We have visitors from America and fresh from “My Manila” weekend the previous week – the House of Queens thought it would be good to take our visitors to the Champagne Room at Manila Hotel. This will be a perfect venue because as we have expressed in a previous post, the restaurant is charming and from the dinner that we were served, the food is exquisite.
Prior to going to the Champagne Room, we did a quick tour of Intramuros. We went to the Cathedral, San Agustin and Plaza San Luis. Dinner reservation is not until 7:00 PM – so we had some time to kill. Of course our guests were amazed at the historical context we’ve provided regarding Intramuros – which is what we have learned from the tour of the previous week.
Manila Hotel and the Champagne Room’s decoration did not disappoint our guests. They felt like they were Grace Kelly in the 50s. I totally agree with them. The luxurious surroundings of the hotel is definitely good to showcase to any guest.
Overall, we had a lovely evening. Unfortunately though, the Degustation Menu of the Champagne Room was disappointing. Most dishes were salty – which is ok if you have an individual salty dish – but if all of the dishes in the five course meal is salty – it leaves the diner filling themselves up with water to wash it down. The meal is 1,500++ pesos without the wine. That is cheap for a five course meal. I actually think that the Chef and the hotel can improve on the quality of the Degustation menu if they want to attract loyal diners even it costs more. The luxurious surrounding deserves GREAT tasting food.
Note – that disappointing food aside – the whole experience remained enchanting for us. It’s good company and a great ambience.
The old houses in the City of Manila take me to a time in my childhood which was spent living in my Grandmother’s house. Thank God that He is very good to that Grandmother and he has kept her healthy even if she’s now close to being a hundred years old. She’s a dear old lady who has nurtured me in my childhood. Her house located in the old district of Sta. Ana will forever live in my memories.
Sadly – that house is no longer as glorious as it was because of a fire that hit it a few years back. It is fortunate that it survived the fire – but a large part of the house is covered in soot. My grandmother and her sister continued to live in the house but with the passing of her sister, we have decided to get her moved into a new dwelling.
These memories are being brought back by our visit to Plaza San Luis in Intramuros. This is a place right across from the San Agustin church and it features architecture and furnishings that were popular during the Spanish colonial era. It is actually the name of one of the Barrios in Intramuros. It is not the original location nor does it have the original buildings – but they were collections of the rich Filipinos who “donated” them to Imelda Marcos when the latter took on this project. It’s the project which aimed to recreate the Filipino lifestyle in that long gone era. Today – it is a favorite destination of tourists.
Here are some of our photos from Plaza San Luis:
It’s Sunday evening and I just got up. I ended up going to the Pride celebration this year in Malate. There was the usual crowd, booze, music, and fun that is associated with Gay Pride parties. I wore all white – which is the Manila tradition for Pride. Unfortunately – I can count with my fingers – the number of people who did the same thing. Why call it the white party if people are no longer wearing white?
San Miguel – Our Friend
For those who are wondering why white is the color of Pride in Manila – instead of the more obvious pink color. This is really a symbolism of the presence of all colors. You know that the rainbow is associated with LGBT movement – if you’re a geek like me you will know that when you combine all these colors --- you end up with White. The presence of all colors – symbolizes diversity. Diversity that I am happy to say most of us in this community are embracing more and more.
It was a fun night --- but I did end up losing my money clip in the club Bed. It didn’t dampen my spirits – since I did choose 1 credit card and 1 ATM card and little cash before going to Malate. Both of these I cancelled promptly.
It’s still Sunday – so the weekend is not over. Let me greet everyone Happy Pride!
San Miguel – still Standing as Sunshine Dizon rises after the party
Midori has a Twitter account (@MidoriBeagle). It was a quiet feed until very recently when she started to follow other hounds in Twitterverse. First it was just a couple of them ---- then the number grew fast ( at least faster than the rate of my Twitter followers ). Right now – she has 37 followers and a lot of them are Beagles.
