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A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

1 Comment 28 January 2010

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS

By Vicky Rose Pacheco

Sometime last year I got a small notebook where I started jotting down a few of my favorite things – from food and cooking ingredients to restaurants and stores.

Mama Sita Premium Vinegar – aged cane vinegar that is somewhat darker in color. I use it as a “sawsawan” for fried bangus, fired tuyo, inihaw na bangus, inihaw na baboy, lumpiang prito. If it’s a vinegar dipping sauce that I need, it’s definitely this one. My favorite part is drinking it after everything has been dipped into it!

Don Felipe Sukang Tuba (0917-899-5625) and Sukang Paombong (along the national highway in Bulacan) – these ones I use for cooking and marinating: paksiw na isda o pata , adobo, inihaw na baboy, etc. Recently, I made Hito sa Luyang Dilaw for Sentro using sukang paombong and native garlic, and I had it tested by the managers and the staff. Super sarap! It was so good that rice should have been spooned onto the platter and mixed with all the sauce and the garlic. In our lingo at home, my dad would have said, “Ilabay mo yung kanin sa sabaw!”

Balsamic Vinegar – my all-time favorite for salad dressing. When it comes to salad dressing, I really have a one-track mind. I will always prepare a balsamic vinaigrette over a mayonnaise-based dressing.

Bagac Cashew – unsalted roasted casuy from Bagac, Bataan. What I like about it is that it’s not itchy on the tongue and has a naturally sweetish taste. It is very addictive and I can munch on it forever any time of day. Mang Fraxi (0918-656-2048) is the one who brings it to Manila and sells it at the Sidcor market at Lung Center parking lot every Sunday and at the Salcedo Market in Makati every Saturday. He also sells tuyo and tinapang banak from Balanga, Bataan – the best …because they’re not that salty.

Pistacchio Sans Rival – by Jill Sandique (721-7022) It is ethereally airy, crisp, buttery and flavorful. It is so easy to consume three big slices even after a heavy meal – which is what I actually did. Ms. Sandique’s shop is off Bonny Serrano Ave., in San Juan, Metro Manila.

Orange Cake – by Bellini’s (913-2650), a quaint Italian restaurant at the Marikina Shoe Expo in Cubao, Quezon City. It is a buttery cake topped to overflowing with sugared orange peel swirls. No, don’t write off the orange flavor just yet! It’s a great flavor combination – a very wonderful surprise, definitely not run-of-the-mill and will be appreciated by gourmets and non-gourmets alike.

Sans Rival Cake – by Mallorca Pasteleria (18 Scout Fuentebella, Quezon City; 373-2789). There are sans rival and there are sans rival but this one reminds you why it was invented in the first place! I discovered it only recently when someone gave it to my dad as a gift. We couldn’t stop eating it! It was very crisp, very buttery, nutty and had the right balance of icing to meringue. I ate it for breakfast and again when I got home at 11:00 pm.

Bibingkang Pinipig – by San Vicente D’ Rice Specialist (Pelmoka St., Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija; 0917-574-5930). I am not usually fond of kakanin but I had to copy the entire label on the box of this one. Someone gifted it to my mom who is the kakanin-lover. It is so good! Not too sweet, not heavy, just the right stickiness and even if it’s green, you don’t feel the color.

Pancit Malabon – by Aling Idang (116 Katipunan Road, White Plains, Quezon City; 911-6756) My favorite Pancit Malabon for take out is just a phone call away. Their “pancit sa bilao” ranges from 2 to 30 persons at very reasonable prices. I like it because it’s consistent, the shrimp flavor is full and it’s not “pancit na pancit lang”. Aling Idang also serves a whole range of Filipino food that is clean “lutong bahay” and very good.

Parmiggiano Reggiano – my most favorite cheese in the world which I can eat non-stop but will not do so, due to cholesterol. Because I like this cheese so much, I had planned on going to Parma, Italy twelve years ago to eat at the source. However, I only got to Bologna and seeing the columns of Parmiggiano Reggiano made me giddy and excited such that I didn’t have to go to Parma at all!

Cocolicious OrganicVirgin Coconut Oil – by Organix Solutions, Inc. (www.cocobody.com) is proudly produced in Cotabato province. It is not greasy, has no after-taste, is odorless and is very smooth to the skin. It is great for massage and as a moisturizer but I also use it daily for oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient tradition of cleansing done by taking in about 2 tablespoons of oil in the mouth and swirling it inside for 15 minutes then spitting it out. Because it cleans the bacteria in the mouth, the entry point of most bacteria in the body, one of its benefits is helping clear the nostrils. I’ve always had allergic rhinitis and used to have headaches weekly such that I always wakeup with a clogged nose wherever I am. Now, my headaches are few and far between. It also cleans the bacteria in the mouth so it’s good for people with un-fresh breath.

Macao Chorizo – It is thick, reddish orange and the taste is meaty with a dash of sweet and it’s not from Macau. The skin caramelizes in certain parts as it cooks. I really don’t know how it got its name but it’s made in the Philippines by Dayrit’s. It is really one of my favorite sausages. I can eat it anytime, anywhere and I dip it in Mama Sita Premium Vinegar. It is best eaten with plain rice. Of course, I drink the suka after. Super sarap!

