From June 18 up to July 2, great food and wine adventures will be emanating from our Queen City of the South, Cebu City. In what has to be one of the best conceptualized and organized culinary festivals to date, Kate Dychangco-Anzani has spearheaded a comprehensive showcase of the very best that Cebu City in Mactan and the Philippines can offer in the Cebu Food & Wine Festival 2022 edition.
During the course of the two weeks, seven top Cebu-based hotels and over 26 of Cebu’s best restaurants, lounges ,and bars will be greeting visitors with open arms, and hosting lunches and dinners filled with delights from both the cooking and baking side of things, and from the libations and drinks side.
On June 22, 6:00 p.m. at the Anzani Mediterranean restaurant—Big on sustainability, chef Marco Anzani has curated a dinner that offers a slice of the different elements in Nature that make Cebu such a special place. A tray of assorted mezze is the way any evening at Anzani commences. And the official starter is a great in Phyllo pastry with a salad. Then there the cured salmon on a bed of kale, that’s served with a very distinct smoky flavor. And if you’re fortunate to have chef Marco himself explaining the dishes, he’ll regale you with how they were really determined to smoke you out on this one!
What follows are Duck in a Pasta sleeve and served with a delicious broth, then Lamb Loin that’s perfectly pink and topped with Himalayan Salt. The salt is extra strong, so chef Marco suggests you remove it as it’s already done it’s work of adding flavor to the lamb cuts. You’ll get a great Aubergine creation with the lamb, and they complement each other perfectly.
On June 25, 6:00 p.m. at Tea of Spring in Shangri-la Mactan—This is one that came out of nowhere, and floored the group that assembled at the Tea of Spring of Shang Mactan, for a very late lunch. One enters a hotel Chinese cuisine outlet and there’ll always be the expectation that you’ll go lauriat-style, and be served a set of the old reliables and favorites. But the starter, a sea urchin crystal dumpling served with fish roe, mustard sauce, and a crispy nest made our taste glands stand to attention and expect the unexpected. And Chef Liu Zhijun was more than up to the task.
Roasted duck with a smear of caviar followed; and then there was my favorite, the steamed garoupa, served with truffle porridge and a leek hash. This was a scintillating mix of flavors and textures, from the soft fish flesh, to the bean curd skin. The wagyu rib-eye that followed was great, but personally, was already preceded by my highlight of the meal, the garoupa. But leave room for dessert and try their white chocolate mousse encased in a shell, and mixed with red dates, white fungus, and goji berries. It’s definitely not to be missed!
On June 26, 6:00 p.m. at Il Primo Steakhouse at NUSTAR. This one was the eye-opener, as NUSTAR is the newest tourist destination of Cebu City. Situated by the newly opened CCLEX bridge, NUSTAR is a magnificent work in progress that promises to be a jewel of an Integrated Resort, and something that will rival the Cebu skyline in much the same manner that Singapore has its Marina Bay Sands. Il Primo and Chef Luca will be more than happy to host you for a Sunday dinner that offers a five-course meal and great wine pairings.
The amuse bouche is a demi-tasse of truffle and parmesan cappuccino, followed by a starter of tuna tartare with stracciatella cheese, with pistachio and tomato confit. Both refreshing in very unique ways, as the first is like a small serving of hot soup, while the tuna tartare is served cold. A traditional and hearty pappardelle with lamb ragout follows, made special by the big sheet of 24-carat gold leaf placed on top of the pasta. Then keeping with comfort food Italian dishes, we have a short ribs main course, served with asparagus and a chianti sauce, followed by tiramisu with espresso and mascarpone foam.
As you can see from the above, there are more than 1,001 good reasons to fly to Cebu this weekend, as the city’s top hotels and restaurants have all joined in to make this Food and Wine Festival a memorable one. Head to the Cebu Food and Wine Festival website to check out which restaurant, hotel, or bar/lounge is in the spotlight on any given day. Between the time you read this and July 2, count yourself super lucky if you really had a scheduled trip to Cebu before July 3.
In a truncated form, Kate got this festival off the ground last year, despite the pandemic health restrictions. For her and Marco, it’s much more than a festival of culinary delights, but an expression of their commitment to put Cebu on the radar, and on the map of both foreign and local tourism. That it can be celebrated in a manner befitting the original scope and design of the couple, now that the restrictions are minimal, should be cause for us to wholeheartedly support this 2022 edition and in the years to come.
I can only hope my photos do some justice to the kitchen wizardry that came our way!