Category Archives: Food & Culture

VINCE MOM’S CALDERETA

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

I asked Vince, my husband to join the “Basta Caldereta” cooking competition last Father’s Day spearheaded by the Cook Magazine, a Business Mirror publication.

Five contestants joined the competition at the World Trade Center, most of which were already well-versed in the kitchen.

Having grown up in a Spanish-Visayan kitchen, Caldereta regularly made its appearance on the dinner table.

Vince won third place in this competition amidst other versions which were mostly on the sweetish side. Here is the recipe which according to Chef Dino Datu, one of the judges, had the most tomato flavor of all.

Lourdes Mercader Borromeo’s Caldereta

I. 1 kilo beef sirloin cubes
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce

II. 1 cup all-purpose flour
Dash of salt and pepper
1/2 cup pure olive oil

III. 1 small can Hunt’s Tomato Paste
1/2 cup red wine
Reserve juice of 1 small can whole red pepper
2 cups water

IV. 1 can Pure Foods Chorizo de Bilbao, cut in half on the diagonal
24 pieces green pepper stuffed olives
2 medium carrots. sliced in cubes same size as beef
2 medium potatoes, sliced in cubes same size as beef
Red peppers from the can

Place 1st set of ingredients in a bowl and marinate overnight.

Drain the beef in a colander and reserve drippings.
Mix the flour with a dash of salt and pepper and dredge the beef.

Quickly sear the beef on all sides.

Mix together in a small bowl the 3rd set of ingredients.
In a deep pot mix together the beef and the 3rd set of ingredients.

Add the 4th set of ingredients with the reserved drippings and cook for around 45 minutes in a pressure cooker. Simmer until desired tenderness.

Serves: 6

All organic in Amy’s Kitchen

by Vince Borromeo
(Manila City, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
January 3, 2012

Tales of food cravings of pregnant women have made many an expectant husband to cringe, especially when many a wife has sent for an out-of-season fruit in the middle of the night or food that are impossible to find. When Andy Berliner was asked by his pregnant wife, Rachel, to make her a healthy meal, it not only made him berserk as he did not know how to cook, it also spurred a million-dollar organic business that is now known as Amy’s Kitchen.

Amy, the child they were then expecting, at the time of this writing went to the United Kingdom to launch their organic food line in Europe. Andy’s search for a healthy meal for his wife in the grocery started their food venture as he could not find tasty, healthy food in any of the frozen or canned aisles.

Twenty-five years ago, organic food stores were scarce, if not unheard of, in most areas, and this necessity became the mother of Andy and Rachel’s invention. Rachel’s exposure to organic farming bore the seed of Amy’s Kitchen as she was barely seven years old when her family began growing their own vegetables organically. She and her brother were also trained to read labels and avoid food which contained preservatives.

When Amy’s Kitchen was established in 1988 after the birth of their daughter, they used only organic and natural ingredients in their vegetarian line of frozen meals. To this day, Amy’s Kitchen is strict on keeping it all organic and has over $450 million in sales to natural food stores and conventional supermarkets in the United States, Canada, the UK and other countries. Food grown the natural way from seeds that have not been genetically modified employ both traditional and cutting edge methods of horticultural science, disavowing the use of harmful chemical fertilizers and poisonous artificial pesticides for crops to yield a harvest rich in health-giving vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Conventionally-grown crops have hundreds of harmful chemicals used in order to kill insects, which have toxins that harm consumers. It is alarming to find out that from the time a vegetable is planted to the time it is harvested it has about 16 layers of pesticides or chemicals put in it. According to Andy’s confession, many of the farmers were now mostly sick because of these chemicals they are exposed to.

The good news is after Amy’s Kitchen prodded farmers to grow organic and chemical free plants, the farmers began consuming them too and have regained their health. According to the US National Academy of Science, “neurologic and behavioral effects may result from low-level exposure to pesticides.”

“We really care for our customers and supervise every aspect of the business and take real pride in consumer satisfaction. We know our clientele expect only the finest natural and organic ingredients. All the fruits, vegetables and grains we use are grown organically, without the use of insecticides and other harmful chemicals. We prepare them with the same careful attention in our kitchen as you would in your own home,” says Andy.

“Because peanut allergies can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening to some people, we use no peanut products as ingredients in our food. For individuals with food allergies, Amy’s products are made in a facility that processes foods containing wheat, milk, soy tree nuts and seeds with the utmost and extreme care; keeping in mind the welfare of each consumer with food limitations and restrictions,” he continues.

Amy’s products include lasagna, Indian meals (with halal options), pot pies, Asian meals, veggie burgers, whole meals, pocket sandwiches, Mexican meals and burritos, wraps, kids’ meals, bowls, pizzas, breakfast, snacks, toaster pops, soups, beans and chili, salsa, pasta sauces and desserts. Moreover, the family-run business has also products for people with special diets and those who need lactose-free and dairy-free food as well as selections that are light in sodium and are gluten-free.

Amy’s products are non-GMO and do not contain hydrogenated fats or oils or preservatives. Andy explains that freezing and canning procedures, when carefully done using the freshest ingredients, do not require the use of preservatives.

Amy’s Kitchen is in its 23rd year and is a family-owned and operated business based in Sonoma County, California. Its products are available nationally in natural foods stores, most supermarkets and select warehouse club stores, as well as internationally. Amy’s currently has production facilities in California, Oregon and Corby, England, as well as its newest in South Carolina, opening early 2012. Amy’s uses certified organic ingredients, including vegetables, grains and fruits grown without pesticides. Fats are used sparingly and selectively. All dairy ingredients are made with pasteurized rBST hormone-free milk and do not contain animal enzymes or animal rennet. No dishes contain meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs or peanuts. After having tried adobo, Philippine style, Andy and Rachel are looking forward to including it in their line-up of frozen and canned foods.

In the Philippines, Amy’s is distributed by Sonia Trading and is available at Rustan’s and Shopwise nationwide. For more detailed information, log on to www.amys.com/faq/why_organic.php or visit their Web site www.amys.com.

Breaking Fast Malaysian with Malaysian Specialties

By Reggie Rullan, Contributor
August 31, 2011

Breaking fast at the Heritage Hotel Manila during the Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting from dawn to sunset, is a cultural eye opener for the non-Muslim and no less than a culinary revelation. Ramadan is observed with the Islamic term sawm, which means refraining from food, drink and sexual activity from dawn to sunset and breaking the fast only at sunset with the iftar, the evening meal when Muslims gather as a community to break their fast together.

