The Cebu chapter of La Chaine des Rotisseurs held a fellowship dinner with a Chinese theme at the Tsay Cheng restaurant of the Cebu Grand Convention Center. Presiding were Michel Lhuillier, bailli délégué for the Philippines, and Amparito Llamas Lhuillier, baili de Cebu.
With them at the presidential table were Winglip Chang, who had designed the menu, and his wife Pinky whose Pink Flora shop had done the flower arrangements on centerpieces. There were yellow orchids and red tulips on glass receptacles.
Also at the presidential table were Hans and Bo Hauri. Hans is the general manager of the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel which in December will host the Cebu anniversary gala. But before that, there will be Soiree Beaujolais on Nov. 22 at the Marco Polo, as reminded by Michel, who is France’s honorary consul in the Visayas.
The Chinese menu served was one of the best. “You will gain very little weight from it,” Winglip assured Michel who had been taking care of his diet so that he looked terrifically streamlined.
To start, there was a plate with juicy Peking duck, diced roast pork belly, and squid deep-fried to a crisp. The soup that followed rated oh’s and ah’s, concocted with double-boiled black chicken with herb ginseng.
Then came steamed grouper fillets with Kimwa ham, which gave a very special flavor to a bed of glass noodles. Rating even more superlatives were the braised Japanese dried scallops with Barling mushrooms and a clump of sea moss in abalone sauce.
There was hardly any more space for the main dish—Angus beef slices with cutout yellow, red and green bell peppers. Dessert was quite another matter, and it was not Chinese. Frothy Tiramisu stuffed on a cone of white chocolate, and on the side were glazed fruits on a brandy-flavored pastry basket.
Michel and Amparito took turns congratulating Winglip Chang for the magnificent repast. Winglip is in the board of La Chaine in Cebu. In no time, the rest of the board formed a semicircle around him to offer their congratulations.
Among them were Teresin Mendezona, Vivina Yrastorza, Nestor Alonso and Dave Sharpe representing L’Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs. They are planning an event before September is over, talking about oysters and vodka.
Present on this occasion was Philippe Frugere, the new general manager of the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino. He is French, very nice, and the opportunity to meet him came over lunch at his hotel’s Tin Gow Chinese restaurant, one of the best. Michel and Amparito had informed him that the induction gala of the Cebu La Chaine in March would be at the Waterfront.
Aside from the Tsay Cheng restaurant, the Cebu Grand Convention Center is also home to the Majestic Restaurant and Seafood City. The Majestic offers a fabulous buffet of Chinese and Continental cuisine. It’s P499 per person for lunch, and P599 for dinner. Needless to say, one must make reservations.
Seafood City offers the widest and most fresh variety of fish, shell food, crustaceans and the like, aside from vegetables, pork, beef and chicken. One lunchtime, Ambassador Francisco Benedicto entertained a small group of friends and it was truly fantastic.
Ambassador Frank himself had asked his guests to choose their preferred seafood from the spacious aquariums. There were shrimps galore, a giant crab, fish steamed with soy sauce, sea mantis deep-fried, and scallops on a bed of exotic vegetables.
It was fun listening to him remember how he started his diplomatic career, which spans some three decades or more. It all began when he was appointed honorary consul of Belgium in Cebu.
In the late 1980s, he began his career as the Philippines’ ambassador plenipotentiary and extraordinary to Singapore, Korea, Brazil, Canada, India and the People’s Republic of China. When he retired, he kept just as active with his family’s business in Cebu.
Salon Barcelona of the Casino Español de Cebu was the venue of a wine-pairing dinner to introduce the Australian wines with the Pirramimma label, in existence since 1892. Honey Loop had planned the event and chosen the menu.
For starters, passed around were trays of pâté on Melba toast, cheese rolled in ham, pepperoni over cucumber topped with black olives, roast pork loin in strips, salami on pesto, and the Casino’s special chicken galantine.
That certainly went well with the Pirramimma Chardonnay and Shiraz. Supervising the attentive service were Casino Español general manager May Ocaba, Doming Amisola and Bernardo Losada, the food/beverage consultant.
The wines were explained according to the dishes served, by Raymond Lim Joseph, director of sales and marketing at Philippine Wine Merchants, and by Mark Conroy, Australian vineyard owner and winemaker. His family came from England in the first part of the 18th century to settle in South Australia, whose capital is Adelaide.
The following evening Raymond Joseph and Mark Conroy were at the Acqua restaurant of the Shangri-La in Mactan for another wine pairing event. This was hosted by marketing communications manager Mildred Amon, assisted by Rochelle Tavino.
The whites went well with the Tuna Tartare, while the reds were perfect with the Peking duck on a wrapper, smothered with rich plum sauce. The evening’s favorite was the strong, powerful Pirramimma War Horse Shiraz 2010, ideal for those slabs of French cheese.
Mark Conroy himself filled the goblets of Mildred, Nestor Alonso, Mayen Tan and Joanna Cuenco. They wanted to know what does Pirramimma mean? Mark said that it is the Australian aborigine term for “the moon and the stars.” You can have them in a wine goblet.