Photo credit to Noemi Dado
Today I embarked on a walking tour of the Diamond Hotel courtesy of Carlos Celdran for the Wagyu Beef Fest. Alongside other traditional media folk were lifestyle new media mavens (aka bloggers) Lori Baltazar, Noemi Dado and Anton DIaz – and they all had cameras to take pictures of the event (sob! I left mine at home). I invited a couple more but they were not able to attend. I also had the chance to meet up with other media friends like Art Ilano and Nina Chua of HIP, Nicole de los Reyes of Summit, Elbert Cuenca of PhilMUG, freelancer Shaira Luna, Steph Ongkiko of RPN 9 and blog-o-rama columnist Annalyn Jusay.
Diamond Hotel Philippines will showcase the King of Premium Beef in a gastronomic exposition so decadent, it might actually be healthy. Backed by the expertise of the countryâ€™s portal for all things deliciously Japanese (where Wagyu traces is savory beginnings), we are inviting you to explore the poetically complex flavors of Wagyu as interpreted by the culinary expertise of Diamond Hotelâ€™s team of chefs who have managed to achieve the Zen ideal of Wagyu cooking.
So here I am waiting for them to post pictures of the event. We sampled about 12 different dishes of Wagyu Beef. Carlos Celdran put up a good show touring us across the hotel to sample Wagyu prepared in the styles of Teppanyaki, Sukiyaki, fine dining slices and even locally prepared Wagyu bulalo and Wagyu burgers.. Oh god, that didn’t even sound appetizing. I’m definitely no food writer.
So the one hundred twenty thousand peso meal (roughly USD $2,400.00) was kept in a sealed glass and was being vigilantly watched by an armed guard. It comes with all of these other dishes including salmon, wine, and a night’s stay for two at the Diamond (See, I really suck at making food sound more palatable on paper … err cyberspace).
So what did it taste like?! Gee. Well, if the beef were chocolate, I could say that it melted in my mouth. I was careful not to leave scraps on the plates because each small piece I left behind would be worth around several thousand pesos.
Anton has an interesting insight about how to treat PR events like these, especially when we need to call a spade a spade.
The first one is to adhere to the principle of you always pay for your own meal if you were to blog about it and NO to PR events. I know for a fact that Sassy Lawyer, Wysgal, and Marketman follow this principle. The second one is that PR events are a good way to get more information about the place by letting them showcase their best dishes, a chance to interview the owner, and get lots of pictures without being questioned. The third school of thought is the one that I invented and follow. I usually go for awesome experiences which would include eating at a restaurant I can rave about or meeting awesome people.
I cannot judge the motivations of people to attend press events but I like the way Anton puts it. At the end of the day, there has to be a “fair use” of product vs publicity so that the scales don’t tip. I mean, honestly, if I were asked to write a review about a resto and the person offered to pay for the meal, I still would call a spade a spade and write what was great about it and what needed improvement. It’s only fair to the owner and to the reader. I prefer that approach. Remeber, I was asked to write a review, not an advertorial. Who pays for the meal is irrelevant. Heck, some PR agencies don’t even take it against you if you don’t write about it at all.
But going back. I found it hard to criticize the best beef in town.
… which is why I really need to take a food writing class one day because to me, I have no idea how to judge whether the beef was super tender or not. Is “tenderness” a function of not needing a fork to cut the meat? What if I did need a fork? What if I stalled and ate the beef too late and therefore it was left out too long and no longer fresh? Gee. I don’t know.
To me, the food was just delicious and that was all that mattered then, coupled with the experience of getting together with such great people. The venue was crowded. The food was good. The people were great. Carlos Celdran was amazing. He’s also a bit shorter in person. I had a good time.
Food writing classes, anyone?