When I turned “50” recently, I did not want to cook.
I asked my good friends to take care of the food, sweets, cocktails and entertainment, to make the evening memorable.
My penchant for all things Korean compelled me to ask my dear friend Lily Min (a Korean food expert from the Korean Cultural Center) to whip up a scrumptious spread.
She did not disappoint. Our food was tasty and as authentic as could be.
As is customary in Korea, seaweed soup was served—her version had sea urchin. Lily explained the tradition: “This food, eaten by mothers after giving birth, has become a symbolic food for birthdays. Seaweed contains a lot of calcium and nutrients, which not only restores the mother’s body quickly, but also provides the baby with nutrients (during breastfeeding).”
Other favorites on the buffet were kimbap, bulgogi, jabchae, LA galbi, galbijjim and grilled spicy chicken. To accompany the mains were seasoned chive salad, kimchi and radish kimchi.
Min’s salad collection impressed me most: King Plawan Salad had king prawns, bamboo shoots, pear, cucumber and beef shank, served with a pine nut dressing. It is a royal dish of rare ingredients, that in the olden days were hard to gather and expensive, thus it’s really for kings.
The green salad dressed with Lily’s special creamy black sesame dressing was delicious.
Jokbal, my most beloved Korean dish, was presented as a festive salad. The whole pork leg—cooked in soy sauce, sugar and medicinal herbs—was sliced, served atop an assortment of vegetables and fruits, and drizzled with a spicy Korean mustard dressing.
There were Korean rice cakes, the kind usually served on birthdays, and rice punch to help digest the meal.
The sweet portion of the feast, I left in the able hands of Bizu’s Audrey Uy. Her petite and visually beautiful dessert table was a delight.
I’m a fan of Bizu’s Blueberry Chiboust (the creamiest cheesecake topped with blueberry filling, with a special shortbread crust) and Green Tea Crème Brulee in Egg Shell.
I also enjoyed the local flavored macarons. Each bite of every color was a surprise.
There is no dull event when Mike Canlas is around. I have worked with him for years, and his bartending and barista skills are topnotch.
His gin and tonic earned so much praise that evening that I had to ask what his secret was. He shared some tips and recipes below.
Acoustic artist Dindo Almeda performed live. He remains a mainstay at my gatherings, for his knack for playing the right music, at the right volume—to make singing, dancing and chatting at the same time possible.
When Dindo plays, it is literally music to the ears.
To end the night with a bang, I asked Sonny Parsons to surprise my family and friends. With the new generation of Hagibis in tow, they sang the group’s top hits and brought the house down. They were exceptional!
After losing my Manong Boy so suddenly, I decided to celebrate life. It is too precious and too short. Let’s all be happy!
Now how to make great cocktails, a la Mike Canlas
Great cocktails always start with the best ingredients.
Choose the best liquor, a brand that you are happy drinking on its own, and complement it with fresh ingredients.
Use fresh fruit juices.
Good quality mixers make a difference.
Proper ratio will produce the best cocktails.
The garnish crowns the cocktail. Use fresh ingredients and keep in mind that the garnish must complement the drink.
Bizu Dessert Buffet, tel. 8450590 to 93; mixologist Mike Canlas, 09209624527; acoustic musician Dindo Almeda, 09778473033; Hagibis, 09065044749