Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Celebrate Chicago at The Peninsula Manila

It's the home of the Cubs and the Bulls, Al Capone and Prohibition, jazz and the blues, the site of the first ever skyscraper, the deep-dish pizza and iconic hot dogs. The Windy City's rich culinary heritage, history, culture, and innovative spirit come to life as The Peninsula Manila and its sister hotels worldwide present the best of Chicago... 

Celebrate Chicago is a global theme by The Peninsula Hotels showcasing The Windy City's impressive culinary, artistic, architectural, and cultural diversity and richness. Celebrate Chicago is experienced and reflected in exquisitely restyled guestrooms and suites, special menus created by The Peninsula's expert chefs featuring classic Chicagoan dishes and desserts, Prohibition-era cocktails, and a photography exhibit by artist William Furniss featuring Chicago's iconic skyline and architectural landmarks.  

The flavors of The Windy City are recreated by Chicagoan Executive Sous Chef Francis Diaz (L), alongside Prohibition era-inspired cocktails prepared by Assistant Food and Beverage Director Austin Moreno (R), held inside the hotel's Banquet Kitchen. Nothing like a few cocktails in the kitchen for that intriguing speakeasy vibe...  

My Celebrate Chicago experience at The Peninsula Manila began with some Prohibition Era Chicago-style cocktails, with the curiously named Monkey Gland (L), a smooth and tart concoction with Beefeater Gin and fresh orange juice, with dashes of Benedictine and Grenadine garnished with a sweet lychee; and the Hanky Panky (R), a refreshingly sweet blend with Beefeater Gin, sweet vermouth, and fernet branca, garnished with an orange twist. Why Monkey Gland? The cocktail was concocted to give men a little extra "vavoom" with the ladies. A few sips of the brightly colored cocktail gets you in the groove in no time. The Hanky Panky was designed by one of the few women bartenders of the era, with a mellow sweetness. Some Chicago-style popcorn, buttery and crunchy, were also served. Along with the potent cocktails, a mocktail was also served, the Gunner, with equal parts of ginger ale and ginger beer, bitters, and lime cordial.

At the The Peninsula Manila's Banquet Kitchen, guests were provided with caps and aprons for the special cooking class with Executive Sous Chef Francis Diaz. There's just no better way to immerse yourself in true Chicagoan flavors than being at the heart of it all, the banquet kitchen, and making your own deep-dish pizza.

The unique session at the Banquet Kitchen kicked off as (L-R) Executive Sous Chef Francis Diaz, Austin Moreno, Assistant Food and Beverage Director; Mariano Garchitorena, Director of Public Relations; and Executive Chef Mike Wehrle welcomed guests to the exclusive launch of The Peninsula Manila's Celebrate Chicago with an interesting cooking class. I just have to hand it to the PR and Culinary Teams of The Peninsula Manila for creating an interesting event

Chicago Dogs were served, with absolutely no ketchup, just onions, tomatoes, mustard and pickles on a soft steamed bun in true Chicago-style. The sharp and tart notes of the onions and tomatoes, along with the bite of the mustard, allows you to taste more of the hot dog's without overpowering it.

Executive Sous Chef Francis Diaz then served his Duck-Fat Fries, thick-cut potatoes with a soft and light yet crisp texture bursting with rich flavors. This, and a few more rounds of the Monkey Gland...and The Windy City experience goes to high gear.

More tasty treats were served, including the Tuna Burger, with thick, tender and juicy tuna patties on lettuce and cucumber for refreshingly light and clean, fresh  flavors...

...and the classic Reuben Sandwich inspired by the midwest's rich deli tradition, with juicy and briny slabs of corned beef topped with sauerkraut on buttered rye bread.

Executive Chef Mike Wehrle (L) then started the cooking class briefly explaining the day's special Chicago-style dish as guests donned their aprons and caps. Executive Sous Chef Francis Diaz (R) got the cooking class rolling as he prepared the dough in a classic and traditional manner for the iconic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.  

After carefully prepping the dough, all done by hand, the thick and rustic marinara-style sauce was then ladled onto the deep dish pizza dough, ready for the ovens (a recipe is provided below for the Chicago-style deep dish pizza served during the event, as well as the Reuben Sandwich and Prohibition era cocktails).

As the deep-dish pizza baked in the oven, bite-sized versions of the Chicagoan classic were served to guests. The soft, light and chewy, buttery crust had that perfect outer layer of crispness, recreating the Chicago classic in small bites. The deep, rounded notes of the rich marinara sauce completed the flavors.  

Then, the deep-dish pizza was ready, fresh from the oven. After letting it rest for a few minutes, Executive Chef Mike Wehrle and Chef Francis Diaz prepared to slice the Chicago classic...

A crisp crackling sound accompanied each slice of Chicago-style Deep-Dish Pizza, as the melted mozzarella, parmesan, and marinara sauce oozed down the sides. A real taste of The Windy City, made and baked fresh at The Peninsula Manila's Banquet Kitchen. At The Peninsula Manila's Celebrate Chicago, you can indulge in a wide variety of signature Chicagoan dishes, with the Chicago Hot Dog and Duck Hot Dog, Reuben Marble Rye Sandwich with Sauerkraut, Chicken Pot Pie and Salted Caramel Sundae at The Lobby; while the Escolta's buffet selection will include a Chicago Burger Station, Chicago Deep-Dish Cheese and Pepperoni Pizza, Poutine, and an "Eli" cheesecake rotation, one of Chicago's iconic names in cheesecakes and desserts, all prepared by native Chicagoan Executive Sous Chef Francis Diaz. At The Peninsula Boutique, you'll find "Eli" Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Strawberry Cheesecakes plus assorted cupcakes. Over at The Peninsula Manila's Salon de Ning and The Bar, Prohibition-themed cocktails like the Hanky Panky, the Monkey Gland and more will be served as well, while the stunning, thought-provoking, and imaginative photographs of Chicago's skyline by renowned artist William Furniss will be exhibited The Lobby.

