The Armchair Critic

(Pretending to know everything)

Last week, I accompanied my nephew, Kyle Imao to Pancake House in Trinoma. Kyle is one of the kiddie cooks in ABS-CBN's top-rating Junior MasterChef Pinoy edition. As of this writing, he is part of the Lucky Seven. I didn't consider it a task to chaperone Kyle because 1) I like hanging out with this twelve year old and 2) I love eating at Pancake House. An added bonus, I also got to see other Junior MasterChef contestants Miko, Caitlin and Jobim.

Kyle posing with the JMC posters in front of the Pancake House

From Left to Right: Miko, Caitlin, Jobim and Kyle

The four kiddie cooks were presented to the press and fellow food bloggers. I was one proud aunt as I watched Kyle, whom I've always known to be quiet and shy, answer the interview questions with aplomb. His confidence and discipline has really increased, thanks to his positive experiences in the show.

Question and answer portion

When asked who he considered to be his biggest threat in the competition, he replied, "Miko, because he is a very good cook and he is also very good in plating." When asked the same question, Miko answered that his biggest competition is Kyle for almost the same reasons. Mutual admiration society? But truly, it was gratifying to watch the kids' camaraderie and friendship even if in the show they test their cooking skills against each other.

Kyle and Jobim

A few things haven't changed in Pancake House. They still have those big movie posters, they still serve my favorite fried chicken and everything is still orange. But they have something new that you have got to try.

Chef Adrian Azurin of Pancake House and Ms. Kathy Solis of ABS-CBN

Pancake House now serves dishes inspired by the young kiddie cooks. Chef Adrian Azurin, who also started cooking at a very young age, presented the dishes to us. He explained how he watches Pinoy Junior MasterChef (aired every Saturday after Wansapanataym and every Sunday after Goin' Bulilit) looking for dishes that would fit the Pancake House menu. Of course, the dishes created by the Junior MasterChefs couldn't be replicated exactly because of the availability of ingredients and the cooking process, but he assures us that each JMC-inspired dish is a culinary masterpiece. Just like what the kiddie cooks produce in the Junior MasterChef kitchen.

Pancake House and ABS-CBN staff with the four Junior MasterChef contestants

Six Junior MasterChef meals are available at all Pancake House branches. Chef Azurin said that more dishes inspired by the Junior MasterChefs will be served until end of March 2012.

Cabbage Lumpia in Coconut Breading (P175)

Rice in Ampalaya Silog (P235)

If you've ever felt really hungry after watching Junior MasterChef on TV, rush to the Pancake House nearest you and have a healthy plate of Cabbage Lumpia in Coconut Breading or a fully loaded meal of Baby Back Ribs served with Warm Bacon Potato Salad and Corn on the Cob. So next time you see the Junior MasterChefs on TV, you can say you've tasted their cooking.

I think these two guys ordered the same things from the extensive menu.

Public Disclosure: As I mentioned, I happened to escort Kyle at the food event featured above. Since I have a food blog, I asked the public relations staff present in the event if I could write about it. I also mentioned that since Kyle is my nephew, my write-up would feature how I experienced this event with him. I was given permission to do so.



Posted by Lee i.

If you love desserts as much as I do, chances, are you've already been to Bizu Patisserie & Cafe. My first visit, I was first drawn to the deep purple colors in the cafe's facade and once I was inside, there was no turning back. Imagine being welcomed by rows and rows of these. eyes are immediately drawn to the chocolatey creations.

Sugarless for those who want their cake and eat it, too.

Ahhh...chocolates, how do I love thee?

The thing about desserts is, how it looks is as great a draw as how it tastes. And I've met many desserts I've loved at first sight, only to be disappointed at first bite. Not so at Bizu. They use high quality ingredients and they don't scrimp, so what you see is what you get.

I've visited Bizu many times and I can't say that I've tasted all they have to offer. While I would love to taste everything - all the flavors of their Macarons de Paris (no, these are not the coconut macaroons we are used to), for instance - I never will because Bizu introduces new gastronomic creations every month. I will never be able to catch up to their prolific chefs.

