“I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.” — Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
A SECOND-LEVEL deluxe was our home for the weekend at the Dune House of Plantation Bay. We had our little girl, Baecan, in tow after having complied with the resort’s pet policy. It was probably ill-advised for us to tag along our fur baby to our Romantic Rendezvous retreat, but every love story always comes with a token character for comic relief.
The heat that beat down through the long ride to Mactan now begged to be let through the shutters and into the cooled room. The massive four-poster beckoned and we three sank deep into the plush bedding to slip into blissful sleep. We were roused shortly and were soon carted to the Palermo for our scheduled Romantic Refresher Course.
The fibrous sweetness of our shared watermelon shake dissolved on my tongue as I dove into her pools of deep brown, her pupils dilating to open into mine. She let out a nervous giggle only to quickly fall back into the silence of the empty restaurant. There was a time when we had all the time to do nothing but just lose ourselves into each other. It was good to have found some again now.
The course put us through a series of activities that allowed us a review of how we began, how we were in the present and what we look forward to. I would have loved to detail the entire experience but the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure proceedings make it personal to each couple.
We ended with me pulling her onto the clearing and into a tight embrace at the swell of slow dance instrumental. That has always been on our list but events and their playlists rarely veer away from Tropical House and EDM. Tears, both in sadness for misgivings and joy for our highs, streamed as we slowly shuffled across the floor to the last strains of the violins, pooling with resolutions that no longer need to be spoken.
A quick change had us ready for a special dinner on Lover’s Rock. Paper lamps lit the bridge to the outcrop overlooking the shoreline stretched by the low tide. A live saxophone serenade set the moonlit mood for the three-courser that came with our very own, and rather adept, attendant.
The PussyKat enjoyed the delicate pungency of the creamy, saffron-flavored mussel soup brightened by the sweet vegetable flavor from a fennel infusion. Naturally buttery salmon made a richly-textured and flavored tartare holding up to that of the marinated shrimp with the peppery, nuttiness of rocket and the tangy sweetness of the orange vinaigrette cutting through.
Her main was a pan-fried grouper steak tied-down to a nice spinach risotto by a creamy shallot cream sauce. Mine was a rib-eye steak perfectly done to a meaty-sweet medium rare pushed by the earthy heat and vegetals from a side stir-fried in Harissa.
Bitter orange flavor gave depth to fresh mango slices melding with the combined cool aftertaste and actual temperature of the ice cream in the Cointreau-Marinated Mango w/ Mint Parfait. I called the Heaven and Hell Cake a misnomer with the creamy, slightly-saltine peanut butter mousse & the sweet, rich chocolate ganache being a match made in heaven. The dinner menu may not have exactly been intended to be aphrodisiacal but it may well have been with the exciting play of flavors and textures.
We returned to our room with the floor and the bed strewn with rose petals, candles everywhere, chocolates, towel swans and a hot bath drawn with a chilled bottle of champagne beside it. We wasted no time in popping it open and pouring it into flutes as we poured ourselves into the sensuously bubbly bath water.
Dams burst as we found ourselves asking each other to stay the same. Far from over agreeing to disagree, we found friction slowly smoothed out the rough patches. The last of our tears played a salty counterbalance to the sweets and the sours and against the darker flavors, much like in our relationship, and, somehow, trailing off into the pleasantly savory — umami. We will never be perfect and that is how we are perfect.
The Romantic Refresher Course is part of the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa’s Romantic Rendezvous Package. Plantation Bay Resort and Spa is located at Marigondon, Mactan Island, Cebu, Philippines 6015. For inquiries and reservations, call 032 505 9800 or check out their website, plantationbay.com.