Thursday, June 4, 2015

Celebrate Independence Day with Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen at Corniche

 Pepita's Kitchen and its line of innovative stuffed lechon debuts at Manila Diamond Hotel's Corniche... 

Diamond Hotel celebrates the country's Independence Day with a gastronomic feast showcasing the very best of Filipino cuisine. From June 3-14, 2015, the hotel's signature buffet restaurant, Corniche, presents Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen featuring the iconic Lechon by homegrown culinary personality Dedet dela Fuente Santos of Pepita's Kitchen and Diamond Hotel's Executive Chef Marko Rankel's innovative take of Filipino flavors.

During the formal media launch of Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen at Corniche, guests were greeted by the friendly and courteous staff garbed in traditional costumes adding to the festive vibe. The huge turnout from media and local foodies alike filled the spacious interiors at Corniche, with everyone eager to try the impressive buffet spread. 

Diamond Hotel's Executive Chef Marko Rankel (L) and the Lechon Diva herself, Dedet dela Fuente Santos (R) of Pepita's Kitchen collaborate for a gastronomic celebration of Filipino flavors in the next twelve days to commemorate Independence Day. Pepita's Kitchen has become a local icon for her lechon innovations, gaining popularity as far as Singapore and New York. Alongside the signature Stuffed Lechons from Pepita's Kitchen are creative Filipino dishes reinvented by Executive Chef Marko Rankel for a true Filipino feast. For more on the Lechon Diva and Pepita's Kitchen, check out my previous post on her inventive stuffings here at and a Lechon Degustacion with The Food Network's TV host Anna Olson here at

Adding to the fiesta-like celebration and atmosphere at Corniche, a cultural presentation performed by dancers kicked off the Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen Buffet. The sounds, sights, and flavors that day truly celebrated the richness of Filipino cuisine.

At the Salad and Appetizer Station, a row of Filipino-inspired Pates (L) were offered, including Balut Pate, Oxtail Marmalade, Chicken Liver and Mango Pate and Pepita's Kitchen's very own "Mr. Tomas" Butter, infused with liver sauce. A row of Condiments (R), like Spiced Tuba Vinegar and Mango-Apple Vinegar added even more options. 

The Appetizers served during the Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen included the Shrimps with Salted Egg, or "Hiplog" from Pepita's Kitchen, soft and plump shrimps with a fine layer of salted egg providing bold flavors to complement the sweet and briny notes of the shrimps.

Other appetizers included a selection of chicharon, including the Balat ng Manok, or crispy chicken skin...

...and Chicharon Bulaklak, or crispy pig's innards, served with several dipping options like local Pinakurat Vinegar, Spiced Soy-Vinegar, and Green Mango Sour Sauce with chili.  Or simply enjoy with tomatoes, onions, salted egg, green mangoes, and bagoong for local flavors.

Roasted Bone Marrow was also served, topped with spring onions, crunchy garlic bits and sides of chopped walnuts. All these, just for starters at the Feast from the Filipino Kitchen buffet at Corniche.

The freshest catch of the day was also showcased at the Seafood Station, with plump mussels enjoyed as is or baked, grilled or sauteed with lots of butter and garlic...

...and plump shrimps for a classic shrimp cocktail or sauteed in olive oil Gambas style with lots of garlic.

You can also find fresh crabs (R) and even more seafood at the Grilling Station. The wide range of dishes and flavors at Corniche are always impressive, and the Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen buffet continue that tradition at Diamond Hotel.  

Executive Chef Marko Rankel and Dedet dela Fuente Santos also featured the traditional and rich Crab with Tabang Talangka adding to the extensive selection of Filipino seafood dishes. The delicate flavors of the crab are punctuated by the buttery richness of the thick crab fat and its mildly briny notes.  And Executive Chjef Marko Rankel and Dedet dela Fuente have even more flavorful surprises up their sleeves...

The inventive Balut Salpicao, the iconic duck egg sauteed in olive oil, is yet another of innovative take on Filipino cuisine by Dedet dela Fuente Santos of Pepita's Kitchen. The refined dish takes the initial shock away from the traditional way of eating balut, and I enjoyed it. Seriously good.

