In the Philippines, bright and colorful Christmas decor along with Jose Mari Chan’s “Christmas In Our Hearts” welcome everyone as early as Sept. 1.
Though this year has been far from normal, it’s safe to say that the spirit of Christmas lifts everyone’s spirits and makes everyone hopeful. The Noche Buena, when families gather to share a hearty meal on Christmas Eve, might be different from what everyone is used to, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the traditional Christmas celebration and feast.
Make sure you don’t miss any of these Noche Buena staples offered by these local brands to help keep the tradition alive.
What is a Cebuano feast without the roasted, crispy lechon? For this year, SunStar Best of Cebu 2020 People’s Choice’s Best Lechon winner Rico’s Lechon offers not only its mouth-watering lechon but also “Salo-Salo Meals” to make one’s Filipino-themed Noche Buena hassle-free. One can choose a variety of platters featuring food items like bam-i, lumpia shanghai, chorizo, and of course, the star of the feast, lechon!
Torn between the classic ham and lechon? Why not have both? Virginia Farm’s subsidiary, Berto’s Habhaban came up with Ham Lechon. It is exactly what it sounds like: the sweet and smoky flavors, and soft texture of cured ham, all rolled up just like how a lechon looks like. This right here is extra juicy!
Eggnog might be famous as a Christmas drink around the world but in the Philippines, Sikwate or tsokolate is the drink that spreads holiday cheer. This drink evokes fuzzy and warm childhood memories of post-“Simbang Gabi,” and is best enjoyed with puto maya and sweet ripe mango. It is a simple beverage made by dissolving cacao tablets in boiling water traditionally mixed using a batidor, a whisk-like baton that helps froth the liquid. Tablea Chocolate serves native thick, indulgent and deliciously sweet sikwate made from an heirloom recipe using locally sourced and prepared cacao paired with its special puto maya, fresh mango and other treats like chocolate crinkles and mallow clusters.
Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino
The crispy pork belly, commonly known as lechon kawali, is also a staple at every Cebuano gathering. Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino’s version is with a kare-kare sauce and steamed vegetables. Its unique version of crispy pork belly is served along with other favorites: bagoong rice, beef morcon, pancit canton, chicken pasta salad and crema de fruta for dessert. This Filipino Platter is part of the hotel and casino’s limited edition holiday party tray offerings.
This luscious Filipino dessert made with coconut milk, cornstarch and sugar is always present in any Cebuano event especially during Christmas parties. Home-based brand Lusciouslicious made some twist to the classic Maja Blanca, adding flavors like “camote lush” and “squash.” It may be unusual but the “camote lush,” a mix of purple and yellow sweet potatoes, has a natural sweetness to the dessert so that sugar is no longer needed, same with its other variety, “squash.”