Wake Up, Philippines!

Wine and dine, it’s the last Friday!

Posted in Food/Drinks, Hotel, Hotels/Restaurants/Bars by Erineus on March 12, 2009

PURPLE SHADES By Letty Jacinto-Lopez Updated March 12, 2009 12:00 AM

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The table is set: On March 27, the Tivoli at the Mandarin Oriental holds The Nights of Wines and Fine Dining, which features Australian cuisine and wine.

If the morning begins with Andrea Bocelli singing Somos Novios (We Are Lovers), it guarantees me a clear, good-hair day that stretches until the sun goes down. Recently, I had another reason to celebrate. I explored the wonders of Spain in its scores of food and wine as only a seasoned hotel can present it.

Charisse Chuidian, director of communications, told me that Tivoli, the premier dining restaurant of Mandarin Oriental, was featuring Spanish food and wine in their Night of Wine and Fine Dining. In short, it’s a “TGI-L-F” happening, my acronym for “Thank Goodness it’s (the) Last Friday (of the month)!” something that the hotel has been known to endorse for many years now. Charisse said, “We like to feature cuisines from different countries and pair them with wines that these respective countries have been known for.”

I like that. This new trend of food and wine pairing removes the guesswork and gives one the indulgence of enjoying the dining experience.

I sat back and was ready to be dazzled but first, Mirko de Giorgi, restaurant manager, brought in a basket of freshly baked (and still warm) bread from the hotel’s panadería. I broke a piece of brown pretzel and dipped it in the following order: fresh butter, olive oil and a dry herb mixture of salt, paprika, and pepper. The three condiments made my eyes roll apart from awakening my taste buds. After a dainty sampling of salmon mousse to kick off the seven-course dinner, we partook of the following:

Mariscos: A trio of fresh catch from the sea — mussels in tomato sauce, chunks of lobster meat in olive oil and clams with green sauce — served in a platter. It was appetizing. Vallformosa “Claudia,” vintage 2007, Parellada, Muscat, went well with the trio.

Gazpacho: A tomato-based soup served cold, dribbled with sherry vinegar, fresh herbs and cubes of blue cheese. The blue cheese gave this soup a biting sensation, yet it was pleasing to the palate. Altozano Verdejo Blanco complemented the dish.

Legumbres: Reminded me of the Spanish fabada (white beans with cured ham/pork) except this dish used clams. The beans were served warm making it a fine substitute for hot soup.

Citricos: Fresh chilled yoghurt flavored with orange; this was so refreshing and delicious that it could very well be served as the postre or dessert. It’s a welcome change from the usual fruit sherbet served in the middle of the meal and I give it a three-star rating.

Carnes, verdures y mas: A medley of rack of lamb flavored with honey allioli, steamed spinach with toasted pine nuts and sweetened apples and scrambled eggs with shallots and leeks. The rack of lamb was still too red for my taste so they brought it back to the kitchen to grill it for another minute; it came back just right and it was good paired with a 2001 Vallformosa Reserva, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Postre: Dessert was crème brulee plus chocolate con churros. This was a sugar fix, big-time, and one that I will need to burn for a few more minutes at the gym. The sweet wine paired with the pastries was Cava, Vallformosa, semi-sweet, Eric de Vallfomosa.

I know that the Spanish love to drink wine with their meals. They rarely drink to excess because they don’t need to drink alcohol to unwind and have fun, which comes naturally. Well, we couldn’t be far behind. This night sharpened our wine-pairing skills, aside from being treated to soothing music by Teresa Avila on the keyboard under the attentive but unobtrusive eye of the F&B executive assistant, Oliver Kreuzer.

Charisse noticed that I was nursing my glass of Verdejo Blanco. “It was a nice wine for the first long, warm night of the year to herald the arrival of another long, hot summer,” I sighed.

Charisse chuckled, “But Letty, you are entitled to a bottomless refill of any of the featured wines. It’s what oenophiles expect so we make sure it is part of our wine-dinner promotion.”

Unlimited “pourings” of your favorite wine? As in “bottomless” wine instead of bottomless iced tea?

Here’s to another “TGI-L-F” at the Tivoli — or as they say in Spanish, “Salud, pesetas, amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo” (health, wealth, love and time to enjoy them all). Their sumptuous feast delivers the message just as well, if not more.

* * *

On March 27, The Nights of Wines and Fine Dining at The Tivoli will feature Australian cuisine and wine; New Zealand on April 24, and Asparagus and German Wines on May 29. For inquiries and reservations, call 750-8888 local 2431 or 2432.

View previous articles of this column.

http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=447594&publicationSubCategoryId=81

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