I mix and match elements I love for a weekend full of love.
I’m a girl who likes the red and pretty things in life, love and roses among them. As an ardent fan of Valentine’s Day, I wanted to do something spectacular to honor one of my favorite days of the year at one of my favorite hotels, the EDSA Shangri-La Manila.
The hotel’s Director of Communications, Lesley Tan, along with Communications Manager, Jose Badelles help me put together a personalized room and Valentine benefits package that suit my and my Bin’s ahem, “love” and more importantly, meal preferences.
Our room is located in the hotel’s newer Garden Wing where peace is primary. In our appointed room, a fruit basket awaits along with a bottle of wine and some of the hotel’s house chocolate. Chocolate plays a big role in my weekend. On the desk lies a copy of Love, Ten Poems by Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean poet. A brisk browse reveals poems rendering love raw and revealed. I feel the romantic in me stir.
A knock on the door. A member of Housekeeping is holding an urn with loose rose petals. In the bathroom he fills up the tub halfway then carefully, deliberately, scatters the petals. They float languidly on the water, scarlet and crimson riding on a lazy tide.
I emerge from the bath to see that more chocolate has arrived, a quartet of white and dark, the acetate imprints on their surfaces are luminous – arching, kissing to meet the overhead light’s glow. One chocolate is missing, having already found its way into my Bin’s mouth.
For dinner, we dine at Paparazzi. There’s a prepared Valentine degustation dinner, a thoughtful his-and-hers 4-course (P1,800) or 6-course (P2,400) menu but I’m seduced by the recommendations of Executive Italian Chef Salvatore de Vincentis.
- Paparazzi’s basket of breads bodes well for a good meal
A plate of Smoked Salmon with Caper Berries, Baby Onions, and the fragrance of Lemon Oil (P530) is a tantalizing first course, the briny saltiness of the caper berries flits then flees into the suave smokiness of the salmon.
Next, the Shaved Parma Ham, translucent ribbons of it support a sphere of young buffalo’s milk mozzarella. It proves to be a dish that reveals itself only to those willing to savor it. On the nose, the rose-hued ham possesses an arousing sweet-salty fragrance. On the tongue, it interweaves flavors of salt and pork flirting with fat and an almost feral meatiness. That is, if eaten alone. When paired with a nugget of mozzarella, there’s an added dimension of suppleness tethered to an indulgent dose of creaminess. Lascivious thoughts take flight.
Our friend, O, is with us at this Valentine dinner. I expressly invite him because more people at table means more dishes to try. Love cannot be lacking in good food. Our entry to the mains is the Giant Rigatoni, flattened tubes measuring about 2×2 inches each. Absolutely al dente, it’s the playground upon which frolic large dice of Braised Veal Cheek Ragout alternately seeking cover under a strew of Gremolata and Shaved Pecorino (P720). It’s one of those sexed-up dishes I imagine a woman feeds to her lover whilst perched upon his lap.
A man’s got to have his lamb, and my Bin has his. Paparazzi offers one of the more original takes on this fine meat, a Roasted Rack of Lamb with Sundried Tomato and Olive Crust (P1,200). At first blush, olives on lamb seems like a salty slap, a malicious misuse. Only through an imaginative chef’s verve can he make both olives and tomatoes verge as one, a crust of congruity that complements – not conquers – the juicy lamb. Chased with forkfuls of the Truffle Mashed Potato, it’s an eye-rolling, moan-inducing main course. I see it happening in front of me.
Compared to the lamb, my Ossobuco (P1,000) is largely benign; indulgent without a doubt, but supremely dignified. I eat it with a gleeful, mischievous glint in my eye.
Now, love has its natural ebbs and flows. It can’t be full-tilt, full-on all the time. After the frenzy of the previous dishes, the Roasted Seabass (P1,400) is steadfast and sure. The fillet sits on a white wine broth tinged with the togetherness of caper berries, roast cherry tomatoes, and black olives. The fish, its inner heart is delicate, but its crust is crisp.
Chef Salvatore’s wine suggestion, a Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo 2005, may just be the best wine I’ve ever had. An intoxicating bouquet introduces tones of rose and berry that shift and slip, focusing then loosening up. Absolutely memorable with a price tag to match.
Ah, dessert. For Valentine’s Day, my expectations are doubly high. This is love day, baby. Sadly, some things aren’t meant to be. There’s a threesome on the table, all decent but none that imprints on my heart: Peach Soup, something Chef Salvatore tells me takes 20 minutes to cook. It’s a cold, flowing pudding with diced peaches on bottom. There’s the Tiramisu (P400), that sweet showpiece of Italian cuisine, and the Nemesis (P430), another name for the ubiquitous flourless chocolate cake with a melting middle. I’m spooning a bit of each into my mouth and my Bin and O are watching me intently. I’m an effusive person, and more so when I’m eating. O begins to look worried when he sees my expression, it’s steady and unflinching. “It mustn’t be that good, Lori. After the first bite, you’re usually down on your knees.” Hmm. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood.
I’m not a huge fan of massages but my Bin is, so a treatment at CHI, The Spa is his personal pick for our Valentine Weekend Package. CHI (all caps) reminds me of a sanctum; the hush is so palpable I could bite into it. Truly, a place to regain peace and the ever-important universal life force, or chi. We decide on the couples’ Yin Yang Harmonizing Massage that’s described, “Especially created to harmonize and pleasantly balance the flow of chi from within. The therapist uses deep, rhythmical strokes and focus is given to specific meridians, releasing tension and restoring peace and harmony.” Lyrical and mesmerizing, yes?
I don’t want to give away anything, especially since some things should really stay behind closed doors. Let the pictures give you an idea, but I won’t caption them. Like relationships, they deserve the power of imagination.
Romances & More at the EDSA Shangri-La Manila
From February 11-14, 2011.
Create a customized Valentine package with a Tower Wing Superior room replete with Wine, Chocolates, Pablo Neruda’s Love Poems, His & Hers Chocolate Fudge and Bubble Bath, Breakfast for 2 at HEAT, 15% discount at The Bakeshop, and heaps of extras.
Begins at P6,500.
EDSA Shangri-La Manila
1 Garden Way