Friday, June 1, 2012

Unbearable lightness of ice cream at the Peninsula Manila

By tonight, I would have done five lunches, five dinners, five cocktail parties in a row just for this week. That's a whole lot of socializing but also a whole lot of fun -- and the week will be capped very nicely with a cocktail party and dinner hosted by the Ambassador of Italy for Italy's National Day tonight.

I've truly enjoyed every meal and every person I've met up with this week; and I never forget to remember how lucky I am to have a Travelife and also a pretty nice life when I'm not traveling, and to thank someone up there for this. But if I was forced to choose a favorite lunch of the week out of a series of wonderful lunches,  I would probably choose today, which was lunch with Peninsula GM Sonja Vodusek at the Old Manila of the Peninsula Manila. (sorry, J, but it's not lunch with you this week...)


I haven't seen Sonja for a few weeks now as we have both been so very busy or else away from Manila. But today, we finally had a chance to catch up and also have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, the Old Manila. I've always liked the ambience of the Old Manila, and I've loved the food here ever since Chef Samuel Linder took over just a little bit over a year ago. He's changed the menu and it now serves very good food.

That's my steak and white asparagus,
with an egg and a really delicious risotto.

Chef Linder just got a large carton of white asparagus from Europe so they're having an informal white asparagus "promotion" until supplies last. That's about a week more to go, we calculated earlier. So if you like white asparagus, do go and book a table at the Peninsula Manila's Old Manila.


White asparagus soup being poured onto a bowl
with shredded carrots and creme fraiche in the middle

"What's the best way to appreciate white asparagus, in your opinion?" I asked Chef Linder today. Every chef has his own way of maximizing the taste and texture of white asparagus, you see. In Tokyo, the chefs at the best French restaurants like to simply blanche the white asparagus and serve it either with butter and a dash of salt, or else a hollandaise sauce.

"I think soup brings it out best," Chef Linder told me. And indeed, we had a very creamy and wonderful white asparagus soup to start.


As they were having the white asparagus promotion, I didn't even look at the menu anymore and Sonja and I left everything to Chef Linder. So after the delectable white asparagus soup, we had a very lovely piece of tenderloin each, which was served with several large stalks of white asparagus and some hollandaise sauce.

That's the tenderloin steak again,
with the white asparagus....

On the side, we both had a plate of risotto, which was so good that we finished every grain of it. Actually, I literally finished everything. By the time the dessert menus were handed to us, my quite large plate was completely cleaned out.


For dessert, Old Manila has a one-page menu but I took about five seconds to decide. I saw the word "chocolate" and it called -- or rather, screamed -- my name. Fortunately, the restaurant manager recommended it as well. I was in chocolate heaven, especially for the wonderful chocolate ice cream. I could go back to Old Manila again just for that ice cream. And if I can eat there again next week, I certainly would.

When Chef Linder came out to say goodbye, I asked him: "What went into that ice cream? It was so good."

He smiled and said: "I didn't use any cream. I just used butter fat and very good cacao."

The result was an unbearably light ice cream that was nevertheless rich and creamy. Pure joy on a Friday afternoon, and just another day in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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