Typhoon threat and the Christmas Dinner

Dr. Nestor Alonso II (The Freeman) - December 27, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Typhoon Ursula (international name: Phanphone) was a big spoiler to many celebrations that were scheduled to commemorate the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ. There were reports of 7,000 passengers stranded in Matnog port in Sorsogon, a major transit point connecting Luzon and the Visayas. More than 1,000 vehicles formed a line six kilometers long waiting to cross the port. TV news showed a Cebuana with three grandchildren spending their Christmas in a sidewalk at a Manila port adjacent to the shipping company office, because her December 24 trip was rescheduled to December 30 yet.

But before news of Typhoon Ursula had dampened the Christmas spirit for many, mainline and online journalists were invited by Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino to its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremonies – an event called “Christmas Fantasy.” GM Anders Hallden said that there were 22 trees that would “shine its light far beyond this hotel and the wonderful City of Cebu.” After the program, select guests were invited to a dinner buffet.

Pork dishes dominated the preparation, like the Lechon Cebu, Pork Ham Leg with Pineapple Glaze and Roasted Vegetables, Pork Humba (Braised Pork Belly marinated with soy sauce & vinegar), Pork Embutido, Sinugbang Baboy, Bola-Bola with Sweet Chili Sauce, and Porkloin with Raisin Sauce.

Lechon Cebu will always be the centerpiece of any celebration, especially around Christmastime. But a friend in the pork industry says that African Swine Fever (ASF) is a Sword of Damocles for the pigs in Cebu. There is no vaccine, no treatment and pigs die in 10 days. In fact, he has decided to depopulate his pigs (by 50 percent!) to minimize losses in the event that ASF hits Cebu.

At the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino tree-lighting dinner, there were two poultry dishes: the Christmas Roast Turkey to satisfy the palate of Western guests, and Roasted Chicken with Romesco Sauce, a Spanish sauce made with roasted tomatoes, garlic, nuts, oils and peppers. Three beef dishes were served: Beef with Peppercorn Sauce and Crispy Onion Rings, Callos (Ox Tripe and Feet) and Pinalutong na Carne Norte (Crispy Corned Beef). The latter had the appearance and texture of Chinese pork floss or dried shredded pork. It was delicious.

Seafood dishes were in the buffet like the Spicy Dilis, Fish Fillet Kirin Style, Piniritong Isda na Sarciado (Fried Fish, Onion, Egg and Tomato Sauce), Shrimp Salt & Pepper and Seafood Thermidor. Among the guests, the salt and pepper shrimps were a favorite.

Since I had eaten very little veggies the past few days prior to the event, I went for the Talong with Pork, Garlic & Oyster Sauce, Beancurd with Three Kinds of Mushrooms, Fresh Lumpia, and Mushroom Lyoner with Olive & Cantaloupe, and Grilled Asparagus with Beef Wrap. Lyoner is ground pork sausage and pork fat flavored with mushroom and spices. Nice!

Desserts were the Lemon Meringue Tart, Double Choco Crinkles, Tiramisu, Peach Mango Mousse and Pistachio Bavarois. The latter is made with milk thickened with eggs or gelatin and with the Pistachio nuts. It was delicious.

Advance Happy New Year to all my beloved followers!

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