Where Shall We Go This Valentine’s Day?

Taal Vista Hotel

Ah it’s that time of the year again when the all-encompassing excuse to love (and spend for it) reigns supreme: It’s Valentine’s Day!

I’ve been told by friends in the industry that the following are happening so here are a few options on how to be a sucker and succumb to the dictates of commercialism and kinkiness on that day … if you don’t allow yourself to be saved by the fact that it’s Ash Wednesday and you have a legitimate excuse to abstain from love itself (hah!) …

THE PENINSULA MANILA

Spices under the stars, peninsula manila, valentine's philippines
A romantic Pen Moment: Spices Under the Stars at the Peninsula Manila (Photo: The Peninsula Manila)

At the Peninsula Manila, you can already take advantage of the free-flowing Champagne for a Sunday Valentine’s brunch starting February 11 at Escolta for P4,300 per head.

Then on Valentine’s Day itself, you can have a lovely four-course dinner at Old Manila with the reliable fine dining classics: foie gras, lobster bisque, Wagyu and dessert. If your date has an appetite, try the Valentine’s Day Seafood Buffet – I’m assuming it’s seafood in consideration of Ash Wednesday – with free-flowing sparkling wines and beer (because if you’re a sneaky Catholic, you would argue that your fasting is limited to not eating meat). This buffet is priced at P3,600 per person.

But I think the most romantic set up would be at Spices. Usually, this is indoors but Pen is taking advantage of the gorgeous weather we have been having lately and opening the al fresco area for a poolside dinner called Spices Under the Stars. Imagine having your favorite Thai food and other curries under the stars! This is the option I would choose!

There’s also an incentive to get a room: it comes with a bottle of wine, breakfast buffet, and P3,000 dining credit that you can use at their restaurants.

CITY OF DREAMS

City of Dreams, Cafe Society Valentine's hampers
Valentine’s gifts by Cafe Society at the City of Dreams  (Photo: City of Dreams)
If you want a really sulit date, the buffet at Hyatt at the City of Dreams is another option. They offer a six-station buffet with unlimited sparking wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages for P2,799 nett on Valentine’s Day. For inquiries and reservations, call (02) 691 1234 ext. 1163.
City of Dreams, Cafe Society Valentine's hampers
City of Dreams, Cafe Society Valentine’s hampers (Photo: City of Dreams)
Also at City of Dreams are Valentine’s hampers by Cafe Society. These are available until the 15th. You can choose to gift your beloved with a Chocolate Love Bear; a Chocolate Pot of Lollies; Chocolate Truffles with either strawberry or raspberry flavors; or a Latte Chocolate Cake. Prices start at P250 nett while the hampers start at P1,500.

 

SOFITEL MANILA

 

Gorgeous canopy set up for Valentine's Day beside Manila Bay at Sofitel Manila
Gorgeous canopy set up for Valentine’s Day beside Manila Bay at Sofitel Manila (Photo: Sofitel Manila)

 

Sofitel, of course, has the advantage of being right beside Manila Bay. I mean, how can anyone beat the Manila Bay sunset?! (By creating the most awful Manila traffic, that’s how!) They are also presenting the most elaborate dining experience called Love By Design: For P30,000 (yup, THIRTY thousand), you and your date can enjoy Valentine’s with a canopy set up and have your own butler, a violinist, a four-course dinner, a bottle of Champagne … and (don’t laugh) the chance to win an iPhone 8 (talk about incentive!).

If 30 grand is a bit too much, consider the Romance by the Bay package instead:For less than P3,000, you get to eat and drink all you want via their poolside buffet (more to eat!), enjoy unlimited local beer and catch the Valentine’s fireworks.

For reservations and inquiries at Sofitel, call (02) 832 6988.

 

TAAL VISTA HOTEL

 

Taal Vista Hotel
Taal Vista Hotel
If you are masipag to drive, head over to Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay. They also have a canopy set up. It will set you back P8,000 BUT you get to enjoy an 8-course dinner paired with a couple of glasses of Moet with priceless Tagaytay weather and a view of Taal Volcano. How romantic is that?! This is available only on February 14. For reservations and inquiries, call (02) 917 8225.

