On Turning Five
Dr. Nestor Alonso ll (The Freeman) - October 26, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines — Time must be moving really faster these days. I still freshly recall the grand opening of Quest Hotel & Conference Center, and it has already celebrated its 5th anniversary recently. It’s been five years that the hotel has been giving an important contribution to Cebu’s hospitality industry.

Hotel executives and staff led by general manager Mia Singson-Leon and PR manager Kat Toledo welcomed guests, friends and members of the press and citizen journalists. Welcome speeches were being delivered, plus a fashion show, as I sneaked into the reception to take photos before the meticulous arrangement of the food was disturbed.

A serving plate with half filled with food does not look presentable compared to serving plate that is full. However, the better tasting dishes are often the first to go and I do not want to wait for refills before the photo is taken.

There were eight food stations that catered to various food preferences of the guests of Quest Hotel such as Cold Cuts & Chesses, Filipino Food Station, Japanese Selection, Filipino Food Station, Salad and Appetizer, Main Courses, Live Cooking, Carvery and Desserts.

During events like this where more than 20 dishes are served, I usually navigate to the items that are new to my eyes.

Executive chef Danilo Gonzales and the Quest kitchen brigade certainly made many dishes with a twist. At the Salad and Appetizer Section, Humba and Pipino Salad, Mini Sinuglaw Summer Roll and Tokwa with Crispy Lechon Kawali were displayed. Humba is usually an all meat dish and the additional of Pepino would reduce the calorie content and provide a crunchy texture. The Lechon Kawali with the Tokwa would also add texture to the dish.

The Main Dishes were Hinurnong Isda na may Manga at Bagoong, Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Adobo, Pepper Steak Bistek Style, Lamb Humba with Muscovado and Pinakurat, Paella, Rellenong Apahap, Hinurnong Gulay, Salmon Ala Pobre na may Guinataang Sitaw and Bam-i sa Sugbo. I take a tablespoon of each dish to taste it and went back to eat, excuse me, the dishes that I really liked.

There was one particular dish that attracted my attention, the Mini Sinuglaw Summer Roll because the dish was really delicious. The sinuglaw, a Davao dish, is made with two cooking methods, the “sugba” or grilled pork belly and the “kinilaw” or raw fish “cooked” in vinegar. The taste has been described as “tangy yet sumptuous, spicy and creamy, savory and moist.” When heat or physical agent is applied to the fish, it changes the structure of protein and the same effect is achieved with the application of chemical agents like acetic acids in vinegar. For example, when NOMA restaurant opened a food exhibition in Japan, they served a dish with raw shrimps and a variety of forest ants and you have to eat the shrimp and the ants together because the latter has formic or picric acids.

No celebration in Cebu is complete without the Lechon and it was also true during the Quest Hotel anniversary event. Another dish, Roast Beef, has become also a standard in the Carvery Station and a Live cooking Section, usually with pastas, is a must in many festivities.

The Dessert Station had cakes, pastries and native delicacies such as Torta Cebuana with Pinipig, Ube Pastillas, Lychee Shooter with Brandy, Masi, and an attractive display of Tower of French Macaroons. (FREEMAN)

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