Salonga Siblings Launch Annual Laguna Food & Cultural Heritage Festival

Well, actually they launched it in 2017, hehehe. This is the second year of the event. But it was my first time to attend.

And the Salonga siblings are not Lea and Gerard. It’s Chef Theodore Day Salonga of Ted’s Kitchen and Chef Gel Salonga of Ted’s Cakes & Pastries.

The two have become regional tourism advocates and on their own, without national government support, put together Sa Pantalan: Biyaheng Katagalugan, A Food & Culinary Heritage Festival showcasing the best of Laguna.

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Sa Pantalan – Biyaheng Pangkatagalugan: A Food and Cultural Heritage Festival (Photo: Arlene Hidalgo)

The Salongas hail from Sta. Cruz, Laguna. A couple of years ago, their dad, Ted himself, developed their family-owned compound to house a bed and breakfast with 7 cottages. So now, aside from Ted’s Kitchen and Ted’s Bakery, they also have Ted’s Bed & Breakfast.

Ted’s Bed & Breakfast
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Clockwise: Chef Theodore Day Salonga of Ted’s Kitchen with Chef Dino Datu, EIC of Cook Magazine; Ted’s Bed & Breakfast nook; Chef Dino Datu with Cook’s Marlon Aldenese and Maggie Silvestre; pick-me-up quotes like this are found around the compound.

Coming into the tourism industry, the siblings decided that it would be best if they also helped promote their artisan neighbors. So in 2017, Sa Pantalan was born. Pantalan means “dock”, because, according to Theodore, Sta. Cruz, Pila Pagsanjan and Lumban used to be pre-Hispanic tradings docks, very important locations for trade during the Spanish era. The title also references a journey of discovery through Laguna’s coastal towns, with Sta. Cruz being the central port.

I finally got to see the annual event this year and loved getting to know Laguna artists. This is Renel Batralo (photo below). He and Cesar Pasco design bags and homeware using water lilies.

ted's 9 straw art
Renel Batralo
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Pantalan founder/creator Gel Salonga with fiancee Chef Dino Datu modeling waterlily bags by Sarilikha.

Aside from the bags by Sarilikha, there were other straw bags as well.

Micky Fenix, Luisiana bags, Laguna, Philippines, Philippine crafts, Philippines bags, local bags, Philippines tourism, Gel Salonga, Ted's Kitchen, Margaux Salcedo
Straw bags by Luisiana, modeled by the effervescent food writer and guru Micky Fenix.

Laguna is also known for woodworks, specifically form the towns of Paete, Pangil and Pakil, as well as for making the Barong Tagalog, from the town of Lumban, so of course there were such products on display.

ted's 8 wood trees
Love these wooden Christmas trees by Laguna carvers!! Perfect for condo-living Christmas!

At the annex were sculptures and other art. Most interesting was the religious art by Bayani Acala from Paete, who made sculptures of the Sacred Heart.

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Artists of Sa Pantalan, Biyaheng Katagalugan. Top: Lito Ballaran, a watercolor artist from San Pablo, Laguna. Bottom: Bayani Acala, artist from Paete, Laguna.

It was also cool to meet Che Abrigo, the owners of the first zero-waste cafe in Laguna. She also makes all these uniquely flavored flours.

Che Abrigo

The festival also had on display Laguna delicacies like espasol, puto with salted duck eggs, bibingka, and Chef Ted’s own Bitbit line which includes Sta. Cruz longganisa. I realized from this trip that Laguna is not that far. You can be there in less than two hours.

There’s also a lot to see. Almost each town has an old church. Chef Dino recommends the ones in Pakil, Pila and Nagcarlan. You can also do trekking and swim by the waterfalls in Majayjay and Cavinti. There is an underground river in Cavinti. Caliraya offers water sports. And for those who just want to shop, you can find handwoven barongs in Lumban, footwear in Liliaw and woodcraft in Paete.

For an authentic Laguna heritage meal, try Aurora’s. It is also Chef Theodore Day’s restaurant, with Chef Gel’s desserts, located in the Salonga ancestral home. Aurora is their grandmother. Don’t miss this stop; it’s a great introduction to their regional cuisine.

Thanks, Day, Dino & Gel, for making us realize that there is sooo much to see in Laguna! Sa uulitin!

 

Summer at Eve’s Garden, La Trinidad

I had to submit an article on healthy food to Inquirer Red and just had to include this memorable healthy meal that included not only greens but also flowers right from Eve’s Garden up in the mountains of La Trinidad, Benguet.

Yes, we have treasures like this here in the Philippines if you know where to look.

Here’s a flashback to September 2012 when I visited Eve’s Garden with my favorite couple in the universe – my parents 🙂

It was a looooong drive. The lady on the phone told us that it would take only fifteen minutes to reach Eve’s Garden from the Manor at Camp John Hay. But it took us a whole hour.

Continue reading “Summer at Eve’s Garden, La Trinidad”

Madrid Fusion 2015 Shines Spotlight on Philippines

MADRID FUSION Manila
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Chef Myrna Segismundo will be a guest chef at Hotel Orfila during Madrid Fusion 2015

As published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 11, 2015.

“We never thought this would happen in our lifetime,” Chef Myrna Segismundo said, sharing the news that she and Chef Margarita Fores will be cooking at Madrid Fusion in Spain this February.

Madrid Fusion-International Gastronomic Summit is one of the most prestigious gatherings of chefs and influencers in the culinary world.

It is an annual three-day event of food exhibitions, lectures, demonstrations and dinners prepared by celebrity chefs from around the world who are invited to cook at Madrid’s most renowned hotels and dining venues.

This year, Madrid Fusion will be held from Feb. 2 to 4 at the Campo de las Naciones Convention Centre and for the first time, the Philippines will be in the spotlight!