IKOMAI

Edible rose by James Antolin at Ikomai in Salcedo Village, Makati
Edible rose by James Antolin at Ikomai in Salcedo Village, Makati

If your Valentine is a foodie and would just like to just eat out at a restaurant on Valentine’s try one of my fave restos of late, Ikomai in Salcedo Village. It’s a hip Japanese resto beside Smith and Butcher on dela Costa St. For Valentine’s they are offering a six-course dinner. But the best part about it is that the meal culminates with an edible rose (see the pic? that’s the edible rose) created by pastry chef extraordinaire James Antolin. How perfect is that for the girl who is not into roses but into food (like me)? For reservations, call the number in the picture.

RESTAURANT 101

Valentine's at Restaurant 101 of the Alain Ducasse Institute at Enderun
Valentine’s at Restaurant 101 of the Alain Ducasse Institute at Enderun (Photo from Enderun)

Another restaurant to consider is Enderun’s Restaurant 101. It’s French cuisine by an Alain Ducasse-trained chef and at a very reasonable, student-friendly price, too! Details in the pic above.

JAMES AND DAUGHTERS

James and Daughters
James and Daughters by Chef Jonas Ng (Photo by Margaux Salcedo)
For those who want just a casual hang on the 13th, head over to the latest hip happening place especially for titos and titas of Manila, James and Daughters. Chef Jonas Ng is testing out his new cocktail menu so for only P750, in what he calls Kulitan Night, you get a cocktail plus some bar chow. The space is lit (uuuy trying to use millennial terms si Margaux LOL) and it’ll feel like you’re just having a really fun party with friends. Call 0917 817 6584​ to reserve.
REFINERY
Valentine's for Singles with Unlimited Wine and Mojitos at Refinery
Valentine’s for Singles with Unlimited Wine and Mojitos at Refinery (Photo: Refinery)

Over at Refinery, they are celebrating the Hashtag Bigo. Their Facebook post humorously gives the definition for “Sawi”: Pagdurusa. Pagluluksa. Walang hanggang kalungkutan. (Suffering, mourning, eternal sorrow.) LOL. Kaloka! Time to drown those sorrows in wine! Details in the pic above.

 KAREN’S KITCHEN 
Karen's Kitchen Valentine's Day cakes
Karen’s Kitchen Valentine’s Day cakes. (Photo: Karen’s Kitchen)
As for gifts, if your sweetheart has a sweet tooth, try the celebration cakes of Karen’s Kitchen. She makes cakes for love birds of all ages. For puppy lovers, you might like to try the strawberry cake with rose petals. For senior seducers and seductresses, she offers an apple crisp with oats on top, a base of apples and sweetened with Stevia; and a Splenda mango cake with a white chocolate heart plaque. Visit her website karenskitchen.com.ph or call 0917 539 4968 or landline (02) 555 0555 or (02) 555 0111 to order.

 

MAKATI MEDICAL CENTER BLOOD DRIVE
Donate blood on Valentine’s Day (Photo: livestrong.com)

Food writer CJ Juntereal told me about this: “Makati Med is doing a Valentine’s Day Blood Donation drive. Donate blood with your sweetie then go out for dinner after. You might even save a life!” For inquiries, call (632) 8888 999.

ASH WEDNESDAY
Cardinal Tagle Dispensation for Chinese New Year
Cardinal Tagle Dispensation for Chinese New Year
 When I wrote my shout out to friends in the industry to tell me what events they had planned for Valentine’s Day, our friendly priest Father Benny Tuazon gently commented that since Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday this year, we must be KJ. KJ is ’70s slang for Kill Joy … but for Father Benny it translates to “Kay Jesus (lang)” (baduy! haha!) So go celebrate on the 13th or on the 15th but remember, we must fast, abstain and go to mass on the 14th. Anyway, it would be rather odd to be on a date with a cross of ash on your forehead!

