18 Aug2009

I’m sure you wanted to hear about the juicy details. You’ll hear about it first in this post. Not quite $20,000, but yes it fed some 25 people. The “linens” were of exquisite natural fiber, in a stunning shade of green. They draped over an enormous custom designed mahogany dining table. No caviar was served, but instead a beautiful salad of aubergines. The main course was amongst the best of its class on the entire planet, rich yet comforting… Dessert included cake. And at least eight liters of liquid “gold” was consumed in less than an hour…


We were celebrating the birthdays of three colleagues of mine at the family office in Cebu. E who celebrated her birthday yesterday, C whose birthday is today, B who is celebrating tomorrow and me, the fourth, whose birthday is later this week… Hahaha. Sorry if my opening paragraph misled you a bit, but this is the “scoop” on our own EXTRAVAGANT office birthday bash for four celebrants, consumed just a hour or so ago! :) And yes, I (and my four siblings) paid in cold cash and treated them all to the lunch, like all “bosses” are expected to do; not waiting for some subordinate or flunkie to whip out their own bags filled with cash to “stumble” over themselves in an effort to ingratiate themselves to their supreme leader of the moment… :)


The silkiness of freshly harvested banana leaves, cut from a tree some 10 meters away, was uniquely stunning. It is a shade of green unlike any other. For filipinos, a signal of good things to come to the table foodwise. It is totally organic, all natural, local and depending on your point of view, either completely free, or if you impute the cost of the land, the planting of the tree, the gardener’s 5 minutes labor to harvest the leaves, some P1,000 at most. Though you could purchase the same amount in a nearby market for say P50. :)


These patterns on the youngest part of an unfurling leaf are things I have never noticed before. Forget a beautiful damask tablecloth, or silk or linen, overlapping layers of banana leaves were the perfect setting for our own extravagant lunch.


Each celebrant was honored with a piece of the crispest lechon skin, savored just seconds before everyone else dove into the lechon.


Whole square foot sections of the crispest skin just peeled away from the roasted pig, and we lay them down straight onto the banana leaves, so guests could take as much as they wanted, or their cholesterol counts would allow.


The meal included lechon, rice, pancit or noodles (for long life), an eggplant (aubergine) salad, and sauteed eggplants (below) as well.


We ended with a chilled fruit salad and slices of birthday cake from Ruban Rouge (Red Ribbon, hahaha!). Two liters of Chateau Coca Cola Original, two liters of Chateau Royal Orange, two liters of Chateau Diet Coke and two liters of Chateau Seven Up were sipped with ice. Leftovers were apportioned to all staff members who will take it home and some 24-30 people will enjoy this meal that cost a total shocking sum of say P7,500 ($156) for 30 or P250 ($5.21) each. The rough equivalent of two Sabrett hotdogs with mustard and kraut on a busy New York City midtown street corner, with a large Diet Coke thrown in. And, ahem, I don’t think Anthony Bourdain ever said the pork, beef, duck or lamb he had at Le Cirque was “the best” in the whole wide world. Hahahaha! Happy Birthday E, C and B! Thanks for putting up with such a nutty boss. :)



  1. Joni says:

    Now THAT is an “extravagant” meal I want to partake in!

    The only “baglady” you’ll see there is Marketman with his bayong (French market basket). hehehe

    Oh marketman, your lechon is like food porn. Not safe for hungry people. haha :) good timing ng post…right after lunch. haha

    Aug 18, 2009 | 2:33 pm


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  3. Joni says:

    “Happy Birthday E, C and B!”

    P.s.: Can I be “J” and work for you?

    So I can also have lechon for my birthday. hahaha

    Aug 18, 2009 | 2:34 pm

  4. quiapo says:

    Nice!! Sublime food, sublime setting and great company!! A perfect meal ..Fine dining is just another way of connecting ans sharing. Priceless!!!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 2:37 pm

  5. Tricia says:

    When is the next EB??? It will be a year in November since the last one :)

    Happy Birthday to the celebrators E,C & B!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 2:57 pm

  6. whackerZ says:

    Advanced happy birthday MM!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 2:59 pm

  7. luna miranda says:

    what a wonderful way to celebrate! this lunch was definitely grander than the one in Le Cirque. dito kumain ang lahat guilt-free.:P

    Happy birthday to E,C & B…all the best to you, Mr. MM.

