People must have salivated as social media was flooded with sumptuous photos from the participating chefs at Madrid Fusión Manila.
The big stage featured the characters of olive oil care of Paco Roncero and foie gras-like cow udder by Margarita Forés, while the dinner with the stars played mind tricks on the guests as molecular xiao long bao, edible stones and cigar halo-halo were served.
But what really impressed were the dishes presented during the regional lunches hosted by the Department of Agriculture.
The menu each day was composed by a gang of chefs that took inspiration from traditional dishes and ingredients found in the assigned island group. The first day featured Luzon with braised duck meat from Isabela among many others; Visayas had lamb from Negros Occidental; and Mindanao showcased a refreshing salad from Zamboanga’s spiny lobsters.
Out of the busy kitchen came plate after plate of tasting portions. Filipino chefs, recognizing the vision of the international food event, upped the ante and presented small bites with big, familiar flavors.
A number of chefs reworked the classics but successfully stayed true to their taste, much to the delight of the guests. The humble suman was converted into panna cotta, adlai was used to make a cheesy croquette, barbacoa was prepped like terrine, halo-halo was turned into a popsicle, and piaya was pumped with chocolate and cooked on site. Creativity and talent never ran short, and the chefs went all-out to impress, as these dishes proved.
Kinilaw, also by Goco: lemon oil snapper, tanigue lox, shrimp mi-cuit, poached crab, cilantro, microcucumber, green mango pearls, spiced vinegar jelly and taro chips
Myke Sarthou’s Vigan Empanada: rice-flour chip, green papaya and fennel salad, chevon longganisa, sukang Iloco gelée, saffron sabayon and red amaranth microsalad
Morcon, also by Sarthou: sous vide sirloin roulade stuffed with dried mangoes, bell peppers, caramelized onions with demi-glace sauce garnished with quail egg, confit tomato, crushed pili nuts and microgreens
Josh Boutwood’s Balut: braised Isabela duck meat, duck egg yolk savory custard infused with shitake mushrooms and reconstituted pinakurat salt
Lechon Manok, also by Boutwood: sous vide native chickens infused with lemongrass and pandan, topped with crisp chicken skin, dehydrated lato and raspberries; served with smoked sour cream, and carabao milk and bitter herb oil
Happy Ongpauco-Tiu’s Crispy Pata: crispy pata skin cones filled with sous vide pata meat infused with herbs, topped with chili balsamic gel discs, kesong puti whipped cream and alfalfa sprouts
Bringhe, also by Tiu: Cordillera rice balls cooked in coco milk and turmeric, filled with sous vide tadyang ng baka on crispy banana spoons, with shots of pinakbet atsara
Mikel Zaguirre’s Sisig: sisig sausage, adobong chicken liver spuma, pickled peppers, mango, chicharon and hard-boiled egg yolk
Sinigang sa Miso, also by Zaguirre: sous vide maya-maya, miso emulsion, pickled red radish and pears, charred mustard greens and fish chicharon
Miko Aspiras’ Leche Flan: wild boar’s blood flan, floral and citrus consommé, brûléed caramel chocolate and edible flowers
Sapin-sapin, also by Aspiras: triple-layer rice cake of reduced milk, burnt caramel and Malagos 65-percent dark chocolate, goat’s milk and cashew praline polvoron, and coconut water gelée