Christmas came early this year at the Maya Kitchen when Cafe Juanita's very own Dr. Efren "Boy" Vasquez prepared some sumptuous dishes that satisfied the foodies who attended the class.
Like the other classes I attended at the Maya Kitchen, this was another informal class, where attendees could ask questions anytime during the presentations. What made this different, though, was that Dr. Vasquez not only encouraged attendees to ask about the dishes, but other things as well, as he is a licensed OB-GYN before he retired to concentrate on Cafe Juanita.
Dr. Vasquez prepared five dishes for this class:
Deboning the chicken looked complicated, but Dr. Vasquez told us to not get overwhelemed with it should we want to cook this dish. I do cook at home, but it will take a while before I would dare cook this one because I really don't think I can properly debone a chicken.
It tasted really good! The different ingredients went well together, and the gravy on the side added more taste. The gravy was a little runny for my preference, but it was cooked well, so it was all okay for me.
The ox tongue was fork tender. It tasted very much like beef, so if I do serve this to people who aren't into "exotic" food won't notice the difference anymore. The sauce was just right, and eating it truly felt like Christmas.
Probably my least favorite among the dishes served; but that's because I am not really into this kind of dish. I do like rice and flavored fried rice, but savory sticky rice, I don't like that much.
A very simple dish to make it seemed - salmon rubbed with salt and powdered sinigang mix topped with mayonnaise and dill - yet the success of this dish lies on the baking, as Dr. Vasquez said that if the fish was baked too long it might turn out to be rubbery and/or flaky.
The fish turned out really well. The fish was tender and juicy... and the mayonnaise just added the right touch to cut the rich flavor of the salmon.
Cafe Juanita's version of Ratatouille, but they called it "Ratatoy," simply because "Ratatouille" might be too difficult to pronounce. This was my favorite dish that day because it had a lot of different flavors that married well together. I will re-create this dish and will share the recipe next week.
A sumptuous meal deserves a sweet ending, and this one didn't disappoint. The halaya was actually a little tangy, and the vanilla ice cream gave more dimension to the whole dish. Putting it in wonton wrappers added more texture as well.
All of the classes I attended at the Maya Kitchen were special in their own way, but this class was slightly more special in the sense that the staff of Cafe Juanita decorated the classroom in traditional Filipino decors, and there were even performers singing different Christmas tunes.
...and what made this day truly special? Attending the class with two Filipino culinary icons - Ms. Nora Daza and Ms. Nancy Reyes-Lumen, whom I really look up to.
With this, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Maya Kitchen for providing foodies with different classes that provide us with knowledge - may it be about learning new recipes or learning new cooking techniques.