Creating French Culinary Connections With Filipinos

Creating French Culinary Connections With Filipinos

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | December 19, 2019

(In photo: Vatel Restaurant Manila Executive Chef Pierre Cornelis)

To sample top French cuisine offerings and dining, or to satisfy cravings and curiosities in one of the world’s finest gastronomic delights, head on over to Vatel Restaurant Manila in the heart of Malate, where Executive Chef Pierre Cornelis is eager to greet guests and diners with a warm “Bienvenue!”

Just as the meaning of his first name (Pierre is French for Peter), Cornelis has actually been a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for aspiring young Filipinos who are seeking a career, and wishing to make their mark, in the hospitality and culinary industry, be it locally or overseas.

He happens to be the chief instructor and consultant of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde’s (DLS-CSB) School of Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management starting in 2009. Since then, Cornelis has actually made Manila his home for over a decade now.

Prior to his scholarly stint, the French chef was originally scouted for his culinary skills to help establish the La Regalade French Bistro in Makati in 2008, adjudged as one of Philippine Tatler’s best restaurants in that same year.

Thus, Cornelis actually wears two hats—or toques, at that—as he oversees the culinary ensemble of Vatel Restaurant Manila. The French-Mediterranean dining outlet can comfortably seat 72 while accommodating 40 alfresco guests at the deck overlooking the majestic Manila Bay.

Behind its commercial purpose, Vatel Restaurant Manila serves as a hatchery of the strengthened educational partnership of the college and Vatel International Business School, a leading European hospitality learning institution based in France. It trains students for middle- and higher-management positions in hospitality and tourism. DLS-CSBis one of its many partner-school around the world.

Speaking of his profession which has brought him to this corner of the world, Cornelis derives a great deal of fulfillment in being an expat.“The best thing about living here is that it gave me the opportunity to start an application restaurant, which I operate with students. I enjoy sharing my field of expertise with them.”

The Frenchman recognizes that running a successful restaurant requires an excellent team to uphold the integrity of recipes, procedures, standards and the application of expertise.

With regard to the specialties of Vatel Restaurant Manila, it follows the original way of the French to keep recipes authentic. Cornelis occasionally introduces new dishes in the menu, offering varieties and giving customers more reasons to enjoy French food.

The seasoned chef cites bistro cuisine, baguette aux echalotes (French bread with shallots) and cassoulet (meat and beans stew)as good introductions to French cuisine. His must-try signature dish is beef bourguignon (sauce with red wine, onions and seasoning).

Desserts are also something to look forward to. The Cerveza Negra ice cream, for one, will definitely not disappoint novice diners.

The French expatriate is all too eager to share his cooking philosophy which he has stood by from the time he was a newbie in the kitchen. “Choose the best produce; use the best technique. Expertly use seasoning and flavors to elevate taste. Always ensure quality and texture,” were his sagely pieces of advice.

The French advantage

WHEN it comes to his career, Cornelis was inspired by Chef Bernard Loiseau, who is regarded by peers as the most charismatic kitchen whiz of all time.

In recent years, however, the Vatel Restaurant Manila’s chief cook found encouragement in the achievements of Alain Ducasse, who happens to be the most celebrated of modern French chefs.

With regard to his inspiration in being a chef and making his mark in the culinary world, he had this to say: “I have always been interested in food and ingredients: meat, fruits and vegetables, which grew my fondness of visiting and enjoying the ambiance of the markets in Belgium and in the South of France. I look forward to their local and seasonal products.”

He shares his take on what makes French cuisine profoundly different from others. Owing to the geography of France and location, he is proud that his country has the advantage of having different climates. The neighboring areas, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, influence the varieties of cheese, wine, fish, meat, vegetables and fruits.

Cornelis continued: “The French have a selection of food varieties. We explore and enhance different flavors from our regions. Finally, we enjoy combining French techniques and cooking methods. I want people to understand that French cuisine is built from authentic, provincial rural recipes.”

