We had requested a “picnic lunch” on the beach while on our recent stay at Miniloc Resort, El Nido, Palawan. This is what we got. FABULOUS. With the entire Dangun beach to ourselves, our small party of five which included Mrs. MM, MM, The Teen and two friends from the Northeast United States was presented with this amazing spread. We had actually spoken with the chef the day before and requested a much more modest selection of dishes, but it seems they couldn’t resist pulling out all the stops. The hotel’s Resident Manager, Noel, had recognized us from a previous stay at Amanpulo, where he used to work, and I can’t help but think he made sure we got a great lunch… though everyone we talked to seemed to think this was just their normal picnic lunch set-up… :)
The setting was a table set under the cooling shade of a large tree. Our feet were on the sand, and as the gentle waves hit shore, you could feel the water between your toes if you were on one side of the table. Placemats, cutlery, linen, china and glasses were set, along with a table centerpiece as well!
You couldn’t ask for a more spectacular view than this. Of course our two guests got the best seats at the table. It was not only their first time to Asia and the Philippines, it was their first time to have a sit-down meal literally on the beach!
We started with some cured or smoked fish, probably tuna, served with lemon honey mustard sauce. I thought they were slices of sashimi gone bad when they first arrived, but their color was actually a result of the smoking and curing. Delicious.
This was followed by an utterly superb shrimp kinilaw or ceviche. Unlike the fish kinilaw that we make at home, where the vinegar just barely has time to kiss the fish, this one had been marinating for a while, and the shrimp was “cooked” all the way through. It was the first time I have had shrimp kinilaw and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. Will have to try my hand at making this, but it was just really addictive. The texture of the shrimp was a little rubbery in a nice kind of way, and the balance of sourness and saltiness in the marinade had Mrs. MM and I taking some of the marinade to add to some of the grilled items that appeared later… a really nice unexpected sawsawan or sauce!
We had several kinds of bread and breadsticks…
…an eggplant salad, several generous “cones” of rice wrapped in banana leaves…
…a ratatouille style dish…
…a salad of locally grown (ginormous and rather bitter) arugula tempered with a sweet mango salad dressing. I don’t normally go for sweet dressings, but with the bitter greens, this was a welcome pairing…
…next appeared some inihaw na pork chops, done just a few meters away on a portable grill, as well as some grilled chicken inasal.
Just when you thought you would burst at the seams, a platter of alimango or mud crabs, and several grilled fish was presented by the waitstaff!
Followed by some stuffed squid! Yowks! :)
A refreshing fruit platter had watermelon, mangoes, bananas and pineapples. A cooler with water and sodas kept us hydrated throughout or stay on the beach.
Our waiter Jobeth, and Chef Boyet who made sure we had a truly memorable meal and experience. Two other crew members were in the shadows and photo-shy… Many thanks to the folks at Miniloc for arranging such a wonderful “picnic”! :)