our new helper has terrible kitchen skills. terrible. one time we came home hungry to a dinner of pork chops floating in gray-green water alongside exactly fifteen pieces of monggo beans, another time to a dish of brown pebbles that turned out to be pork adobo.
so husband and i, for our patience and fortitude during these early stages of a reign of terror in our tiny kitchen, rewarded ourselves with saturday lunch at busy bee on camins.
to have a helper who cooks like mamu montaño does would be the ultimate luxury. we had a meal that made up and more for two weeks worth of mutant dishes. we had pork sinigang, pork patatim, bamboo shoots with gata, and ampalaya salad. everything tasted just as it should. the sinigang was malapot, courtesy of violet gabi (not ube!). the guilt of finishing the papatim was assuaged by the crunchy ampalaya in a sugar-vinegar dressing. i had a slight problem with the dabong (bamboo shoots). they were a bit bitter and tough, but tolerable.
i've been going to busy bee since high school. fate decided to make my life harder by hoisting one of mamu's daughters on me. if you know marsha, you'd know what i mean. but it has always been for the arroz caldo (they claim that it is the best in town and i have not heard nor tasted a true counter claim). their fresh lumpia is popular too but i am not a big fan of fresh lumpia so my opinion on this is only slightly better than worthless.
their lunches i discovered only fairly recently. marsha is not big on libre, you see. but now that i know their meals, i am hooked. i am addicted. their prices are not cheap. in fact, your bill can be shocking especially if you consider that the line-up was all lutong bahay. but you have to sort of experience a meal there to understand the price. the place is shabby and tries valiantly to be chic. it's warm because the ceiling is low and the windows are narrow and screened to boot. it is tiny: 6 tables and 19 chairs fighting for survival in a space roughly 5 by 2.5 meters. the floor is rickety. but it's clean, the owners are warm, the plates are thick and elegant stoneware/ironware ceramics (no plastic plates nor duralex in this carenderia!), there is presentation: the ampalaya salad rested on a cabbage leaf cradled in a small white bowl with straight sides, and the food, as i said, is excellent.
if it weren't, there would not be people waiting by the counter during lunch break for a table to be vacated. marsha, bless her soul, deigned to have pity on a "friend" and advised me to go either at 11am or at 1pm or risk eating in unpeace.
we finished lunch - clean plates! - and sat quiet for a while, contemplating our luck at scoring such a lunch while our children at home suffered through another burnt-rice and bizarre dish combo meal.
if we're keeping cheche (as we hope to) , busy bee just might turn out to become a tradition.