The highly prolific chef started to build his portfolio from time he graduated from Ecole Hotelier et tourisme de Liege in Belgium, then harnessed his craft further in a “classic” restaurant after his studies. He further honed his culinary skills by gaining experience in cooking Mediterranean cuisine in various dining establishments in the south of France, in the environs adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea and Corsica.

Cornelis’s keen understanding of the demands of the kitchen has made him sought after not only in his native France, but overseas, as well. The chef has seen action in Montreal, Canada, where he worked with top hotels, such as the Westin Montreal and the Hilton.

During his six-year tenure as executive chef of Le Spa Eastman, where he specialized in healthy cuisine, he was able to parlay his culinary expertise into authoring a cookbook, Le Spa Eastman a votre table (Le Spa Eastman at your table).

The book, which features 100 nutritious recipes, won an award in 2006 as the Best Culinary Cookbook in French at the annual Cuisine Canada co-organized by the University of Guelph, in Ontario.

Speaking of nutrition, Cornelis admits that the creative process of turning a recipe into a gastronomic cuisine with the collaboration of a nutritionist could prove to be challenging. “It begins with meticulously choosing the ingredients. Then everything would follow.”

Recipes for Success

CORNELIS has served as competition judge and chef demonstrator at numerous staging of “Chefs on Parade” and culinary events of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines a few years back.

In March, he was among the 26 chefs in the Philippines who were selected to participate in the fifth edition of “Gout de France,” the largest annual dinner in the world that highlights French gastronomy.

Working about 10 hours daily, the head of Vatel Restaurant Manila makes sure to “cook up something interesting” on weekends—outside the kitchen, that is. His hobbies include swimming and scuba diving, as he is a certified dive master of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, or Padi.

For his artistic endeavors, Cornelis finds time to feed his soul by playing the electric guitar and the acoustic six-string. He can also show some moves in the dance floor with the salsa.

The premier chef may be enjoying the view from the top, literally (find out why with a visit to Vatel Restaurant Manila), but he does not stop there.

“I would like DLS-CSB to open another branch of Vatel to reach more customers and students, so they may be able to enjoy and experience dining in a French restaurant serving authentic French cuisine,” he thus expressed his earnest hopes.

It is good to note that Cornelis finds working with Filipinos a breeze:“They are nice, friendly and easy to work with. They understand that preparing and cooking at the kitchen carries a big responsibility, which is to satisfy the cravings of the discerning customers.”

His constant advice to his learners in the kitchen: “I always remind them to be consistent with the recipe to maintain the original, authentic flavor.”

Among the countless cuisines and food preparations he has been exposed to from around the world, one Filipino dish though has won his French heart: “My favorite would have to be chicken tinola. I like the combination of ginger, papaya, malunggay [olifeira] and garlic.” To which, he exclaimed, “Sobrang masarap!”

To Chef Cornelis: It’s such a delight that you love a traditional dish prepared during Christmas in almost every Filipino home, monsieur!

(Vatel Restaurant Manila is at the roof deck of Hotel Benilde Maison De La Salle, Arellano Avenue corner Estrada Street, City of Manila.)

Image Credits: Jimbo Albano

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Author Profile

Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

Filipinos Spell the “Plus Factor” in Hotel and Hospitality

Filipinos Spell the “Plus Factor” in Hotel and Hospitality

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Business Mirror | December 12, 2019

Quezon City now has Park Inn by Radisson in North Edsa, as the international chain further solidifies its presence in a major market. The upper-midscale hotel is a testament to the global brand’s partnership with the SM Group, becoming the fourth in the Philippines after Park Inn in Davao, Clark and Iloilo. It is also the first in Metro Manila.

While the hotel has already been fully operational for some months already, General Manager (GM) Nils Rothbarth admits finding exhilaration and excitement in all the work that goes into opening a new one.

“It’s the make-or-break phase. Believe it or not: beyond all preparations that go into groundbreaking, it’s actually the securing of paperwork that’s the trickiest part,” Rothbarth intimated.

