Cucina at Marco Polo Manila goes Spanish with La Catalana

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.

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_paellaThe 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.cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_iberico_ham_with_tomato_on_breadThe 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.

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_wine1It was served with a glass of this 2013 Marieta, Albarino, Semiseco, Rias Baixas that had nice fruity flavours of apple and peach as well as some hints of lemon.

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_seafood_escabecheThe 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.

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_wine2This was served with a 2012 Cocheros Y Criadores Candidato Blanco that was dry and sweet with a nice floral and aromatic finish. I think I had too much of this.

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_mahi-mahi_soup1The 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.

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_piquillo_peppers_with_codNow 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!

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_wine3Both the soup and the fish main course was served with a glass of 2013 Martin Codas, Albarino, Rias Baixas of delicate and fruity aromas of peach(?) it’s slightly sweet and refreshing.

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_paella2And 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.

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_1“Paella should have a little bit of everything but nothing in excess” – Chef Lluis Cantons Pesarrodona

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!

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_wine4The paella was served with some 2013 Cocheroa Y Criadores Candidato Tinto Joven Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain that’s quite robust with intense aromas.

cucina_marco_polo_manila_ortigas_crema_catalanaNow 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
(02) 720-7777
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