It’s April! It’s Filipino Food Month!

A legacy of the Duterte Administration that we in the food community are grateful for is the declaration of Filipino Food Month.

Since April 13, 2018, when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Presidential Proclamation No. 469, we have been celebrating the month of April as National Filipino Food Month. This has been significant in promoting Filipino food both locally and internationally, bringing an awareness worldwide to what Filipino food is and rejuvenating the love for Filipino flavors here at home, including the desire to preserve our Filipino culinary heritage.

This April, we continue to celebrate National Filipino Food Month or, in Filipino, “Buwan ng Lutong Pilipino”. 

It has now become a collaborative effort led by the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement alongside the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Department of Tourism and the Department of Agriculture.

The theme this year highlights Filipino food as a key to progress and change (“Pagkaing Pilipino, Susi sa Pag-unlad at Pagbabago”).

Chef Jam Melchor, who initiated the Filipino Food Month, explains the theme:  “The way we produce, distribute, choose, consume and preserve food significantly impacts our nation. Future scenarios will change significantly depending on how we relate to food.”

The festivities will start with face-to-face Opening Ceremonies on April 1 at the Metropolitan Theater. The Department of Agriculture will also have its own virtual launching on April 4 via their Facebook page.

One highlight of this year’s Filipino Food Month is a Culinary Cinema series that will showcase short films relating to Filipino food.

There will be screenings of the short films every Friday of the month at 2:00 p.m. via the page of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts while every Friday they will have short film “talkbacks”. There will also be the launch of Culinary Cinema Luzon on April 25; Culinary Cinema Visayas on April 18; and Culinary Cinema Mindanao on April 11. These will all be on the NCCA Facebook page.

Meanwhile the Filipino Food Month page will host “KainCon” sessions (short for ‘eating conference’, i.e. ‘kain’ means ‘to eat’ while ‘con’ is short for ‘conference’). The first session will be on how to grow your own food, to be held on April 7; the second one on preserving Filipino culinary traditions through gastro-diplomacy and tourism, to be held on April 12; the third one on innovations inspired by Filipino food history, to be held on April 14; the fourth one on starting a sustainable business, to be held on April 19; the fifth one on gastronomy as part of the Filipino cultural identity, to be held on April 21; the sixth one on the flavors of Muslim Mindanao, to be held on April 26; and the final one on a global perspective of preserving and promoting Filipino food traditions, to be held on April 28.

Schedule of Activities for the Filipino Food Month in the National Capital Region / Metro Manila

On the part of the Department of Agriculture, they will have a webinar series on High Value Crops (HVC).

This will open on April 11 at 9:00 a.m. via the Facebook page of the Department of Agriculture. They will also host a planting ceremony for inter-cropping of cofffee and cacao in coconut areas. There will be two webinars: one on April 12, tackling diversification in Philippine coconut areas, and another on April 13, on diversification in rice areas.


For those who simply love to eat, there will be a Filipino Food Festival at the Atrium of Shangri-la Plaza from April 22 to 24. For those who love to travel, you can look forward to the 21st World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit – Fun Philippine Finds Pop-Up Store that will be at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay from April 20 to 22.

There will also be many regional events.

One of the highlights would be the Sustainable Diner Series hosted by the Department of Tourism – CALABARZON and the World Wildlife Fund. This will be via Zoom on April 6, 11, 13, 18 and 20. Iloilo stands out as well for their regional activities, with a food art/carving contest at the Robinson’s Main, Iloilo Fountain Area on April 13 and a Farmers’ Cooking Contest on April 14 at the Department of Agriculture lobby in Koronadal. Pampanga will also hold a Filipino Food Month cooking contest at their Department of Agriculture in San Fernando. Pampanga is also hosting an Innovative Food Product Contest in Angeles City. Meanwhile, there will also be several food festivals: Capiz will host a food festival called Food Trip sa Capiz at the Capiz Provincial Park on April 22; Palawan will host Hapag ng Pamana sa Palawan on April 30 at the Cacaoyan Forest Park and Restaurant, which may be viewed on the NCCA Facebook page; in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, you can visit Punsyunan: A Showcase of CALABARZON Cuisine at the Ayala Solenad in Nuvali; and in Cagayan de Oro, there will be a CDO Foodcrawl that those in the rest of the country can follow via the Facebook pages of Cagayan de Oro city.