We all know that Beagles are pack-dogs. This is why Midori is an attention wh**re. Wherever I go – she needs to be close to me. Her brother – Macchiato suffers from separation anxiety and needs to be around people all the time. Apparently – even Midori’s Twitter friends have this strong need to be with other beagles.
The Twitter Beagles love each other. They send Follow Fridays, and Woof Wednesdays. Midori has more interaction with her community than I do. It’s also very diverse – there are Beagles from Turkey, the Netherlands, the US, Asia, China and even Australia all Barking out Loud (BOL).
If you are a fan of Grey’s Anatomy – you will recall that Meredith’s mother was afraid of the Carousel. It was revealed prior to her death that her affair with the Chief Surgeon, the love of her life, ended while she and Meredith were at the neighborhood Carousel. Grey’s Anatomy writers definitely have the talent of crafting melodramatic scenes out of objects that most of us would have happy memories about.
I always have happy memories of the Carousel. When we go to Carnivals – it’s the ride which I am extremely comfortable with. I have a fear of heights – which is why the Ferris Wheel ride is a challenge. The Fiesta Carnival Caterpillar ride and the Roller Coaster Ride is too fast – and I don’t like being in fast moving vehicles wherein I don’t see who’s driving. But the Carousel is perfect. Very colorful – with nursery rhyme tunes – it was the ride which feeds my potent imagination. Riding the colorful horses make me think of myself as the dashing prince ready to slay the dragons.
This is the reason why up to now – when I see one – I grab that chance to relive the happy memories.
Nowadays, people associate the “Champagne Room” with the private room in Gentlemen’s clubs. This is an unfortunate association because one of Manila’s exclusive restaurants is called the Champagne Room. It is the fine dining restaurant that can be found at the Manila hotel – the oldest premiere hotel in the capital city of the Philippines.
Today, the Manila Hotel is on its way to being revitalized. This of course includes re-establishing the Champagne Room as a the premiere fine dining restaurant for the City. My friends can remember being served club sandwich and dimsum in the restaurant when they were young. This has recently changed. It is now back to serving French cuisine. However, since it has very strong ties with history, the new Chef - Christine Zarandin tries to inject some of the favorite dishes of its popular patrons like General Douglas Macarthur and President Manuel L. Quezon. The menu is not alone in experiencing revitalization, even the furnishings have been refurbished including the Crystal palm trees ( which is actually made out of melted Coca Cola glass bottles ).
For the My Manila weekend experience, the Chef prepared a Five Course meal. We were excited over the dishes but were equally distracted by the charming surroundings. Unlike other fine dining restaurants, Champagne is well lit, which is how it should be – to highlight the intricate designs of the room. Filipino musicians play in the background ready to play requests of the patrons. Like any fine dining restaurants, they would offer Gentlemen dinner jackets to preserve the air of refinement it deserves. For men who want a romantic date – this is the perfect restaurant – especially since they have preserved the old practice of removing the prices from the ladies’ menu.
Those who are looking for a fresh culinary experience, should definitely visit. Our whole meal – like any good meal – was a good symphony of flavors. For me, it doesn’t matter how good individual dishes are – if the chef is unable to tie them together to provide a cohesive experience the restaurant fails to deliver.
For the My Manila weekend, the meal is comprised of the following dishes:
Duck Foie Gras Two Ways served with Seafood Mousse in Crisp Barquillo
Smoked Tomato Puree with Crisp Cheddar Souffle and Basil Pesto
Heart of Palm Salad
Main Entree Choice of General Macarthur’s Steamed Lapu Lapu
Main Entree choice of President Quezon’s Stuffed Oven Baked Young Chicken
Dessert: Mangoes Jubilee with Lemongrass Ice Cream and Orange Liqueur Sauce
Post Meal Chocolate Truffles
I ordered the house White and Red wine with the meal. Unfortunately – I’ve once again failed to ask what they were. Just goes to show you that I’m not a Sommelier – far from it. But I must say that the wine did compliment the flavors of the dishes. For me, dining without wine will always just be a casual meal --- so wine is an important component of a fine dining experience.
it was definitely an enchanting meal which takes you to the times when Manila Hotel was the premiere dining location of the city. Note – in terms of service – they had good service but I do think they can improve on it. I think I’m just used to having very attentive waiters who only requires very subtle movements from its patrons to understand that you need them. However – this expectation may just be me . The service is really alright – I just had high expectations.
