Saturday, February 2, 2013

Good friends and a wonderful dinner on a Friday night

Table setting for the formal sit-down dinner on Friday night of
H.E. Menash Bar-On, Ambassador of Israel,
and Madame Eti Bar-On

On Friday night I attended a really nice dinner party hosted by the Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Menash Bar-On, and his lovely wife, Madame Eti Bar-On.

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The dinner was in honor of the marriage of two good friends of mine, who also happen to be very good friends of the Ambassador of Israel and his wife.

For this intimate and special event, Madame Bar-On had gathered friends of the couple, including four other ambassadors and the general manager of a luxury hotel.


As always in this small town of Manila, I'd seen most of the guests at other events sometime this week.

Johnny Litton, the Ambassador of the Netherlands, 
and Madame Eti Bar-On of Israel

In fact, I'd gone to dinner with one ambassador earlier this week, and I'd seen the rest just the previous night at a cocktail party.

And the host of the cocktail party, the honorable ambassador from the Netherlands, was at the dinner tonight as well.


There was one large table and two small round tables to make a very nice grouping for a formal dinner. Everyone started out the evening in their designated places on the seating plan, but most people table-hopped by the time dessert came around.

For some reason, I ended up glued to my seat the whole night. But it was certainly musical chairs around me. I started out with the Dutch ambassador next to me, and by dessert, the Israeli ambassador had taken his place.

And at the end of the night, I had two general managers of luxury hotels seated next to me.

Ambassador and Madame Eti Bar-On of Israel
with US Ambassador Harry Thomas and Peninsula GM Sonja Vodusek

Madame Bar-On had set the table beautifully, as always, and the menu consisted of simply delicious home-made specialties from Israel with a little Latin flavor thrown in since Ambassador and Madame Bar-On have spent a lot of time in South America.

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Just my luck.

On the way over to the residence of the Israeli ambassador, I found myself thinking about hummus in the car, for some reason.

And guess what the first course at dinner on Friday night was? 

A wonderful plate of hummus, along with some sesame paste and a very fresh cucumber salad. Basically, food after my own heart.


My all-time favorite hummus

I remembered how I'd eaten stuff like this morning, noon and night during my trip to Israel and the Middle East in September last year.

When I returned to Manila, my skin was positively glowing. Since then, I've tried to eat this way whenever I can.


In fact, as long as I don't have a lunch appointment, my staff already knows exactly what's going to happen next.

I usually don't schedule lunches unless it's something urgent or official for work, as I find I simply can't do both lunch and dinners out everyday, and still work hard and have a Travelife. 

It's usually got to be a choice between lunch and dinner, and I'm often booked for dinner or a cocktail every night of the year. So this means I'm working through most days at lunch, unless there's something on for work.

Here's my regular lunch routine if I'm not having lunch with someone, for work or for a social: one of my staff will phone in an order to Kasbah for a large serving of tabbouleh and an order of hummus, and my driver will pick it up.

And this is all I'll have for lunch, working through at my desk or at home.

This order is so regular at Kasbah by now that oftentimes the restaurant staff don't even ask what the order will be. It never varies, and I love it. So they just ask: "The usual?"

My staff will answer: "Yes, the usual." They're all friends by now.

That's how much I love tabbouleh and hummus. And today, we had hummus as part of our first course, so I was very happy.


A minute in a Friday night:
My portrait of the Australian ambassador at Friday's dinner.

Almost the same photo as the one below,
but if you look closely, you'll see the difference.

Throughout dinner, I took stolen shots of the guests. I hope some of them don't mind my posting their photos as I think these make really beautiful and interesting compositions.

I've been doing this a lot in the past 12 months. I really like trying to capture people in a beautiful but unguarded moment, because that's when the real self comes out.

A minute in a Friday night:
My portrait of the wife of the newly-arrived Italian Ambassador.

Almost the same photo as the one above,
but if you look closely, you'll see the difference.

I really enjoy experimenting with my camera, and you'll see the results of my recent efforts in our upcoming February-March issue. I took almost all the hotel and food shots for our trip to Cape Town.

And I took really great photos of my travel companion as well, in his most unguarded moments.  Some of them will see print in the upcoming February-March 2013 issue.

And one photo I'm especially proud of made it to our Table of Contents page for this issue. I took this at sunset on Table Mountain in Cape Town, and personally I think it captures a magical moment ever so beautifully.

In fact, it brings me right back to that sunset afternoon in Cape Town, living a Travelife.


But back to Friday night. The entire dinner was lovely, and we had such a fun table of people.

We talked a lot about travel, especially as I'm headed out to Sri Lanka in a couple of days and passing by Bangkok literally for a couple of massages before that.

And I've just fixed a weekend of art, food and culture in Ho Chi Minh and booked a flight to Paris as well.

Place des Vosges in the Marais.
One of my favorite Michelin three-star restaurants is on this very square.
And, boy, is that ever a decadent meal... 

If things work out for Paris, we're thinking of taking a designer apartment in the Marais for a really authentic local foodie few weeks in one of my favorite cities. I plan to visit the open-air food markets and cook a lot of very good meals.

Oh I so can't wait for those...

And before we knew it, it was past 11 PM in the life of a group of people who are out almost every single night of the year.

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


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