What did you think!? Last year, the general consensus was short, fat and old and maybe jolly. But this year there were too many people for me to ask the same question…and I was probably too embarrassed to hear the answers. You just had to be there. That is the best way to describe the Second Market Manila Eyeballâ€¦ But I will attempt to give you an overview of the evening and I hope that many of the guests leave their own impressions in comments on this postâ€¦that way, readers in the Philippines and around the globe can get a better picture of what really went onâ€¦
Pre-party jitters are inevitable for any host. Will there be too many people? Not enough? Will they talk to each other? Is the venue big enough? Will it rain? Will there be enough food? But the stage was set relatively earlyâ€¦ Gourdoâ€™s shut down at 3 p.m. and their terrific staff started setting up buffet and cocktail tables soon thereafter. I saw the fresh pasta being rolled out by the chefs late afternoon. The brick oven had a fire going for roast pork and pizzas. I arrived with my own crew at 4pm to set up some floral arrangements. A slight panic there because I had gone to the wholesale flower market late the night before and there were hardly any flowers for sale since it was just a day or two after All Souls Day! I set up a white arrangement outside with azucena, casablancas and hydrangeas and used about 300 red roses for packed arrangements on the registration and buffet tables. All of the flowers had been prepped at home, so it took just 40 minutes to do the arrangements on siteâ€¦and thatâ€™s with my brilliant elves.
We got back to the restaurant at 6:30pm and guests were already starting to arrive! A line at the registration table actually formed as 70-71 guests signed in. About 5 people were NO SHOWS, which in my book, is worse than folks who are pathologically illogical or mentally challenged. Not only is it inconsiderate and rude, I hope it dooms your karma forever. Frankly, unless you were hit by a bus on EDSA or other similar catastrophic occurrence, you have NO EXCUSE whatsoever. NONE. In my home, you would simply never be invited back for another meal. There were several people on a â€œwaitlistâ€ who wanted to attend the party and NO SHOWS deprived them of that chance. So there. And I am tactful enough to keep your identities to myself! I took the opportunity to greet some of the guests while they were on the registration line and it was nice to see folks who were also at last yearâ€™s EB as well as new ones sign in. I noticed several people first checking out the scene from the sidewalk before they made that final decision to sign-in. I know the feelingâ€¦ â€œwhat me, go to a party with a bunch of strangers I have never met, is this mental or what???â€
At any rate, 70 folks is an amazing number of guests, no matter how you look at it. With roughly 6,000-8,000 regular and occasional readers around the world, and roughly 3,000 of them in the Philippines, this number represents 2.5% of the readers locally!! And what a terrific group of folks they wereâ€¦ techies, bloggers, ad execs, marketing folks, bankers and finance officers, jewelers, a chef, cruise directors, foodies, businessmen and women, young and old, fit and healthy, plump and proud of itâ€¦ and all of them interesting, fun, engaging, and adventurous enough to do the bizarre thing of going to a public place to meet people they only know from comments on this and other similar blogs. While it was nice to meet so many readers, it was also less initimate than last yearâ€™s eyeball of 30 folks that had to sit at long tables and by force of seat location, had to interact with their neighbors. I knew this would be a bigger group, and I just hope folks didnâ€™t feel lostâ€¦though the number of smiles, laughs and increasing din of conversation as the evening wore on was a good sign, I think.
It certainly was harder to really have a lengthy conversation with everyone who showed up. I think I met perhaps 68 of the 70 guests and between me and Mrs. Marketman and the The Kid, I hope we were able to have a little bit of time with each and every guest. But letâ€™s talk foodâ€¦ the buffet spread (the only real way to serve 70 folks at a price point that wouldnâ€™t bust the wallet) was incredible. Great value for money. Delicious bruschetta for appetizers. Two kinds of pasta, stuffed squash blossoms and my favorite, dozens of freshly cooked pizzas straight out of the brick oven. I didnâ€™t get to eat much because I was talking all night, but I kept sneaking a slice or two of pizza as soon as it got sliced up. And it just kept coming out of the kitchens. Many, many thanks to Chris and the staff of Gourdoâ€™s for really going out of their way to lay out a terrific feast for a demanding crowd of foodies! I will definitely return for a pizza soonâ€¦anyone who seeks a real brick oven baked pizza has to order it here.
