Arquiza: An education, and a night with the Baron

Jigs Arquiza

Eat's my life

A FEW weeks ago, I was invited to have a special “degustation” dinner at Acqua at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa. The menu was prepared by Shangri-La’s Chef Joris and the delicious Baron Philippe de Rothschild wines were brought in by Titania Wine Cellar, which complemented the food perfectly (or is it vice versa?).

Baron Philippe was a pioneer in the wine industry. He was the first vineyard owner to bottle his wine on his own. Before this, the winemakers sold barrels of wine to the merchants, leaving them to package the wine in whatever way they wanted. The Baron’s decision came about through his desire to maintain the quality of his product and market the Rothschild name as a producer of fine wines. Today, the Rothschild name is a respected label in the wine industry, producing some of the world’s best wines.

Going back to the degustation, me and my colleagues Dr. Nestor Alonzo, Don Jaime Picornell, Ms. Mayen Tan, Jude Bacalso and Miss Pia Echeverria started out with canapés. The favorite that night was the smoked kingfish with wasabi cream, with the pepper-crusted tuna loin a close second. It was paired with a sparkling Pol Clement Brut, which everyone enjoyed. It’s more or less champagne, but since real Champagne is produced only in the Champagne region of France, the producers couldn’t call it as such. Nevertheless, it’s a nice wine to start a meal with, very bubbly and sweet.

After the canapés, and when most of the guests had arrived, we proceeded to our table.

We were served a Ballotine of poultry, which is very similar to a chicken galantina.

It’s a deboned piece of poultry, and it came with a coulis, or sauce, mad from red peppers. A crisp and very fruity Cadet Sauvignon Blanc was the wine for that course, and everyone at our table agreed it went with the poultry very well.

I preferred the second wine served at our table, a Cadet Chardonnay, another white wine. I found this very refreshing, especially with the Sea Bream fillet on spinach pasta.

Upon finishing my fish course, we were presented with a cup of a very tart Lemon sherbet. This course, if it can be called as such, serves to cleanse your palate of the previous dishes’ tastes, and prepares you for the next course.

My ultimate favorite that night was definitely the Filet Mignon, served with of course, mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were so good that I had to ask Chef Joris for another helping. A Carabas Rouge, a red wine, was poured for this. This wine appealed to me the most, as I found it very smooth, and as it turned out, my favorite wine for the night. Dessert was orange ice cream with a hazelnut meringue. A Mouton Cadet Rosé, a “pink” wine, was served with this, and though you may find it peculiar to drink wine with ice cream and cake, the rosé actually intensifies the flavors of both the ice cream and cake, giving you a perfect cap to your meal.

With the wine culture in the Philippines growing steadily, more and more Pinoys are slowly beginning to appreciate wines and their subtleties and complexities. While I may not have the knowledge of Ms. Mayen Tan or Dr. Alonzo when it comes to wines, I’m slowly becoming familiar with the product of the grape. And with dinners like this at the Shangri-La, it becomes fairly easy to broaden my wine education. Add to that mix the Baron Philippe’s wines, then learning becomes so much fun.

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