We wondered if it was just in the Philippine setting, or a normal occurrence in other countries. After all, the German hotelier has the distinction of bringing many hotels into existence, having spent a great deal of his career as a hotel “GM,” from the cities of Europe, to the capitals of a number of African countries and, now, in this side of Southeast Asia.

“Everywhere, it’s the same. When the paperwork is hurdled, then everything else follows.”

Take it from Rothbarth, who shared his being hands-on with his team members. Whenever possible, he personally interviews applicants. He could not emphasize enough the importance of having the right people to develop and empower.

“The selection process during recruitment stage is the most important one. Without the right people, which we consider as our most important asset, we won’t have a successful hotel. I probably interviewed each and every person employed here, in an effort to get to know the person and discover if we have a cultural fit,” Rothbarth explained.

“It is vital that a lot of things are not scripted, and that is the nice thing about the culture of Filipinos: Service comes naturally. You can feel their sincerity,” he added.

Having set foot in the Philippines only this January, the hotelier is already loving every minute of his stay. He may be new to the Philippines, but not to its nationals.

“From my time in the Middle East, I still remember my former colleagues—a lot of whom were Filipinos. I have always kept in touch with them over the years,” Park Inn by Radisson’s GM told this writer.

“So, when the opportunity to move to the Philippines came, there was not a second of doubt to say ‘Yes,’” the GM beamed with pride.

Filipinos, he said, have left quite an impression on him. In his own words, he finds them as “patient, friendly and sincere.”

The Radisson Advantage

Apart from manpower, the GM shared the elements that make Park Inn by Radisson stand out from the rest, starting with their company philosophy.

“I believe that what sets us apart is our people, together with our mantra which we call ‘EMMA,’ or ‘Every Moment Matters.’ Everyone has a lapel pin which says, ‘Yes, I can!” It is important for staff members on the floor to be able to make a decision for our guests and colleagues.”

That team members are able to call the shots when needed translates to a high level of enjoyment among guests during their stay which, in turn, gives the GM utmost satisfaction.

The GM also champions diversity, inclusion and women empowerment to enable more female team members to assume leadership roles. “My leaders here are all women, which is fantastic. Needless to say, they are so passionate with their work,” Rothbarth voiced out.

Being the people person that he is, the GM finds himself in the thick of things when it comes to the hotel’s operations. Quite expected that his genuine concern for his staff has allowed him to address rank-and-file employees by name.

From his manpower complement, Rothbarth also acknowledged other aspects of the success of Park Inn by Radisson. One is the partnership with the SM Group.

“Being associated with the SM brand is a definite plus for the hotel. For starters, our guests can avail of exciting rewards if they happen to be SM Advantage cardholders. They can enjoy discounts from hotel establishments, like dining in Casa, our all-day dining outlet. Or, they can opt to save points by enlisting in the Radisson Rewards Program.”

Taking a page from the late great mall magnate Henry Sy’s list of must-haves for a successful undertaking, Park Inn by Radisson, as well as its provincial counterparts, bank on their individual strategic locations to draw “staycationers” and leisure travelers.

Particularly for the neighboring locales of “QC,” this is a definite plus, as the hotel is in the nexus of the northern part of Edsa and the North Luzon Expressway via Mindanao Avenue.

“We, likewise, find ourselves serving a market that is in need of larger conference, function and events venue,” Rothbarth related. “The hotel happens to have one of the biggest ballrooms in its category, which is able to host 500 guests in one setting. Thus, we are able to cater to different branches of government, nongovernment agencies, medical associations and the like.”

Climbing the Leadership Ladder

Prior to assuming one of the highest leadership positions within his industry, the German GM shared his story of working his way up, starting from the most basic of roles.

“My first job was being a storekeeper. Basically, I ran all the inventory for the hotel. I was responsible in making sure all the goods that the hotel needs: from the most important, such as food and beverages [F&B], to the most trivial, like paper clips, are in stock and never run out,” Rothbarth recalled.