For dessert, The Peninsula Manila's elegant and indulgent signature cupcakes were served...

...along with other indulgent treats like the "Eli" Strawberry Cheesecake. The month-long Celebrate Chicago theme at The Peninsula Manila provides interesting insights, and flavors, of the midwest and American culture. And you can experience and immerse yourself in the sights and flavors of one of America's famed cities right here at The Peninsula Manila.

The Peninsula Manila's Celebrate Chicago runs from November 2 until November 25, 2015 with its carefully curated family experiences, from dining to cocktails, to a specially commissioned exhibit by William Furniss at The Lobby. Think of it as The Windy City transported and transplanted right here in the metro, within the elegance of The Peninsula Manila.

For a taste of Chicago, simply visit The Peninsula Manila and sample classic Chicagoan dishes prepared by Executive Sous Chef Francis Diaz, or have a tipple with Prohibition era Chicago-style cocktails. Here's some cool recipes from Executive Sous Chef Francis Diaz and Assistant Food and Beverage Director Austin Moreno so you can have a taste, and a sip, of the Chicago experience...

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
(Makes Four 9-Inch Pizzas)

  • 6-1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 teaspoons table salt
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 5 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2-1/2 cups warm water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 8 tablespoons, softened
  • 2 teaspons plus 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated onion, from 1 medium onion (side with large holes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Table salt
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
  • 56-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 pound whole milk M
  • ozzarella cheese, shredded fresh
  • 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese micro plane
For the Dough:
  1. Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in a bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add water, and melted butter  and mix on low speed until fully combined, 1-2 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4-5 minutes (Dough will only pull away from sides while mixer is on. When mixer is off, dough will fall back to sides).
  2. Using fingers, coat large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil, rubbing excess oil from fingers onto blade of rubber spatula. Using oiled spatula, transfer dough to bowl, turning once to oil top; cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45-60 minutes.
For the Sauce:

While dough rises, heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, increase heat to high, and bring to simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, 25-30 minutes. off heat, stir in basil and oil, then season with salt and pepper.

To Laminate the Dough
  1.  Adjust oven rack to lower position and heat oven to 425 degees. using rubber spatula, turn dough out onto dry work surface and roll into 15 by 12 inch rectangle. Using offset spatula, spread softened butter over surface of dough, leaving 1/2 inch border along edges. Starting at short end, roll dough into tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten cylinder into 18 by 4 inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise. Working with one half, fold into thirds like business letter; pinch seams together to form a ball. Repeat with remaining half. Return balls to oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, about 40-50 minutes.
  2. Coat 2 9-inch round cake pans with two tablespoons olive oil each. Transfer one dough ball to dry work surface and roll into 13-inch disk about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough to pan by rolling loosely around rolling pin and unrolling into pan. Lightly press dough  into pan, working into corners and 1 inch up sides. If dough resists stretching, let it relax 5 minutes before trying again. Repeat with remaining dough ball.
  3. For each pizza, sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella evenly over surface of dough. Spread 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce over cheese and sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan over sauce. Bake until crust is golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. 
Making Flaky Pizza Crust
  1. Roll out on dry surface, roll dough into 15 by 12-inch rectangle.
  2. Spread softened butter over dough, leaving 1/2 inch border along edges.
  3. Roll up starting at short end closest to you, roll dough into tight cylinder.
  4. Flatten halve into 18 by 4-inch rectangle, halve crosswise.
  5. Fold and form ball, fold each dough piece into thirds; pinch seams to form balls.
  6. Rise in fridge, let balls rise in refrigerator 40-50 minutes to chill butter.
  7. Roll out each ball into 13-inch disk about 1/4 inch thick.
  8. Press into pans. Transfer disks to pans; press into corners and up sides.
Reuben Sandwich Recipe

Sandwich Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 8 slices Rye bread
  • 8 slice Swiss cheese
  • 3/4 lb corned beef brisket, thinly sliced.
  • 1/2 lb sauerkraut
  • 1/4 cup Russian dressing
Russian Dressing
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, to taste.
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Combine the above ingredients, makes one-half cup

  1. Butter one side of four slices of bread, and place the slices buttered down on a large piece of wax paper on a flat surface. Top each with a slice of Swiss cheese, and then divide half of the corned beef among them.
  2. Using paper towels, squeeze out excess moisture from the sauerkraut. Divide the sauerkraut among the sandwiches, and top each with one tablespoon of Russian dressing. Add another layer of corned beef and a second slice of Swiss cheese to each sandwich.  Top with the remaining bread slices, butter the side facing out.
  3. Preheat a griddle or frying pan to medium heat. Cook the sandwiches on one side until the bread is golden brown. Use a spatula to carefully flip the sandwiches over and finish cooking on the second side. Cut the sandwiches in half before serving.
Prohibition Cocktails Chicago Style
Hanky Panky
  • 30 ml Beefeater Gin
  • 30ml Sweet Vermouth
  • 3 dashes Fernet Branca
Add ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain over Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Monkey Gland
  • 45 ml Beefeater Gin
  • 30 ml orange juice
  • 3 dashes Grenadine
  • 3 dashes Benedictine
Add ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and shake, Strain and pour into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lychee.

Gunner Mocktail

Equal parts of ginger ale and ginger beer, a dash of lime cordial and a dash of bitters. Garnish with a lemin wheel.        

The Peninsula Manila is located at Ayala corner Makati Avenue, 1226 Makati Avenue, makati City or call 887-2888 for inquiries and more information.

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