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THE YEAR 2018 was an eventful one, no matter where you looked. This is no less true in the spirits world. Even as cannabis continued to boom as an intoxicant of choice and manufacturers pivot to weed beer, there have been innovations in almost every type of booze, from Japanese gin to bartender-made brandy to a Danish spirit from a team of Noma alums that defies categorization.
THERE have been just a handful of “cellar masters” who have created Remy Martin’s Louis XIII, the liquor Paul-Emile Remy Martin began to make in 1874, and which was named to honor French king. Cellar masters are tasked to choose the best eaux-de-vie, or “water of life,” the selection of blends from which to create a Louis XIII. To do this, they must sift through an extensive range of choices, sampling the various eaux-de-vie produced by winegrowers and distillers around Grande Champagne in Cognac each year, and setting aside those which they deem as having the best potential for aging.
LONDON — Fresh meat was selling like hot cakes at Smithfield Market’s Christmas Eve public auction on Monday, with auctioneers running up and down makeshift catwalks and handing over turkeys and huge cuts of beef and pork in return for 20-pound notes.
A FEW years ago, the Montreal restaurant Joe Beef made a version of KFC’s Double Down sandwich, using foie gras in place of the fried chicken breasts. This is what passes as a joke for chef-owners and contrarions David McMillan and Fred Morin. The dish became a media sensation, and they served 50 a night. They kept raising the price, eventually to C$55 ($41). People still bought it. “We had built the perfect lure to attract food writers,” says Mr. McMillan. He and Mr. Morin eventually grew tired of it, and took it off the menu.
MEMORIES OF Christmas past are indelibly stamped on the holiday menu of Guevarra’s, chef Rolando Laudico’s buffet restaurant.
SEVERAL French chefs have gone down in history as the best: there’s Escoffier, and then there’s Careme; and many others besides. But these men were the best for personifying the cooking styles of their day: the excesses of the Belle Epoque are firmly stamped with Escoffier’s name, while the French Empire lives on with Careme’s. Alain Ducasse, the French superstar chef who currently has the most Michelin stars (21 at our last count; Joel Robuchon had 31) for his restaurants, will go down in our age perhaps, for understanding the Zeitgeist that has gripped our world, from lifestyle to climate change.
EXCITEMENT filled the Enderun Tent as the live auction of the Harvest of Hope fundraising dinner began. The sale’s tempo started off at a stately pace, with auctioneers setting bid increments at P10,000. By the end of the run, guests were furiously bidding for “72 Hours in the World of Alain Ducasse,” with each paddle raise corresponding to a price increase of P100,000.
THE PROSECCO boom is real: Sales are projected to reach 412 million bottles annually by 2020, up from 150 million a decade ago.
SYNERGY means quite simply, the “creation of a whole, greater than the sum of its parts.” We witnessed synergy on Nov. 13 in The Peninsula’s Old Manila when two budding masters, Allan Briones and Jordy Navarra, joined forces for a memorable preview of a dinner called “A Fourtaste of Things to Come” set for Nov. 28.
LAST FRIDAY I was among the large contingent of oenophiles that trooped to the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Newport City amidst the usual insane pay-day weekend traffic mayhem, to take part in the Philippines’ only annual large-scale wine gathering, also popularly known as the Grand Wine Experience. It is by far the country’s most prestigious annual wine event, and already ranks as one of Asia’s most important wine spectacles as well.
IT TOOK a while for a franchiser’s ambition to bring Rico’s Lechon, the popular lechon (roast pig) brand of Cebu to Manila.
JUST ABOUT every Filipino is introduced to Rebisco products at a young age — from finding the snacks in their school lunch bag to receiving a can of assorted biscuits from relatives during special occasions. This year, the company marks its 55th year with the launch of special edition designer biscuit tins.
WHILE GrabFood, transport services app Grab’s food delivery system, has been operational for quite a while now — it has been in place since June in select cities, expanded operations in July to cover all of Metro Manila, and in October began beta testing in Cebu and Mandaue — it was launched officially on Nov. 10 in an event called Crave City. Crave City is open to the public until Nov. 10, with customers able to order food via the app (provided onsite) from establishments Mom & Tina’s, El Chupacabra, Señor Pollo, Bawai’s Vietnamese Kitchen, Charlie’s Grind and Grill, Gong Cha, Ersao, Aysee, Sunrise Buckets, Manila Creamery, and Stockpile, which have stalls in BGC’s Globe Amphitheatre.
SORRY, but your industrial-inspired restaurants will have to take a backseat this Christmas. BusinessWorld just had a preview of Christmas dinner at Discovery Suites’ Hangar 43, and let me tell you, dining with a view filled with real cranes and cables, and actual buildings and city lights, concrete and exposed pipes won’t look the same anymore.
LAST WEEK, Michelin released the 14th edition of its Bib Gourmand list for New York — also known as the acclaimed guide’s “cheap eats” list. The five boroughs scored 129 restaurants, including 27 new spots. That compares with last year’s 127 Bib Gourmands and only 14 new spots, which means a lot of places were taken off the list because they either closed, weren’t worthy, or moved up to Michelin-star status.
FOR its 16th year, the Doreen Gamboa Fernandez (DGF) Food Writing Awards tackled bagoong, the smelly, salty, fermented fish paste that is a staple on Filipino tables, achieving such a status that Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero, defended it.
In 2017, Hard Rock Café Makati City closed its doors, ending a more than 20 year run of good food and good music, but Hard Rock Café isn’t gone forever as barely a year after its disappearance, the international restaurant-bar chain has announced a comeback in Manila, with a plan to open in Conrad Hotel’s S’Maison in December.
MAX’S GROUP Inc., opens its 196th location with a new concept that targets a market not “typical of a Max’s restaurant,” by combining the casual dining experience with a family restaurant concept the group is known for, according to a company executive.
PAN DE SAL is a staple on Filipino breakfast tables. With the onslaught of rising prices though, families have had to scrimp and save. Mondelez International’s Eden, a processed cheese food, kicked off its #GiveGoodness campaign on World Pan de Sal Day (the country’s counterpart to World Bread Day, which fell on Oct. 16). The campaign’s launch took place at Quezon City’s Kamuning Bakery Café which participated in giving away Eden goodie bags to guests and the local community together with 50,000 pieces of pan de sal. Some of the campaign’s beneficiaries include Metro Manila’s urban poor families, Quezon City residents, public school teachers and students, among others.
THROUGHOUT the month of October, a number of companies are holding special events and promos to improve awareness of breast cancer, and in many cases to raise money for research, awareness, and treatment centers.
WHEN A private Asian collector bid an eye-popping $558,000 for a single bottle of 1945 Romanée-Conti at Sotheby’s sale this past Saturday in New York, a world record was smashed. This was not just the highest price ever reached for a 750 ml bottle of Burgundy, but also the highest for any bottle of wine ever at auction.
IF YOU want to save the planet, put down your burger. Or rather, finish it, savoring every single bite, and mentally prepare yourself not to have another until at least next week.