Trung Sisters

The Trưng sisters ride elephants into battle in this Đông Hồ style painting from Wikipedia

I was searching for some information in the Internet and I am not sure how, but the Trung Sisters turned up. Briefly, these ladies were responsible for the first successful revolt from the Han Chinese in 40 CE.

These two sisters successfully led the Vietnamese revolt against the Han Chinese and they were the military rulers of Vietnam for three years, until the Chin ese under Ma Yuan came and defeated them.

The sisters were born into a wealthy Lac family and were well educated. Trung Trac’s husband was Thi Sach and was the Lac lord of Chu Dien in northern Vietnam. Su Ding was the Chinese governor of Jiaozhi province at the time, remembered for his cruelty and tyranny. One thing led to another the result of which was Trung Trac and her younger sister Trung Nhi stirred the locals up into a rebellion to avenge the killing of her husband. It began in the Red River delta and then spread to other Lac areas and non-Han people from an area stretching from Hepu to Rinan. Chinese settlements were overran, and Su Ding fled. The uprising gained the support of about sixty-five towns and settlements. Trưng Trac was proclaimed as the queen.

In AD 42, the Han emperor commissioned general Ma Yuan to suppress the rebellion with 32,000 men. The rebellion of the two sisters was defeated in the next year as Ma Yuan captured and decapitated Trưng Trac and Trưng Nhi, then sent their head to the Han court in Luoyang.

There is a procession each year in celebration of the Trung Sisters and they are always depicted riding an elephant.

There is a good write up of this on Wikipedia, Trung Sisters


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Field of Glory II Ancients

In addition to Field of Glory II – Medieval I also purchased Field of Glory II Ancients (FoG II). In addition, I acquired all of the add-ons for other periods other than just the classical. My test battle for FoG II was between Greeks and Spartans – two very similar armies and a good way to test the system. In fact, when I buy new tabletop ancient rules, I always liked to test them with Greeks first.

The slideshow below shows the battle progress.

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As far as the game goes, it is very similar to FoG II Medieval and slipping between the two systems is fairly straightforward. There are many gamers worldwide playing FoG II so if you are in an opponent poor area, that is one of the advantages of FoG II from Slitherine. I acquired mine through my Steam account.

I have been having a lot of fun with both sets and have managed more wargames so far this year with FoG II than I had with all wargame rules last year!

Oh, and I did win as the Greek!


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Field of Glory II – Medieval

Being somewhat starved where I am for a regular wargame opponent, I do like to play the odd computer based wargame. Unfortunately my 6 year old i3 processor, 4GB of treacly slow memory was just not up to the recent game releases. I have a Steam account and have had a number of games on wish list and purchased them when the were released on the grounds that I would upgrade my laptop at some point of time.

I upgraded to an ASUS TUF, Ryzen 7 with currently 8GB of memory, a 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD and an Nvidia GEFORCE GTX Video Card (GPU). It runs those games I have been acquiring a treat.

Details of the battle you are about to fight along with victory conditions

Field of Glory was one game I enjoyed on the old laptop since their first release the Field of Glory Ancient games. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not like the Field of Glory (FoG) tabletop rules, I still prefer De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) or Impetus for Ancients, however the computer based FoG rules have the advantage of not bothering me with how the rules actually work, or the calculations of melee results and such so I don’t need to think about what I don’t like in FoG, I can just get on and play the game on my laptop, working the tactics and let the machine do all the calculations.

The last release of Slitherine Software in the FoG franchise is Field of Glory II – Medieval. It is based, as its name suggests, in the Medieval period, a period of the French, Teutonic Knights, Russian boyars, Danes, Low Countries, Mongols and the like.

Mongol Cavalry, bow armed and picture shows the high seating position of Mongols on horseback

There are a number of pre-built scenarios of famous battles and the one I tested was, unsurprisingly, the battle of Kalka River where the Mongols took on several Rus’ principalities, including the Principality of Kiev, Principality of Galicia-Volhynia, Principality of Chernigov, Principality of Smolensk, and the Cumans

The Mongols were led by Jebe, and Subutai the Valiant, while the Rus were under the joint command of Mstislav the Bold, Mstislav III, Daniel of Galicia, Mstislav II Svyatoslavich, and Khan Koten.

