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The Cheapest Round-The-World Trip for P1,500

November 9, 2012

Our minds are our greatest travel benefactors. It allows us to sail seas and cross continents with mere visual, olfactory or gustatory suggestions. And that’s the experience that the Lifestyle Network and Nestle’s Around The World In Small Plates benefit dinner for I Can Serve Foundation at Rockwell Tent attempted to give to its guests.

For P1,500, guests received 21 “boarding passes” (though my calling card is designed much better) for all the international destinations with fancy food offerings by the Philippines’ top chefs and kitchen artisans. Check out my post at When In Manila for the complete list of dishes.

[Pretty, rustic table setting during the event]

My Favorite Destinations

Since I no longer eat meat even when delectable-looking portions are presented, I’m sharing the veg-friendly dishes my eyes and taste buds remember from the event.

• Thailand

To the average guest that night, this would also be served with Crispy Pork Belly w/ Tamarind Sauce & Steamed Jasmine Rice, but since I don’t take meat, I opted to take only the veggies. 🙂

Chef J Gamboa’s Papaya Salad tasted pretty much like my favorite food option in Thailand and Laos, sans the excessive heat from chilis. By nature, though it’s made mostly with vegetables, Som Tam, as Papaya Salad is also called, isn’t a strictly vegetarian dish because it also contains dried shrimp and fish sauce.

When ordering this from restaurants or on the streets of Thailand, you can request that those ingredients be omitted, though doing without the fish sauce is tough for this dish.

• Cosmopolitan Philippines

Found myself enjoying another salad entry of Noritaco w/ Green Mango, Pomelo & Watercress, which is a great departure from the typical lettuce salads that serve as the default vegetarian options in many restaurants.

Chef Remy Dorotan combined both green mango and fried nori, things I am a sucker for in my food, so it really was impossible for me not to like this.

• American Bistro

I wouldn’t consider American food as one of my favorite cuisines but if Chef Allen Buhay’s cheesy Onion Tarte Flambee is representative of it, then yes, I am a fan. But for me, it was probably more representative of Italian cuisine because it tasted like what I imagine an artisan pizza would taste like. 🙂

Dishes like this are examples of why I would never want to give up cheese, and why I do not have hopes of becoming vegan.

View more of the night’s dishes here.

My Travel Companions

Being a sosi foodie event, I went with some sosi foodie friends, including my good friend Michelle Chan of Quirks, and Liezl Yap of Yummy Magazine.

I had an extra ticket to the event so I decided to offer it on my Facebook page to the person who promised the most engaging topics for delightful dinner conversation. I wound up taking Joemar Obejas, who was nominated by his partner Janet Brent. Janet had a very compelling post on why he was the most interesting person to go with. Apart from his know-how in meditation, healing, and martial arts, one of the things that stuck with me was he walked 1,000+ km of Luzon island for 3 months, carrying only P2,000 (about $50)!

I was somewhat hesitant to meet him because I thought he might be this really esoteric character, but I was happy that he could talk lightly about otherwise serious topics. Synchronicities really bring us people we are meant to meet at opportune times in our lives, and I think that Joemar / Tashi is one of those people for me. I’m sure we’ll be keeping in touch about raw food, meditation and other such “hippie” things. 😛

[Nomad Manager Jen with Nomad Walker Joemar]

Travel as a State of Mind

While I have to say that the food did not necessarily transport me to another country, our group’s dinner conversations about food, travel, and other life experiences did introduce a lot of foreign things to me.

More and more, I believe that one need not travel the entire planet to gain enriching life experiences. Admittedly, I do want to travel the world, but budget constraints greatly hamper that. So instead of whining about financial inability to travel to Europe or South America and pining for the next international destination, what I can do is embrace what’s available here and now, and see things each day with the eyes of conscious (read: aware) and contented “traveler”.

Food for thought,

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