Monday, May 6, 2013

Chef Pauline Banusing cooks a delicious Ilonggo buffet, including a very tasty kansi, at the Mandarin Oriental's Paseo Uno this week

Flavors of the Visayas at the Mandarin Oriental Manila

Today I went over the Mandarin Oriental Manila’s Paseo Uno to sample the cooking of Iloilo celebrity chef Pauline Gorriceta-Banusing, who opened her Flavors of Visayas food festival today.

The Ilonggo food festival runs for the rest of the week until May 12, so if you want to have some authentic Ilonggo cooking, head over as soon as possible to the Mandarin Oriental Manila.

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SO GOOD AND YET SO BAD FOR YOU

Chef Pauline prepared many simply delicious Ilonggo favorites – and frankly, a lot of it is so good and yet so bad for you.



At the top of the killer list of Ilonggo favorites is her version of Kansi. This is more formally listed in Pauline's menu as Kansi nab aka kag lanit-lanit.

Kansi is actually a soup dish full of beef short ribs and tendon, and the slightly tangy soup is orange in coloring, so I think she’s added annatto to this.

This kansi made my day.

I had it piping hot and I ate it with bagoong rice. I swear I didn’t talk to my seatmates for several minutes as I focused entirely on enjoying this dish -- especially as it’s so hard to get in good form outside of Iloilo.



MEMORIES OF AN EXCELLENT KANSI

In fact, the last time I had kansi was when Chef Pauline last cooked it at the Mandarin Oriental about a year ago.

I knew this would make everything in my life shoot up: happiness factor, make-my-day factor, and of course also calories count and cholesterol count.

You name it, it tripled at lunch today.

 But this was one of those lunches where I just had to say: “Life’s too short not to have two servings of kansi over hot rice.



My favorite kansi....
CRAZY OVER OYSTERS

I also liked the Roxas oysters, of course, as I have a soft heart for oysters.

I eat them everywhere I go in the world so I can compare the tastes. Roxas oysters are incredibly juicy and tasty.

And, of course, I couldn't not have the chicken inasal, which is a Visayan specialty. The one at Paseo Uno is made with Chef Pauline's special basting sauce.

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CRABS KILLED THE CONVERSATION

The other killer on my list is the alimango na may ginisa na guinamos. This translates as Capiz crabs deep-fried and then mixed with Visayan bagoon or shrimp paste.

This was another conversation stopper, by the way.

I completely shut out the world as I tried to focus on taking the meat out of the crab shells. And the bagoong sauce that went with it was simply perfect.



In fact, it was so good that I went back again just to get some more of that bagoong sauce. It went so well with the rice.

One of my lunchmates today was actually from Iloilo, and he said that the fresh lumpiang ubod that Pauline served was one of the best he’d ever had.

I’m taking his word for it, although I didn’t have any, as I was concentrating more on the cholesterol buster-dishes.



STORIES ABOUT TRAVEL AND LIFE.
AND MY NEVER-ENDINGLY EVENTFUL TRAVELIFE.

Over lunch, we talked Travel and Life, of course.

Lots of people had read my articles in Travelife Magazine, the leading travel and lifestyle publication, and confessed to being fascinated by my never-endingly eventful Travelife.



A PAPER CLIP CHOSE FLORENCE

“I still remember what you wrote, about throwing a paper clip across a map and vowing to go wherever it landed,” one lady said.

She was referring to a past column in Travelife Magazine wherein I wrote how a paper clip had determined a trip to Florence.



THE DIFFICULTIES OF FINDING A PLACE 
WE'D BOTH NEVER BEEN TO

Someone else said: “I was so amused by the idea of two people trying to decide where to go in a Travelife, and finding it so hard to find a place they’d both never been to.”

He was referring to an entry in this blog about my trip to South Africa with a friend last November. In deciding a destination to visit on a trip together, we'd agreed to find a place neither of us had been to yet.

This was way harder than it looked. 

Travelife, on a beautiful morning in Johannesburg

Both of us had covered most of Europe, and we’d even both been to places as exotic as Sevastopol and Odessa. Amazingly, in spite of being two rather peripatetic globetrotters, neither of us had ever been to South Africa or on a safari.

And now we’re completely hooked on safaris, by the way.



INDIA, WITH LOTS OF FAITH

I regaled everyone, too, with some stories of India.

Someone who’d been following my India stories on the blog said our trip seemed absolutely amazing.

Read more about India in our next issue, by the way...

Afternoon tea at one of India's most beautiful palace hotels....

It really was an amazing trip.

Then I confessed: “I felt morally obligated to plan a really nice trip.” Everyone then looked at me questioningly, so I had to explain.

This friend who’d come along, you see, had said yes to my suggestion of a trip to India pretty quickly and he'd bought a business class ticket to India almost without question. Then he’d left the planning to me, basically being okay with anything.

Sunset in Mumbai on our last day in India, living a Travelife

To top it off, he hadn’t been enthusiastic at all about the places we were visiting at the outset, but he'd come along with me anyway.

I’d seen him twice in the week we were going to India, and each time I'd seen him at some event, he’d actually said to me: “I still can’t get enthusiastic about these places we're going to.”

Talk about a good sport. So, of course, I made sure we planned a great Travelife and had a wonderful time.

PAULINE'S FAMOUS YEMA CAKE

Remains of a yema cake...

To end this delicious and very enjoyable meal today, I had a huge slice of Pauline's famous yema cake and one piyaya.

The yema cake was a big hit, especially among those with a sweet tooth.

THE BEST PIYAYA IN MANILA



But the revelation of the day was Pauline's piyaya. I took one bite and I was completely hooked.

To think I'm not even a piyaya person. But this piyaya is freshly made and freshly heated, so it's neither flaky nor dry inside.



I almost exclaimed: "This is so unlike the piyaya you find at the airports!"

It was so good I had five servings. And then, for my own good, I had to reluctantly stop the cholesterol and carbs midway and get back to work.

Otherwise my never-endingly eventful Travelife might instead just be a very short and eventful one.

FLAVORS OF THE VISAYAS
Paseo Uno of the Mandarin Oriental Manila
May 6 - 12, 2013

www.mandarinoriental.com




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