Tuyo from Balanga, Bataan – They always say that the tuyo from Balanga is the best because it’s not too salty… and it is true. In our house, every time we eat tuyo we ask where it comes from. We are quite particular with our tuyo and tinapa. Of course, when there is sinangag and fried egg, that’s the best! I discovered a man called Sergs (+63905-333-5383) in the Sidcor Sunday market whose only goods are tinapang bangus, tinapang tilapia, tinapang banak and tuyo from Balanga, Bataan. What a boon! Now we don’t have to search far and wide for someone to buy these for us in Balanga.

UniMart – This supermarket in Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan, Metro Manila is my favorite place to do groceries. I’ve been going there since I was in high school back in the ‘80’s and even if we are now living in Quezon City, I still go there for my personal groceries. Actually, my mom goes there every other day. I like the wide variety of brands and finds, the wide aisles, the homey feel and, most of all, it’s always cheaper in UniMart. I only go to Hypermart or Shopwise in cases of emergency. Whenever I need inspiration for a new menu, UniMart is one of the places I go to. Nothing beats UniMart. Is it childhood nostalgia or practicality? It’s both.

Santi’s Delicatessen – This is another place which inspires. It is so hard to go to Santi’s on a budget because everything I see I want to buy. Before, I used to go to Santi’s at Annapolis Street, Greenhills, San Juan. But then I moved to the one nearest our place which is the Santi’s in Temple Hills, behind Corinthian Gardens in Quezon City. I always have to stop myself from buying cheeses, Swiss cookies, freshly-baked blueberry muffins, pate of foie gras, whole grain mustard, that sturdy and thick chopping board, strainer, grater, Italian pasta, and many more gourmet items and knick knacks which could be expensive. Sometimes they even have roast rib eye and cold sandwiches to go. The trick when visiting Santi’s is to bring a list and be focused on that list.

Nora Daza Cookbook – For me, this is the quintessential Filipino cookbook. It is so reliable, it is a storehouse of very good and well-tested recipes, a definite must-have. I always refer to it when I want to go back to the basics. I think every Pinoy housewife and well-meaning kusinera should have one. Not only does it contain Filipino food but classic Spanish and French dishes which have been part of the Pinoy culture over the years like French onion soup, sans rival, callos, etc. We have a first edition hard-bound tattered copy in our kitchen drawer which we use up to this day. I think it’s more than forty years old. That’s how indispensable it is.

Patis and Bagoong of Aling Rosa – We are very particular about our patis and bagoong. We don’t like it when the patis smells and is malansa. The patis of Aling Rosa, who hails from Navotas, is pure and premium because it is “unang tulo”, meaning from the first extraction. That means too that there are no salt and water additives. It does not stink and does not have the fishy smell. The bagoong she has is the alamang type and it is one of her relatives who make it. It is not too salty, it is not malansa, it is not overly sweetish nor is it too red or too brown. This is the type of bagoong that can upgrade a not-so-good Kare-Kare.

Valrhona Chocolate – This French chocolate, which is hard to find in Manila, is my favorite chocolate – the darker, the better. I use it for the desserts in Chateau. I never quite liked Belgian chocolate- not enough character. Swiss and German chocolates lack oomph. I don’t look at the others anymore but, I can never resist a Cadbury Fruit & Nut and it’s not even dark – that’s the only exemption. Of late, however, I made astounding discoveries: Lucullus Dark Chocolate in Hong Kong (the store is of the same name and  is in Central, across Yung Kee Restaurant), Soma Chocolatier at Mill St. in Toronto, Canada (they specialize in truffles some of which contain balsamic vinegar, olive oil and one flavored with bergamot – awesome!), Joel Durand Chocolatier in Saint-Remy-de-Provence (melt-in-your mouth alphabet chocolate truffles), and Royce Chocolate from Japan which is now available in Manila in Greenbelt 5 and Rockwell. However, what stands in my memory as the best were the champagne chocolate truffles of Maison du Chocolat in Paris which are made with Valrhona chocolate. They were oh-so-smooth, no sour aftertaste, but solid, full-bodied and truly exquisite. Halata bang chocoholic?

Fresh Flowers – I am a sucker for fresh flowers. Every time I see fresh flowers, especially when traveling, I feel elated to see such beauty, such color, such freshness and such fragility. Color combinations which will never work on paper or an outfit always work beautifully well in one single flower. Isn’t God amazing? If it were not so costly and far, I would go to Dangwa in Sampaloc more often. I am always in search of the unique ones and I always interview the vendors. I love arranging flowers!

(The author is the COO & Executive Chef of the Chateau 1771 Group of Restaurants. The Chateau Group (www.chateaugroup.com) includes Chateau 1771 (European No Borders) in Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati City; Sidebar in El Pueblo, Ortigas Center, Pasig City; Sentro 1771 (Modern Filipino) in Greenbelt 3, Ayala Center, Makati City; and Portico 1771 (Oriental Bistro) in Serendra, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Contact her at vickypacheco@hotmail.com.)

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1 comment

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