Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2 Greg Doyle dinners in 3 days at the Peninsula's Old Manila

Tonight began with cocktails in the Peninsula's kitchen,
followed by dinner at Old Manila, cooked by Greg Doyle

Tonight, in Manila living a Travelife, I was back at the Old Manila again for a second dinner cooked by Greg Doyle, one of Australia's most famous chefs.

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He's cooking at Old Manila for a week, until Saturday, and this is my second dinner in three days.

I'd been invited by two different people to dinner, you see, and I'd said yes to both even if the venue is exactly the same, because I happen to like both hosts immensely.

Greg Doyle sitting down with us on Monday

For me, these were two entirely separate events. And just my luck that the venue happened to be Old Manila, just when Greg Doyle is cooking.

Actually, Greg Doyle was the very good reason for people to get together for these two dinners.

How often do we get a top Australian chef in town, after all? Once in a blue moon. So, of course, it was a great "excuse" to have a dinner.


On Monday, Peninsula Manila GM Sonja Vodusek had invited the Australian ambassador and his wife, a multinational bank CEO, a prominent lady and myself to sample Greg Doyle's cooking on his first night at Old Manila.

We all knew each other very well, and so we spent the whole evening just talking about anything and everything. I so enjoyed this dinner.

It was one of the most relaxing evenings I've had this year.


Then tonight, I had an equally enjoyable dinner at the same venue, this time as the guest of Australian Deputy Chief of Mission Andrew Byrne and his charming and vivacious wife Dawn.

We were joined by another lovely couple, and again, I had a most wonderful evening.


We began the evening by dropping by the Peninsula's Kitchen Party, which was a casual tapas buffet party with food prepared by Greg Doyle, and held right in the ballroom kitchen.

Lots  of kangaroo on the menu tonight
at the Kitchen Party

The food was laid out on the kitchen counters, reminding me of the galley lunches held on cruise ships during the day at sea.


Peninsula Manila's #2, Oliver Duddler, enjoys his own party

People mingled about, tasting everything, and the mood was very casual.

Kangaroo burgers on offer

There were kangaroo burgers and kangaroo carpaccio, all kinds of cheeses, and a wonderful asparagus capuccino that Greg served drizzled with eucalyptus oil -- of all things.

Asparagus soup drizzled with eucalyptus oil

I drank the asparagus carpaccio out of a glass and immediately, the eucalyptus vapors wafted down me in one powerful stream.

I said to Dawn Bennett: "Great. I just drank my massage oil. Or at least something from my bathroom."

Lots of action at the Kitchen Party tonight


The combination worked very well, though. Who would have thought eucalyptus oil would go nicely in a soup?

I know it gave it a wonderful kick, because, back in Old Manila, I had this same soup again; but this time without the eucalyptus oil.

Boy, did I miss that powerful kick.

Anyway, after mingling with the guests at the Kitchen Party, we returned to Old Manila for a proper dinner.

It was really enjoyable.

The spices from the Bush on display at the Kitchen Party


And the food was superb.

Tonight was so good, in fact, that -- as I type this out at 1230 PM -- I'm trying to check my calendar for another lunch or dinner that's still open to have this meal tonight again before Greg Doyle packs up and leaves.

That's how much I like it.

I had a swordfish carpaccio to start and then roasted scallops to follow.


The piece de resistance tonight was the lamb shoulder, which is not actually on the menu.

But when Greg was running us through the dishes, he happened to mention that he could make a nice shoulder of lamb with some vegetables.

This is what I had, and it sent me to heaven. I would go back to Old Manila just for this dish again.

And on the way out, I saw Greg again. I said to him: "That shoulder of lamb was superb."

Greg replied: "That took 17 hours to do." No wonder.

If you're eating at Old Manila sometime before Saturday night, make sure you ask for the shoulder of lamb -- even if it's not on the menu.


We had so much fun tonight.

And in the lobby of the Peninsula, I bumped into one of the ladies going on a Travelife with me to Sri Lanka next week.

She said: "I joined everything! I said yes to all the optional things on the trip. I'm so excited."

Things like this are so nice to hear, especially after a long but really nice day, and an evening with truly wonderful people, in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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