The GM’s Cocktail Party
Dr. Nestor Alonso II (The Freeman) - May 3, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The first Waterfront Cebu General Manager Anders Hallden’s cocktail party this year was held at the pool gazebo last March 27. The guests came from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) with GM Atty. Steve Dicdican and Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT-7) with Director Shahlimar Tamano.

Traffic was a bit difficult that afternoon.  I felt alone for nearly an hour, but comforted by the sumptuous array of food and drinks. Welcome cocktails at the thanksgiving party were Crimson Lambanog, Blue Lambanog, and Classic Mojito.  A mocktail, Watermelon Spritz (non-alcoholic beverage mixed drink) and two wines, Morande Pionero Reserva, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from Chile were also served.  (Mojito is a Cuban drink made with five ingredients: white rum, soda water, lime juice, sugar and mint.)

 The source of alcohol for the lambanog cocktails were the Premium Flavored Lambanog, Bubble Gum and Grapes. Lambanog is the distilled liquor made from coconut or nipa palm sap with an alcohol content of 80 to 90 proof. It was one of the popular drinks (with gin and beer) during my college days. We flavored it with raisins to reduce the impact of the spirits when swallowed and we also used it as fuel for lighters in the absence of lighter fluid.

At the Waterfront party, the centerpiece of the food display was the Cebu Lechon. I made a request to the service brigade to remove the paper covering it to take a photo and to allow the accumulated moisture to dissipate. It takes hours of cooking to make the skin crispy and the presence of rebound moisture (“hinungaw” in Cebuano) makes it soggy.

Simple but great tasting hors d’oeuvre or appetizers were served: Pancit Palabok, Adobo Lollipops, Lumpia Sariwa, Camaron Rebosado and Pinoy Maki. Fresh Lumpia always trigger memories of the bygone days when I watched my grandmother, Lola Emping, in preparing it with the family heirloom recipe. There were always maids to assist in the preparation, while I was either yet too young or too lazy to help. My sister recently informed me that crab meat was one of Lola’s secret ingredients.

Waterfront’s Chef Miko did the Sisig Live Cooking and, this time, I volunteered my unsolicited assistance in preparing it. I noticed that chilies were present for décor but fire is needed to “marry” the spice with the chopped ingredients. MCIAA’s Atty. Steve Dicdican  and DOT-7’s Shahlimar Tamano, excuse me, gave their approval to the sisig with a twist. By the way, if I was in Luzon right now, I would be among the foodies to attend the Sisig Fiesta 2019 in Pampanga. Back in 2017, Sizzling Sisig had been declared as an Intangible Heritage of Angeles City.

Camaron Rebosado is a dish I encountered during celebrations in Chinese restaurants in the ‘60s. The version popular at that time was a piece of ham added to it, and it was called Camaron Rebosado con Jamon. Sweet and sour sauce was the usual accompaniment. Years later, I made my own sauce with Haw flakes (sweets made from the fruit of the Chinese hawthorn).

My thanks to Waterfront Cebu GM Anders Hallden for the invite, and advance thanks for the upcoming cocktail parties!

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