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SOL VANZI's  TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE PAGE
FEATURING HER 'TIMPLA'T TIKIM' (Manila Bulletin)
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

MEAL OF A LIFETIME by Sol Vanzi
[
Have a taste of Manila Hotel’s ‘50-course’ lechon degustación]
{Degustación = "tasting" in English}


A whole roasted pig is the penultimate symbol of joyous celebration in many cultures. The methods of preparation, however, differ from country to country, as do the preferred sizes and seasonings.
Spaniards oven-roast a cochinillo (suckling pig) which is so tender, the host or chef traditionally uses a plate to cut the meat. A cochinillo’s meat is so fine-grained and well done that it is spreadable like a pâté. Hawaiians and Pacific islanders prefer mature hogs, which are cooked in a coal-lined pit. Very hot rocks stuffed into the belly cavity cook the pig from the inside. The Chinese are divided between suckling pig and a hefty full-size animal.Whatever the size, Chinese roast pigs are split open before cooking and seasoned heavily with star anise, ginger, soy, and other spices. Splitting the hog shortens cooking time, leaving a crunchy skin with firm layers of fat and juicy meat.  READ MORE...

ALSO Say ‘Mabuhay!’ with lechon: Dedet de la Fuente Santos  by Jullie Yap Daza


And why not? No baptism, fiesta, wedding, anniversary, or victory party is complete without the Philippines’ celebration dish—lechon!
What is it about a roast pig that makes it and the event that it graces so festive, long after the revelers have had their fill? If the answer is an enigma, it might be easier to turn the question around: Which happy occasion dares to happen without lechon on the spit, on the table, on every guest’s plate? Before anyone can research an answer, Dedet dela Fuente Santos, aka the “lechon diva,” has concocted 19 different kinds of stuffing for her famous lechon de leche, the most popular of which include rice stuffed with bagoong, sisig, Chinese sausage and chestnut, and truffles. She makes it a point to keep the lechon under eight to nine kilograms. No problem sourcing the supply, she says, as her suppliers are not restricted by geography. Nor is her lechon under the brand name Pepita’s Kitchen confined to our shores. When Dedet and her team let New Yorkers, Londoners, and Singaporeans have a taste of her speciality on three different occasions last year, they honored her with awards and titles, and paid her the ultimate compliment by lining up for two to three hours! READ MORE...

ALSO ABOUT PEPITA'S KITCHEN: Hayop na Lechon Degustacion!


Pepita's Kitchen is located at Dedet's home in Makati. It can accommodate a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 22 people (with 2 people sitting at the head). HAYOP NA DEGUSTACION is a 12-course Pinoy degustation feast with Pepita's Stuffed Lechon as the highlight. Pepita's Lechon by Dedet was the Overall Winner of Ultimate Taste Test 4, where they were first discovered in 2010.
Foodies always rave about Dedet's creative variations of stuffed lechon (roasted pig). My favorites include the French Lechon with Truffle Stuffing, Lechon with Binagoongan Rice stuffing, Lechon with Laing Rice, and their latest creation, Thanh Long de Leche. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORT HERE:

Meal of a lifetime

PORK MADNESS Clockwise from top: Stuffed lechon, ‘lechon diva’ Dedet Dela Fuente Santos, and Manila Hotel president Atty. Jose Lina

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 7, 2015 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Sol Vanzi, September 3, 2015 - A whole roasted pig is the penultimate symbol of joyous celebration in many cultures. The methods of preparation, however, differ from country to country, as do the preferred sizes and seasonings.

Spaniards oven-roast a cochinillo (suckling pig) which is so tender, the host or chef traditionally uses a plate to cut the meat. A cochinillo’s meat is so fine-grained and well done that it is spreadable like a pâté.

Hawaiians and Pacific islanders prefer mature hogs, which are cooked in a coal-lined pit. Very hot rocks stuffed into the belly cavity cook the pig from the inside.

The Chinese are divided between suckling pig and a hefty full-size animal.