I am looking forward to my next dining experience. Next time – I will definitely try the Degustation menu.
For reservations, please call Manila Hotel at (632) 527 9463 to 65
For most of us who now live in Metro Manila, the city of Manila is a city in continuous decay. It is the city of our parents and grand parents but we now live in the other more “modern” cities of Quezon, Makati, San Juan, Mandaluyong and others. A lot of my friends went to school in this city. I myself is an alumnus of the city’s Science High School. However, for a lot of us – we have a spiritual connection to this country’s capital. This is the city which was the center of Religion, Politics, Finance and Culture. Without Manila, we will just be what most people say we are – an archipelago of 7,101 islands – a Geography but not a Nation.
It is perceived by many as a dying city. Fortunately this perception is being challenged by Filipinos who care about the city. It seems to be getting the appropriate attention from people who are drawing Filipinos and Tourists alike into the City with Nilad ( star-shaped flower which used to grow at the Pasig River ). These are the men like Carlos Celdran who, by starting the “Walk This Way” tours nine years ago, have slowly been reclaiming the attention to the city and its history. I call it a tour – but that’s really just an adjective – because the truth is watching Carlos while you walk through the streets of Intramuros and the hallways of the Cultural Center of the Philippines – you recognize it as a performance art. The tour of Intramuros actually reminds me of scenes of Aurelio Tolentino’s “Kahapon, Ngayon at Bukas”. I think part of that association comes from the fact that I watched a PETA staging of the play at the Dulaang Rajah Sulayman at Fort Santiago.
Air Conditioned Jeepney Ride between Manila Hotel and Intramuros
Carlos started all of this nine years ago. His performance has evolved through the years and has been updated to reflect recent developments in the socio-political atmosphere of the Philippines and the world. Not everyone appreciates his antics and some people walk out in the middle of his performance. The usual suspects will be the conservative Catholics, conservative Americans, members of the Hacienda owners of the Philippines. This year, he brought a new twist into the experience. This one really satisfies all of the senses – by bringing in another important site into the whole experience. I’m talking about the Manila Hotel.
Imagine this – an overnight stay in the old wing of Manila hotel. A chance to view the Macarthur room ( which is really the suite which housed Macarthur while he was in Manila ). Walking through the archives of the hotel and perusing important photos and documents about the hotel including restaurant menus and recipes. Listening to gossip, ghost stories and other stories while having cocktails at the bar. Personally though – the most important part of the experience – dining at the Champagne room and consuming favorite dishes of the personalities who have once made this important hotel a home.
Overnight Stay at the Manila Hotel
If These Walls Could Talk by Carlos Celdran
If These Walls Could Talk by Carlos Celdran
Bedroom at the Macarthur Suite of Manila Hotel
Dining Room at the Macarthur Suite of Manila Hotel
Living Area at the Macarthur Suite of Manila Hotel
Living La Vida Imelda by Carlos Celdran
The Film Center of the Philippines as viewed from the Convention Center
I am definitely grateful for the experience. It placed an emphasis on the multiple dimensions of Manila which cannot be encapsulated in what is written or said about it. It also brings memories of my grandmothers’ stories of the glory days of the city – the glory days which as citizens of this country – we should strive to bring back. This time however, we can only bring it back – by ensuring that we do it ourselves as a nation – ready to actualize who we are and what the city means to all of us.
For details of the My Manila experience, please visit http://celdrantours.blogspot.com/