Eating – when breathing and time – are scarce.
A project that demands my every waking minute consumes me. I’m working seven days a week and sleeping about four to six hours a night – when I’m lucky enough to get my brain to shut off. I’ve always said that sleeplessness is the curse of the creative and I’m living proof. If you’ve noticed the lengthy lulls in between posts on DCF, well, all I can tell you now is that there’s a reason for it. But be patient, as I try to be, and as I remind myself every morning, there’s supreme fulfillment in the process of hard work spurred by courage and creativity.
It’s difficult finding any down time these days, let alone time to breathe and just be — it’s the actuality of feeling more or less alive on different days that’s a constant surprise. When my sister asks me what I want for my birthday, I’m momentarily stunned and tell her that I’d all but forgotten it was coming up. So I’m thankful for all the things that give me joy in between the hard work: calls from friends, my Bin taking me out for coffee on Saturday mornings, and this bounty of breads and jams from Chef Tonyboy Escalante.
I’m all set to make the trek recently to Tagaytay to interview him when I’m told the day before that he’s had a dental procedure and would like to reschedule. I’m bummed, naturally, since I hear so many good things about the new Breakfast at Antonio’s and well, breakfast and me, we love each other madly. Plus, I’ve always admired Chef Tonyboy and am eager to meet him. So you can imagine my bliss when two large paper bags, bursting to the brim, land at my doorstep with the name, Antonio’s, emblazoned in black on the side.
One bag holds a bevy of bottles containing all sorts of spoonable thrills: Fruit Curds, in Passionfruit, Calamansi, or Lemon; Banana Macadamia sauce (terrific for slathering over pancakes); Pestos, in Basil or Sundried Tomato; and Jams galore. Artisanal products these, crafted skillfully and thoughtfully, each taste speaks of quality and joyful eating.
For dinner that evening, I thickly smear some Finnish rye crispbreads with Chicken Liver Pate. Alternating in hue between a pale rose pink and a feral brown, the paste is smooth and complex, tickling with tastes of thyme, its notes of liver, lush. I eat a quarter of the jar by the spoon and wash it down with sips of a late harvest wine.
At the same meal, I cook up a batch of conchiglie and stir in dollops of the Basil and Sundried Tomato Pesto, in separate bowls of course. My Bin and I compare and converse – which do we like better? And yes, won’t it be wonderful with a touch of cream? For next time, perhaps for Valentine’s Day dinner?
Over the next few days, with no time – oh time, how fleeting you are! – to make my meals in between work, the breads and jams from Antonio’s are my succor. Possessing parallel textures, they’re irresistibly soft and I resist the temptation to use a few as a pillow. There are four varieties: Turkish Loaf, pocked with raisins, my favorite (thus the loaf you see in all the photos); Honey Walnut; Banana Loaf, scented with the essence of the fruit but more savory than sweet; and the Butter Loaf which reminds me of the doughy fantasies at Bread Talk but better.
I make meals with all of them, sometimes mixing and matching bread varieties in one sandwich. Most of the time however, I spread a slice with jam, either Strawberry or the Mixed Berry, and eat it greedily and gratefully. And then a spoonful of the Calamansi Curd for dessert.
And so I work and fit in eating when I can, thankful for gifts such as these. My yesterdays are boxed up and my tomorrows are laid out in an Excel spreadsheet reminding me of tasks that need to be done. But for today, tonight even, I’ve got my glass of wine and this bread from Antonio’s. If I don’t get to finish it, maybe I’ll just use it as a pillow and hope sleep will find me.
Thanks very much again to Chef Tonyboy Escalante and to Joey S.