Growing up in Dubai, the Christmas season to me meant fun parties, participating in the annual nativity play and Christmas choir at school, and holiday food like mince pie, gingerbread men, and apple cider. After moving to the Philippines, things have changed a bit, and the food I’ve come to look forward to is now bibingka, puto bumbong, and quezo de bola and holiday ham slices sandwiched between warm pandesal. I still go on my annual hunt for mince pie, which is a rare sighting here, but much appreciated when I can ind the odd box or four at Rustan’s.

Now that I’m a lot older, there are so many other things to look forward to in the holiday season, the first on the list being guiltlessly enjoying a bottle of champers! And I’m guessing I’m not alone, as the people behind Makati Diamond Residences, the posh serviced hotel across from Glorietta, are bringing back their ever so popular Champagne & Tapas Buffet this year, and I got the opportunity to check it out at Alfred, their lounge on the ground floor, before they offer it to the public later this month.

The star of the evening is the bottomless bubbly, with Jean Vesselle Brut Reserve at the forefront, a true grower champagne with a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This makes for a light, fruity glass of champers, and I successfully managed to get through a few glasses before feeling the effects kick in. If you’re looking to change up your libation anytime during the night, their beverage options include red and white wine, select cocktails, local beer, sodas, chilled juiced, and iced tea. I started asking for orange juice to turn my glass of bubbly into fun mimosas. Cheers!

 

 

Since this is the Makati Diamond Residences, it’s a given that while the tapas selection may be small, it’s anything but boring. I kept going back for their irresistible melted Raclette bar, set up with accoutrements like cornichons, cocktail onions, boiled baby potatoes, and rye bread, to bring out the flavors of the mouthwatering Swiss cheese. You’ll have to patiently wait your turn as they have to heat up the cheese for a few minutes before it slowly slides onto your plate.

 

 

The tapas selection at Alfred holds bite-sized delicacies like fish brandade, salmon tartare, vol-au-vent escargot with a spinach mousseline, bagna càuda fondue with delicate squash flowers, mushrooms, Fuji apple, and zucchini, Parmesan pudding on crostini with arugula and crema balsamico, and a bird’s nest with chicken and barbeque sauce. Alfred also has a pasta option for their buffet line, with smoky saffron chicken paccheri or mildly spicy spaghetti with shrimp scampi on offer on different dates. I particularly enjoyed the vol-au-vent escargot, fish brandade, and the big pieces of shrimp in the scampi, adding a fiery element to the very French hors d’oeuvres.

 

 

Aside from light appetizers, the tapas buffet also has unlimited portions of slow-cooked U.S. beef belly on the menu, served with a horseradish cream and red wine sauce. Ask for some of the baby carrots and green beans to fill you up some more and get two of your 5-a-day in, as well.

 

 

The little table for Jamon Serrano slices is the one most guests flock to, with promises of thinly sliced, salty, cured ham which you can eat as is, slather gooey raclette on, or eat with melon slices for a more rustic take. The simple joy of knowing that I can stand in front of that leg all night while a server carves a small mountain of slices to put on my plate is reason enough to go back.

To end the meal, Alfred’s housemade ice cream is quite light on the palate, and comes in two flavors: a subtle Honey and earthy Genmaicha.

 

 

Before the night wound down, the staff of Alfred came out with a surprise cake for dear Spanky, the Kain Tulog Gang’s head mischief-maker. Here’s to another year of stirring up trouble in all its fantastic forms, fancy dinners, and fun foodie adventures!

The Champagne and Tapas Buffet runs from December 4 to 8 and 11 to 15, 2017, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, and is priced at ₱1,800 per person.

 

Makati Diamond Residences is located at 118 Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City 1229. For inquiries and table reservations, please call +6323170999 local 1114.