And just like that, the first 14 days of 2015 has already gone by.
But before everything else, BELATED HAPPY THANKSGIVING, MERRY CHRISTMAS, and HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!! Hahaha! :D
I know I've been super delinquent with the blog lately, but my appetite continues to be very active and I hope you are all following me on Instagram or Facebook (or both!) to see how hardworking my stomach has been.
Thank you to everyone who checks back religiously, who shows much concern, including the reader who sent me this very sweet message sometime in July:
"Hi Jin, your last post was on May 15. Are you not interested anymore?"
Hahaha! You made my day! Thank you, I appreciate you sincerely, and YES, I am still very interested! I miss writing here and I promise to find time to do it more often.
And to the person who asked if I am open to selling this blog, sorry, ask me again next year, or next decade, or never! But thank you so much for your interest. :)
You see, 2014 was a very meaningful year for me. I experienced so many new things, met so many new people who have now become good friends, reconnected with old buddies and relatives, revisited a few cities that I miss, found myself, lost myself, and found myself all over again… Life is a never-ending cycle of good and bad, successes and failures, binge eating (success) and dieting (FAILURE!!!), laughters and tears, hellos and goodbyes.
Looking back at these moments makes me realize what a full life I have and how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who mean the most to me, who appreciate me back, understand me, and love me despite me being me. Yes, I can be a pain in the arse, too. Lol. :P
Sharing with you just a few of the very many blessings that made 2014 a year I will always cherish.
Celebrating the 100th Birthday of our great grandma who we all love and lovingly call Lola Lola. ♥
(See post here)
And Gwama's 86th. She dyed her hair black especially for this occasion.
Too precious!!! :) (See post here)
The parentals letting me third-wheel on their Valentines dinner YET AGAIN!
(See post here) They hope to get rid of me this year.
Auntie Juliet's surprise birthday party in Hong Kong where Uncle Nelson sang to her and
delivered a heartfelt speech that brought her and every one of us to tears. ♥
I cried a bucket.
Snowshoeing with Frances in Capilano hoping to see a grizzly bear… but didn't.
We still had lots of fun anyway.
Scoring the very last piece of Thomas Haas double-baked chocolate almond croissant.
It was SOOOOO GOOD I would go to war just for a bite!
Eating the whole Vancouver starting with the famous Alaskan king crab at Sun Sui Wah.
I also had very delicious meals at Wildebeest, L'Abattoir, Chambar, Vij's, Bin 941, Lupo,
Hawksworth, and discovered so many cool coffee places.
Playing with snow and making a snow angel up in Whistler
Catching up at Joe Fortes with my cousins Kristie and Kneisha who I haven't seen in ages!
The last time I saw Kneisha she was only 2 years old, and now she is a full head taller than I!!!
A quick trip to Seattle's Pike Place Market where I had the tastiest clam chowder and
the creamiest greek yogurt in my life
Stopping to smell the… umm… broccoli at Butchart Gardens
Being welcomed by my San Francisco family the very first day I arrived with a super
lunch at R&G Lounge. Think fried crabs, miso codfish, prawn salad, beef brisket…
followed by ricanelas ice cream at Bi-Rite, coffee at Ritual and Four Barrel, and
a splendid dinner at State Bird Provisions. And that was just my very first day!
But some of my best eats in the city were home-cooked meals by Uncle Ricky and
Auntie Connie. This steak is better than some of the top steakhouses I've tried and
believe me when I say I've tried A LOT. There's also Uncle Ricky's fall-off-the-bone
tender ribs, homemade pizza from scratch, Auntie Connie's tonkatsu, beef satay,
and chicken soup which did incredible things to my soul.
Lunching at Cotogna with my good friend Rheena, maker of the best Tres Leches in the world!
She is also the amazing baker behind all the celebration and wedding cakes at Pastrychik.
Check out her beautiful creations here. I am so very proud of this woman!
Going back again and again to the Ferry Building and discovering something
new each time. This is my ultimate favorite place in San Francisco!
Nice dinner date with myself at Quince where I had the full tasting menu
(and more!) complete with wine pairing. (Don't worry, I Uber-ed myself home.)
I was also given a tour of the kitchen and wine cellar by Chef Michael Tusk
Napa Valley and all the winesssssss that made us smile like this. I went back twice this trip!
Dinner at TBD and Parallel 37 with a special couple I will always have a soft spot for.
My first and only kiss of the year. Hahaha!!!
Thursday nights at the California Academy of Sciences. The museum turns into a party place
with live music, drinks and dancing. I thoroughly enjoyed this and I was all by myself.
I highly recommend it to all the people visiting San Francisco.
Spontaneous visit to Virginia that extended my US trip to almost 2 months! But I am so glad I went.
I was able to spend Mother's Day with my sister and her beautiful family. This is us at Ruth's Chris
where I was also given a rose because the server mistook me for a mother! Wahahaha!!!
At least it came with a $25 gift coupon. Lol.
Discovering adorable coffee houses like this. Yes, in Virginia!!!
Visiting Washington, DC and the Holocaust Memorial which tore our hearts into pieces
Giving thanks in prayer
Feeling like a kid again at Hershey Park. We rode roller coasters,
ate junk food and drank Godiva chocolate milkshakes!
Watching my niece Rochelle perform in school. She played the violin like a pro!
