Confession: I’m not into fancy feasts (well, that is if I can afford a 12-course meal at a five-star hotel. My job gets me to enjoy this luxury, however). I’d rather have full, hearty meals. Although, indulging once in a while can be a treat to the senses.
So last Monday, I got to enjoy a 10-course dinner by two-Michelin star Spanish chef Dani Garcia (no, we’re not related). And oh boy, it was a treat indeed.
Organized by New World Manila Bay Hotel, the “Dinner with the Stars” special, exclusively delighted Filipino gastronauts with an exquisite banquet by the renowned chef. Known for mixing traditional Andalusian flavors with modern kitchen techniques, chef Dani wowed with every slurp, bite, and munch.
Inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry‘s classic book The Little Prince, the chef showcased his kitchen skills including a demonstration of techniques. The second course was a performance. Hanging on a wire, slices of Jamón Ibérico, was rendered using a kitchen torch. The drippings drop to the waiting pile of tuna tartare below. Doing all this in a room covered with glowing LCD displays, showcasing different scenes of the beach and ocean life.
One of my favorite among the dishes was the amazingly fresh and delicate Yellow Gazpacho with Nirto Tomato. Using his signature techniques (he is one of the first chefs to use liquid nitrogen in cooking), he creates a “tomato”—tomato foam encased in a kind of thin gelatin. He uses a method using liquid nitrogen. The soup was smooth, fresh, light, and garnished with fresh cherry tomatoes and cilantro.
Another amazing dish is the Oxtail Ravioli with Sherry Flavored Consomme. The tender oxtail meat mixture in a thin envelope of pasta burst with flavors and complemented by a light and crisp consomme. The garden fresh garnish, complete with flowers, made the dish so pretty.
But the most memorable for me is the shavings of smoked eel on a soft bed of savory mousse with orange pulp. The thin shavings immediately melt in your mouth upon contact, having the texture of fine foie gras. The mousse makes the eel even more rich with a burst of citrus tang from the orange pulp.
The menu was a sample of Chef Dani’s special culinary concept “Cocinacontradición” which was inspired by Alice in Wonderland. He currently runs Dani Garcia restaurant at Hotel Puente Romano in Marbella, Spain, which was awarded two stars by the prestigious Michelin Guide.
Aside from orchestrating the fabulous dinner, he is also here for the second Madrid Fusion Manila as one of its special speakers. Currently ongoing, Madrid Fusion Manila is the first and only Asian edition of the international gastronomy congress and is considered as one of the best and important food events in the world. The congress will run until Saturday, April 9.
Read my full experience here.