In conjunction with Malaysia’s 54th National Day and on the heels of the Heritage Hotel’s Manila’s three years of widespread promotions and continuous annual showcase of Malaysian cuisine, the hotel partnered with the Embassy of Malaysia in Manila, as well as Tourism Malaysia and Matrade for the Hotel’s inclusion in the Malaysian Kitchen Program, an international platform upholding the scents, tastes and multicultural influences of Malay cuisine.

To traditionally break the fast, sweets come first to revive the fasting crowd. We were met with an array of Kurma (dates), Nonya kueh-kueh, Malaysian bite-sized snacks and dessert and English cakes. For drinks, the bandung, an Indian-inspired rose petal syrup
milk drink and Teh Tarik, milk tea that is literally pulled was showcased. The beverage is pulled by two pitchers that are gracefully pulled upwards and downwards until the tea reaches the desired frothiness.

A cooking demonstration by Heritage Hotel’s Manila’s executive chef Alex Chong and Multi-mach’s corporate chef Mike Bautista followed where they wowed the still hungry crowd with Rotizza, a pizza on flaky Roti bread, a fusion of the traditional Malaysian Roti with chicken curry sauce, mozzarrella cheese, onions and fresh tomatoes.

Malaysian Ambassador Dato Siri Dr. Ibrahim Saad graced the event. He revealed that Malaysian cuisine is a marriage of culinary heritages from its neighboring settlers and that the Chinese, Indian and even Indonesian dishes found in Malaysia cannot be found even if one were to search for them high and low in their countries of origin, as the dishes have evolved using Malaysian ingredients and employing Malaysian culinary styles. He was also gracious enough to inform the non-Muslims that just because the sweets were taken first, it didn’t mean the Malaysians would not partake of a second serving of dessert. It was a friendly warning that we had to safeguard our own portions of dessert!

The tantalizing array of meats, seafood and colorful bowls of fresh raw vegetables was a strong indication that it was time to break the fast. Beef Rendang, beef sautéed and marinated in ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, chili and blue ginger; and Ayam Perchik, marinated chicken in spicy coconut gravy, were perfectly accompanied by Nyonya Sayuh Lodeh, spicy mixed vegetable with coconut milk, and Nasi Lemak, coconut-flavored rice with fresh screwpine leaves.

An assortment of Satay, barbecued and marinated chicken and beef in turmeric, coriander and cumin, was such a crowd favorite that queues formed again and again for the popular skewers. Another Malaysian- Chinese dish, the Wok Fried Prawn Ganxian, was so spicy yet amazingly appetizing that the chafing dish had to be refilled over and over to feed the hungry crowd.

A familiar dish but still distinctly different was the Gado-gado served with peanut sauce. The Gado-gado is a Malaysian-Indonesian salad of fried tofu squares with an assortment of cooked vegetables such as mung bean sprouts, potato wedges, sliced boiled eggs, shredded cabbage, sliced green beans and carrots, chopped cauliflower, snow peas, and raw sliced cucumber. Tossed with a spicy peanut sauce, the steamed vegetables were transformed into a savory salad almost akin to the Philippine vegetable kare-kare, a peanut based stew.

Other dishes featured were the Tandoori Marinated Chicken with Mint Yogurt, Ulam-ulam with Sambal, fish fillet Sambal, Chicken Ganxiang Fried Rice, Sambal Squids with Long Beans, and Roti Canai, a Malay Pastry Pancake.

The refreshing dessert, aside from the sweets first served to break the fast, is the Penang Fruit Rojak, assorted fresh fruits with sweet rujak sauce, made of palm sugar, tamarind, peanuts and chili. Malaysian desserts are not only sweet, but also spicy.

Explore Malaysia’s culinary delights until Aug. 31 at the Heritage Hotel Manila’s Riviera Café. For inquiries and reservations, call 854-8888 or email foodbv@heritagehotelmanila.com. The Heritage Hotel Manila is managed by the Millennium Hotels and Resorts.

Negrense cuisine:Gourmet flavors in the local setting

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
Wednesday, 26 September

My first taste of authentic Negrense cuisine was on my first trip to Bacolod City at Aboy’s Restaurant. The flavors blew my mind when I tasted grilled blue marlin that melted in my mouth with the full-on, tangy flavors of the famous sinamak — ginger, onion, bird’s eye chili and garlic coconut sap vinegar. The garlic-based annatto oil marinade was singing through the tender forkfuls of fish. Paired with a young fern salad tossed in the same sinamak and made earthy with salted eggs and freshened up with slivers of ripe tomatoes and white onions, my tastebuds opened to the flavors of Negros Occidental.

The next day, I had fresh oysters on the shell for breakfast again with the sinamak and I was in oyster heaven. On another trip, I had diwal, a shellfish shaped like angel’s wings when opened. As the shellfish is only found in Negros Occidental, I indulged myself with shell after shell along with the famous chicken inasal, grilled chicken so tender and flavorful to the bone, grilled perfectly without an iota of blood peeking through the flesh. It was there that I learned to pour the golden orangey chicken oil over rice topped with kalkag (dried baby shrimp) and garlic.

As I ate from the bounty of my hosts’ tables, always laden with seafood that was freshly caught, chickens freshly slaughtered and a variety of fruits harvested from their own backyards, I realized that the Negrense way of preparing food spoke of an everyday habit. Even simple meals were made from scratch and with much thought and deliberation.

I was addicted to the lumpiang ubod (heart of palm egg rolls) that was just a little bigger than a shanghai lumpia (mincemeat filled fried rolls). The fresh egg crepes were always tender to the bite. It was slathered with garlic and a bit of sweet and sour sauce that there was no need to pour any on it. The filling was chockfull of tender ubod, no grainy fibrous hearts of palm were used and the ground meat was just enough to make it savory. The best part was that one could just unwrap the plastic wrapper, and eat the roll that already has sauce inside.

Molo soup (dumpling soup) in Molo, Iloilo City, I found, was not the same Molo soup in any part of the metro. The broth was complex with shrimp and chicken, making for a tasty soup. The dumpling was utterly tender, echoing all the flavors in the soup in a more concentrated way so that a spoonful of soup and dumpling was an explosion of meaty and seafood flavors.

Whenever it was time to leave, my luggage would in turn be laden with Negrense loot — creamy, chewy butterscotch bars; ripe mango preserves wrapped in tender pie crusts; durian preserves; barquillos, cigar-shaped flaky wafers; and jars of batuan, a sour fruit used to flavor sour beef soups.

