Thursday, November 10, 2005

I'm back...with news!

Hooo boy! Have I been a delinquent blog-person! Poor 80 Breakfasts has suffered from neglect, and how I have missed being able to send my thoughts and foodie adventures out into the world wide web. My techno-bad-luck struck big time and I went through both a laptop AND a desk top crash. Of course, this led to a major work pile-up, of which I took forever getting out from under. But I'm back, things look brighter, and guess what (!!!) ... I'm engaged! :)

Ok, I'll back up a bit. Zamboanga! No, nothing "untoward" happened there to keep me from blogging. In fact, Zamboanga was wonderful and the memories it left me were my bright spot through my days of techno-darkness. It is a beautiful gem situated down south and was a happy discovery for me. The people friendly, the weather great, the seafood amazing, and (the pinnacle of it all) the birthplace of my sweetie, C, and where he decided to pop the question.

My stay was a flurry of sumptuous dinner-dances (it was fiesta time...Hola Zamboanga Hermosa! Woohoo!), gorgeous beach trips, relaxing mountain getaways, and visits with tons of C's relatives and friends (including the doctor who delivered him!). And in the midst of all this, a romatic dinner in a seaside resort (a menu degustation of "frutas del mare de Zamboanga"), a ring hidden in a buko (young coconut), and a new part of my life begins...

So, as can be imagined, I am embarking on that fun yet harrowing journey of..."planning a wedding"...yikes! I'll be back in the kitchen soon but meanwhile here are some pictures of "Zambo" :)

Above is the canon in the Lantakan Hotel, one of the oldests hotels in Zamboanga City. It's right by the sea. I bought some wonderful mats from a Badjao village (built on stilts right on the water) and brightly colored handicrafts weaved by people from Basilan (a neighboring city) from the Yakan village. That heavenly stretch of beach you see is Santa Cruz island, just a short boat ride away from the city.

Above is the sandbar that is connected to Santa Cruz island. It makes for a breathtakingly scenic walk into the sea. I couldn't get enough of the lanzones, which were in season (with a vengeance!) sweet! I must have eaten 500 throughout the trip. Seriously. And, you cannot go to Zamboanga without having curacha, a local crab that is a bit spiny and hairy, a curious mix between a crab and a lobster. The taste is amazing! Ooof! The body is FULL of soft, sweet, succulent meat. Everytime I poked my finger in, more meat just kept sliding out. Heaven in a bright red shell. Next to the curacha picture is the lunch I had on Santa Cruz island. Fresh steamed fish, tomatoes and onions from C's godmother's garden in the mountains, prawns cooked in coconut milk and lots of ginger, and the famous curacha, all served on the firm stem of a banana leaf, and eaten with my hands.

I love the beach (which is why I love living on an archipelago...maximum coastline) and for me there is no pleasure like eating a meal of fresh seafood with your hands, licking the juices of your fingers, while sitting in your bikini under a little hut, the sun shining, your skin sweaty and sticky with sun tan oil, your feet sandy...sigh...and the sea to jump into to cool off. Bliss!

Moving on...above are more yummy treats. There's pancit made by C's godmother, eaten with her homemade chili sauce. Next to it is her chili harvest. Then there's merienda (midday snack) prepared at the house of the doctor who delivered C into this world -- cheese bread, chicalang (a local sweet made with rice good!) , and ginataan (good recipe here). In the last picture you see a big tray of lokot-lokot, another native delicacy. It looks like a rolled up fried vermicelli web. Ok, strange description. It's crunchy with a light sweetness. Suffice to say I couldn't get enough of the food on this trip...

That's all for now...It's so good to be back online! Sometimes life does indeed throw curve balls, but it sure knows how to make up for it :)

PS: Thank god C loves the beach as much as I do! And that's why our wedding will be at one :)


Omar Kaj said...

Hey that was awesome! I NEVER knew you actually went to Egypt and tried out the Arab sweets! But, I'm sure you tried out the spaghetti types with nuts center. Did you try out the type with dates (a brown sugary palm tree fruit) on the center? Hope Egypt was a blast. Try coming over to Lebanon one day if you have the chance. It's a bit more westernized in daily routines and stuff, ideal for tourist on both summer and winter, and don't forget to try out the famous Arabic breakfast meals we call "mA.uU.sHE", pizza-like sandwich thingis, in our bakeries here <-- whether it's Zatar (vegatarian powdery stuff with edible seeds and oilve oil) or white cheese. There is meat, but it's more like a type of lunch. Also try out the sHA.wA.r.mA sandwiches. :)

And that was a really beautiful exotic place you went to. Hope your wedding was a blast.

angelika said...

