Food – thy many “names” could be temptation… and nothing more?

5 12 2008

FROM ‘HELLO world!’, my very first post, I said I didn’t have high hopes for this blog.  I guess that was trying to say two things – one, that my posts would be intermittent; and two, that my posts wouldn’t all be bright and sunny.  You see, appreciation of food – or ‘appreciation’ of anything for that matter – is very subjective.  I like what I like.  I hate what I hate.  And if I’d trust what my friends have been telling me all this time, my ultimate downfall could be the fact that I “cannot delay my emotions.”


Hence this post.  Though I guess this one has been a bit delayed.



I went to our company Christmas party last November 28, 2008 at the Hotel InterContinental Manila in Makati City – with mixed feelings.  For one, I’ve been kinda missing a lot of people lately and I felt I might just get sad, quite ironically in a party.  For another, I felt a little hint of excitement to show up because it would be the first time I’d get to spend with our 15 newly hired engineers, outside work, in a more laid-back setting.  Those reasons and the fact that this hotel has sentimental value to me.  It was there, in its grand ballroom, that I hosted one of my best friends’ wedding reception – my very first one.


As you must have guessed, I emceed a segment of the party program.  And as it is usually the case with emceeing, I sort of lost my appetite that night.  The moment I had decided I’d finally go to the party, I had actually devised a plan to really spend time to delight in the dishes and document my reactions and views about them.  And of course, post them on my blog.  So that night at the InterContinental was a bit of a struggle.


Having said that, I still managed to grab bites of some of the dishes.  And my takes on them were varied – running the whole gamut of utter disappointment to almost-orgasm.  While delighting on really good food, I’ve been known to let out muffled “Mmmm…’s” with eyes closed.


The buffet menu was impressive.  And the names of the dishes – running the risk of being standard, run-of-the-mill menu entries – were really salivating.  Imagination was almost enough to fill me up.


Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup with Paprika Croutons; Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Sauce Grand Veneer; Roasted Glazed Honey Pork Loin with Honey Mustard Sauce and Baby Onions; Chicken Cordon Bleu; Lapu-Lapu (Grouper) Fillet with Grilled Tomatoes, Orange Cilantro Sauce and Leek Compote; Gratin Potatoes with Garlic Cream Cheese Crust; Sauteed Baguio Beans (Haricot Verts) and Carrots with Garden Rosemary.  There was a lavish dessert spread!  Unfortunately, I had to give up an arm and a leg to get a decent portion.  The line was so long it extended to the MRT station on the corner of Ayala Avenue and EDSA!  My humble dessert plate settled for the crumbs.



On the plus side, I loved the cream of wild mushroom soup sans the paprika croutons.  It was nowhere near ‘Myron’s Place’s’ mushroom cappuccino.  However, it was faithful to its name as the specks and chunks of wild mushrooms gave it all the right to lay claim to its name.  The flavor was robust, and the saltiness was almost reduced to a faint hint at the background.  There’s no denying I liked it a lot – but my new friend and one of our new engineers, Stave Michael, disagrees (again, food appreciation is subjective!).  The gratin potatoes with garlic cream cheese crust was a lovely treat for me!  The creaminess of the sauce and the top that was baked to a nice golden brown gave the almost-thinly-sliced potatoes texture and flavor.  The garlic had a mild bite!  ‘Mild’… but a bite just the same.  Of all that I managed to pile on my plate, it was the green beans (haricot verts) that I loved the most!  They were cooked to perfection – in color and in texture.  Each bean had a bright green that comforted my eyes and a ‘give’ to it when I bit.  It was a pleasure to snap them in between my teeth.  As I chew, their fleshy parts would literally burst with the freshness of an herb garden – their natural juices marrying beautifully with the warmth of the extra virgin olive oil and the herbs.  The dish was sauteed with rosemary, it’s right there on its name.  But rather than being woodsy, the dish was more like ‘minty’ to me.  I really loved it.  As with the soup, it felt like the bean dish was cooked with the salt and pepper kept at bay.  And for them, it worked.


Which is something I couldn’t say for the other dishes.  The roasted beef was uninspired.  The taste I meant.  But the doneness was almost perfect – medium-well on the outside, with a pink center.  It was fork tender but it seriously lacked flavor.  But I guess a purist would love it.  And don’t get me started on the pork loin, Miss Piggy would be ashamed to be associated with a piece of meat that was so dry.


But not all was lost.  No.  And I saved this last paragraph for the most memorable dish I had there.  It was the welcome salad but I was rushing to our program coordinator when I arrived (I was just in time!) that I had the ‘welcome’ salad towards middle of the evening.  I didn’t get how it was officially called but from what they handed me, it could very well be a salad of mixed delicate greens, on a bed of laid-flat ‘Lolo Roso’, with potatoes, julienned salami, and bacon bits in classic vinaigrette, prettily topped with a fanned sprig of dill.  It was delish!  It was that good that I forgot for a moment that I have to use proper English.  It was delicious!


I’d never go to the potato salad station – at parties, at home – at fastfoods.  But this one at the Hotel InterContinental Manila has changed my mind.  I guess that last line makes up for the not-so-nice things I said above.  Hahaha!


Saving Grace - the potato salad I ended up loving. The prettily fanned dill sprig on top was the first one I gobbled. This was love at first bite! (I'm not about to review 'Twilight'). Hoo hoo!




2 responses

9 12 2008

i really am sure that the taste of that soup is quite ghastly. if i remember it quite well, i just had 5 sips on that soup and the story ends there.. (sigh)


11 12 2008

Hi Steven – I admire your candid comment on how you found the soup. This is just very much in keeping with my own belief that food appreciation is very personal and consequently, subjective. But I did like the soup. It was for me one of a couple of items that were Hotel Inter-Continental Manila’s saving grace that night.

I think the ‘butter’ in the soup turned you off. In my case, I managed to get past that and sought the woodsiness’ of the wild mushrooms.


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