What a way to start the New Year, a good beginning for 2011. To be invited in a bloggers night sponsored by Carnation inside the cozy Italian themed-Buenisimo in Eastwood Mall attended by accomplished food bloggers and well-known celebrities like Issa Litton and Chef China Coquangco was a privilege especially this was my first bloggers night.
And my anticipation for this event was well-deserved as I was able to meet other food bloggers who were generous in sharing some of their food blogging experiences. Thanks you guys. And in the midst of friendly company, the engaging host Issa Litton started the evening with the announcement of a new website for Carnation called cookathome.ph. She also happily mentioned that the best food photo of the night will win a P10,000 price. We just have to upload the pictures in Carnation’s Facebook page, Cook at Home and these will be judged on the number of likes in Facebook (80%) and Carnation’s representatives’ criteria (20%). We will also be given a rating sheet for the food served that night. Wow, I felt like a diner rating the food in Top Chef already, cool!
Then she introduced Chef China who gave us a sample dish incorporating Carnation milk and Masala wine with peppercorns. She called it Beef with Peppercorns sauce. It was a tweak on Beef Stroganoff as Ms. Issa commented but without the mushrooms. And by the way, there’s something surreal about watching two TV personalities you see on television and now an arm’s length away from you. I have watched their shows in Q11, Cooking with the Masters by Ms. Issa Litton and My Favorite Recipes by Chef China. So I can't help it, I had to have photos taken with them for posterity sake and yes, so I could show it off to friends in Facebook, haha. I’m sure my husband would have been a little embarrassed by his starstruck wife. Oh well.
Then after the informative cooking demo of Chef China, we proceeded to the dramatically-lit and beautifully arranged buffet table outside Buenisimo to sample the other dishes Carnation milk was part of. First up was Croquettas de Pollo con Huevos with Aioli, crunchy battered potato portions with a creamy yellowish sauce. I love croquettes so I looked forward to tasting it. And I wasn’t disappointed, each bite revealed a smooth paste of chicken and potato that complemented the luscious aioli sauce. I suspect a little mustard in the dip though because it was slightly sour. Maybe it was added to cut through the richness of batter. Nonetheless, it was still good.
After which, we had the Tri-colored Pasta with Salmon cream. I don’t often cook creamy fish pasta since my family prefers the tomato-based sauces so this milk-based pasta dish was a treat for me. It’s just sad that it didn’t stand out beside the potato croquettes, presentation-wise. But other than that I liked its soft and light flavor and the salmon flakes. Its lightly-colored pasta hues also brandished some creativity as I never had a light green pasta noodle before. It was different and gave an additional flair to the dish.
Then we had the star dish of the night, the Lengua Legislativa. For me, it was a revelation. A lengua with lightly red sauce topped with olives and red bell peppers is not the lengua I’m used to. I’ve eaten my share of lenguas, some good, some bad that you can almost feel the ridges of the pork tongue, but I’ve never had lengua like this. I’m used to lengua with brownish sauce punctuated by mushrooms. But this one seems to have a Mediterranean twist, I don’t know. But it was quite tasty, definitely tender and considerately cut in small bite-size portions topped with olives and red bell peppers and seeped in a mildly rich and light red sauce. I’m guessing that the light-red hue of the sauce maybe due to the Carnation milk that may have been added. It’s just a guess because sometimes I add milk to my tomato-based sauces to deflect the strong acidic flavor of the tomato sauce.
Then there’s a dish I wonder how Carnation milk was part of. The Glazed Canadian ham. Coming from the Christmas season where hams were almost part of every dinner celebration, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this ham in front of me. With my tongue still remembering the awful saltiness of some ham from last Christmas, I was quite relieved that this ham was way better. Carved expertly and carefully plated, the thin slices is quite tender, moist and brushed only with refined sweetness, a filling partner to the other dishes. I wonder if they used Carnation milk to tenderize the whole ham.
For dessert, we had the sweet corn panna cotta and the chocolate truffles. And though I appreciate the infusion of the sweet corn flavor to the panna cotta, it was a little runny for my taste. However, the chocolate truffle was a surprise. Sitting unassumingly on the buffet table, it was easy to dismiss it as a bland chocolate ball or a rolled-up brownie. But as they say, looks can be deceiving. It was far from bland and tasted like a piece of imported dark chocolate melting slowly in your mouth, leaving only a sweet trail of chocolate on your fingers. A delectable and surprising finish to a great meal.
So there it is, my first Bloggers’ night, the well-organized and well-attended Carnation Bloggers’ Night, a delightful combination of good food, great ambiance and good company. Definitely a memorable one for me.