Whatever the size, Chinese roast pigs are split open before cooking and seasoned heavily with star anise, ginger, soy, and other spices. Splitting the hog shortens cooking time, leaving a crunchy skin with firm layers of fat and juicy meat.

READ MORE...

BACLARAN BEGINNINGS

In the old days, there were no lechon stores in the Philippines. People tasted lechon only during fiestas and very special occasions like weddings and lavish birthday parties.

Then came the lechon stalls in Baclaran, around the National Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, where Lydia’s Lechon was born.

Because Filipinos love both the lechon and the Arroz a la valenciana (seafood paella), the legendary Aling Lydia one day decided to merge the two and Lydia’s boneless lechon stuffed with paella was born.

It won first prize in a competition for local chefs and soon, became the top seller at her restaurant.

SOSYAL STUFFINGS

These days, another lady is making big waves with stuffed roast pig.

So famous are her lechons and private 'degustación' dinners that Dedet Dela Fuente Santos is now better known as “The Lechon Diva.”

Participating in her exclusive 'lechon degustación' dinners is considered by many as the highlight of their social activities for the season, if not the entire year.

Her 14-course dinners are displayed, dissected, discussed, and analyzed by countless publications, food bloggers, chefs, and foodies.

Unlike Lydia’s, Dedet’s lechons are not boneless, but that’s no problem, since they are cooked until the meat loses its grains and everything inside the skin is one mushy, delectable, and ultra delicious mix of textures and pork flavor.


Lechon stuffed with garlic noodles!

Here’s a list of some of her stuffings: binagoongan rice, rice with salted egg, garlic and anchovy, laing rice, sisig rice, Bicol express rice, pancit Paranaque (used in the birthday lechon), French with truffles and foie gras, thanh long garlic noodles, and lechon ham.

50-COURSE DEGUSTACIÓN

A Filipino Food Festival, doubling as lechon degustación that humbles any meal ever built around lechon, will be offered at the Café Ilang Ilang of the Manila Hotel for lunch and dinner from Sept.11 to Sept. 27.

At the launch of the promotion, I had the meal of a lifetime while having a bite of everything offered by the Café’s many open kitchens.


Truffle Rice Stuffed De Leche , Sisig Rice Stuffed De Leche , Pinakbet with Sugpo , Sans Rival , and Mango Trifle . Some of the awesome dishes prepared by the Lechon Diva, @pepitaskitchenp Photos from LechonDiva instagram

For starters, I had three oysters: one raw, one with bacon and cheese, and one oysters Rockefeller.

Alimasag with Singapore chili was next followed by a giant tiger prawn, dipped in melted butter and lemon.

Salmon four-ways was next: smoked, sashimi, grilled, and poached.

A quartet of roast meats then followed: lamb, chicken, Chinese duck, and prime rib.

Salads were beautiful creations in collectible spoons. Italian chef Marco Ghini even created Pancit Malabon pizza and adobo pizza for the festival.

Midway through lunch, we went halal and tasted each of the 12 dishes. Thai noodles and steamed fish cakes freshened the palate afterwards.

Later, sushis and sashimis were downed with miso soup. Korean kimchi and other pickles woke up the senses. Chinese dumplings provided variety.

And finally, the desserts: fresh fruits from several continents, ice creams of all flavors, cakes, fondants, and beautiful macarons. Maybe I did have more than 50 courses.


COMFORT FOOD AT ITS FINEST Clockwise from top left: Chicharon chicken skin and isaw; street food like kikiam, squid balls, and chicken; and adobo pizza

Manila Hotel Café Ilang Ilang, 02 527 0011, www.manila-hotel.com.ph .


MANILA BULLETIN

Say ‘Mabuhay!’ with lechon: Dedet de la Fuente Santos  by Jullie Yap Daza June 28, 2015 Share110 Tweet3 Share0 Email0 Share124


Lechon de leche coming up!

And why not? No baptism, fiesta, wedding, anniversary, or victory party is complete without the Philippines’ celebration dish—lechon!

What is it about a roast pig that makes it and the event that it graces so festive, long after the revelers have had their fill?

If the answer is an enigma, it might be easier to turn the question around: Which happy occasion dares to happen without lechon on the spit, on the table, on every guest’s plate?