It is truly an exciting culinary month! What a delicious April this will be! Congratulations in advance to the organizers and all involved. Yes, let us all celebrate Filipino food! Kain na!

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For updates on Filipino Food Month events, follow the Filipino Food Month page: Facebook.com/FilipinoFoodMonthOfficial.

Drink Like Monks and Saints

Margaux Salcedo | Inquirer Business | First Class

It’s October! And that means one thing for F&B connoisseurs and beer lovers: Oktoberfest!
Sadly, Oktoberfest was cancelled again this year. It was first cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. There were high hopes for its return this 2021 but in May it was announced that the 187th Oktoberfest, which should have taken place from September 18 to October 3 on the Theresienwiese in Munich, would also be cancelled.

The organizers explained: “The risk is simply too huge that people here could become infected with the Coronavirus.” They added: “Oktoberfest can only take place completely or not at all. Or, in one Bavarian sentence: ‘So a bissl Wiesn geht ned. (There’s no thing like a little bit of Wiesn.)”
In pre-pandemic Philippines, there would usually be beer festivals at various hotels, bars and pubs all over the metro the entire month of October. Sadly, all that is cancelled as well.

Oktoberfest 2013. Photo: Heribert Pohl | Wikimedia Commons

Beer connoisseurs

But no one is stopping us from drinking at home and celebrating with the people in our bubble or virtually. (For some of us, this is what has kept us sane every day!) So in the spirit of Oktoberfest, let’s make ourselves feel better with some good beer!
The operative word is ‘good’. We are not promoting mindless drinking here but an appreciation for the complexities and nuances of carefully thought out brews.

Strictly speaking, Oktoberfest revolves only around six breweries: Augustiner, Hofbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten. And there are clear specifications on beer quality: The festival beer must have an original gravity of at least 13.6%. The beer must be golden yellow, drinkable and full-bodied; and must have original wort percentage, alcohol content, bitterness and color. The Munich Purity Law of 1487 applies and the water must come from Munich deep wells, which reach into layers of the Tertiary period. Finally, brewing is only allowed in the territory of the city of Munich.


St Francis

In the Philippines, Paulaner is especially appreciated. And here’s some timely trivia as we celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi tomorrow, October 4: Paulaner was named after St Francis of Paola, founder of the mendicant Order of Minims, whose friars of the Neudeck ob der Au cloister established the German brewery in Munich in 1634. St Francis of Paola, meanwhile, was named after St Francis of Assisi, as his parents asked St Francis of Assisi for intercession when they were trying to conceive and also later when he was in danger of losing his eyesight due to an illness.

The young Francis of Paola entered the friary of the Franciscan Order and later went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Assisi, after which he chose to live a life of solitude, living in a secluded cave. Later, in 1436, he was joined by two companions, which led to the foundation of the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, which would eventually become the Order of Minims (O.M.). The Minim friars are known for their humility but also for their ‘fourth vow’: a Lenten way of life, which includes abstinence from meat and other animal products.

Perhaps this vow is what inspired some brothers of the order, i.e., the monks in the Neudeck ob der Au Monastery in Munich two hundred years later, to become creative and make exceptional beer!

Then whatever the monks did not drink, they would give to the poor. In 1634, the city council received complaints from other brewers about competition from the monastery. The date of this letter is considered the first documented evidence of the Paulaner Brewery and used as the founding date of the brewery.

Kozel

Personally, though, with all respect and reverence for St Francis, my personal preference for beer is named after St Michael. I still love our good ol’ San Miguel Pale Pilsen (not Light!), proudly made in the Philippines!

And truth be told, I prefer dark beer over light. The best is still Guinness. And not from the bottle or from the can but draught! Guinness is an Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759.

