By Sol Vanzi Timpla't Sikkim
FILIPINO CUISINE ROCKS!  
Chef Edwin Santos’ buffet spread at Taal Vista Hotel shows why the world should celebrate Filipino food.

Chef Edwin Santos’ buffet spread at Taal Vista Hotel shows why the world should celebrate Filipino food. Inside every Filipino is a foodie who prefers native dishes and laments at the way our own cuisine has been left behind in the world of culinary ratings, international TV shows, and food publications that continue to toast the colorful street food of Singapore, the exotic diversity of Penang, the folksy salads of the Mekong Delta, and the ethnic spices of Jakarta. Some critics blame the drab appearance of our thick brown stews, the boring uniformity of our Spanish-inherited meat-and-potato hashes, and the devil-may-care manner by which we dump large amounts of food on serving dishes for family-style dining.

To counter these, some young chefs today overreact by going fusion, adding flowers and tiny leaves, painting sauces on plates, and sprinkling whole spices on dishes. While a few attempts succeed, many of these desperate efforts fall flat and get dismissed as follies of the young and restless. Leading Light ---Leading the movement for recognition of native cuisine is Taal Vista Hotel’s “Culinary Gems: A Festival of Filipino Flavors,” which presented buffet-style lunch and dinner on select weekends until Nov. 23 at its Café Veranda restaurant. More than 40 dishes, from appetizers to desserts, are served in ways that make every diner linger for photographs to inspire and guide them when presenting similar delights at home. * CONTINUE READING...

TIMPLA't TIKIM --July 23, 2014 with CHEF EDWIN SANTOS: Tuba X molasses The flavors, tastes, and history of Filipino-American food fusion

In the hands of young, formally trained chefs, the term “fusion” often means food combinations that are picture perfect but too unfamiliar, with flavor combinations that do not naturally match. Such is not the case with Taal Vista Hotel chef Edwin Santos, whose kitchen history began literally at the bottom of the ranks before he rose to become executive chef of five-star hotels in the Philippines and overseas. * CONTINUE READING, AGAIN...


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Filipino cuisine rocks

MANILA, NOVEMBER 3, 2014 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Sol Vanzi -


Chef Edwin at the Carving Station -SOURCE: OUTOFTOWNBLOG.COM

Chef Edwin Santos’ buffet spread at Taal Vista Hotel shows why the world should celebrate Filipino food.

Inside every Filipino is a foodie who prefers native dishes and laments at the way our own cuisine has been left behind in the world of culinary ratings, international TV shows, and food publications that continue to toast the colorful street food of Singapore, the exotic diversity of Penang, the folksy salads of the Mekong Delta, and the ethnic spices of Jakarta.

Some critics blame the drab appearance of our thick brown stews, the boring uniformity of our Spanish-inherited meat-and-potato hashes, and the devil-may-care manner by which we dump large amounts of food on serving dishes for family-style dining.

To counter these, some young chefs today overreact by going fusion, adding flowers and tiny leaves, painting sauces on plates, and sprinkling whole spices on dishes. While a few attempts succeed, many of these desperate efforts fall flat and get dismissed as follies of the young and restless.

Heirloom recipes From left: Valencianang Tagalog, crispy fried kare-kare in creamy peanut sauce, ginataang sitaw at kalabasa sa talangkang bato, tri-colored sweet potato taguntong fritter

Leading Light

Leading the movement for recognition of native cuisine is Taal Vista Hotel’s “Culinary Gems: A Festival of Filipino Flavors,” which presented buffet-style lunch and dinner on select weekends until Nov. 23 at its Café Veranda restaurant. More than 40 dishes, from appetizers to desserts, are served in ways that make every diner linger for photographs to inspire and guide them when presenting similar delights at home.


Litson baboy stuffed with alibangbang leaves


Binalot rice Binalot rice Nothing beats experience

* Luck was with us the day we stopped over Taal Vista Hotel for lunch.

Executive chef Edwin Santos was at his best, immersed in preparing exciting meals, using the freshest produce from the mountains of Cavite, the plains of Laguna, and the waters of Batangas.

Chef Edwin dug deep into the recesses of his memory for recipes learned while growing up with his grandmother in Bulacan. He innovated and improved them with the addition of distilled and brewed spirits like lambanog, tuba, barako coffee, and rum.

