A very vegan Christmas at Buhay Ermitanyo

It's a different Christmas dinner this year. With the customary Noche Buena fare consisting of cholesterol laden, greasy Filipino foods that leave you uncomfortably stuffed and sick come Christmas Day, this year I treated my folks to an out of the ordinary vegan Christmas dinner prepared by the amazing people behind Buhay Ermitanyo, a vegan gourmet brand that makes the most delectable range of plant-based, dairy-free cheeses, pasta sauces and deli products. I have tasted their vegan cheese a couple of years back and have been impressed by the quality and integrity of their product. 

I'm thrilled that Buhay Ermitanyo has ventured into private vegan dining experience for people who crave and are also curious about plant-based foods. Carnivores will be in for a surprise when they taste Buhay Ermitanyo's tastebud titillating dishes that are pure, clean, fresh and so good for the body and soul.

I promptly reserved the 5-course Christmas dinner weeks beforehand as the owners, Juan and Judy can only accommodate one booking per night to maintain the quality of the food and of course, provide exclusive space for the guests. We were informed that a short meditation would precede the meal, so I was doubly thrilled with the idea of being placed in a meditative mood for a truly mindful dining experience.

We were comfortably seated in the rustic garden shed  while a soft wafting of heady floral incense mixed with the cool and tempestuous December breeze. In the background, soft instrumental meditation music placed us in a very relaxed mood and we were ready for the gustatory 5-course delights that were to be served by Juan, our meditation guru and food server of the night. Before serving the meal he would introduce the name of the dish and the ingredients that were in it. Buon appetito!

First to be served was a pitcher of refreshing magenta colored Beetroot Cocktail. It was a perfect drink to accompany the hors d’oeurve, a satisying plate of crostini served with vegan ‘Pate de foie gras’, whipped butter and and lively blueberry date compote. My tastebuds at this point were starting to hum a happy Mozart tune! Thin slices of perfectly toasted crusty bread topped with sweet and savory plant-based spreads garnished with microgreens were surprisingly light and satisfying to the tummy.  Next course, please!
Next to be served was the appetizer, a visually delightful "Pear Walnut Rocket Ermitanyo Summer Salad with Bleu Cheese Dressing." The sharp, mildly bitter taste of rocket/arugula was a wonderful contrast to the juicy pear slices and sweetly tender grapes. Topped with crunchy walnuts, and colorful edible flowers, this salad at this point was my favorite course. My salad plate was wiped clean. Delicioso!
The next course was the entree, "Coconut Lemongrass Velouté", a velvety savory soup with the rich warm taste of coconut and citrusy lemongrass. A very comforting and heartwarming soup that was perfect with the December weather! 
The main course was a beautifully prepared "Seven Seas 'Seafood' Risotto with Garlic Aoili", a rich, full-flavored Italian dish made of  Arborio or short-grain rice cooked in vegetable stock, white wine and aromatics.  As vegan food does not contain seafood, this dish surprisingly tasted like a Mediterranean seaside summer. I loved the oystery flavor and sauteed mushrooms that were enhanced by the garlicky sauce.  This meal left me bursting at the seams! Very satisfying dish that I could have devoured completely if only I skipped lunch. (Note to self: Skip lunch for the next Buhay Ermitanyo dining experience.)

A meal is not complete without dessert! To cap the vegan Christmas meal, Chef Judy prepared an indulgent " Dark Chocolate Aquafaba Ice Cream on Dark Chocolate Mud Pie." She made it extra special by adding a dollop of vegan hazelnut sauce. Wow, a totally stunning sweet treat! In vegan cooking, aquafaba is viscous water from which lentils, legumes and pulses are cooked. When whipped, it turns into some kind of foamy 'egg white,' a perfect replacement for egg-free dishes.

All that chocolate goodness in one-guilt free, plant based dessert! We loved it!

Oh, we also had our fortune cookies drawn! Here's mine: 

Thank you Buhay Ermitanyo for blowing our minds and wow-ing our tastebuds with innovative vegan cooking and sheer deliciousness. Till our next Buhay Ermitanyo meal!

Buhay Ermitanyo 
R. Mapa St., Mandurriao, Iloilo City
For bookings, contact:
Mobile no: 0956 627 3118

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