by Monchet Diokno Olives

My wife Margie and I first moved into Rockwell close to twenty years ago, and we have seen our community grow since.  During those early years, Margie was setting up Emphasis at One Rockwell, and I was busy travelling for my work at ABS-CBN, usually in San Francisco. We would have been in Madrid this time of the year; but that obviously has to wait.  Instead, we are enjoying our home, Rockwell, which has done everything to keep us safe during these tenuous times. 

Monchet and Margie spending previous holidays abroad. Photo was taken in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

There’s nothing like a freshly-cut tree to bring holiday cheer. Today, you can always give Spruce, Fig and Vine, and Mabolo a holler to get you set up for the tree.

The kitchen would be busy for holiday meals, with me doing a paella, and a prime rib. I would make pâté from scratch, and an ultra-rich cheese pimiento. Demi Nasser supplied the caviar pie – a real treat. Or better yet, I would order caviar from Beth at Santi’s, and down it with a bottle of Bollinger (usually gifted) and have an inebriated Noche Buena. But times have changed, and Margie and I have decided to simplify our lives.  It’s just the two of us, sans our now departed, 16-year-old Frenchie Bambina, and yaya Lucrecia who has since retired after 45 years of service. So, Christmas now feels like our days as newlyweds in San Francisco.

Chef Jessie’s caviar pie

For empty nesters like ourselves, I have a few suggestions on how you can prepare a toned-down holiday, without the hassle. A caviar pie would be nice. Ask Chef Jessie at the Club to make you a larger-than-usual pie, then graze it through the season. Drop by Bacchus and indulge in a bottle or two of Bollinger rosé, or Domaines Ott, that wonderful rosé from the south of France.

Cacio e Pepe pasta kit from a mano

Pasta is the easiest to do. Get a few boxes of de Cecco, have cheese grated at Santi’s  for a really simple Cacio e Pepe. YouTube can show you how to prepare it.  Or, if you’re feeling lazy, just get it from a mano at Power Plant Mall.

Boneless Rib Roast from Santi’s

Roast beef, your thing? Again, just have Beth take care of it. Order in advance, choose how large you like, and pick it up. For Filipino fare, you can’t go wrong ordering from Popsie Gamboa at MilkyWay or at Manam.

Paella Setas from @ramblaph

If you’re fancying paella, just order from Rambla, borrow the paellera, and promise to return it.

Holiday ham from Wild Flour

There is nothing that spells holiday like Ana de Ocampo’s ham at Wild Flour. Stock on the pâtés and spreads, and indulge in her portioned Echire butter. For pica pica, have Jamon Iberico de Bellota sliced at Santi’s.

The holidays can really be simple at Rockwell, with these insider tips, you are surely going to be just fine. 

Need ideas? Email me at [email protected].