My biggest problem when dining in any restaurant for the first time is scanning the menu and wanting to try most of the dishes on it. I go over each item, go back to those that could answer my craving for that moment, then ask what the specialties of the place are. This works for me.
I had one of the best meals when I was still based in Vancouver. A friend came over and asked me to choose any restaurant in town. We decided to make reservations at Lumiere. It was run by chef Rob Feenie, considered the top chef in Canada, having won many times in the “Iron Chef.” I was very excited.
There were a la carte items on the menu, and two tasting or degustation menus. We chose the more elaborate tasting menu with a full wine pairing for every dish. The meal consisted of 12 courses of tiny servings, which in the beginning I thought were too small to satisfy me. They weren’t.
Each creation was a pleasant surprise. Each glass of wine made perfect accompaniment to the splendid dish. This was one meal that would bring to mind a loved one. It was that superb.
This was like eight years ago. The dish I will never forget was a black angus tenderloin steak, cooked medium with a cabernet sauvignon sauce, with a slice of foie gras on top and shaved white truffles. I was in a trance. This, to me, was the ultimate in fine dining.
With the influx of foreign chefs, Pinoy foreign-trained chefs and thousands of graduates from various culinary schools, the level of cuisine now offered here has progressed by leaps and bounds, compared to how it was just a decade ago.
Before, you could only dream of places like Paris, Barcelona, San Francisco or New York to experience out-of-this-world dishes; now there are some very talented chefs in town that could match that dining experience at Lumiere.
I had one just last week. I have heard of The Goose Station, but have not been able to experience it. The place has its own chef, Rob Pengson (with whom I have something in common—we both hosted the “Del Monte Kitchenomics” cook show).
In his restaurant, there are also a la carte items and tasting menus complete with wine pairings.
Here are the dishes I had: Caviar Parfait—white asparagus flan, crab jelly, yuzu-uni sauce, crab and caviar; terrine of shaved and compressed olive oil green asparagus with truffle mushroom flan, sunflower seeds, asparagus ice cream and mocha broth; green eggs and ham salad of liquid herbs, pancetta, pickled beetroot purée and mushrooms; roasted scallop morcilla, angulas, anchovy, lemon curd and peppers; foie gras taho—what a wonderful take on this divine ingredient; 24-hour steak with haricot vert, smoked mashed potato; and, finally, caramel chocolate—layers of chocolate, hazelnut and caramel ice cream with raspberries.
All desserts are made by Rob’s wife, Sunshine. Just looking at the description, I was already looking forward to the dessert, the taste of which surpassed my expectations and is every chocoholic’s dream.
Sunshine also makes the most fantastic éclairs at her pastry shop Gourmandise at Serendra.
This meal brought me back to Lumiere, but this time with a Filipino chef in the kitchen. Rob and Sunshine, both educated in culinary schools abroad, brainstorm on the dishes they cook and serve in The Goose Station. You can tell they love what they do.
One of the most common questions I’m asked by curious parents whose kids are aspiring chefs is, “What culinary school can you recommend?” I always say, “If any of these many schools have a restaurant outlet, eat there. If you love the food, enroll them in that school.”
Chef Rob and Sunshine own the Global Culinary and Hospitality Academy. Based on my experience in their restaurant, Global would be a great choice.
The Goose Station is at W Tower, 1117 39th St., Bonifacio Global City. Open only evenings. Call tel. nos. 5569068 and 0917-8546673.
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