Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My First Wine Pairing Dinner at Choi Garden ♥ ♥ ♥



Suddenly, everybody in the Philippines is drinking wine. It seems like every person I know has a go-to wine supplier, a favorite wine bar, a wine importer friend, if that person is not already importing wines himself.

Being a warm water and hot chocolate drinker, I am always amused and confused when people start dropping names like Chateau Lafite, Lynch Bages, Le Montrachet, Chateau Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild, Romanée-Conti, Chateau d'Yquem… Chateau d’WHAT?!?!? After all, the only names that have been important to me are Chocopologie, Noka, Delafee, Richart, La Maison du Chocolat, Godiva, Pierre Marcolini, and okay, Baci and Ferrero Rocher, and the occasional Chocnut. Hehehe.

It was only when someone assured me that wines possess the same magical powers as desserts in creating the ultimate dining experience that I began to take a little sip here, a slightly bigger sip there, until I could actually finish a whole bottle by myself with dinner.

I still don’t know my wines. I just like the buzz. Party smile

So when Willy invited me to join his group for a wine pairing dinner at Choi Garden, I was scared. I mean, these people are wine connoisseurs and I know nothing about the bloody drink except that it can be red or white. I just know how to eat.

Shameful, yes, but I have to admit, tonight I come because of the food.

And I arrive early because I am excited. But I guess Arnie and Edna are more excited because when I walk into the room, they’re already halfway through this bottle.


Migration Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2007 from Arnie


Forgive me if I choose not to comment on the wines. You must understand that if I do, my amateur and sophomoric notes will make this the very last time someone invites me to a wine event. And no, after tonight, I don’t want that.


Crispy Roast Pork, Roast Pork in Honey, Shredded Jelly Fish
Love the crispy pork and jelly fish. The chasiu is tasty but could be more tender.
Nelson says he intentionally requested for the leaner part tonight. I guess it’s
good to eat healthier sometimes.


With the appetizers we have this bottle of
Cava Gala De Vallformosa Gran Reserva 2006 from Arnie


Century Egg with Coriander – eaten alone the egg is just alright, but pair it with coriander
and then take a sip of the sweet Le Mont, then your palate will be pleasantly greeted with 
smooth, delicious, custardy smokiness


Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Mont Moelleux 2009 from Jayjay


Polonchay Tofu with Sea Cucumber
The tofu remains silky and jiggly under the golden fried layer, the sea cucumber is soft yet offers the faintest bite. But it’s really the sauce, that rich and thick beautiful liquid, that captures my heart. I put down my chopsticks, grab my spoon and drink the sauce like it’s the last bowl of soup on earth.


The tofu and sea cucumber course is paired with this bottle of
Rolly Gassmann Gewurztraminer from Willy


Fresh geoduck, waiting to become the star of our soup


Ta-da! Geoduck with Golden Mushroom Soup
The saltwater clam is so fresh and sweet, its texture a balance of resilient chewiness and tenderness. The sweetness penetrates through the broth, making it not only
nutritious but also very delicious. This is how all Chinese soups ought to be.


Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Haut Lieu Demi-Sec 2008 from Nelson


Fried Pigeon
I let out a big sigh of relief when Nelson advises us to use our hands for this course. I cannot imagine any other way of enjoying this juicy little bird except by attacking it with my bare hands. I tear off each part hungrily, take my sweet time chewing on its tender, gamey meat, sucking hungrily on the bones, leaving not a morsel of meat, not a trace of skin. 


With the pigeon we have 2 bottles of reds:

Domaine Alain Burguet Chambolle-Musigny Les Chardannes 2006, and…


Ramon Bilbao Gran Reserva 2001, both from Edna


By this course I am already a bit light headed I forget to take note of the name of the fish.
Some parts are perfectly cooked, some parts, however, are overcooked and rubbery.


Jean-Claude Boisset Meursault Les Rougeots 2007 from Edna


Fresh Slipper Lobster in Coconut Sauce
The lobster is plump and succulent, and the fragrant coconut sauce with crisp taro strings do everything to sabotage my self-discipline. My stomach feels like it’s about to explode, but still I manage to eat a small second piece. Yes, it’s that good and I’m that greedy.


Georg Breuer Rheingau Riesling Auslese 2009 from Arnie
My favorite bottle of the night!


Shrimp Paste Fried Rice
Nice and fluffy, could use a bit more shrimp paste, but that’s just me.


Oremus Tokaji Dry Furmint Mandolas 2007 from Willy


We have three desserts and two dessert wines tonight


Hot Taho with Sago


Super cute Salted Egg Pao and Malay Cake


Look at that liquid gold oozing out the bun. Rich and luscious with the perfect balance 
of sweetness and saltiness. One of the best I’ve had in my life. Truly out of this world.


Sauternes de Lucy de Fossarieu 2004 from Gino


We also have from Bodjie a bottle of Vin Santo Fattoria Voltrona San Gimignano, which I am sure I took a photo of, but cannot seem to find anymore. Sorry!


9 empty bottles. Still missing 3.


Standing: Gino, Nelson, Edna, Arnie
Seated: Willy, Me, Bodjie, Jayjay


Special thanks to Nelson for organizing this dinner. Food is superb! Dining at Choi Garden will never be the same again.

And to Edna for bringing three bottles of vino.

And to Arnie for providing all sorts of entertainment – funny, sick, nasty and nastier! But I still love you for bringing my favorite bottle of the night. Winking smile


And most especially to Willy for inviting me to dinner, taking care of my bottle, and for bringing me these 3 pretty glasses.

I wouldn’t have enjoyed as much my first wine pairing dinner drinking good wines from little Chinese teacups. 


Choi Garden Seafood and Sharks Fin Restaurant: 12 Annapolis Street corner Purdue Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines. Tel: +632-727-6042, +632-727-7489

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