I’m glad that Filipino food is finally getting the spotlight it deserves. For the longest time now, our cuisine seemed routinely overlooked overseas despite our chefs’ wonderful inventions and interesting fare.
But now that our chefs are drawing worldwide attention, we’re also at risk of being too comfortable with our current achievements.
When I got invited to “Salo: Preserving the Philippines’ Food Heritage,” a dinner in special collaboration with Asia’s Best Female Chef Margarita “Gaita” Forés, I was reassured that the country’s culinary future remain exciting.
In partnership with Rockwell Land Corp. and Hinge Inquirer publications F&B Report, Inquirer RED and Southern Living, the event was held Nov. 8 at Edades Tower. It was the perfect night for a throwback to old Filipino flavors, while also being an ode to innovation.
Just when we thought we knew what chef Gaita had in store, she prepared a menu that was beyond our imagination.
For starters, guests were served delicious iced blue ternate and rosella teas. Appetizers of Kinilaw—her version consisted of fresh tuna with roasted native white corn and corn sprouts—and Kadyos, Organic Pork with Langka and Smoked Kesong Puti Mousse were passed around.
Next up was the Adlai Risotto, a humble plate with adlai (a type of grain similar to rice) crackers and etag (salted pork meat) crisp.
It was a tasty transition to the first entrée, Dry Sinigang of Mackerel sa Miso-Batwan. Chef Gaita’s concoction was a yellow Filipino and red Japanese miso duet with heirloom vegetables.
The beef entrée was Braised Grass-fed Beef Bistek Tagalog with roasted squash, onion hay and wing beans. By this time, I was already full, given all the new flavors we were being served. But, as with any good dinner, dessert was the icing on this cake.
There was coconut served three ways: in creamy panna cotta; latik glaze and crumble; and smoked coconut meringue. Each one had its own character, which makes eating coconut not tiresome but incredibly exciting.
While it felt great having this feast, what made the event even better was dining with friends. I’m looking forward to having more Filipino-themed dinners and, hopefully, more friends to eat with.