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Two birthdays and A Wedding Anniversary

It was a three-in-one celebration: the 63rd birthday of Congressman Tommy Osmeña (July 26), 62nd birthday of Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmeña (July 25) and their 28th wedding anniversary (July 24). And in the past years since I have known the Osmeña couple, birthday celebrations had always been like this. First, Margot O. would celebrate her birthday, then after the stroke of midnight, it would be Tommy O’s turn to party. Or it could begin with the celebration of their wedding anniversary.Venue for 2011 festivities was the Emerald Ballroom of Harolds Hotel (146 Gorordo Avenue corner Rosal St. Lahug Cebu City, Phone 505-7777, email: http://www.haroldshotel.com/ ) which can accommodate a total of 180 guests. This brand new hotel has 90 fully air-conditioned guest rooms (36 superior and 45 deluxe rooms with 9 deluxe suites). Room rates start at Php3,200 and these promo rates are valid until September.

This reminds me of my duties as a Lifestyle columnist of The FREEMAN that I should write about food and hotels. Medyo, deficient gyud on the hotel assignment and will correct these shortcomings in the near future. How does the phrase “your favorite hotel columnist” sound like?

Back to politics…, I mean the celebrations! Guests of Tommy and Margot began their dinner with the freshest shrimps at the Shrimp Cocktail Station and then moved on to the rest of the appetizers: Smoked Salmon with Whipped Cream & Caviar, Cold Cuts Platter, Deviled Egg with Fish Roe, Mixed Sushi Plate and Mixed Sashimi Plate. It was an east-west selection and I found the deviled egg with fish roe very tasty, and it had been years since I ate this dish.

It was a political gathering of sorts with many guests coming from the different barangays of both North and South districts of Cebu City. That did not come as a surprise since the Osmeña couple has been very active in the political scene since 1987. And it is anticipated that there will be realignments of the BOPK, the political party founded by Congressman Tommy Osmeña, in preparation for elections in 2013. It is like a game of chess with many pieces that are definitely black or white pieces and some…, well murag grey.

Main dishes were Baked Scallops, Bacon Wrapped Hungarian Cocktail Sausages and Chicken Supreme Vol Au Vent and the centerpiece of Philippine celebrations, the Cebu Lechon.

I found too much cheese dominating the taste of the baked scallops but the chicken vol au vent (hollow case of puff pastry that can accommodate various fillings) was quite interesting.

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For drinks, I tried for the first time the “Double Black”, a blend that uses “peaty west coast whiskies to create a flavor that is more smoky than Johnnie Walker Black Label”. These last few months, I have not been adventurous with whiskeys and was preoccupied in cognacs. However, if any of my beloved readers wins the bidding of the first six bottles of The John Walker, Diageo’s new ultra-premium Scotch whisky (bid price now at US$4,000) and you are willing, excuse me, to share it, you can call me anytime! When all the Double Black was consumed, back to the regular black label na lang.

For the people pictures that accompany this article, I had the assistance of Aqua Caruzca who recently received a brand new camera (father is Brgy. Captain and she is S. K. president). My trusty two year-old camera loves to take only food photos.

Tomato Trio

 Crazy over tomatoes? Here are three recipes that’ll satiate your craving for the luscious tomatoes.

Grilled Tomato Tart

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 ear corn, husk removed

1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed but cold

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 scallions, sliced

Heat a grill to medium-low. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mustard, vinegar and paprika. Set aside. Brush the ear of corn with the oil. Cook the ear of corn on the grill, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and speckled, about 5 minutes per side. Leave the grill on. Let the corn cool enough to handle, then cut the kernels from it. To do this, stand the ear on its wide end, then use a serrated knife to cut down the length of it. Unfold the puff pastry. Using the back (dull) side of a knife (to mark without slicing), gently score the pastry in a crosshatch pattern all over the middle, leaving a 1-inch border unscored around the edge. Place the puff pastry on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the bottom is nicely browned and the top is puffed.

Scatter the corn kernels over the pastry, along with the cherry tomato halves, bacon and parmesan. Cook for another 6 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown, and the tomatoes are softened. Place the tart on a serving platter and drizzle with the sour cream and mustard mixture. Sprinkle with the scallions.

Tomato Confetti Fritters

1 quart vegetable

or canola oil

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 large red tomatoes, seeded

   and diced (about 2 cups)

2 large green tomatoes,

   diced (about 2 cups)

2 eggs, beaten

2 scallions, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large deep pot over medium-high, heat the oil to 320 F. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, hot sauce and lemon juice. Set aside. Drain any excess liquid from the tomatoes and transfer to a medium bowl. Stir together with the eggs, scallions, mint, parsley, cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper. Working in batches, drop the mixture by the spoonful into the hot oil. Turn as needed until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve with the prepared mayonnaise.

Stuffed Tomatoes

4 large tomatoes

4 ounces loose sausage meat

2 tablespoons butter

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

1 1/2 cups torn stale bread

2/3 cup chicken broth

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

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