    Aug 18, 2009 | 3:25 pm

  8. MaryAnne says:

    Ah – this makes me salivate! I agree, anything served on, or cooked on a banana leaf is off to a good start in my book.

    And I felt such pride in watching that episode of No Reservations – thanks to you MM!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 3:40 pm

  9. Susan D. says:

    Haha, loved the play on words for your delicious menu and a Happy Birthday to you!!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 3:46 pm

  10. loveTOeat says:

    hi MM! i enjoy reading your blog tremendously… your varied posts about food and other “things” (hehe) are very interesting and you present it in a balanced way…

    advance happy b-day to you! =)

    Aug 18, 2009 | 3:50 pm

  11. tna says:

    What a wonderful feast! Hey MM, any openings in your company? Will relocate if needed =) HA HA HA…HAPPY BIRTHDAY E, C and B!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 3:54 pm

  12. kitongzki says:

    Just had lechon last Sunday during my granny’s birthday bash but the lechon skin you have right there is something else. I am yet to try you needle pricked pork skin though I am gonna try it lechon kawali style or prolly throw it in the turbo broiler.

    Sarap naman!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 4:35 pm

  13. Rose5 says:

    Joyeux Anniversaire MM!

    i hope thats the correct translation… i just used babelfish…

    Aug 18, 2009 | 5:06 pm

  14. Joey in Dubai says:

    I like it when you say “my colleagues”. You must be a “koboy” boss (madaling pakisamahan and fair…at may sense of humor!). Happy birthday, man!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 5:18 pm

  15. sanojmd says:

    darn, i thought this was really a scoop! haha, happy birthday MM and to the rest of the guys.. hhaha

    Aug 18, 2009 | 5:32 pm

  16. rudy says:

    i saw the updated RSS entry “Details of the Extravagant Meal” and excitedly clicked it, thinking you had found details of the infamous meal at Le Cirque! Then the lechon didn’t quite look like it belonged there :D

    Aug 18, 2009 | 5:42 pm

  17. MrsKookie says:

    Not a good read for me who’s pregnant and hungry! :)

    Superb lunch, MM! I was just thinking that it might be your birthday coming up… I was trying to remember your old posts about it… Felicidades to you!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 5:49 pm

  18. kitkathie says:

    Wow, that was a superb birthday bash. Happ Birthday E, C & B and Advance Happy Birthday MM. Hay, wish I was there! hehehe

    Aug 18, 2009 | 6:00 pm

  19. mardie c",) says:

    happy happy birthday to you MM and to E,C & B. i love the birthday spread. naglaway ko gatan-aw. tsalap!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 6:09 pm

  20. Fred says:

    LECHON! on banana leaf. wrong time to see this… Im not suppose to eat after 6pm, now Im salivating. Good Job to boss MM.

    Aug 18, 2009 | 6:33 pm

  21. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    Happy Birthday You all!!!

    Thats one lechon la Gloria and company can’t (and perhaps never will) get to eat anywhere in the world!!! hahahaha.

    MM, even if you spent the same amount of money (spent by GMA & Co in NY), the difference is you spent it locally.

    Shucks MM, I was only 5 minutes away from your office (had lunch at Casa Escano) and funny thing was my wife and I were craving for lechon!!!! hahahaha….the aroma of your lechon must have blown our way!!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 6:46 pm

  22. Marichu says:

    Chateau Branded Drinks would be cool to put on a pretentious meal (wedding, bday, anniversary, whathaveyou) for totally ignorant people who just want to rub shoulders with the circus leaders. Like they’ll ever know what they’re drinking anyway. They might guess, but I think they’ll be too hiya to call attention to it fearing they’d be booted from the smorgasbord of excess.

    Aug 18, 2009 | 6:52 pm

  23. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    Hey MM, did you also have a plate of organic highland legumes (isan platitong mani)ala Manny P?…hahahaha

    MM, better not tell about what else was served, you might have to also cancel the corporate jet!!!…hahahaha

    Aug 18, 2009 | 6:56 pm

  24. Lee says:

    Fifth Photo.. Lechon skin in “L” shape… L for Lee!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 7:06 pm

  25. Marketman says:

    Artisan, I don’t like small private jets, I tend to get more airsick in the small claustrophic cabins. A large Boeing does me just fine. Hahaha. I wish.