Hi Joey, I was convinced that the reason bejnd your absence must be a MAN...;-)))) I love to hear about your happines now and all my good thoughts are with you. Though I do not have time to work thru your post right now I have just flown over it and have wanted to congratulate you right now.... A big kiss and all the best from theflyingapple

ChichaJo said...

Hi Omar! Thanks for visiting 80 Breakfasts :) I've always thought Lebanon would be an interesting place to much world, so little time! BTW, I haven't gotten married yet...only engaged :)

Angelika! You are so sweet and always have the nicest comments! :) Thank you (as always) for such warm sentiments...they are truly appreciated :) Big hug!

Paz said...

YAY! JOEY IS BACK! I'm really glad to see this! Your trip to Zamboanga sounded wonderful -- so many places to go, people to see, things to do, and a proposal to accept. Congratulations again on your engagement. Have fun planning the wedding.

Best wishes,

dexiejane said...

OMG!!! Congratulations. AWWW :)

and thank you for sharing it and your wonderful experience in Zamboanga. lovely pictures.

angelika said...

Joey, **sigh**, how romantic !It must have been wonderful. And though the beaches are very, very far away from here (especially such beautful ones as shown in your pics) I share your enthusiasm for them. Herbert once visited the Phillippines and is still convinced that it is one of the most beautful countries of the world. I do believe him ! Have a great time planning your wedding and enjoy it as much as possible. Where do you want to find your very own beach, - will you stay on living in Manila ? Or move to Zamboanga ? Looking forward to reading MANY more of such happy posts, big hug ! angelika

Kai said...

Hey welcome back, and congratulations! I just knew it! I wanted to say I was kinda hearing wedding bells but I didn't want to preempt ;-) Have fun in the planning, I'm so happy for you! A la Miss Universe Miriam Q, ha, beach wedding! Great ambience!

Joe said...

Glad to see you back blogging! Beautiful pictures!

Lori said...

As soon as I saw the title of your post, I just knew you were engaged. Maybe it's a girl thing. :p

Congratulations Joey, and it's good to have you back!

ces said...

hi..just dropping by..tamang homesick tuloy ako!!!nice..really nice..lanzones!!!that! i really miss..oh and btw, happy for you on your engagement..congratulations!!!just last night i was browsing through some works of a videographer for my sis who's getting married soon..check it out..or maybe you've heard about him..looks

wysgal said...

Great photos ... and congratulations on the engagement. =)

I'm with Lori when she says that she knew upon reading your post title what your "news" was about.

grace said...

You have gorgeous pictures here huh
! Keep it up! Cheers!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Paz! You're so sweet! Thanks for your nice and encouraging comments and your best wishes :) I'm glad to be back too!

Hi Dexie! Thanks :) I'm always happy to share great stories about these islands :)

Hi Angelika! How nice to discover that Herbert has actually been to my home, and to hear that he thinks it's one of the most beautiful countries in the world! We will be living in Manila, but will have our wedding in Boracay, an island with a white sand beach located in the central part of the Philippines (so effectively in between Manila and Zamboanga)...I actually posted about some yummy treats C brought me from there (post entitled Boracay Bounty) and there are some pictures :)

Hi Kai! Thanks! Wow...galing nang hula mo :) A beach wedding is really a dream shared by both of us...and a great beach party after! ;)

Thanks Joe :) It's good to be back!

Hi Lori! Maybe it is a girl thing! Gosh...amazing :) Thanks!

Hi DIYchef! Thanks for dropping by and for the nice words...and thanks for the link to Jason Magbanua! I have heard of him but never was able to get his contact details :)

Hi Wysgal! Thanks! Boy...women's intuition is a powerful thing :)

Thanks Grace and thanks for stopping by :)

Raquel said...

What a great story, *romantic* to say the least!
Congrats on your engagement! Looking forward to reading more!
Best wishes,

Mona said...

