Newly harvested, area-grown ingredients define the name of Taal Vista Hotel’s restaurant, TAZA Fresh Table. Taza, which means “food” in Arabic, was developed as a response to the growing market for farm-to-table cuisine.
Aside from being a purveyor of local produce, TAZA is positioning itself as an all-day breakfast dining destination. The largely organic ingredients of its menu would hearten anyone who values healthy eating. Yet, its best sellers are the Western heritage dishes which are no less indulgent.
The main attraction, Eggs Benedict with a choice topping of ham, bacon or smoked salmon, is given a local flavor: The poached eggs are served atop two halves of a hefty pan de sal instead of English muffin. The egg yolk-based sauce is enriched with clarified butter; and the eggs themselves are flanked by potatoes from Benguet, caramelized onions and a side salad of gotu kola and fresh tomatoes.
The eggs, by the way, are sourced from a farm in Laguna where the livestock are sustained by natural and probiotic feeds for healthier intestines.
Another best seller, Southern Fried Chicken, is buttermilk-battered and baked until tender and dipped into garlic gravy. The crispy saltiness of the meat is contrasted by the sweetness of the accompanying waffle wedges with maple syrup.
Drenched in pork jus, the Tomahawk Pork Chop, a cut which includes the bone, loin and rib, is sweetened by caramelized banana instead of apple jus. The salsa verde gives it a kick.
Chef Jayme Natividad brings his experience from America where products close to their natural state have become the norm in cooking. He makes site visits to check the wholesomeness of the produce that TAZA uses.
The restaurant’s ingredients are sourced from such suppliers as Down to Earth; organic farmers around Tagaytay and Silang; Taal Vista’s own backyard; and dairy from Laguna.
Wagyu beef comes from cattle in Mt. Kitanglad, Bukidnon. These cows are free from hormones and other artificial additives. Prawns are flown in from Iloilo while artisanal cheeses are made from the Malagos farm in Davao.
Egg is infused in many dishes including grilled rib-eye steak, homemade corned beef, fettuccine carbonara and its accompanying pancetta or Italian bacon.
Both the pasta and pancetta are made from scratch. The pork belly, which constitutes the pancetta, is seasoned with pepper, garlic, salt and cured for a month.
Chorizo Burger, which uses pan de sal, is laden with egg, cream cheese and a red pepper sauce for spice.
Golden, pillowy and crisp at the corners, buttermilk pancakes get their tangy taste from a dollop of lemon curd. Aside from the buttermilk, the recipe includes a tinge of yogurt for a little sourness. The experience is grander with slathers of cream cheese and a drizzle of amber-colored maple syrup.
Aside from breakfast fare, TAZA offers other tantalizing dishes. The pizzas use a sourdough starter, which provides the firm but springy crust. It is fermented enough to make it chewy for such toppings as grilled vegetables, salsa verde with pancetta, zucchini, squash blossoms and seafoods.
The Wagyu Burger is a perfect partner for the Tagaytay greens although most carnivores would prefer the potato wedges.
The dessert is a toss-up between the molten chocolate cake using tablea from Alfonso, Cavite, with queso de bola ice cream, or the cannoli with ube ricotta and langka cream.
The crisp puff pastry tube envelopes the filling of purple yam ricotta and jackfruit crème anglaise. When you bite into them, the custard texture of the jackfruit and the comforting milkiness of the ube ricotta melt in the mouth.
If you want to play safe, the olive oil ice cream is a sophisticated finish, with the richness of the oil and the familiar tanginess of Tagaytay pineapple.
TAZA Fresh Table is at Taal Vista Hotel, Kilometer 60, Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City. Tel. 9178225 or (46) 4131000.