Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bordeaux wine for dinner and a countess for a mother

I ended work today in the offices of the Travelife TV team looking at the first edits of the Travelife TV show's initial episode. The guys were quite pleased with the results and they made a big fuss about my viewing these for the first time. "Shouldn't we show it to her on a large screen?" Someone asked, while another teased: "Maybe we should preview this in Rockwell?" So, of course, I chimed in as well: "Doesn't Greenbelt have a private theater you can rent? Why don't we watch it there?"

The images I saw on the screen were wonderful, and the cinematography certainly is world-class. I'm very excited to see this show air on television in a couple of months.


Afterwards I went across town to the Sofitel to join in the National Day celebrations of South Africa. It was quite a big affair with many ambassadors and VIPs in attendance, and the South African nationals were all in colorful national dress. I bumped into many people including Architect Jun Palafox, president of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), and we talked about the guesting of Vice President Jejomar Binay at the MAP luncheon meeting yesterday. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the meeting yesterday. MAP is certainly doing very well under Architect Palafox in terms of activities, finances and membership.

"We have 180 people waiting to become MAP members," Architect Palafox told me. "But so far we've only inducted about 24 members because there's a screening process for membership." I promised to become more active in a MAP committee -- perhaps the committee for tourism -- very soon.


I slipped out quietly, however, to make my way back to my part of town in time for the dinner of the Commanderie de Bordeaux in honor of Mr. and Mrs Olivier Bernard, owners of the Domaine de Chevalier winery in Bordeaux. Gaita Fores created the delicious dinner and it was held at White Space, amidst beautiful modern paintings.

I arrived just after cocktails had ended and everyone was getting ready to sit down to dinner. When I walked in, I was greeted by the quite amazing sight of two very long tables that were beautifully arranged, with artworks and very tall candleholders. It was really quite a spectacle to see, both intimate and grand. Seating had been pre-arranged by the Commanderie and so it was just a matter of finding one's place card.

I saw Edouard Mialhe standing somewhere near and he showed me my seat, saying: "I've seated you in between two gentlemen, who I hope will take very good care of you." Well, on my right was an old friend; and on my left was a very interesting Frenchman who I met for the first time, and who I'll call G. It was very enjoyable to spend most of the evening talking to G as he'd been to so many off-the-beaten track places in the world and had some pretty amazing stories of sleeping on a train for 48 hours and staying at a policeman's house near the Chinese border. Yes, I am now trying to get him to write for Travelife, and he's thinking about it as he's never written an article in his life.


G and I talked a lot about France. He's a born and bred Parisian with definite views on everything, and I know quite a bit about French society and systems since I'd once seriously considered living in France.

"France is nice to visit, but it's not so great to live in if you're ambitious and talented," he said. "And money and success are still taboo subjects. I guess it's part of the revolutionary spirit in the French that dates back to the 18th century."

I completely agreed. I was always uncomfortable with the socialist aspect of French society. Plus, their tax system is pretty heavy on certain groups of people. "Yes, everyone seems to lean so heavily towards socialism," I said. "I wonder what has happened to all the royalists?"

Then he leaned towards me as if he was going to share a delicious secret -- and actually he was. "I'm actually a royalist," he said. We'd drank quite a bit of wine by then so I thought he was joking. I looked at him and asked, genuinely surprised and curious: "Why are you a royalist?"

He shrugged as if it wasn't so important to him. But it turns out he was serious. He said: "I've got blue blood in me. My mother's a countess."


Our conversation on things French continued throughout the evening, but by dessert, he was talking a little bit more about his life philosophy. "I'm for working hard and playing hard," he said. "People should make sure to enjoy their life, but without giving up the quality of their work."

I thought about my endless days of travel, work, luxury resorts, cocktail parties and fancy dinners. It certainly was a busy and stressful but happy and extremely eventful life. Perhaps almost as eventful as the life of a guy who's mother is a countess and who motorbiked across Vietnam to the Chinese border and ended up sleeping in a policeman's house. Then I reached for one of my glasses of wine -- a Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 2000 -- and clicked it against his, and said: "Amen to that."

Commanderie de Bordeaux dinner
Domaine de Chevalier

Chilled Negros crab with Sagada oranges and orange salt
Iloilo scallops with carabao butter
Fennel confit
served with
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc 2007
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 2007

Homemade fettucine
with foie gras, rose pepper and santol glaze
served with
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 2006
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 2005

Scallopine di vittelo "La Foresta"
with melange of mushroom, winged beans and corn
served with
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 2000
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 1990

Chinese pear and jackfruit strudel
Majayjay vanilla bean bath
Bulacan pastillas de leche gelato
served with
Chateau Guiraud 2000

Travelife's Special Summer Issue
with Angel Aquino in Boracay
Angel Aquino in Bora
for Travelife Magazine's April-May 2011 issue


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