Kulinarya Dinner Series Returns to Feature Margarita Forés
The KULINARYA DINNER SERIES returned to celebrate Filipino food in what was becoming KULINARYA’S signature program last March 15, 2018. At The Loft at The Manansala, Asia Society Philippines, in partnership with The Rockwell Club, treated two-hundred guests to the authentic tastes of Negros. Chef Margarita Forés was in top form in her preparation of seven dishes, mixing the recipes and flavors of her Ilonggo roots with slight hints of her background in Italian cuisine.
Patrons of the event entered the dining area to the easy sounds of a live string orchestra playing classic original Filipino songs, and the welcome sight of waiters offering appetizers of Lumpiang Ubod (fresh vegetable rolls) and a selection of wine, Don Papa Rum, San Miguel Beer, and unique cocktails from Destileria Limtuaco.
Asia Society Philippines Executive Director, Suyin Lee, gave the opening remarks to start the program for the evening. Asia Society Chair, Doris Magsaysay-Ho, followed to explain the idea behind the KULINARYA mission. She stated that “… in the end the goal is for people all around the world to be able to recognize Filipino food upon seeing it”. She compared the endeavor to that of Southeast Asian Neighbor Thailand, whose national food identity initiative brought their cuisine to the international stage. Magsaysay-Ho expressed how the KULINARYA team aimed the movement to do the same for the Philippines.
Editor of KULINARYA: A GUIDEBOOK TO PHILIPPINE CUISINE, Micky Fenix, gave an in-depth keynote presentation on Filipino cuisine and regional styles of cooking before being joined by Chef Margarita Forés herself, who went on to discuss the menu for the evening. Fenix talked about the nuances in preparation of similar dishes across different regions in the Philippines. Citing multiple examples of classic Filipino meals, their origins, and why they differ based on their geographical locations, she provided informative insights on the country’s food culture. Chef Margarita broke down the ingredients of each dish and explained that the entrées would be served simultaneously in the traditional style of Filipino dining—that is to have all one’s dishes on the table and eaten at the same time. She acknowledged her co-authors and fellow Kulinarya Guidebook chefs Glenda Barretto, Margarita Forés, Myrna Segismundo, and Jessie Sincioco, who were in attendance that evening, then officially served dinner by saying “Kaun na ta!” or Ilonggo for “Let’s eat!”
The first course was Binakol nga Manok, Dahon Sili, an organic chicken soup served in a hollow coconut husk with oyster mushrooms and poached foie gras. The succeeding three plates consisted of Adobado nga Sili sa Gata (braised river eel in coconut milk), Adobo nga Pitaw (sugarcane field bird adobo served with adlai, or job’s tears, sinigang), and Kadyos, Baboy, Langka (stewed pigeon peas, organic pork, and jack fruit) all paired with Tinig-ang nga Milagrosa (steamed organic Negros rice wrapped in pandan leaves). To cleanse the pallet they served Ensalada nga Pako-Pako Kag Ubod (ferns, palm hearts, and sugarcane vinaigrette). Last was the show stopping dessert Bibingka Balinghoy, Dulce de Leche, and Tsokolate kag Pastillas (cassava cake, parmigiano-reggiano, homemade dulce de leche, chocolate ganache with browned pastillas).
The night was truly a journey through the flavors, techniques, and tastes of Western Visayas, mixed with the personal touches of Chef Margarita Forés. This made for a culinary experience that will not soon be forgotten by anyone who dined that evening.
Stay tuned for the rest of Asia Society Philippines’ and The Rockwell Club’s series of Kulinarya Dinners, which next features Chef Jessie Sincioco in June.
Text by Claudio Lopa