“We want to stay true to the natural flavors of food,” says Keith Christie, executive chef of Crimson Resort and Spa in Mactan, Cebu. “We keep the flavors very clean and the food as simple as possible.”
As a result of this philosophy, the buffet in Crimson’s Saffron Café has an aura of outdoor cheer. Lined up in neat rows are organic vegetables with an assortment of salad dressings; wedges of fresh fruits sparkling on immaculate white plates; prawns, mussels and crabs glistening on ice; and cut-up meat ready for the grill.
Even the dessert section seems to be anchored on the idea of freshness. With sinfully rich cakes are hazelnut mousse with lemon cream, skewers of fresh fruits for dipping into the chocolate fountain, lemon bars, and mousseline cream with lychees and strawberries.
Likewise, the a la carte menu offers the fresh catch of the day as well as yellow fin tuna and slipper lobsters lightly grilled with lemon and garlic.
“We just let the food speak for themselves,” says Christie.
Keeping a balance between imported and local ingredients is also one of the hotel’s principles, says F&B manager Florent Humeau. Thus, the cheese platter includes not just French camembert but also goat cheese from Davao; while for the carvings, Angus roast beef may alternate with Cebu lechon. And for the beverages, there’s always fresh coconut juice served on the shell.
But after all, this five-star hotel is built right along the beach, where palm and coconut trees sway languidly with the breeze. The three-tiered infinity pool that seems to stretch out to the sea is set amid lush gardens punctuated by colorful rows of flowers and ferns.
Daily activities for hotel guests include diving excursions and perhaps building sand castles by the beach. Oceanfront villas come with their own plunge pools. With such a setting, it’s only logical for the cuisine to be in harmony with nature.
Here’s a recipe from chef Christie for a delightful salad that embodies Crimson’s philosophy of nature and freshness: double mango salad—curls of lettuce leaves with mangoes, strawberries and nuts enlivened by a dressing of puréed mangoes.
(Crimson Resort and Spa: Seascapes Resort Town, Mactan Island, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu. Call 032-4019999.)
Double mango salad
For the mango salad dressing:
¾ c finely chopped mangoes
1 tbsp lime juice (or calamansi or dayap juice)
1 tsp vegetable oil
½ tsp ground coriander seeds
Salt, to taste
For the salad:
4 c salad leaves
½ c diced fresh mangoes
½ c sliced strawberries (see tips)
1/3 c coarsely chopped pistachio nuts
Make the mango salad dressing:
Purée the ¾ cup mangoes in a blender. Pour in the lime juice, vegetable oil and ground coriander seeds. Season with salt. Process until well-blended. Set aside.
Make the salad:
Divide the salad leaves among three separate salad plates. Arrange the diced mangoes and strawberries over the salad leaves. Pour the prepared mango salad dressing over each bowl. Sprinkle pistachio nuts on top. Makes three servings.
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If you find the dressing too thick, dilute it with a little water.