|Chef Alfonso Rafael "AR" Jose |
April is Philippine Food Month and this is a perfect time to head south and check out Quezon province’s famous delicacies. To showcase its cuisine, members of print and online media were invited to the Makulay na Pamana ng Quezon Kulinarya, an event organized by the Tourism Organization of Quezon Province (TOQPPI), Philippines Inc., led by its president Chef Alfonso Rafael "AR" Jose Ranido, as part of the Flavors of the Philippines 2017, a month-long (March to April 2017) gastronomic celebration hosted by the Department of Tourism as the local component of Madrid Fusion Manila. This event will showcase the ingenuity and abilities of Quezonian in the hospitality and food service industry as well as learn from the experts in the field.
|Media group at Quezon's Best Niyogan Pasalubong and Coffee Shop|
|Lito and Maureen Pasciolco|
After a 2.5-hour drive from Manila, we had our first taste of Quezon cuisine at the roadside Quezon's Best Niyogan Pasalubong and Coffee Shop in Tiaong where the down-to-earth and hospitable owners Lito and Maureen Pasciolco welcomed us with a hearty breakfast of pan de sal, coconut jam (a best seller varieties with pineapple, chocolate and salted caramel), macaroons, ginatang mungo and bilo-bilo, pancit habhab and fresh mangoes and suman. These we downed with coffee, fresh buko, or sweetened tuba. Opened in 1993, this coconut products store sells export-quality nata de coco, virgin coconut oil, and coconut vinegar to name a few.
|Verna Esmeralda Buensuceso|
The grand launch of the Flavors of the Philippines was held at the Atrium of SM Lucena where local tourism officials welcomed us. The Master of Ceremony was Mr. Ramoncito "Monching" Leynes. Welcome messages were delivered by the SM City Lucena Mall Manager Ms. Maricel Alquiros, and the TOQPPI 2016 - 2018 president AR Jose Ranido, follow by the opening remarks by Event Chairman Mr. Niño V. Magararo (Operations Manager of Rainsummer Travel and Tours).
|Jota Gumaqueña performed by Gumaca National High School Dance Troupe|
|Sinantolan at Sugpo|
Also present during the grand launching were Ms. Verna Esmeralda Buensuceso (DOT Director for Market Development) and Ms. Rebecca Villanueva-Labit (DOT Region IV-A Director) who both spoke on the emergence of Filipino culinary tourism as an important segment that has developed into an emerging international trend. During the intermission, a dance number was provided by the beautifully costumed Gumaca National High School Dance Troupe who performed the "Jota Gumaqueña."
|Tagayan ritual presented by Mrs. Tina Decal (at left)|
A tagayan (drinking ritual to welcome guests), featuring Quezon's lambanog, presented by Mrs. Maria Cristina "Tina" Diasanta-Decal (who operates Kulinarya Tagala, a food and culture tour of southern Tagalog) ended the celebration. Closing remarks were delivered by Quezon Kulinarya Vice-Chairman Jean de Guzman (Senoritas Mexinoy Kitchen) A delicious lunch was prepared by Mrs. Milada Dealo-Valde of Koffee Klatch Bakeshop and Cookies and La Donna Anna Restaurant and Catering Services of Lucban, Quezon. After lunch, a press conference was held.
|Press Conference: L-R: Ms. Marissa Nallan, Dir. Verna Buensuceso, Dir. Rebecca Labit, Ms. Carmen Marasigan, Ms. Cristina Decal, Chef Cornelio "Cocoy" Ventura (Villa Escudero executive chef), Mr. Nino Magararo |
and Chef AR Jose Ranido
|Matamis na alang-ang na cassava|
Also held during the launch were experiential and interactive cooking demos, by Quezon chefs (Chef Vincent "Vino" Veluz of Buddy's Restaurant; Maria Luisa "Malou" Martinez of F & M Restaurant; Ma. Carmen "Chuchay" Marasigan of Luisa & Daughter, Cynthia "Chi" Eleazar of Halina Hotel; Irvin Jae S. Wagan of Laksa Restaurant; Milada Valde of ADV/Koffee Klatch; and Agnes A. Luna of Samkara Restaurant & Garden Resort ), of simple and straightforward heirloom recipes and heritage Quezon cuisine handed down from generation to generation.
