Everyone likes grapes. It’s always present in the Filipino home specially during the holidays. But have you ever thought of using grapes in cooking? To promote the versatility of grapes in sweet and savory dishes, the California Table Grapes Culinary Adventure was created. Chefs from Aubergine, Tagaytay Highlands Steakhouse, Sugarhouse, Le Souffle and Chef Laudico’s Bistro Filipino created dishes that incorporated grapes in unique and creative ways. I was honored to have been invited to try out the set menu created by Chef Stefan of Aubergine. I’ve featured Aubergine twice before, here and here. I loved the food both times I ate there. No wonder Aubergine was recently named the no. 18 restaurant in Asia and no. 2 in the Philippines after Antonio’s in the Miele guide to Asia’s top 20 restaurants. They definitely deserve this recognition. I personally think the food in Aubergine is superior to Caprice (16).
Asia’s Top 20 for 2009/2010 (click to enlarge)
This is the menu of our lunch. We had the full 7 course meal which cost P2,250 (+10% sc). The entire meal was flawlessly executed. Every dish was perfectly cooked and the use of grapes were subtle yet provided just the right amount of sweetness to the dish. The dishes are also available for ala carte. You don’t need to order the whole set menu but I suggest you do. It’s a one is a lifetime experience. This menu is available until December 2009.
Aubergine “grape” menu
We started our meal with a refreshing drink specially created for this menu. The drink is called Dark Knight and is made from fresh grape juice, creme de menthe and grenadine.
Next is the amuse-bouche of proscuitto ham wrapped around a grape and topped with a tarragon leaf. The grape was a welcome substitute to the usual melon.
the first wine(not included in the set menu)
duck foie gras terrine in blue grape jelly home-smoked duck breast on walnut-grape salad mesclun greens tossed in raspberry dressing
The soup was a surprise favorite. I didn’t know what to expect when I read the words “cream of grape soup” in the menu. It was savory, creamy and tangy with a mild kick of sweet grape flavor. The oyster fritter added a crunchy texture to the soup.
cream of grapes and apples w/ oyster fritter and champagne foam
I’m not much of a seafood lover but this dish blew me away. Each and every piece was cooked to perfection. It was my first time to try celeriac puree and it tasted like mashed potatoes. I wish I had a spoon to sop up all the grape nage.
seafood medley w/ lobster, Norwegian salmon & scallop on grape-celeriac puree and grape nage
the scallop and salmon
The grape sherbet was served in a teapot with dry ice inside to stimulate smoke coming out of the spout. I found the sherbet too sweet.
the second wine(not included in the set menu)
The main course was a choice between Australian quail or Chilean sea bass. I already decided to order the more unusual quail. I was delighted when we were informed that we were going to try a little of both.
The fish and shrimp were delicious. The risotto wasn’t sweet at all despite having grape slivers in it. It all came together wonderfully.
grilled Chilean sea bass topped w/ a grape & prawn ragout served on grape risotto & grape beurre rouge
The quail was my favorite dish. It was so tender and flavorful. I loved the addition of pine nuts and porcini mushrooms. The grapes blended seamlessly with the entire dish.
oven roasted Australian quail topped w/ grapes, porcini mushrooms & pine nuts served w/ truffled grape potato mousseline vegetable cassoulet, honey glazed grapes & port wine jus
I didn’t like the crispy brie very much. The bread like coating soaked up all the oil and reminded of the Chinese shrimp toast dish. I just ate the melted brie inside with the grapes. This dish would do well with some sort of grape marmalade on the side.
crispy fried brie cheese praline on balsamic grapes
My favorite dessert was the grape turon.
flamed grape tartlette, grape spring roll, grape ice cream
Macarons and pralines from their patisserie were also served with coffee or tea.
Menu from participating restaurants (available until Dec. 2009)