Home-cooked meals by my brother-in-law Ryan. He baked pandesal, which I
sorely missed after one month in the US, his famous herbed rack of lamb,
crisp-on-the-outside soft-on-the-inside waffles for breakfast, and my sister
fed me her super creamy chicken curry with mashed pumpkin even if I
insisted I wanted that bed of spinach only. They spoiled me to obesity.
Lunch date with the sister, just the two of us. ♥
Spontaneous visit (again!) to LA where Uncle Patrick, Auntie Vangie and Marvin took me to
Mozza, Lady M, Tar & Roses, Langers, Porto's, Mastro's, Bruxie, and The Getty Museum
for a little culture. I tried my best not to eat the paintings. Hehehe.
Stenie and Joseph who drove almost 2 hours to pick me up for lunch. I think we ordered
everything on Ojiya's menu and managed to finish all of it, too! It was the first of our many
meals together including four eat-like-there-is-no-tomorrow dinners in Taipei. BURP!
The new parents, my cousin Joy and her husband Charlie, who welcomed me into their
immaculately tidy home and toured me around OC where we had Taiwanese breakfasts,
shabu-shabu, bubble tea, a deadly peanut butter jelly burger at 50/50, and Bruxie again
because I loved their waffles so. I also came home once to a neatly folded pile of laundry
on my bed care of Charlie. OMGGGGG!!! He saw everything! And I mean EVERYTHING!!!
Eeep. (He was cool about it, too.)
MEATing with Achi Chris, Ahia George and the whole family over a Korean feast.
We are a carnivorous bunch and obviously, we were all in beef heaven! Moo!
Japanese izakaya with Achi Rowena and Ahia Joel, after which we indulged in
refreshing Taiwanese shaved ice desserts at Snow Station.
My first ever Boiling Crab experience! And yes, it lived up to all the hype and was worth
the 1.5 hours wait! With me is my high school best friend Jen's mom, Tita Tess, who still
thinks of me as a kid, so yes, she brought me to the happiest place on earth where I
wore a Mickey Mouse headband and took one million photos! :)
Dear Travel Angel, please bless me with more trips this 2015 and
the next 60 years. Thank you!!! Mwah!!!
Traveling to Tokyo alone and stopping random strangers at the Tsukiji Metro to take
a photo of me doing this.
Gaining 8 lbs during 9 days in Tokyo - a new record high even for me!
I had excellent meals this trip, thanks to months and months of thorough research.
I'm still on Day 4 of 9, but if you're interested, you can get tips from my first few days
of eating by clicking here. It's my little gift to all of you. ;) My best meal was at DEN
where Chef Zaiyu Hasegawa served me his version of "DENtucky Fried Chicken"
adorned with a Philippine flag! I felt so special!
Meeting up with my Instagram follower Val who is also from Manila but
is now based in Tokyo. Between the two of us and Baby A (who didn't
really contribute much except provide loads of cuteness), we shared
2 desserts at Toshi Yoroizuka and 3 cakes at Harbs. Life is sweet!
Singapore weekend getaway with Ahia Emil, who is, for the nth time, MY COUSIN!!!
So hold off the congratulations, you guys! We both love flowers and we both love to eat!
Proof that I love to eat more than he does! Hahaha!
This was taken at Flint in JW Marriott on another one of our weekend trips to Hong Kong.
Celebrating August birthdays with a very special and rare moment my high school
barkada is complete. We've known each other since waaaay back and the friendship
we share is irreplaceable and will never age.
HAIRY CRABS!!! FIVE IN ONE NIGHT!
Get together with my father's side cousins over Pepita's truffle lechon, balut salpicao,
salted egg prawns, iberian chicken, and special carabao milk guinataan.
Mental note to self: Must do this more often.
Visiting National Palace Museum in Taipei for the very first time. (Can you believe it???)
I saw the famous Jadeite Radish, the Bell of Zhou… and just too many mainlanders. Ugh.
Having my favorite Shin Yeh oysters twice in a trip was one of my biggest joys last year.
Call me shallow, but it's true! I also discovered countless new restaurants and cafes
in Taipei and I'm excited to share them all with you. Soon! ;)
Of course, no trip to Taipei will ever be complete without seeing my family in Taiwan! :)
Our "Love Food" Group - my favorite people to eat with, talk food with, fantasize about
food with. I had the best time with them at a potluck dinner we planned for 10 people,
and not surprisingly, we brought food enough to feed an army!
My baby sister Jamie opening her Tweedle Book Cafe, an old house that
she converted into a space where people can enjoy two of her favorite
things - books and hot chocolate. There is also a secret underground bar
where you can enjoy two of her husband's favorite things - wine and steak!
It's a fabulous concept and the only one of its kind here in Manila.
Do check it out! 106B Scout Gandia, Quezon City. :)
Seeing my favorite kids again before the year ended! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!
My brother JR and Kim. The most beautiful wedding.
Full of emotions, laughters...
… and tears of joy.
My Family, finally complete! ♥ ♥ ♥
Because my sister Jerrilyn, her husband Ryan and their kids live all the way in Virginia, it was the first Christmas and first New Year we spent together as a complete family in a very, VERY looooooooooong time. The get-togethers never seemed to end.
And we cherished every single moment of it.
Unfortunately, at some point, all good things must come to an end. Work resumes and the kids need to go back to school.
It was painful and heartbreaking when they had to leave.
But with every goodbye comes the fervent hope that one day very soon we will have our arms wrapped around each other again.
After all, life becomes more meaningful when you realize that you will never get the exact same moment twice.