Six Signature Dishes
Dr. Nestor Alonso ll (The Freeman) - November 16, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines — There will always be food and drinks that are someone’s favorite. Cebu’s lechon and dried mangoes are top favorites among local tourists while foreign tourists admire the Cebu lechon and fresh mangoes. Over a period of years, a restaurant or a hotel will produce a dish or a drink that will be a favorite among its clients and it becomes a signature dish.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu has recently unveiled their six signature dishes consisting of one main dish (Adobo), two drinks (Silk Road Iced Coffee and Earl Grape Iced Tea), and three desserts (Mango Cheesecake, Malicious Cookies and Ensaimada). Adobo is the most popular of Filipino dishes, and it’s discussed extensively in “The Adobo Book” by Nancy Reyes-Lumen.  The book states that the adobo in the Visayas region is simpler but tastes better than the over-rated adobo of Luzon. Had Nancy Reyes-Lumen stayed at the Marco Polo Cebu before she wrote the book?

Mango Cheesecake is sweet and creamy, topped with luscious Cebu mangoes and a crust of chocolate chip cookies. I’ve been asked what makes Cebu mangoes different from those in the rest of the country. Our mangoes are sweet with a touch of tart and I believe it is all about terrior of Guadalupe Hills and Busay Mountain.

Malicious Cookies are chocolate chip cookies, the favorite among my millennial friends every time they visit the hotel for a press event. And when members of the press gather, the news about anything superb quickly goes viral.

Silk Road Iced Coffee is described as a blended ice frapuccino created from overnight-infused coffee, flavored with cinnamon syrup and milk, topped with marshmallow and Italian meringues. I am a very simple man and the coffee I drink is instant coffee,  six cups of it a day. Any other types of coffee did not really interest me – until I read that Starbucks, excuse me, sold US$2 billion worth of Frappuccino in 2012! That figure was in my mind when I sipped Silk Road Iced Coffee… and found it to be a vitalizing drink indeed! 

Earl Grape Iced Tea is a combination of elderflower syrup, Earl Gray tea and seedless green grapes. The chilled tea placed in a nice decanter and poured over the elderflower infused ice cubes and grapes. This invigorating tonic is served with baked Turkish delights.

My memories on tea go back to an elderly Chinese poultry farmer and his ever-present pot of tea. So much tea had been consumed that the immaculate white porcelain cups already turned brown from the tea stain. In our residence then, we had fresh milk, sikwate, kape and the only time we drunk “tsa” was when we were sick.

Ensaimada is sweet bread that traces its roots to Spain and it has pork lard that makes it tasty. Ensaimada has evolved and it is called brioche using butter instead of lard and topped with cheese and sugar. Other versions use excess butter that it literally melts in your mouth. Marco Polo Plaza Cebu has three versions of it – classic, ube and mango. (FREEMAN)

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