Before anyone can research an answer, Dedet dela Fuente Santos, aka the “lechon diva,” has concocted 19 different kinds of stuffing for her famous lechon de leche, the most popular of which include rice stuffed with bagoong, sisig, Chinese sausage and chestnut, and truffles.

She makes it a point to keep the lechon under eight to nine kilograms. No problem sourcing the supply, she says, as her suppliers are not restricted by geography.

Nor is her lechon under the brand name Pepita’s Kitchen confined to our shores.

When Dedet and her team let New Yorkers, Londoners, and Singaporeans have a taste of her speciality on three different occasions last year, they honored her with awards and titles, and paid her the ultimate compliment by lining up for two to three hours!

READ MORE...


Dedet dela Fuente Santos. Her kitchen turns out 19 kinds of stuffing for lechon de leche.

[DUE TO BANDWIDTH LIMITATION YOU MAY VIEW ALL PHOTOS IN THIS STORY HERE >>http://www.mb.com.ph/say-mabuhay-with-lechon/ ]

In Singapore, she recalls, “a mini Philippine flag was in each and every serving of lechon—we are always proud to let the world know about our culinary treasures.” On her black chef’s uniform, the map of the Philippines is embroidered in purple, on the chest, while a pin of the flag perches on her collar.

Pepita’s Kitchen, despite the name, is not a restaurant.

It’s a take-out place and a degustacion dining place—private and exclusive—where diners get to dine on nine to 12 courses.

To celebrate Independence Day recently, the best of three Pepita’s Kitchen’s degustacion meals were featured in the Diamond Hotel’s lunch and dinner buffets.

For as Dedet is proud to point out, her kitchen, named after her three daughters, can and does turn out food other than lechon de leche, and even scores high marks for sweets and delicacies.


OUR AWESOMEPLANET.COM

ABOUT PEPITA'S KITCHEN: Hayop na Lechon Degustacion!

11/26/2014 Update: DINNER at TIFFANY'S: 8 Course Lechon Degustacion in Splendour by Pepita's Kitchen

HAYOP NA DEGUSTACION is a 12-course Pinoy degustation feast with Pepita's Stuffed Lechon as the highlight. Pepita's Lechon by Dedet was the Overall Winner of Ultimate Taste Test 4, where they were first discovered in 2010.

Foodies always rave about Dedet's creative variations of stuffed lechon (roasted pig). My favorites include the French Lechon with Truffle Stuffing, Lechon with Binagoongan Rice stuffing, Lechon with Laing Rice, and their latest creation, Thanh Long de Leche.

READ MORE...

In 2012, PEPITA'S KITCHEN launched the Lechon Degustacion, a private dining at the house where the stuffed lechons are prepared and cooked. It has become the best Pinoy-inspired degustation feast in the metro.

Just this September 2013, Dedet introduced the latest edition -- Hayop na Degustacion -- a streamlined version of the original lechon degustation. Together with other food bloggers and some OB Montessori people, we were invited to be the "guinea pigs" for the final taste test of the new degustacion menu.

Please click Here for your Hayop na Degustacion experience at Pepita's Kitchen...

anton signature Founder, www.OurAwesomePlanet.com 
P.S. Don't miss Ultimate Taste Test 11 (or UTT 11 for short) happening for the 3rd time at Rockwell Powerplant Mall this coming Saturday, September 14, from 11am to 9pm.

Check out the participating vendors for this year's UTT! Buy your UTT tickets now!


SOL JOSE VANZI's PHNO PAGE


Photo from Kyle Victor Jose's iPAD -Lifestyle/Food and Arts & Culture columnist of the Manila Daily Bulletin. Signature title "Timpla't Tikim"
http://www.mb.com.ph/lifestyle/


Sol in 1997 Photo: PHNO Editor/Travel & Leisure page
http://www.newsflash.org/staff/solvanzi.htm


Photo of Sol and young Kyle Victor Jose in March 2005 at PHNO/QCNet office in Levitown, Paranaque. Photoshot by Leo Q. Carolino.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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