I love to eat, that's true. However, in my many years of food tripping and blogging, there are just a handful of meals that really blew me away from start to end. No mistakes, no so-so dish, everything was simply delicious from appetizer down to dessert.
Just recently, I had one of the best dinners that I've ever had so far. It was an intimate gathering with a few fellow food bloggers at the one-week-old restaurant called Impressions at the Maxims Tower and dinner was prepared by Chef Cyrille Soenen, former hotel executive chef and current owner of the French restaurant Cicou.
Dinner began with a basket of freshly baked bread. I love warm bread especially when paired with an array of delicious spreads. I also noticed that the bread had a hole in the middle and it was because it was hanged like a kebab thus causing the metal rod to puncture a hole at the center of the soft dough. I was told that they don't fully bake the bread and only complete the cooking before it gets served. This way, they can maintain the softness and freshness of the bread. Yum!
I know the rule is to just eat a little of everything but that evening I ended up consuming almost the entire bread basket.
Meet the culprits
Lightly salted Beurre D'Isigny from France and the best spread that I've ever tasted -- Bagna Cauda.
I normally do not like putting butter on my bread and if ever I do, I would just consume a very small piece. However, I couldn't resist the soft, lightly salted butter that instantly perked up the taste of the freshly baked bread. It gave a very comforting feeling in fact.
However, it was the Bagna Cauda (bahn-yah kaw-da), a spread that I initially could not pronounce properly, that won my heart (and tastebuds). I even had to ask the server to repeat it twice and sensing my confusion, he just told me it's made of four things -- garlic, olive oil, butter and anchovies. Woah! To have both butter and olive oil in one recipe? This was truly deadly.
Still, I carefully took a small serving and spread it over my bread. What happened next was love at first taste. The marriage of both the garlic and anchovies created a wonderful flavor that I can only describe as perfect. I love how well it complemented the warm bread. It was very delicious that I couldn't stop till I clean out my little saucer.
After indulging on the delicious Bagna Cauda and a basket of bread, then came our first course -- Squash and Crab Salad with Assorted Nuts, Romain Salad Chiffonade (Php. 350). Placed in a small bowl, I enjoyed the fresh crisp lettuce that served as base for the delicious squash and crab salad. I love the cold crab meat and the thin strips of squash. The dressing was light and the sprinkled nuts gave it that crunchy texture that have added more personality to the salad.
Our soup came next and here I took a big risk. I was told that we were having Delicate Cream Soup of Mussels with Mashed Watercress Raviolis and Oyster Foam (Php. 240). It's a long name for a soup but as you can see it has two of the things that I can't have unless I want to run the risk of having a nasty stomachache after. I can't have mussels and oysters but I bravely took the chance as I wanted to try this soup quite badly. Paul assured me that of all places, Impressions will surely watch over the quality of their shellfish so he feels pretty confident that I'll be ok.
I took a careful sip and I love the creamy taste of the soup. The mussels gave it a slightly salty flavor and I love the soft raviolis that reminds me a small wonton filled with watercress. I love biting into the tiny croutons that adds more flavor to the smooth cream-based soup.
We had two main entrees that evening. First was the Red Mullet Fillet stuffed with Prawns ala Nicoise served with Ratatouille (Php. 410). I love fish and nothing beats enjoying a good slice of fish fillet that's so fresh and tender. What more, slice further and you're in for a surprise! At the center of the fillet are some mashed prawns that made this dish even more flavorful. I love the ratatoille too! This actually came as a surprise because I'm not really fond of tomatoes but Chef Cyrille's version made me finished off every single veggie on my plate.
Our second entree was another dish that has made me try something that I though I swore I'll never eat -- foie gras. Being a big advocate against animal cruelty, Paul and I made a promise to avoid having sharksfin and foie gras as we do not really agree with how sharks are being killed simply for their fins and ducks being fattened up in quite a cruel way for their liver.
On our plate were three slices of duck breast topped with a thick piece of foie gras. The duck breast lies on top of mashed broccoli. Let me start by saying that I love the duck breast, it was very juicy as opposed to my initial fear that duck breast is normally more dry and tougher than chicken breast. Not true at all. The mashed broccoli was a genius work of art. This is a perfect accompaniment with meat and it gives you less guilt instead of having rice or mashed potato. As for the foie gras, it was different. I must admit it tastes pretty good but I think for the love of those ducks, I will continue to stay away from it after this meal. ;)
It feels like we have been eating forever. We truly enjoyed the evening with the best tasting dishes and an amazing company of food bloggers. Paul and I enjoyed chatting with Chefs Cyrille Soenen and Hubertus Cramer, who's the VP for Kitchen Management for Resorts World. He shared with us his dream of making Impressions make it to the list of Michelin-star restaurants. Let us join them by crossing our fingers as I don't really see any problem why they won't able to wow those Michelin judges.
For dessert, we had Nougat Glace with Strawberry Coulis (Php. 210). Paul and I love strawberry so this one obviously got our thumbs-up. I love munching on the crunchy peanut brittle on top of the ice cream covered nougat. The strawberry coulis was thick and sweet just the way we love it.
It was truly a delicious dinner and we couldn't thank our lucky stars enough. What an honor to be the guests of Chefs Cyrille and Hubertus and to be able to try Impressions. Paul and I will definitely be back. If you notice, the prices are pretty reasonable given that you're getting a delicious French dinner.
I will be back my dear Bagna Cauda, I will be back.
Impressions is located at the 3rd level of Maxims Tower, Resort World, Newport City in Pasay City.