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‘Lechon kawali’ sushi, paella ‘tinola,’ ‘laing’-stuffed ‘lechon’–2012 was a proudly Pinoy-flavored year

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This was a most blessed foodie year, but what made it most distinguished was the patriotism that underscored each effort, each event.

The Filipinization of the Singapore Sling

While buffets blossomed this 2012, the Best New Artist award must go to the just-opened Raffles Hotel. Sofitel’s Spiral may win the Best Comeback award with its over-the-top spread, but the newly opened Raffles Hotel’s Spectrum is most impressive because of its well-thought-out and patriotic approach to its cuisine.

Café Macaron, the hotel’s patisserie, serves ube macaron, calamansi guanaja and buco pandan pralines. Then, the buffet takes the hotel’s commitment to local produce a step further: In its center is a live beehive, with bees from Baguio a-buzzing as you pick up your glass of honey mascarpone!

Beyond dessert, instead of California maki, Spectrum also offers lechon kawali sushi and bangus belly sushi. The lechon kawali sushi will make you smile at its cleverness. As you bite into it, fully expecting something Japanese, you start to chew—and there’s no mistaking that lechon taste. It’s all Pinoy!

At the other end of the hotel is Long Bar, a cult bar in Singapore most known not only for the Singapore Sling, but also for the tradition of throwing peanut shelves on the floor in so-called rebellion against strict government policy prohibiting littering. In utter respect for the city it now lives in, the resto has created the Makati Luxury Sling, a sweeter, richer take on the Singapore Sling, with 24K gold atop its foam (very sweet!). There is also the Makati Manhattan, which uses the proudly Pinoy Don Papa Rum. Here’s to getting buzzed the Pinoy way!

 

Pinoy chefs give back

One of the most fabulous food events of the year was the Lifestyle Network’s Around the World in Small Plates, a charity dinner that featured 15 of the country’s top chefs and foodies invited by uber-foodie Cyrene dela Rosa.

There were international creations such as Impressions’ duck liver and risotto, and Opus’ molecular Caprese Salad. But the following patriotic chefs’ creations raised the Philippine flag, as the event raised over P300,000 for the I Can Serve Foundation: Claude Tayag’s adobong pugo (quail); Ed Quimson’s paella tinola; Pepita’s laing-stuffed lechon; J Gamboa’s Thai lechon kawali; and, all the way from Brooklyn, Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s watercress salad in a nori cone.

It took a good three hours to go around the Rockwell tent with a “boarding pass” to have a taste of each cuisine. But it was guiltless eating, as I Can Serve heads Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala and Bettina Osmeña emphasized—because it was for a cause!

 

Filipino food writers fly

 

The following books were named the Philippine national winners in the Gourmand World Cookbooks Awards: “The Foods of José Rizal,” by Felice Sta. Maria, named Best Food History book; “Savor the Word: Ten Years of the Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Food Writing Awards,” edited by Inquirer columnist Micky Fenix, Maya Besa Roxas and Felice Sta. Maria—recognized as Best Food Literature Book.

Claude and Maryann Tayag’s “Linamnam” was named Best Culinary Travel Guide. “Larry Can’t Cook,” the story of restaurateur Larry J. Cruz, was named Best Corporate Cookbook. The Maya Kitchen’s Journal for Cooks and Foodies was named Best Easy Recipes Book. “Baking Secrets,” by RV Manabat was recognized as Best Desserts Book.

Who among them will garner the coveted world titles to be announced in February in Paris? Filipino writers—reprezent!

We had a blast, dear 2012. We felt the subliminal effects of the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign as we unabashedly proclaimed that we are Pinoy, we pig out, and we’re proud of it!

Now, since Mayan doomsday predictions were wrong, we expect you will up the ante, 2013. Happy New Year, foodies!

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