The cuisine of Negros Occidental to an Ilokano like me was a culinary revelation that opened the taste buds of a stoic Northerner. Alas, a trip to Negros Occidental is not always in the offing, and a longing for their cuisine cannot always be assuaged by restaurants that claim to present Negrense food.

The Negros Trade Fair’s advent in the metro has been given more than a warm reception over the years and they have annually brought in their produce for Northerners and Southern migrants to sample for the past 26 years. This year, it will be held at the the Rockwell Tent at the Powerplant Mall, Makati City from Sept. 26 to 30. The Association of Negros Producers (ANP) began this much-anticipated event in the mid-1980s to offset the negative effects of the sugar crisis.

Fair and feast

It is claimed that the Ilonggo word tiangge, which translates to “little store,” began the tiangge craze all over the country. For this fair, products will include fashion and jewelry, furniture, gifts items and house ware, food and organic products.

At a special lunch hosted by the ANP for the press, an array of signature Negrense food was presented. The main feature was chicken inasal by Chicken Sarap, a catering business owned by Art Legarde and his family. I must admit I was skeptical of the chicken as none of the inasal versions I have had in the metro ever measured up to the inasal in Negros itself.

My plate had a chicken rib piece and two skewered sizable isols, chicken butt and one stick of chicken livers. Arrays of condiments were alongside the chicken so I mixed sinamak and soy sauce with calamansi; sprinkled kalkag and fried garlic on my rice and began my meal.

The chicken meat was moist and flavorful to the bone, the marinade having seeped well into the meat. The real charcoal grilling method infused a smokey flavor to the chicken while providing caramelization and crispness to the skin. Paired with the rice, orange in color from the chicken oil and cooked marinade of the chicken, I could say I was in chicken heaven.

I finished every last bit of the rib, sparing only the bones and even the isols, which I hardly eat on a regular day. Lyn Gamboa, an active member of the ANP, prepared a special family recipe of bihon tossed with a salad of banana heart. The tangy flavors of the salad combined with the savory noodles hit my tastebuds with another explosion of familiar flavors presented in a totally different way. Gamboa was right, I never had bihon or heart of banana salad presented that way.

Next I have the kansi soup — chockfull of batuan and sourness that makes one’s tastebuds tingle. Along with the tender beef cubes lined with tendon, I bite into cuts of unripe jackfruit that add another dimension of flavor to the broth. The stringy and chewy jackfruit with the tender beef and tendon was a play of texture in my palate. Gamboa enlightens me and reveals that the word kansi came from the Chinese word kenchi, which is the cut of the beef that has tendons attached to it. Over time, kenchi became known as kansi, hence, the name for the soup.

Gamboa’s family also makes their own fresh efuven noodles tossed with generous slivers of shitake mushrooms. The rich mushrooms provided a texture and flavor contrast to the tender al dente noodles. As we were talking about the origin of the word efuven, it was lightheartedly proposed around our table that it probably means good noodles. Good is from the word ven, bien in Spanish and efu is the Chinese word for noodles.

My last savory course was a bowl of crab salad made from blue crab harvested in Negros and canned for export. Gamboa, who also prepared the dish, promised me I would love the crab and again I was skeptical as I was not fond of anything canned. As I ate a forkful of the crab tossed with ripe mangoes and iceberg lettuce, I became a believer. It tasted so fresh that if I had not been told it was canned, I would not have otherwise suspected.

The flakes of crab were juicy and had no canned taste whatsoever that I finished my salad all the way to the bottom. I would have asked for more, but I was filled to the brim. I was also eyeing the bowl of baby pilipit (thimble sized fried pastry twisted into a French braid). I had never seen pilipit made an inch long and half an inch wide. The fingers that made them must be so nimble to carry out such a feat. I thought the baby pilipit maker must also be an embroiderer, judging from the handiwork.

I saw the other diners dip their baby pilipit into a cup of very thick local chocolate just like one would with chocolate fondue. And even if I had eschewed processed carbohydrates from my diet, Negrense food was just too much too resist, so after the rice, and the noodles, I went for the baby pilipit. The crunchy pastry coated by the rich thick chocolate made from local cacao was a testament to why the food in Negros is a taste of gourmet food in a local setting. The attention to detain, the careful use of quality ingredients, the painstaking methods of preparation all spell gourmet Negrense cuisine.

The 27th Negros Trade Fair is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sept. 26 to 30, 2012 and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sept. 29 to 30, 2012. For more information call (034) 434-1000 or 0922-8716131 or e-mail membership@anp-philippines.com

membership@anp-philippines.com.

Daet’s culinary revelations

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Published in the Daily Tribune Life
28 September 2012

The bird’s eye chili, known as siling labuyo in the Philippines, is most associated with the cuisine of the Bicol Region. Bicol Express, a dish mostly made of green finger chilies and flavored with pork and balao, salted baby shrimps; and laing, a vegetable dish made with taro leaves and the ever-present siling labuyo, are two of the most notoriously known spicy dishes of Bicol. The Manila version of these two representative dishes have been toned down in spiciness several notches to suit the non-Bicolano palate.

What Manila and the rest of the Philippines have not yet discovered, unless they trek down to Bicol, are the other regional favorites of this southern Luzon province.
To cut the trip short, the InterContinental Manila holds its third Daet Food Festival until Sept. 30, at Café Jeepney, in celebration of the flavors of Daet, Camarines Norte.

Daet, the capital of Camarines Norte, has preserved its culinary heritage by initiating cooking classes in the Cubangbang Public Elementary School. Under the direction of Mayor Tito Sarion, traditional Daet heirloom recipes are being taught to the younger generation to preserve Daet’s culinary heritage.

Mayette Pacao, the culinary ambassador of Daet, is at the helm of these cooking classes. She is a full-time cook whose main goal is to bring Daet food to the fore of Bicolano cuisine. This involves taking charge of the food served at Daet food fests, fiestas and other local celebrations, and being transported to many parts of the Philippines to promote Daet cuisine.

At Café Jeepney, Daet’s specialties are fresh made with the support of Sarion, who provided the source of Daet suppliers, who, in turn, send fresh produce to the hotel daily to ensure that premium Daet ingredients are used for the Stopover: Bicol Fest.