By being exposed to various hotel departments, he grew a liking for the F&B department. It taught him to be detail-oriented, especially during demanding events, such as wedding receptions, when everything is expected to be perfectly executed.

It comes as no surprise then that Rothbarth considers himself as a passionate “hobby cook.” Mussels, he said, are his go-to main ingredient for his signature dishes because of their amazing flavor, as well as versatility to allow for a host of cooking styles.

As a German who knows his kind of beer and enjoys it, Rothbarth delights in sampling domestic brews. As for local dishes, he has grown a craving for good ole sisig.

In order to stay on top of his game, the expat-hotelier keeps his mind sharp and his spirit inspired by picking up nuggets of wisdom from leisure reading. He is currently delving into Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, and a biography on Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg.

For leisure activities, Rothbarth heads out of town to Subic in Zambales, and the beach towns of Batangas. He is looking forward to visit more beautiful dive spots around the country.

To cap off our conversation, we asked the established hotelier for his advice to upstarts who want to establish themselves in the hospitality industry. His straightforward reply: “Get involved, and have fun.”

Image Credits: Jimbo Albano

Cesar Cruz Jr.

Author Profile

Cesar studied communication arts at the University of Santo Tomas. He writes articles in the Lifestyle Section of Business Mirror as a lifestyle writer. He manages Pancit Malabon, his own restaurant at Banawe St.

Taking Everything with Different Grains of Salt

Taking Everything with Different Grains of Salt

Gabrielle R. Borromeo

The Daily Tribune | September 14, 2014

Both my mother and my grandmother make a pretty good team when it comes to salt. My grandmother, who lives in Seattle, always sends us an array of salt I never knew about, while my mom experiments in the kitchen with it. It came as a surprise to me to see pink Himalayan salt, black lava salt and other colors in our spice rack since I was only familiar with the plain old rock and iodized salts.

Aro-En Gourmet Salts promotes the art of salt-making as the Culinary Education Foundation, CCA and Salinas Corp., one of the country’s largest producers of commercial and specialty salts, came together to elevate salt further, supporting both culinary appreciation and corporate social responsibility.

CCA students, together with their chancellor Dr. Ma. Veritas Luna and their chef-instructors, toured Salinas’ Pacific Farms facility in Bolinao, Pangasinan. In the 500-hectare salt farm, they witnessed how salt is harvested and learned more about the health benefits of salt intake.

As expected, Aro-En Gourmet Salts come in different varieties like the Fleur de Sel, mineral sea salt, Sel Gris, shio, flakes salt, bitter salt, smoked salt and the confectioners’ salt. The salts are made through practices learned from artisan salt-makers, and each one has a specific purpose in flavoring dishes. One must know the characteristics of each salt to be able to prepare dishes accompanied with the right kind of salt.

Fleur de Sel, meaning “flower of salt,” uses a harvesting method that comes from France. Only the topmost layer is harvested from the sea salt bed. It is considered a mild salt with a warm, wooden barrel flavor and claims to be an excellent all-around seasoning, bringing out the full flavors of dishes like red pasta sauce.

The snowy white mineral sea salt is said to have a savory, delicate tang. This salt also claims to bring out the full flavors of dishes in spite of having nutritional benefits, as it is low in sodium and rich in ions. The mineral sea salt is said to be perfect for classic Filipino dishes, raw beef and salt crust baking.

The grey Sel Gris, just like the Fleur de Sel, also uses French harvesting techniques. It is considered to have a briny and earthy flavor, and does not remove all the moisture out of the food. It compliments hearty and savory dishes like steak, lamb and seafood, and is used in saucy fish dishes.

Though the shio salt comes in with a milky white texture, it is said to be bittersweet and is used mostly to bring out the natural flavors in fruits and soups. It is good for cooking and finishing. It is also claimed to be suitable for dipping as its flavor is not overpowering, with a clean taste that melts easily and robustly enhances the flavor of the food.

