Buffet Dining at Spiral of Sofitel Manila: L’Epicerie and Chocolaterie
When in Manila, make sure to try out the newly re-opened and the biggest buffet offering in the city at Spiral of Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. I am sure by now you have heard about the re-opening of Spiral last November, but, in case you have not, here’s the blog post to be in the know.
Sofitel Manila’s Spiral
Fact about myself: I LOVE CHEESE. Another one: I LOVE CHOCOLATES. So imagine my excitement when I learned that Spiral was welcoming Angela and I to a buffet dinner consisting of 21 ateliers. Yes, that is 21 stations of various delicious display of craftsmanship of well trained chefs from different parts of the world. Everything is freshly prepared and cooked using top notched ingredients and equipment the restaurant can source. Among the 21 ateliers are salad and appetizers, L’Ecailler or seafood spread, sushi sashimi, hot Japanese or the teppanyaki station, French stove, rotisserie where you can find slow cooked meats, wood fire oven for that pizza craving, churrasco for skewered steaks and seafood, North Indian, Asian noodles, Peking duck oven, Chinese wok, steam baskets for dimsums, Filipino, Thai, Korean, La Boulangerie for fresh baked breads, La Patisserie for freshly baked French pastries, Creamery for ice cream needs and of course, the 2 most talked about ateliers, L’Epicerie also known as the cheese room and Chocolaterie where all chocolates are made.
Clockwise: Dimsum, Filipino, Korean, Salad and Appetizers ateliers
Clockwise: Oysters, shrimps and mussels of L’Ecailler atelier and North Indian cuisine
Clockwise: Hot Japanese, halo-halo ingredients, creamery, teppanyaki station
Sofitel Manila influenced by its French roots brings that culture and infuses it harmoniously with our local counterpart, thus, bringing the French’s love for cheese here in Manila. Spiral is housing more than enough cheeses of different kinds native from several parts of the world such as France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Switzerland. To complement the cheeses, in comes the cured meats of Italian and Spanish kinds as well as at least 2 dozens of condiments such as olives, capers, nuts, dried fruits, and crackers among many others.
(L-R) Provolone, Comté, Emmental, Manchego, Gouda, Tomme de Sovoie
Cured meat from different countries including Spain and Italy
View from inside the L’Epicerie and numerous condiments
Now, what use is the spread if the taste does not match it right? Suffice to say I was a very happy camper. I tasted about 15 types of cheeses that night and I was informed that the L’Epicerie holds at least more than 20 types of artisanal cheeses at a time. They were prepared meticulously and displayed beautifully. That night, the cheeses ranged from hard to soft. Let me do a quick rundown for you as to what were available. From hard to semi-hard choices were the provolone, comté, emmental, manchego, gouda, tomme de Sovoie and parmigiano-reggiano.
My cheese plate was composed of about 15 varieties
The provolone, an Italian cheese, had that salty sharp taste so I am guessing this was aged a little bit. The texture was sandy and rough yet very good to just munch on. Comté on the other hand is a French cheese that has a smoother texture but stronger taste. Emmental or Swiss cheese is one of my favourites. The look is known by kids as how cartoonists depict cheese in animations. It tasted slightly salty and a little bland which is perfect for nibbling. A Spanish cheese called Manchego happens to be my favourite cheese to pair with red wines. It has that sharp taste that does not overwhelm and creamy at the same time. Gouda is a Dutch cheese that has deep yellow colour. The taste is light and it has crumbliness when chewed. Another firm cheese is the Tomme de Sovoie which came from the French alps. The earthy flavour of this cheese is caused by its rind but at the same time, it has that nutty hint. Finally, my most favourite of all cheeses is the Parmigiano from Italy (the one on the rightmost top of the photo, yes, that wheel). This cheese has a very piquant taste with strong savoury flavour. Its texture on the palate is rough. This is the best thing to add in salads, pastas or eaten on its own.
(L-R) Comté, Emmental, Manchego, Gouda, Tomme de Sovoie, Parmigiano
Moving on to the less firm cheeses, Spiral offers so many choices. That night, there were camembert, brie, munster, reblochon, caprice and St. Nectaire. Camembert and brie are similar French cheeses, the former originating from Normandy and the latter from Île de France. Both have very soft, smooth and creamy texture. Brie is often a part of a bigger wheel thus not surrounding by the rind unlike the Camembert which is fully covered. As a result, camembert has a slightly stronger flavour than brie, although both are naturally quite bland.
Camembert and Brie of French regions
Another French cheeses are the munster and reblochon. The munster was creamy, tangy and strong tasting. Reblochon on the other hand has that very light moldy flavour. Caprise is color white with smooth and creamy texture and moldy taste. Saint Nectaire is another creamy and smooth cheese that has similar taste to reblochon.
Munster and reblochon cheeses
Caprice and St. Nectaire cheeses
The last batch would be the blue cheeses available which were gorgonzola, fourme d’ ambert, and roquefort. I am most familiar to gorgonzola as it is often used in dressings or topping salads and pizzas. This Italian cheese is overwhelming in flavour. It is pungent and crumbly. The fourme d’ ambert has slightly faint moldy taste. The roquefort still has the moldy taste but among the 3, this is the lightest. It also has very salty aftertaste.
Gorgonzola (upper left, one without label), fourme d’ ambert, roquefort
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