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!)...so 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 flour...so 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 :)