Khan Koten is an interesting character, and from the Rus side, he is one of the few characters I can pronounce the name of. He was a Cuman-Kipchak khan and was active in the mid 13th Century. He forged the alliance between Cumans and Kiev Rus against the Mongols. After the defeat at Kalka River in 1238, he led 40,000 families to Hungary, became an ally to the Hungarian king, converted to Catholicism and then was assassinated by the the Hungarian nobility.

A high view of the battle area after deployment

The battle was fought on 31 May 1238 CE on the banks of the Kalka River, in present day Ukraine, near Donetsk Oblast.

The Mongols had invaded Central Asia (the modern day ‘stans) and defeated the Kwarezmian Empire. Jebe and Subutai asked permission from Chinggis Khaan to continue invading and conquering for a few more years prior to returning to the main army.

A closer view of the Mongols

Waiting for a response from the Great Khan they decided to invade Georgia. Approval arrived from Chinggis Khaan to keep invading so the pair set off through the Caucasus and defeated the Cumans (hence Koten’s requesting an alliance with the Rus).

Koten bolted to his son-in-law, Prince Mstislav the Bold of Galich. Mstislav formed an alliance with a number of other Mstislavs.

The combined Rus army defeated the Mongol rearguard at first. Yes, a rearguard as the Mongols were drawing the Rus into a battle at a location of their choosing by a feigned retreat. The Mongols stopped and deployed for battle on the banks of the Kalka River.

The Mongol right flank

The Rus rushed to attack the Mongols without waiting for the rest of the Rus Army to arrive. The Rus were defeated and Mstislav of Kiev was forced into a fortified camp. He held out for three days and surrendered in return for a promise of safe conduct for himself and his men. Remembering previous Mongol practices with cities in Central Asia, surrendering on the first day he may have had a chance however waiting for the third day, the result was inevitable and Mstislav of Kiev and the rest of the Rus with him were killed after surrendering and coming from the camp. Mstislav the Bold, however, escaped after the battle and the Mongols returned to Asia and Chinggis Khaan.

Battle about the be joined

The images above show the setup for the battle in FoG ii Medieval. I must admit that the AI works a lot better this time and there are degrees of difficulty to overcome. Victory conditions seem to be 40% casualties on your opponent and 25% more than you unless you get your opponent to 60% where it is all over then. Conversely of course, you could be the loser under the same conditions.

I’m really enjoying this and the battle setups are historic opponents in the Quick Battle selection, as well as a number of scenarios of famous battles. For those that want to take their favourite army out against anyone, that option is also there. I certainly will be playing more FoG II Medieval. My one gripe at the moment is that sometimes the zone-of-control rules are a little daft, but I am getting used to that and I guess it is a property of the geometry of the game.

I recommend it – come find me and let’s have at it!

The gallery below shows some of the different troops as well as the data about those troops that you can see in the game. As one would expect, the graphics are really quite neat neat now compared to the original FoG a lifetime ago.

Oh, one other gripe. Slitherine describe the rules author as the legendary Richard Bodley-Scott. I am not sure that he is quite legendary yet, certainly not compared to the likes of Featherstone, Bath, Wise, or even Rick Priestly of recent times! Do give these rules a try if your machine has the grunt, they are not that expensive through Steam.

Oh, and I did win as the Mongol!


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Free range SPAM

SPAM, free to range Robinson’s Supermarket

Mention recently of Puregold Supermarkets and their caged SPAM in Lock up your SPAM came to mind when we were shopping in Robinson’s supermarket. There, in aisle 3 (or 11 depending on the end you count from) was their canned meat section, which includes SPAM, which is not locked up. Free-range SPAM! Customers are free to rope and catch a can of their choice and persuade it into the shopping trolley or basket.

Robinson’s free-range SPAM, rather than Puregold’s caged SPAM, must make for happy SPAM, free to roam the supermarket at night and that must mean it is more healthy for you than the caged SPAM!

 

Mind you, Robinson’s don’t totally trust their customers completely, as similar to Puregold and every other supermarket in Angeles City, if you have a large bag big enough to hold a herd of SPAM hidden from sight, then you need to check that bag in before shopping. In Makati City, we could enter with bags and shop with them in the trolley! Draw your own conclusions from that.