One can find fresh anchovy cake with coconut vinegar syrup flavored with shallots; peppery noodles called pansit bato; spicy laing; tender bistek with fresh calamansi and Formosa pineapple; a creamy taro root dish made savory with pork ribs and dried surgeon fish; coconut ubod (pith) salad; ukoy na kalabasa na may malunggay, fried cakes of squash and moringa leaves; pininyahang alimango, crabs in Formosa pineapple; pininyahang lapu-lapu, grouper in Formosa pineapple; ginataang lubi-lubi/niyog-niyogan, young coconut leaves cooked with pork in matured coconut milk, and a host of other Daet specialties.

Pacao picks

When I went to the Café Jeepney, the Daet buffet cycle featured several of these dishes made by Pacao. I first tried the fresh anchovy cake and requested Pacao for a fresh fried batch. When I bit into the crisp cake, there was no doubt as to the freshness of the anchovies, and as I dipped into the coconut vinegar syrup, I was astonished at the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess.

I asked Pacao if the freshness of the red onion was the key to the dip and she generously revealed that it was the cooking method of the coconut vinegar that was responsible for the perfect balance. She shared that boiling the vinegar with sugar was her special method for the dip. As I always only mixed in white granulated sugar into vinegar for a dip, I could now taste the difference when the vinegar is boiled along with the sugar.

I ate the anchovy cakes with a salad of white radish, carrots and Formosa pineapple, the vegetables and fruits providing a fresh counterpoint to the fried starter. Daet is known for its Formosa pineapple, a variety of miniature pineapple that is sweet through and through. Many of Daet specialties highlight this pineapple and I was surprised to find it in Daet’s tender beef steak. Pacao again shares her recipe and the unique taste of the tangy sweet beefsteak comes from a strictly two-hour marinade of salt, pepper, calamansi (calamondin) and fresh hand-squeezed Formosa pineapple juice.

The Daet beef steak was a culinary revelation as I thought beef steak always had soy sauce. This version wins me over and the next beef steak I will serve at home will be in honor of Daet’s unique take on this Filipino favorite.

Daet’s next culinary revelation, the pansit Bato, literally translates to rock noodles as the noodles are dried on volcanic rocks spewed by Mount Mayon. Pacao shares that the volcanic rocks provide a hotbed for the noodles to dry. The Daet noodles have a tender and slightly chewy bite. Generously sprinkled with black pepper, this noodle dish echoes the love of spiciness of the Daet folk. For a dish executed as well as this, I happily ate a fair portion of simple carbohydrates.

Pacao once again bowled me over with Daet’s creamy taro root in coconut cream. The taro was tender to the bite and was savory with the saltiness of the dried surgeon fish. The sautéed pork ribs made it even more savory and I found myself having a second serving to satisfy my palate. Pacao says that to achieve this, one must sauté the taro and pork separately. The last step would be to combine them with coconut milk and the dried flakes of surgeon fish, cooking only until the sauce was thick with the melted taro root.

For dessert, Pacao made pandan suman, screw pine-flavored rice cakes. The rice cakes were soft to the bite, cooked only till tender without losing the form of each grain. Pacao insists that one must use only fresh harvested glutinous rice for this Daet sweet.

With an array of dishes like these, Daet is in the right path of preserving its culinary heritage, thanks to Mayor Sarion. A visit to Daet would indeed be a culinary trip to remember. Until then, a visit to Café Jeepney promises to be culinary revelation for those yet untutored in the many flavors of Bicolano cuisine.

Café Jeepney is open for lunch from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. For more information call 632-793-7000.

Tanglad Bistro: Tagaytay’s hale and hearty destination

by Dinah S. Ventura
(Manila, Philippines)

Tagaytay, with its fresh breezes, cool air and invigorating natural beauty, is a haven of life-enhancing destinations. Country homes, boutique hotels and spas abound in this city, home of the famed Taal Volcano.

Dining destinations also enjoy brisk business in Tagaytay, which has gotten easier and quicker to get to with the ongoing southbound road developments. If you leave Quezon City at 7 a.m., for instance, and even make a pit stop along the way, you will get to the newest place to visit in Tagaytay, Tanglad Bistro, by around 9 a.m.

You may then order their bestseller, Suman Fritters with Hot Tsokolate, a sublime welcome made of the Pinoy rice-based sweet delicacy served with a hot native chocolate sauce. This one, however, is fried and served with fresh mango slices, drizzled with mango syrup and chocolate sauce. It is accompanied by native hot chocolate cooked with cashew nuts, giving it a unique nutty flavor and texture. Crispy outside and soft inside, this hearty suman dish gives you a boost of energy to conquer the rest of the day, although if you are staying at the spa village in which the restaurant stands, you do not need too much convincing to enjoy the prospect of having foot spas and facials, hilot (native) massages or wellness therapies!

Located within the Nurture Spa Village in Tagaytay, Tanglad Bistro is fast gaining a name for itself as the place to go for generous servings of healthy and hearty dishes at friendly prices. Some places offering similar cuisine are often too prohibitive to be enjoyed too often. A place like Tanglad Bistro, however, gives everyone the chance to relax and enjoy good, healthy food without breaking the budget.

Tanglad’s Grilled Burger, for example, is a filling meal in itself. This tempting creation is made with ground Angus beef and vegetable patty, flame grilled with kesong puti (cottage cheese) blended in rich tanglad (lemongrass) and served in sesame seed buns with healthy layers of assorted lettuce, tomatoes and fries. You can enjoy it without the guilt because, after all, food enjoyed without stress can only be good for both body and soul.

One may wonder if all of the dishes at the Bistro are cooked with lemongrass in one form or another. While most items indeed carry an infusion of this healthy Asian herb, Tanglad Bistro acquired its name because of its reference to a healthy lifestyle.

The menu was developed with a mind for culinary quality and taste. Chef Jasper Versoza is the brains behind Tanglad Bistro. He created the menu together with other members of the Versoza family of the renowned Josiah Catering. Chef Jasper’s experience in catering for all kinds of occasions helped him design the menu for his Tagaytay venture.

At the opening of Tanglad Bistro last Oct. 15, 2009, Chef Jasper said, “We wanted to come up with something not merely new, but fresh, light and, at the same time, something that makes a lasting impression to the palate.”

What could leave a better impression than the great quality one gets from having the freshest ingredients, fruit of his garden of fresh herbs and greens! At Tanglad, Chef Jasper, through Chef Gino and Chef Vincent, who are in-house chefs of Josiah’s, serves up a variety of freshly cooked healthy and hearty vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals for lunch and dinner.

He chose the tanglad as the focal point of the bistro’s array of mouth-watering dishes because it is as “healthy as it is heartwarming.” According to him, this humble stalk inspires a diverse menu and also provides livelihood to the grassroots in western Visayas where the tanglad is widely cultivated.

