Pass the Crayons // An Oh-So-Colorful Birthday Dinner


Call it an evening of “first impressions,” quite literally, as we celebrated my mom’s birthday last Sunday — This was our first time to try out Impressions, the swanky French restaurant by celebrity chef Cyrille Soenen, located at Maxims Hotel in Resorts World Manila.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens when you leave some crayons with six hungry adults, well, keep reading…

It was Cristina who recommended that we go to Impressions for my mom's birthday — Great choice, sis!

Is it any surprise that the very first thing that caught my eyes was this oh-so-beautiful slab o' meat?!?

The birthday girl told me she wore purple because it is the official color of the advent season. And true royalty, I quickly reminded her. Hahaha!

Right next to the salt and pepper shakers… A cup of oil pastels!

Cristina, whom I fondly call Flora Marie whenever we text, immediately started drawing — no surprise — a flower around her plate. Hahaha! And yes, that officially makes me "Fauna."

My dad also got in on the action and started explaining the very good results of his recent blood test to Anthony, complete with a working diagram of the human heart.

I was feeling particularly Cocteau-esque and was inspired to start a portrait of Cristina. But wait, how I wish I had more colors….

Be careful what you wish for — With just one request, I was handed a new box of oil pastels! "Now vee can vee-gin," I said in my best faux French accent, which no one found funny. (We artists are so misunderstood, I tell ya.)

By the way, this is the multi-faceted artist Jean Cocteau, who dabbled in painting, poetry, acting, playwriting, and film… A true Renaissance man!

I greatly admire his illustrations, in particular, which were always colorful, playful and whimsical.

As I struggled with deciding which color to use for Cristina's hair, the question of the moment was, What would Cocteau do? (No one answered, so I just went with orange. Hahaha!)

And then, I was struck with another inspiration… Frida Kahlo!

I have always loved women who wear flowers in their hair… It takes a certain personality and flair to be able to pull off this look.

This also happens to be one of the reasons I consider philanthropist Imelda Cojuangco, known for her signature look of flowers as accessories, amongst my favorite muses — Check out this portrait I did of her in 2011. How chic is that butterfly?!?

As Cristina's portrait took shape, I realized that what she needed, more than flowers and butterflies, was fruit. Lots and lots of them! This prompted Anthony to ask, "How do you always end up with Carmen Miranda?"

I was shocked and horrified when our waiter placed the bread bowl on top of my masterpiece, until Anthony reminded me that we were actually at Impressions to eat.

Anthony and Cristina both ordered the Chilean sea bass, which came with a very interesting proposition… Bacon as Accessory! Lol!

My mom and dad went with the salmon, which was a work of art in itself.

Was there even any doubt that I wouldn't go with their rib eye?

Forget that the plate was very, very hot, I just really wanted a souvenir photo with this grilled beauty!

Can you name your mustards? Here we have Dijon, Pommery, Yellow mustard and — my favorite — some kick-ass horseradish.

And this evening's Best Fry goes to…

Check out my fascination for choosing the best French fries ‘ala Miss Universe here and here.

You know it's genuine love when you're given an ENTIRE strip of bacon. Love ya right back, sis!

In between bites of my incredible steak dinner, I told Cristina she is probably the only person in the history of portraiture to ever wear a gravy boat around her neck.

The folks over at Impressions gifted my mom with a surprise birthday cake, made even more thrilling, at least to me, by the fact that they were in asymmetic dresses. (I told Anthony, I want! Hahaha!)

For a moment, Anthony didn't know whether to sing along to the birthday song or call 911. Hahaha!

Full disclosure — The sparkler had already gone out by the time we got this group shot together, so we "re-staged" the blowing of the cake. Hahaha!

Cristina and I were eyeing the strawberries, as we were just discussing over dinner how Catherine Zeta-Jones whitens her teeth by rubbing strawberries on her pearlies. Malic acid lightens surface stains, y'all!

After our fun (and death-defying) cake ceremony, I caught my mom and Tita Del eyeing the pastels from the other side of the table…

And within seconds, they started doodling too.

It was interesting that my mom ended up drawing a colorful vinta, a traditional boat from Mindanao…

She clearly took inspiration from the cover of the current issue of Susan Calo Medina's Travel Time, which we were flipping through earlier that day.

Tita Del, on the other hand, was busy at work with her very red and very delicious-looking apple.

My aunt was always passionate about art, and even spent a couple of years studying painting in Madrid.

You can see more of Tita Del’s artwork here.

This is how our side of table looked after dinner. Oh, and by the way, I entitled Cristina's portrait, "Our Lady of the Flowers."

Decided to add one last detail… I told Cristina, I think you need a Mister Bluebird on your Shoulder!

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll remember this isn’t the first time Mister Bluebird made an appearance in my portraiture.

Quintessential photo op by the large Christmas wreath… Happy birthday, Ma! We love you very, very much.

I think Anthony was feeling a little self-conscious as I took his solo portrait, coz he started pretending to speak to someone off camera even if there was no one there.

As I took a closer look, I gasped out loud in excitement… OMG, reflective surfaces!!!

How could we resist?!? (wink) Hahaha!

Impressions is located at the 3rd Floor of Maxims Hotel, Resorts World Manila, Newport Blvd, Domestic Airport, Pasay City. Tel. +632-908-8883.

Happy eating, everyone!