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Sol Vanzi
Timpla't Tikim

Inspiring chef, fabulous food

Millions of Filipino TV viewers around the world have fallen in love with a chef named Boy, whose folksy ways and undeniable Visayan accent understate his achievements in the highly competitive international world of culinary arts. Chef Pablo “Boy” Logro disarms everyone, from TV audiences to hotel diners, with his rags-to-riches true story of a poor boy from the hinterlands of Mindanao working as a restaurant helper and working his way up the kitchen ladder to become the country’s first ever de luxe hotel Filipino executive chef. After years of cooking for high society clientele around the world, Chef Boy has come home to roost, and to serve as inspiration while continuing to do what he loves most: preparing dishes that are beautiful, nutritious, and ecologically sound. South of the Border — Our first encounter with Chef Boy’s cooking was at the Acacia Hotel in Alabang, which is …

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The eggs factor

Whether on news coverages or at home, eggs play a big role in my daily life as a working single grandmother. They are sold boiled everywhere: on buses, roadside eateries and sari-sari stores, providing instant snacks. At home, they can be made into instant soups, omelets, French toast. They can also be scrambled, baked, or stuffed. The ultimate convenience food, eggs are packed with protein and 18 vitamins and minerals. They’re also extremely versatile, making them the most important ingredient in your fridge! They’re nutritious, they taste great, and their physical properties and components make them indispensable in the kitchen. Eggs have qualities on which many cooking techniques and recipes depend, as explained in www.eggs.ca.  LEAVENING Eggs have a great ability to puff up foods when air is beaten into them. Egg whites, when beaten, create foam that has more stability and volume than whole eggs or yolks. Egg whites, when whipped, can expand up to eight …

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La Scala rocks

Although my grand-son Kyle has lived with me all his 25 years, our 47-year-gap is often difficult to bridge no matter how hard I try to keep up with the latest gadgets, apps, hugot lines, and social media trends. Last weekend, we suddenly found ourselves communicating. He was asking all kinds of questions and I had all the right answers. We were at La Scala, a couple of blocks from our home, gaping at a well-kept collection of what used to be everyday objects from the gentle years after World War II. I explained how a jukebox, on display in a glass case, worked. He laughed at how I used to save my baon so I could hang around a panciteria in Zapote to play Elvis songs on the only jukebox in …

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Peranakan + Royal Thai cuisine

Even people I have known for ages still ask if I am Chinese. Relatives say I look like my Hakka great grandmother, who introduced unusual dishes that continue to appear on my family’s dining table. Growing up, my favorite soup had pork tail and backbone simmered in ginger, radish, and Chinese parsley (kinchay). Another dish I continue to long for is rice soup (lugaw or congee) flavored with ginger, dried mussels, and clams. In the 1950s when the pristine Parañaque shore teemed with mussels and clams, my father would take us kids to gather the shell fish, steam them open, shuck them, and dry the meat under the sun. The dried shellfish were strung like leis and hung from the kitchen ceiling directly above the wooden stove, where smoke flavored and preserved them. On rainy days, the dried seafood would be thrown into the rice pot with whatever else there was in the …

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Perfect pairings from the wine diva

When hosting a formal dinner for a hundred beautiful people, it takes a lot of work—and luck— to achieve perfection especially when an event involves a five-star, multi-course dinner with wines matching each course. Difficult and even close to impossible for ordinary mortals; but not for Tita Trillo, the country’s acknowledged Wine Diva. Tita has been traveling around the world almost her entire life, tasting and studying wines. It was inevitable that in 1982, she established Titania Wine Cellar as a family corporation focused initially on the exclusive importation and distribution to both domestic and duty free markets of select high quality wines and spirits from all over the world. Named after “Titania,” the queen of the fairies in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the company has brought magic to its discerning …

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Cooking like a Chef made easy

The world's fascination with Singaporean and Malaysian cuisine predated the discovery of Filipino food by international celebrity chefs. As close as we are geographically to those two neighbor states, Filipinos became more familiar with Hong Kong cuisine than the food prepared by ethnic Chinese in ASEAN countries. Thus, Manila went through periods marked by discovery of Singaporean dishes such as bak kut teh and Hainanese chicken rice, both originally from mainland China and spread by migrating ethnic groups. Also building a cult following were Singapore's chili crab, fish head curry, and black pepper crab. The latest food trends in Malaysia and Singapore, now offered by classy Chinese restaurants in Manila are dishes cooked in salted duck eggs and main courses coated with rock sugar honey sauce. So enamored are diners with salted duck eggs that it is found enriching soups, filling croissants, …

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A festival for health and wealth

TIMPLA'T TIKIM AN ANCIENT RECIPE As lunch started for the opening of the Mid-Autumn Festival at the City of Dreams, the young Chinese chef asked how we wanted the roast duck sliced: all skin, or with a bit of meat. We all wanted some of the meat under the crispy golden skin. Using a large, heavy, and razor-sharp cleaver, the carver very deftly sliced precise pieces from the whole duck. Each slice was spread with sweet-tart plum sauce to cut the oiliness. Thin sticks of seedless cucumber and scallion stalks gave texture and a wake up zing and crunch. The last element, the pancake, was refreshingly greaseless, bereft of the overpoweringly aromatic sesame oil some restaurants use to keep the pancakes from sticking to each other. Once assembled, the Peking duck packet was just the right size for …

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Kare-kare, kalo kalo, kalkag, and sinuglaw

It is refreshing to see Filipino chefs going back to their roots for inspiration instead of focusing their sight on foreign lands that had for years been considered the ideal models in culinary arts. Cooking competitions are still awash with plated dishes that dazzle with color and artistry, too pretty to be real. Often, the chef gets lost in the artistry and forgets the most basic requirement: the food must taste good. On the right track to success are the chefs of the Waterfront Hotels & Casinos who won three medals in the recent Philippine Culinary Cup 2016 last Aug. 3 to 6. This internationally recognized culinary competition has been growing and now on its seventh year allowed our local chefs to be innovative in their dishes while showing off their kitchen talents and skills. It was …

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Thoroughly modern Mooncakes

Images by Noel Pabalate Mooncakes, which are usually given as gifts to family, friends, and associates, have been eaten in China for centuries. One legend has it that in the 14th century, they were even used as a tool to foment rebellion—the Han Chinese were said to have hidden messages in mooncakes urging their compatriots to join a rebellion against their Mongol rulers. Sort of like Jose Rizal smuggling his farewell poem Mi Ultimo Adios inside a gas lamp given to his sister hours before his execution. Mooncakes are imprinted with intricate patterns and traditionally filled with sweet pastes such as lotus seed, beans, and salted duck egg yolks. They are rich in flavor, high in fat and sugar, and usually eaten in small wedges, accompanied by tea. Mooncakes are served while celebrating the mid-autumn festival, when friends gather to admire the harvest moon. My great grandmother, a Hakka, would …

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Comfort food worth battling traffic for

Everybody is still talking about last Friday’s horrendous rainfall and the subsequent monster traffic jams. I was among thousands trapped for hours in unmoving vehicles. My Uber rental took four hours from Intramuros to BGC where Naxional, a brand new restaurant, was opening. I arrived soaking wet and shivering, wishing I had not come. Within minutes, I changed my mind after munching on the most authentic South American comfort food in the country, prepared under the supervision of a Brazilian-Japanese grandmother driven by passion for her country’s culinary heritage. The atmosphere inside Naxional was infectious—a blend of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival rhythm with a gathering of the most lavishly colored birds of the Brazilian forest. The wall murals gazed back under wrought iron chandeliers lit with dozens of antique Coca Cola …

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