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The culinary pampering at Saffron Café

/ 08:45 AM December 15, 2012

A LUXURY resort that sprawls along the coast of Hilutungan Bay in Mactan Island on a six-hectare property has been painting the tourism canvas with crimson glory. Crimson Resort & Spa, a world-class paradise with 250 luxurious guest rooms and exclusive 40 pool villas also has an Aum Spa, Saffron Café, Tempo Restaurant, a pool bar and a sports bar. Cebuano Gen. Manager James Montenegro leads this Filinvest-owned property of the Gotianums in joint venture with Archipelago International Pte. Ltd. registered in Singapore. He manages to divide his time between Crimson Resort & Spa and another Filinvest-owned property, Quest Hotel & Convention Center in the city.

While the invitation was for a Spa-licious pampering at the Aum Spa, we started off with lunch to meet the new Australian Executive Chef Stuart James Blair who was introducing his new offerings at Saffron Café, popular for culinary specialties from the East and West. An inviting name, Saffron is considered the world’s most expensive spice that gives the restaurant a delicious allure.

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PR and Communications Manager Malca Villanueva introduced Chef Stuart as we took our seats. Chef Stuart is ideal for the resort, having gained experience from several island properties in Fiji Islands, Bali in Indonesia, Seychelles, Maldives after obtaining his culinary education and apprenticeships in Sydney, Australia and in Cambridge, UK. He proudly considers himself an “islander” with his love for the sun and outdoor life. Chef Stuart reveals he loves nature and city life is something he is not too excited about.

His culinary offerings reflect both his mastery of the Australian and Asian cuisines. Asian flavors enhance his western creations that easily pamper the palates. A healthy drink of blended pineapple juice with bak-choy (chinese pechay) was served, which was invigorating. We started with Thai Chicken Salad—tangy and spicy just the way I like it. Vietnamese Pomelo and Prawn Salad followed this. The lemon dressing flavored with fish sauce (patis) drew out the sweetness of the pomelo and freshness of the prawns. Patis, a dipping sauce in the Tagalog region, is certainly just as popular in Southeast Asian cuisines for salad dressings and dips.

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Another light appetizer, Yellow Fin Tuna with Apples & Peanuts and Egg Rolls stuffed with raw tuna spiced up with Indonesian spice mix and served with Sweet Chili Sauce were palate pleasers. The main course was any islander’s favorite—Coconut King Prawns with Sweet Corn and Black Bean Salad. The delicately crisp prawn is coated with batter and rolled in desiccated coconut, a similar dish of which I enjoyed in a Hawaiian restaurant, Peohe’s in San Diego, California.

For dessert, we checked out the buffet layout where ambrosial creations were delightfully irresistible. My eyes feasted on the Buko Pie Meringue, Capuccino Cream. Langka Crème Brulee, Tiramisu, Mango Cream Cake, Sapin-sapin. There were more choices but I settled for Buko Pie Meringue and Langka Brulee.

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