I think a SPAM and egg sandwich is in order now! 😉

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Lock up your SPAM

Lock up yer SPAM

One of the adjustments to living in the Philippines is with Puregold supermarkets. It’s not that Puregold are so vastly different from other Supermarkets here, or indeed, elsewhere in the world. What is different is their lack of respect for their customers and their fear of loss.

That is so high that the canned meats are locked up.

Yes mothers, lock up your SPAM*, the circus is coming to town … better lock you daughters up too, just in case. I could understand if it was expensive electronics gear or wines or whiskeys but SPAM? Go figure

Even worse is when you ask for assistance, the young pimply staff member comes over and asks what you want. Conversation goes along the lines of:

“A can of SPAM thanks mate”
“Just a moment sir — how many cans?”
“One”
“One minute sir”

The aforementioned pimply young staff member then proceeds to write out a docket for it. You go to the cashier with all your other provisions, hand her the docket, she rings up the price of the SPAM, you pay for the groceries and the SPAM. She sends a minion to collect your $3 can of SPAM and return it to your loving care so you can insert it in your bags of groceries!

There are some strange customs here.


* To be fair, apparently the meat in the white cans is Delimondo corned beef which is allegedly awesome stuff.

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La Belle Alliance – MDF from Commission Figurines

The component parts of the La Belle Alliance model laid out

The Commission Figurines 6mm (1/300 scale) model of La Belle Alliance is a model of what was used as a French field hospital at the Battle of Waterloo. Later it was the meeting place of Wellington and Blucher following the rout of the French at that battle.

I am looking to record the build of this model, step-be-step(ish) as there are no instructions included with the model. This may assist those building and if it has, please leave a comment (preferably nice).

Dry fitting the various pieces, in this case, the long front wall and the first end piece

The model consists of 12 parts of laser cut 2mm thick MDF. The first image is of all the pieces laid out for pre-construction inspection. There are what appears to be 5 additional pierces there however these are the cuts from the model’s base. Laying the items out does make it easier to identify where each piece should go.

I was unsure of which glue to use as I had not worked with MDF before, leastwise not in construction, I have used a lot of MDF bases previously.

Asking around and researching/reading about glues, the two glues identified were any PVA (white glue) or Super Glue. The only PVA I have managed to find here is Elmer’s Glue-All multifunction glue. In Australia I would look to Selleys Aquadhere. Elmer’s I use when basing figures, however that glue was not the best previously when used for anything else and it has a 20 to 35 minute drying time. I would then need to clamp the pieces, and I have no means to do that currently. I opted to use Super Glue. The first task however was to dry fit the pieces to ensure that they were being placed in the correct place. I started with the long front wall.

The end and interior wall are added along with the back wall – again, this is just a dry fit – view is front wall however.

This wall can be seen in any modern photograph of Bistro La Belle Alliance taken from the main road. The kitchen annex on the right of this photo is also clear from the road (see image below).

The rest of the main walls were then fitted as well … no glue at this point in time.

According to J.B. Romberg who published an account of the locations around Brussels in 1820, “originally La Belle Alliance consisted of three houses, one of which was a tavern, that now bears the name, and two adjacent houses.

Some time before the Battle of Waterloo, the publican of the tavern died, and his widow married the occupier of Trimotion, the farm-house opposite; but losing him in a short time afterwards, she consoled herself by taking for her third husband a peasant who lived a house close by (now known as Decoster’s house); but here again death interrupted her happiness, when she once more embraced the married state it was to marry the new landlord tavern; from which time it obtained the title it now bears.” Reference: Environs of Brussels: La Belle Alliance.

By Author: William Mudford, engravers and artists: George Cruikshank, James Rouse, artist: C. C. Hamilton – The Battle of Waterloo: An Historical Account of the Campaign in the Netherlands London: Henry Colburn, 1817.

There were many engravings and sketches of La Belle Alliance taken around the time of the Battle of Waterloo or in the years that followed which gives an impression of how the building looked in the early 1800s.

The image to the right, from C. C. Hamilton is one such artist (and the keen of eye will notice from the image there and the completed model at the bottom of this, that I managed to increase the height of the kitchen chimney). Oh well, I really don’t feel like correcting that small error … but I will discombobulate the first wargamer I have a game with who says, “that chimney’s too tall”.

