If you know me at all then you’d know that while I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio, I am wired enough to recall the names of random shows and celebrities. So I can tell you that the chef at Talde was in Top Chef, though I can’t tell you what Top Chef is exactly, other than it’s a popular contest show about cooking. Plus Dale Talde is Filipino, so that immediately put Talde on the map for me as a restaurant I needed to try. The Filipino presence in Brooklyn is extremely lacking, so any attempt is worth my attention. Talde called itself an Asian-American Restaurant & Bar, and I hoped it wouldn’t be fusion-y. I hate that!
Fortunately the chef (recently named by Food & Wine as New York’s Best New Chef) did his homework enough to maintain an authentic Asian feel to his dishes without transforming it into the fusion-like mess that I hate, when a dish that is commonly served family style in large undecorated quantities suddenly becomes miniscule, pretty, but lost. I like my Asian food Asian, not French. Continue reading
When I moved to New York from Manila, one of my biggest concerns was whether my then-girlfriend (now wife) ate Filipino food, or if I had to eat pancakes for the rest of my life. A Pinoy breakfast is always heavy with the protein of meat, fish and eggs, and a big helping of garlic fried rice. On occasion some pickled papaya might grace the plate, but for the most part this breakfast is everything a farmer would need to make it through the day.
I was relieved to know that she was every bit a Filipino food hound as myself. The only problem was that the closest decent Filipino restaurant was a car ride away, and we didn’t have a car. And nobody made tapsilog the way I liked it. So I had to make my own.
Tapsilog – a Filipino farmer’s breakfast of beef, egg and garlic rice.
Tapsilog is short for tapa (cured beef), sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (egg). The suffix “silog” is added to many protein sources such as ham-silog, hotdog-silog, daing-silog (daing – marinated milkfish) and longsilog (longganisa – sausage). Technically beef tapa is supposed to be air-dried beef, but I’ve been able to achieve the same result by just marinating the beef in a mixture of soy sauce and lemon. Continue reading
Long ago and oh so very far away, I made the trek to Vigan, Ilocos, a Spanish town north of Manila, to visit a friend. She took me to the nearby bagnet and longganisa factory, where curtains of sausages hung on clotheslines and vats of pork belly slabs were being seasoned by bare-handed women rubbing the meat with spices before they hung them to dry.
In a basic sense bagnet is simply deep-fried pork belly cubes but in the Ilocano tradition these pieces of meat are seasoned and air-cured before cooking. The result is deep flavor that penetrates through the layers of meat and fat, a given when dealing with the wonderful gift of nature that is the pork belly.
Tortang Talong, Mangga at Bagoong (Eggplant Torta, Green Mangoes, Tomatoes and Shrimp Paste)
…or that’s what I would call it, except that it’s not a public event but actually a private one I partake of whenever I go home to the Philippines for a visit.
Steamed shrimp, seaweed salad (arorosep), grilled milkfish (bangus), sauteed oysters, tamales, green mangoes and shrimp paste.
I spend some time at my parents’ beach house to visit my childhood nanny who lives nearby. Consequently, my need for a place to stay leaves me the opportunity to sample the food cooked by our decades-long caretaker Mila, who takes local delicacies and comes up with a feast according to my request.
And if you’re one of the lucky people I picked to come with me, then you’re in for a treat. Food highlights below: Continue reading
We went to Cafe Juanita for a family lunch to sample their famous Filipino buffet. It was our during our first weekend in Manila and was the best way to be thrown back into the cuisine of the homeland, our favorite dishes filling voids we’ve accumulated over many years.
Part of the spread includes kare-kare, beef mechado, and adobo
While Cafe Juanita’s selection is your standard issue festive buffet food, they did not skimp on quality and quantity the way a lot of buffets do. It was simply an unlimited array of our favorite dishes, so good that we had to be careful with our precious belly real estate and not fill up on items not deserving of the space.
Lumpiang shanghai, lechon kawali, fried tilapia.