Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kare-kare for lunch and grilled wagyu steaks for dinner in Manila

Table setting for a casual Christmas lunch at home

Yesterday was a regular work day for me in Manila, but an exceptionally busy one. After the excitement of Christmas, I ended up sleeping at 3 AM again, and then I was at the office at 9 AM, ready to get on once more with the business of running the country's leading travel and lifestyle magazine.

While I was at work sorting out a dozen things at the same time, my household was on auto pilot for my two events yesterday.

For the first event, I hosted two couples for a post-Christmas lunch at home. For this I made a very good kare-kare and a nice vegetable couscous with a fish stew as main dishes.

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REMAINS OF A KARE-KARE

Just before I served the kare-kare, I took a photo of it on my Blackberry and sent it to a friend of mine currently on holiday somewhere cold and rather rainy. "This turned out pretty well," I messaged him as a caption to the kare-kare photo.

I don't really send him photos of food, but maybe I'd just gotten quickly into a temporary habit since I'd also sent him a photo of my Christmas dinner plate at my aunt's house on December 25, which was just the night before this lunch.

My special home-made kare-kare

CHRISTMAS DINNER

He wanted to know what I was eating for Christmas from thousands of miles away, you see. He BBM-ed: "What's on the menu for your Christmas dinner?"

So I snapped a photo and sent it, with the following short line: "This actually tastes much better than it looks." I hadn't thought about photo styling, after all, when I'd heaped food onto my plate.



His BBM message came back almost in a flash. "What is that???" He asked. I'd heaped my plate with everything after all, so it did look a little hodge podge.

I replied: "Very delicious turkey, a great ravioli and a nice strawberry salad."

A MEETING THAT MADE MY HEART BEAT FAST



Then it was a big rush back to work for the rest of the afternoon, as I had a very exciting meeting about next year's prospects for Travelife's new businesses. Thinking about our plans and discussing our new joint venture literally made my heart beat with tremendous excitement.

STEAK AND SALAD
WITH FRIENDS FROM SINGAPORE



In the evening, I hosted a couple from Singapore -- old friends who go back a very long way. It was such fun and we ended up staying till midnight even if we all had had very long days.

For dinner, I made an entirely different menu. I took out the grill and served bone marrow off the grill with salt, lemon and bread and a nice salad for an appetizer, and then cooked some juicy wagyu rib-eye steaks.

Bone marrow for the grill


It was a painless way of entertaining as almost everything was serve yourself or cook yourself on a grill on top of the bar next to the table -- I simply placed the very rare steaks on a large platter and people could take whichever slices they wished and finish it off on the grill they wanted to do so.

Wagyu rib-eye steaks for the grill


GUEST AT MY OWN DINNER

Anyway, I chose this particular way for last night because I wanted to actually sit at the dinner table myself, and enjoy dinner with my friends instead of rushing about and doing preparations for each course in the kitchen.

Photo taken in the Armani suite
of La Residence in Franschhoek, South Africa

Good move. I was able to catch up with my friends over a relaxing dinner at home. And while the rest of our party was on my terrace having a smoke, I showed my old friend T from school days my photos of South Africa via a slide show on my computer.

NEVER TOO MANY CLOTHES
AND ENOUGH KILOS TO CHECK IN AN ELEPHANT



Never one to mince words or edit thoughts, even when we were at school, she said immediately, with her sharp I-never-miss-a-thing eyes: "You must've brought something like 20 clothes for two weeks. You're in a different outfit in every photo."

But I shook my head. Impossible. I hadn't really counted how much stuff I brought for South Africa but I was sure I'd stayed pretty much within minimum range. 

I had no problems with weight allocation between Asia and South Africa on the international carriers as we (figuratively) had enough kilos to check-in an elephant if we wanted to -- being two passengers on business class with extra frequent flier kilos as a plus.

20 KGS ON A SMALL PLANE



But I'd been severely limited by the 20 kgs limit we'd had to observe for our flight on a very small plane between Johannesburg and the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve airstrip and back. So I'd brought minimum clothing and as many disposable things as possible, and we'd diligently avoided the shops in Johannesburg.

"I had a 20 kg limit on the safari plane," I said. "I can't have brought more than 10 changes of clothes."

She just shook her head. "Don't believe you," she said. And right there and then, she started counting each new piece of clothing in my photos. She stopped at around 12, I think, as she'd proven her point.

And just like that, another day ended in my never-ending and never-endingly eventful Travelife.






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