Celebrating the local

A PLATE of seafood kare-kare, piyanggang pork belly, and adlai on the side at “Flavors of the Philippines” at Brasserie on 3. — PHOTO BY JOSEPH L. GARCIA

ALLERGIES and other health issues aside, it’s hard to repel the spell of a paella-filled lechon and a seafood kare-kare. These and more are exactly what Conrad Manila is serving for the whole month of June at the “Flavors of the Philippines” food festival at its restaurant, Brasserie on 3.

Brasserie on 3 went all out during a launch last week, serving a Sinuglaw — grilled meats and kinilaw (raw fish in citrus and other acids) —  as an appetizer. This was a little bit different, made with crispy chicken skin, pork belly, a seafood ceviche, and tuna inasal (barbecue) skewers. Due to health protocols, guests at the launch were served their food plated, though under normal circumstances, one can get up and get food at the buffet.

Next came a nourishing Balbacua (a slow-cooked beef stew rich in collagen, from it being made with skin and other parts). Finally, the main course arrived: a luxurious spread of Pork Belly Lechon (this one stuffed with paella; the pig itself is double-fried, according to Executive Sous Chef Patricia Mesina), Piyanggang Manok (a chicken dish from Mindanao that uses blackened coconut), and Seafood Kare-Kare. This seafood kare-kare (a peanut-based stew) was very indulgent: no expense was spared, so this one had scallops, lobster, and crab.

“We focused on all the regions of the Philippines, so that’s Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao,” said Ms. Mesina during a group interview. “Our thrust is local and sustainable. A majority of our ingredients are local.”

The thrust for the local goes beyond the food festival, designed to celebrate Independence Day on June 12. “It’s an international buffet, but we have sections for the Filipino (food),” said Ms. Mesina. She points out that some sushi selections, available year-round for example, have Filipino elements in them, such as in an adobo inari. “As much as possible, we try to infuse local flavors to even international dishes.”

Conrad Manila’s General Manager, Linda Pecoraro agrees, saying “Where possible, we go local.” This goes beyond the food itself, with Ms. Pecoraro citing the exhibits of local artists at the hotel’s galleries. “It’s about being inspiring… during these times, it’s about celebrating the culture, and celebrating the food, and the produce that the Philippines supplies.”

Ms. Pecoraro also talked about how the hotel is doing, after two years of the waning COVID-19 pandemic. “With the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) business slowly coming back, and our social business also coming back; [things are] very positive.” Last year, Conrad Manila bagged the award for Philippines’ Best MICE Hotel for 2021 at the World MICE Awards.

Ms. Pecoraro said, “We’re getting there, and business is coming back; I’m pleased to say.”

“Flavors of the Philippines” is available daily for buffet lunch and dinner until June 30, with prices starting at P2,450 net per person. For reservations, call 8833-9999. —  Joseph L. Garcia

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