Kinilaw takes center stage

On Feb. 2, Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz, one of the world’s best restaurants, will speak on the “Mechanisms of Creativity” in the morning; while Chef Elena Arzak, from her multi-awarded eponymous restaurant Arzak (and who has been named Best Female Chef in the world), will discuss “Leafy Cuisine” a little past noon.

But come 6:30 p.m., the Philippine flag will be raised high among these culinary greats as two Filipino chefs,  Segismundo and Fores, take the stage to talk for half an hour about a humble dish we all know: kinilaw.

“I made the Spanish organizers of Madrid Fusion taste kinilaw, among other dishes, when they were last here in Manila to do an ocular, and they really loved this dish so we were asked to present on it,” Segismundo explained.

“I think kinilaw is a great introductory dish to Philippine cuisine because it is unique to us,” she added.

They will present three versions of the kinilaw: the classic take on it using suka (vinegar), a modern version using cava and one using tabon-tabon.

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Agriculture Usec Berna Romulo Puyat is curating the best of Philippine produce and products for Madrid Fusion 2015

It is not only the kinilaw that guests at Madrid Fusion will be exposed to, however.

As visitors enter, they will see a large Philippine booth showcasing the best of Philippine produce curated by Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Agriculture. The booth will present Philippine products based on the five flavors of the Philippines: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and “linamnam” (our counterpart for umami).

These will include Philippine mangoes for the food category “Sweet”, chicharon for “Salty”, the Mindanao tropical fruit tabon-tabon for “Sour”, ampalaya for “Bitter” and heirloom rice such as Kalinga and Ifugao rice and taba ng talangka for “Linamnam”.

The booth will also present Filipino beverages such as Destileria Limtuaco’s Manille Liqueur, Philippine juices and tsokolate.

“This is a chance for the world to get to know Filipino ingredients like souring agents and heirloom rice,” Romulo-Puyat said.

This will be her fourth exhibition of Philippine products in Europe.

In 2013, she organized “Philippines, An Archipelago of Exchange” at the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris, where 10 Filipino chefs led by Fores impressed the French with their Pinoy cooking at the press luncheon and the cocktail reception for the French prime minister. In 2014, there was a Philippine booth at the Grünewoche International Green Week in Berlin in January; and another proudly Pinoy booth at the Slow Food Festival entitled Salone del Gusto in Turino, Italy in October.

“We want to show that the Philippines is not backward (in terms of produce and cuisine),” Romulo-Puyat explained. “In Paris, the French were initially skeptical with Filipino food but after tasting our food (as presented by Fores), they changed their minds. They said, ‘We didn’t know Filipinos have great food!’”

She is also very proud that in Berlin, with the Philippine booth placed between the booths of Japan and Korea, the longest queue was for the adobo with mangoes.

Madrid Fusion Manila

MADRID FUSION 2015. Madrid Fusion Manila. DOT Director Verna Buensuceso, Chef Margarita Fores, Chef Chele Gonzales, Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez, Jr., Mielle Esteban and Iñigo Casado of Arum.
THE TEAM that made it happen: (From left) DOT Director Verna Buensuceso, Chef Margarita Fores, Chef Chele Gonzales, Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez, Jr., Mielle Esteban and Iñigo Casado of Arum.

On the second day of Madrid Fusion, the Philippines will also launch Madrid Fusion Manila, which will be held from April 24-26 at SMX.

It is the first time that Madrid Fusion will be held in Asia—a brainchild of Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez. Fores was the force who convinced the DOT to participate in Madrid Fusion, but when she enticed Sec. Jimenez to set up a Philippine booth at the expo, he said, “Let’s take it a step further. Why not invite them to hold Madrid Fusion here in the Philippines? After all, we have a story with them and a relationship that lasted 333 years!”

In Sept. 2014, this idea became reality when Sec. Jimenez and Spain’s Secretary of State for Trade and president of ICEX (Instituto Español de Comercio Exterior) Jaime García-Legaz signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Madrid Fusion Manila, with no less than President Benigno Aquino III standing as witness.

Tourism Director Verna Buensuceso is now diligently heading the project, with the help of Monette Iturralde-Hamlin of the Tourism Promotions Board.

Buensuceso stressed, “This is especially important as 2015 is Visit the Philippines year. We hope this will raise awareness about the Philippines and, as we present our products to both investors and gourmets, prove that the future of food is in the Philippines.”

Dining with the stars

#throwback Margarita Fores with El Bulli's Ferran Adria at Madrid Fusion 2007
#Throwback Margarita Fores with El Bulli’s Ferran Adria at Madrid Fusion 2007. Cut to 2015: Fores will be cooking at Hotel Ritz Madrid.

Aside from the exhibition, guests of Madrid Fusion (in Spain) are also given the opportunity to experience the cooking of guest chefs from around the world at participating restaurants and hotels in Madrid. Here is the breaking news: among the celebrity chefs cooking for Madrid Fusion 2015 are our very own  Segismundo and  Fores.

Segismundo will cook on Feb. 3 at the Hotel Orfila, a small palace from the 19th century, while Fores will cook at the highly acclaimed Goya Restaurant at Hotel Ritz Madrid on Feb. 4.

Right now, these two chefs are researching and practicing for this monumental event where they will present our flavors to the most discerning and acclaimed gourmets of the world.

Milestone

This is definitely a milestone for Philippine cuisine that will certainly boost our tourism and agricultural industries. Our chefs are now poised to be called among those considered to be the best in the world and our produce and flavors are set to be recognized by a most discerning and influential international market.

Viva Madrid, Viva Manila!

For details on Madrid Fusion in Spain, please visit www.madridfusion.net.
For details on Madrid Fusion Manila, please visit www.madridfusionmanila.com and like their Facebook page Madrid Fusion Manila.