Here are dishes I enjoyed, sweets I binged on, and a new kitchen toy. I hope they will come in handy as we usher in the season of cheer.
‘Galantina’ and ‘bibingka’
The chicken galantina is almost as silky smooth as pâte de foie gras. The toasted mamon bibingka is more like a very rich buttercake topped with slices of quesong puti and salted egg.
Both are available at Maximo Comfort Cuisine, a restaurant owned by nine college friends from University of the Philippines Manila—Gerry Abiera, JP Balboa, Butch Beringuela, Mitch Cuna, Elmer Lagman, Paolo Miranda, Yeyo Paras, Buboy Sarte and Geth Savellano.
Savellano is a chef whose late father, judge Maximo Savellano, the restaurant was named after.
The partners, from different college batches, share a passion for food and have contributed their own family recipes to the restaurant’s menu.
The chicken galantina I love is the recipe of Lagman’s mother-in-law, Belen Agra, who is now in her 80s. She has handed down the secret formula to the younger generations.
Mrs. Agra used to supply popular restaurant chains with her galantina. At Maximo, chef Geth fine-tuned the recipe, making it even more delectable.
Geth has also recreated his dad’s favorite, the mamon bibingka. When the group first tried the bibingka, it turned out fluffy and light, similar to a mamon. Everyone loved it, so the gang stuck to the modified recipe.
Maximo is at 173 Katipunan Ave. QC; tel. 4377661
A family friend, Beth Lopez de Leon, came with pots and pans filled with what would be our Sunday lunch.
Pig’s cheek lechon kawali, made from imported pork with the perfect ratio of fat and meat that is super crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, is paired with charcoal-simmered bulalo broth over newly cooked white rice.
With chilies, patis and fried garlic as condiments, they make up, to me, a perfect meal.
While I enjoyed the carnivorous fare, the senior citizen-card-bearing members of my family opted for the sinigang na maya-maya sa miso. It was simple but very good, too.
I would not have known that De Leon now runs a carinderia called A-1 at 8 Macapagal Avenue corner Buendia, had it not been for my sister, Manang Aida, who could not stop talking about De Leon’s food.
De Leon and her partners Janice Alejandrino, Felix Erece Jr., Loida Hernandez and Jaime de la Cruz, thought of opening a carinderia upon learning that their office was downsizing. When the chef of their office’s executive lounge, Emil Laping, learned of their plan, he joined in.
The eatery is a 24/7 operation, serving at least 400 people a day. The owners, who go to market themselves, take pride in using fresh produce, no extenders.
The place originally catered to cab drivers in the area. It served tasty, clean, deliciously home-cooked food.
Eventually the clientele expanded to include the who’s who of politics who either drop in to dine or call for takeout.
My take on A-1 Carinderia— food you can eat with your pinky up!
Suggested dishes: Bulalo, Pig Cheek Lechon Kawali, Papaitan with Beef Tripe, Two-Way Adobo with Liver Salsa, and Adobong Tostado.
If you’re entertaining your balikbayan relatives and for your holiday food, call 0925-8534578.
Stevie Villacin is on the speed-dial list of most Hainanese chicken lovers.
His Hainanese chicken is a beautiful food pack of the chicken, five cups of chicken rice or olive rice, and four sauces.
Villacin learned to do Hainanese chicken in Singapore. It actually took him about six months to be satisfied with his own version.
However, there is more to Villacin’s food order list than Hainanese. He has a combination of spring rolls. The fried spring rolls contain shrimp wrapped in bacon and is served with sweet chili sauce.
This is a staple in the Villacin home, a recipe he learned from his mother. Great pica-pica, especially when served warm. (Refry before serving.)
The fresh Vietnamese lumpia, crisp and delightfully herb-tasting, was a recipe Villacin picked up on while on a visit to Vietnam. It combines two recipes. Perfect if you wish to eat light.
Call 8968940 or 0906-5084155.
White velvet symphony
White chocolate is something I cannot resist, especially when it’s a cross between a cake and an ice cream cake.
Imelda Go’s White Velvet Symphony is made of layers of white chocolate cake, merengue and very light white chocolate mousse.
So easy to eat! I love it. Serve frozen.
Call Magic Kitchen at 6378002.
Multifunctional rice cooker
Simple as it seems, I am blown away by a well-cooked bowl of steamed rice—each grain defined, separate from the other, scooped to form a perfect ball, the kind that’s served in fancy Chinese restaurants.
The cooker that makes this pot of rice is now available locally.
The Tatung Multi-Functional Cooker uses technology adopted from the Chinese Shang Dynasty, back when the method of cooking rice was to put it in a bowl of water and steamed in bamboo steamer.
This type of cooking heats food evenly, quickly and prevents scorching.
Tatung rice cooker can also cook porridge, steam and stew.
Call 5706955, 0939-9292929, 0905-4724747.