Tanglad Bistro’s supervisor Abby Alcantara also explains that the simple lemongrass is said to have cancer-fighting and cleansing properties, which help to detoxify the body that and promote better blood circulation and digestion.

Food for the soul

One could spend the entire weekend at Tanglad Bistro and still not be able to try all the items in its menu. Abby reveals that the restaurant will be introducing an updated Hearty and Healthy menu by the end of this month, but we hope they retain some of the dishes that left a lasting impression on our palate.

One of these is the Tanglad Bistro Seafood Pasta, which is made with whole wheat al dente pasta tossed in sautéed fresh crabs, scallops and shrimps and tanglad pesto, paired with French baguette. The dish is light yet satisfying, with the tanglad in the sauce giving the sauce a citrusy kick. A single plate is priced at P170; for sharing at P300. Enjoy it with either a vegetable juice (cucumber, carrot, lemongrass and ginger and tomato), or a fruit smoothie made with yoghurt to complete your healthy meal.

Other healthy dishes are the Herbed Chicken (grilled with basil and rosemary), Pan-Seared Salmon Fillet (pan-seared fresh salmon fillet) and St. Peter’s Fish Fillet with Pickled Vegetables (steamed tilapia).

If hearty is your preference, Tanglad Bistro offers a delicious Braised Lamb Shank (US lamb shank braised in red wine and herbs), Grilled Pepper Crusted US Ribeye (350-g of aged Angus ribeye served with au jus) and Spiced Pork Chop (with lemongrass honey glaze). These hearty mains may be paired with either a fresh fruit shake or Tanglad’s Three-Layered Shake, which has three fruit and veggie flavors of your choice, blended and layered. This is also refreshing in itself during these hot summer months.

For those craving for a taste of home, there is the Grandma’s Chicken Pork Adobo, as well as the stripped-to-the-bone Special Baby Back Ribs oozing with the rich flavors of the bone-in meat and the savory sauce.
The restaurant menu offers a fusion of European and Asian flavors. What makes the dishes unique is the infusion of the tanglad, “given a twist and taken as a prime ingredient to a wealth of healthy gustatory concoctions.” Tanglad’s guilt-free yet yummy desserts like the creamy Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Berries Confetti, the Lemngrass Crème Brulee and the Mango Flambé are sweets that one can indulge in.

Dining at Tanglad Bistro is indeed “soul satisfying,” as its owners proclaim, because not only do you get to savor delicious food and creative drinks, you are able to do this at leisure within an enclave of serenity. A green and blooming garden, fresh air and the sounds of nature serve as fitting accompaniments to a memorable meal.

Tanglad Bistro is located at Nurture Spa Village, Pulong Sagingan, Barangay Maitim II West, Tagaytay City. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, it opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m.

About Nurture Spa Village

One of the pioneers in the Philippine spa industry, Nurture Spa (now renamed Nurture Spa Village) Tagaytay was established in 2002 and is an award-winning Department of Tourism-accredited spa chain. Proudly Filipino, Nurture Spa Village offers its guests exquisite spa and wellness experiences in natural tropical settings in Tagaytay and Pampanga. Each wellness destination boasts of a unique Nurture Spa treatment reflecting the indigenous customs and healing traditions of the region, in addition to the tried and tested Nurture Spa favorites.

Nurture Spa therapists, hired from the local communities and selected on the basis of their healing attitude, are trained for a minimum of two months to the highest standards by internationally licensed trainers. Nurture spa signature therapeutic oils are of the finest quality, created from age-old healing recipes that have been further perfected to achieve the desired therapeutic effect.
Nurture Spa Village Tagaytay, in cooperation with Dr. Sam Dizon, MD, Medical Director of the Institute of Natural Healing, offers its guests Joyful Health Programs: a full range of wellness programs, designed for health enhancement, disease prevention and sickness eradication, Dr. Sam Dizon has over 19 years of experience in Alternative and Complimentary Medicine and studied and trained in the United States.

A journey of heritage

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Changing the game in any given endeavor requires more than an impetus to set in motion variable factors to ensure success.
It requires boldness, tenacity and a kind of adventurism that only a few possess. John Walker & Sons changed the course of whisky when they pushed the boundaries of their grocer and tea blending store in Kilmarnock in Scotland and made whisky ambassadors out of ship captains.

When Johnny Walker first opened his grocery store, he was not at all that happy with his stock of whisky and began blending different casks to create different whisky profiles. His background as a tea master facilitated his whisky blending, and his backroom experiments began the John Walker & Sons journey across the world.

Recently, the John Walker yacht arrived at the port of Manila to launch the latest blend of world’s leading Scotch whisky maker, the John Walker & Sons Odyssey, which is without argument one of the most premium whisky in the world to date.

The Voyager yacht that can accommodate 250 people for a party on board docked in Manila to bring back a lasting memory of a glorious past! The John Walker heritage is pushing forward a glorious future with the launch of the Odyssey.

The mission of the eight country journey of the John Walker Yacht is to recreate the epic journey of Sir Alexander Walker which began in the 1920’s. The marketing feat that Alexander Walker achieved is attributable to his ingenuity in bringing his premium Scotch Whiskey to the world.

In an attempt to escape from the constraints of the Prohibition, the time when alcohol intake was not yet legalized and the freedom to imbibe this elixir was not a reality, Alexander dreamt up a way to indulge his passion by taking the whiskey to the high seas.

The high seas gave John Walker & Sons the freedom of navigation to explore markets abroad that would appreciate its craftsmanship. John Walker & Sons whiskey made its trip across the world when Alexander engaged ship captains as brand ambassadors to every port of call they made. The commissions the ship captains earned successfully spurned the John Walker & Sons international whiskey trade.

The original whiskey trade routes pioneered by the Walker family began in the left the corner grocery store in Kilmarnock, Scotland, to journey to countries where the tea clippers trade routes plying between Europe and the East. Now in a span of six months, the John Walker & Sons Voyager will travel to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and India once again retracing the route that the original marketing feat took in the 1920s.

The Johnnie Walker archives suggest that by 1893, John Walker & Sons whiskey reached India. By 1910, it reached China and Hong Kong and Malaysia in 1911. By 1925, the whiskies entered the shores of Taiwan, the Philippines and Thailand and conquering Vietnam in 1954. Over the next century, the John Walker & Sons became the symbol of quality luxury whiskey the world over.

