Thursday, October 3, 2019

Sabor Pacifico at Spices: Experience Fresh Colombian Flavors at The Peninsula Manila's Spices

The fresh, clean, vibrant and earthy flavors of Colombia shine at The Peninsula Manila's Spices this October...

Colombian cuisine is a colorful blend of flavors woven together by its rich history, multi-cultural influences and abundant biodiversity. The bountiful harvests from both the land and sea come together in traditional and popular Colombian dishes recreated by their culinary ambassador, Chef Rey Guerrero of the highly acclaimed Sabor Pacifico in Bogota. In celebration of Colombian Gastronomic Week, The Peninsula Manila and the Embassy of Colombia presents authentic Colombian flavors for dinner on October 4 & 5, 2019 at Spices (for more on The Peninsula Manila's Spices, see my posts, The Spiceman Cometh: Meet Indian Specialty Chef Radhey Shayam of The Peninsula Manila's Spices and Thailand on my Plate: A Thai Cooking Class at The Peninsula Manila's Spices). Read on for a taste of Colombia...

Flanked by both the Pacific and the Atlantic, Colombia has the second highest biodiversity in the world. The vast landscape traverses the Amazon rainforest, infinite grasslands and desserts, mountainous highlands and islands along long stretches of pristine coastline. Colombian cuisine is flavored by this varied terrain and multi-cultural diversity. Championed by the country's "warrior king" and culinary ambassador, Chef Rey Guerrero of Bogota's Sabor Pacifico, diners can now embark on a culinary journey of authentic Colombian flavors at Spices on two very special evenings.

Rey Guerrero brings his soulful and passionate culinary style to Spices with his interpretations of traditional Colombian dishes focusing on the cuisine of the country's Pacific region. With an abundance of indigenous local produce from the land and sea, Rey Guerrero paints a palette of vivid flavors with fresh herbs and staples like plantains and rice with the day's freshest catch from the mangroves and the ocean.        

There are elements of Colombian cuisine that are comfortingly familiar due to a shared heritage with the Spanish colonial experience, but each dish stands out as refreshingly different and unique. Each dish contrasts with the next reflecting the diverse flavors of Colombia on your plate. 

In an exclusive preview, the fresh flavors of Colombia's Pacific region were highlighted in a memorable dinner at Spices. Chef Rey Guerrero presents the first appetizer with a demo on Colombian ceviche using mangrove clams and snails. It has the usual acidic souring elements of a typical ceviche with lemons, herbs and chili, but I've never had one with freshwater clams and snails.

As the ceviche marinates for a few more minutes, Chef Rey infuses smoke to add subtle nutty notes to complete the dish.

The Ceviche Mixto Paingua y Piacuil (P 690) or Ceviche of Mangrove Clams and Snails by Chef Rey Guerrero recreates the bold flavors based on freshness from Colombia...

...with the subtle sweetness of the succulent snails and clams balanced by the sharpness of the lemon and chili capped by just a whisper of heat. Bold yet delicate, it's a dish that reminds you that freshness is flavor. It's deceptively simple dishes like this that often packs more intense flavors. The tart notes opens up your palate for the next dish...

Plantains are a common staple in Latin American cuisine, and featured in many traditional Colombian dishes as well. The Aborrajados de Pescado (P 590), a deep-fried plantain coconut croquette with smoked sea bass and cheese topped with sesame sauce and the Patacones Endiablados (P 690) or shredded fried plantain draped in shrimp sauce and Parmesan cheese are typical of Colombian cuisine. Unlike the local variety, Colombian plantains are starchier and not overwhelmingly sweet almost like potatoes in texture. The croquette combines textural contrasts with each bite, soft and velvety smooth capped by a delicately crisp outer layer. The subtle smoky hints of the fresh sea bass, the richness of cheese and the nutty hints of sesame combine to complete the flavors. The patacones is thin and crisp, pairing well the briny sweetness of the shrimp-infused sauce.

For the mains, Chef Rey Guerrero served the hearty Cazuela de Mariscos (P 1,690), a seafood casserole thickened and made creamier with coconut milk loaded with prawns, squid rings, clams and mussels enriched with coriander and pennyroyal, a type of mint. Each sip of the broth drapes the palate with fresh and briny notes from the seafood mellowed by the creamy coconut milk while the herbs add that lingering finish to the dish. It's a rustic yet elegant dish, masterfully prepared by Chef Rey Guerrero. Gently simmered, it's the quintessential dish of Colombia's Pacific region.

The Arroz Putiao (P 1,290) is a traditional rice dish sauteed with seafood and Chef Rey Guerrero's very own homemade smoky and intensely flavored longaniza. Topped with fresh herbs adding vibrant notes to the dish, the Arroz Putiao is a meal in itself.

The delicate texture and flavors of sea bass highlights the next entree with the Pandao de Pescado (P 1,290), a seabass fillet wrapped in banana leaf topped with coconut milk and fresh herbs. Like butter, the seabass fillet just melts in your mouth releasing a subtle sweetness. They say you can appreciate a better, more insightful perspective of any country with its local cuisine. Chef Rey Guerrero does exactly that as he transports you to Colombia's Pacific region with his dishes.

The media preview for Colombian Gastronomic Week ends with indulgent desserts like the Dulce Pacifico (P 490) with fruit ice cream on caramelized coconut candy and   Flan Aromas de Nuqui (P 490), a coconut flan topped with grated coconut and sweet anise syrup.

Discovering new flavors always makes any experience so much better, and this is one more check on the list for our group, FourScene (for more on FourScene, check out our FB Page at

The Peninsula Manila's Spices has always been known for its boldly flavored signature dishes. This time, it's the perfect setting for an authentic taste of Colombia. You can experience the fresh flavors of Colombia prepared by Chef Rey Guerrero of Bogota's acclaimed Sabor Pacifico on October 4 & 5, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm at The Peninsula Manila's Spices for P 2,800. Vamos! 

Spices is located at the lobby level of The Peninsula Manila, Corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues, Makati City or call +632 887-2888, 812-3456 and 810-3456 extensions 6754 and 6755.

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