Ladies Who Lunch

When ‘The Firm’ hosts a gastronomic dinner

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FINANCE Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, former Trade Secretary Peter B. Favila and Enrique K. Razon Jr.

Apparently this has been going on for some months now, but so quietly. CVCLAW, the law firm otherwise known among bad-news consumers as “The Firm,” has been hosting gastronomic dinners for its top clients the past months.

The fourth in a series of the Casa Artusi dinners was held some time last month, and this time, after missing the previous ones, we made it. It was one unforgettable evening for both dining and people-watching.

Margarita Fores, expectedly, prepared an almost-to-die-for 14-course menu—in small, just-right servings so you don’t feel stuffed—using recipes from the legendary Casa Artusi culinary school in Emilia Romagna, Italy.

REP. SONNY Angara and Augusto San Pedro Jr.

But before we could sit down to dinner, we had a pre-dinner stimulant: watching the Firm’s power clients/guests come in and be welcomed by the Firm’s top man Pancho Villaraza and the evening’s hosts, Augusto A. San Pedro Jr. and Franchette Acosta, senior and junior partners, respectively.

There were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and wife Corazon in a huddle with Tessie Sy-Coson and Ricky Razon, among others; also Rosemarie Arenas who came with daughter, Rep. Ma. Rachel Arenas; Peter Favila, Ramon Arnaiz, Rep. Sonny Angara, Rep. Sigrifido Tinga.

The Rainmaker’s Lounge, the Firm’s exclusive dining restaurant on a top floor at the CVCLAW building, had tables decked with fresh fruits and flowers as centerpieces, with Venetian masks thrown in to complete the Renaissance theme.

SYLVETTE Y. Tankiang, Sally L. Villaraza, Alice A. Favila, former Secretary Favila and Francis de Borja

In introducing the courses, Margarita said the series of Artusi dinners at the Firm was just a glimpse of what Casa Artusi culinary school, newly opened in the country, could offer.

Margarita owes her dynamic culinary career to Casa Artusi, where she trained, and whose culinary philosophy and authentic Italian cooking she follows to this day—fresh ingredients and a cooking method that brings out, not smothers, the freshness and flavors of each ingredient.

MICHAL Smejc, Lukas Bis, Franchette M. Acosta, Augusto A. San Pedro Jr. and DavidMinol

The dishes she prepared that night, like in previous Artusi dinners, were from the iconic Artusi culinary book, which contains more than 700 recipes—an Italian homemaker’s bible. So while this was already the fourth in a series of dinners, Margarita said she still has a long way to go, if she was to do even an eighth of the book’s content.

That night, after an antipasto buffet (salted cod fish mont blanc style, Romagna-style pizza, fresh ricotta and goat cheese, among others), Margarita served, as highlights, handmade handkerchief mantis shrimp, sea urchin, red wine tomatoes, Riso acquerello of baby quail with parmigiano-reggiano, roast domestic duck, Bistecca Florentina-style wagyu with Borgia style truffle sauce, caper and anchovy.

SYLVETTE Y. Tankiang, ManuelN. Tordesillas and Maria Corazon Purisima

Then there was a dessert plate of Turin cake, marron glace, and almond milk gelato prepared by Amanda Tengco, daughter of Al and Carla.

No matter that the menu was two pages, the dinner wasn’t really satiating. The servings, like I said, were so small and the flavors so evident enough for you to relish but never overpowering. The meats were fresh and juicy.

REP. Fred Tinga and Rhona San Pedro

It’s no wonder that these Artusi dinners by The Firm have become much anticipated, then talked about, albeit discreetly.

This dinner had the Renaissance theme. We heard that the next Artusi dinner to be hosted by The Firm will carry “The Godfather” theme.

Now, that will really be some mafiosi-watching.

Follow the author on Twitter and Instagram @thelmasiosonsanjuan.

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