The Barenaked Ladies, my favorite Canadian rock/folk band, called Vanilla just that in their breakout single “One Week” from the 1998 album “Stunt.” I sang through it and nodded with everything in agreement. The song played not so silently in my head when I was digging into my vanilla-infused soup, of course, which explains why I was bobbing my head up and down at the Movenpick Vanille Salee dinner.
The soup, for that matter, was easily my favorite. Arriving deceptively plain in a white-on-white palette, the White Onion Veloute was broken only by the caramel tones of the golden mound of shallot chutney that sat on top of the veritable French sauce.
My love affair with veloute itself, one of five mother sauces in French cuisine, has its rootsin both lore and taste. I had a short-lived affair (aren’t affairs always best when fleeting?) with a French scientist who cooked for me on occasion the headiest espagnole, and more often the lightest, most velvety (veloute itself translates directly into just that) version of the white sauce, and poured it, oh dear, on most everything he could get his tongue on.
Who knew the orchid pod, best known for their use in desserts, would translate so well to salee, a salty repertoire that is the brainchild of the Swiss chain’s European Director of Food and Beverage Thomas Hollenstein.
The entire network across the Middle East, West Africa and Asia, in fact, rolls out vanilla-infused special dishes in an exclusive four-course menu starting today.
And because the hotel brand itself is best known for another product, ice cream, dinner ends with a glass of rose and, in a full circle, something unmistakably French: an upside down apple cake called tarte tatin, topped with—of course—a generous scoop of Movenpick’s signature vanilla ice cream.
I overhear hotel general manager Harold Rainfroy mention that the price for this exclusive dinner was only P2,650. A steal, considering the other translation for salee, which I learned when the French affair checked the bill, frowned, and exclaimed the same word with a bit of disgust, was steep.
(Vanille Salee is available at the SAILS of Movenpick Mactan from today (Feb. 21) to March 21. Apart from the set menu, the six special vanilla dishes are available a la carte starting at P290.)