I have a confession to make: the lobby of The Peninsula in Makati is my favorite of all the hotel lobbies in Manila. It may not be the newest or the grandest (because the threat of something grander than the other will always come along), but there’s just something about it which takes me to another world. Something here which makes me want to spend afternoon tea with my closest friend. Our chatter may be meaningless but at least I’ll be relishing the ambiance and of course their famous house treats like halo-halo.
I’ve always been a Pen passerby but recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of their Swiss food festival which will unfold from August 2 to 11 (ladies who lunch, mark your calendars!) The happening event marks 150 years of Swiss presence in the Philippines. Oh yes, it’s really been THIS long since we enjoyed the world-famous Swiss chocolates, fondue, raclette and other treats.
Swiss cuisine has changed since 1862 (when the Swiss first set foot in our islands) and these days, the approach is on lighter, more natural ingredients and flavors. This is according to Samuel Linder, the new chef de cuisine at Old Manila in the Pen, himself born in Switzerland.
I like the idea of eating lighter, especially when I tasted the first course – a very tasty smoked trout tartar paired with a slice of seasoned raw salmon, some crunchy bit of rye bread and green veggies dubbed in the menu as mache-radish salad with verjus vinaigrette.
But first things first: I also liked the floral table arrangement – an array of red & white roses which followed the pattern of the Swiss flag.
Another beautiful thing: colorful charger plates by Villeroy & Boch.
On with the chow, here’s the plating for the second course. The serving looked sparse but it was enough to fill me up already. The veal loin cooked “sous vide” was most tender. It was accented by a shaving of cheese, mini-pancakes, sauteed mushrooms and more veggies in the form of Swiss chard. The only thing I wasn’t able to finish was the braised veal breast (a little tough).
The dessert called Penougat was a revelation since it looked like Toblerone from outside, but when you sliced into it, out came a burst of nougat ice cream. Absolutely mouthwatering 🙂
Here’s the full line-up of activities during Swiss Week at The Peninsula Manila:
Chocolate Bar at The Lobby from 8 p.m. to 12 am on August 2,3,4,9,10 and 11. Featured are chocolate-themed desserts crafted by hand with premium Swiss Felchlin Chocolate by executive pastry chef Sebastien Cocquery and Felchlin’s chocolate master chef Anil Rohira, P680 for adults and P390 for children.
Schueblig eating contest at the Escolta on August featuring 10 contestants. Whoever eats the most number of schuebligs in five minutes will win an overnight stay, with a portion donated to charity.
Interactive kitchen party on August 9, from 6 to 9 pm, spearheaded by Chef Linder and The Peninsula’s Swiss-born hotel manager Oliver Dudler. Several active stations will be set up where participants can enjoy their fondue, raclette, rosti, schueblig and other dishes, plus premium chocolates and wines while cooking and mingling with Chef Linder and his team. Price: P2500 per guest.
Exhibit at the third floor gallery by prime Filipino painter Manuel Baldemor dubbed “Timeless: Swiss Landscapes.” Baldemor spent his residency in Basel, Switzerland in 1994.
Guests who dine in Old Manila and Escolta during the “Swissness: More Fun in the Philippines” food festival will win a round trip ticket for two to Zurich courtesy of Swiss International Airlines and a two-night stay at the Baur Au Lac Hotel and the Lausanne Palace and Spa. Other prizes at stake are Victorinox Swiss Army watches and Swiss Army knife, wines from Werdenberg International Corp. and jewelry from Hans Brumann. Isn’t this fab?
Don’t forget to give my regards to this cow when you see him in Old Manila 🙂
For more information, call (632) 887-2888, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit peninsula.com. Hotel address: Corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues, Makati City Philippines