It is very seldom that we are in Manila during Halloween. When we were younger, we would either jet-off to nearby Asian countries, or maybe go to the beach. My dad's birthday is on the 29th, so that's one more reason to celebrate the "festivities" with a family trip.
This year, we have decided to stay in Manila. We wanted to go to the beach, but with the horrendous weather, it is impractical, if not downright impossible. Having outgrown trick-or-treating and raves, I had to find a way to celebrate this occasion somehow. Luckily, I'm on Chef Marc Aubry's cellphone contacts list of "People Who Are Always Hungry" and texted me about his special for the weekend: Couscous (a grainy starch made out of Semolina flour, popular in Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisine). "I've been craving for couscous!", I tell myself. So I drag Matt and our BFF, TG-Boy, to my favorite bistro, Je Suis Gourmand.
Ravenous, we ordered the Tarte Flambee (a pizza-like crust topped with caramelized onions and bacon) and our all-time favorite Foie Gras Terrine with Mesclun Greens and Melba Toast to start. While waiting, I had my bottle of Chateau St-Jacques 2003 poured into a decanter and chilled to "the closest you can get to 17" degrees Celcius, as instructed by Weinmeister Noel.
I remember having a bottle of the 2000 St-Jacques a few years back and I recall vividly how full-bodied and tannic it was. So imagine my surprise when- after 20-30 minutes breathing time and brought down to the proper temperature- I took a sip of the 2003 and found it to be pleasantly mellow and approachable, with pronounced berry notes and leather, the finish still long and just slightly hot.
I finally get the importance of decanting: Not only does it remove unwanted sediments from older wines, but it also allows younger wines to aerate and open up their bouquets. I used to think that its just something frivolous wine snobs do, but now I know that there really is a purpose behind it. I think I like decanting.
Excited by my latest wine discovery, I wait anxiously for our main course: the Couscous dish and Rib-eye with Fries and Mesclun Salad. The couscous was topped with two slices of lamb chops and two thin sausages, served with a bowl of flavorful broth and harissa (a Tunisian sauce made from hot chilis, garlic, cumin, caraway, corriander and olive oil). The lamb chops were so tender and juicy that neither TG-boy nor I bothered to offer Matt a taste. The sausages, too, were delicious and Matt commented that he can have those for breakfast everyday. For the first time, the steak- although perfectly cooked and tasty with its rich bearnaise sauce- was not the star of our meal.
Stuffed and deliriously happy, we were ready for our Halloween party at Heirarchy. I forgot to bring my camera, so its too bad that I cannot show off my groovy hippie costume and TG-Boy's awesome bellhop outfit. We had a great time partying with birthday boy Chris (who stole the show as a 6'3" Breathalizer), Reena, Thea and the rest of the the Steak Productions Posse. Funny, though ,because the next day, all I could think about was that couscous.
I know. I need to get a life.
*photo of couscous and Chateau Saint-Jacques 2003 from Noel of eyeonwine.blogspot.com
Je Suis Gourmand
Net one Plaza
Bonifacio Global City