Ms. Glenda Barretto has always been interested with food. She practically grew up in the kitchen, helping her mother prepare dishes, and by age 8 or 9 she already knew how to cook Caldereta (but of course the grown ups cut up the ingredients for her and they supervised her while she cooked). Her culinary expertise made her travel around the world, cooking and serving food to some of the very important people.
Last Saturday (23 Feb 2013), the Maya Kitchen hosted its first ever Culinary Dialogue with Ms. Glenda Barretto, and I was there to be a part of it.
|Ms. Nancy Reyes-Lumen at the Dialogue|
Other things I learned: slow cooking is always the best way to cook food because it doesn't shock and stress the ingredients... and that temperature affects the texture of the ingredients; garnishes has to be related to the main dish you're serving; and that when you serve plated meals, starch (rice, mashed potatoes, etc) has to be at the right side (1 o'clock) and the vegetables at the left (11o'clock).
Participants asked questions, Ms. Glenda shared memorable stories... but it wasn't all talk, there were food presentations as well, and in each dish prepared by her trusted and longtime chefs at Via Mare, she shared more cooking tips as well as plating techniques.
Banana Hearts with Vinaigrette
First dish of the day. This one uses the Butuan type of banana hearts (the whitish elongated one) because it doesn't darken compared to the deep red/purple almond-shaped ones. This also has the texture of artichokes, so it was like serving expensive dish at a fraction of the cost.
The vinaigrette consist mainly of salad oil and mustard, and did go well with the chopped banana hearts. Although the mustard gave its distinct sour flavor, the sugar gave it balance.
Typically, we do Ensaladang Talong at home as simple as grilling the eggplants and adding chopped tomatoes and onions seasoned with bagoong balayan. This uses coconut cream and was topped with either toasted dilis, sundried tapang baka, and kalgag (dried baby shrimps).
I did love the combination of the smokey flavored grilled eggplants and the coconut cream, but I found the cream too rich and a little bland. Maybe my share of the salad didn't have much dilis to give its salty flavor, but should I cook this at home, I'd definitely add chopped green mangoes to cut in the richness of the coconut cream.
Ensaladang Pako (Fiddlehead Fern Salad)
This particular Pako Salad gave me a reason to love Kesong Puti, and made me realize that olive oil, lemon juice and bagoong balayan make a very good vinaigrette. The next time the family goes to Sidcor Weekend Market, I'd definitely buy a bunch of pako to re-create this.
This is a very good example of innovating Filipino dishes. Tinola may be a good viand at home, but serving it at special occasions may not be a good thing to do, because it would make guests take the meat out of the bones (quite messy) and serving this using chicken breast may not be as tasty.
Presenting the Tinola Flan. The success of this dish lies on how strong your broth is, because eggs will be added to the broth. To make it "real" tinola, flakes of boiled chicken breast, julienned cut of young papaya, as well as chili leaves were added, too. Ms. Glenda said that cutting the ingredients into small pieces makes it easier to eat, thus making it more pleasant to eat.
All of us at the dialogue loved this dish! True enough, the stronger the broth is, the better it would be because this one tasted a lot like the Tinola we Filipinos have grown to love. Texture wise, it's like taho and just like taho, there are some broth under the dish that separated to the egg curd (but the eggs were added directly to the broth prior to steaming). This may not be soupy, but it can pass up as a good soup / appetizer during parties.
Ingredients for this was the typical adobo ingredients, but the secret lies to the cooking technique - slow cooking. This particular adobo was steamed - the whole chunk of beef belly double wrapped in aluminum foil and placed inside the steamer - for about 4 hours. This was my first time to taste Adobong Baka and I was really pleased at how tender it was.
As garnish, a piece of cherry tomato was cut in half and skewered with a piece of hard boiled quail egg. Not only did it add the much needed color, it also went well with the dish, as we usually add hard boiled egg and serve chopped tomatoes with our adobo.
At first (checking the recipe guide prior to the start of the class) I thought it will be like suman, but it was not. Ms. Glenda said the adobo didn't have much color (apart from the garnish) and serving it with plain rice doesn't really appeal to the eyes, hence the addition of chopped ube. It was surprisingly good!
Pitsi-Pitsi with Coconut Chantilly
This is similar, yet quite different from the pitsi-pitsi (or pichi-pichi) I have tasted in the past. I personally don't know how to cook this native delicacy, but people at the class were surprised that adding oil to the mixture works well. Typical Pitsi-Pitsi uses grated coconut, but this one uses Coconut Chantilly dispensed using a whipper. I think using the whipper Via Mare's way of innovating this food - by embracing "foreign" methods.
Despite the innovations, all of the dishes were fairly easy to do and I can see myself recreating one or two (perhaps not the pitsi-pitsi because I found it tricky to do, even without the Chantilly) in the future.