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Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

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From too many burritos to puzzling molecular gastronomy to boring mall food that made up our meals in 2012, we’re moving on to heritage, history and a huge helping of creative food concepts. It’s going to be a great year!

If you are reading this then the world has not ended and our December toil for this issue was not in vain. So we eat and rejoice, feast and give thanks! Onwards to 2013 with food, glorious food!

A few hellos and goodbyes…

Goodbye burrito, Hello ramen

Taqueria after taqueria opened in the past couple of years. But as much as we love margaritas, we’re moving on from Mexican (right, Manny?) to Japanese. This year’s star: ramen.

After the massive success of Ukokkei and the “ramen Nazi” (nickname given to its chef/owner by patrons because he refuses guests even before closing hours, among other let-downs), ramen houses are now mushrooming everywhere. In Quezon City, Him Uy de Baron has conquered ramen-land with Nomama’s unique takes on ramen. In Makati, Mitsuyado Sei-Men introduced tsukemen, where you have the heavenly opportunity to dip ramen in a cheese dip (funky but true).

At the Fort, Malou Fores’ Recovery Food introduced a Pinoy ramen.

In Alabang, steak celebrity Elbert Cuenca has opened Yushoken Ramen, which promises to take your ramen experience to the next level, as ramen connoisseurs prepare for the long drive to deliver a verdict. Even singing duo Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez have joined the ramen bandwagon to open Ryu Ramen and Curry. 2013 will see the peak of the ramen invasion.

Goodbye chemistry, Hello history

Carlo Miguel is a brilliant chef and his ode at Opus to Ferran Adria and nitrogen is worthy of applause. But even El Bulli, with its six-month wait list, has had to fold and accept that molecular gastronomy is something that is better taught than bought.

People want food, not foam; you can lather, rinse, repeat at home. The moral of the kitchen story is that love for food is love for real food: steaks, burgers, chicken pork adobo and not juice or particles that taste like it.

Instead of chemistry, chefs now turn to history. Highly acclaimed English chef Heston Blumenthal was lauded the world over for his latest restaurant, Dinner, at the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park, London. (It was acknowledged as the highest-ranking new entry at number 9 in the world at the latest World’s Best Restaurant awards.)

At Dinner, this chef serves porridge circa 1660, mackerel circa 1730, rib-eye circa 1830-all from recipes painstakingly researched from historical British culinary books.

In New York’s Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm has servers give a historical explanation on his food ode to the City, down to the inclusion of potato chips on the menu, because these were apparently invented in upstate New York in the 1800s. Not missing a beat, the Philippines’ own Rob Pengson has created a Rizal menu at The Goose Station. While this may not exactly be what and how Rizal ate, it is definitely historically inspired and a worthy gustatory experience.

Goodbye expensive vodka, Hello “lambanog”

In the first world there is a rekindled love affair with “moonshine”—illegally distilled, untaxed and unregulated liquor, usually referring to whiskey. Here, the general drinking public is slowly developing a long-overdue appreciation for this artisanal drink.

Lambanog and tuba have both been making the rounds of bazaars and food events, now presented in fancy bottles or mixed with strawberries, kiwi, lime or other fancy flavors, e.g. a lychee lambanog martini.

Even the History Channel is on to us as Hidden Cities Extreme featured tuba (coconut liquor) from Cebu. Gulped straight by jobless farmers as early as 10 a.m. in the interior barangays of provinces—“inom tayo, madam,” they would holler-to drown out the bitter realities of life below the poverty line. We will soon have the same drinks for P300 to P600 ($15) a glass, an amount that could last these farmers a week back in their barangays. Hopefully, this industry blossoms. Drinking may save our farmers after all.

Goodbye mall stall, Hello pop-up truck

It used to be that new food concepts introduced themselves via a stall at a bazaar, weekend market or at the mall. Today, a new way of introducing your recipes to the market has rolled in via the food truck. The jolly jeeps of Makati notwithstanding, Ayala has taken the pop-up experience to yet another level by introducing food trucks at Cucina Andare, a new food enclave created by the guys behind Mercato Centrale.

The food truck experience—literally a truck with a mobile kitchen—is all the rage in the United States this year, as these portable restos would drive around the US and announce via social networking or their online sites where their next stop would be. Or, as with San Francisco’s Off the Grid, there could be a gathering of food trucks in one large space (like Andare).

It’s fun because of the anticipation and the challenge of tracking when the food truck would come to your town. And also because the food offered is mighty creative, like Mexi-Filipino fusion, and not something that you could simply get at your neighborhood cluster of restaurants. Get the drift from the names of the teams in “The Great Food Truck Race” on The Food Network: Seoul Sausages, Momma’s Grizzly Grub, Pop-A-Waffle.

Truth be told, Andare’s selections have yet to evolve. So far the trucks here offer burrito, burrito… and more burrito. Zzzz. And they’re not even better than existing taquerias. Then there’s shawarma, ramen, gelato and Brothers Burger. Nothing you can’t get from a stall or restaurant. And nothing that would make you want to run after the truck. But(!) it’s a start. And with the Ayalas and the Mercato team behind this, soon enough (hopefully) we’ll be saying, “Now you’re talking!”

Goodbye expensive function room, Hello private dining

Why tolerate a P2,500-per-head bill for a function room with boring food when celebrity chefs are now opening up their own homes for fellow foodies? Claude Tayag, Dedeth dela Fuente, Myrna Segismundo, Aleth Ocampo, Suzette Montinola and Vicky Tinio-Clemente have shown us how it’s done. And more and more, events are being held in homes.

Even Sarah Jessica Parker hosted a fundraiser for President Barack Obama in her New York home. So plan a menu, get your signature drink and dish ready, send out those invites and make this a party-filled year!

Goodbye colonial mentality, Hello Filipino farmer!

We are witnessing patriotism at its best in the foodie world nowadays. Margarita Fores pays tribute to the Filipino farmer with Grace Park, her latest concept restaurant now being anticipated at One Rockwell.

Your plate will be filled with fresh ingredients from all over the country as Fores moves in on her mission to uplift the lives of Filipino farmers.

Amy Besa’s Ang Sariling Atin Movement seeks to preserve regional heritage recipes and has been going around the Philippines with the Kawali Kings, a group of students from Enderun Colleges who support this mission. And, of course, multi-awarded authors Felice Sta. Maria and our very own Micky Fenix, as well as those behind the Doreen Fernandez Awards, continue to honor food icon Fernandez by encouraging everyone to pass on their treasured food memories and preserve them for future generations by means of the written word.

2013 will be a year of honoring the past as we move forward into the future. We will be witness to sustainable eating as its best. It’s going to be a GREAT year.

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