    Aug 18, 2009 | 7:06 pm

  26. Thumbbook says:

    What a feast! That lechon is really something else! Now that is the best birthday meal ever! Happy Birthday MM!!!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 7:20 pm

  27. millet says:

    hahaha..great post, MM! happy birthday sa tanan! now that is one grand lunch i would have wanted to be in. i miss the accuchon….

    Aug 18, 2009 | 8:41 pm

  28. THELMA says:

    how i wish that i can have a bite of that crispy lechon skin…looks so delicious! mm, you’re so funny! all good wishes to he birthday celebrants…

    Aug 18, 2009 | 8:42 pm

  29. Doddie from Korea says:


    I’d like to ask for the recipe for the eggplant salad. If you’ve posted it somewhere, maybe you can point the way out to the link? Thanks in advance.


    Aug 18, 2009 | 8:48 pm

  30. Marketman says:

    Doddie, grilled talong salad, here. It’s one of my favorites with grilled pork or fish…

    Aug 18, 2009 | 8:52 pm

  31. natie says:

    wow, NAMIT!!!!!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 9:16 pm

  32. joyce says:

    hehe, i thought it was another politico scandale. happy bday to you all! the lechon looked like sin. yummy.

    Aug 18, 2009 | 9:29 pm

  33. atbnorge says:

    The “extravagant meal” was nauseating…But the meal you told of here…just wonderful. Na-homesick na naman ako!!!!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 9:42 pm

  34. freeze says:

    haha you got me there! :D

    Aug 18, 2009 | 9:47 pm

  35. Vanessa says:

    I’ll take this extravagant meal over Le Cirque any day!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 10:16 pm

  36. zaN says:

    Now that is a great meal made greater even more by the fancy names associated with each entree BUT unlike the scandal, this is for well deserving people. Joyeux Anniversaire!

    Will I ever have a chance to taste that ‘best pig ever?’

    My-o-my! I am salivating again!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 10:20 pm

  37. netoy says:

    MM, you’re killing me!!!! I started to drool when I first glimpsed at those lechon skins… Unfortunately, the only lechons that we can buy here in San Diego are oven-cooked (roasted?) so the quality is not there at all… I am still trying to wipe the spit off my chin……….

    Aug 18, 2009 | 11:38 pm

  38. netoy says:

    I looked at your recipe for the talong salad. We do it the same way, except that instead of chopping the grilled eggplant, we mash it, add lots of crushed garlic (i like the garlic when it goes through the food processor so that they’re not chunky), salt and pepper and spiced vinegar… and yes, we also eat this together with fried fish or bbq pork, grilled fish.. yummy!!!

    Aug 18, 2009 | 11:44 pm

  39. mommy says:

    yummy lechon! happy bday mm!

    Aug 19, 2009 | 12:10 am

  40. betty q. says:

    Doddie: if you have eggplants coming out of your ears and would like to make another version of grilled eggplant…try this one which my boys and I cannot get enough of. Hindi pa nasisimulan kainin, they will call Rusty’s? (I don’t know if that is the right spelling or why they say that?) for the leftovers.

    Slice the Chinese eggplants on the diagonal of slices. Then season and brush with olive oil and barbecue. When done, remove from grill. Now make a vinaigrette…a little lemon juice or white wine vinegar, finely pitpit garlic in almires, some Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, olive oil, a squirt of Lea and Perrins and pinch of sugar. When thickened, add grated parmesan cheese. Then layer the eggplants and the vinaigrette. This is sooooo addicting. Masarap din as palaman in sandwiches…the eggplant above with provolone and roasted peppers.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 1:00 am

  41. betty q. says:

    Wow, MM…very nice spread! I’ll take that anytime over Le Cirque! A very Happy Bithday to everyone!

    Aug 19, 2009 | 1:03 am

  42. Mari says:

    Happy Birthday to all!

    Why am I not surprised that you would pull something like that on us? You really got us going on that… I bet you we all clicked on the read more as fast as we can to get the juice of the story…

    Anyway, with all the good food surrounding me here in NY, I would not exchange it for lechon and its sides that you have. There is nothing better than good ol’ lechon crunching in your mouth… hmmmm, wishing I could partake of that feast.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 1:14 am

  43. netoy says:

    hi betty q: just a question about your recipe: after you have layered the eggplant and the vinaigrette, do you still cook it (stick it in the oven to melt the parmesan) or do you just let it marinate for some time to allow the eggplant to soak up the flavors? I would like to try your recipe as it looks good!!

