October 6, 2007
A LOG CABIN THING
When I was new to Sagada, I'd sign-up for the Saturday dinner buffet maybe once in 3 weeks. I didn't want to spend too much money given my meager resources. Yeah, P250 for a gourmet french dinner buffet including salad, dessert and coffee was money I didn't want to spend once a week for (go figure!). Sure, I could have worked a little harder for that additional P1000 monthly expenditure. Maybe I simply wanted to salivate the next 2 weeks and then gorge myself on the 3rd week. Maybe it was in keeping with my
ka-meaning-an - keeping things lean and nimble.
However, I hypothetically asked myself, "If I should leave Sagada tomorrow to live elsewhere, what would be my biggest regret?" Without missing a beat, my answer was, "Log Cabin dinner buffet prepared by Chef Aklay". That was a turning point. How could I possibly claim to love life and deny myself something so divine others could only wish for? Yeah, if you're in Manila, try taking the 12-hour bus ride along bumpy mountain roads to be a dinner guest. That was it. I was a regular dinner guest since then. It was something I look forward to.
Last night, over dinner, Aklay announced that the dinner buffet will be all-new! No repeat of the same weekly entrée! He said he'll stuff chicken in bread, he'll create chicken mouse, that his cake will be different, etc. Wow! I couldn't wait.
True to his word, dinner was all-new...something he hasn't done in years perhaps. The chicken mouse simply melted in my mouth, the fish baked inside the bread with spicy salad topping could have been a stand-alone conversation piece, the cake had 4 different layers, offering a different taste and texture with every layer. The whole dining experience was sensory overload in texture, taste, visual appeal and aroma. I was a kid lost inside a toy store.
Without the usual suspects, dinner would not be as engaging. There's something about breaking bread with people you're comfortable with in the leisurely comfort of wood-paneled walls and a fireplace. Add to that the wine that gets poured around, and there you have it....Shangrila, Sagada style!
I often reflect on how privileged I am to be here in Sagada, eating the finest gourmet food prepared by the same chef hired no less than the Sultan of Brunei himself, to make his pastries. With the usual suspects around for warmth, company and support, every Saturday night brings a little piece of heaven to this little-known mountain getaway often ignored by a world moving too fast.
Again, I ask myself, "If I should leave Sagada tomorrow to live elsewhere, what would be my biggest regret?" Hmmm....I have to do some tough thinking to come up with an answer.
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