After dry fitting, next the gluing

Next step, glue can be added, once the dry fitting has been performed and the location of the walls determined.

A few drops of Super Glue on the surfaces to be joined and the building started to come together.

There were some slight gaps here and there and as I have no real means of clamping things, finger pressure was applied for around 60 seconds or so to try and close them. Those little gaps I will try and take care of when I get around to painting, perhaps a scraping of Woodland Scenics Scenic Paste will do the trick.

Walls and Annex are glued, time for the roof

The main building and annex roof can now be added. The annex is straightforward. A few touches of Super Glue on the meeting surfaces to join to the walls, hold in place for 20 seconds, job done.

The main roof was then glued. This only goes on one way and a dry fit is worth the effort as one half of the roof slips under the other half, and both halves slip under the end and internal supporting walls. Dry fitting before gluing is also a good idea here as you can more easily see where to put the drops of glue.

Once the roof is in place and stuck, the kitchen chimney can be added, and now we have a nice building to toss onto the table for our 100 days battles – or any other Napoleonic or Seven Years War battle for that matter.

The finished building displayed on expensive rotating tool below. I will cover my painting efforts of this building in a future post. In the meantime, I am just happy to look at my handiwork, well mine and Commission Figurines work 🙂


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MDF Figures – New for Thomo

MDF Romans – fat fingers for size comparison

These have been around for a few years and have been seen at various shows around the UK. I have not seen them however except for the odd mention in the wargame press. I have been thinking of an American  Civil War project and decided that it would be in 6mm, given the lack of space I have here for wargaming in.

My preferred 6mm ACW figures would have been either Heroics and Ros, Rapier, Adler or Baccus 6mm. However H&R have had their figures off catalogue for some time now (expect for the WW2 and Modern Infantry) for a number of reasons and due to the plague, Baccus have been controlling the amount of customers they can service by having their online shipping cart, online for brief periods, and the periods away from my payday.

Enter Commission Figurines. I had heard them mentioned before and then one of the guys at the Virtual Wargames Club mentioned that he had seen some at a show so, as they make both MDF figures and buildings, and as I am always looking for a building or two, I thought I would try them out. Catalogue downloaded, read (about 3 minutes), reread, and then an order was typed up and emailed off. A reply came back with confirmation of supply, and a price. I confirmed I wanted to go ahead, PayPal invoice arrives and then after a few days (I guess while Walt “lasered” some bits of MDF) a package was dispatched to the Philippines. Fast forward about 6 weeks and a card from PhilPost was left at my gate, so I duly trundled off in trike to the Post Office to collect a light weight box with the following contents:

 

Quantity Code Description Price
1 6ENMix 6mm Entrenchments – Mixed £3.50
1 6WAT1  La Belle Alliance £3.50
1 6WAT2  La Haye Saint £5.00
1 6Fence  6mm Rail Fence Pack £4.00
1 BR1 Girder Bridge £10.00
1 6House  6mm House Pack £5.00
1 Infantry in Kepi, Blanket Roll, Marching £2.00
1 Infantry in Kepi, Firing Line (16 command figures, 56 infantrymen) £2.00
1 Cavalry in Kepi (12 strips of 3 figs) £2.00
1 Dismounted Cavalry (36 troopers firing line, 2 horse holders & 6 horses) £2.00
1 Artillery in Kepi (3 Rifled guns & 3 Smoothbore guns, 4 crews, 2 x 6 horse limbers, 2 officers) £2.00
1 Generals (6 poses in hat, same 6 poses in kepi) @ £2.00
1 Roman Allies/Auxiliaries £2.00
1 Heavy (Thracian) Cavalry £2.00
Total £47.00

I was very happy with the service, the speed of delivery given the current position of the of the world and the international movement of mail, goods and parcels.

Firstly the buildings. They are simply lovely and will look the business when assembled, painted and placed on the tabletop. The only really challenging part, well, really two challenging parts:

  1. I have not worked with MDF before so am considering glues and construction techniques
  2. There were no assembly instructions with the buildings. With La Belle Alliance and La Haye Sainte, not problem, but more of a challenge with the 6mm house pack

The figures themselves are nicely produced as well, and reminiscent of very small flats that were first used in wargames. I will need to learn a new painting technique for these but hey, a change is a good as a holiday. I am champing at the bit to start working of them (both buildings and figures) but am resisting starting while I think my way through the process, try some dry fits and work out glues (superglue, PVA, hot glue gun, etc).