Macarons de Paris assorted flavors

For these hot summer months, Bizu has come up with unique and enticing Summer Sorbets which come in five cool combinations - Raspberry and Merlot, Lemon and Ginger, Passion Fruit and Mango, Green Apple and Mint, and Lychee and Vanilla. Now, sorbets are usually served between dishes to cleanse the palate, but there is nothing usual with Bizu. You can have your sorbet any which way you want. After a meal of pasta before moving on to a dessert of cakes and pastries, or as the main dessert itself. These unique blends of pureed summer fruits make for the perfect frozen desserts to cool you down. These are all served in chilled shot glasses and one set of five is only P285.00, so be sure to taste all. Or share the five with friends. Just a reminder, when these are served, stop the conversations and dig in. You want your sorbets frozen, not melted. You can ooh-and-ahhh afterwards.
Summer Sorbets to cool you

I like the Lychee and Vanilla flavor, I guess, because my taste buds are no stranger to the taste of lychee. And vanilla always makes desserts smell and taste better. But then I like the Raspberry and Merlot, too. Chef Sander explained that he reduced the merlot so, no, you will not get drank on the Merlot, there's only the slightest hint of its presence. Passionfruit and Mango is kinda crunchy with those passionfruit seeds. I wasn't so enamored with the Apple and Mint, the apple bits were chewy but ruined the smoothness of the mint for me. Lemon and Ginger, a more common combination reminded me of the salabat my aunt makes when I have a sore throat, so I shied away from it psychologically, hahaha.
Yoga cake gives bliss to both mind and body.

Bizu's most recent masterpiece is the Yoga cake - a blissful union of tropical passion fruit and hearty yogurt, spread with just the right amount of lemon custard, placed in between layers of moist sable and genoise sponge. It is a smooth mousse cake with a chewy cookie dough-like base. It is a very light cake and while I loved its texture, I missed the sweetness of traditional cakes. But then again, I am partial to chocolate so if you love the strong flavor of fruits this is perfect for you.

There are many other delights I love at Bizu that I was lucky enough to try out with friends recently.

Afternoon (tea) delight taken in many levels.

Classic scones go perfectly with Strawberry Balsamic Jam,
Chantilly Cream and Whipped Butter

Petit Croque Monsieur, Petit Herbed Chicken Feta in Ciabatta, Madeleine

Mushroom Duxelle in Vol-au-Vent, Salmon with Dill Pistachio Mousseline
on Pate Brisee, Caramelized Apples with Brie on Croute

Macarons, Chocolate Truffles, Opera Cake, Mango Chiboust

And did you know that their breads, which go perfectly with their jams are 30% off after 6 pm? My kids who don't like bread loved the ciabbata and focaccia so much that I can see myself going back to Bizu soon. Sigh. Not soon enough for my already hungry stomach.

Bizu Branches:

Greenbelt 2
G/L Greenbelt 2, Ayala Center, Makati City
Tel. Nos.: 757-BIZU • 757-4749

The Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Center
Tel. No.: 724-2498 • 726-2496

Glorietta 4
3/L Glorietta 4, Ayala Center, Makati City
Tel. Nos.: 757-2086

Alabang Towncenter
G/L Corte Delas Palmas, Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City
Tel. No.: 809-BIZU • 772-1917 • 772-1918


C' Italian Dining

Posted by Lee i.

I had always wanted to write about one of my favorite restaurants but I kept putting it off, mainly because I get cravings whenever I look at the photos I took. Since it's located about two hours from where I live, it's not too easy to satisfy these cravings. I don't have the luxury of pretending I was naglilihi (pregnant with unusual midnight cravings which should be indulged or else...) and I do have to rely on The Artist for transportation. Now, even while he is a fan of Chef Chris, you can't always count on him to indulge my every whim. That's what 11 years of marriage and not naglilihi get you. But today, I am excited to share this restaurant with you because I know that tomorrow my cravings will be more than satisfied.

I still remember exactly when The Artist and I "discovered" C' Italian in Angeles City - January 16, 2005. I had a reunion with high school friends and The Artist and I decided to stay overnight in Clark. We decided to forgo our usual sisig ni Aling Lucing sa riles and eat somewhere smoke-free and air-conditioned for a change. I had read about an exciting new Italian restaurant in Angeles but didn't take note of the name (duh!) I assumed that the hotel where we were staying would know of the restaurant. Unfortunately, the receptionist couldn't even recommend us to a dining venue outside of their own coffee shop (double duh!) So DH and I decided to just cruise along the perimeter of Clark Air Base, hoping to spot the place. Minutes into our ride, we saw the sign "Italian" looming like a beacon in front of us, we just took the chance that it was the right place. Since we were tired and hungry, and The Artist was getting testy, I swear I almost heard a chorus sing, "Allelujah!"