But the anticipation for the dessert buffet was also building. As guests arrived, boxes and trays of goodies were being piled high on the dessert buffet table. There must have been 30+ desserts to choose from and frankly, while I had planned to taste all of them, I think I only managed to get to 12-15 desserts. A great big thank you to those who brought the dessertsâ€¦not only were they delicious, but the volume was simply enough to give us all a joint sugar shock. There were buko pies from Los Banos, tibok-tibok from pampanga, sapin-sapin from Dolorâ€™s (and three boxes at that!), bibingka from Cainta, several chocolate desserts including brownies and cakes, macadamia caramel and other cakes, beautiful and delicious cupcakes, tira misu, frozen brazo de Mercedes, mango puddings, etc. It was the most incredible dessert spread I have seen, ever. And I noticed that everyone tried to taste at least 6-8 different servings and many went back for more! I have to admit I brought a box of sapin-sapin and buko pie home and they were both excellent.
I felt that the room really started to buzz around 8pm and folks were really starting to move around or had found 3-4 new acquaintances with whom they were striking up conversations. Of course there were folks that came as ready made groups, like those celebrating birthdays or those who came as couples, but generally speaking, there was at least that underlying interest in food and there seemed to be a lot to talk about. There were just too many people for me to spend enough time talking to everyone but I do hape they had a good time nonetheless. It was nice to see so many of the people behind the comments that are left on Marketmanila.com!
Speeches are definitely not my thing, so I definitely had not planned on one for the gathering. But as with the first EB, I got nailed by Xilca who started agitating for a speech and she started clinking a water glassâ€¦talk about being put on the spot! But she meant wellâ€¦and as my petty revenge, that is her rear end in one of the photos of the registration desk up topâ€¦for embarrassing me into a speech, I have recorded for the entire internet audience, your backside Xilcaâ€¦heehee. All I really wanted to say was that it was great to see so many readers in one place, enjoying the food, the company and the conversation. This website is a hobby, a reflection of my passion for food and produce. I am truly grateful that so many of you continue to visit and read and enjoy the posts. There is really only one thing that I ask of all you in return for the daily or twice daily postsâ€¦ leave me a comment or reaction every so often. Add to the knowledge base that is being built up about our food, produce, sources, etc. Be a part of the community of readers that has grown in leaps and bounds in the two years since I first wrote an entry. Since that first post, I have written over 800 different posts as of yesterday and have logged over 12,500 reader comments. And still, about 96% of all of Marketmanilaâ€™s readers remain lurkers!
Many many thanks to all of the readers who came to the EB, brought their spectacular desserts and participated in the eveningâ€¦ Many thanks to Gourdoâ€™s, Chef Chris and his staff for making the evening a flawless one and the food was terrific! Many thanks to readers around the world who add so much to this little websiteâ€¦your visits spur me on to write more, and I wish some of you could have joined us last Saturday! Many thanks to my brilliant crew of elves who have been with me and the family for many years, put up with my bizarre market schedules, deal with unknown fruit and vegetables, chop and prep hundreds of meals and dishes, de-thorn thousands of roses and prep other flowers, accompany me to markets, ask about the weirdest seafood, teach me about animal entrails, etc. If not for my crew, I would never be able to post so many items on this website. Many thanks to RM and the Kid, for taking these photos, I never took a single shot… Finally, many thanks to Mrs. MM and The Kid, for putting up with all the foolishness that enables this site to continueâ€¦
If you were present at the Eyeball the other night, please leave a comment with your impressions, experiences etc. so that readers around the world get a better feel for the eveningâ€¦ Maraming maraming salamat!!!