Varsi Amihan Christmas 2011

This year perhaps marks the first time that our annual Varsi Amihan Christmas party did not involve overnight. And it probably takes 2nd place as the most spur of the moment parties we’ve had in the ten years we’ve been doing this (guilty on both counts). Planning this annual event somehow landed on my lap but I was just not feeling Christmassy this year and throwing a party was not one of my priorities (not that I don’t want to meet up with my Varsi friends – I do, and if I could, I would hang out with them everyday).
Anyway, good thing Feli came to the rescue and organized it with less than a week to go. Since we sent out the invites rather late, it also meant we had to think of a venue that was more or less never occupied. And so we ended up at Gloria Maris, Araneta. Seriously, the place serves decent enough food but any given time that we’re in Cubao, it’s almost always empty. 
First half of the night – dinner at Gloria Maris. Party hats courtesy of Feli.
Second party this week that I’m late. They were all done with dinner and about to transfer to the next venue when I arrived. But thanks to Leah and Marisse for arriving even later, we ended up staying at Gloria Maris til they closed. Though of course, Leah just arrived from Singapore so she was excused for being late. Haha.
Followed by coffee at Starbucks
Amelia Earhart, is that you?
We usually have coffee and dessert at Gloria Jeans (ok, too many Glorias there and I find it too funny) but it closes early; hence, the Starbucks.

Of course, what party would be complete without…drumroll please! Raffle prizes! Yey! Ok, to give you a background, we don’t really spend for these raffle prizes. We just pool all the gifts we don’t want to keep or have no use for and raffle them off. Kind of like a swap thingie, except it’s more fun. Our grand prize this year is a two burner stove and a foot spa machine (which hubby won at his office party, haha). And left-over GCs. 😛

In keeping with the somber atmosphere this season, what with the terrible Sendong hitting CDO and Iligan, we unanimously agreed to forego exchanging gifts and just donate money to charity. What do you know? We raised almost Php10K (courtesy of a very generous S$100 from Leah, clap clap)! Yehey! I think we’ll be donating it to Iligan, which was hit quite as hard as CDO but is not getting nearly as much help. 
Merry Christmas my dear Varsi friends! Entering our second decade of friendship!
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Opus

Kicked off the Christmas week via a party at Opus with my girlfriends from my former employer – which I almost missed. Actually, it’s a good thing dinner lasted three or four hours and Ipe agreed to take me, otherwise I really would have missed it. Anyway, I’m fast becoming an expert at grand entrances (translation: always late!).
Since they were all done with dinner, hubby and I ordered separate meals. Oh, and it was a buy one take one for their specialty cocktails from 7-9PM; though, being late, I only managed two orders spaced ten minutes apart. Ha! Nothing can keep me away from a good deal (though I had to keep myself in check – still had to report for work the next day. Big bummer. Haha.)
Anyway, it was my first time at Opus; though we live quite near Newport, hubby and I are too lazy to drive and almost always end up somewhere at the Fort. Plus, we’re not really big on clubbing and drinking (I hate the stinky smell that stays on your hair and pillows even after a week of washing your hair daily). It was quite impressive, what with the glass enclosure (though, unfortunately not sound proof; we were too engrossed with poking fun at the “foam” that comes with each dish we didn’t realize the chef/owner Carlo Miguel was at the next table) and murals on the walls. And the gleaming, sparkly cushioned seats! I felt right at home! I should have worn something sparkly but I wanted to stay low-key at the office.

Complimentary appetizer, which was really yummy!
Hubby and I ordered the Opus Tasting Menu and an extra main dish of pork belly. Quite pricey but really worth it – it was so good and I loved every single bite of it. Note though that each “menu” is only good for one – it’s a full course meal.
Pumpkin Sage Soup Bacon and Parmesan Ice Cream

Grilled Japanese eel and seared foie gras, cucumber jelly, pickled radish salad

Quail & Bacon Ravioli Mushrooms, Braised Leeks, Truffle Foam

Crispy skin pork belly and roast kurobuta pork tenderloin
cauliflower foam, braised red cabbage, pommery mustard jus

Crispy skin salmon fillet, basil foam

Dark chocolate fondant with salty caramel ice cream and malt foam

Now, as I mentioned earlier in my post, it was buy-one-take-one til 9, and a good thing hubby and I got there with a little over thirty minutes to spare (miracle that we made it from Makati to Newport in less than fifteen minutes too!) so I quickly ordered drinks even before our dinner. Can’t waste the opportunity. 
White Peach Margarita with Cuervo 1800 drizzled with Strawberry Puree with a Pink Salt and Sugar Rim

“Opus Magnum Mojito” Bacardi Silver muddled with Organic Spearmint. Kaffir Lime leaves, Lemongrass. Ginger, fresh citrus and topped with Sparkling Wine

The mojito is probably the best I’ve tasted so far. If I could go on drinking glass after glass, I would have (uh-oh, alcoholic much)

My lovely fasyon girlfriends – feels like I never left the company though it has been two years. Can you believe that?

Yes, Tin made it! She got there even later than I did, though of course, she came all the way from Eastwood so I didn’t really have an excuse

Arrgh. I need to go on a diet. Seriously.

I so love Leah’s skirt!

Til our next night out girls! Merry Christmas!