Planet Grapes-Shangri-La isn’t good only for one meal. I’ve been back several times and it keeps getting better and better. It’s a cool and elegant place serving fun yet sophisticated food, with wine at its core. Last week, I was invited here to taste fine dishes cooked and prepared by Chef Phil Neil, the head chef of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. Chef Phil visited the Philippines and we were pleased to have personally experienced his cooking at Planet Grapes. The theme of the night? Pork dishes, using quality pork straight from the UK. There’s no doubt about it. We were in for a special treat! 🙂
Food Rundown: Pork Dishes by Chef Phil Neil at Planet Grapes
For starters, the combination of skewered pork chops in garlic and oil, breaded pig ears in strips, and seasoned meatballs made of pork shoulder with scotch eggs was pretty much spot on across the board. Everything was well-constructed with great textures. The pig ears were light yet crisp to the bite; the pork chops, juicy; and the pork shoulder balls, hearty and meaty with a nice crispy sear on the outside and really moist inside. Satay sauce and the olives with chives tartar sauce served as perfect accompaniments to taste.
Braised to fork-tenderness for three hours, the pork cheeks were moist and relatively lean. Zesty notes of the carrot puree, shallots, and potatoes did a good job to complement the natural flavors of the pork.
Teeming with sweet and savory flavors, the pork ribs cooked with jasmine tea, ketchup, soy sauce, honey, and peanut butter and then topped with sesame seeds didn’t disappoint. Given the heft of the various elements, I didn’t expect them to be well-matched. Overall, the result was an enjoyable bomb of aromatics. Thumbs up!
Pork belly (liempo) delivered in spades. Oh baby, this is what dreams are made of. It demonstrated a mix of crispy and supple textures with fats, along with a heady, porky taste that was evened out by the brightness of veggies. Lentils, carrots, and thinly sliced onions gave a nice contrast, a refreshing respite from the hearty portions of pork.
Glorious pork ribs were back in action, but this time they were braised with apple sauce. It’s wonderful how the meat was infused with a sweet and succulent accent of apple. Not to be taken as a “meh” side dish, the roasted potato fries cooked in duck fat had gorgeous silkiness and golden-crisp edges. This is the type of thing you wake up in the middle of the night shaking for because you want it so bad! 😛
Lastly, the pork shoulder rubbed with salt and pepper showed off all the classic goodness that you’d expect in pork. It has got everything a killer dish should have: big on flavor, properly tender, and certainly praiseworthy with a hint of heat. I can imagine it would also be sublime in a sandwich or tacos. 🙂
And of course, when in Planet Grapes, whether it be a casual midweek lunch, a birthday throw-down, or a classy get-together with friends, it’s a must to dine in with wine. There’s a ton of variety to choose from. Get it by 1/4, 1/2, or one full glass, from the enomatic machine, or by the bottle.
We had the 2009 Chateau Siaurac, Lalande-de-Pomerol to drink through our sumptuous meal. This full-bodied red wine from France has a flexible structure and a long finish, with harmoniously interwoven notes of black currant, black cherry, licorice and underbrush.
Leche flan, crepe, turon and chocolate cake—you can’t go wrong with any of these for desserts. I highly recommend the leche flan which had rich, creamy, smooth, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. It’s sweet but not to the point where you’d reach a cheek-tingling sugar panic. So yummy! 🙂
photo-op with Chef Phil