Fine Italian cuisine complements belated birthday bashBy Jaime Picornell
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Milagring Sembrano had been gone for months, visiting her daughters in the United States. Oct. 6 came and friends thought she’d be back in Cebu to celebrate her 90th birthday. But the lights at her mansion in front of the Casino Español remained dim.
“I decided to spend it in Las Vegas,” she told one and all when she returned to Cebu a week later.” I stayed at the Bellagio, saw all the shows, visited the finest restaurants, saw many friends, and had a wonderful time with the family.”
“You’re back and we must celebrate,” said her dear friends Tina Ebrada and Vivina Yrastorza. Tina got on the phone to make those calls, and Vivina went to Michelangelo to reserve a table and plot the menu.
“It is not just Millie’s birthday,” said Tina, “But also that of Ralph Ferreros’, so he’s also a celebrant.” “Wait, wait,” reminded Vivina.” Fe Sala Villarica also has a birthday this week.”
It was quite a gathering. Well wishers included Geñing Solano, Lorenza Ford, and Junjo Ferreros who recently appeared as the King in the full-length ballet “The Sleeping Beauty,” directed by Fe.
Michelangelo has become one of the most popular watering places in Cebu. As you may guess, it offers fine Italian cuisine, with special accent on its pizza. “Thin, olive oil,” says Massimo Lamagna who is responsible for running the place.
The best, and most popular, version is named “Amparito.” It has fresh tomatoes, buffalo white cheese, olives, and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. No need to tell you that it is named after Amparito Llamas Lhuillier.
String of dining outlets
Michelangelo is part of the Lhuillier family’s string of dining outlets. Located right beside The Gustavian, it has become a landmark on the road to Maria Luise Estate Park, Cebu’s premier residential enclave.
It wasn’t just pizza Milagring’s friends feasted on that night, but also Osso Buccho, salad with mozarella and tomato, fish baked in oil with Rosemary, chicken filets and pasta al pomodoro.
Amparito Lhuillier made an appearance and complimented Milagring on her glamorous look, her agility, and her drive. “And you travel alone,” Amparito said admiringly. Then, Amparito was off to The Gustavian through an adjacent door.
Some time ago husband Michel Lhuillier asked her “to police” the restaurant, and for over two months now she has been doing a great job of it. She has refurbished The Gustavian at Banilad and at The Terraces of Ayala Center Cebu.
Amparito has hired a totally new staff and trained them to perfection. She has redone the décor and improved the a la carte menu to offer the house’s top specialties.
One Saturday afternoon she gathered friends, relations and lifestyle writers to introduce a new menu that she has dubbed Brunch and Afternoon Delights, available from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, and at “merienda time.”
It is quite extensive, and she chose some of the items for the degustation gathering, explaining each dish as it appeared on the power point screen. The staff served them in individual saucers, utensils changed every time.
First was a waffle for the gods, duly praised by us mortals. Then came the ham/asparagus strata, and ultimate quiche which rated superlatives from everyone. Ditto the salmon cake with aioli, and the wheat bread sandwiches filed with cheddar cheese and a cape of chutney.
The lemon cheese cake capped the epicurean experience. Who was there? The attendance, in order of appearance, included Annie Aboitiz, Oj Hofer, Teresin Mendezona and her sis Carmen Campbell, Honey Loop, Mila Espina, Moya Jackson and Anna Marie Dizon.
More: Rose Hennessy, Agnes Heuttel, Chinggay Utzurrum and Cookie Newman who came together in Ching’s vintage beetle, Margie Ricards Taylor, Arcy Gayatin, Maritess Lampert, Rosebud Sala, Angie Mathieu and Garce Guinefolleau.
Before the gathering and also after it some of those present wandered to The Gustavian’s deli section to shop from its display of French gourmet specialties, like “foie gras” and champagne. The prices are most attractive. Another section offers artisan breads made by a master French Baker.
La Chaine des Rotisseurs’s Cebu chapter has scheduled its next informal fellowship night at The Gustavian, and that will be another coverages. Meanwhile, plans are underway for two La Chaine galas in Cebu.
One is the anniversary fete at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel come December. The next is in March for the induction of new members at the Shangri-la in Mactan. The theme and menu are under study, but they shall remain as tight as a military secret, until “we let you know,” winks Mildred Amon, communications director of the Mactan Shangri-la.