Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Local Flavors Shine at Diamond Hotel's Filipino Culinary Pride

Crispy Pork Kare-Kare Macadamia, Lengua and Queso de Bola Macarons. It's just some of the many signature dishes from acclaimed chefs, Sau del Rosario and Miko Aspiras. And you can indulge all you want at Corniche...


Diamond Hotel recently launched its annual Filipino Food Festival, Filipino Culinary Pride, featuring guest chefs Sau del Rosario and Miko Aspiras last June 21, 2018 at Corniche bringing both tradition and inspired modern spins to local cuisine. The creative stamp of chefs Sau del Rosario and Miko Aspiras are evident in all the featured dishes, and the sumptuous spread is yet another epic dining experience at Corniche.

The bright and spacious interiors of Diamond Hotel's Corniche is draped in the vibrant colors of a Filipino fiesta with its staff garbed in traditional Filipino attire to complete the vibe and feel for a festive Filipino feast. One leisurely weekend afternoon, we get a special preview of the lavish feast at Corniche...


...and what a feast. When you bring two of the most influential local chefs together for a collaboration with Diamond Hotel's culinary team at Corniche, you just know this is going to be special. Since my first visit at Diamond Hotel's Corniche more than five years ago (see my very first post here at Awesome Lobster Buffet at Diamond Hotel's Corniche), I've had countless memorable dining experiences that just kept getting better and better (for more on the previous culinary festivals at Corniche, see my earlier posts from 2013 here at Salmon 100 Ways and More: Salmon Nights at Diamond Hotel's Corniche and An All-American Feast at Diamond Hotel's Corniche with an unforgettable encounter with the Turducken, a culinary collaboration with the country's top local chefs at The Best of Filipino Cuisine at Diamond Hotel's Corniche from 2014, rediscovering local flavors with Celebrate Independence Day with Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen at Corniche featuring the stuffed lechon from Pepita's Kitchen and All You Can Eat Steaks at Corniche from 2015, indulgent festive local and Spanish flavors in Celebrating the Flavors of May Festivals at Corniche's Culinaria Filipina and Fiesta de Sabores Espanoles: A Spanish Fiesta of Flavors at Diamond Hotel's Corniche from 2016, regional Filipino and traditional Spanish cuisine at Savor the Flavors of the Philippine Archipelago by Chef Myke "Tatung" Sarthou at Corniche and A Spanish Festival of Flavors: Exquisita Comida Espanola at Corniche from last year). This year, Diamond Hotel promises yet another memorable culinary experience in a special collaboration with Chefs Sau del Rosario and Miko Aspiras for Filipino Culinary Pride at Corniche.

Right off the bat, the appetizers and starters at Corniche were already impressive, featuring a wide array of comfortingly familiar local flavors in an elegant spread. Chef Sau del Rosario takes you on a nostalgic culinary journey with his refreshing and inspired take on classic Filipino dishes...


...like the elegant Chicken Galantina Roulade, the classic deboned and delicately poached chicken stuffed with savory ground pork, sweet raisins and pickle relish, ham, smoky peppers, carrots, and egg...

...to the colorful Maya-Maya Mayonesa (L), whole red snapper draped in creamy mayonnaise, carrots, bell peppers, olives, and egg, both popular staples triggering fond memories of family gatherings. But Chef Sau also offered tasty surprises, transforming familiar flavors with his inventive Sinigang Flan (R) with fresh seafood.


Chef Sau then recreates another Capampangan classic with his Tamales Pampanguena, giving the traditional savory rice cake a fresh makeover with an indulgent and elegant velvety smooth and creamy texture capped with the vibrant hue of annatto oil and topped with tender chicken and salted duck eggs. It's one of Chef Sau's many tasty transformations of traditional dishes, refined and elevated. Each spoonful takes you back to carefree childhood summers...


...while another Capampangan favorite, the Paku with Kesong Puti, triggers even more fond memories of childhood vacations in Pampanga. The clean and fresh hints of the mildly sweet fiddlehead fern contrasts with the tart flavors of fresh tomatoes, the bite of the red onions, and the distinct notes of the salted duck eggs, all perfectly finished by a light yet flavorful vinaigrette made with fish sauce and the creamy cottage cheese.


