Karla Reyes, of Quiche the Cook, was born into foodie royalty. Her grandmother, Lola Asiang, put up the Aristocrat Restaurant, whose walls have entertained dignitaries, celebrities, and most of our families who celebrated big milestones during the ’80s and early ’90s. Her mom, Millie, established The Plaza Catering, a name synonymous with important events at Malacañan Palace, and Karla herself has made a name for herself with her mobile bar company, Swizzle.
The family is pretty tight, so it’s no surprise to see Karla juggling inquiries from her mobile bar, in the middle of supporting Aristocrat’s bridal event at Roxas, as well as coordinating with suppliers for an upcoming dinner for The Plaza on her phone. It has been quite the busy few years for her and her family, and with the upcoming 50th anniversary of The Plaza Catering coming up, the Reyes family decided to slow things down for a night and treat a few foodie friends to dinner at their home, serving the best The Plaza Catering has to offer.
The dinner spread was all deliriously mouthwatering, and after a few minutes of chit-chatting and taking pictures of the food, we happily lined up by the buffet table to tuck into a few of The Plaza Catering’s fond favorites.
All the different meats set out on the table were a bit daunting, but a big green leafy salad and a few slices of Smoked Tanigue with Dill Mustard Sauce seemed to be the sensible place to start, the thick cuts of smoked fish complimenting the fresh, peppery aioli nicely, with the onions rounding out the flavors and adding some much needed crunch.
The Angel Hair Pasta with Seafood Pomodoro was a hit at the table, with guests going back for second and third helpings of the creamy, tomato-based dish. I preferred the simpler, Garlic Chorizo Pasta, with all that delicious chorizo oil lending the angel hair a spicy kick which I love. It took a lot of self-restraint to not go back for second helpings. There was more food to be had, after all.
A classic Russian dish given a Plaza twist is their Chicken ala Kiev, boneless chicken breast pounded and rolled around cold garlic butter with herbs, then coated with eggs and breadcrumbs, and fried ’til golden. Served with hearty mashed potatoes, you cut open the chicken ball and watch the liquefied garlic butter seep out, soaking everything it touches in a rich, herby sauce.
The Plaza reinvents the German Cured Pork Knuckles, deep-frying the entire ham hock ’til blistering, the meat and skin letting out a distinguishable crunch with each bite. This was just screaming for extra helpings of rice! If you would rather have it the traditional way, The Plaza can served it boiled with potatoes, too.
My favorite part of the spread was the carving station, where The Plaza Premium Roast Corned Beef and The Plaza Premium Baked Ham sat, waiting to be ravaged by hungry guests. The Roast Corned Beef was served with sauerkraut and horseradish, the perfect combination if there ever was one. There was a lot of food, so there were quite a few leftovers, and took home a big chunk of this bad boy after the dinner party, using it as a base for the absolute best sinigang ever!
Another favorite that I keep coming back for is The Plaza’s gorgeous Premium Baked Ham. Not at all fatty, each slice of porcine perfection is rich in taste and just as good on its own as it is accompanied by The Plaza’s four sauces – Premium Glaze, Gutsy Garlic, Sweet Mustard, and Wasabi Mayo. I love a bit of heat in my food, and find the combination of Gutsy Garlic and Wasabi Mayo to be a delightful combo with my slices of ham and mashed potatoes.
Somebody – I’m guessing Karla – thought of sandwiching The Plaza’s sliced of ham in a foot-long pandeal, and thus, the Pan de Sub was born! The 12-inch sub can be filled with baked ham sliced smothered in your favorite sauce or roast corned beef with sauerkraut and horseradish.
Kalra comes up with the most delightful desserts when left to her own devices in the kitchen, the Salted Caramel Cheesecake being one of them. Imagine a creamy, medium body cheesecake finished off with a salty, sugary drizzle. The very definition of being oh-so-bad and yet oh-so-good. I had a tiny bit of the Decadent Chocolate Cake – which was unusual for me as I naturally gravitate to anything with chocolate – and passed on the beautiful Croquembouche tower, What I did keep coming back for (thrice) was the Mango and Strawberry Crepe Bar! Fill or top your delicate little crepe with sweet mangoes or strawberries as well as an assortment of other toppings to give dimension and texture – crushed nuts, mango syrup, chocolate sauce, strawberry syrup – and finish it all off with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
After wrapping up dinner, I spent a good part of the evening chatting with tita Millie, Karla’s mom, about the rich history of The Plaza Catering, Inc. The former cafe-turned-catering company has become somewhat of an institution in the country, catering celebrations of some of the biggest names in movies, politics, and social circles. Going through their albums of clippings, it is pretty amazing to see how they have touched lives through consistently serving delicious, mouthwatering dishes every single time. Congratulations to The Plaza Catering, Inc. for this milestone, and cheers to fifty more years of fantastic food and happy memories!