Philippine Daily Inquirer
An impressive 4-hand Tagaytay dinner
Anya Resort, like many establishments in Tagaytay, has had a pretty rough year so far. With the consequences of the pandemic still looming and Taal Volcano putting a dent on their occupancy rate (Anya’s location is far from the 7-kilometer safety area), management not only remains hopeful and ready for better days, but also thankful for four years of operations.
“We are coping carefully since the virus is still among us,” says Mikel Arriet, general manager of the resort. “By itself, Anya is safe and healthy, with alfresco dining areas, limited guest traffic, villas situated in between gardens, as well as the perfect weather of Tagaytay.”
In fact, they were quick to secure their safety seal and certificate to operate from the Department of Tourism. What they are currently working on is the inoculation of the employees, as more than half already had their shots and a few are still waiting for their turn.
Apart from that, they have been long equipped for a safe and worry-free stay: Guests are picked up at the parking lot and driven by the buggy straight to their villa, where they are checked in and handed their keys via a portable UV sterilizer box; the spa and gym are thoroughly cleaned after each use; and they have a digital assistant called “Ask Anya” allowing guests to communicate with the resort in different languages 24/7 from the comfort of their suite, about any concerns, be it their choice of pillows, restaurant reservation or minibar selection.
Taste of things to come
They have exciting new projects that will be unveiled this October, and on July 15, they laid out a taste of things to come with a four-hands dinner participated in by Barcelona-born in-house chef Albert Pruneda and acclaimed chef Chele Gonzalez of Gallery.
Held at Samira restaurant, the intimate event had selected guests enjoying a 10-course meal that perfectly married tradition, innovation and a celebration of local ingredients. It was matched with Chardonnay Domaine Baillard Chablis term Cru France 2013 and Madfish Shiraz Australia 2017 from Wine Depot and Margalediorg Trading.
It was impressive from the get-go, with four inspired bites showcasing the experience and talent of the chefs, both of whom happen to have worked at famed restaurant Nerua in Bilbao at different times. There was a taco with fork-tender Kurobuta pork, onion, cilantro and pickled dragon fruit lodged in a piece of edible insulin leaf, followed by a crisp cracker made of Cordillera rice, and a chunky mousse whose subdued seafood flavor danced well with the subtle sourness of Baguio strawberries.
Completing the ensemble was a Gallery favorite, Karekare Bon Bon with a side of bagoong mayo, and a playful take on a classic combo—foie gras and mango on a crunchy piece of waffle.
The succeeding courses came in heftier portions, starting with the Kraby, which was inspired by Christmas meals in the Gonzalez household.
“Our food was always composed of baby lamb for a main course, then an avocado crab salad for starter, normally served in the avocado skin,” says Chele. For the special dinner, it came as a mound of crab mousse sitting on a bed of leafy greens and cubed avocado, then crowned with roasted pineapple sorbet.
The dish called French Connection was a nod to the trending French cuisine served with more refinement. A whole prawn was draped in ginger-infused Hollandaise sauce and ikura. It looked simple, but the flavors proved otherwise. Callos con Bacalao y Aioli is surf-and-turf that reminds Pruneda, 28, of home, as it is one of the dishes he ate a lot of growing up. “In Barcelona, they often mix seafood and meat. It’s traditional for them to combine the two,” he said. In this case, it’s ox tripe stewed for long hours in tomatoes then accompanied by a piece of cod that’s cloaked in a velvety garlic cream sauce.
The night’s pièce de résistance was the rack of thrice-cooked Iberico pork ribs. Simply salted, the hunk of meat was seared in a hot pan, grilled then finished in the oven, occasionally bathed in its own fat. It was carved tableside and served with confit potatoes and mushroom jus. Like some guests, I enjoyed it with the Porcini, Truffle and Mushroom Rice that came before it.
Capping off the meal was a dessert that has Tagaytay’s sweet pineapples in different textures. A torrija soaked in piña colada was topped with grilled pineapples and served with a refreshing sorbet.
It may be trying times but there is still a reason to celebrate, now more than ever, as Anya Resort Tagaytay remains strong and steadfast in delivering not only luxurious accommodations south of the metro, but also some of the best food in the area, starting from when they started four years ago until now—and as proven by the dinner, even in the near future.
Surf and turf
Despite trying times, Anya Resort marks four years with 10-course meal by acclaimed Spanish chefs Albert Pruneda and Chele Gonzalez