Our waiter takes his leave after pouring the house white wine, an Undurraga Chardonnay from Chile, when she goes for the throat saying I don’t seem to love her as much anymore. I say nothing knowing her monthly period is coming up and bring my wine glass to my nose to take in the citrusy floral scent. I sip and swirl noting a rich fruitiness with a hint of petrol, like a Riesling, and crisp apple flavor gliding smoothly on the tongue ending in some heat at the back of the throat. She asks if I was listening. Apparently, I never listen. But I do. Always.
The deafening silence breaks only with the lapping against the breakwater on which The Observatory was perched. I look up to tell her I do. Listen and love. Always. It took a long time for us to find each other even when we have long known each other. And I have ever since. Listened and loved. Always. I attempt to break the ice asking if she remembers how she used to check me out at the building elevator from its highly reflective doors. Her monthly period is coming up. Period.
Pan-seared Scallop, Pacific Lobster Tartare, with Calamansi Vinaigrette and Rocket Leaf
Appetizers of Pan-seared Scallops and Pacific Lobster Tartare were being served and I remember from Invertebrate Zoology that lobster have been noted to cannibalize their siblings. Mine did. I notice the buttery emulsion of the tartare and thought it was more of a puree versus a micro mince. She doesn’t eat lobster and I’ve always been a sweeper. I point out to her that the scallops were perfectly seared. The beauty of Maillard begins only at around 140 degrees Celsius. I think we also have become better together through the fire. I know we have. She says she does, too. The pleasantly tart vinaigrette had just enough tang to cut through the rich lobster. Vegetal bitters come from the minute Rocket and slightly leathery Ixora flower garnish. Bitters in the background help make the other flavors sing. It did for us.
I apologize I am always too busy. But I am and I need to be. More of this perhaps? But this is what we always do. Pleasure is business and business is pleasure. And we love it. And I love you. And I, you.
Prawn Confit and Steamed Fennel with Curry-Scented Sauce Americaine
Do you know that certain species of prawns bred in captivity are monogamous? I am still that annoying kid that grew up on Discovery Channel and, thankfully, she found that highly amusing. Deep soup plates smeared with curry sauce are presented and under a hillock of dill-topped steamed fennel hid two beautifully-butterflied, confited prawns in loving embrace. Our waiter pours Sauce Americaine into the recesses and, again, takes leave. The sweet, flavor of fennel and the more citrusy of dill, both anise-like, envelope the briny sweetness of the seafood made hefty by the weighty mouthfeel and roof-of-mouth texture of the slightly spicy veloute. She doesn’t eat prawns, too, and, like I said, I’ve always been a sweeper.
Poached Red Grouper and White Radish with Green Asparagus and Black Truffle Sauce
Third’s a charm and the mood markedly improves by the time the Poached Red Grouper was brought to the table. The pungency of truffles is unmistakable. She doesn’t like her vegetables but gives asparagus a pass on account of how her friend Rosare used to bring back boxes of those when she goes back to Cebu from Sultan Kudarat. I return her story with how the Gong family went on spring holiday in Yunnan province and brought me back a Daikon the size of my forearm as a gift. What the shaved asparagus spears lost in some crunch was made up for by the flavor it took from the poaching brine to meld with its earthy brightness. The grouper, undoubtedly the sweeter of the sea-meats, kept moist from its hot bath which also dulled the peppery flavor of the radish the fish sat on. She laughs when I pick through my plate to identify Mint, Edible Mum Leaves and Spring Onion Blossoms. I have always loved her laugh.
We would like a daughter. She’d have dinosaurs instead of dolls. But she would still love pink. Glossier. But wears black because it goes with anything. Homeschooling. Real books. Real, tactile learning tools. Or we could just stick to pugs. Pugs are already a handful. Baecan alone is. Tippy. Tippy Baecan. Dickens. I love you. And I, you.
Red Wine Slow-Cooked Veal Cheek with Foie Gras Sauce, Stewed Onion and Potato Puree
In jest, or so I’d like to believe, she’d blame weight gain squarely on me. I always invoke choice and preach exchanges in deficits for surpluses as the latter falls naturally under my territory. Geese are hand fed until their livers expand from the excesses of that love — if I were to explain the emotion called foie gras. Delicately rich and buttery liver in the sauce tiptoes the line of overkill in the main course already decadent with the stewing in wine and time. The darkly sweet flavors of mature steak surprise in the otherwise ultra-tender young meat. Some toasted couscous sprinkles bring in a slight smoky crunch. I tell her yet again how I think onions share the same sweetness with apples and how the stewed onions extend the meaty sweetness. The creamy potato puree anchors both the solids and flavors to the plate. It’s almost always potatoes that finish any dish.
