Our family celebrates Christmas Day (December 25) quite differently from our Christmas Eve…
As you have seen in my last post, Our Noche Buena in 2012, our December 24 was celebrated at home with much fanfare and tradition. There were a lot of Filipino food and both sides of the family were present. It was exciting, loud and chaotic to say the least, but it was a lot of crazy fun too! We all held our breaths (and stomachs!) until the strike of midnight, when we finally partook of a true Filipino feast with a grand fiesta atmosphere!
The day after was a much more quiet and solemn one for us. Partly because we all slept very late the night before, so the morning after –was well, not so morning anymore. We woke up at almost noon still feeling hungover and groggy from the party the night before.
Christmas Day is a special day for our family, as I am sure it is with yours. As Christians, this is the day we pause and remember the real reason for the season, Christ’s birth. Aside from that main reason though, this is also the day my family commemorates the passing of my beloved father. You see, it was my dad who was the “Original Spoiler” of The Spoiled Mummy! Being the only girl and the youngest in a family of four — I was the baby, the “apple of his eye” through and through. He gave me everything I ever needed, wanted and much, much more. I was (and still am) a true-blue daddy’s girl! He passed away 7 Christmases ago (yes exactly on December 25), and I miss him a lot, so this is my own little way of remembering him.
But as with everything in life, we have to move on…
Being a food blogger first and foremost, let me start sharing with you what the family and I had for dinner last Christmas Day!
Every Christmas Day dinner is really for my own little family. That’s me, the Hubby and the three kids. There were some years that we’ve celebrated quietly at home, other years we’ve celebrated in a nice restaurant and still other years, in a different place out of the country. The only important thing for us on this day’s dinner is that we are all together. Christmas Day lunch and afternoon were still spent with extended family and friends, so we treat this December 25 dinner as the most special and the most sacred dinner in the year — because this is THE only meal when we are alone and can bond as a family while enjoying each other’s company without much noise and other distractions.
So for this year’s Christmas Day dinner, we decided to celebrate it in one of our favorite restaurants in the city : RED in Makati Shangri-la Hotel. Being a holiday, it was hard to find a good restaurant that is open on this day and one that serves excellent quality food. RED was the perfect choice. This restaurant is simple but elegant. It has always been a favorite of mine. They have a very good breakfast menu (where I see a lot of bankers and lawyers close their most important deals) and a nice variation of lunch set menus which I have come to love as well (where I see a lot of “ladies-who-lunch” crowd). Their dinner menu is wonderful too and this is where the Hubby and I choose to go if we want a simple, quiet date night. 🙂
But more than the food, the best aspect of RED restaurant is still their top-notch, impeccable service. Yes, food is important but good service is much more crucial. I can never fully appreciate a restaurant that serves good food but has mediocre or bad service. Great food and great service must go hand in hand. And this restaurant has never failed me in both. Even though they are known to be fine dining, I have never seen that pretentiousness from the menu or sensed that air of snootiness in the room. The staff is always smiling and willing to accommodate requests and serve graciously.
For Christmas Day, RED came up with their very own special Christmas menu :
Amuse Bouche : Frozen Gazpacho
This was a modern take on the traditional Spanish tomato-vegetable soup. But instead of being in liquid soup-y form, the pureed fresh tomatoes and avocado were both served frozen and in a cup, with a parmesan bread stick stuck in between to balance the taste. This was good and light, the best way to start the rest of our meal.
First Course : Scallop Carpaccio, Uni Creme, Caviar, Sour Cream and Chives Cake
I loved how they mixed together the fresh Scallop and the Uni creme here. The Scallop was almost rare (like a sashimi) and the Uni’s creme was mild but still possessed that uniquely good “fishy” taste.