Since we cannot yet really travel as we used to, there is a good alternative here for dark beer lovers: Kozel. This is brewed in the village of Velké Popovice in the Czech Republic, just outside Prague, exactly where the first batch of Kozel was brewed in 1874. To this day, this beer is brewed the traditional Czech way, with select malts and the aromatic hop Premiant for a complex but well-balanced bitter and sweet taste. This is distributed in the Philippines by Don Revy (visit donrevy.com to order). It’s my favorite!


Whatever beer you choose to drink today, I hope it lifts your spirits! Let’s pray for the end of this pandemic and drink to that!

And as we remember his feast day tomorrow, let’s raise a glass as well to St Francis of Assisi and ask for his intercession to help us through this pandemic. Paulaner cheers! Prost!

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Read as published in the Inquirer here:

Cafe Fleur with #LafangMD

Cafe Fleur by Sau del Rosario, Angeles, Pampanga

Here’s a copy of my column First Class published 21 August 2016, Sunday, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer + more pics 🙂 I wrote about a recent day trip to Pampanga. Went with a few doctors of my dad, whom we met when they were just residents and now they have finished their fellowships!

Margaux Salcedo column, First Class, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sunday Biz
First Class, Philippine Daily Inquirer. Sundays in Inquirer Business

Angeles has changed since the last time I visited.

Pampanga has always been a thriving food hub but next generation Capampangan celebrity chefs have given the Angeles food scene extra flair.

Cafe Fleur

Case in point: Cafe Fleur by Chef Sau del Rosario, a restaurant that is both a tribute to Chef Sau’s Pampango roots while showcasing his growth as a French-trained chef.

The venue is a heritage home and one can easily envision a family from yesteryears making memories in this space.

Chef Sau converted the upstairs into “Babo” (Kapampangan for ’upstairs’) Avante Garde Capampangan cuisine.

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Here the celebrity chef presents his interpretation of traditional recipes.

Tamales, which is usually served wrapped in banana leaves, is here served deconstructed in a shapely glass.

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The well-known Capampangan delicacy (also called Boboto) made with very finely ground rice, coconut milk and various savory toppings like chicken and ham, is presented in a manner befitting a fine dining setting.

Purists are bound to raise an eyebrow but it’s a lovely modern-day expression of a classic comfort dish. (The bread that comes with it is tasty, too, encouraging the diner to treat the tamales like a pate and spread it on the bread.)

Kare-kare, a quintessential Filipino comfort food, is likewise deconstructed and twisted. Kare-kare usually uses oxtail; here Chef Sau uses crispy pork belly and other ingredients that are neatly tucked in a corner of the serving plate.

The rest of the plate is a bed of peanut sauce mixed with macadamia and the irresistible flavor of truffles.

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Other items are more straightforward, such as the lamb kaldereta, okoy and the chicken galantina.

What’s great about the menu, though, is that it shows that through the years, Chef Sau has developed not only recipes but also friendships.

The best item on the menu, for me, is Chef See’s laksa.

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Chef See Cheong Yan is the Culinary Head of Enderun Colleges. He is Malaysian and IMHO makes the best laksa in the Philippines. The problem is that his laksa is only available during rare events. It’s great to see that Chef See has allowed Chef Sau to use his recipe.

Now, if you ever need a laksa fix, as I often do, it’s just a couple of hours away.

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While it will be difficult to resist trying everything on the menu, do leave room for dessert because the desserts here are yummy. Have the pandan sans rival or the jackfruit sans rival and allow yourself to go home stuffed silly.

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Jill Tabora, Martin Licdao, Mary Andy delos Reyes, Goldee Salcedo, Nico Garcia, Margaux Salcedo, Jon Cruz, Pau dela Cruz, Isser Sugay

Cafe Fleur. L-463B Miranda St. Brgy Sto. Rosario, Angeles City. Open Tuesday to Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations recommended especially for lunch, call 045-3041301 or 0935-7616550. Visit cafefleur.ph.

(Part 1 of 3)

Part 2: Downtown Cafe
Part 3: Everybody’s and Susie’s