|Ms. Malou Martinez demonstrates how to make alang-ang|
They include pansit buko (noodles, made of buko strips, sautéed with fresh vegetables); adobo sa puti (simmered in local sukang niyog); bingangi (grilled shrimp topped with sinantolan, grated santol simmered in rich coconut milk); minanok consomme (a soup dish using beef instead of chicken, mixed with garlic, onions and mustard leaves) and hardinera (their version of embutido).
|Gourmet tuyo and tinapa, suka, alabing, banana loaf and sampinit jam|
Appetizers prepared include minukmok, kaliblib galletas (mashed boiled cassava mixed with salt and sugar), Dona Aurora with latik (grounded glutinous rice in caramelized sugar) and bikang dulong (small fish fritters). Generous servings of bukayo (caramelized coconut strips); tinutong ng monggo (sticky rice cooked in coconut milk mixed crushed broiled beans); puto bao; and saging na niyupak (boiled bananas peeled and mashed with sugar, grated coconut and margarine) were served to guests.
|Ouan's Worth Farm Resort|
|The resort's swimming pool|
After the launch, we were checked in at Ouan’s Worth Farm where, prior to dinner, we were shown around the family museum by no less than retired PNP Chief (during the Ramos administration) Director-General Recaredo A. Sarmiento (PMA Class 1966), who is from Buenavista in Marinduque. The 3-hectare resort farm also offers a lot of activities such as picnicking, swimming, wall climbing, rappelling and zip lining.
|Retired Gen. Recaredo Sarmiento|
Dinner that night was to be al fresco at the Halina Z Compound along Red V Road where we experienced Quezon’s Mercato dining. Here we feasted on local Quezon cuisine as well as familiar grilled favorites coming from 17 different stalls. The next day, after breakfast at Ouan’s Grandma’s Kitchen, we were driven to Verdana Farm in Brgy. Balubal within the nearby town of Sariaya.
|Mercato dining at Halina Z Compound|
Here, we were to have an encargado lunch, an authentic farm dining experience with roots from the Spanish Colonial era, with Mt. Banahaw as our backdrop. The encargado (or katiwala) were the people who looked after the affluent middle-class’ plantations.
|Ginangang tambakol sa kamias|
|Inadobong baboy sa sukang niyog|
The dishes were cooked and presented by TOQPPI pillars Mrs. Chuchay Marasigan, Mrs. Chi Eleazar, Mrs. Malou Martinez (Vice-President of TOQPPI) and Mrs. Tina Diasanta-Decal; followed the theme of the event – Pamana (Heritage). They were assisted by Chef AR Jose Ranido and committee members Irvin Jae S. Wagan, Jean de Guzman, Niño Magararo and Maria Luisa "Mariz" C. Villabroza (of Myles Travel and Tours).
|Inihaw na sugpo stuffed with sinantolan thermidor|
Several of the locally-made dishes served to us mostly used coconut as its key ingredient - inadobong baboy sa sukang niyog and adobong manok sa gata.
Other dishes include inihaw na sugpo stuffed with sinantolan thermidor; ginangang tambakol sa kamias; minanok consommé and bulanglang na gulay with bagoong isda. These we partook of using our hands (kamayan) on plates fashioned out of the trunk of banana trees.
|Ingredients and tools for making |
After lunch, we witnessed how buri (or buli) is made into threads as well as how local delicacies such as the sticky an sweet kalamay (a family staple every Christmas, it is a mixture of glutinous rice flour, coconut milk and muscovado brown sugar, steamed until set and of chewy consistency), pinais (a dish made out of prawns, pork and coconut meat, wrapped in banana leaf then cooked in coconut milk) and minukmok (made from a variety of banana called saba). Long ago, before the age of the "texting,” young men can get a chance to spend time with the women they were courting when protective parents of the girl ask them to make minukmok using the traditional large mortar and pestle.
Prior to our departure for Manila, we dropped by the Rodriguez House (also called Villa Sariaya), a luxurious ancestral home owned by former Mayor Catalino Rodriguez (the town’s presidente during the American Occupation). On May 14, 2008, it was declared by the National Historical Institute as one of the three Heritage Houses of Sariaya. Now transformed into a museum, here we did photo shoots wearing Commonwealth Era period attire for - Filipiniana costumes for the ladies and priestly garb for the guys.
|The author (left) and media colleague Randy Valiente dressed up as priests|
Quezon's Best Niyogan Pasalubong and Coffee Shop: 1358 Capistrano St. Lusacan 4325 Tiaong, Quezon. Tel: (042) 545-6173. Email:: firstname.lastname@example.org.