Thursday, September 11, 2014

Culinary Gems at Taal Vista Hotel

A celebration of the best Filipino flavors from the very best chefs in the metro, with the best view of the lake...

Taal Vista Hotel celebrates 75 years of heritage and happiness with a 12-weekend buffet series, dubbed Culinary Gems, a Festival of Filipino Flavors, featuring seven of the country's noted chefs. The festival runs on select weekends from September 6 to November 23, 11:30am to 3:00pm, on Saturdays and Sundays and from 6:00pm to 10:00pm on Saturdays. And nothing beats a sumptuous lunch with a postcard perfect view of the iconic Taal Lake and Volcano, only at Taal Vista Hotel.

Taal Vista Hotel's Filipino food festival kicks off with successful restaurateur and Pinoy MasterChef Judge Fernando Aracama, and his take on classic regional flavors from Negros. A proud Negrense, Chef Fernando Aracama showcases the diverse flavors of Negros and Iloilo, from appetizers to mains and desserts. 

The buffet spread is impressive, featuring a wide range of dishes and you'll definitely need to map out your plan of attack. A platter of refreshing appetizers kicks off my Culinary Gems experience at Taal Vista Hotel's Cafe Veranda, with Pomelo Coconut Salad, Pickled Papaya and Kalabasa, Ampalaya Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette, Puto Capsicum, and Adobo Flakes with Kesong Puti Tartlets. Small bites with fresh, clean flavors, and a perfect start.

Cafe Veranda's Drink of the Month, the Green Mango Breeze, a refreshing blend of tart green mango and sweet watermelon is the perfect drink to pair with the fresh appetizers. Here's a quick rundown on some of the dishes featured at Taal Vista Hotel's Cafe Veranda...

A wide variety of fresh Ensaladas, with a medley of seasonal vegetables, pako, jackfruit, puso ng saging, tomatoes and salted egg are just some of the fresh salad options at the salad station.

Chef Fernando Aracama puts his own creative spin on the popular southern dish with his crisp Bicol Express Lumpitos (L) and Ginataang Langka Triangles (R), tasty appetizers with a flavorful kick.

The Taal Vista Fresh Lumpia, freshly made and prepared as you order, with stir-fried vegetables, peanuts and rich sauce, yet another option at the sumptuous buffet spread.

In between courses, dancers performed local dances from different regions, adding a local and festive vibe to the feast. And a cool break before the mains...

Chef Fernando Aracama's Porchetta Negrense, tender and juicy boneless slow roasted pork belly with crisp crackling, stuffed with lemongrass, chili, red onions, and the Negrense batuan fruit, the centerpiece and most popular station in the lavish spread. Perfectly seasoned with balanced flavors, you don't need much sauce with this one. The juicy pork is already flavorful on its own.

Roast Beef Hamonado, tender and juicy prime beef with a subtle sweet glaze. Each slice includes a thin layer of fat for flavor, and the hamonado marinade completes the flavors. And just like the Porchetta Negrense, the prime beef is good on its own without any need for sauce.

Other Negrense specialties include Chef Fernando Aracama's Chicken Inasal and Inihaw na Pusit na may Kamatis at Sibuyas, regional favorites with fresh flavors that go so well with the Kalkag Fried Rice, another Negrense specialty.

Then it's time to get serious, time for the first round. Grilled Chicken Liver and Gizzard, Porchetta Negrense and Roast Beef Hamonado with Kalkag Fried Rice, soft and fluffy rice blended with aligue (crab fat) topped with crispy shrimp. Tender and perfectly seasoned roast pork, juicy prime beef, and grilled chicken with crab fat enriched rice...seriously good.

Round Two with Inihaw na Pusit na may Kamatis at Sibuyas, Chicken Inasal with spiced vinegar dip, and Beef Adobo sa Tuba (palm wine) with Kalkag Fried Rice. Extra Kalkag Fried Rice? Why not.

Round Three with Grilled Chicken skewers, Seafood and Chicken Paella, and just one more piece of the Porchetta Negrense and Roast Beef Hamonado.The rich diversity of Filipino cuisine on a plate.

For dessert, the selection is equally impressive, featuring both local and continental sweets. I go for the Frozen Brazo de Mercedes layered with caramel and assorted pastries.

Still hungry? Why not help yourself to some Halo-Halo at the dessert station. In fact, you can make your very own customized Halo-Halo, with a wide variety of ingredients to choose from for that perfect tall glass of icy refreshment.

Leave room for some true culinary gems, like Chef Fernando Aracama's velvety smooth Buco Panna Cotta with tapioca pearls and muscovado syrup...

...and Chef Fernando Aracama's signature ChocNut Ice Cream, with the familiar nutty sweetness of ChocNut...

...or the unique and creative Salted Egg Creme Brulee, with the salted egg adding that extra layer of flavor to balance the richness of the dessert.

Chef Fernando Aracama showcases the region's best flavors with a wide range of dishes, each one true to its origins with a few creative twists. And that's what makes Taal Vista Hotel's Culinary Gems so special, with each guest chef adding his own unique take on regional cuisine.   

After a satisfying meal and a cup of brewed coffee, walk around the Taal Vista Hotel's scenic ledge for a panoramic view of Taal's famous lake and volcano. A perfect ending to cap one awesome buffet lunch at Taal Vista Hotel's Cafe Veranda.

Taal Vista Hotel's Culinary Gems, a Filipino Food Festival, runs from September 6 to November 23, 2014 with the following featured guest chefs:

Chef Fernando Aracama - September 6, 7, 13 & 14
Chef Sau del Rosario - September 20, 21, 27 & 28
Chef Babes Austria - October 4, 5, 11 & 12
Chef Edwin Santos - October 18, 19, 25 & 26
Chef Bruce Lim - November 1, 2, 8 & 9
Chef's Jackie and Rolando Laudico - November 15, 16, 22 & 23

Buffet rates for Saturdays (lunch and dinner) and Sundays (lunch only) at Cafe Veranda is P 1,350 net per person. Looking for that perfect weekend culinary experience? Head over to Taal Vista Hotel for some flavorful culinary gems... and an amazing view.

Taal Vista Hotel is located at Kilometer 60, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City or call (02) 917-8225, (46) 413-1000 or +63 0917-809-1254 for inquiries. You may also contact the Manila Sales Office located at the Ground Floor, OneE-ComCenter, Ocean Drive, Mall of Asia Complex, CBP-1A, Pasay City or call (02) 403-1000 for inquiries.

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