    MM – how bastos of me – i forgot to greet you ‘happy birthday’!! mea culpa! hope you have the best of everything!!!

    Aug 19, 2009 | 3:00 am

  44. ted says:

    With this spread, hindi ko na kailagan isipin kung tinidor sa kaliwa or tinidor sa kanan ang gagamitin gaya ng pagkalito ni Sen Lapid sa kanilang hapunan sa Le Cirque, kamay lang ang pinakamasarap na gamitin sa ganitong okasyon, wala ng iba.

    MM, Wishing you the best on your bday. Sana pagpalain ka ng panginoon and may you have many more to come.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 3:26 am

  45. Lou says:

    Happy birthday MM! And to all the others too!

    Aug 19, 2009 | 4:04 am

  46. tna says:

    Whoops, missed one – happy birthday MM!!!

    Aug 19, 2009 | 4:42 am

  47. THELMA says:

    mm, i tried your eggplant recipe to go with fried pork chops…yummy! bettyq, i think i will try your recipe as well
    since i still have a lot of japanese eggplants from my garden.
    i’ve given away so many eggplants but the plants keep flowering.
    … and to think that these plants were my plants from last
    year. what a blessing!!!

    Aug 19, 2009 | 4:49 am

  48. THELMA says:

    netoy, where do you order lechon in san diego?

    Aug 19, 2009 | 4:50 am

  49. betty q. says:

    Netoy: just let it marinate for a few hours before you eat it. NO OVEN! It is best eaten at room temp. or cold like a salad. Oh, don’t use food processor when you do the vinaigrette…just use a whisk!and no, you don’t melt the grated parmesan so you have texture. If you eat this in a sandwich, make sure you have serviettes since it is messy to eat.

    Thelma, I am soooo inggit …you have a bumper crop of eggpalnts. Sana magkapitbahay tayo! Oh, Thelma, do this for lunch! …the marinated eggplant, provolone, thickly sliced tomatoes and then press in a panini maker…they boys can gobble up 3 of these on one sitting!

    Joey: you were asking in your blog for something like an omelet souffle? Are you still looking for a recipe? I thnk I have one!

    Aug 19, 2009 | 5:41 am

  50. quiapo says:

    Just curious about the delicious looking lechon skin! A while back you experimented with “slitchon” which you dont seem to have used on this occasion. When I cook lechon the skin tends to look like your example, but I notice that most lechons back home have a shiny glossy caramel appearance which has a different flavour to the blistered type of skin.I attribute my failure to achieve the glossy skin to my inexperience in turning and to an inappropriate height of the roast above the fire. Any thoughts?

    Aug 19, 2009 | 5:45 am

  51. myra_p says:

    MM, happy birthday (very soon!) to YOU, Me and FPJ :)

    Aug 19, 2009 | 5:49 am

  52. Marketman says:

    myra_p, happy birthday to you too. Egads, I didn’t realize we shared the day with FPJ as well?!

    Aug 19, 2009 | 6:34 am

  53. Connie C says:

    Have a Bday blast MM ! and have many, many more happy blogging days to you.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 7:48 am

  54. Maria says:

    Happy birthday MM and to your blessed direct reports! The sauteed eggplant/aubergine dish looked really good – haven’t had that in a while. Best of all, that lechon was fantastic. Nakakagutom naman.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 8:17 am

  55. cumin says:

    Baliw! Akala ko a Pinoy staff in Le Cirque finally spilled the beans!

    Happy birthday, E, C, and B. Swerte nyo! And happy birthday, MM. Bukas nga ba?

    Aug 19, 2009 | 8:57 am

  56. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    Aside from the food you served being better than the one served at La Cirque, you also had faster service, since there was no need to change plate often!! hahahaha.

