OAKLAND GETS A TASTE OF THE FUTURE OF FILIPINO CUISINE
We did it! Savor Filipino 2016 was a smashing success! Kudos to the amazing Volunteers, Committee Members, and of course our Sponsors, without whose deep collaboration and passion Savor Filipino wouldn't be possible. Now, as we reflect upon the days triumphs (and get some much needed sleep) we can't help but feel incredibly grateful for the strength of the community around Filipino Cuisine.
Savor Filipino began at Noon with 10 amazing Chefs presenting 10 unique twists on Filipino dishes that we all know and love. Guests eyebrows raised as they tasted familiar flavors within surprising form factors, and their minds raced as each Chef was interviewed live on the Lifestyle Network stage. Infanta, Tanduay, and Holy Craft Brewing were on deck to serve libations that transported tastebuds as they were consumed alongside more than 10,000 beautifully plated servings.
Savor Filipino Photos by A. Ramos
The evening was capped off with the Buksan Dinner Experience, an intimate 5-course dinner wherein each course was presented by a different chef as a story arch. In recognition of Filipino American History Month, each course spoke to to the historical context of our ancestral diet, visitors from abroad, and the journey to rediscover the Filipino identity.
We hope that we have been able to and contribute something meaningful to the conversation around Filipino food and personal identity. In the meantime, remember to support your local Filipino restaurants, go online in search of new pop-ups, and understand that each of us has our own truth about our cuisine.
Proceeds from Savor Filipino were donated to WestBay Multi Center - a non-profit that provides at-risk youth support in staying in school and pursuing college degrees.
ARTICLE BY LORA BUMATAY
My mother-in-law, Luzviminda Bumatay or Grandma Luz as we called her, was the Filipina Martha Stewart. Every holiday, she would decorate her house, meticulously design her dining table and execute a perfect mix of Filipino and American dishes. I always told her that her tablescape and food could be featured on Bon Appétit!
One of her greatest life's pleasures was seeing her family and guests eat her food and come back for seconds. She beamed with happiness and pride when people would comment they always accepted an invitation to her home because of the delicious fare she served. Chatter was lively and tummies were full at her parties.
Grandma Luz's Table of Plenty
Condiments for Pancit Lug-Lug
The lengths she would go to, to feed her loved ones their favorite dishes were an impressive demonstration of her love, care and thoughtfulness. Whether it was a regular Sunday supper at home or a big birthday party, Grandma Luz would plan her menu days, sometimes weeks ahead. She would literally write down an itinerary of places to go with Grandpa Roger as the designated driver. They would make a day of grocery shopping. First heading to the commissary to order the prime rib, then stopping by a certain bakery to pick up a cake, then making another trip to a different store/bakery just to pick up dinner rolls that they knew were a favorite of my daughter's. Even after a tiresome day of being out and about, Grandma Luz always found the time and energy to be in the kitchen. Two days ahead of a gathering, she would prepare her pecan tarts. The day before a party she would make her signature bibingka and chop up ingredients for her vegetable lumpia and pancit. Hours and hours would be spent in the kitchen. Grandma Luz always made extra too, so that for example, when she made paella- my Dad's favorite, he would have some to take to enjoy later. Everyone went home with food from her kitchen after a party at her house.
Grandma Luz always prepared Pancit Bihon for birthdays, as noodles represented long life!
It has been a little over a year since Grandma Luz went home to God. Even in her last days when she could not cook anymore, she would worry about what we would be eating in her home. She would send Grandpa Roger on short trips to pick up food, snacks or dessert when she knew we were coming over.
Of course, our family gatherings this year have not been the same without her and the food made from her hands. I spent each holiday at her home with a lump in my throat and a hole in my heart. We definitely felt her absence during each celebration as there was no paella, vegetable lumpia, pecan tarts or bibingka to enjoy.
On July 9, 2016 we had family and friends over to pray a rosary in her honor for her one year death anniversary. Grandpa Roger, also a great chef in his own right, made sure her standards were met. There was a dish each featuring chicken, beef, pork, seafood and of course noodles. Grandpa Roger made a huge roast beef, home-made lechon kawali and did his best to re-create her famous pineapple upside down cake. In addition, their balae's (in-laws) Uncle Ernie and Auntie Tessie, made beef mechado and every single family who came brought some kind of food contribution. Grandma Luz would often say, "my cup runneth over" and on this day, her table of plenty was definitely overflowing.
Months ago I found Mom's leche flan recipe written in her own hand. I have made it a couple of times at family get-togethers. One day I hope to find more of her recipes and try them. I promised myself though, that not until I can dedicate and replicate wholeheartedly the time, effort and love she put into cooking would I attempt one of her signature dishes. I am lucky that Mom passed on her cooking skills to her son Eric, my husband. As the saying goes, "Like Mother, Like Son," Eric spends a lot of time in the kitchen. He also makes special trips to out of the way places to bring home his kids' favorite foods. He spoils us with the meals he makes. Through him, Grandma Luz's legacy of love through food will continue. It is evident that every day, he lives the love he received from his mother's kitchen.
Our beautiful angel in heaven, Luzviminda Bumatay.