Photos of some of the received items below.


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Speaking of Burgers – the Big Mac Index

I have a degree in Economics from the University of New England, in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. I read for that degree when Friedman’s Monetarism and Reaganomics was all the rage and Keynesian economics was generally confined to those academics that had a true grasp of societal greed and the flawed assumptions Friedman based his theories on, not to mention that after periods of tight monetary control, generally inflation boomed.

So, what has economics got to do with burgers. Nothing really other than I started looking at cheeseburgers locally and that led me to think of the Big Mac Index. What started out as a joke has become a standard for measuring the purchasing power of different currencies against a very standard basket of goods, in this case, McDonald’s Big Mac.

Most of us of an age will remember the Big Mac rhyme, “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun”. McDonald’s (Maccas in Australia, McDo’s in the Philippines) opened their first Australian restaurant in 1971, the year before I finished high school. For those curious, it was opened in Yagoona, a suburb of Sydney.

The rhyme came out on television and radio advertisements in 1974, when inflation was rampant, petrol prices were rising and Gough Whitlam was Prime Minister of Australia. It was a happy, catchy jingle.

I digress. So no matter where you are in the world,. a McDonald’s Big Mac is made with the same ingredients and the same way. McDonald’s does not just sell burgers. They have one of the best quality systems anywhere and so not only are the ingredients the same, the way they are produced, prepared, the amount of power used used on same machines for cooking, the whole kit and kaboodle, is standard everywhere. This means that a direct currency comparison can be made by using the cost to consumers of the Big Mac.

Comparing USD against PHP – raw data – suggesting the peso in undervalued against the USD (or, the USD is overvalued)

In 1986 the Economist published the Big Mac index. It was based on the theory* of purchasing-power parity, the theory suggesting that in the long-run, exchange rates should settle at a rate that provides parity between any two currencies for the cost of the Big Mac. As the Economist notes:

Burgernomics was never intended as a precise gauge of currency misalignment, merely a tool to make exchange-rate theory more digestible. Yet the Big Mac index has become a global standard, included in several economic textbooks and the subject of dozens of academic studies. For those who take their fast food more seriously, we also calculate a gourmet version of the index.

I am not thinking of applying an Angeles cheeseburger index … but then again 🙂

You can check the Economist index at The Economist Big Mac Index.


* “All theory depends on assumptions which are not quite true. That is what makes it theory” … Robert Solow in 1956

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Angeles Burgers

Note: I have moved these ratings to a more static location here and will add further burger reviews there – click on Cheeseburgers to see the full display and Cheeseburgers of Angeles City

I decided that I really should get back to cheeseburgers as, after all, that is mentioned in the title banner of Thomo’s Hole, and those that know me, know that I am partial to a good burger, especially if accompanied by a beer and a suitable sporting contest on a big screen!

You can tell a lot about a restaurant/pub/café/diner/food truck by the quality of the burger. In the interests of science then I plan to resurrect a task I once undertook in Mongolia, and that was the assessment of the local burgers.

As this is my assessment, I will note price as cheap, average and expensive and rate the burger out of 10 flavour-wise … or at least how my taste buds respond to it.

The burgers being sampled will be a standard cheeseburger – be that a menu item or a request for a burger with cheese added. Nothing special or additional and no comment on the chips or fries that come with it, or indeed if it is served with no fries.

The construction will be assessed (from the bottom up, bun, lettuce, tomato, beef patty (if it ain’t beef, it’s a sandwich), onion if caramelised, cheese, onion if raw, bun. That is a standard Mark I Cheeseburger. Pickles are an add-on, beetroot is mandatory … however, as I am not in Australia I will give that a miss. The bun should be robust enough to hold together until the last mouthful, retaining as much burger juice as possible and while the burger may be delivered to the table deconstructed, it should not require deconstructing or the use of utensils other than fingers for eating. Lastly, accompaniment should be a cold beer.

Heaven!

