The second Sabores de Visayas celebrated Iloilo cuisine. It was organized by the indefatigable promoter of Iloilo cooking, chef Tibong Jardeleza.
Jardeleza is also behind the heritage culinary competition, “Tabu-an,” where contestants cook only traditional Ilonggo dishes using charcoal or wood fire.
The setting for Sabores de Visayas was Nelly Gardens, a heritage mansion, in Jaro, Iloilo. Its exteriors and interiors are along the Beaux-Arts style and should readily wow visitors. It is a Lopez Heritage House and the long driveway itself impresses.
In the middle is a garden where Sabores de Visayas was set, consisting of dinner tables and the buffet in the middle.
Chefs based in Iloilo presented their cooking. Three guest-chefs from Manila gave their own renditions.
Chele Gonzalez of Gallery at The Fort cooked sinabawan, soup soured by the libas leaves (Spondias pinnata). He roasted the shrimp head with onions and tomatoes, pounding it to extract the flavor, and then boiled it with water and libas leaves.
Gonzalez said the libas is not as sour as the other fruits and leaves used in the country. But he said he always loves soup, especially because it reminds him of his mother’s cooking. I told him that many Filipino cooks would extract the juice of uncooked shrimps to flavor the food. But one of the guests from Iloilo said that his mother also roasted the shrimp heads before extracting the juice.
Sharwin Tee, host of “Curiosity Got the Chef” cooking show, confessed it was his first time in Iloilo. So what he would cook had to come from Jardeleza, and it turned out to be pork asado with a sauce of batuan jam. Batuan (Garcinia morella) is a souring fruit used mainly in the Visayas.
Sandy Daza, on the other hand, has been to this major food place in Western Visayas, doing his TV show and judging culinary competitions. He sliced the roasted whole lamb for guests and directed them to the gravy.
But the major part of the food came from Iloilo chefs and food entrepreneurs.
My first source on Iloilo food and a successful dessert chef, Maridel Uygongco, had her pastries and cakes. Everyone raved about her guava cake. She said she does that only on order because to keep it in the refrigerated display would affect the aroma of the other cakes and even affect the air inside her bakeshop.
Amy Tiu of Eon Centennial did a different kind of laswa, that wonderful vegetable soup and my favorite. She skewered then grilled the vegetables for the laswa barbecue.
OJ Salazar showed off his ham served with different sauces, as well as his ensaymada that one had to wipe with butter and sprinkle with queso de bola.
From Capiz was pusô (rice in coconut frond packs) with nipa tuba, tasting of sweetness and fermentation from Cris and Bryan Syching who have a hotel and restaurant management school in Capiz.
Keith Bianzon of Hotel del Rio presented the seafood paella and fabulous lengua.
Kap Ising sent her famous and Iloilo’s best pancit Molo.
Rafael’s La Cucina del Sur had rib eye with a chocolate sauce made from Cabatuan tablea.
Andrea Gorriceta had her unique ice cream flavors—batchoy and batuan with ginger.
Marriot Hotel presented their cochinillo by executive chef Chachapol Suaisom.
Richmond Hotel’s Jeff Javier supervised the appetizer table which had the kinilaw.
There was entertainment as well with a band and flamenco performed by four ladies from this grand city.
Even if she wasn’t there, Region 6 Tourism director Helen Catalbas gave her full support to make the event happen. DOT guide Rey Tabafunda shepherded us throughout our stay, patient and on time and informative.