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Viva la comida Mexicana! |

Food and Leisure

Viva la comida Mexicana!

Ching M. Alano - The Philippine Star

Diamond Hotel brings young chef Daniela Romero Silva to highlight Mexican cuisine that’s so full of color and flavor.

MANILA, Philippines - Si, Mexican food is hot, hot, hot! And to celebrate Mexico’s national day this September, Diamond Hotel Philippines is flying in young and brilliant chef Daniela Romero Silva straight from Mexico to cook up a feast.

“Filipino and Mexican food have a lot of things in common, as we were both colonized by Spain,” notes the lovely 25-year-old señorita.

As popular as Mexican telenovelas (think Marimar) that have invaded Pinoy households are the cherished Mexican dishes that have conquered our taste buds.

“Yesterday, I went to a taqueria on Bonifacio High Street and I had some tacos,” relates a beaming Daniela. “Your tacos are good!”

She confesses, “I love tacos, I can eat it every day. In Mexico, we have many kinds of tacos served in the taquerias, and you can have tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

Not taking any chances, Daniela is flying in some ingredients from Mexico — some red chilies like chipotle (smoke-dried jalapeño), spices like oregano, lentils, and mole paste for her chicken mole — to give guests an authentic Mexican dining experience they will not soon forget.

Surely, full of color and flavor, chili-laden Mexican food will burn in your memory as it sets your heart aflame. “For this food festival, I’m preparing a very, very hot sauce,” comes Daniela’s friendly warning. “So, if you’re brave, you’re going to eat this.”

She gingerly adds, “For those who are not brave enough, I have toned down some dishes and there are dishes that are not really spicy.”

So, fret not that smoke will be coming out of your ears like a steam engine.

Daniela inherited her burning passion for cooking from her mom. “At seven years old, I was already helping Mom in the kitchen,” she recounts. “I always wanted to know what she was doing. She’s not a chef but she’s a great cook.”

This passion gave birth to three Mexican cuisine restaurants named Las Chulas Restaurantes (visit “I’m opening a fourth one in the Philippines,” she announces with a twinkle in her eyes.

With an ardent Filipino suitor at her doorstep, it’s not unlikely that Daniela may consider making the Philippines her second home.

But for now, we can enjoy Daniela’s home cooking at Diamond Hotel, like the well-loved Mexican chicken mole. “It’s a very traditional Mexican dish that’s popular in the center of Mexico. To make the mole sauce is hard because it has more than 32 ingredients — chilies, nuts, chocolate, etc. — so the taste is between salty and sweet. It takes two to three hours to prepare, but you can also get it in a can in stores in Mexico.”

More on the mole: It’s actually a term used for a number of sauces and comes in various flavors and ingredients with chili peppers as the common element. All these ingredients are roasted and ground into a fine paste or powder. Roasting takes at least a day to do. The paste is mixed with water or broth and simmered until thick and pungent. Many families have their own version of the mole, jealously passed down from one generation to the next.

But to spare herself from all that trouble, Daniela is bringing in the mole paste for her chicken mole, but adding her own signature flavor, a trade secret she’s guarding with her life.

The workaholic young chef is doing her own dough for her homemade flour tortilla. She’s making her own corn meal for her chicken tamales smothered with mole or chipotle sauce. Of course, Daniela is getting all the help she needs from the super-efficient kitchen staff of Diamond Hotel.

“They love doing it because Mexican cuisine is something new to them,” says Daniela.

Certified hot faves are the Mexican fajitas (sautéed onions, green peppers, and Mexican spices with your choice of chicken, beef, and shrimps); burritos filled with hot meat sauce and glazed with cheese; and quesadilla pica-pica. Guests will love the live interactive tortilla and taco stations featured at the lunch and dinner buffets at Corniche.

After all that hot stuff, your palate will surely welcome something nice and sweet. “I’m doing my tres leches (three milk) cake,” says Daniela. “It’s vanilla cake made with three kinds of milk — fresh milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk.”

Pastel de tres leches is soaked in a creamy syrup (making it mostly moist like custard) and topped with fresh whipped cream.

Of course, Daniela also has her churros with chocolate sauce.

Like your favorite Mexican telenovela, your love affair with Mexican food has a happy, sweet ending.





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La Comida Mexicana, in partnership with the Embassy of Mexico, is ongoing until Sept. 20 at Corniche, Diamond Hotel. To add more zest to the celebration, Mexican nationals, Mexican Embassy employees, and Diamond Indulgence members are entitled to discounts upon presentation of their identification. For reservations, call 528-3000 extension 1121.

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