He added leaves from forest trees like alibangbang and saha ng saging (bark of the banana trunk).

Recalling decades of experience in leading international hotels and resorts, Edwin encased atchara in aspic, served tinapa pate’ with glazed mango on mille feuile, smoked grated fresh coconut to highlight pomelo salad, and flaked crisp adobo to wrap in iceberg lettuce. The day’s 15 appetizers were each a work of art in appearance and flavor.

My fave was paper-thin beef marinated in barako coffee and wrapped around kesong puti from Laguna.


Crème brulee de Aguinaldo

All Wrapped Up

Improving on the traditional banana leaf wrap for grilled fish, Edwin resorted to saha, the bark of banana trunk. “When grilling a five-kilo fish with thick flesh like bisugo, talakitok, and lapu-lapu, banana leaves are impractical as they burn before the interior of the fish is fully cooked. When that happens, half the fish is charred and goes to waste,” explain the chef.

True enough, the giant, grilled bisugo (stuffed with tomatoes, ginger, onions, and herbs and bathed in wine) came out oozing with natural juices, its skin bearing little evidence of the two-hour session over charcoal. My reward for waiting in line was the best part of the fish: the cheeks!

Toward the end of the meal, we had our fill of native desserts including halo-halo and a chocolate fountain with fresh fruits, which we downed with Cavite coffee.

Filipino food rocks!

REWIND TO SOL VANZI's 'TIMPLA'T TIKIM - JULY 23, 2014

CHEF EDWIN SANTOS: Tuba X molasses The flavors, tastes, and history of Filipino-American food fusion by Sol Vanzi July 3, 2014 Share this:

In the hands of young, formally trained chefs, the term “fusion” often means food combinations that are picture perfect but too unfamiliar, with flavor combinations that do not naturally match.

Such is not the case with Taal Vista Hotel chef Edwin Santos, whose kitchen history began literally at the bottom of the ranks before he rose to become executive chef of five-star hotels in the Philippines and overseas.


TIES THAT BIND Taal Vista Hotel chef Edwin Santos whips up fusion dishes that meld the cultures of the Philippines and the US. (Images by Rudy Liwanag)

Exclusively for this column, Chef Edwin designed and prepared a dinner menu ,which incorporates dishes from the Philippines and the United States.

He was inspired by Philippine history and fond memories of hometown specialties while growing up in San Rafael, an agricultural town in Bulacan.

Twice-wrapped tinuktok -- “The appetizer, tinuktok strudel, takes off from simple barrio fare which wraps freshwater shrimps, fish, and pure coconut cream in pechay leaves before simmering in more coconut milk until a thick gravy is formed,” Chef Edwin explains.

To transform the original dish, each cooked bundle is encased in several layers of buttered filo dough and baked until crisp, much like strudel.

Thick tinuktok gravy, dotted with sliced green and red chilis and whole peppercorns, is served on the side.


Adobo sa tubo

This dish honors the first batch of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) composed of 15 Ilocano peasants who arrived in Hawaii in 1906 to work as sugar cane planters and cutters.

They were called “kalai ko,” a Hawaiian phrase for cane cutters.

Adobo, the most popular Filipino dish, is lightly sweetened by the juices of fresh sugar cane pieces simmered with pork and chicken.

There’s a pleasant, unmistakable flavor of caramel and molasses balancing the vinegar made from tuba, the briefly fermented sap of coconut blossoms.

Adobo sa tubo -- Adobo sa tubo Indang Lechon Roulade A take-off from stuffed pork roast, which is traditionally served all over the United States during Christmas and Thanksgiving family reunions. Deboned, skin-on whole pork belly (liempo) is marinated in fish sauce, chopped garlic, salt, peppercorns, and alibangbang leaves.

The marinade is stuffed into the pork, which is rolled and tied with butcher’s string and roasted for three hours, all the while being basted with buko juice for sheen and a crisp skin.

Banana Que A la Mode -- Ripe cooking bananas are fried in hot oil with caramelized sugar, then served atop apple compote and guava ice cream. The compote, sprinkled with raisins plumped in rum, is redolent of cinnamon and nutmeg just like apple pie filling.


SOL JOSE VANZI'S CORNER
LIFESTYLE COLUMNIST OF THE MANILA DAILY BULLETIN & PANORAMA
'TIMPLA'T TIKIM'


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