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A byob dinner at Gaucho.

I was looking forward to a reunion with International Wine and Food society buddies because of the different wines that everyone will be sharing at this "Bring your own Bottle" affair at Gaucho's in Robinson's Magnolia Mall. Our energetic president Oscar Ong has been drumming up casual activities like these and it gives the members opportunities to share their acquisitions and collectible wines to fellow aficionados.

Gaucho was a great choice as the Argentinian cowboy style of grilling is very straight forward with no heavy sauce to clash with the prime wines.

Dinner started with a Shrimp Cocktail with a Chiffonade of lettuce. A Moet et Chandon Brut was paired off with this starter as the champagne had enough structure and acidity with its lemony and crisp green apple characters to cut the richness of the mayonnaise based dressing.

A thick three-bean soup with Chorizo that was my favorite dish of the evening started us sampling the reds. We had the Zinfandels and Malbecs first. A Kenwood 2008 was a medium bodied Zin with red berry character spicy with earthy mushroom flavors. A lighter Malbec was tried called OPI a.k.a. Rodolfo Sadler that was briny with red berry characters.

As we progressed to the lamb with Chimichurri Sauce and US Beef Ribeye with mushroom Salpicao. (with Bearnaise? A misnomer Frenchman just came in the Estancia...) The lamb was tender but seemed to be in a braised state and worked very well with the heavier weight wines such as A Mas la Plana 2002, a cabernet sauvignon from Penedes and a Catena Zapata 2006 Malbec from way up on the Argentinian side of the Ander. The 2002 Mas la Plana was very soft and had red berry and hawthorne characters while the Catena Zapata 2006 Malbec had more structure with its jammy and plummy flavors working also well with the richness of lamb. The Bife de Ancho had a side dish of Salpicao which was very Castillian in character with a good dose of paprika, garlic and olive oil. I did not use the BAaAaAeA@arnaise but settled on the Chimichurri ma of parsely and lemon and enjoyed some Cobos Malbec 2003 that had a creamy dairy, prune and plum complexity. In between, I had bites of a wonderful corn cake that was buttery and cheesy called Humitas. Cobos to me was the Argentine Malbec of the evening. However the wine for the evening that was well shared and hailed was a Chateau Haut Brion 1994 that had classic and rustic characters; a light hint of barnyard and black olive with well balanced fruit, spice and earthy character. A Vega Sicilia was also well appreciated as this top Spanish wine that is released only after two to three decades depending on its class has the oaky, woody, plum and dried fruit character typical of this powerful Spanish wine.

For dessert, a Chilean late harvest Gewurtztraminer Semillon 2009 that was just right and not cloying in sweetness was a good pair to an outstanding Poached pear in red wine on Panna Cotta with Granolia. The delightful flavors of cooked fruit with the creaminess of the panna cotta and the crisp textures of the granola worked well into a delicious interplay with the tropical, honeyed notes of the wine.

Another part of the desert I had enjoyed was a layered Chocolate Biscuit with Dulce de leche Cream Cheese.

After dinner we had gone outside with former IWFS world president Fil Juntereal and Oscar Ong for a round of Cubans to enjoy the cool breeze and polish off the leftover wines on the al fresco area they had propped for us. We ended the night with demitasses of rich, foamy espresso as I listened to future dinner plans.

Congratulations Oscar for this well executed and attended dinner.

You can email me at or follow me at instagram-chefgenegonzalez.

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Title Annotation:Food & Travel
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Feb 27, 2014
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