The burger from Tequila Reef
7/10 — $$

Tequila Reef

Tequila Reef is a Mexican themed restaurant and bar near Angeles main entertainment area. It is popular with both local and expats, in part because of its tasty food at reasonable prices.

The Burger was ordered and cheese requested. The burger itself was constructed well with a substantial, well seasoned patty. American cheese. tomato and pickles on the burger with a slice of raw onion and lettuce on the side. Crinkle cut chips also accompanied the burger. The lettuce and onion was added (and pickles removed) to the burger. While the burger was well seasoned it had been cooked to well done and was a little dry. This dryness was quickly fixed with some cold beer. The burger could be handled with one hand. Overall, the burger is about a 7/10 on my assessment and its pricing is in the 300 to 400 peso range so $$. A nice burger, reasonable priced before heading out for further entertainment and drinking.

Flavour 7/10, price $$

The Envy Burger
8/10 — $$$

Envy

The Envy Burger is found in the Envy Sports Bar on Fields Avenue. It is right across the road from Phillies, one of the local landmarks. The burger is large and is served with French fries (I guess you pay a little extra for the nice basket) The burger is well constructed with, from the bottom up, bun, lettuce, tomato, patty, pickles, onion rings, cheese and bun.

The patty is nicely juicy and I guess they are using an 80/20 meat to fat mix. It is well seasoned and nicely caramelised. The onion in the form of onion rings is a nice variation on the standard burger. The bun holds together well. My main criticism with this burger is that you would need to be able to dislocate your jaw to get it in so you need to deconstruct it to eat. This is a recommended burger however, if you are in Angeles City.

For flavour, 8/10 but price is $$$.

Moon’s Bar
5/10 — $

Moon’s Bar

The cheeseburger to the right comes from my local pub near where I am currently living – Moon’s Bar. The burger comes solo (no fries) and is well constructed. From the bottom up, bun, lettuce, patty, cheese, tomato, cucumber, raw onion, sesame seed bun top.

Firstly! Who put cucumber on a burger? It was removed!

The patty was kind of odd. It looked like a chicken patty and also looked and tasted like it has been deep fried, or at least friend in a lot of oil. Apart from that and allowing for the cucumber, for the price it was reasonable – it was under 300 pesos. It was not one of my favourite burgers although I may try one more from there and see if there is a change in the patty. On the plus side, that pub does make a nice potato scallop (a typical fried food from New South Wales in Australia). Rating is 5/10 for flavour but price is $.

Paradise Burger
7/10 — $$

Paradise

Paradise is a new sports bar down the McDonald’s end of Walking Street, having replaced the previous sports bar. Paradise is also a good kicking off joint for some pub crawling.

The burger has been well constructed with bun, lettuce, patty, tomato, onion, cucumber, cheese and bun. It was served with French fries. Off with the cucumber first.

Patty is well seasoned and remained juicy to the end. It can be squashed enough to eat without deconstructing.

Rating is 7/10 for flavour and $$ for price.

Insomnia
6/10 — $$

Insomnia

Insomnia is a new “resto-bar” that has opened during the pandemic. Previously it was an “entertainment” bar but those types of bars that made Fields Avenue and Walking Street famous as a red-light district have all been closed. As a result, a number of them have reinvented themselves and opened as sports bars or resto-bars. The main requirement from City Hall and/or the barangay to get a license again is that they should be showing sports (eat your heart out Singapore friends), must serve food and should not have “entertainers”.

Insomnia was one such bar and it has recently opened as a resto-bar. The burger, kind of blue in the image due to the lighting in the bar, was surprisingly good and a great way to start Wednesday night’s beer night.

The burger was served with crinkle cut fries and consisted of bun, sad piece of lettuce, patty, caramelised onion, cheese, pickles, tomato and sesame seed bun. The patty was not seasoned much but basically just meat. The meat did remain juicy until then last mouthful and the burger could be be managed with fingers only.

Flavour I reckon is about a 6/10 but price is at the low end of $$ so reasonable value, paired with an ice cold Heineken.

The Future

If only for the craic, as the Irish say, I will update this post from time to time, as I have a burger from a new location around Pampanga (the province that Angeles City is in). I will also likely move this from a post into a series of pages for a more static home. However, first things first – beer night is tomorrow night this week and perhaps it is time for the next Cheeseburger!


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