In Honor of a Fashion Icon and In Honor of a Mother’s Culinary Heritage

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In Honor of a Fashion Icon

George Sison is a rare gem, ageless, ever dapper and possesses an air of regalness about him. Over the decades that Rupert and I have known George and over countless dinners, he has always celebrated his exquisitely elegant mother, Priscilla de la Fuente Sison.  Priscilla’s sense of style has placed her on a class of her own, one of old-world elegance. With his mother as inspiration and as a tribute, George conceptualized ‘Epitome: Dressing at its Best’ awards; and with the assistance of good friend, Mario Katigbak, the event was a success, reminiscent of a bygone era.

In retrospect, Priscilla, George, Margarita, Rupert and I were a five-some and enjoyed cocktails together; we would frequently meet for wine and cheese and her favorite anchovy pasta, be it at her Forbes Park residence or at the Sign of the Dove, Alo Alo and other haunts in New York. She was a lady through and through, in every nuance, in every laughter. Those were wonderful memories, and after she passed on, to commemorate this togetherness, there was this one particular dinner, where we would go out as a foursome with Margarita; and George would bring Priscilla’s 11” x 14” portrait taken by Rupert and would give it a seat of its own.  George said: “An elegant woman is not only the clothes she wears, that is only half the picture – for with it must come the grace of carrying what she wears with no self-consciousness, her manners must be impeccable and after a while, her clothes just become an accessory to her gentility.  By any measure, she was a lady!”

Fashion Interiors, a lifestyle furniture concept store was the perfect venue for this awards event with its homey ambience.  Its fine furniture, candlelight and mirrors perfectly suited George, to recreate the feel of what society parties were all about back then.  George selected eight women whose personal style reflected his mother’s taste.  Priscilla was a style icon of her generation and in the best dressed list of National Artist for Fashion, Ramon Valera, together with Chona Recto Kasten and Elvira Manahan.  The program started with a slideshow presentation on Priscilla who belonged to Manila’s 400 – families known not only for their wealth but for their philanthropy, elegance and gilded life. A mini concert by world renowned pianist Raul Sunico enthralled the A-listers with his medley from the Phantom of the Opera and George‘s composition, ”What Name shall I Give You My Love”.  This year’s awardees were: Mia Borromeo, Joanna Preysler Francisco, Lulu Tan Gan, Stephanie Gonzalez, Joy Rustia, Korina Sanchez Roxas and Duday Tuason.  Priscilla Sison was once quoted as saying: “Elegance is never trying to steal the show”.

        In Honor of a Mother’s Culinary Heritage

Francesco’s Kitchen, a warm Italian restaurant has an inviting atmosphere fragrant with the lingering aroma of home cooking. A best kept secret, food is big at this new neighborhood Italian restaurant with Chef Francesco Rizzo, former executive chef of Edsa-Shangri-la Paparazzi, who is passionate about his latest foray into the specialty restaurant scene in A. Mabini, San Juan.  It was a design overhaul of an ancestral house to obtain an Italian vibe. Partner wine diva Tita Trillo, CEO of Titania Wine Cellar and restaurateurs Annabelle and Cheng Yong welcomed their guests during the cocktails of antipasti fresh from the brick oven.

Chef Rizzo honored his mother’s Italian heritage. She is from Puglia, Italy and he brought her culinary favorites to Francesco’s.  Her treasured recipes dominate the menu paired with Titania Wine Cellar’s impressive Old World and New World wines.  He created a three-tiered menu, all perfect for sharing.  He served cappuccino style snap peas roasted garlic foam soup; seafood fregula pasta with a light tomato flavour; Maccheroncini with lamb ragout and aged ricotta; asparagus cream risotto with pancetta.  This first course was paired with California Three Wishes Chardonnay, and Merlot. The braised beef short ribs was cooked to tender perfection well -complemented with Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Chile Escudo Rojo Cabernet Sauvignon;  on the lighter side, roasted seabass  and the Cotechino stuffed chicken in lentil stew with  Argentina ‘s Opi Chardonnay.  A meal is not complete without its dessert of strawberry marsala trifles with Spain’s Natalie Sweet Chardonay. Such a satisfying dinner shall lure us back again and again.

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