Saturday, May 14, 2011

Parma ham and Balikabayan boxes

Tonight I had such fun at my own dinner party at home. It was just a casual meal with good friends, but we ate slowly and stayed up talking so much that when we looked at our watches, it was way past midnight.


It was only at 430 pm when I finally started planning tonight's dinner, as that was the time I checked out of the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. I'd had a really enjoyable dimsum lunch at Shang Palace that had lasted until 3 PM, and then I'd taken my sweet time packing and checking out.

On the way home, I thought about the options for dinner and I'd decided on a Hungarian theme, and had laid out a pretty simple buffet of Hungarian salad, appetizers, and beef and chicken dishes. I placed these on my sideboard to minimize the fuss and so that people could just help themselves. To start, we had lots of slices of 18-month-old Parma ham with very cold white wine and hot crispy bread rolls. I'd bought a five-kilo leg of Parma ham a couple of weeks ago and had been serving it to friends since then.

"Wow, that looks really good," one of my friends said. He looked shocked at the size of the leg of ham on my coffee table. "And that looks like a lot of ham. How do you finish such a thing?"

Fortunately I've had lots of friends over in the past weeks and this ham has started many an evening off merrily. Not all the time, but certainly on many occasions. And everyone agreed that it's a great and pretty convenient idea to serve freshly sliced Parma ham at the outset before dinner.

We were talking about the ham quite a bit, and this made me remember the first time I'd opened this particular leg of ham. A friend of mine who'd invited himself over for dinner had come over and for starters I'd brought out the ham in its original Italian wrapper, ready for the first cut. It had just been the two of us for dinner then so you can imagine how funny it looked to have a five-kilo ham in front of us.

"Are you trying to impress me?" He'd teased. I replied: "You wish. Actually, I bought it for a large party I'm having, but since you're here now, you may as well have a few slices."

Remembering this tonight made me smile very briefly.


Then my friends this evening started talking about other things which really interested me. One of them, Alicia, started it off by talking about all the things she'd purchased online in different countries and had sent over to Manila by balikbayan box or some kind of cargo. She and her husband had done this from the States as well as from different countries in Europe, and the stuff they'd purchased had included things like sofas and chandeliers.

Meanwhile, my other friend had just bought a designer chair that was currently being shipped to Manila. They'd both practically furnished their homes with lots of online savvy, a working credit card, and an excellent cargo forwarder.

"Online shopping is just so addicting," they told me. "And it's so easy to have everything shipped over. Once you start, you'll never look back."

I wasn't entirely a novice regarding shop-and-ship, as I'd often purchased books and housewares from Amazon, for example, and had my items shipped to my US hotel room, usually in New York, so that I could bring these back with me. Occasionally, I'd also use Fedex or the air cargo service. But I'd never ever thought about buying online and shipping chandeliers, sofas, giant flat screen TVs or study desks.

"It's so much cheaper than buying these things in Manila," they said, "and it's so much fun." Well, you can guess what I'm doing after I finish this blog tonight.

Another interesting topic tonight was about celebrities, since one of my friends had seen Angelina Jolie on location at a movie set and actually had dinner with Matt Damon, while his former boss had even flown on a private jet with Penelope Cruz.

So all in all, a very nice and interesting evening at home. Now back to online shopping...

Travelife's Special Summer Issue
with Angel Aquino in Boracay
Angel Aquino in Bora
for Travelife Magazine's April-May 2011 issue


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