There's so many new things going on everytime I'm in Phnom Penh. New buildings, new restaurants to try and so many events. It's like going to another country and having a mini-vacation. My last visit was indeed a vacation since I didn't have any business to take care of. It was a self-imposed break since the last time I was there it was Cambodia Fashion Week. Nine days of shows and shoot left me drained and tired. Coming to Phnom Penh for a break this time was refreshing.
On the way to Phnom Penh we always have a pit stop at Kompong Thom, half way between Siem Reap and the capital. It's always at Arunras restaurant if you take Mekong bus. I always have lunch of fried noodles with a can of Coke. It has become a ritual and I sorta look forward to it.
It was fortunate that I got the chance to attend the fund raising event for the flood victims of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, the night when I arrived. It's amazing how Filipinos can band together and help our fellow citizens back home. The event gathered a sizeable donation so it was heartwarming. There was a mini-concern and someone sold cupcakes, proceeds of which were donated, too!
I stayed at Franco's apartment and he had another guest staying. Meet Piscin, the diva feline who I wanted to steal. I never realized I'm a cat person. Our family had only one cat before and we never had a pet cat again.
I ate a lot when I was there. I don't want to put it all here but it was a LOT. I gained a few pounds I'm sure of that. But let me share some highlights, if you will.
Nod had this velvety rich mango float and I think I ate half of the 12 inch pan size he made. Hands down it's the best mango float I've tasted so far. It's not too sweet so it's deadly when you're dieting because you can't help but have seconds and thirds, like I did.
Sharon gave me biscocho from Biscocho House so it was a nice thing to have. It made me miss Iloilo. I used to go at the kitchen of Biscocho House because my former boss was friends with the owner. My favorite is when they allow us to pick our favorite part. I like the thin slices of crust with lots of clotted sugar than the thick slices without the brown outer layer. It's not complete without buying biscocho when you visit Iloilo.
Also, Sharon was selling smoked boneless bangus and I was excited so much for it! I pestered her to sell to me and good thing she has one left. It's one of those things I miss in the Philippines. You can go to any restaurant and you can have bangus. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Nod hosted lunch Christmas day and I bought some sweet confections from The Shop. It's really festive to have a selection of sweets when you have a party, non?
Of course, we always have our fave steamed red snapper. My friends put a lot of butter and garlic and it's just so aromatic when your steaming it.
Mikey gave me his fried squid called 'Squid of Love and Devotion'. It's his speciality and everyone just love it. I was the one who suggested he bottle it up when he asked me what gift I want from him. I do hope he makes a little business out of it because I'm surely buying from him. I will hoard because it's really yummy!
I've been a frequent diner at Parkway Garden for this visit and it's always with Nod and Franco. It's an al fresco area with several stalls selling grilled and Cambodian dishes. There was a time when it was all about Sam Do and Xiao Xiao but we had too much of it during fashion week. Parkway Garden is convenient because it's in front of Nod's apartment so it has become a favorite.
We always order grilled red snapper, no surprise there. I can finish one whole fish just by myself. I do tend to regret it now because I consume so much rice with it. Carbo-loading to the max! Those are red and green chilli sauce on the side. I tend to favor the sour salty green chilli over the sweet red one.
Romyr treated Franco and me at Korean Grill in Naga World. I've eaten there quite a few times and they always have wonderful service. Leave it to Romyr to update you with what's the latest in Philippine and Cambodian showbiz. It's a fascinating world I know nothing about so it's always refreshing to know the gossips. The fashion world, at least the one I know, is quite dreary and boring compared.
I had Dolsot Bibimbap. I know, rice again!
New year lunch was hosted by Mikey and there was so much food prepared. Yes, my holiday was all about eating. It can't be helped and I can't escape it. They prepared slow cooked pork, porkchops, grilled chicken, buttered shrimps, calamares, stir fried wild forest mushrooms, fish soup, grilled mackerel and so much more! A Filipino table is really a fiesta. I attend parties by Western friends and usually they only prepare around 2 to 3 dishes the most. Sometimes it's just over risotto and wine! Oh, but you know it's a Filipino party when it's prepared to feed a battalion of soldiers, hehehe.
In the evening that day, Vane celebrated his birthday on a river boat cruise. I was so stuffed I can only muster eating fruit salad. What a way to end my last day in Phnom Penh.
Can't wait to go back to Phnom Penh and discover more of it, hopefully, not only its gastronomic charm. I have some exciting project to unveil real soon.