Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lunch with a View: The Culinary Gems Festival at Taal Vista Lodge

There's nothing quite like a sumptuous buffet lunch overlooking a tranquil lake. And a volcano right smack in the center just makes it even more special.

Taal Vista Hotel celebrates it 75th anniversary with its Culinary Gems, a Filipino Food Festival in a 12-weekend buffet series featuring the best local and regional flavors from some of the best chefs in the country. That, and a great view of the lake. And a volcano. At Taal Vista Hotel's Cafe Veranda. Less than a two hour drive from the metro, Taal Vista Hotel is the perfect culinary destination for a weekend escape.

The festival runs from September 6 to November 23, with seven guest chefs adding their own unique spin on local cuisine. Chef Fernando Aracama, one of the country's best and successful restaurateur, kicks off the Culinary Gems festival with his take on classic Negrense dishes in a sumptuous buffet spread from appetizers to mains and desserts, and everything in between.  

Start with some classic appetizers, like the refreshing Pomelo Coconut Salad, Pickled Papaya and Kalabasa, Ampalaya Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette, Puto Capsicum, and Adobo Flakes with Kesong Puti Tartlets.

Wash it all down with Cafe Veranda's Drink of the Month, the Green Mango Breeze, a rich blend of green mangoes and watermelon. Tart and sweet, it's the perfect beverage to go with Cafe Veranda's sumptuous Culinary Gems.

Begin your culinary journey with Chef Fernando Aracama's Porchetta Negrense, tender juicy slow-roasted pork with a layer of crisp crackling; prime Roast Beef Hamonado, fork-tender beef with a sweet glaze, and grilled chicken with Kalkag Fried Rice, a Negrense specialty with crispy shrimps and crab fat.

Then, go for the Inihaw na Pusit na may Kamatis at Sibuyas, some tasty Chicken Inasal, and Chef Fernando Aracama's Beef Adobo sa Tuba (palm wine), along with the rich Kalkag Fried Rice.

The elegant buffet spread features a full range of local dishes, and you'll definitely need to go back for seconds, thirds and more just to sample each and every dish.  And just like any buffet, you need to take it slow, with no need to rush.

As you plot out the next plan of attack at the lavish buffet spread, local cultural dances are performed adding a festive vibe to your dining experience.

For dessert, Cafe Veranda offers an equally impressive range of indulgent sweets, like the rich and smooth Buco Panna Cotta with Tapioca pearls and Muscivado Syrup...

...and Chef Fernando Aracama's signature ChocNut Ice Cream, with its familiar and comforting chocolate and peanut blend of flavors.

After a sumptuous buffet lunch, explore the ridge for a panoramic view of the iconic lake and the volcano. A satisfying lunch featuring the best local regional flavors prepared by some of the metro's best chefs, capped by one awesome view...there's nothing quite like it.  

For more on Taal Vista Hotel's Culinary Gems Festival, check out my post on my other blog here at

Taal Vista Hotel is located at Kilometer 60, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City, or call (02) 917-8225, (46)413-1000, or +63 917-809-1254 for inquiries. You may also contact the Manila Sales Office located at the Ground Floor, OneE-ComCenter, Ocean Drive, Mall of Asia Complex, CBP-1A, Pasay City, or call (02) 403-1000 for inquiries. 

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