By Sol Vanzi
It is no secret that the world-famous Manila sunset can best be viewed from the Conrad Manila, whose prime location along the shore of Manila Bay provides an unobstructed view of Mother Nature’s colorful twilight drama.
Watching enthralled and speechless while sipping a refreshing chili-infused tropical drink, our visiting balikbayan honeymooner friends sat back to relish the moment. Our evening of great food, fantastic wines, and free-flowing conversations was just beginning.
We had signed up to experience the richness and depth of flavors of “The Perfect Pair,” a well-planned, weekly three-course degustation specially prepared by Conrad’s executive chef Daniel Patterson. Limited to 20 guests sitting around a long table, the food-and-wine event encourages conversation and new friendships.
Before dinner, Laurent Boisdron, hotel’s general manager, explained the concept. “As part of Hilton’s #EatDrinkHilton seasonal produce dining campaign, Conrad Manila turns the spotlight on an ingredient of the month based on which Chef Daniel would create culinary innovations that capture the local culture. We celebrate the use of sustainably sourced, seasonal ingredients with a three-course degustation that is a sensory feast for all.”
Our dinner adventure started with a weather-perfect chilled salad of raw papaya and tandoori chicken wrapped in rice paper and accented with sweet chili sauce and watermelon reduction. The crisp papaya slices contrasted well with the tender, smokey chicken morsels. The neat bundles made for extremely satisfying finger food that is light, non-greasy, and full of flavor. Paired with the dish was Baron Philippe de Rothschild Mouton Cadet Sauvignon Blanc 2014, which was delightfully fresh, elegant, and fruity.
Our second course brought back memories of great meals in the American South. Our plate was filled with a thick slab of blackened salmon balanced with a large chunk of avocado. The pink salmon flesh peeked brightly from the surrounding crisp, charred skin seasoned thickly with secreted spices. The dish was lightly napped with sweetish nam cham chili dressing and sprinkled with micro salad.
Paired with the fish was Baron Philippe de Rothschild Cadet d’Oc Pinot Noir, a highly aromatic red wine with vanilla notes and great roundness.
We rounded up the meal with a colorful mélange of wild berries in a warm sabayon, whimsically served with an edible butter cookie spoon.
Since the start of the #EatDrinkHilton campaign, Conrad Manila’s “The Perfect Pair” has featured ingredients, including mint leaves, coriander, grains, and tomatoes. On the calendar are chili for July, chocolate for August, lemongrass for September, among others.
The menu pairing changes per week, with previous highlights such as steamed cod fillet with mint pea espuma, snap peas and sago chips, green tea brûlée with pistachio and gingerbread biscuit, and minted summer couscous with marinated feta cheese and compressed watermelon.
The special menu selection is paired with red and white wines and available every Wednesday evening at the C Lounge.
“The Perfect Pair,” available every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., is very reasonably priced at R1,450 nett, inclusive of a three-course degustation paired with red and white wines.
+63 2 683 3990 | conradmanila@ conradhotels.com