Spanish meals worth the drive to Tagaytay | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Lobster with seafood “sopa” and side salad

Beware: Anya Resort Tagaytay is a trap.

Once inside, they’ll make it hard for you to even consider leaving the premises. And the problem is, it’s so easy to take the bait—from the lush green compound and inviting adult-sized heated pool to the state-of-the-art spa treatments and beds that come with pillows of your choice.

Chele’s namesake restaurant in Tagaytay is tucked inside Anya Resort

The food is no different. Chefs Chris Leaning and Chele Gonzalez have hand-picked dishes from the menu at Samira, the resort’s in-house Spanish restaurant, and composed a progressive set that will save you the hassle of choosing from the challenging lineup. In other words, they’ve done the work for you and all you have to do is sit back, relax, and, well, eat.

Grill experience

Teasing my appetite was a trio of savory starters: a one-bite delight in the form of foie gras mousse on a small piece of mango waffle; a pintxo composed of fried quail egg, chorizo and caramelized onions on toast; and creamy croquette with jamon.

Grilled octopus on paprika Parmentier

Then came an organic lettuce salad dressed with a sweet-sour vinaigrette and an ensemble of elements that complement this profile: Tagaytay cherry tomatoes and goat cheese from Beata Farms as well as candied cashews. Next was a char-grilled octopus and a Spanish tiger prawn that had been deveined, butterflied and grilled with salt and brandy. A dollop of homemade garlic aioli and lemon slices made for the perfect accompaniments.

Perhaps the piece de resistance was the churrasco. Guests get the option to choose between paella Valencia topped with grilled chicken, char-grilled mahimahi with confit potatoes, grilled beef skirt cooked Argentinian-style with chimichurri, or my personal pick, the Maine lobster.

Lobster with seafood “sopa” and side salad

It was blanched, stuffed with garlic and parsley, then gratinated and grilled. It came with lobster rice, which is a red-hued seafood sopa, intensified in flavor by sofrito and shrimp bisque.

Capping off the meal was a refreshing scoop of cream cheese ice cream dressed with whipped cream, mint leaves, lime meringue and fresh strawberries. The forest berry coulis on the base added enough tartness to cut the collective sweetness of the dessert.

Six-course menu

Beef tartare and egg emulsion on brioche toast

Dinner was kicked off with four bites, each of which amazed in taste and texture—a juicy piece of Gallagher oyster was decorated with compressed pears, complementing the brininess with pops of sweetness; a soft wedge of brioche came crowned with beef tartare, egg emulsion and ikura; a two-biter soft taco shell was accompanied by shredded bulalo beef shank, corn puree, cilantro and jalapeño; and my favorite of the lot, black squid arancini, was topped with a Parmesan mousse that delicately enrobed the appetizer as it melted in its residual heat.

Gallagher oyster with compressed pears

The second course doubled as entertainment, with the server tossing the ingredients together and plating them table side. A mound of chopped Tasmanian ocean trout and apples was studded with sliced red radish and fried capers then seasoned with dill oil. It was served with tapioca crackers to cradle the fish, which was surprisingly light and delicate in taste given the components it was paired with.

Tasmanian ocean trout tartare

The succeeding number had a nugget of cuts-like-butter charred grilled octopus, lying on a bed of paprika Parmentier speckled with black ink bread crumbs, as well as a wedge of perfectly cooked pan-seared dorado, sitting next to pea puree and mint, plus romaine lettuce that had been kissed by the grill then topped with sun-kissed tomato and hazelnut salsa.My standout favorite would have to be the seared secreto Iberico, which came in thin, tender slices, fanned over flavorful mushroom rice finished with Parmesan cheese, butter and truffle oil and accompanied by asparagus spears. It ate like a very refined steak rice that didn’t require a lot of components to leave an impression.

The Angus beef tenderloin was akin to a dish served in Gallery. And though the grilled meat had no faults, it was the roasted confit potato draped with burnt eggplant puree that amazed me in terms of flavor and form.

For dessert, I had the same strawberry number served in my previous meal, which I didn’t mind at all since it was delectable.

Guests have the option to pair their meals with selected wines, which I did and was very happy with, given that each was delicious, and could be drunk on their own.

Weekend or not, reward yourself with a trip to Anya and celebrate their sixth anniversary by indulging in these Spanish sets. INQ

Anya Resort is at Buenavista Hills Road, Barangay Tolentino West, Tagaytay. Call tel. 86571640;

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