How Rina Go’s father perfected the family’s Father’s Day feast
BACK in the ’70s and ’80s, the Go family would spend Father’s Day doing barbecue in their Tagaytay getaway.
Henry Go would be in front of the grill, with apron and tongs, brushing and flipping steaks, burgers and franks. Meanwhile, the Go siblings, clad in jerseys, would watch the NBA playoffs, rooting for their teams.
Complementing the barbecues was the lavish buffet of appetizers, pasta cooked al dente, salad, cheeses, fruits and desserts. The patriarch was always pleased to see his children enjoying the meal as his favorite Sinatra, Bacharach, The Lettermen, Ray Conniff and movie themes played.
Visitors came and went to share the meals. Go made sure that the freezer was always well stocked.
“My father treated our friends like family,” recalls entrepreneur and style maven Rina Go.
When Rina was studying in New York, her father would visit. On weekends, he would shop in Chinatown for the freshest seafood and vegetables and create his signature dishes such as scallops with asparagus, and giant shrimps with snow peas.
For breakfast, he made chunky corned beef sandwiches with juicy tomatoes and onions.
There was the Chinese influence, naturally: bihon (rice noodles) with slivers of pata, misua soup in native chicken broth topped with fried egg, congee with pork floss, tofu with spicy bean paste, fresh mami and bulalo soup, siomai and siopao.
The dim sum was always in stock, ready to be reheated and served to unexpected visitors.
His stuffed turkey was perfected by Maggie, Rina’s sister. Maggie specialized in desserts and was fussy about using only the best ingredients. An architect, she also designed an efficient layout, making the kitchen the center of house.
“Her interest in cooking came from my father,” says Rina.
Since their father loved good coffee with apple pie, Maggie created a secret recipe that was topped with queso de
bola. The contrast of the salty cheese and the sweet crispiness of the fruit filling and flaky crust, punctuated by the robust aroma of coffee, got the family excited.
“The enticing smell of cinnamon filled the house,” says Rina. “My dad loved cinnamon. My younger brothers, Kenneth and Francis, would wait for the pie and eat it right out of the oven.”
In 2014, Rina’s daughter Nicole was an intern at Stella McCartney in New York. The older Go, then 82, told Rina to stay with Nicole until the end of her internship.
At that time, he was supposed to undergo a MitraClip procedure. Although it was a minimally invasive procedure for the heart, Rina was torn by the fact that she would be away from her father.
To get her mind off her worries, she studied how to make artisan pizza at Sur le Table.
“It’s made by hand so the shape is very rustic and the sauce is made of the freshest ingredients,” says Rina.
Since her family were foodies, it was logical for her to open up Nic’s Gourmet Desserts, which specializes not only in diet busters but à la carte dishes. Its famous desserts include the classic carrot cake packed with walnuts and raisins and topped with cream cheese, cheesecake, and strawberries and cream.
The patriarch (and Maggie) may no longer be around, but Rina still listens to his music, reads his books and follows his advice.
“I hardly use the calculator because he wanted me to do the numbers without using one,” says Rina. “I try to do good because I had a great father. He led a spiritual life. Sometimes I hear his voice inside, especially when the going gets tough.”
Father’s Day buffet tips
Everything must be easy to make. Use fresh available ingredients.
Push for flavors such as barbecue, salad with ranch dressing, and baked brie with honey, garnished with walnuts and arugula served with bruschetta. Baked apples are aromatic.
Enhance old recipes with new flavors that burst in the palate by using anchovies, fresh herbs, freshly ground pepper, crunchy sea salt, lemon, chocolate cake, woody truffle with creamy mushrooms.
Choose crowd pleasers: Meat spaghetti/lasagna and Queso de Bola Apple Pie.
Create a menu that goes around—
6-inch burger, pizza, pasta, salad.
When styling a buffet spread, map out the placement of dishes on a piece of paper and make a mock-up setting.
Arrange dishes on different heights using plinths or wooden boards.
Decorate the spread with fresh fruits and flowers.
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