Chef Marko Rankel's elegant interpretation of the lechon, transformed into a classic Roulade filled with sauerkraut and pickled cucumber in morel sauce with red beets, delivers comfortingly familiar notes in a new and refreshed execution for a totally new flavor experience.

But you have to try Executive Chef Marko Rankel's Goto with Foie Gras, topped with crispy tofu, spring onions, crispy shallots, fried garlic, boiled quail egg and drizzled with calamansi and just a touch of fish sauce. Definitely a leveled-up goto and another must-try at Corniche's Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen.

Back at the Grill Station, the grills fired up with seafood and various skewers for the guests. The selection included Mini-Pork Pinoy BBQ, Mini Chicken Inasal, Beef BBQ Liver, Isaw, and Inihaw na Longganisa. Definitely having some of those...

After a few minutes, an elegantly plated selection of grilled skewers arrived, drizzled with a sweet and mildly spicy sate sauce. Just perfect.

Then, it was time to sample the signature stuffed lechons from the Lechon Diva. That day, Pepita's Kitchen offered their three most popular variants, the Truffle Rice Stuffed Lechon, the Sisig Rice Stuffed Lechon, and the Original Dedet's Lechon.

Each of the three stuffed lechon variants from Pepita's Kitchen, fresh from the ovens, glowed with the distinctive deep yet vibrant golden amber hue. And as the chefs proceeded with the carving, the crackling sounds trigger your senses as your appetite goes on overdrive...

A slice at the center reveals the indulgent truffle rice stuffing, releasing a mildly fragrant and nutty aroma. The rice stuffing, already richly flavored with truffles, absorb even more flavors from the lechon during the slow oven roasting process. The Sisig Rice Stuffed Lechon delivers equally rich flavors, while the original Dedet's Lechon offers more tradtional flavors. Have some of the tender juicy meat, some rice stuffing, and the crisp crackling, and come back for even more. And no need for any sauce at all, the pork is richly seasoned and great on its own. You'll definitely go for seconds with Pepita's Kitchen's stuffed lechons.

Cap your feast with the always impressive range of desserts at Corniche, each one freshly and elegantly prepared. From elaborate cakes to chocolate truffles and macaroons, you'll never run out of sweet options. 

The indulgent Mango Trufle from Pepita's Kitchen is another must-try dessert at Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen, a rich mango mousselline with layers of otap, broas, rosquillos, putoseko, and pasensya biscuits topped with fresh mango and leche flan.

Or why not sample Pepita's Kitchen's take on the traditional suman with its pumped up Super Suman, topped with Choc-Nut, pili nuts, and creamy Yemas.

Then, there's the rich and unique Banana, Mango, and Queso de Bola Ice Cream, topped with assorted sprinkles and marshmallows. Sweet, tart and mildly sour, the complex flavors blend perfectly in a smooth and velvety ice cream, with real chunks of bananas, mangoes, and cheese for both flavor and texture. Go have a scoop or two, trust me.

After a sumptuous buffet feast for the launch of Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen at Corniche, each guest was given a freshly baked lechon-shaped bread with a jar of "Mr. Tomas" Butter from Pepita's Kitchen, a creamy butter infused with liver sauce hence the name. And as the country celebrates Independence Day on June 12, why not rediscover our rich culinary heritage at Corniche with its Filipino-inspired buffet theme and the signature stuffed lechons from Pepita's Kitchen. The Feasts from the Filipino Kitchen Buffet at Diamond Hotel's Corniche is priced at P 2,150 net per person for Lunch, and P 2,250 net per person for Dinner from June 3 to 14, 2015.  And there's more. Spend a minimum of P 5,000 net at the buffet and you get a chance to win roundtrip airline tickets for two to Boracay. Till then, see you at Corniche...

Corniche is located at Diamond Hotel, Roxas Boulevard corner Dr. J. Quintos Street, Manila or call (632) 528-3000 ext. 1121 for inquiries and reservations. 

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