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Newsmakers

Kulinarya dinner at Vask

THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee - The Philippine Star

Chef Chele Gonzalez of Gallery Vask invited me to a dinner I could not resist. He and his friend Julieta Caruso, who is the former head chef of one of the world’s best Spanish restaurants called Mugaritz, traveled all over the Philippines for over a month to source and experiment with local flavors. I could not have a more imaginative menu coming from two Spanish chefs and this was exactly what I got in the special “Kulinarya” dinner at Vask in Taguig City. 

The multi-course dinner started with crispy Shrimp Balls and “Balot” (which means wrapped), a quail egg yolk wrapped in rice paper with balut juice served with adobo sauce. These were followed by “Lutong Bahay” talong, which is eggplant cooked three ways: fried eggplant with betel nut leaves; eggplant with homemade ricotta consisting of kesong puti (white cheese) and lime; and pickled eggplant with onions. These treats were enough to whet my appetite for the next course.

Served next was “Imbao, consisting of clams, pickled vegetables, cashews and herbs. This dish was juicy and popped in the mouth. Imbao is a type of clam mostly found in Visayas and Mindanao. Gotukola leaves, which are apparently found in the Philippines (it was the first time I tried it), resembled tiny water lily leaves and complemented the juicy clams.

Other dishes served were “Tabon-tabon” (uni or sea urchin and tocino in a coconut and kalamansi soup),  “Binulo” (kalibangbang leaves and cochinillo or roast suckling pig) served with sinigang soup and organic brown rice, “Mais” (corn juice served with egg and crab meat with coriander root) and “Malunggay” (maya-maya stew, spring onions and vegetable soup).

My favorite dish had to be the “Steak.” It is tuna accompanied by talinum, kangkong and native basil. The “steak” tasted and felt like a real piece of meat. It was so good! But we were not short in meat as served next was “Bukidnon,” which consisted of local Wagyu (Kitayama), mustasa and chicharo seeds.

After the filling feast of mouthwatering dishes, we were treated to superb desserts! “Cassava” (coconut, carabao milk, dayap or lime), which had the carabao milk flake served two ways: one torched and the other with lime rind, served with coconut ice cream; “Tablea” (mint and eucalyptus served with wild strawberry stuffed with mango mousse and millet); and “Arabica Kape” (smooth coconut cream, creamy coffee custard and crunchy coffee balls).

The finale came with different regional Filipino desserts served in a mini-sungka filled with native desserts. (Sungka is a Filipino game played in a solid wooden block with 16 holes.)

Hats off to Chele and Julieta for making these excellent dishes using only Filipino ingredients! The great thing about the dinner was all flavors we Filipinos are used to, such as gata (coconut milk) or sinigang (sour soup), were used in creating modern and extremely delicious dishes.

The two chefs presented a menu using local ingredients and Chele said Vask is now committed to sourcing and promoting local ingredients. Too bad that Kulinarya festival was only for a limited time.  Chele plans to bring in more chefs to collaborate with him at Vask. We look forward to more of those dinners!

(Vask is located on the 5th floor of Clipp Center, 11th Ave. corner 39th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For inquiries and reservations, call 0915-5077047, 0908-1912702, 217-6563 or e-mail [email protected])

Fit for kings

Cognac enthusiasts were feted to a dinner by Louis XIII Grande Champagne Cognac, the exclusive premium brand from the House of Remy Martin, at Genting Club at the Resorts World Manila.

Guests were treated to cocktails and an enjoyable cognac-blending session where they tried their hands at mixing several eaux-de-vie (literally “water of life”) of varying ages to approximate Remy Martin’s benchmark cognac blend. During dinner, guests did not only enjoy fine food but were also entertained by musical numbers and acrobatic performances from Russian performing artists.

The pièce de résistance and the evening’s most anticipated drink was a special sampling of Louis XIII Grande Champagne Cognac. The ceremonial opening of the bottle was done by  Remy Cointreau International’s Louis XIII regional director Christophe Bourrie, who proffered interesting anecdotes and special pointers on how to best appreciate this rare luxury cognac. Bourrie was joined by Resorts World Manila executive vice president Steven Riley.

Other guests included Ricky Andres, Raymond Rufino, Future Trade International’s Noel Sebastian, David Pardo de Ayala, Ale Cruz, Dr. Joaquin Rosero, Ian Arceo and Michael Ong.