    Talking about the recent food junket of GMA & Co (I personally think that was the main purpose of the trip, a junket. Having an audience with Pres. Obama was just the excuse). I think all the establishments should come out with what was ordered & served, and the bill paid. All the legislators and cabinet members who partook of them complain of getting ordinary food and slow service. Its unfair to the establishments that all project having good food and service.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 9:08 am

  57. bernadette says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY MM and company! My complements to the Chef! :-)

    Aug 19, 2009 | 9:41 am

  58. Belgin says:

    Eversince I realized that these so called “aubergines” is the humble talong, I like to call the purple color aubergine from now on, you know it sounds very “sosi” kuno! hahahahaha! especially describing what color is my cousin’s gown for her coming debut.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 11:21 am

  59. pegi says:

    Happy Birthday, Mr. MM! Wishing you all the happiness and good health always. I wish I could be there to join you guys on that ” Lechon Lunch” even though I am 7,000 miles away.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 11:26 am

  60. ragamuffin girl says:

    a feast like this beats a Michelin-starred restaurant celebration any day!

    no need to worry about using the right utensils (hands are the best!), or how to properly aerate and sniff wine, or hold the glass, for that matter.

    no need to stumble over French pronunciations, or chew discreetly (how can you enjoy a crunchy lechon skin discreetly anyway?)


    Aug 19, 2009 | 11:46 am

  61. Richard says:

    Happy Birthday, MM… May the Lord give you relief for every stress, an answer for every request and peace for every troubled moment…

    Aug 19, 2009 | 11:50 am

  62. ArieL says:

    Happy Birthday MM…wow sarap ng lechon…sometimes we forgot to thank lipitor the wonder drug. I like the eggplant salad.

    Aug 19, 2009 | 12:59 pm

  63. Bubut says:

    Happy birthday MM.. when are we going to taste that popular lechon?

    Aug 19, 2009 | 1:40 pm

  64. Vanessa says:

    Happy birthday, Marketman!

    Aug 19, 2009 | 5:55 pm

  65. odie says:

    Happy Birthday MM!! May you have many more to come :)

    Aug 19, 2009 | 9:49 pm

  66. netoy says:

    hi thelma –

    we used to order the lechon in vien dong (an asian grocery store in linda vista) but the business has now closed and taken over by another and I don’t know whether they accept lechon orders. I like their lechon because of the spices/condiments that they use to flavor the meat.

    I think you can order lechon from any of the Pinoy eateries. we have also ordered from “Happy Bakery” in National City but I haven’t been there for a long time so I don’t know whether they are still in business.

    betty q – thanks. i am definitely making your recipe. and will also try that in a sandwich..

    Aug 19, 2009 | 10:37 pm


    thanks, netoy, for answering my query. i wish that there’s a
    place in san diego where you can just order lechon by the
    pounds. is that happy bakery close to the seafood market?

    yes, betty, if you were my neighbor, you are more than welcome to harvest some japanese eggplants from my garden.
    i love to share them with everybody. i think that newly
    harvested eggplants are simply the best. i eat eggplants everyday and i never get tired of it. i will
    surely try your recipe…

    Aug 20, 2009 | 5:53 am

  68. denise says:

    waaaahh an acuchon….huhuhu

    happy birthday MM and crew! :D

    i’ve made a sort of ratatouille with aubergine with beef steak tomatoes and white onion…which kinda ended up looking like the sauteed eggplants on your pic

    Aug 20, 2009 | 7:21 am

  69. ingrid says:

    maligayang pag bati MM! What a nice way to celebrate one’s birthday surrounded with friends and family.

    Aug 20, 2009 | 9:54 am

  70. mojito drinker says:

    great meal MM! happy birthday to the crew =)

    Aug 20, 2009 | 9:58 am

  71. bagito says:

    OMG, that lechon skin will be haunting my dreams tonight.

    Aug 21, 2009 | 12:22 pm

  72. bagito says:

    P.S. Happy Birthday to E, B & C!

    Aug 21, 2009 | 12:23 pm

  73. QueenB says:

    Huwow!!! What a birthday meal! Belated Happy birthday MM! and belated happy birthday to E, B & C as well!

    Aug 27, 2009 | 12:26 pm

  74. Cristina Gray says:

    Mr. Market,

    I have a comment regarding your statement “waiting for some subordinate or flunkie to whip out their own bags filled with cash to “stumble” over themselves in an effort to ingratiate themselves to their leader.”

    You must be an asshole to assume that all subordinates are obsequious toadies.

    Sep 23, 2009 | 1:03 pm

  75. Marketman says:

    Cristina, if you were intelligent enough to have read about the recent brouhaha re: GMA and her subordinates and flunkies whipping out the cash for meals in New York and Washington, DC you would realize the context in which the post above is written. It’s called sarcasm. As it appears now, you are the complete moron and asshole who spits expletives without understanding the article. It’s called poor reading comprehension. Duh.

    Aug 19, 2010 | 8:14 pm


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