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Leisurely lunch at La Terraza


LIVING close to Montebello Villa

Hotel allows me the luxury of enjoying

tranquility in the midst of what is

getting to be a highly urbanized area.

In spite of the fact that this garden

hotel sprawls in a four-hectare property in Cebu City’s prime bustling business and residential district in Brgy. Apas, it has withstood the frenzy of the outside world. Its lush gardens have become a hideaway for guests and members of the swimming pool club of the hotel.

On Feb. 14, the garden hotel celebrates its 43rd anniversary. This pioneer hotel

in the Cebu tourism industry continues to hold its own in the midst of cutting edge competition. It has, indeed, been many years since my hotel career started and flourished in Montebello Villa Hotel in the 80’s. I still see traces of my fellow workers who have continued their

services every time I enjoy an afternoon of swimming in the big pool that started it all as a membership club and

slowly evolved into a hotel with 150 well-appointed rooms and suites.

Poolside dining

at Montebello’s

La Terraza is a leisurely and

relaxing experience. Known

for the Spanish dishes

of the hotel owners, the Borromeos and

Alvarezes, the newly appointed young executive chef, Justin Barreto David is sprucing

up the menu with healthy, contemporary French-Mediterranean

inspired dishes. General Manager Gregorio “Goyito” Cancio introduced Justin to me over lunch. Goyito and I worked closely during my 10 years in the hotel.

His youth notwithstanding, Justin started the pursuit of his

culinary career after his high school gradation from the Ateneo de Manila. With the blessings of his

father, he obtained a diploma in Professional Culinary Management & Direction de Cuisine from Le

Cordon Bleu in Sydney, Australia. He supplemented this with an

Advanced Diploma in Hospitality Management from Ryde- TAFE

Sydney (Techincal And Further

Education). Justin continues to share his expertise in the Off

Shore TAFE as Institutional Agent in Manila where he spends a week

every month.

Lunch was beneath the vintage, lush bougainvillea with its bright red and pink blooms that veil the trellis just beside the swimming pool where a few of the dining

tables are situated close to the main dining area of La Terraza (pool terrace). To waken our appetites, we were served the classic Montebello Garden Salad—risp Lola Rosa and Romaine lettuce delicately tossed in raspberry vinaigrette topped with candied walnuts, mango cubes, cherry tomatoes, onions and croutons. A piping hot Bulalo

in clay pot followed. This comfort food can rival “sinigang” as the Philippines’ national dish. The

Gamberi Pasta–Fettucine mixed with Gambas and arugula, drizzled with Parmegiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese from Parma/Riggio-

Emilia region of Italy) was light and

delicious. The entrée is a signature

dish that Montebello has been known for—Surf & Turf, a delectable

combination of succulent US Angus

Steak and Prawn served on a bed of mashed potatoes and buttered

vegetables. Fresh Tropical Fruits capped the leisurely lunch. A cup of freshly brewed coffee allowed us to linger and enjoy the lush gardens.

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