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY NASTASHA ALLI
Summer is hands down my favourite time of year in Toronto, and Filipino food was everywhere this year. Here’s what that looked like - the movement’s in full swing!
Lamesa’s Summerlicious 2016 Menu
As part of this year’s Summerlicious festival (the best chance to check out some the city’s top restaurants offering prix-fixe specials), Chef Daniel Cancino and his team at Lamesa brought a progressive vision of Filipino food to life on the plate, using locally-sourced ingredients to create dishes that undeniably satisfy the Filipino palate.
Take Ensaladang Talong, a salad of smoky, charred eggplant nestled above generous dollops of calamansi crème fraîche, topped with a garlicky tomato and mustard seed caponata and strewn with crunchy puffed pinipig.
Or Lechon Lettuce Wraps, made with thrice-cooked pork belly (boiled, cooked confit then deep-fried) tossed with a zesty calamansi dressing, topped with garlic chips, finger chilies and a papaya-carrot-raisin atchara, finished with yet more calamansi in a light aioli.
I’m a particularly big fan of their Daing ng Bangus - milkfish cured in-house, served with a thick nut-based sauce of tomatoes, bell peppers, red wine vinegar and cashews called romesco, a condiment that hails from fishing towns in northeastern Spain. You know that goes right with a briny, crisp-around-the-edges fillet of boneless bangus (especially near the belly). Ribbons of shaved celery, peppery radishes, pickled onions and crisp pea tendrils top it off, alongside a bowl of steamed white rice.
From walking in the door to the moment you leave, Lamesa Filipino Kitchen proved why they’re Toronto’s best Filipino food spot. They get genuine hospitality down to a science, and exhibit a vibe about them that bridges being Torontonian with being Filipino - the art on the walls say it best. From the way the menu is shaped (including ala carte classics to communal kamayan-style dinners) to provide diners a range of experiences with Filipino food, Lamesa’s definitely a destination in Toronto; bang on to sate those Filipino food cravings, executed with a refinement that’s earned over time.
Instagram favourite: Tito Ron’s Ube Turon Sundae
#Ooobae became acceptable to splash over all our social media accounts for a reason: this summer, intense purple hues took over scores of foodie accounts on Instagram, prompting several local online spaces to declare ube the next dessert craze in Toronto.
Tristen and Mike from Tito Ron’s (a Filipino-Carribean lumpia shop in Toronto’s eclectic Kensington Market) hit the sweet spot with their Ube Turon Sundae, scooping either all ube, ube/mango or ube/langka ice cream into a bowl topped with ube pillows (seriously addictive), banana chips and a twist on a street food classic - turon made with ube and bananas. After wandering into bakeries, sandwich shops, vintage stores and bars with excellent craft brews on tap, it’s the perfect treat for an afternoon spent exploring a tiny yet large world in one Toronto neighbourhood.
Tito Ron's Ube Turon Sundae is made for that wall.
KulturaTO’s Street Eats Competition
I live for outdoor festivals in the city, and the love explodes tenfold when I get to enjoy a beautiful summer day wandering the streets of Toronto while munching on Filipino street food. My worlds collide in delicious ways!
So many reasons to love Toronto.
From its start as a small community barbecue at the youth-led Kapisanan Community Centre, the Kultura Festival grew tremendously over the last decade and has drawn in crowds of over 15,000 to experience what being Filipino is like in Toronto - celebrating our culture, history and naturally, food. With events held in some of the city’s most vibrant public spaces - this year at their largest yet - the folks from Kapisanan (at the helm of this volunteer-driven festival every year) have much to be proud of as they continue to establish a mainstream market for Filipino food in Toronto.
Over the past couple years, Kultura’s “Kain Kalye” Street Eats Competition has become THE place for a generation of millennial Filipino chefs, caterers and food enthusiasts in the city to meet, talk shop and serve up their takes on Filipino food. You could say that, like others have about Toronto, we’re coming out of our shell by learning to be truly proud of who we are.
Lamesa had long lines for Pork Neck Inasal Skewers, charred and deliciously tangy, along with a legit Halo-Halo made from ingredients finished in-house.
Tito Ron’s served a playful take on sweet Filipino-style spaghetti, in a totally awesome fusion with hotdogs that turned me into a 5 year old at the doors of a Jollibee.
At Kanto by Tita Flips - downtown Toronto’s first Filipino street food vendor slinging take-out classics such as pancit, lechon kawali and lumpia out of shipping containers - I tried Cabcab, thin cassava flour wafers topped with shreds of Kanto’s cured beef tapa, tomatoes, green onions and a coconutty syrup. I imagine platters of these would disappear instantly at a party - and make excellent bar snacks!
I ordered Toasted Pandesal with Ube Cream Glaze and Coconut Jam from the guys at Merienda, whom I first met at a SALO Series dinner with Yana Gilbuena. Though a relatively simple concept, this dessert (that you can really have anytime) delivers three layers of distinct sweetness - first in a mildly sugary pandesal dough, then through the vegetal fruitiness of a glaze bursting with ube, and finally with coconut milk reduced for hours into a thick jam, filled with whiffs of toasty-until-almost-burnt coconut in every bite.