For one week, one of my favorite hotel buffet places in the metro---Circles Event Café---will be donning the Australian flag, as well as a team of koalas and kangaroos. Australian Chef Matthew McCool has flown in from Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney to prepare his signature creations for this Australian Sojourn spread.
I was invited to an exclusive media lunch to commemorate this exciting temporary takeover. Present were the VIPs who made this collaboration possible, including the Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell, no less. This one week event is also in partnership with Cebu Pacific Air, which now offers four weekly flights between Manila and Sydney.
The Australian buffet runs from September 26 - October 2, 2014, and is available for dinner. There will be several Australian dishes on top of the regular international buffet spread.
Friday and Saturday dinner P2,272 nett per head
Sunday to Thursday dinner P2,008 nett per head
With Iced Tea buffet P2,395 nett per head
Refreshments were passed around as we waited for the others. The Iced Tea here at Circles has a separate syrup so you can tailor the sweetness to your liking.
After some introductions and a few words about the food, we started with some Australian Damper and Dukkah. A damper is a soda bread (bread that uses baking soda instead of yeast) that is traditionally cooked directly over hot coals of an open fire. Here it is paired with olive oil laced with citrus notes and Dukkah, an Egyptian side dish made with grounded nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.
Next came the Tomato Soup, a hot, satisfying crimson liquid that gently glided down the throat. You won't see it in the photo, but the double-walled shot glass it came in is a pretty little thing, though I'd rather have a big soup bowl for this tasty tomato treat. It's way too good to be enjoyed in just a few sups.
The Cheese Board has an assortment of cheeses including blue cheese and something with a peppery kick. Match each bite with some dried fruits to counter the sharp flavor, and chase it down with a sip of red wine.
Speaking of wines, their McGuigan line is superb. I enjoyed the 2013 Cabernet Merlot that is sweeter than most of its type, and has none of the bitter aftertaste I usually abhor in red wines. The 2012 Shiraz is also fantastic, having this smooth consistency that will have you drinking more than you intended to.
It was my first time to eat Quinoa and the Quinoa Salad was a great way of introducing me to it. It also has citrus lemon notes peppered in every bite. I really should replace eating rice with this healthier option to cut down my carb intake.
The Beetroot Salmon was another cold dish served; a colorful plate that looks as beautiful as it tastes. Dotted with orange slices and onions, we all helped ourselves to another serving of this scrumptious course.
As they laid down the platter of Roasted Lamb Rack, my stomach rumbled in anticipation. And when I impaled my fork into a hunky piece and put it into my mouth, my palate smiled in appreciation. Such tender lamb devoid of any gamey taste, it is hands down one of the best lamb dishes I've had in a while.
The Steam Snapper suddenly paled in comparison. Admittedly, I'm not too fond of fish courses to begin with. But then, there was nothing really extraordinary about this particular dish. And so I helped myself to another serving of the lamb.
For dessert, we had Lamingtons Platter, which came in chocolate and raspberry (?) flavors. This is another dish I haven't tried. Traditionally, it's a square sponge cake coated in chocolate sauce then in grated desiccated coconut. I prefer the Raspberry flavor for the tartness it lends to the cake.
Lastly, we had the Native Finger Lime Pavlova. The deconstructed meringue-based dessert has a crisp crust and is soft inside, and comes with some lime curd (?) to balance out the sweetness.
If these dishes are any indication of what Australia has to offer, I think I'd want to book a flight to the land down under soon.
Circles Event Café
Spot: Lobby Level, Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Ayala Ave. cor. Makati Ave., Makati City
Contact No.: 813.8888