The coarse texture of the flakes salt is a delight to the chefs because it has a strong taste and adds crunch to salads and pies with even with just a little sprinkling here and there.

The bitter salt is said to have a unique flavor, more like a magic potion for me as it gives a distinct advantage when used in foods with sharp flavors like coffee and citrus. Just a pinch of this salt dampens the strong taste of coffee, transforming the bitterness into a subtle flavor without magically leaving a strong aftertaste.

The smoked salt is smoked using acacia leaves and has a bacon flavor that is best paired with fatty fish and vanilla ice cream. It can also be applied as a tropical fruit rub on creme brulee and barbecue. It sounds to me like a great accompaniment.

Last but not least is the powdery confectioners’ salt. It is a steady oceanic sea salt with a vanishing aftertaste. This gourmet salt enhances the taste and texture of baked goods, balancing the sweetness of sugar and shortens the baking process. It is best for creating quality desserts like brownies and chocolate fondue.

The eight variants of gourmet salt mentioned are produced in a world-class facility that promotes the protection of natural surroundings.

“You can only create grade-A salt in an ideal environment. You have to make sure that the ecology is balanced to get the right materials. You have to make sure that you control the quality of the salt. Aro-En is the type of salt that you will serve to the people that you really love. Every ingredient and process put into it make sure that you get only the best,” explained Glenn Khonghun, Salinas general manager.

At the event of Aro-En Gourmet Salts, guests were served a buffet of different dishes cooked with different kinds of salts. I examined the salts and tasted some of them in their original salt form.

The salt tasted exactly like what everyone is familiar with except it had a flavorful twist. I never imagined such a variety of salt it dazzled me to see the selection. At the buffet, I remembered telling myself to take it slow and to try everything. To end my meal, I had a salted caramel donut.

When it comes to cooking, salt is not just a condiment that one can do without. Aside from its pretty selection of colors, it is a necessary element in the kitchen. It has the power to transform a dish into a culinary masterpiece.

Each purchase of the specialized salt will support various salt-making and producing communities sponsored by the groups involved.

Gabrielle Borromeo

Author Profile

Gabe organizes what she sees around her and loves to put it into words. She has been contributing her articles for the Daily Tribune newspaper, Tinig ng Marino (maritime) newspaper, Cook magazine, Appetite magazine and F&B World magazine.

You can contact Gabrielle at: gabrielle_borromeo@write-experts.com

Old Fashioned Goodness

Old Fashioned Goodness

Gabrielle R. Borromeo

The Daily Tribune | November 10, 2015

Fresh milk, premium cocoa and minimal amount of natural sugar are the only ingredients of Cocio, a Danish chocolate milk that recently arrived in the Philippines. Cocio was developed in 1951 in the home kitchen of couple Anker and Ella Pallesen in Esbjerg, Denmark and, to date, it still uses the same recipe.

Milk, especially chocolate flavored, is a well-loved beverage in the country, and many Filipino mothers make sure that it is part of the nutritious diet their children get. It is about time Cocio made it to this country to make a healthier change in the lives of Filipinos.

“We know that Filipinos will love Cocio because not only is it delicious, it’s also made from natural ingredients — that are perfect for those trying to adopt a healthier and more wholesome diet,” explains Jens Christian Krog, senior general manager of Arla Philippines, Cocio’s supplier for fresh cow’s milk. “Cocio satisfies the sweet tooth without any additives or false promises. It’s the kind of beverage that Filipinos will surely love.”

This Danish chocolate milk brand prides itself for using only fresh cow’s milk from Arla Foods, which is known as the world’s largest multi-national dairy cooperative owned by over 14,000 farmers and one of the oldest in Europe. The cocoa is from West Africa and is UTZ-Certified, which benefits farmers when more cocoa is consumed. On the other hand, the plain sugar is from established sugar suppliers. Cocio is also free from stabilizers and preservatives, which explains the sediments you see at the bottom.

