The â€œEyeballâ€ or was it really an â€œEye Ballâ€ was superb! Too bad for those of you who couldnâ€™t make it! All this muttering on photo-napping had me really down over the weekend, the blog felt like a pre-law journal, so thank Buddha the EB was long scheduled for Sunday the 20th of Novemberâ€¦ I can honestly say now that I was seriously apprehensive about the idea of coming out of the shadows and exposing myself to the reading publicâ€¦would we all be ogres and strange food deviants? Would people enjoy themselves or just stare at all these other strangers in silence as they munched on the food? Who knew this would be so much fun? Read on for the scoop on the food and the guestsâ€¦
First the food. We had earlier arranged with Galileo Enoteca for a slightly modified menu for our party of 30 guests and at a per head cost of PHP500 instead of their normal PHP350 lunch. The cold cuts and appetizers were over the top – there was prosciutto, ham, mortadella and salami served with slivers of parmigiano reggiano, grana padano and auricchio (spelling?), there were several delicious servings of fresh buffalo mozzarella with cracked black pepper, an interesting combination of corned beef in aspic, green and black olives, sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, and small green salads. There were also the most delicious fresh anchovies that are so much better than canned! I knew vegetables were not big on the menu so I brought a few more appetizers like cold thin asparagus with thin shavings of lemon rind and olive oil, a cherry tomato salad with basil, grilled yellow squash, eggplant and onions, grilled and marinated red peppers. All of this was served with this terrific baguette-style bread made from Italian flour supplied by the Enoteca to their bakers. The red and white wine flowed freely.
We should have stopped right then and there. Thirty foodies munching on all of those appetizers with wine is a sight that truly lifts oneâ€™s spirits. Everyone did their share to nearly wipe out every morsel of food and the average calorie and salt intake was impressive. Seated on two long tables with benches, it was relaxed, convivial and conducive to talking, meeting, laughing. The arrival of the pastas was almost universally greeted with a groanâ€¦ probably because we overdid the appetizers. We had a Sicilian pesto pasta with fresh tomatoes and lots of garlic, we had a penne with eggplant and porcini and finally, we had a spaghetti with sausagesâ€¦ What was really nice is that all the food just stayed on the table so people could continue to munch on olives with some pasta, anchovies with more breadâ€¦ in other words, it was the ideal set-up for a lively, pleasant eyeballâ€¦
I moved around the tables a bit but still missed more than 70% of the conversations I am sureâ€¦ I hope the guests will write in some of their impressions of the lunch to give this entry more interest. The guest listâ€¦what fantastic range, variety, backgrounds, etc. The youngest was perhaps in their early 20â€™s and the oldest in their late 60â€™s! Most were in the 20-30 something range, highly articulate, boisterous, loud, confident, self-assured, interesting and easy to be with. I must be old or spend too much time in front of my computer but I got a real lift from the lunchâ€¦ so nice to see people who donâ€™t know each other from Adam just spontaneously engage in several conversations with new found fellow foodies. There were bankers, a chef, a doctor, a college counselor, advertising executives, food writers, several bloggers, grandparents and out-of-towners!
For the most part, everyone savored their food, but surprisingly many were just wickedly fit and maddeningly thinâ€¦ gym was not a foreign word to most of these folks though others would still be in the â€œgym?, thatâ€™s where I used to play basketball as a kidâ€¦category.â€ At one point during lunch a few of the guests were giggling conspiratorially at the end of the table and when I asked them to spill the beansâ€¦ they sheepishly said they were comparing notes on what they thought Marketman would actually look like. After some coaxing, they all basically blurted out that they thought I would be shorter, much fatter and really old! Yikes, am I supposed to take that as a compliment?! Heehee. This was a group of well-traveled, intelligent, accomplished, interesting, erdudite and well, just fun people. However, comments and their content and tone do not foreshadow the bodies behind themâ€¦ While some people slotted straight into my pre-conceived notion others just simply blew me away. Hurrah for diverse, interesting and unique backgrounds!
We had hchie and her husband who flew up from Negros, gracious and proper. Mila, the diver and schoolmate from HS (but she went a decade later!). Jun, a banker and his wife Maret (both lurkers no more). Katrina, the “loudest” but extremely engaging ad exec and her friend Felipe, a neck surgeon who were the life of the lunch. Maricor, Gemma, Leonida and Mary Ann who all knew each other and came for the food and out of curiousity. They sat near Anson, a food writer and Bubut, a banker. Ichabod a frequent commenter on the site and gorgeous statuesque blonde who preferred not have her photo published (I jest). Gigi and two friends who came armed to eat and who were just the life of the party their end of the long table. IvanM of OldManilaWalks was there as was Alicia, the reader who clued me into Galileo Enoteca to begin with. Lori of Dessert Comes First and her husband Bindoy, who works at a multinational that promotes all those hair care products that are supposed to miraculously make your hair straight, shiny and swishyâ€¦ Lori is also the â€œoh my God, she does how much exercise lady?â€ Chris was the reserved chef who is always on the lookout for food sources, went home with a price list of Enoteca deli items. Tina or Wysgal a fellow blogger that had trepidation coming to such a strange gathering but who seemed to enjoy herself, sat next to bogchief, a young and fit lad that thought I was going to be this short, old and fat fart. He arrived with his friend and co-bloggista, Xilca, who turned beet red when she introduced herself at filet minion (intentional spelling)! We also had Belle, who seemed close to the Enoteca family and who just enjoys the marketmanila website and she sat next to Joey of 80 Breakfasts who turns out to be a highschool classmate of Lori. My wife and I rounded out the guest listâ€¦ If I have skipped anyone, please email me.
Itâ€™s hard to summarize the lunch other than to say it was a genuine pleasure. Folks were relaxed, amused, inquisitive, sharing, self-assured, themselves, engagingâ€¦ the list could go on and on. Most everyone stayed at least until 230pm and the conversation was lively. Some insisted on a â€œspeechâ€ but all I could think of to say is â€œthanks for being a part of Marketmanilaâ€¦â€ shortly before everyone went home, I brought in some ensaimadas that I made from scratch (photo up top, started baking at midnight the previous evening!) so that everyone could have a preview taste of my ensaimada special coming up in a few weeksâ€¦ I didnâ€™t take many photos of the participants and I know some would not necessarily appreciate having their faces up on the net so I leave you with just two photos of the gathering and if anyone has any objections, email me and I will take them down immediately. Again, many thanks to all of the guests, and if you leave comments, please leave some mystery as to who I am and what I look likeâ€¦ Now, I feel like the holidays are really about to beginâ€¦