Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Rekindling My Love for the Western Visayas Flavors at The Manila Hotel

Growing up, I would admire my mother get all toiled up in the kitchen whenever she'd prepare a feast for an occasion.  Her speciality was Arroz ala Valenciana.  That was before she came to Italy and get acquainted with Italian dishes, mainly pasta. 

Having grown up in Iloilo, my mother has acquired an ardent taste for the Western Visayan cuisine with occasional side dish of Ginamos.  I guess this has founded her discriminating taste which she then passed on to us, her children.  

I couldn't be any happier to be in the presence of a crowd who shared the same passion, and this has been a dream came true for me.   I've traveled to many places in our country for the love of food and with the stories that went with it, but a food tour to where my mother have spent her growing years is still in my bucket list.  But not until The Manila Hotel have opened up Cafe Ilang Ilang to highlight the best regional dishes from the said part of Visayas.

For it's latest buffet offering, Cafe Ilang Ilang has teamed up with Chef Raphael "Tibong" Jardaleza, Jr.- a culinary virtuoso and a passionate advocate of Western Visayas heritage cuisine.  

I was one of the blessed few who have been invited to have the first taste of this gastronomic fete, celebrating the classic flavors of the famous dishes given  an elevated twist which will surely captivate every foodies' heart.

Througout the whole month of August, Cafe Ilang Ilang patrons can enjoy some well-loved dishes for lunch and dinner with a weekly cycle of Guimaras Mango with Ginamos sa Tulapo, KBL (Kadyos Baboy Langka), Laswa, Pancit Molo, Pancit Efuven, Beef Morcon, Chicken Binakol, Lengua Estofado, Bitchuelas, Sopa de Ajo, Fabada, Kinilaw na Tangigue, Paella Negra with Chiperones, Canonigo and La Paz Batchoy Ice Cream. 

My heart is so full as I paid homage to these savory dishes that my mama perhaps had enjoyed in her time.   

Make a look out on the rack of lambs for roasting and it's sweet and tangy tamarind sauce, I love how it complimented the meat.   How can I not love the Paella Negra, filled with lovely chunks of meat and seafoods perfectly served with a creamy white sauce.  Speaking of seafod, try Diwal or the Angel Wings clams, known to be one of the prized specialties in Capiz. It's like oyster but many said it's yummier than mussels and oysters. 

Then there's the Lengua Estofado, cow tongue soaked in tomato sauce along with some veggies, one of my favorite and I just happened to learn that my mama loved it too. 

There are some interesting desserts like the Dulce de Gatas, Guava Cake, Canonigo (which I found super sweet), Potato Praline and the tarty Mango Butter Cream Cake. Iba Tart can be loved as well.  Iba is also known as kamias, hence explains the sourness from this tartlets. 

Do not leave the premise without even trying the most intriguing  dessert (food) in the line up, La Paz Batchoy Ice Cream.  Many said it was weird, with the layers of umami, and creamy-sweetness and the different textures of the ingredients.

Check the videos below to see how it's assembled.

Cafe Ilang Ilang holds a special place in me and my husband's hearts as this was one of our favorite dating buffet place.  

Check out how we tried the said cafe for the first time at the link below:

Overall, it was as delightful as getting a fix of these dishes in the said region of the country.   Make sure to call The Manila Hotel ahead and reserve your seats before this month ends.

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