Too busy to brave the NLEX for the edible treasures of Pampanga?
Manila Diamond Hotel has made destination dining so much easier for city folk with the Culinaria Capampangan food festival ongoing until Saturday, May 19.
Pampanga dishes close to celebrity Chef Sau del Rosario's heart are given a bit of an update whether it's in the presentation or the use of an alternate ingredient.
Sisig goes ‘sosyal’
For example, sisig goes “sosyal” when foie gras is substituted for liver. The baby lechon, with its crisp skin, is stuffed with flavorful curried rice. Instead of goat meat, Chef Sau uses lamb chops for his kaldereta. Watermelon cubes and prawn have been added to the fiddlehead fern salad. And chicken galantina has been remade into a roulade.
These dishes have often played a starring role at family feasts or special occasions, and the barely-two-week themed food fest is drawing foodies and those pining for a good lengua in cream of mushroom and corn.
Don't miss out on desserts like the tibok-tibok, brazo de maiz, leche flan with dayap, and halo-halo.
There are two menu cycles, so some dishes may differ from day to day—and you may want to call ahead to find out if certain dishes will be featured during your visit.
Trained in France
A culinary dervish who was trained in France after receiving his degree in hotel management at UP Diliman, Sau del Rosario has made his mark in the culinary scene from Raintree restaurants like M Cafe and Chelsea cafe, to the locavore-oriented Le Bistro Vert (which is currently relocating from Salcedo Village).
Del Rosario may be seen on the date-meets-plate show "Sarap to Heart" with Sam Oh on GMA News TV, and at Cafe Villa on Yakal St. in Makati, which he co-owns with Chef Jam Melchor.
During the launch, Chef Sau's father graced the occasion, and was seen lining up for the Kapampangan specialties with a twinkle in his eye—this despite having arrived from a four-hour trip from Central Luzon.
Stay away from the hot spots
While the buffet experience is delightful, in the recently-renovated Corniche, the hotel's buffet dining restaurant, there are tables in certain areas that can get pretty hot and unpleasant. Utilizing natural light, the well-lit dining area ensures that you won't miss out on any culinary corners bearing appetizers, roasts, Japanese delights or dim sum. But, if you happen to visit the buffet around noon on a blazing summer day, request to be seated in a shadier area.
The fashion show of Philip D. Torres' updated baro't saya and Barong Tagalog, and a culinary demonstration by Lilian Borromeo on how the famous San Nicolas cookies are made were part of the opening but may not be featured during regular dining days. But guests who partake of the buffet get a chance to win round-trip airline tickets and accommodations for two to Bohol.
The Culinaria Capampangan Festival runs until Saturday, May 19th at Corniche, Manila Diamond Hotel's buffet dining restaurant. Buffet rates are P1600 net per person, and a special rate of P1888 net per person includes bottomless tropical juice.