Saturday, April 29, 2017

LCUP Fetes Malolos Culinary Pride Nanay Mercy Antonio

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Six Students Prepare Six-Course Molecular Gastronomy Dinner

La Consolacion University Philippines (LCUP), in cooperation with Malolos Vice-Mayor Gilbert “Bebong” T GATCHALIAN, made local history by awarding 80-year-old Nanay Mercy ANTONIO — heir to the secret heirloom recipe of the famous empanada de kaliskis de Malolos, named at the suggestion of late food historian and family friend Mila ENRIQUEZ—a Certificate of Recognition for being a proud and living Maloleño culinary artist and heritage standard-bearer.

The family has been serving the crispy paper-thin clad pies since 1820 to guests like Dr Jose Rizal and Gat Andres Bonifacio and Presidents Manuel L Quezon, Sergio S Osmeña, Carlos P Garcia, Elpidio R Quirino, Ferdinand E Marcos, and Joseph E Estrada coming to Malolos all the way from Manila. “May nag-alok na sa akin na gumawa nito sa Maynila, pero pinili ko na manatili dito sa Malolos.”

Lola Mercy, who came in light blue short-sleeved barong and slacks—“Ganito talaga ako noon pa” referring to her manly mien and manners—with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, has been making the paper-thin crusted (so delicate they crumble noisily with every bite) meat pies since she was 7 years old.  Now that she’s gradually losing her sight, she has passed on the trade secret to two granddaughters who help her out every day.  

Vice-Mayor Gatchalian with the support of LCUP through Chef Jeremy MALCAMPO—Assistant Dean of the College of International Tourism and Management and Manager of Café Barcelo Malolos and Food Services and a good friend since our student days—promised not only to continue to seek out, recognize, support, and preserve Maloleño heritage by awarding recognition to its heritage artists.

Vice-Mayor Bebong also promised to further help out the family by “securing a patent for the recipe of the empanada de kaliskis de Malolos, so that the family can receive royalties whenever the recipe is produced elsewhere.”

Kudos to Cultural Heritage Preservation, Vice-Mayor Bebong! Long live Philippine Arts and Culture!

Feting Nanay Mercy ANTONIO are six prize-winning graduating LCUP Culinary Arts students—namely, Arvey AGUINALDO, Harvey ANOB, Maria Cecilia CAISIP, Floren GONZALES, John LEMUEL, and Gladys PEREZ—who prepared a Six-Course Molecular Gastronomy (Degustacion) Dinner for family, friends, and guests, headed by no less than La Consolacion University Philippines’ Sister President Imelda A MORA, OSA, who Chef Jeremy thanked for being a kind mother figure in his professional and academic life. Thank you very much, Sister Imee!

The dinner proved too high-faulting to read and digest as it is without the help of some Googling. Degustation, on the one hand, according to Wikipedia is “the careful appreciative tasting of various foods, focusing on the gustatory style” offering a “variety from which the diner can choose.” Basically, a degustation menu is “the simplest form of a menu, especially put together for tasting…a number of courses giving a selection of fine food to sample with each menu matched with quality wine to complement each course.”

Thus, after dinner rolls and duck liver pate the heavy rectangular slabs that served as our plates came one after another with a motley choice of rich and tempting options, but the following are my favorites per course:  

1. Hors d’Oeuvres: Amuze Bouche, Potage, Poisson—paired with Sauvignon Blanc—the Nantua Connsomme w/ Saffron & Truffle Oil, the Carameled Caviar and Single-Seared Salmon Tranche, and the Parmesan Paper & Truffled Balsamic Reduction;

2. Canard, Poulet, Oeufs et Algination—paired with Gewurtstraminer—the Sous Vide Confit of Cristpy Duck Thighs, the Fresh Sampaloc Jam Confisseur, and the 2 Layers of Chicken Adobo Alginate w/ Crisped Chicken Rillettes & Crispy Garlic Ribs;

3. Sorbet et Confisseries—paired with Sparkling or Champagne—the Honey Salabat Sorbet in Tin Can w/ Popping Rocks Candies and Mint Cotton Candy, but I didn’t finish the cotton candy;

4. Entrecotte—Le Plat Principale—paired with Cabernet Sauvignon—the US Black Angus Rib-Eye Steak a la Chateaubriand (which Chef Jeremy indulged me to take home, double, since I couldn’t have possibly finished on the spot), the Melange of Button Mushrooms & Roasted Bell Pepper in Truffle Oil, and Truffled Brandy Demiglace; and,

5. Desserts—paired with Muscatel—the New York Cheese & Walnut Meringe, the Strawberry Butterscotch, and the Crème de Cacao Ganache, and of course the after dinner Mint.

On the other hand, molecular gastronomy, according to Wikipedia, is “the subdiscipline of food science that investigates the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur in cooking… It has three components: social, artistic, and technical.” Thus, molecular cuisine is a “modern style of cooking taking advantage of many technical innovations from scientific disciplines.”

Being hypertensive and all, I had to be extra careful not to give in to my adventurous gustatory sense—after all, the names of the dishes themselves had been all too difficult to remember and match with the pictures I had taken using my phone.

I was deeply honored to be called out by Chef Malcampo among his VIP guests—“A poet who has been awarded at the Malacañang with a prize from the Talaang Ginto,”he said; then, “Pare, tayo naman,” he called out, excusing me, “He’s not really into wearing formal attire” wearing only jeans, t-shirt, and sandals—as a long-time friend  who surprised him with this really unexpected meeting alongside LCUP’s Executive Vice President and Vice-President for Academic Affairs Alvin V NUQUI, PhD, who is to be credited for the soon-to-rise first hospital school in Malolos!

The guest list included Malolos Mayor Christian D NATIVIDAD, III, who handed out the honors to the graduating Culinary Arts students. UNILAB Employees Council Chair Mr Hector T RIVERA; Philippine News Agency Writer-Director Mr Abs ABANDO; and, The Bag Investigator’s husband-and-wife blogger team Mr JohnJett and Ms Arcee MIRANDA.

To promote and reminisce a bit, in 2012 Chef Jeremy and I started out on the Rex Publishing book called Philippine International Culinary Encyclopedia and it has finally come out in 2016! More publishing projects, Bro!

Thank you to Ross Flores DEL ROSARIO of Wazzup Pilipinas for sending me in as your representative and to LCUP’s beautiful and super industrious host Ms Pauline  Rivera REYES, General Manager of BarCIE International Center, and to the dashing debonnaire Assistant Chef Mr Giancarlo CEREZO, who I would have loved to talked with some more.

Congratulations to LCUP!

Some photos from Ms. Keith Dela Cruz  of PBS Radyo ng Bayan

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