 
Bawi na lang sa Chinese New Year because Cardinal Tagle, who is apparently partly Chinese, said that as the Chinese New Year celebrations also have a spiritual and cultural significance, it is ok to celebrate, i.e., not fast and abstain, as long as you also do acts of penance, mercy and charity on the said date.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!

The best option, of course, is to make the effort to cook for your loved one on that day. There’s nothing sexier! Click HERE for some great ideas for a Valentine’s dinner from Whole Foods.

Happy Valentine’s!

PS Spread the love and share!!

Pastry Alliance of the Philippines Wins Award at World Pastry Cup

Lyon, France.

The Philippine Team won the award for Best Ice Sculpture at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in Lyon on Monday January 26. Woohoo! The piece was sculpted by Vicente Cahatol, one of the three chefs who represented the Philippines.

philippine pastry cup ice sculpture
SIKLO Ice Sculpture by Vicente Cahatol. Entry of the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines for the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie (World Pastry Cup) at the SIRHA 2015 in Lyon, France.

Competing for the Philippine Pastry Alliance were Rizalino Mañas, Vicente Cahatol and Bryan Dimayuga. Team President is Buddy Trinidad and Vice President is James Antolin.

Competing for the Philippine Pastry Alliance were Rizalino Mañas, Vicente Cahatol and Brian Dimayuga. Team President is Chef Buddy Trinidad and Vice President is Chef James Antolin.
Competing for the Philippine Pastry Alliance were Rizalino Mañas, Vicente Cahatol and Brian Dimayuga. Team President is Chef Buddy Trinidad and Vice President is Chef James Antolin.

Cahatol also created the entry for the chocolate sculpture that was given special mention during the awarding by the representive of Valrhona chocolates, who provided the 10 kilo block of chocolate to carve. Cahatol created an image of the Philippine bayawak.

Bayawak by Vicente Cahatol. Entry  of the Philippine Pastry Alliance to the SIRHA 2015 Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie.The Philippines also ranked No. 12 overall. This was a really good performance considering that it was the first time for the Philippine team to join. Chef James Antolin, one of the moving forces behind bringing the Philippine team to Lyon, said, “Ten years ago, Buddy Trinidad and I, at the Asian Pastry Cup, said that we would bring a Philippine team to compete in the World Pastry Cup and we did it.”

philippine pastry cup ranking

The theme of the competition was Life Cycle so the Philippine team, which also had Pastry Alliance Vice President James Antolin, Penk Ching, Jackie Ang Po, Peachy Juban, Dan Basilio and Miko Aspiras as coaches, conceptualized a unified theme that included a hunter and “the hunted”.

SIKLO. The entry of the Philippine team to the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie (World Pastry Cup) competition in Lyon, France. Photo by Margaux Salcedo for margauxlicious.com.
SIKLO. Entries of the Philippine team to the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie (World Pastry Cup) competition in Lyon, France.

The rules required them to present a chocolate showpiece, a sugar showpiece, one carving piece, a chocolate cake, a plated dessert, and a chocolate block carving. The Philippine team proudly put Philippine touches on their creations and entitled the entire showcase “Siklo” for ‘cycle of life’.

The chocolate showpiece is a beautiful female hunter. Looking at it closely you would think it was a narra carving! Props to Chef Bryan Dimayuga on this elaborate, intricate piece.

The Hunter by Chef Bryan Dimayuga. Entry to the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie
The Hunter by Chef Bryan Dimayuga. Entry to the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie

For the sugar showpiece, Chef Rizalino Mañas portrayed the Philippine spotted deer. This deer was glowing and was a favourite for photos of the international press.

Philippine spotted deer by Chef Rizalino Mañas. Entry of the Philippine Pastry Alliance to the SIRHA 2015 Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie.
Philippine spotted deer by Chef Rizalino Mañas. Entry of the Philippine Pastry Alliance to the SIRHA 2015 Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie.

Coach Penk Ching said, “Even just to see the Philippine flag being waved at the event was already monumental.”

IMG_1065This was truly a proud moment for the Philippines. Congratulations to the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines and the Philippine team!!!