Thursday, March 29, 2012

Learning to Love Cheese at Restaurant Verbena


Back in the days of bell bottoms, ironed hair, and harvest gold kitchen appliances, fondue parties were all the rage. The 1970s have returned with a vengeance, thanks to Deal Grocer,  and so, it would seem, has fondue. Gone are the simple communal pots in frighteningly drab earth tones—nowadays, fondue has gone gloriously high-tech, complete with LED heaters, fashionable finishes, and even funky shapes, such as one that looks like a Hershey’s Kiss.

But how did it all begin? The word fondue simply means “melted” in French and specifically refers, in the culinary sense, to melted cheese.   Here in the Philippines chocolate fondue are preferred over what  it originally was.  Fondue was originally created out of necessity by people living in remote villages in the Swiss Alps. With only local food sources to sustain them during harsh winters, they found that melting stale cheese rendered it not only edible, but delicious, and that even dried-out bread became quite good when dunked in this creamy concoction.
Many varieties of the Classic Swiss Fondue now exist, with each cuisine adding its own twist—special seasonings, regional cheeses, different cooking liquids. For example, the Fondue Savoyarde of the French Alps calls for Beaufort cheese and Savoyard white wine, while the traditional Fonduta of Italy’s Piedmont region employs a sweeter Fontina cheese and egg yolks. As for American Fondue, well, we’ve evolved beyond the days of melted Velveeta—we recommend using a good artisanal cheese and American-distilled cherry brandy.


During our weekend at Tagaytay, for my daughter's birthday, Bhogs and I luckily found time  all for ourselves for a  snack, after a light to medium dinner at Shakey's Tagaytay.    Armed with a Deal Grocer voucher on our left hand and  faith on our right, we snatched a fine moment  at  Restaurant Verbena of Discovery Suites.
Restaurant Verbena  is a dining destination with great ambiance, exceptional service and a strong sense of place.  It  is the showcase food outlet of  Discovery Country   Suites Tagaytay,  an idyllic 7-bedroom private vacation home that was converted into a luxurious Bed & Breakfast.   Chef David Pardo de Ayala has a continental culinary background but his creative incorporation of local ingredients is renowned and celebrates the rich harvest of Tagaytay.   Its inclusion in the internationally prestigious Miele Guide is a testament to the restaurant’s standing in the local dining scene. Also listed at  Asia Tatler's  finest restaurant guide.
As we waited for our  Cheese fondue and deciding whether to order more, though we can still smell pizza on our sleeves, we were served with a bread with three dips.  For a motley of taste, the three small bowls hold, a tomato based dip, for a tangy-oily yet rustic touch,  next carried the chicken vile butter with chives, next is something of a garlic dressing.
I don't know what really to expect,  I could not recall if I had a cheese fondue already,  but can dipping your  potato chips or garlic bread slices into microwave-melted cheddar count? 
Let me tell you, it  was nothing short of amazing! 
As promised by deal grocer, we were swept away by this romantic food-trip that is summer-perfect, with a classic Emmental Cheese fondue.  A traditional fondue at its finest, made with ementhaler, kirsch, and white wine.
 The big rectangular plate was filled with a gamut of dietary, fiber-filled delight,  cherry tomatoes, croutons, char-grilled shitake mushrooms, pan-fried potato cubes, and baby carrots.   A communal pot like this is so deserving to a group of 4 to six and paired with white wine would be an absolute table enticer.
 Here is a view just before the sun had set.  An overlooking view of the Taal Lake, the Discovery Suite's Garden and pool area, on the veranda seating area.
Hey, there's a lot more to this restaurant, do make it a point to check their menu out and stopover whenever you'll be in Tagaytay!

Restaurant Verbena - Tagaytay
Discovery Country Suites
300 Calamba Road,
San Jose Tagaytay City


Contact numbers:
+63 46 413 4567 (Tagaytay)
+63 02 529 8172

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