The launch of Cocio in the Philippines took place in Whitespace, Makati. It marked the first time that Cocio classic will be sold in the Asia Pacific region, and the first time Cocio Dark will ever be launched.

Local Cocio distributor is Fly Ace Corp., a food and beverage consumer goods company whose commitment is towards great taste and responsible ethical production.

“I was impressed with Cocio’s meticulous processes when I visited their office in Copenhagen. Every step involved — from choosing ingredient suppliers to advertising the product — stayed true to their core values,” said Fly Ace president Jun Cochanco. “Cocio is undoubtedly the best chocolate drink in the market, and we think it’s about time we shared it with the country.”

Following the immense success of Cocio in their native Denmark, the brand was then introduced to their Scandinavian neighbors — Sweden and Norway. In more recent years, Cocio has also branched out to other European countries and to the USA.

Cocio, the straightforward cocoa drink, is available in all major convenient stores and supermarkets nationwide.

Gabrielle Borromeo

Author Profile

Gabe organizes what she sees around her and loves to put it into words. She has been contributing her articles for the Daily Tribune newspaper, Tinig ng Marino (maritime) newspaper, Cook magazine, Appetite magazine and F&B World magazine.

You can contact Gabrielle at: gabrielle_borromeo@write-experts.com

A Taste of Iloilo in Manila

A Taste of Iloilo in Manila

Gabrielle R. Borromeo

The Daily Tribune | June 27, 2017

Living in the confines of a busy metro can make one long for nature and all that comes with it – the windy breeze, the green wonders, the salty ocean and, of course, the fresh produce and mouthwatering seafood. And although “absence makes the heart grow fonder” (Eleanor Roosevelt), nothing comes close to having what the heart wants. With Marina in town, the gut-wrenching wait for fresh seafood feasts come to an end.

Marina is an IloIlo based restaurant that offers a menu of seafood delights including baked oysters, blue marlin steak, and chilled shrimp.

Marina’s oysters are flown in everyday from Iloilo for the restaurant, assuring customers of consistent quality. There will be no reason to fear, especially when it comes to oysters, where many are wary. The best part is that the oysters can be prepared the way one wishes, whether raw on a bed of ice or grilled with cheese or garlic butter. This is perfect for oyster lovers who enjoy the shellfish as a meal or as an accompaniment to beer.
Marina’s Blue Marlin is also a mouthwatering delight, flaky and moist. Ilonggos sure have a way of cooking that makes for a satiating meal.

They also have a classic chicken inasal that may easily become anyone’s favorite. It is marinated without soy sauce, but is chock full of macerated garlic, hints of chopped ginger, the faint sweetness from brown sugar, sour with counterpoint of sinamak (native coconut vinegar) and kalamansi with earthy lemongrass), salt and coarsely ground pepper, all combined for a true inasal. On the grill it is basted with butter and achuete oil for that tasty hue of yellow that distinguishes it from other grilled chicken.

All these are prepared with provincial flair that can be enjoyed in a spacious garden or in air-conditioned comfort located at their Mother Ignacia branch, Quezon City. This branch has a huge tree that creates a provincial feel. Not only this, every night except for Sunday, there is a live band to entertain customers. It also has the space compared to other branches for big celebrations, all available for reservations.

Marina was born on October 1987, when Ross Gorriceta, inspired by his wife Marina Luz, decided to put up a native seafood restaurant on the breezy banks of the Iloilo River serving succulent seafood.

Of course, he named the Ilonggo restaurant after his loving wife, Marina. Along with his wife. They wanted to share their love and passion for fresh seafood and Ilonggo cuisine with their fellow Ilonggos and visitors to Iloilo City.

It was only in May 2002 that Marina finally arrived in Metro Manila, when their son Ross Paul Gorriceta brought it to the big city in honor of his parents. He set out to open the world of wonder, a “portal” to Iloilo for Metro Manilans to experience fresh seafood served in the Ilonggo way.