Remy Cointreau International Asia commercial manager Joey Pineda enthused how “everyone enjoyed the evening…from the cognac-blending session to the dinner party, the entertainment, everything was top-notch. (It was) a perfect evening to match the ultra-premium brand that is Louis XIII.”

A rare luxury spirit, Louis XIII is widely considered as the “King of Cognacs,” having been specially blended from 1,200 eaux-de-vie. It is further aged in oak barrels that are several hundred years old. Louis XIII is placed in special crystal decanters exclusively handcrafted by Baccarat with gold foil cork top and crystal stopper and encased in a bespoke presentation box.

Remy Martin is the “Heart of Cognac.” It represents almost 300 years of French wine-growing and cognac-making know-how with its eaux-de-vie exclusively coming from the region of Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne resulting in a cognac of unique aromatic intensity and full, rounded flavors.

A magnificent September auction

This year’s Leon Gallery September auction reveals a surprisingly broad range of artworks and antiques. After its record-setting June 2014 sales, the gallery’s momentum cannot be stopped. 

The spotlight is on National Artist Benedicto Cabrera’s Sabel in San Andres Bukid from his very first one-man show in 1966 at Gallery Indigo. It is a work that evokes nostalgia to the artist and it is important because in it we see the beginnings of BenCab’s muse — Sabel.

It is observed that the traditional discerning buyers are tough and focused these days. Bidding is also brisk and decisive among the young collectors and buyers know exactly how far they are prepared to go. Ronald Ventura’s large and magisterial A Crack in the Hull from 2001 will be an obvious target of seasoned and new collectors.

Works by Manuel Ocampo, Geraldine Javier, Rodel Tapaya and Jose John Santos III are also offered.

The period splendor of pre-20th century and pre-war furniture is more attractive than ever: the Paras-Lazatin cabinet, a balayong and narra masterpiece that is perhaps the only one of its kind in the country; a kamagong chest of drawers and bookcase from the second quarter of the 19th century will also be on the auction block.

A rare work of 1920s Filipino Irish painter Gaston O’Farrell and a beautifully carved all-ivory San Francisco de Asis even made more unusual by its slate base enriched with fanciful details from the  late 18th century are also up for auction.

(Preview will be until this Friday, Sept. 12, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Auction will be on Saturday, Sept. 13, at 2 p.m. Visit www.leon-gallery.com for the catalogue access.)

Putting a premium on personal economy

As a part of its global campaign, HSBC conducted successful back-to-back events that talked about personal economy.

At the Writer’s Bar of the Raffles Hotel in Makati City, a Personal Economy forum for the business and lifestyle media was held over high tea. Introducing a new format, HSBC put together an exciting line up of panelists that consisted of Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Maiki Oreta, Kenneth Cobonpue, Anthony Pangilinan, Reg Yuson and Rajo Laurel.

Moderated by David Celdran, the afternoon was filled with engaging conversations as panelists shared about their personal economies — the things that they value most such as family, career, home, passion and legacy. Everybody learned that personal economy is not just about how much money is made from what one does best, but also how one puts priority and value to it to achieve goals in life.

The media guests listened with interest to the panelists who discussed their complex and unique personal economies. Guests also enjoyed a sumptuous selection of finger sandwiches, scones and a three-tier stand filled with eclairs, macarons, mini-cakes and homemade chocolate that perfectly matched the broad selection of tea and coffee.

Later that day, the HSBC Premier customers gathered together at neighboring Fairmont Hotel ballroom for an Economic Briefing conducted by HSBC economist Trinh Nguyen. The bank’s clients were treated to heavy cocktails and drinks while they got updated with the latest outlook from the different markets in the world.

Among the bank executives present were president and CEO Wick Veloso, retail bank and wealth management head Gigi Pio De Roda, HSBC Savings Bank president Rene Aguirre and head of branch network Agnes Sauler. Also gracing the events were vice president for customer proposition Mina Ortigas, vice president for acquisition and engagement Marsha Guzman, head of marketing Patrick Carlos, vice president for media relations Jessica Blas and AVP for communications Liv Flores.

 (Follow me on Instagram @pepperteehankee.)

 Photos by Pepper Teehankee on a Samsung Galaxy S5

 

A CRACK

AGNES SAULER

COGNAC

GRANDE CHAMPAGNE COGNAC

REMY MARTIN

RESORTS WORLD MANILA

SERVED

VASK

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