The present-day visit of the John Walker & Sons Voyager brought back the golden age of Jazz in the 1920s. The dock site of The Voyager was tented and filled with replicas of the relics from the 1920s, complete with a bevy of beautiful ladies in vintage gowns whose hairstyle and make-up transformed them into ladies from another era. Handsome page boys with double breasted jackets and berets were at one’s beck and call.

Scarlet, the renowned Philippine jazz performer, and her band brought her music alongside The Voyager. At the dock site, her performance enthralled and brought back the nostalgia of a grandiose past.

The black-tie event transformed Manila Bay back to its former glory befitting the setting of the by-invitation-only event, which was attended by game changers that mirror the achievement of John Walker & Sons. The event was a celebration of the epic journeys of exceptional individuals who undertook challenges to change the game in their own fields of endeavor.

Four (4) personalities were honored as the most progressive individuals in Asia Pacific — in the field of business, Joey Concepcion; in fashion, Rhett Eala; in furniture design, Kenneth Cobenpue; and in film, Brillante Mendoza.

As it announced the launch, John Walker & Sons provided for a tour of The Voyager and a whiskey mentoring lesson in the enclave of the Game Changers’ Lounge in the luxurious yacht. Johnnie Walker global chief marketing officer James Thompson and Johnnie Walker global brand ambassador Tom Jones introduced the Odyssey, a mix of three very special blends of whiskey. The new triple-malt John Walker & Sons Odyssey was an unforgettable breathtaking experience for every person on The Voyager, giving a generous taste of the high quality demands of luxury consumers.

The whiskey is stunningly smooth. It widens the pupils as one imbibes it and gives a giddy sense of accomplishment of having the privilege of drinking a whiskey of such quality and luxury.

“John Walker and Sons Odyssey stands proudly amongst the rarest of blends — a unique triple malt inspired by the golden era of sea travel,” Tom Jones, the whiskey mentor of The Voyager enthused.

He shared that the Odyssey was developed by master blender Jim Beveridge using Sir Alexander’s original handwritten notes. European oak casks host the whisky blends, creating a subtle earthy finish to its faintly honeyed fruity tones. A hint of caramel with tart berries and citruses punctuate in the taste buds as the whiskey swirls like silk in the palate and slides smoothly down the throat.

The Triptych, the marriage of three whiskey elements, is delivered in the Odyssey’s triple malt. The nose, palate and finish come together in a spine tingling experience as one swirls the whiskey and swallows it as slowly as possible.

The Odyssey comes with a crystal grade champagne gold-colored decanter that sways the bottle with the movement of the ocean and defines the innovation that came with the craftsmanship of the three blends of whiskey. While the bottle can turn 360 degrees, when the movement slows to stop the bottle will always stay upright, symbolically pointing to the progressive direction of its maker, John Walker & Sons.

“John Walker and Sons Voyager is an opportunity for us to celebrate the current game changers in Asia Pacific who are achieving progress for themselves and the world around them,” said Thompson.

A journey of heritage

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Changing the game in any given endeavor requires more than an impetus to set in motion variable factors to ensure success.
It requires boldness, tenacity and a kind of adventurism that only a few possess. John Walker & Sons changed the course of whisky when they pushed the boundaries of their grocer and tea blending store in Kilmarnock in Scotland and made whisky ambassadors out of ship captains.

When Johnny Walker first opened his grocery store, he was not at all that happy with his stock of whisky and began blending different casks to create different whisky profiles. His background as a tea master facilitated his whisky blending, and his backroom experiments began the John Walker & Sons journey across the world.

Recently, the John Walker yacht arrived at the port of Manila to launch the latest blend of world’s leading Scotch whisky maker, the John Walker & Sons Odyssey, which is without argument one of the most premium whisky in the world to date.

The Voyager yacht that can accommodate 250 people for a party on board docked in Manila to bring back a lasting memory of a glorious past! The John Walker heritage is pushing forward a glorious future with the launch of the Odyssey.

The mission of the eight country journey of the John Walker Yacht is to recreate the epic journey of Sir Alexander Walker which began in the 1920’s. The marketing feat that Alexander Walker achieved is attributable to his ingenuity in bringing his premium Scotch Whiskey to the world.

In an attempt to escape from the constraints of the Prohibition, the time when alcohol intake was not yet legalized and the freedom to imbibe this elixir was not a reality, Alexander dreamt up a way to indulge his passion by taking the whiskey to the high seas.

The high seas gave John Walker & Sons the freedom of navigation to explore markets abroad that would appreciate its craftsmanship. John Walker & Sons whiskey made its trip across the world when Alexander engaged ship captains as brand ambassadors to every port of call they made. The commissions the ship captains earned successfully spurned the John Walker & Sons international whiskey trade.

The original whiskey trade routes pioneered by the Walker family began in the left the corner grocery store in Kilmarnock, Scotland, to journey to countries where the tea clippers trade routes plying between Europe and the East. Now in a span of six months, the John Walker & Sons Voyager will travel to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and India once again retracing the route that the original marketing feat took in the 1920s.

The Johnnie Walker archives suggest that by 1893, John Walker & Sons whiskey reached India. By 1910, it reached China and Hong Kong and Malaysia in 1911. By 1925, the whiskies entered the shores of Taiwan, the Philippines and Thailand and conquering Vietnam in 1954. Over the next century, the John Walker & Sons became the symbol of quality luxury whiskey the world over.

The present-day visit of the John Walker & Sons Voyager brought back the golden age of Jazz in the 1920s. The dock site of The Voyager was tented and filled with replicas of the relics from the 1920s, complete with a bevy of beautiful ladies in vintage gowns whose hairstyle and make-up transformed them into ladies from another era. Handsome page boys with double breasted jackets and berets were at one’s beck and call.

Scarlet, the renowned Philippine jazz performer, and her band brought her music alongside The Voyager. At the dock site, her performance enthralled and brought back the nostalgia of a grandiose past.

The black-tie event transformed Manila Bay back to its former glory befitting the setting of the by-invitation-only event, which was attended by game changers that mirror the achievement of John Walker & Sons. The event was a celebration of the epic journeys of exceptional individuals who undertook challenges to change the game in their own fields of endeavor.

Four (4) personalities were honored as the most progressive individuals in Asia Pacific — in the field of business, Joey Concepcion; in fashion, Rhett Eala; in furniture design, Kenneth Cobenpue; and in film, Brillante Mendoza.

