We started our culinary journey in the Philippines in Manila. To kick off our new adventure we visited a food market where all imaginable sorts of fruits, vegetables, meat and fish were on offer. We met with Gonzalo Miso, a businessman who owns a company that produces salad and he is a great food enthusiast. We bought the ingredients to cook the national dish: Adobo. Everybody has his own interpretation but mostly it’s made with chicken, beef, pork or fish – then cooked with garlic, salt and pepper in a vinegar and soy sauce. It was very interesting to get to see a Filipino house from the inside. The food is always prepared in the so called “dirty kitchen”, and served in the “nice kitchen” next door. Gonzalo told us, that he has eight brothers and sisters and it became tradition to meet every Sunday at a different family members house and make a kind of competition as to whose dinner is the best.
After that our trip took us to the Centre for Asian Culinary Studies. We met with one of the most-established chefs of the country: Gene Gonzalez. He is very passionate about promoting the Filipino food abroad. He publishes books, hosts television shows and passes on his experience to the next generation. We got the chance to film a cooking class where he prepared Kare Kare, an oxtail soup with peanut butter and the grilled fish Lapu-Lapu.
After that he took us to the Farmers Market and we got to discover first hand all the delicious fruits, vegetables and sea food. He was very enthusiastic and bought many things that we had to try. He surprised us in the evening with a Filipino menu.
But if you want to get to the heart of Filipino cuisine you have to travel to the province Pampanga, which is considered the centre of culinary cuisine because of its fertile land but also its geographic location in the middle of the main island of Luzon. If you want to experience something special in the region you have to go to the restaurant Bale Dutung, which means house of wood. It is home to an important ambassador of Filipino cuisine: Claude Tayag. He is not only a chef but also an accomplished artist and writer.
His house is a peaceful oasis of art works and native handicraft. He himself designed the house and built it in the early nineties. He has several kitchens, for our shoot he choose the outdoor one.
Surrounded by his collection he prepared the very classic Pampanga dish Sisig which is made of pig’s ears, snout and cheeks. I have never tried pig ears before and I can say it was very tasty.
A dessert called Tibok-Tibok, which means heartbeat was the highlight. It can be compared to the Italian Panna Cotta. This was the last part we filmed and what a nice ending for a real culinary adventure. I can now claim that I really discovered a new country’s kitchen!