Cake + wine = a damn good time!
It wasn't always that I've had a penchant for wines. It used to be that I hated it, so much so that I've steered clear of it for years. A trip to the Wine Museum some time last year was the pivotal event that had made me rethink my impression of these fermented grapes. Apparently, I've only been exposed to the strong reds---the type I least appreciate because of its usual bitterness---when really, there were others out there better suited to my palate -- sweet whites, rose, sweet reds, merlot, etc. Since then, I've been open to discovering more about this inebriant, so when Sommelier Selection partnered with The Cake Club for its Sommelier Wine Flights, I knew I couldn't pass this up.
Sommelier Selection offers artisanal wines from France and Italy. From July 1, 2013 to August 31, 2013, they are partnering with different restaurants to let people explore the diversity of their regions' wines. If you're not familiar with the term, wine flights means tastings of multiple wines, sometimes for the simple purpose of letting newbies try a number of different types, or at other times intended for the experienced to gain a deeper understanding of a specific region, vintage or varietal.
For its partnership with The Cake Club, the wines are to be paired with its signature cakes, albeit this would come later in the evening. Up first were the savory dishes...
We started with a nice, warm bowl of French Onion Soup. A blanket of Emmental cheese lay just below the soup's surface, covering a large soggy, yet tasty crouton. The strong beef broth hid a treasure of onions within its depth, and everything just melded beautifully like an orchestra in the mouth.
We were all curious why this salad was named such. We later learned that it was because it was the General Manager's favorite salad. Forest mushrooms, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and greens with shallot vinaigrette were ensconced in a crisp parmesan basket. My fork broke the hardened cheese and mixed everything in, and when I took a bite, I suddenly understood why it was named so. Light with an earthy breath from the mushrooms, and a distinct taste from the feta cheese, followed by a zest from the tomatoes before a delicious sharpness from the parmesan make for a very appetizing dish. I wanted more! Not to feel all proprietary, but I think the GM should be Guia Monica from now on.
If I'd have gone to The Cake Club by my lonesome, I wouldn't have thought of ordering this. Based simply on the description---spicy cod roe, dried seaweed, cream sauce---my eyes would have probably scanned it over, not missing a beat. And that would have been a mistake. Creamy, with a good flavor of seaweed from the dried heap that adorned it, this pasta had a nice, spicy endnote that actually made you hanker for more.
Another favorite was this light crepe filled with porcini mushrooms. I love mushrooms -- shiitake, portobello, oysters, enoki, porcini, etc. They have this wonderful earthy flavor, plus they can be a good substitute for meat at times. Throw in some white wine, cream and Emmental cheese, and you've got a remarkable savory taste in your mouth that treads on a fine line between delicate and robust.
I've made mention of the Baked Salmon and Slow-Roasted Beef Belly previously. The former was again cooked perfectly beneath a Mediterranean crust, while the latter had a consistent melt-in-your-mouth feel, with a generous portion of fat.
Pieces of roasted chicken rested on a scattering of haricot verts (string beans), mushrooms, and potatoes. Tender chicken meat alright, but I would gladly go back to the mentaiko spaghetti and porcini crepe.
After a very satisfying dinner, we then moved on to the pairings. One rule of thumb when engaging in multiple wine tastings is to start with the lightest vino (usually the whites), then move up and end with the strongest flavor of the lot (usually the reds).
From Southwest France, the Clos Des Verdots Moelleux is supple and fruity. This white wine is sweet, and my favorite of the bunch. It has smooth and silky tannins, so you get to focus on the cake you pair it with. We tried it with the Danielle, a sugarless white chocolate raspberry cheesecake, and I just adored the combination. It can go well with the Guia, the Baked Cheesecake, or even the Diamond Ensaymada, too.
Also hailing from Southwest France is the Colombelle White that has a fresh and intense aroma, with floral and exotic fruit notes. It's a bit strong, but very good with sweets as it is known to complement ripe fruits. The large pink macaron sandwich called Ispahan is made with raspberries, lychee and rose essence, which made it bode well with this particular white wine. Best served a little cold, I actually liked the Ispahan better than the Vanessa, which is pistachio macaron with strawberries. You can also try both the Cecilia and L'Obsession cakes.
The Lamadoro Bianco from Puglia, Italy is quite refreshing, and pairs well with rich cakes like this Supermoist Chocolate Cake, as it cuts through the sweetness. It can also go with Le Royale and Le Reve.
Another white wine we had was the Bourgogne: Aligoté, which is from Burgundy, France and dark yellow in color. A bit dry to the tongue, it is strong and crisp, and can certainly balance out the sweetness of cakes such as Le Royale, Vanessa, Ispahan and Guia.
The Vouvray: Vin Sec is gold in color, and has aromas of lavender, grapes, honey and marzipan, giving it a semi-sweet taste. This actually can go with any of The Cake Club's cakes, and this is what we even had during dinner. So if you're not sure what to get, this versatile white from Loire Valley is your best bet.
The next were the reds, starting with the Colombelle Red from Southwest France. It has a generous aroma of black currant, plum and hints of licorice, and this one still had a silky feel in the mouth with a little fruity finish. It is actually good with ripe dark or red fruits, and can go well with any of the cakes.
This semi-dry dark red wine from Puglia, Italy has aromas of cherries, raspberries, blueberries and other forest fruits. Definitely fruity with a somewhat long finish, I didn't appreciate the sort of dry aftertaste that made me feel thirsty after each sip of this Lamadoro Primitivo. I did like the Baked Cheesecake, though, which was rich and cheesy.
The last wine of the night was the Dolvetto D'Alba, which is a dry red wine from Piedmont, Italy supposedly noted for its juicy fruity character, low level of acidity and mild tannins. My palate was not a fan as it, too, left a dry taste in the mouth. It is best paired with sweet cakes like this Le Royale, which is made of Valrhona dark chocolate mousse, almond meringue and hazelnut, as well as the Guia and Le Reve.
We also tried the rest of the cakes like the Cecilia, which is their version of buko pie. My namesake, Guia, was also present, with its comforting cheesecake dotted with walnuts, and embraced with maple flavor. Last was the Mont Blanc, made of chestnut paste, Chantilly cream, and prunes soaked in dark rum that sit on an almond tart.
We ended the meal with a little scoop of ice cream. With all the food we devoured, we didn't have enough space for a big one. All I wanted was something cold to cleanse my palate. And though the Salted Caramel had this in-your-face salty sweet taste (it was actually good, and I would have had more if I weren't bursting at the seams), I was thankful for something cool on my taste buds.
I did learn a lot that night. I learned that I liked French white wines, but with the reds, I think I'll stick to those from the Chilean region. For me, cakes and desserts are generally better paired with whites than reds. In the end, though, it's all about taste -- your taste. These may be great suggestions, but what wine you pair with what cake or dessert is ultimately up to you. It's your palate after all.
The Cake Club
Spot: 2nd/F Bonifacio High Street Central, 7th Avenue Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Spot: G/F Bldg 3, Jannov Plaza, 2295 Don Chino Roces Ave. Ext., Magallanes, Makati
Contact No.: 840.4211