When we walked in, we were immediately struck by the cozy feeling of the interiors. (It was quite small back then, they had since expanded.) The menu offered extensive (and expensive) choices. Now, as you may know, The Artist is quite particular about his pasta. He doesn't like paying for food that he himself could cook quite well at home. Now, since we weren't sure if this was the place I read good reviews about, he was quite hesitant to order - especially when nothing in the menu appealed to him. He finally settled for the seafood pasta, but with very specific instructions to the wait staff for "olive oil and just a hint of tomatoes, etc., etc." He basically ordered something that was not in the menu!

A few minutes later, this not-so-tall foreign looking guy, who could only be the chef, came striding out of the kitchen. I warned The Artist, "Hala ka, hayan na yung chef. Lagot ka!" Chef Chris turned out to be a very friendly fellow. He just wanted to confirm The Artist's instructions for himself. The Artist described what he wanted and Chef Chris got it perfectly. When The Artist tasted his pasta, he had nothing but praises for the Chef. And so that was how we met jovial uber-talented Chef Chris. Every time we visit C, The Artist would order the same dish, still not on the menu, and Chef Chris would know exactly who it was for.

Indeed, the pasta dishes at C are a gustatory delight. But, C has something else to offer that is not found in other restaurants. We didn't have this the first time, but since then, countless visits after (sometimes twice a week), we've tried all the 10 or so versions. Only at C will you find the panizza - a novel way of eating pizza, guaranteed to have you licking your fingers and smacking your lips for more.

How to Eat a Panizza

The panizza is a thin pizza that you eat with fresh arugula leaves and alfalfa sprouts.

Make sure there's enough fresh arugula leaves and alfalfa sprouts for everyone. If you need more, just ask.

Enjoy the anticipation of tasting one of the best pizzas in the world.

It's okay to use your hands. Go ahead, do it.

Cut a long strip and top it with fresh arugula.

Roll it...

Roll it...

It may look like lumpia to you, but wait 'til you taste it.

Tastes like heaven. Enjoy!

I am getting too hungry now to think of words to describe the C dining experience so I will just let my photos do the talking.

Freshly-baked breads to chew on while waiting for your meal.

My favorite appetizer - slabs of deep-fried mozarella with lots of
mushrooms and fresh tomatoes.

A healthy plate of salad is always a good idea.

His favorite: Seafood Pasta Ali Oli. C' Italian does not scrimp on
so you definitely get fresh sea food that tastes like the sea.

Pasta with artichoke hearts

Their risotto is good enough for two persons. You can ask them to
split the servings which we did here.

Love that pesto dip and iced tea to chase it down.

If you don't want the iced tea, they have a fine selection of wines.

Four years already, and we still keep going back, each time discovering something new and confirming to ourselves that the last meal we had at C was not just a gastronomic dream.

Sometime in November, Chef Chris "took a break" and I don't know it it was psychological or the quality was affected, but I swear, the panizza didn't taste the same. We were ecstatic that after two weeks we received a text message from Chef Chris saying that he was back. So will we! Because when you eat at C, you will really hear heavenly voices singing, "Hallelujah!"

C' Italian Fine Italian Dining
1210 Don Juico Avenue
Angeles City
Open daily 11:30 am - 12 midnight
For reservations: (045) 892-4059


Culinary Irony

Posted by Lee i.

So I don't like to cook. I discussed that at length in my very first post. But I do love to eat. And I have been lucky enough to be well-fed while escaping the tediousness of making menus, understanding recipes and (heaven forbid) marketing at the talipapa. (Sorry, traumatic childhood experience at the wet market involving mud and pig's blood.)

In college, I lived in a dormitory where food was served everyday. Sure, the U.P. Food Service is not the best in the world, what with rumors of Band-Aid floating in the soup, but nobody ever had a bout of food poisoning. And when we've had enough of the food they served, there was always Rodics (a veritable landmark in the U.P. Campus), and if our allowance had just arrived, McDonald's.

I had also been lucky enough to room or share apartments with ladies who have the passion for cooking. I'd wake up in the mornings with pancakes (made from scratch) on the table. I was constantly amazed at their ability to open the cupboard (usually bare) and come up with something delicious. All without much planning, it seemed.

