Ossobuco and why Filipinos enjoy buffet-style dining
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 01:28 AM November 17, 2016
We suspect that the buffet culture of Filipinos started with the “carinderia” or common eateries that proliferated in public markets.
These stalls had an array of home-cooked adobo, menudo, dinuguan—from which a customer could choose to eat or to take home.
Many Filipinos, especially those from the provinces, remember these carinderia. Our elders, in fact, would come home with banana leaf-wrapped food from the public markets.
In the mid-1970s, cooks started putting up their own restaurants. One of these was the Brasserie on Roxas Boulevard, which popularized the food presentation called the buffet. Brasserie was later spun off to Dino’s in Makati.
Soon, international food chains opened in the country, offering huge buffets over which diners went literally gaga. The buffet culture started to flourish.
This diner and kin braved the horrific traffic to Ortigas for the buffet at Marco Polo Hotel’s Cucina. They had been informed Cucina has a new Italian chef, Guiseppe Rivoli whose specialty is Ossobuco.
24/F Marco Polo Ortigas, Meralco Ave. and Sapphire St. Ortigas, Pasig. Call 7207777.
The attraction was Mediterranean food since Rivoli hailed from Milan.
Dining area—Spacious and bright. Tables and chairs were spaced comfortably. The long buffet table extended from the entrance and turned a corner to the end of the hall. Color scheme was brown and beige with hints of olive.
Staff—The excellent team’s members were dressed neatly and had gracious manners.
Suggested orders—Choosing what to eat was easy. Food stations were labeled according to cuisines (Mediterranean, Asian) and whether they were grilled, steamed, etc.
We started with the uniquely served Marco Polo Tea, an attractive ensemble of a tall glass containing grapes and a block of frozen shaved ice. The tea was was poured from an arc-shaped pitcher.
We had a few pieces of sashimi followed by the much-anticipated Ossobuco, the chef’s signature dish. It was divine.
The blended flavors of wine, spices, onions and tomatoes did not overwhelm the natural taste of the veal. In fact, they enhanced it. Lacing it with gremolata (a mix of garlic, parsley and lemon) made it deliciously rich.
Then there was paella, served in tiny paelleras. But we did not discern the chorizo flavor.
Desserts were a huge collection of sweets on a pyramid display. The good thing was they were all in tiny portions, so the diner could indulge.
Our lunch was truly a great epicurean adventure!
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