Modesto’s

We are slowly perfecting the art of curing work-depression with gastronomy.  Lots of deadlines coming up, and a mountainload of work to do. We are pushing apps to next year, partially out of laziness, and also because I have been cautioned by Ed not to email him only 2 weeks before applications deadlines to ask him to write me a recommendation haha.

Anyway the sheer magnitude of things that are due soon made work really dreary today. As did leaving only when it was dark. I have a s***load of things to complete and I’m working on my project alone, so everything is on my head if it fails. Not that research ever fails, like even if it did you can publish negative results. However to ‘fail’ is the same as to ‘disprove’ a statement – there is much more work to be done than to prove it. Why doesn’t it work? In which cases does it not work? I even brought back a binder (not full of women) to work on at home because I’m technically on leave tomorrow so I can take my cousin and uncle who are visiting from the Netherlands to the zoo on my company’s corporate pass. As in I (or whoever else) need to show my pass along with the corporate zoo pass to get entrance for 4 people.  Even if I didn’t show up, they’d still need my lab pass so I wouldn’t be able to get into the office. So work from home it will be. The prospect of all this diligence got so depressing (those who know me know I am the antithesis of everything good and hardworking) liangze took me to Modesto’s for dinner and the food was really amazing. We had one of the November specials, which was the porcini and mascarpone pizza. very oily, very delicious. I’m not sure if porcini has natural oils, but the slices on the pizza tasted like tender pieces of tontoro fat.  Paired with the mascarpone (and a little bit of mozzarella) it was like a super rich mushroom veloute, but on a pizza. It also made us think back to the many porcini filled meals we had in Milan and Bologna and how delicious those memories were.

Veal scaloppine with porcini and lemon sauce in Milan

Any Italian restaurant that recalls one’s memories of actual food consumed in Italy is a good Italian restaurant by me. We also got a vongole which was really well-balanced. A decent amount of white wine, garlic, and clams that is much better than most vongoles we’ve tried. The american ones lack the alcoholic oomph and most Singaporean ones lack the clam juice essence.

Liangze tried his beloved panna cotta at Modesto’s. He’s been in love with it since the first time he had it at Pomo D’oro in Budapest. The first time we went to Pomodoro, we were taking the Smiths to lunch there after church to thank them for their hospitality. It was nice getting around Budapest in a car. After lunch they took us out to deliver care packages to the beggars and the homeless people sitting under bridges or on rugs at the railway station, and then to the Daubner cukraszda

Christmas beigli for our friends, Hungarian profs, piano tutor. Half filled with poppy seeds, half filled with crushed walnuts.

(one of the best cukraszda’s in Budapest, especially popular during christmastime for their beigli, which we packed and wrapped for our Hungarian friends for christmas) for Dan to try the Esterhazy torta.

The Esterhazy torta from Daubner Cukraszda. Look at the beautifully cut marzipan!

He last ate it about 20 years ago and remarked that it was just amazing how it didn’t disappoint 20 years later. There’s something to be said for the feeling of fidelity you get when you remember something to be fantastic, and after returning to that thing after a long time, you find that it’s exactly as amazing as you built it up to be in your memory. Usually when you go back to sample that thing that has been built up you are sorely disappointed, but not so with Daubner Cukraszda’s Esterhazy torta!

Little did we know that our first time at Pomodoro would not be our last (which is quite a feat considering the sheer number of worthy restaurants in Budapest and how cheap they usually are and how adventurous we are in trying new establishments) and that their panna cotta (with a thin layer of crumb pastry at the base) would be the glowing standard of panna cottas that all our subsequent panna cottas would be compared against.

The infamous pomod’oro panna cotta, served with whipped cream and violets

The Modesto’s one is not bad, but there was definitely not enough caramel. The walnuts and berries it is served with are pretty fresh, without the rancid walnut oil smell you get when you have a package of Diamond walnuts that have been sitting in a your baking storage container for a while (as I would know) (People who are unlucky enough to be the recipient/sampler of my confectionery should know that one of the biggest motivations for a baker to bake is a looming expiry date)(As is the case with my savoiardi fingers now which will be transformed into a Tiramisu hopefully in the near future). The texture of the custard had the right amount of elasticity and give, and I think it’s one of the better renditions in Singapore, considering it’s not real popular among singaporeans.  The price is a bit steep though.. I don’t really think it is worth $12. Would rather have tried the tiramisu, but we were absolutely stuffed after the pizza and pasta there was no way 2 desserts could have found room in our stomachs.

Pigging out on a Monday night with no work (or working from home) tomorrow was a good enough salve to last hopefully the rest of the week. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work. It’s fun, it’s challenging, I have to use my brains (which is annoying but at least I can respect my job), but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to frequently accompany it with various incentives.

There’s the Tang’s christmas market going on in Vivocity now and there are these darlingest music boxes on sale there. Well, I wouldn’t really call it a sale. The one I’m looking at costs $130 and I am slowly/sensibly pondering whether to get it. Problem is, I can’t even ask liangze for it for a christmas present because we both agreed that our christmas presents for each other this year will have to fit into the Mr. Bean tins we bought from Mr. Bean, which have a <500ml volume. The box is made of wood, with a glass lid. Peering in, there is a rotatable annulus set among some glittery snow, and sculpted clay/porcelain pine trees all around. On the annulus, painted icy blue, are several skating figurines, and Frosty the Snowman plays when you open the box. Ordinarily I’d think that the tackiest song ever but since it is part of the Happyland soundtrack it has rather different memories for me. Given a christmas song I can usually even tell you which level of Happyland it is the soundtrack for. The skaters whirling round and round on the annulus brings to mind Rockefeller Center/Varosliget Park (which contained the largest open air skating rink in Europe), and of snow-blown days of the past four Decembers.

Varosliget park
The road to Hosok ter

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