“This meal is amazing,” someone was saying, as I sat down to dinner the other night, in Manila, living a Travelife.
It was a fancy and formal eight-course dinner featuring dishes based on the principles of molecular gastronomy, and our hostess had prepared everything for her 50 guests herself.
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And even if the invitation had said something like smart casual, everyone had dressed to the nines knowing it would be a very special evening.
The ladies were all in flowing dresses and most gentlemen were wearing coat and tie, and the occasion was a farewell party for the Israel Ambassador and his wife, who are returning soon to Israel.
For this party, 50 of their closest friends had been invited to join this farewell dinner, and our hosts had certainly laid on the works for the guests of honour.
Meanwhile, I’d literally flown in from Paris and I slid into my seat just as the guests were finishing their first course.
|In Spain earlier this month,
with the world’s best female chef
and Ireland’s most famous celebrity chef.
He was chosen best chef of Ireland for 2013.
And, as I’d written earlier, my seat mate said, after introductions had been made, as he was one of the few guests I didn’t know at the party: “This meal is amazing.”
I’d been at this home before, also through the kind invitation of the Israel Ambassador and his wife.
And the dinners I’d attended here had all been on the side of fantastic — in every way.
Trees laden with goodies had been set in front of me, reminiscent of the famous appetizer at El Celler de Can Roca.
Once I’d even had fish served on a plate fashioned like an aquarium, so that I was eating fish and watching live fish swimming on the same plate.
Each time I’m here, too, I always can’t resist doing the computations as it’s really quite astounding for a private home of someone who isn’t running for an election or running a global empire.
Each dinner I’ve been at has had around 50 persons, which means all the very comprehensive cutlery and plate ware must be enough for at least 50 people.
Each course is served on a different set of plates and cutlery, and there are at least eight courses for dinner. That’s over 400 pieces of dining hardware for one dinner alone.
That alone is impressive but not astounding.
The really impressive part is that I’ve attended several dinners here and I’ve probably only seen the same plating one or twice — which means her storage capacity for plates, cutlery and wine glasses must be almost as formidable as Malacanan Palace’s.
|First course onboard Qatar Airways
Paris to Doha
That night, too, the eight-course meal, personally prepared by our hostess herself, Maimai Liechtenstein, was really delicious.
Frankly, I was prepared not to eat much, having just come from two weeks of 23-course meals in Europe and wonderful meals onboard Qatar Airways from Paris to Manila via Doha.
|Dessert of sticky toffee pudding
onboard Qatar Airways
Doha to Manila
The meals of Qatar Airways out of their caterers in Paris and out of Doha were really tasty, so I ended up trying almost everything and having five-course dinners and breakfasts onboard.
But I just couldn’t help eating as the food was very good.
I was especially impressed with the short ribs done sous vide style, which was one of the main courses.
It arrived on a slab of glass that looked like it came from the workshop of Ramon Orlina.
I love short ribs done sous vide.
Short ribs are a cheap cut of meat compared to the usual steak cuts, but they end up incredibly tasty when done properly, sous vide style.
I order this whenever I see it on the menu, so you might say I’m an expert of sorts on this particular dish.
Well, this one was so delicious that I ate every single thing, in spite of having done probably 100,000 calories on my trip.
It was good enough to chuck the diet out the window, and good enough for me to think about getting seconds. And even thirds.
If the waiters had offered a second round, I would have been the first to accept.
The other particularly impressive and delightful dish was dessert, which consisted of three sticks of sweet treats stuck onto a hill of deep, dark chocolate cake, and enclosed in a glass case with a rose on top.
Again, I’m a big fan of dark chocolate cake, and this is another thing I’ll happily break any diet for. Maimai actually made her own cake, and she fashioned it to look like a hill with grass and flowers — and it was incredibly good.
In fact, I’m writing this now and regretting why I didn’t finish that cake.
July 21, 2014
at Casa Liechtenstein