New Year’s list of must-eats
I cannot even remember how or why Irma Rivera started sending me food. One fine day, she just decided to share with me her discoveries.
This is what I fondly call Irma’s List. It consists of my personal favorites from the assortment of goodies she has sent my way.
Mama Nita’s cooking
Irma’s mother, Juanita Abes Pajarillaga, at 83, still offers her neighbors home-cooked meals.
For 25 years, Mama Nita managed the canteen at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) building on Taft Avenue, Manila. Many have become big fans of her kare-kare, lengua and callos.
Of her recipes, though, her delicacies from Central Luzon remain her specialties and what she’s best known for. One particular dish is tinumis, a blood stew that utilizes tamarind fruit and young tamarind leaves as souring agents. Mama Nita’s version is made with ground pork meat and sometimes ground beef.
Her tinumis is light, yet bold and tasty. It is also refreshingly fruity. It is a cross between sinigang and dinuguan—but neither runny as sinigang nor as thick as dinuguan.
Should you be craving for an honest-to-goodness, home-cooked meal, the kind that will bring memories of your lola’s cooking, then allow Mama Nita to lovingly prepare her specialty dishes for you.
Call 9319122 or 09467040781.
Clean Eats Manila
I recently had a taste of the biggest, fluffiest, softest kamote pan de sal and a pleasurable fill of Bushman bread (earthy brown molasses bread), which I warmed and slathered with butter.
A bite of Clean Eats bread brings to mind images of a kitchen filled with delightful aromas of loaves and buns baking in the oven.
The beginnings of Clean Eats Manila, however, were not as chirpy. It was when Aisa Patajo de Jesus’ father was diagnosed 10 years ago with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer, that she and her family made a conscious effort to take a closer look at their
“My mom always says what better way to know how your food is made than to make it yourself,” said Aisa, who took charge of making a food grid for her dad’s dietary requirements.
To nurse her dad better, grocery products were slowly replaced with homemade ones. Time and effort were spent to meticulously create healthy, home-cooked meals. Even their bread eventually came straight out of the family kitchen.
The breads that Aisa offers her clients are the very same ones she baked for her father. She calls them “clean bread.”
Her baked products are free from preservatives and improvers. They’re made with all-natural ingredients such as sea salt, coconut oil, raw sugar, hormone-free eggs and fresh produce like kamote, squash and potato.
Early this year, Aisa started baking a few extra packs of kamote pan de sal that she offered to neighbors and her Viber group. Because of the increasing demand, Clean Eats Manila Delivery is now a thriving business.
I find the squash loaf nice, too. Each loaf contains one-fourth kilo of fresh squash, and is made using coconut oil and sea salt.
The focaccia, meanwhile, is soft and airy. But it is the hopia that I am very curious to try. Aisa described it as “hopiang baboy without the baboy.” What is traditionally made with pork fat, she instead does using coconut oil. “It is comfort food, panaderia-style,” she said.
With a sweet starch filling, the hopia is made with better ingredients—coconut oil, raw sugar, sea salt and turmeric. It is also “vegan,” as no animal-derived products are used.
Diane’s apple pie
A well-made apple pie is not easy to find. It should have a crisp crust, with crunchy cinnamon sugar-spiced apples inside, and a crumbly streusel drizzled with golden butterscotch.
That’s how Diane Ramos bakes her apple pie.
What I particularly like about it is her streusel, which chews like cookie dough.
Diane admits it took a while for her to bake a pie she’s satisfied with. But her final product is worth all that practice. My buds can tell the difference. This apple pie is an example of what it’s like to produce food with passion, with heart.
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