Ambassador MaryKay Carlson hosted “The Great American Halloween Feast” at her residence in Makati to celebrate Halloween on Friday the 13th. The feast was a collaboration between chef Ivory Yat Vaksman, chef-owner of Chef Ivory Catering, and Kalel Chan, corporate chef of Raintree Group.
For starters, there was a grazing table filled with different kinds of California cheeses, from Vintage Cheese, Sierra Nevada, and Nicasio Valley to Point Reyes, Fiscalini, and CheeseBits, to name a few. My all-time snacking favorite is the Point Reyes Toma Provence, a classic Toma blended with herbs de Provence: rosemary, basil, marjoram, and wild thyme.
For those who like semi-hard-aged cheeses, the Fiscalini Lionza hits the spot. It’s an award-winning Swiss, alpine-style cheese, aged for a minimum of six months with nutty, fruity, and tangy notes. The cheeses were arranged with a selection of US pecans, pistachios, and assorted fruits and nuts, such as US apricots, cranberries, almonds, and classic confectionery like Hershey’s chocolate bars and Reese’s. Who could say no to this selection?
For small nibbles, there was a pumpkin soup cappuccino made with California milk froth and topped wis US pumpkin seeds, duck roulade, US chicken wings coated with Sriracha butter, honey-garlic US pork ribs, pulled US pork quesadillas and US shoestring potatoes with honey-mustard sauce and remoulade. I enjoyed the US chuck meatballs in marinara sauce and couldn’t get enough of the US Chili Cheese dogs from Nathan’s, which instantly brought me back to memories of New York.
The star of the evening was the pizza station featuring the US pork sisig pizza by chef Kalel and the California melted cheese-board pizza by chef Ivory. The carvery items were a hit as well, which showcased the US Prime Rib Roast, US Kurobuta Ham with roasted US sweet potatoes and US Turkey with rosemary sausage stuffing.
The vegan station had a US soy vegan meatball in marinara sauce and Idaho potato vegan Shepherd’s pie. The vegetarian station offered avocado hummus with US chickpeas and flatbread, and buffalo-style cauliflower with California blue-cheese dip and salad. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, but I absolutely went for the avocado hummus for my first plate. Hass avocadoes were used for this, which have a higher oil percentage compared to normal avocados and produce a creamier texture. Chef Ivory explained the convenience of using quick-frozen avocadoes from the US: “The fresh ones will always keep you guessing on the ripeness and color of the product until it is opened. Whereas US avocados arrive frozen, packed, ripe, and ready to use.”
The seafood selection featured Maine lobsters and US scallops on a spaghettini aglio olio pasta and US dogfish fillet cooked in caper butter sauce.
The star of the evening was the pizza station featuring the US pork sisig pizza by chef Kalel and the California melted cheese-board pizza by chef Ivory. The carvery items were also a hit, showcasing the US Prime Rib Roast, US Kurobuta Ham with roasted US sweet potatoes, and US Turkey with rosemary sausage stuffing.
For sweet endings, an array of US confections, chocolates, gummies, and strawberries were on display to keep up with the Halloween theme, plus an addition of soy-based desserts such as US soy burnt-caramel panna cotta, US apple and tofu cinnamon cookies and mini pavlovas with US blueberries and strawberries.
A selection of California wines from Philippine Wine Merchants, Bestworld Beverages, and a new wine company, Gourmet Bridge, were served throughout the event, not to mention non-alcoholic beverages such as Welch’s grape Juice, Mott’s apple juice and Old Orchard cranberry juice.