Welcome THE YEAR OF THE RABBIT
COOKING WITH CHARACTER - Dr. Nestor Alonso ll () - February 15, 2011 - 12:00am

Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival  is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays and the Chinese throughout the world are united as a people in commemorating a ritual that their most honorable ancestors began at least 5,000 years ago. It is also celebrated in Korea, Vietnam and Mongolia, and in countries where ethnic Chinese congregate like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Canada and the United States of America.

Chinese New Year's Eve is the most auspicious time of the year to hold an annual family reunion, eat good food and drink good wine with prayers for the family's health, wealth and happiness. And during this season, it is also time for the members of the tri media to join the festivities including your favorite food columnist.

First assignment was held at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino to welcome the Year of the Rabbit with its "Fire in the Sky" 2011. There was a lion and dragon dance, buffet dinner at UNO, traditional fireworks display and bring home pa gyud the nian gao or tikoy, a sweet and sticky steamed rice cake made from glutinous rice in a brightly-colored red box to share with the family.

To sample the foods that are in consonance with the traditions of Chinese New Year to bring good fortune and cohesion in families, we had lunch at the Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa. At the Tea of Spring, we had an eight-course Prosperity Menu and some of the dishes are shown here, though the Deep Fried Prawns with Mango Salad was a favorite. We also had Steamed Fish since "fish is commonly conflated with its homophone abundance" and tradition requires the fish to be served with its head and tail intact. But not all the fish is eaten; there must be "leftovers – a symbol for abundant provisions in the coming year."

It was culturally correct to have eight dishes because "in the Cantonese dialect, the word for eight is baat, which rhymes with faat, the word for prosperity." You may serve nine dishes since the Chinese word for "nine" means "long-lasting" but that is one dish too many for your favorite food columnist to consume.

All roads led to the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu in the evening for the Yee Sang Tossing Ceremony, lion and dragon dance, coin tossing, firecrackers and a Chinese feast at the Cafe Marco. This hotel has maintained its tradition of having the largest Yee Sang vessels and the coins that rained at the lobby were most abundant. I collected three coins that night and only the coins that touched my shoes. Grab the opportunity that is available at your doorstep...I mean footsteps.

I opted for a simple dinner that night, authentic Hong Kong style roast and dumplings, but the dessert section seemed irresistible so I asked the pastry chefs which were the better options. They pointed to so many alternatives. Hopefully, a very sweet journey for this Year of the Rabbit!

Final destination of these celebrations was the 1st XIN NIAN Annual Cebu Chinese New Year Festival 2011 sponsored by the Cebu City Government and the Hotel, Resort & Restaurant Association of Cebu at The Terraces in Ayala Center Cebu. There were live performances of the lion and ribbon dancing, exhibits of Chinese paintings and photos and a street food festival with authentic Chinese delicacies.

For my beloved readers, I will share a copy of the Chinese Zodiac (http://www.stanssewing supplies.com) for your information and date with destiny.

ANNUAL CEBU CHINESE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL AT THE TEA OF SPRING AYALA CENTER CEBU CAFE MARCO CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA CEBU CITY GOVERNMENT AND THE HOTEL CHINESE CHINESE NEW YEAR YEAR YEAR OF THE RABBIT
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