By Sol Vanzi
Images by Noel B. Pabalate
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Every moment spent with the family is precious for TV host Suzi Entrata Abrera, a full-time mom to three daughters, 15-year-old Leona, 14-year-old Jade, and 12-year-old Nella, and wife to Paolo Abrera, also a popular TV personality. Suzi prioritizes her family above all else, maintaining the delicate balance of work and home. Aside from her daily morning show, she also shares her own motherhood tips in a lifestyle talk show aimed toward moms.
Food Tradition Born
A working mom who has maintained a tight family bond amid a demanding television career, Suzi wanted a family tradition that would be interesting to her growing kids and could involve everyone. Four years ago, she started “Monday Night Specials” where she prepares a featured cuisine for dinner. The entire family got involved; they select the motif, shop for the ingredients, research on decor to match the cuisine. It has since become a popular “event” among relatives and friends who learn about this informal pow-wow through the grapevine and are dying for invites to the family affair.
To Vigan for Tagine
Their interest in international cuisine is keeping the Abrera family closer with each passing day. Suzi’s kids have developed a shared love for Japanese food including sushi, curry, katsudon, tempura, and udon. She has learned to cook different cuisines that the kids appreciate. Leona loves Greek or taco salads, and all kinds of pasta. Jade loves Filipino food like tinapa (smoked fish), ginataan (dishes with coconut milk), and liempo (grilled pork belly), as well as vegetables like sigarilyas (winged beans), sitaw (green beans), and monggo (mung bean). The youngest, Nella, is a meat-lover and prefers steak, lamb, and Moroccan lamb stew, Tagine.
Tagine is a new favorite dish in the Abrera home, which becomes infused with the heady scents of cinnamon, cumin, and other exotic spices every time Tagine is on the menu. The dish has become such a family staple that Paolo and Suzi intend to travel to Vigan with the kids to check if the famous Burnayan claypot makers of Vigan can make tagine cooking pots, which are difficult to find outside of Morocco.
At every opportunity, the entire Abrera family spends a weekend or holiday break at Sofitel, where the couple spent their honeymoon 17 years ago. And for a very special Mother’s Day family activity, they will be at the Sofitel for a relaxing staycation, while Suzi will join Christine Jacob-Sandejas and Spiral’s master chefs from May 11 to 13 in showcasing their family’s culinary favorites.
Christine teams up with French master chef Julien Cosse in showcasing the family-favorite Calamari Fritti, beef lasagna, and tiramisu while Suzi works with Japanese chef Masaaki Ishigawa to create the curry salmon maki and California maki, as well as with the rest of the Spiral chefs to concoct the Moroccan Chicken Tagine and the chia pudding. These specialties elevate the offerings across Spiral’s 21 dining ateliers, presenting a selection of dishes dedicated to their mothers
An alternative Mother’s Day treat is available at Sofitel’s Sunset Bar offering a buffet of classic Filipino fare, grilled seafood and meats, fresh salads, native desserts, and tropical fruits with free-flowing iced tea, local beers, and cocktails amid a tropical garden paradise. As a special treat, moms get a complimentary glass of wine. The whole family can enjoy dining al fresco while being serenaded with live musical entertainment.
The Sunset Bar Mother’s Day Special Barbecue Buffet will be held from the May 11 to 13, from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm.