TO CELEBRATE Australia’s National Day last year, The Peninsula Manila and the Embassy of Australia staged a special Australian food promotion called Tasting Australia in the hotel’s different food outlets. It showcased the Australian continent’s diverse cuisine, with particular focus on the exotic dishes such as crocodile and kangaroo, and turned out to be such a success that The Peninsula Manila and the Embassy of Australia decided to once again join hands this year and put together another Tasting Australia food promotion.
A fete to honor the best in Australian food, wine and culture, Tasting Australia features Australian dishes by visiting guest chefs Greg Doyle, Steven Kelly, Nic Waring and Adam Mathis. Chef Greg Doyle of Sydney’s The Sailors Club is considered one of Australia’s most talented chefs, having been awarded the plum prize of Restaurant of the Year and winning the prestigious three-hat award given by The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide. Joining him is his talented executive chef Steven Skelly and executive pastry chef Nic Waring. Also serving as guest chef is Chef Adam Mathis, who used to be the executive chef of The Peninsula Manila before moving on to The Peninsula Tokyo and was one of the featured chefs in last year’s Tasting Australia food promotion.
On from January 25 to February 3, 2013, Tasting Australia deviates from last year’s leaning towards exotic dishes. This year, Chef Greg and his team focuses more on Australia’s generally diverse cusine that carries a strong influence from European, North African and Mediterranean migrants as well as settlers who came from India, China, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. They shall present both classic Australian dishes with unusual twists and surprise diners with interesting new dishes. Not much of the bush ingredients that Australian aborigines used in their cooking.
Members of Manila’s food media got a taste of Australian cuisine for lunch at The Peninsula Manila’s Old Manila Restaurant today. Since the guest chefs have not arrived yet, it was Old Manila’s Chef Sam Linder who took charge of putting together a delightful Australian sitdown menu.
Lunch started with Dampers, or hard rolls with blue cheese, served with two Australian-inspired spreads – Wild Thyme-Garlic Butter and Pepperberry-spiced Quince Paste. Both went very well with the Dampers, which were served still warm in a bread basket. I dug into the bread basket at least twice for the Dampers and had them with the two spreads alternately.
The first course, an appetizer, was Tasmanian Ocean Trout Confit with Woodside Swag Ashed Goat’s Cheese, Spinach-Rocket Salad and Lemon Myrtle Snow. The fish, which is very similar to salmon especially in color and appearance, was very fresh and had a truly refreshing taste. Subtle in flavor, it went very well with the goat’s cheese, spinach-rocket salad and lemon myrtle snow. To savor the full flavor of the dish, I cut bite sizes of the fish, forked it with a small cube of goat’s cheese, spinach or arugula, and a pinch of the lemon myrtle snow, and took each bite together. The flavors burst in the mouth.
A scoop of Rosella Sorbet with Yarra Valley Bubbles cleansed the palate and got it ready for the main course. While most fine dining restaurants would serve their sorbets as is, in one medium scoop or two small scoops, usually in a martini glass, Chef Sam served his medium scoop of Rosella Sorbet with a little champagne. Sorbet with a tiny bit of an interesting kick. Why not?
The main course came in the form of Duo of Australian Lamb and Wagyu. It was braised lamb shank pie with minted mushy peas and paper bark smoked Tajima Wagyu beef with bush tomato fondue and macadamia dust, with honey truffle glazed beets and sweet potato in between. Meat-lovers would certainly love this combination.
The dessert, Oz Pavlova 2013, was a different kind of Pavlova. It’s not Pavlova as we know it, which is a crisp meringue cake with whipped cream and fruits and is of Australian origin. Chef Sam’s version is like a roulade or log, with sugar bark and wattle seed cream. It was served with some berries and a chocolate swirl garnish.
The meal ended with Coffee or Tea with a small platter of Mignardises, or small bite-sized desserts. I had mine with a cup of freshly prepared Cappuccino, my favorite way to end a meal, if not with a cup of Peppermint Tea.
Present at the media lunch today were The Peninsula Manila’s general manager Sonia Vodusek-Vecchio, Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell, and senior trade and investment counselor and head of Austrade Anthony Weymouth.
For the duration of the Tasting Australia food promotion at The Peninsula Manila, Old Manila will have Australian lunch and dinner menus Mondays through Friday (dinner only on Saturdays) prepared by Chef Greg Doyle and his team of guest chefs.
Over at Escolta, Chef Adam Mathis excites diners’ palates with his exciting and new buffet festival selections from the world’s smallest continent for lunch and dinner, Mondays to Saturdays and for Sunday Champagne Brunch.
It’s Aussie Weekend Barbie by the Pool, a poolside barbecue of succulent meats and the freshest seafood on balmy January and February nights on January 25 and 26 and February 1 and 2.
There’s also the Kitchen Party with Chef Greg Doyle, where diners can have a one-of-a-kind experience, dining on the best in Australian produce and wine and getting some hands-on experience in a genuine restaurant kitchen, in an intimate Chef’s Table party with Chef Greg.
As an added treat, guests who avail of the special Australian food festival menus in Old Manila, Escolta and The Poolside Barbie and sign up for the Kitchen Party with Chef Greg Doyle get an opportunity to win a round-trip ticket for two to Sydney courtesy of event partner Qantas Airways.
“Our food festival is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the culinary experiences available in Australia. We will be introducing Australia’s sun-kissed produce, its melting pot of cuisines and award-winning wines,” says The Peninsula Manila GM Sonia Vodusek-Vecchio.