burgeoning prominence of L’artisan, BOCAS and similar specialty establishments. My Pacific-Islander fantasy feast was fulfilled in a gung-ho pit roast and a “Dinner In the Dark” also proved an eye-opener.

The next sudden twist segued into what for a time seemed to be unending double barrels. The kind where a single shriek all in combined surprise, suspense and delight get extended into a drone with several gasps in between to catch one’s breath as a cassette tape warbled version of Rihanna’s Work works into the same loops. Work-life balance got creatively labeled work-life blending before quickly turning into work-life confusion. Even parties started to become a chore. I’ll admit getting further along in age, time and having to play more “dodge-bull” on a daily basis has necessitated a little toss back here and there. Drunk on the deadly cocktail of insomnia, workload and deadlines. Somewhat addicted to it, too.

Relief came in a series of Monday dinners with visiting chef, Tim dela Cruz, and our significant others plus several other pairs of what was then an ever-growing foodie posse. We’d go to our favorite restaurants, to our own operations and to try out new ones always ending up at Ilaputi for ill-advised weeknight drinks and having to peel ourselves away through long goodbyes and “Goodluck, Tuesdays.” Sadly, Tim had to pull a Michael Jackson and, later, another one of my all-time favorites, Carnivore, was also gone too soon.

At points, we came to dead hangs then sudden sheer drops. ‘Got me every time. The important lesson learned was never to let one’s guard down. In everything, there are pros and cons and then there are pros at being cons.
Just when it all seemed to start running out of track, it also  just keep going. Careening over NYE and straight into Prititit, last year missed its scheduled changeover. Thank God (the Yellow one, if that’s yours) for the reset loophole of the lunar year.

The ride’s shift to a placid feature of a “fresh and zesty yellow-green shade” gives some hope for restoration, revival and reinvigoration. The further push into the foliage, though, is starting to push back with the errant branches whacking one along the way. Oh, well. Here’s hoping we’d all occasionally come across clearings.

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