Episode 62: A Tale of Two Dinners (Part 1)

January 6, 4:30 pm, Monday. The waitress had brought my pitcher of draft beer and nachos as I set up my laptop. I was right to hang out at Snaps, the sports bar of Sofitel Manila to pass the time. Only a few patrons were present, quietly sipping their drinks and watching the sports shows on the screens around the place. It was cool, quiet, surprisingly a good place to work in.

In about two hours, I would be meeting my brother MC and some of my relatives over dinner at Spiral, Sofitel’s famed buffet restaurant.  This is my first major food raid for this year.

My relatives – Kuya Joel, Ate Jenette and her husband Rex, and Tita Alice (our aunt from Canada) arrived at Snaps at about 6:30pm. It was a rather sober meeting – my aunt had died just this New Year’s Day – but a good night-out seemed to be a nice way to close the ordeal in a light and positive note.  It’s been, after all, a long time since we got together.

It’s been a long while since I last tried out hotel cuisine (the last one was at Century Park Hotel), so seeing Spiral was a nice sight. Much has been said about Spiral after it reopened months ago (it was closed down for repairs), and everyone is singing praises about its wide selection of dishes, world-class cuisine and ambience and such. So many bloggers have dined here. I was, as always, late for the party, so to speak. But dine at Spiral I have waited to do, and dine there I will.

Each main cuisine has its own area at Spiral. That means if you’re a fan of Japanese, Indian, or French cuisine, there’s a table full of the stuff you want waiting for you. It feels like you’re about to take on the whole world.

The first area in Spiral to fall in our world-wide raid was the Japanese cuisine table. There’s so much sushi and sashimi to choose from, among others. I went after those first.

Next were the Chinese dishes – a bowl of spicy noodles here, a few dimsum there.

While trying out the French cuisine area, a strange dish made its way to our table, courtesy of MC – foie gras, fatty duck liver. It was juicy, well-cooked, partly buttery and gelatinous and bursting with fat. Every bite felt heavenly, never mind that pure duck fat was swimming in my palate and into my veins. No wonder foie gras is a gastronomical treasure for the French.

By the way, MC and I knew of the (rather) cruel history behind this dish, and why animal rights groups hate it. Specially fattened geese or ducks are used to prepare foie gras, but it’s said that these birds are force-fed with a gavage until their livers grow fat. There are allegedly more humane ways to fatten the bird, such as natural feeding or the use of less cruel-looking implements. This is frowned upon by the French, who, to their defense, claim gavage-fed fat birds produce better foie gras. But I digress.

Next on the line-up are the Indian and Asian dishes. I couldn’t get as much as I want, and by this time I‘m already getting dirty looks, so I settled with chicken curry, grilled meats, baked mussel, basmati rice, and kimchi.

Breads and cheeses were aplenty. As far as I know, cheeses always go well with wine and bread, but this time, there won’t be any wine. But no matter. I feel sorry that I was not able to take not of what the cheeses being served are. It would have made for good material in case I attend a wine pairing event.

Then came the grilled dishes.  I forgot to take pictures, but well, salmon is luv.

Now if there’s one thing in Spiral that impressed me, it’s their wide selection of seafood. Lobsters, oysters, prawns, fishes… they’re all there. Had I planned this dinner earlier, I would have gone from a “see food” diet to a seafood diet.

Finally, there were the desserts. Seriously, I lost count of all the sweets I ate. I tried out the rum-infused cake, the crème brulee, the various chocolate bits, the fondues, the cakes… Let’s just say my doctor is going to kill me outright if he found out about this adventure. Too late.

There’s a bar inside Spiral for those who want to cap this dining experience. Patrons can also buy and take home specially prepared food baskets.

After filling ourselves up, we took a walk around Sofitel’s seawall along Manila Bay. The horizon was nearly dark, if not for the lights of the theme park and the ports on the horizon. MC says the place commands a spectacular view of the sunset, and that visitors would gather to hang out, sip champagne, listen to music, or spend a romantic afternoon.

The dinner at Spiral was meaningful as it was also a reunion of sorts for us. Having a sumptuous meal in such a classy establishment, and savoring the taste of every major cuisine in the world definitely made for a great family experience.

As for me, it was something like my way to compensate for a very dull Christmas and New Year. I spent the holidays writing, marathoning anime, and working on my usual news programs, so I say an all-you-can-eat raid is a fitting reward.

On the other hand, I think I ended up overposting through Instagram that night. C’mon, challenging every station at Spiral felt like a campaign to conquer the world, and I think I did a pretty good job.

In any case, dining at Spiral felt like a great way to start the year. Now what’s left to do is join the bandwagon of people cleansing their systems after the holidays.

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