Thursday, March 22, 2012

40th anniversary dinner of Chaine des Rotisseurs

Last Saturday, after an all-day white elephant sale, I quickly donned a long gown and headed over to Sofitel to attend the 40th anniversary dinner of the Chaine des Rotisseurs. What should have been a 20-minute ride from Makati to Manila turned into a 90-minute nightmare because of all the people heading to the bay area to watch the fireworks festival that same night.

I was lucky as I got there in 90 minutes. Some of the other dinner guests were in their cars for a good two or three hours, and everywhere was literally a clogged street.


Finally, we reached Sofitel -- and there I was thinking I had missed a good part of it and that I would have to contend with skipping the main courses and just having dessert. But when I got to the Sofitel tent, the event had not even started because most of the guests were still stuck in their cars somewhere.

However, to use a popular cliche, the wait was worth it. Sofitel really pulled out all the stops to create an impressive and amazing dinner for about 100 guests, seated on two very long and beautifully dressed tables across the entire Sofitel tent.


The Sofitel had also assigned one waiter per guest, so that each course was brought into the tent on a covered silver platter at the same time, and then the waiters placed the silver platters in front of each guest at the same time.

And then just like clockwork, the waiters raised the covers simultaneously so that the guests all oohed and aahed over the creations in one collective go. And this was not even counting the many staff behind the scenes who where tasked with the actual preparation of the meal.

I'm not sure of the Sofitel headcount for this dinner, but I've been to Chaine dinners at some other hotels where the staff on deploy for the dinner for 80 guests has been something like 250 personnel.

The Chaine dinners have some standing rules, by the way, to enhance the pleasure of dining for everyone:

1. Water is not served unless a guest asks for it.
2. All mobiles must be placed on "silent" mode or turned off. If your phone rings, you're fined PhP1000.
3. There should be no talk about politics or religion.

Talk about work is also discouraged, if I remember right, as the Chaine dinners are not about networking or business, but about getting together to enjoy the food that the hotels and restaurants that participate in the Chaine dinners really work night and day to prepare.

And true to form, much of the conversation at the Chaine dinner last Saturday night really concentrated on the quality of the food, the pairing of wine and food, and the sensations the dishes produced. Fortunately, Sofitel passed with flying colors, with their nine-course Filipino-inspired menu specially created for Saturday night's Chaine dinner, even paired with wines and spirits that have some Filipino connection.

The champagne for the evening bore the Lhuillier name, while the Corte Riva wines that have been very well received here in the Philippines are created by Filipino-Americans in Napa Valley.

And for a nice touch, the entertainment for the evening was provided by the Philippine Opera Company and the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group.

The Filipino-inspired
Chaine des Rotisseurs menu
at Sofitel
Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tuna tartare tobiko pearl tartlets
Air dried beef with grape walnut salsa
Tempura shrimps roulade with wasabi cream
Spiced lamb skewers

paired with
Champagne Lhuillier Brut, France

Island's Best Catch
Marinated king prawns carpaccio with Beluga caviar
Tinapa pate with glazed green mango mille-feuille
Lapu-lapu "kilawin" on fresh cucumber

paired with
Champagne Lhuillier Brut, France

I liked these a lot, especially the lapu-lapu kilawin
and the Tinapa pate with green mango,
which was a strange but delicious combination.

Foie Gras Trilogy:
Foie gras with truffles on ice wine jelly
Seared foie gras with balsamic orange
Foie gras terrine

paired with
Domaine Huet la Mont Demi-Sec 2003

Foie gras is always good --
and how can things go wrong with three kinds of it?

Tagaytay's pumpkin soup with champagne
Creme fraiche and citron oil
Escargot phyllo stick and baked oysters

This was very good.
The pumpkin was flavorful and deep,
and you could really get a hint of champagne and cream.

Mango sorbet with lambing
Silvered almonds tuile

Slow-roasted US beef tenderloin
topped with spicy shallots and shaved truffle.
Spargel and cherry tomato confit
Morel just

paired with
Corte Riva Merlot 2007

Warm camembert sesame twist
Grapes in white wine

A lot of people liked this
warm and sweet version of Camembert.

Chocolate nougat mousse box
covered in dark cocoa
Creme Anglaise, and strawberry and tapioca pearl

Clearly a labor of love for Sofitel,
complete with the Chaine logo.

Homemade chocolate pralines
infused with local elixirs

I don't usually eat the pralines at the end anymore,
but these were so interesting and delicious
because they had a very local flavor infused into them!

Just another delicious day in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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