Hello 2012! Let me peer into my crystal ball and see what delights you have in store for us this leap year.
As the world welcomes the Year of the Dragon on Jan. 23, I predict lots of fiery Szechuan cooking to increase fire chi and balance out the incredible hydro-forces of the Water Dragon. I hear Mandarin Oriental will serve an eight-course lauriat dinner for the countdown to be led by feng shui master Joseph Chau while Jasmine at New World Hotel will serve an 11-course lauriat which will include dried oysters with sea moss, among other treats.
In this auspicious year, there will be lots of travel, especially to nearby Hong Kong where foodies can enjoy both foie gras burgers at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and foie gras dumplings at Man Wah at Mandarin Oriental. Foie shizzle!
I see a lot of out-of-town dates in the month of Cupid. After Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez’s launch of the new Pilipinas campaign, couples will travel the Philippines and strengthen their love for country as they strengthen their love for each other. Rima, the Italian restaurant of Shangri-La Boracay; Vieux Chalet in Antipolo; Badjao Restaurant in Puerto Princesa; or Hill Station in Baguio all present views that will be sure to take your date’s breath away.
Health is wealth. Sustainable eating (not sustained eating, which is simply katakawan, haha) will be highlighted by restaurants. Sustainable eating means the restaurant promotes sustainable agriculture: Produce are from farms that practice sustainable farming; and nothing goes to waste as everything is cooked “from nose to tail.” Sustainable agriculture advocate ECHOstore and ECHOmarket will have more products for the responsible eater.
I also see that “locavorism,” i.e., eating food that is locally produced, will be taken to new heights as efforts are made by foodies nationwide to preserve heritage recipes.
Nitrogen will become oxygen as molecular gastronomy vanishes into thin air. Pinoys have expressed their preference for hearty as opposed to foamy meals.
And following the likes of 1-Altitude in Singapore, partying will be waaay above ground as established by the recently opened Skye Lounge at the W Building at The Fort. Because of this development, we reckon the rise of restos with a view. For example, you may order souffles at Top of the Citi by Chef Jessie on the 34th floor of the Citibank Building in Salcedo Village and have steak at 22 Prime on the 22nd floor of Discovery Suites.
The “pop-up” will find its way into Philippine consciousness. Margarita Fores is once again at the forefront, with Pepato popping up every now and then at White Space on Pasong Tamo (like the Pepato Facebook page for updates). Later, other signature pop-ups will emerge.
Meantime, we will applaud the efforts of Pinoy pop-ups that have successfully gotten Pinoy food trending in the international market. Maharlika started a few months ago as a weekend only pop-up restaurant serving brunch at Resto Leon in New York (as per their website, they are now on first and seventh and serve both brunch and dinner). Their presentation of Filipino food is not exactly classic Pinoy. For example, the “Eggs Imelda,” a spin on the eggs benedict, uses pan de sal in lieu of an English muffin, laing in place of spinach, grilled prawn instead of bacon, a calamansi hollandaise and kamote instead of fries. But whether or not the former first lady and now congresswoman knows or approves, this Fil-Am movement must get credit for doing its part in pounding our gastro-greatness into the international psyche.
Finally, I see charity and generosity. Recovery may take a while for Sendong victims so restaurant owners, chefs, foodies young and old must come together to “feed the hungry.” Soup kitchens, donations of water and food will continue. Because the best way to receive blessings is to share them!
Happy eating, everyone! May it be a sumptuous year!
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Philippine Predictions for 2012