MARCO POLO MANILA – Cucina the hotel’s all day dining ala carte and buffet restaurant dives into a Spanish food festival in time of the arrival of their new executive chef, Lluis Cantons Pesarrodona and he brings to Manila some of his favourite family recipes of simple but very good Catalan food.
The star of our lunch and the preview of this La Catalana food festival was undoubtedly the chef’s Paella Mixta. I love how he shares what he things is the secret to this festive dish. “Paella should have a little bit of everything but nothing in excess”. Not only is this paella a true eye-candy with my eyes glued to those carabinero / big head red prawns that they flew in from Spain, it actually very good as well.The lunch started with something so simple but enough to titillate the palate, a spin on pan con tomate that’s pieces of Iberico Ham with Tomato on Bread. Imagine warm crusty bread and then you squeeze in some those cherry tomatoes rendering its flavours to the crust and then you top it with some jamon iberico slices an a drizzling of olive oil.
The chef’s take on escabeche, sorry but my photo doesn’t give this dish justice but it’s actually quite good with unique components leaving the diner free to play with the flavour and texture combinations. Seafood Escabeche – manila clams, tiger prawsn, mussels, sardines, olive coulis, chantrelles with deep fried bone sardine chips. Probably the most unique component of the dish was the chips made of deep fried sardine bones that actually tasted like fish chicharon.
The soup that they served was quite interesting, a play of flavours with the light and creamy soup base, the acidity from the kilawin and a sweet component. Broad Bean Cream Soup with Kilawing Mahi-Mahi, Caramelized Onions and EVOO. I like the contrast of the bright and tangy kilawing mahi-mahi with the sweetness from the onions all in a spoonful of that creamy soup base.
Now moving on to the mains, this stuffed pepper dish was very good! Simple flavours and components that just harmoniously marry and compliment one another. Piquillo Peppers stuffed with Cod Fish Brandada, Pil-Pil Sauce and Artichokes on a White Asparagus Bed. Between the soft pepper and then you hit the fish that’s so soft and flaky it almost melts in your mouth. And then there’s that nice rich sauce running in the background keeping the fish moist and flavourful. GOOD!
And of course the main event, the star of our lunch at Cucina, their chef’s version of Paella Mixta with Carabineros and Scampi. They fondly named the dish the “Best Paella in Town” and they’re quite on point as it is very good.
The paella was very good, a nice balance of well cooked, al dente rice with a nice slightly soupy base, but really the star of the dish for me are those carabinero / big head red prawns and butifarra sausages that they flew in from Spain. Every component of the paella compliments one another and nothing’s too overpowering. A nice combination of everything in a plate – his paella was fantastic!
Now this is very good as well, the sweet ending to our lovely lunch was this Crema Catalana, Strawberries, Berries, and Hazelnut Wafer Cigar. I went back and forth with the creamy, sweet custard with some tart finish with the berries and then another pairing with the chocolaty wafer – this pairs good specially with strong brewed coffee.
Cucina Marco Polo Ortigas
24th Floor, Marco Polo Hotel,
Sapphire Street Corner Meralco Avenue,
Ortigas, Pasig City