As it announced the launch, John Walker & Sons provided for a tour of The Voyager and a whiskey mentoring lesson in the enclave of the Game Changers’ Lounge in the luxurious yacht. Johnnie Walker global chief marketing officer James Thompson and Johnnie Walker global brand ambassador Tom Jones introduced the Odyssey, a mix of three very special blends of whiskey. The new triple-malt John Walker & Sons Odyssey was an unforgettable breathtaking experience for every person on The Voyager, giving a generous taste of the high quality demands of luxury consumers.

The whiskey is stunningly smooth. It widens the pupils as one imbibes it and gives a giddy sense of accomplishment of having the privilege of drinking a whiskey of such quality and luxury.

“John Walker and Sons Odyssey stands proudly amongst the rarest of blends — a unique triple malt inspired by the golden era of sea travel,” Tom Jones, the whiskey mentor of The Voyager enthused.

He shared that the Odyssey was developed by master blender Jim Beveridge using Sir Alexander’s original handwritten notes. European oak casks host the whisky blends, creating a subtle earthy finish to its faintly honeyed fruity tones. A hint of caramel with tart berries and citruses punctuate in the taste buds as the whiskey swirls like silk in the palate and slides smoothly down the throat.

The Triptych, the marriage of three whiskey elements, is delivered in the Odyssey’s triple malt. The nose, palate and finish come together in a spine tingling experience as one swirls the whiskey and swallows it as slowly as possible.

The Odyssey comes with a crystal grade champagne gold-colored decanter that sways the bottle with the movement of the ocean and defines the innovation that came with the craftsmanship of the three blends of whiskey. While the bottle can turn 360 degrees, when the movement slows to stop the bottle will always stay upright, symbolically pointing to the progressive direction of its maker, John Walker & Sons.

“John Walker and Sons Voyager is an opportunity for us to celebrate the current game changers in Asia Pacific who are achieving progress for themselves and the world around them,” said Thompson.

Love makes pizza go round

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Lombardi’s first conquered New York City in 1897 when an Italian immigrant introduced the flatbread that eventually became one of the most popular foods the world over, the pizza.

Lombardi’s in the Philippines conquered Manila in 2009 when chef Davide Lombardi immigrated to the Philippines to follow his heart to be with his Filipina wife, whom he met in Paris. She wanted to go back home to be with her family here. Indeed, love made the pizza go round the world.

Before coming to the Philippines, Lombardi worked in many restaurants in Italy then in Paris where he stayed for 15 years. Chef Lombardi first opened Lombardi’s Pizza & Pasta in the Orange Place in San Juan City, to serve authentic Italian pizza and pasta dishes. With his success, he is now excited to welcome his second Lombardi’s restaurant in Robinson’s Magnolia.

To launch his new menu in the Robinson’s Magnolia, he introduced several dishes that indeed proved that Lombardi’s Pizza and Pasta has conquered Manila.

The first course was a simple dish of carpaccio de tonno, with the fresh tuna refreshingly citrusy along with the dressing of extra virgin olive oil. The addition of the arugula leaves provided a slight bitter tang. The fresh shaved parmesan added an earthy and creamy counterpoint to the other components of the appetizer.

The Napolitano pizza was also as simple as it gets. And what else does anyone need when you have slowly fermented dough that uses less yeast and develops more flavor and texture over time. Baked fresh and never frozen, the crust can be enjoyed even by itself but paired with the fresh tomato; the basil and the mozzarella cheese make for a compleat pizza with a crust that is saltine like in flavor, with a chewy interior and crisp at the edges.

The other pizza, Rustica with pancetta (slab bacon), salami, mozzarella and basil, is the meaty version of the Napolitano pizza. The Quattro Staggioni, with ham, artichokes, olives, mushroom and mozzarella, have dimensions of earthiness from the fresh
mushrooms, the prized artichokes and the fruity olives. The Quattro Formaggi, only made with Italian cheeses, mozzarella, pecorino, gorgonzola and provolone, is a true taste of an Italian four-cheese pizza and the different levels of saltiness and creaminess of the cheeses against the chewy, crisp, saltine-like crust is a pizza experience in Manila that can transport one to Italy.

Lombardi also shared some pizza trivia. He said that “pizza and pasta places in Manila often serve American-style cooking. In fact, I was surprised to see that pepperoni pizza in a restaurant had sausages all over it and not a single slice of bell pepper.” He added that if you order pepperoni pizza in Italy, you would most likely get a pizza with pepperoncino (peppers) instead of pepperoni.

Lombardi’s risotto, with no other ingredient but Arborio rice, butter and salt, is another testament that the right method of cooking with a few quality ingredients can deliver a truly extraordinary experience. The grains of the rice were creamy from its own starch coaxed patiently during 20 minutes of stirring. The butter rounded of the creaminess and no other ingredient was needed to highlight one of Italy’s most famous but most difficult dishes to execute.

The spaghetti ai frutti di mare made with fresh seafood delights as it showcases Philippine clams, shrimps, squid and mussels in excellent form. The tender seafood is lightly seasoned to showcase its brininess and is a texture contrast to the al dente noodles.

The fettuccine alla carbonara made with pancetta is a revelation of what a true carbonara is as the bacon is hefty and generous in slices, providing just the right amount of saltiness and smokiness to the cream freshened up by scant sprinklings of fresh parsley.

The other revelation is when Lombardi introduced the method of heating herbs in olive oil then drizzling it over a tomato sauced pasta. The infusion of the herbs in the warm oil allowed the leaves flavors to develop and when it was poured into the pasta before serving, it accentuated the herbs in a fresher way from herbs cooked with the tomato sauce.

Lombardi teaches in the Center for Culinary Arts. He adds that “Italian cooking is all about balance of ingredients. I always remind them that they should always use the freshest ingredients,” he said. The fact that he does not add sugar makes it healthier and also more authentic.

To boot, his way of making pizza and pasta is healthy. “Contrary to popular notion, authentic Italian cuisine is not high-calorie or fattening, according to him. Italian pizza and pasta does not have to be heavy on meat,” he explains.

He compares Italian pizza to American-style pizza and pasta which tend to overload ingredients.

Also, he shares that cooking pasta al dente makes it better for digestion as it absorbs less water. Too much water in your pasta can create a water imbalance in one’s stomach that causes indigestion, he adds.

It was the first time I heard of why al dente pasta is healthier that when I researched about it I learned that Lombardi indeed had hit a dietary jackpot. According to the low glycemic index diet (http://www.montignac.com), starch that is cooked in less water has a susbstantially lower glycemic index than starch than has been overcooked and has absorbed too much water. Thus, al dente pasta is diet friendly!

