It’s pretty amazing how the Philippines can be so similar yet so different from the rest of Southeast Asia. For one, we are the most Mexican Asians you will ever meet, the result of being colonized by the Spanish for 333 years. With the similarities in history, the same devotion to the Catholic religion, and even similarities in language, its no surprise that more and more Mexicans are calling the Philippines their home away from home. To celebrate the budding Mexican-Filipino friendship, Crimson Hotel Filinvest City and the Embassy of Mexico held a special event to celebrate just that, with the Mexican-themed buffet spread being available at Cafe Eight from September 17-26, 2014.

 

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Crimson Hotel also launched ‘Sabores de Mexico: A Celebration of Mexican Cuisines‘, a unique food festival full of Mexican flavor. The Embassy of Mexico brought in Chef Daniela Romero to infuse Cafe Eight’s cuisine with authentic dishes from her homeland.  Chef Daniela prepares a myriad of appetizers, entrées and desserts for the guests of Café Eight. Also presenting his cooking style to the table is resident Executive Chef Alessio Loddo, adding his own personal flair to the exceptional menu.

 

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Guests from the Mexican community, government and business sectors, media personalities, and society figures were present, as well as the Mexican Ambassador, Julio Camarena, and his gorgeous wife, Ana Maria Romandetto. One of the highlights of the night was the authentic Mariachi band, Grupo Achai, and a performance from the Latin Grammy Award winner, Flor Yvon Quezada. The woman was stunning!

 

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No Mexican celebration would be complete without tequila, and the libations for the Sabores de Mexico launch that evening was provided by A’Toda Madre Tequila Bar. I took a sip of Jose Cuervo’s Reserva de la Familia and found it to be surprisingly smooth with an oaky taste – almost like whiskey. The Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa Liqueur was also interesting – this would be nicely paired with a molten lava cake.

 

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The Mexican buffet spread was truly a feast for the senses! The Stuffed Jalapeños was filled with tuna with melted cheese on top, and was very spicy – the kind of spice that settled in the middle of  your tongue, boring a fiery hole in the center until its gets tempered by a tall glass of ice called water. I loved it!

 

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The crunchy Beef Flautas are best enjoyed with a big dollop of guacamole, a teaspoon of sour cream, and a sprinkling of chives. This is the kind of food I’d like to bring with me when I hang out by the pool. And a glass of tequila, please.

 

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Mexico’s version of adobo is the Mexican Chicken Achiote. Tender pieces of chicken are covered in achiote oil and peppercorns with big chinks of carrots and potatoes are strewn in between. This would definitely go very well with (what else?) rice.

 

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The gooey Enchiladas were covered with a tomato sauce, not as spicy as the original chili version. I appreciate how Chef Daniela tweaked the recipe to appeal to the Filipino palate. I remember a trip to Cancún where I mistook the salsa verde to be very mild – I was dead wrong and paid for that mistake the very next day. Let’s just say that no amount of Tums could comfort me.

 

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The Salpicon was made of shredded beef , and was nicely paired with rice instead of the usual corn tortilla and sour cream. This was very simply prepared, with the flavor of the shredded meat shining through.

 

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For dessert, Mexicans (like their Asian counterparts) also have a thing for flan, and this Lemon Flan really hit the spot! Not as creamy as the Filipino version of flan, but still just as good, with a tinge of lemon that lightly grazes the palate before one goes in for another spoonful.

 

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Another dessert worth going back to the buffet table for is the simple Rice Pudding. Sticky rice cooked in milk with brown sugar might seem too heavy to digest for dessert, but the sweetness isn’t at all overpowering and just right to clear the palate of the strong flavors of chili, cheese, and spiced meats that are so predominant in Mexican cuisine.

 

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My favorite dessert that night was the Churros with Chocolate Sauce  – sticks of soft, cinnamon-flavored churros are served in glass goblets with runny chocolate sauce at the bottom, just enough for you to dunk the sweet bread in a few times to soak up the devilishly delightful dip.

Other dishes you can expect throughout the festival are Mexican favorites such as Mixiote – pit-barbecued meat made in mutton, chicken or pork; Shrimp Aguachile; Alambre de Res – beef with onions, mushrooms and white cheese; Conchinita Pibil, slow-roasted pork with banana leaf; Rajas con crema – sliced Poblano pepper with cream; and Chamoyadas, basically frozen mango with pikin chile.

Celebrate good food and bond over your passion for boxing greats at Cafe Eight for only Php 1,250++ for dinner and Php 1,000++ for lunch available through September 17-26, 2014 only. The Sabores de Mexico event is made possible in partnership with the Embassy of Mexico in the Philippines and in cooperation with media partners Retro 105.9 DCG FM, Business Mirror, Health and Fitness, View, Cook, and Philippine Graphic.

Crimson Hotel Filinvest City, Manila is located at the Entrata Urban Complex, 2609 Civic Drive, Filinvest City Alabang, Muntinlupa. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 863 2222.

 

 

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