Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

The GM’s Cocktail Party

Dr. Nestor Alonso II - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The general manager of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino, GM Anders Hallden, recently invited mainline and online media to a cocktail party. He was announcing the appointment of Italian Chef Alessio Loddo to the position of Waterfront Cebu City Executive Chef. Chef Loddo started as the Executive Sous Chef of Waterfront Cebu City in 2009 (at the time, I remember, he cooked Atlantic salmon in Poppy Seed Crust on Vegetable Lasagna with Mostarda and Fennel Bulb Salad).

Hosting a cocktail party is easier than hosting a dinner where you have to prepare for appetizers, soups, main courses and desserts. Cocktail party, on the other hand, involves a selection of the mixed drinks, typically a distilled alcohol beverage like vodka, gin, brandy or whiskey mixed with other ingredients and the cocktail appetizers. The latter should be attractive, bite-sized, easy to pick up, and tasty.

At the recent cocktail, Italian appetizers were served like bruschettas, which are grilled breads with garlic, olive oil, salt and various toppings. We had Bruschetta al Pomodoro e Acciughe (Tomatoes and Anchovies), Bruschetta al Salame Picante (Spicy Salami) and Bruschetta al Prosciutto (Parma Ham). The spicy ham toppings were extra special.

We had also the miniaturized version of the pizza, called pizetta, and the following were served: Pizetta Fromaggi (Mini Pizza Cheese, Pizetta Marghereta (Mini Pizza Marghereta) and the Pizetta Acciughe e Olive (Mini Pizza with Anchovy and Olive). Marinated veggies like the Olive Marinate (Homemade Marinated Olives), Carciofi Marinate (Homemade Marinated Artichokes), and the Pomodoroi Secchi e Acciughe (Homemade Marinated Sundried Tomatoes & Anchovies) were served, as well.

In the late 70s, during my employment in a piggery located in the town of Carcar, I was fascinated with sundried tomatoes. Swine wastes were plentiful and gardening was an excellent option. We had 40 hectares planted to three crops: eggplant, tomatoes and yellow corn. As tomatoes are easily damaged by excess water, the price would shoot up to 30 pesos a kilo in the rainy season. During summer, the price would drop to two pesos a kilo and we’d usually leave the tomatoes to rot in the fields. So, I thought of sun-drying the tomatoes, to try to salvage the vitamin-rich fruit. But then again there was no market for it. Quite a waste!

Back at the party, I had a glass of the Classic Martini. Sandwiches were served: Panino al Salame e Picorino (Panini with Salami and Picorino Cheese), Panino Rucola Bresaola e Parmiggiano (Panini with Air-Dried, Salted Beef & Parmesan Cheese) and the Panino al Salmone Fumicato (Panini with Smoked Salmon). I had another glass of Martini, and tried the Prosciutto e Papaya, Salame Parmiggiano (Salami & Parmesan Cheese) and the Bresaola e Fromaggio di Capra (Air-Dried, Salted Beef & Goat Cheese). All the dishes had subtitles in English – one more cocktail party and I’m sure to be able to speak Italian already. The Prosciutto e Papaya was delicious.

All that Parma ham and Martinis made me look for some dessert to complete the evening. I tried the cannoli, a tube-shaped shell of fried dough from Sicily. It had a sweet filling (ricotta?). I took a bite and then another, and then declared that it was the best dish served in the party! Guests were rushing to get a piece and it was gone in a flash. GM Anders Hallden offered to bake more of it  but I respectfully declined because I had to drive home safely.

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