Definitely when it comes to the best of Iloilo hospitality and Filipino specialties, Marina not only makes the cut but tops it, maintaining the authentic native Filipino taste in its offerings. This is the true Filipino pride!

Gabrielle Borromeo

Author Profile

Gabe organizes what she sees around her and loves to put it into words. She has been contributing her articles for the Daily Tribune newspaper, Tinig ng Marino (maritime) newspaper, Cook magazine, Appetite magazine and F&B World magazine.

You can contact Gabrielle at: gabrielle_borromeo@write-experts.com

Sabor the Moment

Sabor the Moment

Gabrielle R. Borromeo

The Daily Tribune |November 26, 2018

“As for the atmosphere, Sabor is casual but classy with warm lights to create a relaxing vibe…”

How can one unwind if booking a flight away or even just a staycation is too costly? Novotel Manila Araneta Center’s newest wine bar, Sabor (Spanish for “flavor”) Bar de Vinos is a good place for a much-needed me-time and to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, even just for a while.

Located at the Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City, Sabor is conveniently found in what used to be a nook under one of the hotel’s escalators. The space was transformed into an intimate wine bar that extends all the way to the hotel’s smoking area. It allows one to loosen up in a corner or sway to modern Spanish music or to the beats of live samba entertainers.

Originally, the Novotel management decided to have a private wine cellar for their stock, but why hide away when their distinct collection of wines can be displayed? This was how the dream began with wine and signature tapas to offer.

Now, at Sabor, one can choose by the bottle or by the glass, or the sangria concoctions by Sabor’s expert mixologists. Sabor has a wide selection of wines.

The menu includes mushroom croquettes (P350), an earthy combination of porcini, button and portobello mushrooms, coupled with bleu cheese dip topped with caramelized onions; beetroot arancini with goat cheese (P350), which is a creamy beetroot risotto balls stuffed with marinated beet/root from El Dorado Farm, with goat cheese fondue;patatas bravas (P250), which are homemade deep fried organic potatoes from El Dorado Farm, tossed in smoked paprika and parsley, served with roasted spicy tomato and garlic aioli;berenjenas fritas, also known as deep fried eggplant (P250), breaded organic eggplant sticks paired with garlic, homegrown basil and molasses dip;and tomato bruschetta (P250), homemade ciabatta bread topped with tomato brunoise, chopped basil, garlic from El Dorado Farm, olive oil and parmesan cheese.

One can try the Greek salad skewers (P250) of marinated cucumber, cherry tomato from El Dorado Farm, olives, oregano and feta cheese; selection of cheeses (P650) with assorted crackers, sangria jelly, nuts, taggiasca olive and radish; and smoked kesong puti (P350), young goat’s cheese with dried fruits, crackers and grapes.

During the launch, Sabor served their version of the Filipino classic dinakdakan.
For the sweet tooth, creme brûlée and tiramisu offered and an ice cream store is just right at the corner.

As for the atmosphere, Sabor is casual but classy with warm lights to create a relaxing vibe. The beautiful murals are pleasant to the eyes. Sabor is not at all intimidating as one would expect from a hotel bar. Here, one can feel he is far from the heavy burden of work or daily cares.

Sabor is definitely one of the places in the metro that lets you unwind, pull yourself together and prepare for another big day.

Sabor Bar de Vinos, open Tuesday to Saturday, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., is located at the ground floor of Novotel Manila Araneta, General Aguinaldo Avenue, Araneta Center, Quezon City.For inquiries, call 990-7888.

Gabrielle Borromeo

Author Profile

Gabe organizes what she sees around her and loves to put it into words. She has been contributing her articles for the Daily Tribune newspaper, Tinig ng Marino (maritime) newspaper, Cook magazine, Appetite magazine and F&B World magazine.

You can contact Gabrielle at: gabrielle_borromeo@write-experts.com