Friday, May 25, 2012

Ilonggo food at the Mandarin Oriental

I returned to Manila in time to attend a few events, including the finals of Ms. Philippines Earth. Yes, I'm one of the judges for the grand finals of Ms. Philippines Earth this Sunday. And today, my first event back in town was the National Day of Argentina, which was held at lunch and attended by a phalanx of important people. Here I bumped into the Ambassador of Indonesia who happens to be a fellow judge for the Ms. Philippines Earth finals.

We discussed the contest -- which is a black tie/ long gown event -- and I ended up saying: "Somehow, Ambassador, I think you're going to enjoy this judging experience more than I will."

I also bumped into the Ambassador of Panama who has been very busy with a case that recently made the headlines. It was the first time that I'd seen him since the incident as I'd been away when everything happened, and he gave me a behind-the-scenes account of it. I wish I could write about it but, of course, I can't.


Chef Pauline

And today, I took an hour or two from a pretty busy day to head over to the Mandarin Oriental to have lunch with general manager Mark Bradford, director Charisse Chuidian and other top executives on the first day of the Mandarin's Ilonggo buffet at Paseo Uno. Entitled "Diwal and Other Ilonggo Flavors," the lavish native buffet is being overseen by Chef Pauline Gorriceta-Banusing, one of Iloilo's most famous chefs and culinary ambassadors.

Chef Pauline studied at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York and Institute of Culinary Education (Peter Kump's New York). She now runs some of the best restaurants in Iloilo including the Al Dente Ristorante Italiano, 101 Luna Steak Room, Freska Ilonggo Seafood, Maki Japanese Restaurant, Brewery and Steps of Rome. She also runs a catering service called Al Dente Catering Services.


Adobado na alimusan

The buffet had all of Iloilo's famous specialties including grilled mangat (mangrove jack), kansi (a deadly pork stew), chicken tinum (steamed chicken cooked in banana leaves), uhong na may data (oyster mushrooms from San Miguel Iloilo with coconut cream and grilled pork), adobado na alimusan (cultured mudfish from Guimaras in a sauce of annatto), kinilawin na tanigue na may tuba (slices of tanigue fish marinated in a special native vinegar from the mountains of Leon, Iloilo) and lukon na may aligue (fresh prawns from Roxas City with crab fat sauce).

Grilled diwal

Of course, the highlights were Iloilo's famous seafood offerings like the diwal and also talaba -- in this case, plump and large oysters from Aklan.

That's the kansi in the back
and batchoy noodles in front

Everything was incredibly good, and my particular favorite was the kansi, the adobado na alimusan and the lukon na may aligue. Wow. They were so good that I think I had three servings of each, plus two servings of batchoy -- prompting the two prominent ladies on my right to exclaim: "Wow, I love this girl's appetite."

Beef kansi

The guy to my right -- someone I'd traveled with to Dubai actually -- basically said the same thing. He said: "Wow, you can eat."

I reasoned: "It's so hard to get real batchoy in Manila so I just had to take advantage."

Make sure you do the same because Ilonggo food is so good, and it's not often that the real thing -- cooked by one of Iloilo's top chefs -- makes it to Manila. Manamit!

May 25 to June 3, 2012
Mandarin Oriental Manila
Paseo Uno

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Visayan egg noodle soup with sliced meats

Kilawin na Tanigue sa tuba with Guimaras mangoes
Fresh fish cubes marinated in native vinegar


Aligue rice
Fried rice with crab fat

Ilonggo anchovies 
cooked in vinegar, tomatoes and garlic

Chicken binakol
Chicken soup cooked in coconut juice
and served with coconut meat

Adobado na Alimusan
Local mudfish in coconut milk and annatto oil

Lukon na may aligue
Prawns from Roxas City with sautéed crab fat

Ginisang uhong na may kadios kag sinugba na baboy
Cultured local mushrooms from Iloilo 
with coconut cream and grilled pork belly

Inihaw na talong na may gata
Grilled eggplant with ground beef, bell peppers and chili

Kadios, baboy kag langka na may batuan
Ilonggo pork stew with jack fruit and black peas

Pinamalhan na pink salmon
Fillet of pink salmon 
simmered in local vinegar, tomatoes, garlic and onions

Beef kansi
Beef flavored with sour fruit and lemongrass

Chicken inasal
Visayan-style grilled chicken
marinated in native vinegar, calamansi and garlic

Singuba na may lukos na may kamatis kag sibuyas
Tender squid stuffed with coriander, tomatoes and onions
on a bed of sautéed morning glory

Crispy crablets
Baby crabs from Negros

Estancia squid flakes
Paper-thin squid flakes from Estancia town, Iloilo

Grilled Managat

Mangrove jack

Blue marlin

Steamed oysters from Aklan
Diwal from Roxas City

Yema Cake
Ube brazo de mercedes
Pavia baye baye
Leche flan na may macapuno
Pastillas de leche


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