Food and exercise. We must be passionate about one in order to enjoy the other. In my case, I hang out with both foodies and triathletes in order to experience the best of both worlds.
Restaurateur Malu Gamboa belongs to the first group. On our European holiday, she introduced us to the gastronomic delights of Stockholm and Copenhagen.
In Sweden, we met up with Pinoy friends like Pearl Jacob Mannerfeld, Jenny Syquia-Skarne and Budoy Sanchez. They have set down roots there so we were glad to get shopping tips and resto recos from them.
Pearl and Malu are Assumption high school classmates and will be celebrating their Velada this year. Being foodies, they suggested we experience the Swedish Smorgasbord at Stockholm’s landmark, the Grand Hotel.
Coming from the extreme cold weather of St. Petersburg, we welcomed the walk to the restaurant from Berns Hotel. The group of Bench guru Ben Chan and Globe’s Dong Ronquillo joined the buffet dinner of smoked herring, salmon and, of course, Swedish meatballs.
Stockholm food was just okay for me, the highlights of the city being Vasa Museum and the H&M stores. Copenhagen, though, was another matter.
For months, Malu had been trying to book dinner at Noma, No. 1 on The S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants Guide 2011. Our reservation was confirmed only a week before we left. Chef René Redzepi did not disappoint. The avowedly Nordic restaurant deserves its accolades, including a two-star standing in the Michelin Guide.
The cuisine of Noma is a culinary phenomenon. Experiencing molecular gastronomy for the first time was orgasmic. It focuses on superior ingredients that are natural and generally fiercely local and seasonal.
The most intriguing dish was a potted radish that came in a terra-cotta garden pot filled with dark soil from which sprouted large, vibrant leaves. And yes, everything was edible! The “mud” was made from crunchy malt, beer and hazelnut crumble, with sheep yoghurt. Rajo Laurel’s blog at Stylebible.ph has great pics, as does the blog of Food Snob.
Next up was a 10-course meal at Restaurant Geranium. One of its chefs, Rasmus Kofoed, won gold at Bocuse d’Or 2011. The dining room is absolutely stylish, cool and beautiful, with dark colors, anthracite marble, ceramics, silver and steel. The very elegant lounge has a slick fireplace, and the main dining area features a semi-open kitchen separated from the dining room by a glass wall.
I personally enjoyed the vegetarian dishes that were more complex and refined. The style and presentation are just out of this world. It was true perfection. Perhaps except for the fact that they don’t serve Coca-Cola.
Just before dessert, we were invited to the dynamic kitchen and met the master chef himself. Malu was in foodie heaven.
Manila’s foodie scene is not far from Copenhagen. For example, recently the Crystal Room at The Establishment has been feting diners to the specialties of guest chef Hylton Le Roux. An intimate lunch with select foodies and journalists was held to introduce the charismatic South African chef, who is in town until July 16. The Establishment’s general manager Dennis Riego made sure the lunch went flawlessly.
Kicking off the palate-pleasing affair was a delectable appetizer of goat cheese and truffle mousse with tomato jam and aged balsamic. This was followed by delicious, warm salad of sweet potato gnocchi and pesto oil, then roast butternut soup with asparagus spears and truffle oil.
The pièce de résistance was seared US Angus beef tenderloin with French-beans puree or an olive oil-poached salmon with sautéed potato puree. For a sweet ending, Chef Hylton created a sinfully delicious crème brûlée with pistachio and almond biscotti. His culinary background, including stints at The Savoy Grill in London and as chef de partie under Heston Blumenthal at the three-Michelin-star The Fat Duck Restaurant, was in full display.
The Establishment has also been upping its entertainment menu. Acoustic Wednesday Nights are headlined by pop icon Joey Generoso and bossa-nova queen Sitti. Joey, of course, was lead vocalist for Side A, and it is a revelation to see him “unplugged.” Check out www.establishment.com.ph or call 8449390 for details.
Lose Big Diet
This column is about food and exercise, but like we all do, I’m delaying that last bit. In fact, sometimes the best way to defer exercise is through dieting.
The Sexy Chef just launched its Lose Big Diet, used by the contestants of the “Biggest Loser Pinoy Edition.” Devised by fitness nutritionist and the show’s weight-loss specialist Nadine Tengco, the diet features original recipes she developed together with The Sexy Chef’s Barni Alejandro, all designed to help one lose fat quickly yet safely.
The Sexy Chef also has other diets for special conditions and a Healthy Meal Delivery Service. Actress Aiko Melendez is currently taking the Sugar Buster Diet and has lost 15 pounds. The Sexy Chef (www.thesexychef.ph) is operated by OBC 5Star, a family owned corporation headed by mom-entrepreneur Myna de Mauro. E-mail [email protected] or call 7217399 for details.
Most of this column has been about food, so now it’s finally time to work out. Burning calories has never been easier than doing so at the premier fitness specialty destination, Wellness Concepts.
At the launch of its new branch at Power Plant Mall in Rockwell, I was introduced to the Power Plate, an innovatively designed fitness machine that gives accelerated results in shortened training periods. Power Plate manager Erica Minter showed me how easy it is to use the machine, even when wearing a dress matched with Glagla shoes.
US-certified fitness coach Chappy Calanta and fitness buff Reema Chanco were introduced as the new brand ambassadors for Wellness Concepts. Kenneth Ti, managing director of Sportfit, and Rizza Duque welcomed them both. Between Chappy and Reema’s fitness programs, I’m sure even the most avid foodie can keep in shape!
Follow Tessa on Twitter @tessavaldes or e-mail her at [email protected]