Fresh, local garden greens, sweet fruits and edible flowers combine for a light and refreshing salad made even richer with blue cheese. It's the inventive approach to flavors that gives diners a new perspective on local cuisine, allowing you to experience familiar flavors with a fresh new palate.


Truly special dishes often trigger memories, and Chef Sau del Rosario shared his fond recollections of the family kitchen back in Pampanga forming the foundation for his new signature dishes. It's this connection that makes the Filipino Culinary Pride Food Festival at Corniche special.


From the rich and savory Duck Adobo...


...to the hearty Crab Vermicelli with Crab Fat Sauce, Chef Sau weaves a colorful culinary story with every dish at Corniche.


No Filipino feast is complete without Lechon, and Chef Sau offers a taste of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao in each of his Roasted Pork Belly creations...


...stuffed with Mindanao Malagos Chevre and Cocoa, Visayas Chili Mango, and Luzon Buru. Each one is distinct from the other, from the creamy and nutty notes of the cheese and cocoa in the Mindanao version to the sweet and spicy hints of the Visayan variant and the salty yet comforting Luzon style filled with fermented rice. The juicy pork and the lightly crisp outer layer of crackling are given flavorful twists with the regional-inspired stuffing, and going for another slice is hard to resist.



The Salt Crusted Salmon with Calamansi and Coconut, whole baked salmon draped in rock salt, is made even richer with the coconut and local lime. The infusion of local ingredients adds a new layer of flavor to every dish at Corniche, each one masterfully executed. 


But Chef Sau has even  more tasty surprises up his sleeves, like the traditional Bringhe (L), a Capampangan version of paella made with glutinous rice steamed in coconut milk and topped with tender chunks of chicken and vegetables, and the Sisig Paella (R), a flavorful rice dish topped with pork sisig, another Capampangan favorite. 


Your culinary journey with local regional flavors continue with Chef Sau's creamy Lengua, fork-tender ox-tongue covered in a buttery mushroom sauce. Drawing inspiration from cherished family recipes, Chef Sau takes the Capampangan version of the Spanish dish to another level. One bite is all you need to know why this dish has been a staple in many local celebrations in Pampanga for generations. From the bold and savory notes of the fork tender beef to the nutty and buttery richness of the mushroom sauce, this is one dish not to be missed at Corniche's Filipino Culinary Pride food festival. 


Chef Sau recalls with fondness how he would prepare this dish back home with his mother, delicately slicing paper-thin portions of beef tongue for that melt-in-your-mouth texture. Chef Sau's version features cubes of beef tongue for that extra bite. And it works just as well. 


But there's one more dish that will have you coming back for more. Chef Sau's Crispy Pork Kare-Kare Macadamia is probably the most indulgent version of the local stew with its traditional peanut sauce. But instead of peanuts, Chef Sau uses macadamia for that extra richness and smooth texture. Paired with juicy pork belly capped by a thin and crisp layer of crackling, think of this as the penultimate version upgrade of the usual kare-kare.



The thick sauce has a silky smooth texture with the macadamia, not grainy at all unlike the traditional peanut sauce. The subtle sweetness of the macadamia-based sauce also complements the savory richness of the pork belly. I was told this dish drew raves from guests during the launch of Filipino Culinary Pride. And why not. Chef Sau's Crispy Pork Kare-Kare Macadamia is on a class of it own, simply unlike any other kare-kare. Period.


In addition to the curated menu prepared by Chef Sau del Rosario, guests at Corniche can also enjoy a wide variety of the day's freshest catch at the Seafood Station...

...from plump and succulent shrimps to fresh oysters, fat mussels and crabs to clams delicately stacked and arranged on ice. Located at the front of Corniche, the Seafood Station is definitely an eye-stopper. So pick up another plate and load up on your fresh catch...


...of local crabs...


...and crab claws...


...to clams...


