Can you hear the sleigh bells ringing? ‘Coz they’ve taken over the malls since September and holiday cheer is everywhere! With the countdown to Christmas in full swing, our calendars are slowly filling up for various school and family reunions as well as the not-to-be-missed, open bar corporate Christmas parties. But what are you planning for your own little holiday bash?
If you’ve been mulling over whether or not to host a simple family gathering to welcome your balikbayan relatives, to feed over 300 people for a lavish affair, or if you plan on celebrating Thanksgiving in Metro Manila and don’t want to bother with the prep work that goes into basting and roasting a turkey, turn to The Plaza Catering for help.
The Plaza is an institution in the Philippine food scene, with a continuing saga of four generations of pioneering restaurateurs starting with the Matriarch, Engracia Cruz Reyes, fondly known as Aling Asiang, who founded the Aristocrat Restaurant in 1935; the son and wife team of Jose Reyes and Imelda Albano, they established The Plaza in 1965, with Jose also being one of the founders of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of the Philippines; the granddaughter, Millie Reyes, who was schooled at the prestigious Ecole hôtelière de la Société Suisse des Hôteliers in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Cornell University of Ithaca, New York, who opened The Plaza at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) making The Plaza well-renowned for handling big international conventions. Karla Reyes, the great granddaughter and fourth generation restaurateur, carries on the pioneering tradition, managing The Plaza Premium Baked Ham kiosks at the SM Megamall and the SM Mall of Asia.
I recently attended a private dinner at the Reyes residence, hosted by Millie and Karla, sampling the holiday favorites The Plaza has in store for pre-ordering ’til the end of the year or other special occasions, and I have to say, they really know how to feed you well!
While waiting for the rest of your guests to arrive, serve up platters of delicious Smoked Salmon Pinwheels, bite-sized canapés which are both pretty to look at and very easy to eat, pairing well with an aperitif or cocktail. A personal favorite of mine is the Caviar Pie served with melba toast – filled with layers of eggs, onions, and cream cheese, it is covered with caviar and surrounded by very thin wedges of lemon on the side. You basically have most of the makings of a caviar spread all in one little pie, and this is something I kept going back to again and again.
The Smoked Prime Tanguingue (Php 270/100 grams) is a Plaza favorite, using fresh, whole tanguingue, cured in secret spices and lightly-smoked. Each cut was thick and the smoked fish was surprisingly quite filling and best had with its complimenting dill-mustard sauce.
For those looking for a Filipino holiday classic, one might want to consider the Whole Chicken Relleno made with whole, boneless chicken with a special stuffing and served with a Cumberland sauce.
The Plaza even makes servings salads a breeze, offering salad dressings that range from the classic Caesar’s Salad Dressing to the more adventurous Strawberry Vinaigrette. The Strawberry Vinaigrette was a particular favorite, and came highly recommended by Chef Sandy Daza.
If you don’t want to bother with cooking a Thanksgiving meal, one might want to consider ordering the institution’s Creamed Spinach and Potato Au Gratin to make celebrating the holiday a breeze. There is a reason The Plaza caters to State dinner functions – its because they expertly execute these homey dishes right, giving visiting heads of State and foreign dignitaries a taste of home.
Whether you order The Plaza’s Whole Roast Turkey (Php 1,200/kilo) for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and whether you plan on feeding 5 people or 30, you will definitely want to save on the hassle of thawing, brining, and roasting this gigantic bird yourself, as it can be too much work while you can be doing something better like spending time with your family or getting a drink with a friend. You can order your whole roasted turkey along with the traditional Cranberry Sauce (Php 275) and choose from four types of stuffing: Pork & Bread Stuffing (Php 600/kilo), Chestnut Stuffing (Php 750/kilo), Apple, Prune & Chestnut Stuffing (Php 1,200/kilo), or Apple & Walnut Stuffing (Php 1,800/kilo).
The Plaza is popularly renowned for their Premium Baked Ham, a three-generation-old recipe dating back to the 1960’s, which has been a tradition for some Filipino families. The ham is lightly wood-smoked with a choice of herbs and spices and is quite magnificent to look at when laid out on the table. One can order this on the bone, in little balls, or pre-sliced to make for easier eating. I would also recommend you pair this with one of their sauces: Premium Glaze, Wasabe Mayo, Sweet Mustard, Gutsy Garlic and Horsey Radish. This also makes for a delicious after-Christmas sammie, stuffed inside pandesal with your choice of sauce – the Wasabe Mayo is my personal preference.
The Premium Roast Corned Beef, on the other hand, uses a whole slab of Angus beef that has been cured and roasted, best eaten with Horsey Radish sauce and the potato au gratin or polenta. This can also be ordered boiled and served with steamed vegetables on the side, which makes for an excellent base for sinigang the next day.
For dessert, Karla surprised us with her new creation, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars! Don’t let the simplicity of this fool you, each bar is made with melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese and topped with dulce de leche that isn’t too sweet, making you go back for more and more.
Thank you to Karla and Millie for continuing the business of good food and opening your beautiful home to us! It’s pretty amazing how far The Plaza has come since it started in 1965, catering to official functions for the Philippine government since the time of President Ferdinand E. Marcos. Bring a taste of decadence into your home this holiday season and let their gourmet chefs worry about your Thanksgiving and Christmas spread by pre-order your Christmas hams, turkeys, Angus corned beef, and other favorites this year with The Plaza.
The Plaza Premium Baked Ham has outlets in Petron Square Dasmariñas, EDSA corner Arnaiz Avenue, and Petron La Vista along Katipunan Avenue for pick-up. For orders or inquiries, please call +63 2 729 0001, +63 2 729 0002, or +63 2 890 8446.