Valentine eats: Manila Hotel pairs food, music in special dinner

Joko Magalong-De Veyra

Posted at Feb 11 2019 07:01 PM

Christian Bautista (right) and Manila Hotel's executive chef Walter Konrad pose for a photo during the preview of Taste of Love. Jeeves de Veyra

MANILA -- Food, music, and love combine at Manila Hotel’s Taste of Love, a Valentine’s dinner-concert to be held at the hotel’s Fiesta Pavilion.

This one-night-only event promises revelers a night full of romance at Manila’s grand dame, as diners will be served bespoke dishes from executive chef Walter Konrad’s kitchen, while being serenaded by balladeer Christian Bautista.

“Every dish has a story behind it,” explained Regina Troy Barrios, marketing communications and multimedia manager during a press preview of the dinner.

With seven courses, the dinner’s elaborate dishes were inspired by famous love affairs, with Bautista’s repertoire for the night designed to match the dishes accordingly.

“There’s going to be Italian songs, some foreign songs, and the program is going to be based on the food. It’s a different concept,” shared Bautista.

Some of the songs on the set list will include covers like "Beautiful Girl," and "Ligaya" by the Eraserheads, as well as dreamy classics like "La Vie En Rose," "That’s Amore," "Because of You," and "My Cherie Amour," to name a few.

Here's what will be served at Manila Hotel’s Taste of Love.

1. Roses of Beetroot Cured by Gravlax, inspired by Roberto Rosselini & Ingrid Bergman

Salmon gravlax is rolled and colored with beetroot to resemble roses, on an arugula salad dressed with aceto balsamico, and served with a thin and crispy focaccia at the side. Gravlax was a nod to Bergman’s Nordic roots, while the spiciness of arugula, as well as the thin and rough edges of the focaccia spoke of Rosselini’s personality, and the eventual demise of the marriage. Unlike the ill-fated romance though, this dish succeeded beautifully as a starter — with the rich flavors of the salmon coming in front and center, balanced out with sweetness and acid by the salad. The focaccia cracker by itself was already delicious, like a multi-layered cracker imbued with focaccia herbs and olive oil.

2. Delectable Soup of Mirliton Squash, inspired by Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo

How do you make a soup inspired by two famous Mexican artists? The answer is to use an ingredient prevalent in Mexico like the Mirliton squash (chayote) and turn it into a buttery rich soup. And much like how both artists contributed in shaking up and forming the Mexican identity, a tortilla crostini, wrapped in jamon elevates this dish, provided a beautiful and salty counterpoint to the soup, elevating it in flavor and umami with toppings like alfalfa sprouts, and a quail egg, among others.

3. Duetto Di Ravioli, inspired by Romeo and Juliet

Two handmade raviolis, both alike with its filling of wild boar and mushrooms, represented perhaps Shakespeare’s most famous couple. Romeo’s was a pink circular ravioli, akin to hats worn by 16th century Italian men, while Juliet’s was a green pointed ravioli, inspired by the bust of Juliet in her statue in the plaza of Verona. While each ravioli had the same starting ingredients, in Romeo’s ravioli, the wild boar taste was more prominent and leaner, while Juliet’s ravioli had a creamier mouthfeel. Both created interesting flavors with the sauce of light truffle cream, with this author specially enjoying Romeo’s ravioli with the Szechuan peppercorns that dotted the plate, which added a spicy lemony kick to the bite.

4. Frozen Chocolate Chili Intermezzo, inspired by Ferdinand & Isabella of Spain

As the couple that united Spain, as well as enabled Christopher Columbus to discover the Americas, this dish represents the fruits of their inspiration. As an intermezzo course, chocolate and chili combine to create a spicy hot-and-cold dish, refreshing the palate, accompanied by a lace tuille for texture.

5. Carre d’ Agneu Vert Pre, inspired by John & Jacqueline Kennedy

The Kennedys were known for a lot of things, from being fashion trendsetters, as well as to hiring a French chef for their state dinners. One of the most famous of these dinners was the one for Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, where the dish, Carre D’ Agneu Vert Pre, was served. Lamb crusted with herbs and panko, served with jus with a side of beans and a duchesse potato rosette, was the heartiest part of the meal, with the lamb showcasing the tenderizing wonder of being cooked slow and low.

6. Heart of Velvet Ricotta Mousse, inspired by Anthony & Cleopatra

Ricotta for Anthony, and kunafa for Cleopatra. Dessert comes sweet and rich with a tart strawberry center, and much like how Cleopatra added spice and challenge in Anthony’s life, the kunafa, a nest of crispy and thin string pastry, added texture and exotic rosewater flavor to the dessert.

7. Macarons, inspired by Napoleon & Josephine

For Napoleon, chocolate macarons filled with chestnut cream, inspired by the prevalent use of chestnuts in his birthplace of Corsica, and for Josephine, pink almond macaron with a filling of pineapple rum cream, as pineapple and rum are staples of Martiniquan desserts, these macarons, enjoyed with tea or coffee, would be a fitting end to a night filled with love, food and song.

Tickets for the Taste of Love are priced at P4,000, P5,000, and P6,000. The Manila Hotel offers a 20% discount on two tickets to the Taste of Love event, for those availing of the hotel's Valentine Staycation Package (P6,999 nett for a Superior Deluxe room, inclusive of a buffet for two, a complimentary bottle of wine, and a box of pralines).