Pan-seared Duck Breast, Confit Leg, Pan-fried Duck Liver with wilted Arugula and Asparagus
Even though the combination of Duck breast and Foie gras seemed too rich to be eaten in one dish, it actually turned out to be well balanced. And because I love freshly cracked pepper in almost all my dishes, I asked them not just for a dash, but more like a heavy sprinkle on this meaty course.
Baked Turbot with Bearnaise Crust, Braised Fennel and Champagne Mousseline and Pearl Onion
After the Duck Breast and the Foie Gras, it was good to have this light and yet flavorful baked fish next. The green leafy fennel added that anise-like spice to it but it was the light Champagne mousse that sealed the flavor of this dish.
Grilled Beef Sirloin, Old Vegetables Mille-Feuille, Bone Marrow and Truffle Jus
This was such an exquisitely done dish. The Sirloin steak was cooked medium preserving its natural juices and the Bone Marrow and Truffle Jus layered in between provided that strong flavor and rich taste to the meat. There wasn’t really a need for a lot of side dishes here, but the lightly cooked mixed vegetables on the side gave my palate that much needed “break” from consuming too much meat, too soon!
Pre Dessert : Port Wine and Apple Granite
Another well deserved “break” for my taste buds : real icy sorbet made of Red Wine and Apples
This was cool, light and refreshing!
If you take a look at the menu above (2nd photo in this blog), you will see the name of the Dessert Finale listed as : Warm Candied Orange Christmas Pudding with Brandy Sauce. But since the Hubby and I are not so much into Candied Oranges and Puddings, we asked the chef if he can come up with a different dessert instead for each one of us.
Photo above shows what he came up with for the Hubby : Pernod Flamed and Roasted Pineapple with Licorice Root topped with Tonka Bean Ice Cream.
Now this was one dessert the Hubby didn’t want to share at all. But of course, he couldn’t refuse The Spoiled Mummy’s plea and finally gave in! 🙂 The slightly warm and roasted Pineapple was sooo juicy and sweet that it perfectly complemented the home made ice cream on top of it! Even though there wasn’t any Chocolate in this dish, I actually loved it!
But then… I knew that the best is yet to come! 🙂
The chef came up with The Spoiled Mummy’s Dessert for the night…and it was called : Surprisingly Red.
And much to my surprise and delight, this was one of the most beautiful Chocolate Desserts I have ever seen!
Photo above shows you a Chocolate Sphere made of the finest Dark Belgian Chocolate. And to further excite The Spoiled Mummy, they drizzled some hot Caramel sauce on top of it!
The combination of the hot Caramel sauce and the cold Dark Belgian Chocolate naturally cracked the Sphere!
And much to my surprise again, inside this beautiful Dark Chocolate Sphere was a dainty scoop of Vanilla parfait (soft ice cream) peeking right through those delicious cracks!
At this point, I couldn’t restrain myself anymore for what was in front of me looked something so much more exciting than any huge Christmas present I was about to open!
And so without further ado, I excitedly tapped the Chocolate sphere with my large silver spoon to crack it some more and then lovingly gorged on this beautiful piece of pure and melted Dark Chocolate. I ate it alternately with a spoonful of that creamy Vanilla parfait… and boy, was I in heaven with every bite! 🙂
Last but not the least, we had our delicious Mignardises or Christmas Petit Fours to cap the wonderful night.
This assortment of smaller desserts was just perfect with my hot cup of tea at the end of the long and delicious meal. For who am I to turn down a piece of eclair, a couple more of dark and white chocolate balls and some crispy thin chocolate cookies topped with dried fruits?
Besides, it was Christmas Day. We can eat as much as we want, without the guilt. It was our most sacred dinner too as a family, therefore, it ought to have some very special and good food. And lest I forget, this very spoiled dinner last Christmas Day reminded me once again of my beloved father, my big man, who I believe is still watching over me and making sure that I am always well-fed by the Hubby! 🙂 After all, wasn’t he the Original Spoiler of The Spoiled Mummy??
Hope you all had a wonderful and memorable Christmas Day as well.