Even The Artist, when he was courting me, would visit bring raw ingredients for sinigang and cook them right before my admiring eyes. Now I know that cooking sinigang just involves throwing vegetables and meat in a potful of boiling water, but we are talking about me, remember? I can't even cook rice, so I was easily impressed.

So can you blame me that I never had the impetus to learn how to cook? Not even that awkward potentially deal-breaking moment when my future mother-in-law (MIL) after tasting my sister-in-law's dinengdeng, asked my mother, "Si Lee po ba, marunong ding magluto nito?" (My family exchanged meaningful stares while my mother giggled nervously). No, not even that close brush with losing my man during the traditional pamamanhikan could make me swear to learn. Cause I remember my MIL adding that The Artist took cooking lessons from Nora Daza. Well, at least, I knew I wouldn't starve and he would feed me in the manner I was accustomed to.

So imagine everyone's surprise when six years into the marriage, I enrolled in Heny Sison's Culinary School. My husband, not surprisingly, was very encouraging.

At the time of my enrolment (2003), Heny's school was offering two courses - The Essential Baking & Pastry Series(P65,000/22 days) and The Essential Cooking Series(P56,000/23 days). Being the dessert-lover that I am, I was most tempted to sign up for the former. But good sense prevailed so I signed up for the cooking series which offered both basic cooking and baking as opposed to baking only.

Yes, the course was expensive. But for anyone else to might be thinking if enrolling the price is worth it. I was given two sets of personalized chef's jacket and apron as well as a set of knives. (One of the first rules of the kitchen I learned was never to use other chef's knives.) The number of students was limited and the kitchens spacious so there was no fighting over ovens or stoves. The school has some of the best chefs in the Philippines (our class was handled by Chef Jill Sandique and Chef Jane Paredes). And, with the unlimited use of the facilities and equipment also came unlimited first class ingredients. The cupboards and refrigerators were well-stocked with ingredients indicated in the recipes. You can continue practicing during class hours until you got it right. And anything you made, you took home. (I think this was also the time I started to really gain weight.)

On the very first day, we were warned by Chef Jill that we would not learn to cook sinigang and adobo in class but that we would be learning French cooking. And so it was that I finall learned what a julienne meant and that bain-marie is not a biscuit. We had interesting recipes to work with every Saturday, from the simple to the complex. Egg cookery to souffles, stocks, broths. sauces, cakes, pastries. Of course, it goes without saying that my favorites involves sweets. I also enjoyed the company of my classmates, many of whom were taking the course as an entry point to being professional chefs. I guess that is why one certain chef ran her class like a military school, something I disagreed with. I enrolled to learn and to discover the joys of cooking, not to be shouted at. It was only after I watched Ratatouille that I fully appreciated that that kind of training might be essential to prepare chefs for the hustle and bustle of a hot kitchen. Buti na lang di ako nasabihan ng, if you can't stand the heat...hehehe.

On graduation day, we prepared a full course meal for our special guests. I am sorry I didn't save the menu, but we made everything from scratch - appetizers, soups, sherbet, meats, dessert. Everything was delicious and beautifully plated. As I was serving The Artist, I told him, "Huwag kang masasanay, ngayon lang ito," just in case he expected the same kind of service everyday. Mahirap na.

While I enjoyed the course, it didn't really change my mind about cooking. I still don't like it. It involves too much guess work or reliance on taste buds. You sometimes have to make adjustments to get it right. Now baking is another matter. I love it. You have to be so precise that there is no doubt that as long as you follow the recipe exactly, you will be rewarded with something great in the end.

I haven't put my apron and certificate to good use. It is only now, when the KiDS have grown enough to appreciate fine cooking and our budget for eating out has shrunk that I reached for my class notes again. And what do you know, I am beginning to enjoy cooking. I used to say after the course that I paid so much just to confirm to myself that I don't like cooking. But that might just change yet.

First photo courtesy of Au Lim, was taken during the PS-SE Mad Scrappers Party. I used my old uniform as a costume. Napagkamalan tuloy akong caterer. Grrr....

Second photo of Currant and Walnut Bread and Irish Soda Bread taken in class.

Third photo of Butter Loaves, Blueberry Muffins and Revel Bars with my Kitchen Aid and favorite cookie jar taken at home.



Posted by Lee i.

