Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Local Culinary Inspirations: The Batangas Food Festival at Matabungkay Beach Hotel

Regional flavors recreated and reinvented for a refreshing new flavor experience in a culinary collaboration highlighting the unique flavors of's all happening right here at the Matabungkay Beach Hotel.

Drawing inspiration from the rich culinary heritage of Batangas, the Matabungkay Beach Hotel collaborates with noted culinary author and adobo expert, Nancy Reyes-Lumen, with the Batangas Food Festival starting October 1, 2016 until the end of the year. The Batangas Food Festival features both traditional and modern interpretations of local, regional cuisine representing the freshest and best flavors of the province. Complete your weekend escape with sun, sand, and sea with a sumptuous feast of local flavors at Matabungkay Beach Hotel's Batangas Food Festival...

After a relaxing three-hour drive down south of the metro, guests for the special media preview of Matabungkay Beach Hotel's Batangas Food Festival were welcomed by the friendly staff (R), adding a celebratory vibe. It's been quite some time since my last visit to Matabungkay Beach Hotel, and it was great to be back.

The gentle ocean breeze and tranquil waters in idyllic Lian was the perfect backdrop for the Batangas Food Festival, as Matabungkay Beach Hotel's Managing Director, Ms. Charley Leviste-Antonio, Ms. Nancy Reyes-Lumen, Chef Jaja Andal, and the hotel's Executive Chef, Hipolito Politico, greeted guests (R) for the media preview.

After a few soothing soothing sips of Matabungkay Beach Hotel's Welcome Drink made with fresh kamote tops and calamansi followed by a short walk around the expansive property, it was time for a sumptuous feast of local flavors at the hotel's Cafe Caballero...

As the staff prepared the sumptuous buffet spread at Cafe Caballero, Ms. Nancy Reyes-Lumen and Matabungkay Beach Hotel's Chef Hipolito "Poli" Politico prepared one of the featured dishes of the Batangas Food Festival, the Paella Ala Eh, an inventive spin on the classic Spanish rice dish infused with local and regional ingredients. It's just one of many dishes reflecting the playfully creative style of Nancy Reyes-Lumen and Chef Jaja Andal, injecting local flavors, recreating and reinventing regional dishes and transforming comforting and familiar favorites to new and exciting flavor experiences.

As the Paella Ala Eh slowly simmered, the buffet spread at Cafe Caballero was ready. Have a tasty peek at some of the signature dishes at Matabungkay Beach Hotel's Batangas Food Festival...

Begin your feast of local flavors with garden fresh greens drizzled with inventive salad dressings, like Creamy Bagoong Balayan, Langka, Patis-Kalamansi, and Kamias Dressing ((L). You'll find fresh and crisp salad greens and uniquely local finds, like Ligaw na Ampalaya (R), pickled young bitter gourd picked from lush gardens.

Other fresh salad options include the spicy Kimchi Tagalog (L) with fresh papaya, cucumber and green mangoes (L) with its vibrant tart sweetness layered with a soothing heat; and the refreshing Steamed Kalabasa Leaves & Flowers (R) sprinkled with sesame seeds with its clean and nutty notes.

The vibrant and festive hues of the Pistang Pate combine distinct flavors with each colorful stripe, including (from the top) Salted Duck Egg White Pate, Salted Duck Egg Yolk Pate, Atsuete Paprika Pate, Kalabasa Pate, and Malunggay Pate. Have a few slices of the colorful pate along with some crisp crostini, and your culinary journey of Batangas is off to a great start...

The familiar local pork sausage takes the spotlight in a rustic dish, the Pancit Batangas with Longganisa Balayan with its bright yellow hue from the rich atsuete topped with fresh cabbage. The soft and chewy noodles and the garlicky hints of the longganisa combine for comforting flavors, and you'll go for seconds and thirds.

Nancy Reyes-Lumen's signature Rodrigo's Roast, a family heirloom recipe, is another must-try dish at Matabungkay Beach Hotel's Batangas Food Festival. Tender juicy pork belly slow-roasted for hours, each bite delivers a rich sweetness...

...perfectly tempered by the sharp notes of the Pickled Shallots for delicately balanced flavors. 

The adobo is given another regional spin with the Native Chicken Adobo with Barako Tablea, crisp shredded chicken flavored with local coffee and chocolate. The robust notes of the barako coffee adds depth to the dish, rounded out by the nutty sweetness of the local chocolate. 

Pair your Native Chicken Adobo with Barako Tablea with Matabungkay Beach Hotel's Bagoong Rice, flavored with shrimp paste and topped with peanuts and scrambled egg to complete the local flavors.

The Sinaing na Bangus Belly is, according to Nancy Reyes-Lumen, a "rebellious take" on the iconic Batangas dish, the Sinaing na Tulingan. Using bangus or milkfish instead of tulingan, the dish offers fresh and mild flavors prepared the traditional way, slow cooked in a palayok or clay pot and soured with kamias.

Batangas is known for its local beef and Beef Kaldereta, the local dish that inspired the innovative Paella Ala Eh. The rice dish looks familiar, but the tart notes of the kaldereta sauce and tender chunks of beef give this local paella version a bolder and beefy bite.

The medley of rich flavors include distinct local notes combining for a unique and flavorful dish. But there's more...

Cap your feast of local flavors with the Suman Churros con Tsokolate, a glutinous rice cake enriched with coconut milk, deep-fried, and paired with local chocolate. The crisp and popped outer layer of the rice cake adds texture to every bite, capped by the sweet local chocolate. It's a great idea perfectly executed.

The Bibingkang Galapong Batangas is an homage to the rice-based agrarian heritage of Batangas. The soft and sweet local delicacy is given a modern twist topped with crystallized sugar.

At Matabungkay beach Hotel's Batangas Food Festival, you'll find even more sweet rice-based delicacies, like the Bikong Batangas...

...and the soft and delicate Galapong Puti, perfect when paired with a freshly brewed cup of local barako coffee.

After a satisfying lunch, settle down with a few rounds of locally-inspired cocktails, like the Si Labuyo Eh (L), a flavorful cocktail with a spicy punch, and Dayap Pa More (R), a refreshing blend with local citrus. Now you too can have a taste of the rich regional flavors of the province with Matabungkay Beach Hotel's Batangas Food Festival Package. For only P 4,300 net, you can enjoy a Deluxe Room for two, Breakfast for two, a Set Batangas Food Festival (BFF) Lunch or Dinner for two, plus a Gift Bag loaded with Batangas food products. Matabungkay Beach Hotel's BFF Package is available from October 1 to December 31, 2016. Sun, sand, sea, and a sumptuous feast of local's all here at Matabungkay Beach Hotel's Batangas Food Festival.

Matabungkay Beach Club is located at Brgy. Matabungkay, Lian, Batangas or call (63) 917-834-1269 or (02) 817-1176 for more information and inquiries. You can also the Matabungkay Beach Hotel Office located at LPL Towers, 112 Legaspi Street, Legaspi Village, 1200 Makati City at (63) 917-834-1269, (02) 752-5252/819-3080/751-6683 to 85.

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