Bon Appetit!
Dr. Nestor Alonso II (The Freeman) - July 13, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — A wine company called Wine Warehouse Corporation, owned by the Tolhurst family, has been in the wine business for the last 90 years. The corporation itself was established by Brett Tolhurst in 2000, and it has since become the largest wine importer and distributor in the Philippines with over 700 clients among the country’s leading hotels, restaurants, resorts and supermarkets. Its retail operation is handled by Wine Depot, which has established the Barrel Room where wine enthusiasts can buy a bottle of wine and select food items to pair with their purchase.

Wine Warehouse sales manager Malou Tundag invited a select group of journalists for a pairing of food and wine called “Bon Appetit!” at the Blu Bar and Grill, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. The company has more than 400 wine brands in their list and I quickly calculated that if I’d drink one brand of wine each day, it will take me more than a year to taste all.

On this food-and-wine pairing at the Blu Bar and Grill, dinner began with Scallop and Prawn Cocktail made with Avocado symphony of Tomatoes, Endive leaves with an American cocktail sauce, and paired with Pikes Hills & Valleys Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia. It has been years since I have seen this cocktail served, though it was common in the late ‘80s. I do not remember if endive leaves were included because of its slight bitter taste. As complement, the cocktail sauce is made with ketchup or chili sauce with additives like lemon juice, Tabasco sauce and horseradish. The shrimp and scallop paired with the Riesling was quite tasty.

The second course was the Triple Wild Mushroom Soup, a ragout of mushrooms and flavored with Truffle cream. It was paired with the Gerard Bertrand Reserve Speciale Chardonnay from France. The basic preparation of the ragout is simmering over low heat until it is thickened and well-seasoned. The truffle adds its earthly taste, perfectly matched by the vanilla and citrus flavors of Chardonnay.

Palate cleanser was the Lime and Lemongrass Granita, which was a bit on the sweet side. Granita has a texture coarser than a Sorbet, while Ice Cream is creamier. This was followed by the Pan-fried Sea Bass with trimmings of glazed baby carrots, asparagus, mashed potato and mustard butter. This was paired with the Columbia Crest H3 Sauvignon Blanc, Horse Heaven Hills, U.S.A.

The main dish was the Roasted Rib Eye Steak with Red Wine Jus paired with a red wine, Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Cabernet Sauvignon, Clare Valley, Australia. It was served using the Gueridon Service. The food is cooked or presented to the guest at a table using a moveable trolley that was quite common in the ‘80s. Chinese restaurants serving dim sum adopted this type of service. Lately, the better Dim Sum houses no longer use it since the dishes are cooked only when the customer orders the dishes. The novelty of Gueridon Service also lost its appeal over a period of time.

My steak portion was cooked medium rare and it was perfectly matched with the full-bodied red wine with its big bold taste of dark fruits.

Dessert was Valrohna Chocolate Tart made with Armagnac ice cream, candied hazelnut and fresh berries served with freshly brewed coffee. Thanks to Wine Warehouse, I have only 396 brands, excuse me, to taste from their wine list of 400 labels!

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