Baler the love story of Feliza Reyes (Anne Curtis) and Celso Resureccion (Jericho Rosales) set against the backdrop of the 337 days Siege of Baler. Feliza is the daughter of a Filipino rebel commander while Celso is a soldier of the Spanish Army, the son of a Pampanguena and a Spaniard. Amidst war, Feliza and Celso struggle to keep their love alive. Feliza defies his father (Phillip Salvador) who hates the Spaniards with a fervor. Celso is a soldier loyal to the Spanish Army, even as his love for Feliza pulls him in the other direction.

The Siege of Baler is one of the more famous battles between Spain and the Philippines. By itself, it is an interesting and remarkable story. There are many human interest stories that happened during the siege, but what better than a love story? As Lope (Mark Bautista), Celso's friend says, "Love is difficult in times of war." It is these difficulties that the movie explores more than the historical events of 1898 - 1899.

I am quite surprised with the restrained acting of Anne Curtis. I initially resisted at the image of ABS-CBN's Dyosa playing a full-blooded dalagang Filipina. I didn't really believe that her mestiza looks and cutesy acting would do justice to the role. I am happy to be proven wrong. I didn't see the other entries to the Metro Manila Film Festival but I can understand why she won Best Actress. She was believable as the young woman in love with his father's mortal enemy. Did I say restrained?

For his acting skills, Jericho Rosales is no surprise. But again, my prejudice kicked in high gear when I learned he was playing a Spanish soldier. "But he's too dark! He's an indio!", I protested to my husband, who calmly tells me that perhaps Jericho was playing a half-breed (half mestizo, half indio). It galled me that my husband was right. Yet, again. It's too bad that Jericho didn't get any acting awards because he portrayed the beleaguered soldier so well. Although that part when he learned his pet dog Bravo's fate was a bit too contrived for me. Actually, the whole scene struck me as contrived. Parang pilit.

The movie's production is one of the best I've seen in awhile (although I must confess I do not watch too many Filipino movies as I sometimes end up just wanting to kill somebody...anybody.) Viva Films spent for the costumes and the props. The Filipino insurgents were authentically dressed in their rayadillos, as were the Spanish soldiers in their military regalia. Husband noted one glaring error though - the Filipino soldiers wearing their rayadillos a year before the siege. He's something of a history buff so he reminded me that during that time, there was no Pact of Biak-na Bato yet. The fledgling Philippine republic has not yet been born. Thus, no organized army. Ergo, no uniforms.

The script is good enough. Sure, there are some inconsistencies. For example, I think the mention of Manuel and Pedro Quezon was irrelevant. Maybe it was for the benefit of the Quezons' living descendants, some of whom still live in Baler. Joel Torre's character's reason for being back in the fray was also largely unexplained. Still you could almost believe that the fictitious characters of Celso and Feliza existed as their love story intertwined seamlessly with the events of the Baler siege. Or at least, they were supposed to be fictional, that is why the annotation at the end of the movie about the fate of one Celso Resurreccion, Jr. threw me for a loop. Husband is researching on that and I will share his findings with you soonest.

If you are going to see only one Filipino movie this year, let it be Baler and learn a bit more about our country's history in the process.


Twilight - The Movie

Posted by Lee i.

Bella Swan (Kirsten Stewart) leaves sunny Phoenix, Arizona for Forks, Washington, one of the rainiest towns in the US. She expects to be miserable in a new town, a new high school, and a father she has only spent a few weeks each summer with. Until she meets the Cullens, that is. Glamorous, mysterious and quite aloof from the other students, the Cullens, particularly, the unattached Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) intrigue Bella.

It turns out the feeling is mutual. And though Edward, the self-proclaimed "most dangerous predator on the planet" tries to pull away, he is inexplicably attracted to Bella, no matter how clumsy she is or how flat she sounds in the movie). Despite that he is a vampire, who sparkles in the sunlight, his being a "vegetarian" (the Cullens feed only on animal blood) makes you feel that there is hope for the two yet. After all, he only has to resist making a meal out of Bella when they kiss and embrace passionately, so all should be well. That is, until other vampires who crave human blood come along, to emphasize the huge difference between the two. Bella's frailty and Edward's immortality.

This is the part when we should be drawn into the Romeo and Juliet-like love story. But I guess, I am too much a fan of the books to be drawn in completely.

Stephenie Meyers, the author of Twilight captured teenage angst and longing perfectly. The tension, sexual or otherwise, was quite palpable in the book. That was quite difficult to capture in a movie. I was quite surprised when Edward mentions that he has been watching Bella sleep for the past two months. That long? Nothing much has happened...

