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!!

Indonesian cuisine at Sofitel’s Chef’s Table

Sofitel held a lovely dinner just this week featuring Indonesian food featuring Chef Pradipta Bayu Primaputra of Pullman, flown in all the way from Jakarta.

Here are his impressive credentials shared by Sofitel:

Our featured Chef, Pullman Jakarta’s Indonesian master Chef, Pradipta Bayu Primaputra.  He grew up in vibrant Jakarta where his interest, deep appreciation and passion for Indonesian cuisine were cultivated. He pursued his love for food with experience enriched by attachments with Ritz Carlton Doha and the capital’s most prestigious catering company and provider of choice for culinary requirements for dignitaries and state visitors, Culture Royale. For this week-long food festival featuring Indonesian dishes, he will introduce heritage recipes rooted from Javanese, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Balinese cuisine.

In person, Chef Bayu is a lovely fellow: soft-spoken, humble … But his cooking is the total opposite: dynamic, fiery, alive!

Dinner started with this earthy appetizer: Gado gado. It is really is just boiled vegetables … but that cracker! With the Indonesian peanuts and the kaffir … that is one beautiful cracker. Chef Bayu shared that this is a popular dish in Jakarta – you can find it on the street, you can find it in a five star hotel.

Next we had the Balinese version of satay: Sate Lilit. Sate is usually done with chicken but this one used prawns, as sate lilit is usually made with seafood. But what i loved on this one was the sambal paste that crowned it. It made those simple appetizer sticks come alive!

For the main course, we simply had chicken. But there is nothing simple about making this chicken. First of all, it is cooked like it was “inasal” but more complicated is the sauces that come with, using both a red chili paste and a white chili paste – both made by the chef from scratch!

Finally, dessert. This looks just like our minatamis na saging. And the chef did use just local bananas. But what made it Indonesian is the milk that was first simmered. Pour this on those bananas and you are immediately transported to Indonesia!

This series of dinners is for their campaign called Flavors of the World wherein they feature a foreign chef every number of months. But what is special is that the guest chefs do a “chef’s table” and you get to watch them while they cook. Or you can even book a cooking lesson, especially if you are a big group!

Insider tip- here’s the sked for the next “flavors of the world”:

  • Flavors of Thailand in time for the Songkran festival on 18th –20th April 2017 featuring Spiral’s own Chef Romeo Malate
  • Flavors of France in time for the (French Month featuring London-based Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Galmiche on 7th –17th July 2017
  • Flavors of India on 11th – 24th September

If you want your own private dinner or cooking lessons, just call Sofitel and they will arrange and customize it for you. Some requirements: minimum is for 10 people, 3 days notice, P4,200 nett per person including 5 courses, coffee or tea plus the bespoke welcome drink, and if you want wine-pairing, just add P1,500 more.

You have until Sunday to catch Chef Bayu at Sofitel’s Spiral. Head on over! It’s worth the traffic!