Sage Bespoke Grill Is Going Argentinian—With The Best Argentinian Beef, Wine, And A New Argentinian Chef
There’s a new chef de cuisine at Sage Bespoke Grill in Makati Shangri-La Hotel, and he happens to be Argentinian. So what better way to welcome him to Manila than with the hotel’s ongoing “A Taste of Argentina” promotion that highlights Argentinian beef and Argentinian wine. I was able to try some of the dishes from the promotion by invitation of the Moët Hennessy group which exclusively distributes the featured Argentinian wines, Terrazas de los Andes, in the Philippines.
As Sage’s new chef, Sebastian Barcudes brings 14 years of culinary experience to the grill, having worked in Buenos Aires, Dubai, Doha, and Kuala Lumpur, before joining the Makati Shangri-La team.
Chef Sebastian Barcudes
As a true blue Argentinian, Chef Sebastian definitely knows his beef. It’s one of his favorite ingredients and he grew up eating it at least five days a week. So it comes as no surprise that his preferred beef comes from his native Argentina, specifically Urien Loza beef. He considers this brand the best beef in the world since it comes from cattle that is raised in a stress-free environment. He explains, “When cows are confined in small spaces, the meat becomes tense and hard.” According to him, cattle raised in a relaxed environment usually ends up as more tender beef. It apparently also has twice the amount of omega-3s versus a typical grain-fed steak, making it a “healthier” option. Thanks to Sage, Filipino diners get a chance to taste different cuts of this prized meat which Chef Sebastian meticulously slices using a special Argentinian knife, before he grills it the Argentinian way on the Josper grill.
Sage’s collection of high quality Tandil knives from Argentina
Joining us at the dinner was Nico Bolzico of Bolzico Beef, the exclusive distributor of the Urien Loza premium brand of Argentine beef in the Philippines. A social media and Internet star, celebrity endorser, and husband of Solenn Heussaff, Nico entertained us the whole night with his peculiar kind of humor and his heartwarming stories about his numerous pets.
Nico Bolzico with Chef Sebastian
The clear crowd favorite at the dinner was a super tender, melt-in-your-mouth, Malbec-braised Oyster Blade beef that paired really well with the same Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec 2016 used as its braising liquid. This is a complex yet well-balanced Malbec produced in the Lujan de Cuyo and Uco Valley areas of Argentina, with an altitude of more than 1,070 meters above sea level.
Tender Oyster Blade braised in Terrazas de los Andes Malbec
Chef Sebastian also served an extra tasty chargrilled Argentine Tenderloin that came with sides of provoleta, marble potatoes, and chimichurri sauce. The steak was paired with a refined Terrazas de los Andes Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, offering fruity blackberry, pepper, and floral notes with vibrant acidity to deliver a fresh and fruity juicy finish. It was my pick for the best wine of the night.
Grilled Tenderloin with provoleta cheese, marble potatoes, and chimichurri
Other must-try dishes during the dinner included Chef Sebastian’s perfectly grilled versions of octopus and sweetbread, plus his Torta Rogel for dessert. This Argentinian sweet is made of crispy pastry layers, sandwiched between glossy dulce de leche, and topped with sweet Italian meringue and raspberry coulis. It’s a dessert so good that we all wanted extra servings.
Grilled Sweetbreads paired with Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec
I was quite pleased with the pairing of Argentinian food and Terrazas de los Andes wines. I’m also happy to note that there is an overall marked improvement in the quality of the food served in Sage that night, compared to a recent previous experience (before Chef Sebastian took over the kitchen early this year). As Sage Bespoke Grill’s new chef de cuisine, Chef Sebastian aims to inject some innovations to the usual grill menu and is in the process of debuting a new a la carte menu later this year.
Sage Bespoke Grill, 2/F Makati Shangri-La, Ayala Avenue, Makati City, (02) 814-2580
Photos courtesy of Makati Shangri-La
Nico Balzico's photo courtesy of @eiconthemove
Food photos by Cyrene de la Rosa
Follow the author on Instagram and Twitter @cyrenedelarosa