One of his goals as a chef and culinary instructor is to give every person in this world the authentic taste and experience of Italian cuisine that is most healthy. His cuisine promises to bring one’s taste buds to Milan where he was born and raised.

He remembers when his grandmother asked him to pick herbs and spices in the garden, while his mother let him stay in the kitchen as she prepared their dinner. This was one of the reasons he became a professional chef — his love for quality and fresh ingredients was cultivated in him as a child.

Diners are often surprised that instead of the usual cardboard menu, the menu of the day often is written on the blackboard with chalk.

“I do not serve them a fixed menu because some ingredients are not easy to source. I only use good quality ingredients and fresh produce like vegetables. I use the best flour to make pizza and pasta dough,” he enthused.

“Once, an Italian couple who stayed at the hotel came looking for me, but I was at CCA teaching. When they tasted the food at my restaurant, they could not believe that Filipinos are serving Italian food with flavors that could be found only in authentic Italian restaurants. They waited for me to arrive just to disprove their doubt,” he recalled with a smile.

Lombardi’s also serves real panacotta that is creamy and formed until set just right, tiramisu made with mascarpone and gelato with seasonal flavors.

For those who want to complete the Italian gastronomical experience, Lombardi can take them to the rustic northern regions of Calabria all the way to the sunny southern regions of Sicily in the Mediterranean, when he serves dishes like the osso bucco ala Milanese, saltimbocca ala Romana and other fish and meat dishes.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/lombardiauthenticitalian.

Tea talk

by Geraldine Rullan-Borromeo
(Manila, Philippines)

Tea talk
Published in the Daily Tribune Life 13 January 2013

Tea is my potion of choice. The different aromas of tea leaves blended with fruits open up unending possibilities that one can explore. Every tea cup can set a different mood and brighten up an otherwise gray day. The euphemism “my cup of tea” can only be really understood by one who loves tea and can make a distinction among the many varieties available. When one finds “his cup of tea,” it is like a finding a glove that perfectly fits one’s hands, the pair of jeans that shows off the all the right curves and hides all the imperfections, or the right shade of lipstick that one can use for day or night — literally a match made in heaven.

When the TWG Tea Salon and Boutique was launched recently at Level 1 of the Greenbelt 5, I was all agog at trying their teas. Having sampled teas from all over the world and a tea collection at home from different countries, including a selection that the Queen of England herself drinks, I was a certified tea lover. To go to a store that was all about tea put me into such a state of heady anticipation that it made my steps a little lighter than usual, even days before the event.

The TWG Tea Salon and Boutique is exclusively managed and operated by the Rustan Group of Companies and is another promise of an indulgent experience that tea lovers will enjoy. “This will be the first luxury tea salon in the Philippines with the most impressive variety and creative selection of teas. With the Rustan heritage of luxury and quality, it was a natural partnership,” says Anton Huang, executive vice president of Stores Specialists Inc.

“As an Asian luxury brand, we are delighted to not only be partnered by the Philippines’ premiere specialist retailer, Rustan Group, but to bring TWG Tea savoir-faire to customers in Manila,” says Taha Bouqdib, president of TWG Tea.

Indeed as I entered the TWG Tea Salon and Boutique, I felt as if I was engulfed by the opulent aromas of the teas harvested and sourced directly from every tea producing country in the world. The whole store is encased by handcrafted glass with brass fittings and inside are dark paneled walls, marble flooring, antique mirrors and hardwood counter tops. An incredible collection of teapots that surely cost an arm and a leg, gold-plated tea warmers lined with felt, ceiling-to-floor shelves of old world tea tins, brass weighing scales, fine bone china and crisp linens on the tables paired with soft, plush chairs framed in wood all together create an enclave of quiet luxury where one can retreat and have “their cup of tea.”

Iced or hot, one can choose from a selection of black, white or green teas, either plain or with an infusion of fruit flavors, herbs and even spices.

Among the 450 tea selections (from almost 1,000 selections) flown in to Manila, TWG offers the Silver Moon Green Tea, a blend of Sencha Green Tea with dried strawberries and Madagascar vanilla; the Red Tea sourced from the Rooibos plant in South Africa; the Earl Grey Chocolate Tea, with bergamot, violets and cacao; the Signature Black Tea with red berries, caramel and star anise; and the Darjeeling Tea, the leaves of which are taken from the first harvest during spring.

At the TWG Tea Salon and Boutique, one can have more than their cup of tea as its resident tea chef concocts pastry and savory confections that have been infused with tea.

The macarons are one of my favorite confections at the TWG Tea Salon and Boutique. Its pure almond flour and egg whites made richer by fruit and tea flavors that reflects the genius in the combinations. Light teas are best paired with strawberry, raspberry and lemon macarons, while the black tea is appreciated with the dark chocolate macaron. The pastry’s crisp exterior crumbles as one bites into it and the fine almond powder melts in the mouth as the tea flavor subtlety allows the flavors to bloom.

Vincent Borromeo, another writer who had attended the opening brunch the day before at the TWG Tea Salon and Boutique, raved about the TWG Wagyu Burger, declaring it was the best burger he had tasted ever. Being a burger aficionado, and having sampled all the burgers the metro has to offer, from wagyu to prime beef concoctions with a variety of cheeses, Borromeo knows his burgers. The idea that the beef was infused with tea heightened my curiosity for the savory confection selections at the TWG Tea Salon and Boutique.

For those whose palate for the tea has evolved, the nuances of flavor of leaves from different origins, tell a narrative of their own. In TWG, whole young tea leaves are harvested by hand with extra care taken not to break the leaf in the process. For loose tea, the leaf is left whole, while for tea bags, the stems are taken out.

Only food grade cotton bags and threads are used and enough space for expansion of the tea leaves is provided for as not to stifle the development of the tea flavors. As opposed to paper tea bags, which absorb the flavor and aroma of teas, cotton tea bags allow the full transfer of the tea flavor and aroma to the water in the teacup.

One’s love story with tea can ignite a passion to find one’s “cup of tea.” It begins with the choice of tea leaves, boiling the water at the right temperature, brewing the leaves at the right time and sweetening it with one’s choice of sweet poison — honey, cube or raw sugars and the optional dash of lemon or milk.

The TWG TEA Company is the luxury tea brand of The Wellness Group, which was established in 2007 in Singapore. The date 1837 is part of the brand name of the TWG TEA Co. and signifies the anniversary of the tea trade in Singapore.