But then I tried to be forgiving, and to watch the movie though the eyes of someone who hasn't read the books. It delivers. Sure, many of the more fascinating details (like the individual personalities and histories) are missing, but all in all, one is able to appreciate the movie: human teenage girl meets immortal teenage vampire, they fall in love, must...overcome...obstacles, attend prom. And then a foreshadowing of a movie sequel. Good, good...can't get enough of Robert Pattinson (swoon).

Yup, I swooned, like any other Miriam colegiala in SM Marikina who cut classes, everytime there's a close-up of Robert. Although I did expect "and so the lion falls in love with the lamb" to have been delivered more dramatically.

Surprisingly, the character who made a huge impact on me is Jasper (and it's not only because I named our new puppy after him), but because, even without much speaking lines, you could plainly see his discomfort and apprehension at being with humans, whose blood he craves so much. At one scene, he swallows deeply, you can see his Adam's apple bob, when he smells Bella. Now that is acting. Hahaha.

There were lots of funny moments in the movie, too. A passionate kissing scene that was cut! No, not by Edward, but by the censors? (The movie trailers were more revealing - Kristen Stewart in granny panties - hehe.) An awesome baseball game and a final confrontation between the Cullens and nomad vampires.

When you do watch the movie, be smug that you actually read all four books, including the unfinished Midnight Sun. But don't expect the movie to follow the book entirely. There had to be some creative license on part of the screenwriter and the director to bring a 6-hour read into a two hour plus movie. You will enjoy it more.

And yes, watch it when all the teenagers are in school or safely home with their parents. It would be much quieter that way. Unless you are actually the one who does all the gasping and the shrieking.


Twilight Series

Posted by Lee i.

It's been awhile since I've read a book that practically compels me to write a review about it. Or in this case, them. Not that there's been a dearth of books worth reviewing. Quite the contrary. It's just that there's never been so much buzz generated by a series of books since Harry Potter. If there were, I must be more out of touch than I initially thought.

Case in point. I have never heard of Twilight until Candy started raving about it about two weeks ago. The first book in the series, Twilight, first appeared in 2005. I must have been hiding under a rock, or (wishful thinking) in a forest in rainy, gloomy, Forks, Washington.

The Twilight series tell the story of sixteen year old human Bella Swan and eternally seventeen Edward Cullen, a vampire. I had a surfeit vampires with Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, so I was a bit hesitant to read the books. Not another vampire story... Another thing that made me hesitate is the fact that the books are targeted towards young adults. Goodness, I have a son who is almost in that age range. How could I possibly relate to a human-vampire teenage love affair?

Well, I was a teenager once. And Twilight is not really about vampires.

Twilight is about relationships. Bella's connection with her estranged father, her relationship with her childlike mother, and yes, her involvement with Edward. About 3/4 of the book explores those. There is no vampire action until towards the end of the book. But the lack of action does not mean boring. It is sweet, exciting, revealing, full of angst. Suddenly, I was a teenager again - wondering if the boy I liked liked me back. Wondering what he was thinking.
It just felt so wonderful to be high school again when the most complicated thing was you being afraid your boyfriend and his family might bite you. The author, Stephenie Meyers may have been trapped in a body of a high school junior as she perfectly tells the story of young forbidden love through Bella's voice. While some people think the some parts of the book are cheesy, look at it from a teenager's point of view. You'd be waxing lyrical, too. Then you'd understand the book's appeal.

Twilight creates its own vampire myths slightly different from Anne Rice's. The vampires here are still dangerous but more alive and human than not. In this book at least, Edward's being a vampire is just incidental. Sometimes you forget that he is a vampire. Take away his immortality, super powers and the fact that he is "dazzling", and he is just your regular guy next door. You are wrapped up too much in the story that everything and anything is possible. Even a lover like Edward Cullen. Sigh. Don't get me started there. :-)

I won't recommend Twilight to my 10 year old DS just yet. Although he's expressed interest to read it, I am not sure he's mature enough to handle the love story. Not when his last read was The Spiderwick Chronicles. While the book is "clean" - no swearing, no passionate kissing scenes - I'm sure the beauty of the relationships would be lost on him and all he will be able to say is "Eeeek..."

With all the hype and the buzz, Twilight does not disappoint. Just let yourself go. I did. And not only did I enjoy the books, I love discussing it with friends. It's been a long time since I've had the pleasure of trading book notes with anyone else. If only for that chance at active interaction, I'd read the series again...and again.