Aww, congratulations Joey! I saw the blog post title, before the rest of the post came up and I wondered if that wasn't the news. So exciting to hear! I hope you had fun/safe travels and look forward to seeing your latest kitchen creations!

tattum said...

Welcome back Joey!!! We missed you so much!! I'm soooo glad for your engagement!! Now, just enjoy, from now till the wedding you will have lots of work to do! But, I tell you, it's the best!!And don't forget to tell us everything about it!!
WWOOOOOWWWW!!! We are going to a wedding!!!! ;))
I send you my best wishes for you both, and please enjoy every moment, this happens so fast! Muchos Besos

Karen said...

Weeeeeee!!! Like Kai, I could hear wedding bells when you said you were going to Zamboanga. Congratulations Joey! Enjoy organising the wedding. Holler if you need anything. ;-)

Mila Tan said...

Welcome back to blogland. Glad to see your update and congratulations on the engagement. Lovely photos, DOT should ask you to take the pictures instead of those horrid ones we see on the posters. Or maybe it's because they're so old.

I went to Zambo last year and loved chicalang and the deep fried sugary bananas (rebosaw I think it's called), better than banana que here.

Is it ok to go to Santa Cruz these days? We kept being told not to go for safety reasons. It's so sad to be held back from seeing parts of our country due to security.

I'm going back next year to attend a party in April, looking forward to more food feasts there.

Pille said...

Congratulations!!! I have been popping by regularly and wondering where you're hiding. But getting engaged is a totally valid reason for neglecting foodblogging for a while, believe me.
Enjoyed watching your holiday pictures, thanks!

celia kusinera said...

Congratulations on your engagement Joey! And so glad to know you had a blast in Zamboanga. :)))

ChichaJo said...

Hi Raquel! Thanks for dropping by and for the best wishes! :)

Hi Mona! Thanks for your nice comments! Happy to be back and can't wait to visit all your blogs again :) This is an exciting time for me...thanks for the congratulations :)

Hi Tattum! I missed everyone too and I'm glad to be back :) Yes, it's a very busy time now and exciting too...will take your advice and enjoy every moment ;)

Hi Karen! Thanks for your kind offer of help :) Boy, can't believe all of you had inklings already...hehe :)

Hi Mila! I have always wanted to do something for the DOT...I always try to promote tourism here, I enjoy exploring the Philippines very much myself! :) Yup, sad about the safety situation in some parts...Sta. Cruz was fine...we went with locals and there was a tour group there too. There's some form of military outpost there as well if I'm not mistaken. Enjoy your Zambo trip next year!

Hi Pille! I'm so touched by all of you that have been popping by :) This wedding IS taking a lot of planning, especially since I am having it out of town! Oh boy...but still wonderful and exciting :)

Hi Celia! Thanks, thanks! Zambo was great...I enjoyed every moment :)

Stephanie said...

Congratulations! Talk about a run of happy events...trips, engagements; how wonderful for you.

JMom said...

Welcome back, Joey (we missed you last LP3) and CONGRATULATIONS!!! :-) I enjoyed reading your post and looking at the lovely photos. Now, you made me hungry and you didnt even cook anything!

plum said...

Oh how excellent! Congratulations! And it looks like the food was spectacular!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Stephanie! Thanks! :) Yup, lots of exciting things :)

Hi Jmom! Thanks for your comments and congratulations! Missed LP# too :( Well, looking forward to LP4 :)

Hi Plum! Yes, I really enjoyed the food :) And thanks for the best wishes :)

Lani said...

Yippeee, tama ang kutob namin, Joey. Best wishes!!!

Kakainggit ka naman, mukang ang sarap-sarap magpunta sa Zamboanga.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lani! Thanks for the best wishes! :) Zamboanga was really great...hay naku! My frustration has always been that we have so many beautiful places here to visit but sadly we are still far down on the tourist map.

keiko said...

Hi Joey, many congratulations!!! I really enjoyed your post, the pictures are absolutely beautiful.

ChichaJo said...

Thanks so much Keiko! :)

Barbara said...

That's brilliant Joey. Congrats. Can we all come to the wedding?!! I bet it will be fun.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Barbara! Thanks! If you're in the Philippines in May next year let me know ;)