Meatless, guiltless pleasures at Crimson Hotel

Ching M. Alano (The Philippine Star) - March 9, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Lenten season is upon us, a time when Christians are called on to repent, relent, rethink and re-examine their lives. Since the reason for the holy season is that Jesus Christ sacrificed His life to save mankind, the assorted hardcore carnivores among us are making the supreme sacrifice of abstaining from meat — and other meaty, guilty pleasures!

Not eating meat for a whole week (or maybe even for a lifetime) is not really hard to do if you visit Crimson Hotel, where the new executive chef, Martin Bower, has whipped up some meat-free, guilt-free offerings for Lent. A true Brit gentleman from Rugby (yes, the home of the rugby sport), Martin trained in classical French cuisine at the Stratford College under renowned chefs. Having honed his craft with chefs from the fine culinary corners of the world, Martin’s cooking bears such influences as the fusion food culture of Melbourne (Australia) and Phuket (Thailand). And now, this creative, innovative chef is bent on making Crimson Hotel Alabang the premier dining destination south of Manila.

For Holy Week, Martin prepares two lean but mean dishes exclusively for The Philippine STAR, to delight the taste buds and lighten the spirit. There’s pan-seared sea bass that’s grilled to thrill in crusty, caramelized perfection. Truly, in crust, we trust! It sits on a mound of baby spinach with sweet pea puree and spiced sweet potato. And then there’s poached asparagus, your dream green, smothered with soft poached hen eggs and Bearnaise sauce.

Of course, non-meat eaters can also choose from the fresh buffet offerings at Cafe 8: steamed fish soy and ginger, fried popcorn shrimp curry salt, stir-fry yellow noodles with vegetables and seafood, fried rice eggs at the Asian Section; seared salmon saffron and chive sauce, steamed veggies herb butter, baked fish with mango, chili and coriander salsa, sinigang fish, gratin of eggplant and tomato with mozzarella at the Western Section; assorted sushi at the live station; seafood soup, potato, herb and white truffle soup at the soup station.

The dessert offerings are to diet for.  The divine homemade (or is it hotel-made?) ice cream will melt your heart — you can repent later and burn the calories by jogging (no, you won’t burn in hell for eating ice cream during Holy Week). Another sweet temptation that’s hard to resist is Cafe 8’s leche flan, a take on the cherished Pinoy custard that’s as indulgently egg yolk-rich as what your grandma probably used to make.

“Weekends are made for family bonding over good food and fun activities,” says Michael Anthony Sagaran, marketing and communications manager, Crimson Hotel Alabang.

The Sunday brunch buffet caters especially to kids with familiar, well-loved food items such as chicken nuggets given a healthier twist by Crimson’s dream team of chefs, who prepare everything from scratch using only the freshest, natural, preservative-free ingredients.  But of course, there are the sweet treats at the dessert station for kids and kids-at-heart. There’s also the kiddie candy bar with the ice cream and crepe station, plus a variety of ingredients you can toss into your glass to make your own halo-halo.

Sundays are made even sweeter for kids with kid-friendly film showings and a fun mini playground.

Easter Sunday will have kids happily hopping about with the Golden Easter Kids Fest that includes a Mad Science kids show, Easter egg hunt, kids’ maze, loot bags, and snack box at the Grand Ballroom, 2 to 4 p.m. (at P1,198 per ticket).

To make Sunday family bonding even more exciting and enticing, chef Bower has come up with a dim sum station, a Wagyu beef rump carving station, and a selection of cured fish and terrines.

In addition, health buffs will surely love Cafe 8’s healthy selection of fresh greens and light appetizers at the salad bar. Over at the beverage bar, you can enjoy your healthy share of refreshing, nutrient-packed drinks from a juicer with select fresh vegetables and fruits.

So, what else is brewing at Cafe 8? There are upgraded sections that include Japanese with its premium selection of fresh tuna and salmon sashimi, an improved seafood section, and eggs benedict section.

The latest additions to the brunch buffet set (priced affordably at P1,600 per head, including bottomless juices) include imported cold cuts of salami from Italy, Serrano ham from Spain, and Saucisson sausages from France, from suppliers personally handpicked by chef Bower.

And if you wanna get real cheesy, this is the place to be, what with its cheese station teeming with different kinds of imported soft and hard cheeses (think Reblochon Lait Cru, Brillat Savarin Mons, Pont L’Eveque, Valencay, Brie Boite Blue, etc.).

At Crimson Hotel, guests also get a fine taste of great art by local artists that brighten up a wall here and a corner there. “The hotel owners invest a lot in local art,” says Sagaran.

For March 24-25, room rates start at P6,000 net with breakfast for two and Visita Iglesia transportation. Yes, Easter Mass will be held. For March 26-27, room rates start at P7,900 net with Sunday brunch for two and Golden Easter Kids Fest tickets for two.

The truth is, Crimson Hotel in Filinvest, Alabang, with its five-star modern, artsy but homey, welcoming, and relaxing ambience is fast becoming not just a foodie destination but also a favorite staycation place down south. Putting a premium on guests’ welfare, the hotel boasts rooms with air-conditioning units that are equipped with energy recovery ventilation for continuous circulation of fresh air. There are 345 guest rooms, 20 suites and 34 executive rooms with amenities of international standards. Aside from Cafe 8 for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it has the Lobby Lounge for desserts, nibblers, coffee and tea; the Deck Bar for open-air dining with Dedon Nestrest loungers for some quiet relaxation; the Grand Ballroom for conventions and events; and seven meeting rooms named after famous artists Monet, Calder, Miro, Pollock, Warhol, Mondrian, and Joya.

At Crimson, you can expect a truly rosy and cozy staycation.





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For more information on a memorable staycation, visit crimsonhotel.com/manila or call Crimson Hotel Filinvest City, Manila at 863-2222.

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