Happy New Year to all! The holidays as usual brought about a lot of food-swapping. Food is always a highly appreciated gift in any household, most especially mine. Way before the season started, I was already on my exercise mode in anticipation of the influx of parties and Christmas goodies. And like every year, the intake outweighed the exercise. So once again, my new year’s resolution will be to exercise more and eat less.
Christmas eve for me was the usual family get-together. At the stroke of midnight, the family called everyone to the sala to give our gifts to our “Kris Kringle” babies. “Oh, shoot!” I thought, I forgot to buy a gift for Marilen, my baby! I looked around for a fruitcake I could use to save me. Instead of embarrassing myself in front of the whole clan, I sheepishly walked over to her and began my apology. But as I was apologizing, guess what, apparently my wife had anticipated my oversight and got me a gift for my “baby”! What would I do without my wife? In fact, what would most husbands do without their wives during the holiday gift-giving?
Some of the new food discoveries that came across my table were Stevie’s Fresh Vietnamese spring rolls (0906-5084155) stuffed with sotanghon, prawns and lettuce. With it was a dipping sauce of Hoisin, peanut butter and the spicy Sriracha hot chili sauce. Heavenly healthy!
I also got my mom’s Magnolia queso de bola and made a great melt-in-your-mouth cheese pimiento spread with it. The old-fashioned American apple pie was amazing (0935-1295750).
I also got a delicious mixed-nuts pie called “Once Upon a Tarte” from my brother’s “MU” Ruby, which was signed Bong and Ruby, but I know for sure like me, Bong had nothing to do with this gift (0915-5551611).
I received the deliciously dreaded chicharon from Jenny Nieva. It is something you look at and your resolve to stay healthy melts away with each bite.
I got a fruitcake from Manila Hotel which I absolutely loved. There’s a joke that goes around every Christmas. They say there’s only one fruitcake baked every Christmas season and it gets passed around from one household to the other.
Let me add to that, the round stops with me. I love a good fruitcake; with slices of Marca Pato or Pina Queso de Bola, it is euphoria!
On Tali beach
Our New Year was celebrated at my brother-in-law, top interior designer Tonichi Mendoza’s paradise beach house in Tali beach, Batangas. There, I was introduced to a new brand of peanuts that just dethroned my favorite one. “Wonder” peanuts from Pampanga was so full of dried non-greasy, crunchy peanuts with crispy garlic slices, the half-gallon container was gone in a jiffy.
I was at the market almost every day. Out of my marketing basket, I created a Moules a la Crème (not the season for them but I somehow found some), Pata Tim with banana blossoms, Beef Arroz a la Cubana, sitaw sa gata with kalabasa and mini dilis, binagoongan and a few other veggies. I also brought out a dish of vinegar-simmered Chinese chorizo sautéed in its own fat and topped with fresh red onion rings. We also had a yummy sinaing na tulingan as well.
Our ten o’clock New Year’s dinner was of course special. We dined al fresco. Tonichi had an impressive table setup of fine linen, silver and more than two dozen candles in front of the pool with a panoramic view of the ocean, the sound of the surf, the waves, and the bright crescent moon shining its light on the sea was absolutely spellbinding.
With a cool breeze carrying mellow Christmas tunes and the people you care for most on this earth with you, what else can beat that?
Our menu consisted of pica-pica food, such as olives stuffed with chorizo, olives stuffed with anchovies, Hamon Serrano, caviar pie, a variety of Spanish cold cuts, and bottles of good red and white wine.
For main, we had toasted chorizo from Terry’s and authentic Spanish Fabada, or baked beans, which were simply outstanding with French bread. There was an assortment of cheeses and grapes, apples and oranges.
Dining outdoors allowed us a front-seat view as we watched two homes from the village exchange a spectacular show of dazzling fireworks that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. At the stroke of midnight, a bottle of champagne popped! Welcome 2012!
Let’s all pray God showers us all with His blessings that we can share with others.
Last Monday, the badminton courts and the gym were packed. Everyone was complaining how the bellybutton had gotten deeper. But bottom line, we had fun.
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