Sin be with you on Valentine’s Day
The year 2018 is playing a trick on the flirty faithful as Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday. My favorite priest Father Benny Tuazon, when I made a shout out to friends on what dinner specials they are offering on Valentine’s, gently reminded me that because the day of Cupid is also Ash Wednesday, we are encouraged to be KJ, which blessedly translates to “Kay Jesus”, because Ash Wednesday is a day not only of fasting but also of abstinence. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, which references the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert where he mightily resisted Satan. (So if anyone tries to tempt you on this day, just say, “Tukso, layuan mo ako!”)
Interestingly enough, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has officially given dispensation from the Lenten discipline of abstinence on Feb. 16 for Chinese New Year. In a memo to all Filipino-Chinese and Chinese Catholics in the Archdiocese of Manila, Cardinal Tagle says even if Spring Festival or Chinese New Year falls on a Friday of Lent, since the tradition of Chinese New Year is likewise of cultural and spiritual importance, Catholics are given permission to not abstain on this day. He emphasizes, however, that instead, the faithful must engage in some form of penance, act of mercy and charity.
You will have to ask your parish priest, though, if this applies to those (like myself) who, while not Chinese, will join in the celebrations just to be festive.
I hope it applies to us, too, because I love Chinese New Year and want to eat all the lucky Chinese food. (For those interested to have a Chinese New Year blessing, feng shui master Joseph Chau will be at the Crimson Hotel on Feb. 18. There will be a dragon dance and ceremony at 11 a.m. and a Taste of Luck lunch at 12:30 p.m. for only P1,688 net. For inquiries, call 8632222.)
The good news about Ash Wednesday is that if you don’t want to spend, given the rising inflation, you can tell your beloved, “Sorry dear, it’s Ash Wednesday!” Still, majority of establishments will excuse you from celebrating love, as Valentine’s specials start as early as today.
At the Peninsula Manila, you can already take advantage of the free-flowing champagne for a Sunday Valentine’s brunch at Escolta for P4,300 per head.
At the hip Japanese restaurant Ikomai in Salcedo Village, a special Valentine’s Day six-course dinner starts Monday until the 14th. But what intrigued me, more than this six-course dinner, is the edible rose created by pastry chef extraordinaire James Antolin.
“The rose is the (ultimate) symbol for Valentine’s so we decided to make something symbolic that is also edible,” chef James explained. If not for the edible rose, come for his other luscious desserts. For inquiries or reservations, call (02) 816 4588 or 0999 887 0297.
Valentine-themed cakes are also available at Karen’s Kitchen. They make cakes for love birds of all ages. For couples in the puppy love stage, you might like to try the strawberry cake with rose petals. For senior seducers and seductresses, Karen offers an apple crisp with oats on top and a base of apples and sweetened with stevia; and a Splenda mango cake with a white chocolate heart plaque. Visit karenskitchen.com.ph or call 0917-5394968 or landline (02) 5550555 and (02) 5550111 to order.
If you want just an extra-special cake sans the Valentine’s froufrou, try Dessert du Jour by Mara. She makes an eight-inch chocolate peanut butter cake with layers of sour cream, a peanut butter and cream cheese frosting and homemade peanut butter cups. You will need to order two days in advance. For inquiries or orders, call (02) 4052580.
If you are set on sinning and would like to celebrate on Valentine’s Day, here are some hotel offerings:
The Peninsula is offering a four-course dinner at Old Manila with popular fine dining classics: foie gras, lobster bisque and wagyu. Escolta will have a Valentine’s Day seafood buffet with free-flowing sparkling wines and beer at P3,600 per person. Spices is also opening its doors to an al fresco area where you can have your favorite Asian dishes while enjoying a cool breeze, looking at the stars. They also offer a package that includes a bottle of wine, breakfast buffet, and P3,000-dining credit that you can use at their restaurants if you book a room.
Over at Sofitel, you can enjoy a romantic dinner with the Manila Bay as backdrop. Their Love by Design package includes a four-course dinner of grilled specialties at the Sunset Bar. It is quite a splurge at P30,000 (yes, that is Thirty Thousand) but dinner will be in your own private canopy. Plus, you get your own butler, your own violinist, a bottle of champagne and gorgeous love-themed pralines. (They are also throwing in a chance to win an iPhone 8). Reservations are recommended two days prior. Call (02) 8326988.
If P30,000 is a little too much, you can still have some romance. The Romance by the Bay package does not come with a canopy but for only P2,750++, you get to eat and drink all you want from their poolside buffet (more to eat), unlimited local beer (why not?) and you get to catch the hotel’s fireworks for this special evening.
If buffet is your pleasure as a couple, you can also consider spending the day at Hyatt at the City of Dreams. They offer a six-station buffet with unlimited sparkling wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages for P2,799 net. For inquiries and reservations, call (02) 6911234 ext. 1163.
If you don’t have a Valentine, head over to the latest hip hangout for titos and titas of Manila, James and Daughters, at the Fort on the 13th. In an evening that chef Jonas Ng is calling “Kulitan Lang (light-hearted mischief)”, he will have a soft launch of his cocktails. For P750 you get a menu of around five samplers. The restaurant will then turn into a party place for those who love “fun and games.” All those who are unlucky in love (but lucky in life!) are welcome. Call 0917-817 6584 to reserve.
As for me, I’ll be the good Catholic girl that I am, and pass on all my foie gras from our local farmer (aka atay) to the new love of my life, Stardust, who is part demigod, part dog. Please also refrain from sending me roses on the 14th, as I wouldn’t want to not be in God’s grace … just send me tikoy in the shape of a heart on the 16th, because Cardinal Tagle has said that eating on that day albeit a Friday is okay. Anyway, love delayed is not necessarily love denied!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Have a blessed Ash Wednesday! And Kung Hei Fat Choi!
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