I’ve had all of my four impacted molars already removed. I guess neither of them was my sweet tooth. She never really cares for dessert until oh-I’ll-just-have-a-taste brings her to the last three spoonful’s of my single order. But I never mind sharing and sharing calories. She doesn’t really like strawberries either. Until it happened in Barb’s Strawberry-Bacon Ice Cream. She’s evolving and she doesn’t even know. I’m loving every minute of it.
Romance and strawberries are so clichéd that combo has made the full circle back to a requirement. Maybe it’s the color. Strawberries aren’t even technically berries. But these are somehow aspirational in the tropics. Like Washington apples in the eighties. And she doesn’t really enjoy strawberries. But I do. Maybe because I’m kind of stuck in the eighties. A thin piece of toast piped with cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup and topped with Mint, Ixora and fresh strawberry slivers might as well have been a separate dessert as it was a rather elaborate garnish. Welcome nonetheless. Vanilla ice cream & chilled cream foam soften the syrupy intensity of the compote.
Five courses stretched over five hours. As did thousands in two years. Lana Del Rey warbles from the Cowrie Cove nearby. Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful? We drain the last of the Chardonnay. Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul? The citrusy florals now seem more pronounced. I know you will, I know you will, I know that you will. The rich fruitiness with a hint of petrol, like a Riesling, and crisp apple flavor gliding smoothly on the tongue ending in some heat at the back of the throat. Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful? She asks if I was listening. Always. And, yes, I will. You will always be. And I love you. And I, you.
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SHANGRI-LA’S MACTAN RESORT & SPA, CEBU PRESENTS THE ULTIMATE DREAM DATE: A MILLION-PESO FANTASY
Couples seeking the quintessential celebration will revel in Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, Cebu’s Ultimate Dream Date, a thrilling, one-of-a-kind offer with a one-of-a-kind million-peso price tag – to be launched on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2016 and available year-round. Putting together the finest in dining, accommodation, shopping and jewelry, the Ultimate Dream Date takes romance a notch higher, as it promises a lavishly unforgettable experience.
The Ultimate Dream Date begins with a limousine ride going to the resort, where the couple enjoys an overnight stay in the resort’s Presidential Suite, a luxurious twobedroom suite with a dining area and balcony offering panoramic views of the ocean. The couple also enjoys a harmonizing signature treatment at CHI, The Spa and access to its rejuvenating water pavilion.
As a prelude to a blissful evening, the couple gets to hop on a helicopter ride over the scenic Mactan Channel, ending in a pre-dinner cocktail of Dom Pérignon Champagne upon arrival. An exquisite five-course dinner then follows at the resort’s Paradise Island, a scenic hideaway at the heart of the beachfront. The dinner is complemented by free-flowing beverages, dreamy tunes by a private musician, plus a spectacular piece of diamond jewelry for the lady.
The celebration does not end there, as on top of the romantic dinner date, the lady will be given a shopping spree at a luxury retail chain with private butler assistance, which may be availed on the couple’s preferred date.
A selection of romantic dining offers is also available at the resort’s scenic spots including Paradise Island and the iconic Observatory and Gazebo for Valentine’s Day.
A six-course set menu served at Paradise Island starts at P20,000++ per couple, and includes a bottle of champagne, free-flowing non-alcoholic beverages, a bouquet of flowers and a private musician. Meanwhile, a five-course set menu at the beachfront, along with the aforementioned inclusions, starts at P15,000++ per couple.
Couples who wish to toast to their love stories at either the Observatory, Gazebo, or Acqua Veranda may enjoy a five-course set menu with a bottle of champagne, bouquet of flowers and CHI, The spa discount voucher. This package is priced at P15,000++ per couple. At the resort’s outlets, couples may also celebrate with an indulgent gastronomic experience. At Acqua, a Valentine’s Day five-course set menu served with a glass of sparkling wine is at P4,000++ per person, while Cowrie Cove’s five-course set menu with a glass of sparkling wine is at P5,000++ per person. Tides will also offer a Valentine’s Day special with a lunch buffet priced at P2,250++ per person.
The day of romance indeed casts a festive spell all around this seaside paradise. Couples who wish to celebrate in luxe style at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, Cebu may contact (63 32) 231 8224 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further inquiries and reservations
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