...and mussels. Great as is, you can also have your fresh catch grilled, baked with cheese or lightly sauteed in butter.


That day at the Seafood Station, the famed Diwal or Angel Wings from down south in Roxas were also served. Sweet with just a hint of briny notes, perfect with a dab of butter.


At the Grill Station, diners can also choose from a variety of fresh fish along with pork and beef for grilling. And if you're still hungry, you can make a tasty stopover at Corniche's Japanese Station, Indian Station, Pasta and Pizza Station, and Asian Station for a selection of fresh dim sum and noodles.


After that last plate of savory flavors, you're just about ready for the next phase of your culinary journey with the indulgent dessert creations of Chef Miko Aspiras at the Dessert Station. Hailed as one of the best young dessert chefs in the country, Chef Miko Aspiras weaves his own magic and inventive style with his intricate desserts to complete your dining experience at Corniche. 


Drawing inspiration from local produce from the market, Chef Miko Aspiras transforms the vibrant notes of fresh fruits into indulgent desserts like the Dayap with coconut mousse infused with the citrus hints of dayap dipped in decadent praline...


...the Cherry with layers of chocolate sponge, cherry mousse, and cherry chantilly...


...the Mansanas, an elegant cinnamon Granny Smith apple compote dipped in red glaze with chocolate leaf and twigs...


...and the Mangga, a lavish dessert made with mango mousse, passion fruit, mango sauce and mango coulis dipped in sweet glaze. Each one is practically a work of art, and almost too good to eat. But if you dare to gently tap one of his fruity creations, you'll be rewarded almost immediately with a decadent sweetness to line your palate.  


Chef Miko Aspiras has more tempting treats for diners at Corniche, from his delicate Grape Choux...


...to the elegant Mandarin Cheesecake, Chef Miko aims to both impress and satisfy with his innovative dessert creations.


The Keso de Bola Macaron, the delicate pastry combining both the nutty sweetness of the almonds used in the macaron and the bright and intense notes of the cheese is just what you need to end your feast on a high note. This is what catapulted Chef Miko in the local hierarchy of dessert chefs, and the flavors are just as fresh and indulgent since I first tried this some years back.


Take your pick of Chef Miko's fruit-inspired dessert creations...


...or go for another signature bestseller of Diamond Hotel. Just how do you top a classic favorite from Diamond Hotel? You make it bigger. Way bigger.


Chef Miko Aspiras takes the all-time signature favorite from Diamond Hotel and goes all-out with the Giant Diamond Hotel Ensaymada, and size does matter. Pillow soft brioche topped with cheese and draped in butter, it's everything you love about Diamond Hotel's signature ensaymada with its purple yam filling. But bigger. Another slice? Absolutely.


From starters and salads to fresh seafood and savory mains rounded out by elegant desserts, the Filipino Culinary Pride festival at Diamond Hotel's Corniche takes you on a memorable culinary journey with the traditional flavors that defined us, as well as offer tasty glimpses of Filipino cuisine's rich diversity, all in one place. And it's all happening at Corniche.


But better hurry. The Filipino Culinary Pride Filipino Food Festival at Diamond Hotel's Corniche runs only until July 1, 2018.  Embark on your own culinary journey of Filipino cuisine at Corniche for only P 2,780 net per person, and rediscover local flavors. And here's even more good news. Guests with a minimum spend of P 5,000 at the Corniche lunch or dinner buffet will get a raffle ticket for a chance to win a 2-night stay in Baguio. Plus, spend a minimum of P 20,000 and get a complimentary overnight stay in a Deluxe Room with Breakfast for Two. Crispy Pork Kare-Kare Macadamia, Lengua, and Keso de Bola Macarons, just one of the many reasons to visit Corniche, 

Corniche is located at the lobby level of Diamond Hotel, Roxas Boulevard corner Dr. J. Quintos Street, Manila or call (632) 528-3000 local 1121 for inquiries and reservations. You can also email at guestservices@diamondhotel.com or purchase and book online at onlineshopping.diamondhotel.com

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