By CJ JUNTEREAL
There’s nothing more luxurious than the world’s best served on your table. Here, authentic choices from all over the world you can get in the city.
Kouign Amann (QUEEN-ah-mahn)
Chef Cyrille Soenen
French Chef Cyrille Soenen introduced this Breton pastry several years ago and gained fanatical fans. Coiled in multiple layers of buttery croissant dough layered with sugar that melts into a caramelized crust as it bakes, the New York Times once described this as the “fattiest pastry in all of Europe.”
Call +63 917 5401811 to order. Mini KA at P40/pc.(order per 12 pcs.) and Regular KA at P89/pc. (boxes of 4, 6, 9, or 12).
Wildflour Café + Bakery
Boxes of imported Italian Panetonne are ubiquitous at Christmas, but nothing beats a fresh loaf. Wildflour’s version of this Italian Christmas specialty has moist, sweet, soft dough that still carries some heft. Studded with raisins and house-made candied citrus peel, it also has a subtle sprinkle of chocolate streusel on top.
Available at Wildflour BGC. Call +63 2 8567600 for more information. P234/each.
Iron Balls Gin
Let’s Drink to That Incorporated
Crafted at AR Sutton & Co. Engineers micro distillery in the heart of Bangkok, this artisan gin is handmade from fermentation to distillation using freshly cracked coconuts and pineapples with hints of juniper, ginger, and lemongrass. Gin connoisseurs will appreciate the Asian flavor profile, and its affinity to spicy dishes.
Contact +63 917 1785388 or IG message @ironballs.ph. P2,900 (700 ml) or P2,700 (wholesale price for a minimum of 24 bottles).
Empire Bakery and Deli
In Belgium it is typically eaten for breakfast with butter. The bread is cloud-soft, enriched with butter and eggs, studded with raisins and surprise pockets of rock sugar that crunch when you least expect it. It keeps well for a few days without refrigeration, and is perfect for Christmas morning brunch.
Available daily, but call +63 917 8866850 for large orders. P70/demi-size and P150/regular.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
During the Hainanese Chicken Rice craze several years ago, Stevie Villacin’s version stood out. Today it is still a bestseller. The chicken is consistently flavorful, the rice is so tasty that I can eat it on its own, and the ginger and chili sauces beg spoonsful rather than mere dabs.
Call +63 2 8968940 or +63 906 5084155 to order one to two days ahead and for a list of other international dishes. P1,400 for a whole chicken set with five cups of rice and condiments.
Texas Style Smoked Beef Brisket
Smoked brisket done badly ends up dry. Papa Jess uses Snake River Farms US Wagyu beef so the brisket turns out smoky, juicy, marbled with just enough fat, and spoon tender—even after a 16-hour smoke over local and imported wood. It’s worth the price! Serve with bottled bbq sauce or buy a bottle of his house-blend bbq sauce.
Contact +63 920 9555377, firstname.lastname@example.org, or IG message @papajessph to order. Vacuum packed in 250gr. (P600), 500gr. (P1,150), 750gr. (P1,650) or 1kg. (P2,200) packages.
Hyatt City of Dreams Manila
Hyatt’s Stollen has a delicious and generous tunnel of marzipan down its middle, is filled with dried fruits soaked in rum and candied citrus peel, and smells of Christmas with cinnamon and nutmeg. To me, it is the best version of this cake-like German Christmas bread that can be found in Manila.
Contact +63 2 6911234 ext. 1162 or email@example.com order or reserve. P480++ for a 300gr. loaf.
Truffle mushroom, vegetarian, and crab meat variants also available. For the Chinese, eating fortune bags—tofu skin pouches stuffed with minced meat, seafood, vegetables and mushrooms, and soaked in a sweetish sauce—signifies a new year of prosperity and good fortune. Chinamommyph also sells DIY Chinese lumpia that tastes just like those made by the best Chinese aunties and grandmas.
Contact +63 917 5148540 or IG message @chinamommyph to order with at least two days notice. P1,600/24 pcs. and P800/12 pcs.
House of Bao
Jian Bao are like small siopao on taste steroids. Steamed, then pan-fried till a nice brown crust develops on the bottom, the dough holds a tasty filling of pork, vegetables, and lots of green onions. Eat with a bottle of their super addictive Chili Garlic Crunch, or even plain. P.S. The bao freeze very well, for midnight cravings at any time.
Contact +63 917 8780035 or IG message @houseofbaoph to order. Production days are Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. P35/pc.
Empire Bakery and Deli
This most beloved of Jewish cookies/desserts has a tender, buttery cream cheese dough rolled around a filling of raisins and fruit preserves. It is by far the best version I have tried in Manila, and would be a perfect present for homesick New Yorkers.
Call +63 917 8866850 for orders. P50/pc. that weighs around 45g.
The Peninsula Manila
The Peninsula Manila’s apple strudel isn’t quite like the original Austrian version with its many paper-thin layers. Instead, this one is about 14 inches long and stuffed full with an apple-raisin mixture surrounded by a thin crust. The top is generously strewn with rock sugar, which provides a nice sweet crunch.
Contact +63 2 8872888 or firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries and orders. P280+/strudel.
Callos a la Madrileña
Discovery Primea’s version of this Spanish classic is lip-smackingly rich with oxtail, tripe, chickpeas, and a thick tomato sauce gently simmered for hours till a sheen of oil floats on top. Pass the rice please. Or maybe the paella valenciana, since that can be ordered, too.
Contact +63 2 9558888 or email@example.com to order. Available from Dec.1-31, 2018. P3,500++ for a party platter.
This article was first published in Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.