Additions to my already very long list
When I received my edible care package from Maxine Marcelino on the day of the typhoon, I was speechless. Even more so when when I tasted the food she sent—what an excellent cook her mother Leilani is.
The Chinese lumpia was delicious. It was so tasty but did not overwhelm. In fact, I’d had about a cup of it before I realized I had neither slathered it with sauce nor topped it with sweetened peanuts or crunchy seaweeds. Healthy yet so satisfying, this recipe was passed on by the matriarchs of Leilani’s family.
The crab sotanghon is yet another specialty. Considering I had it the day after the storm, it was still excellent. Like the lumpia, it was tasty yet pristine. Maxine said, “Our promise is that if it’s not fresh, we will give you a refund or replace it.”
Their mocha chiffon cake is the moistest rendition I’ve ever tried—even straight out of the fridge. It is all that’s good in an old-fashioned cake. It transported me back to my childhood.
Leilani launched Carlito’s (tel. 0917-1257264; @carlitoscateringph on Facebook and Instagram), a catering company, in 2003. Maxine, who’s in charge of marketing, told me how devastated they were by the cancellation of their booked events during the lockdown. With a massive inventory on-hand, and no end for the pandemic in sight, they thought of offering their signature home dishes.
To ensure quality, the lumpia is on offer only twice a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays, as it is tedious to make and because Leilani prepares it all herself, down to the roasting of the nuts.
Despite the crisis, it is nice know that Carlito’s managed to not just survive, but thrive. The cakes baked in the Marcelino home kitchen for years have gained loyal followers.
Visit their newly opened cake store called Butternut Bakery (2/F, SM North Edsa City Center and 3/F, SM Mega Fashion Hall; tel. 0927-4615655; @butternutmnl on Facebook and Instagram).
Speaking of comfort food, chef Jerome Valencia’s pares must be on the list.
From 1996 to 1999, Jerome cooked for and ran Pares House near the University of Santo Tomas with his partners Shintaro Valdes and Mandy Lichauco, even before he went to culinary school. It was the pares house that launched his culinary career and led him to the Center for Culinary Arts.
Like many, the pandemic forced Jerome to find a business that he can do online, and his special pares was reborn and is now called Pucha Pares!
Known for his unique touch with regular Pinoy street food that he popularized in his restaurant called Tambay (among the first in the Poblacion area), Jerome prepares his pares in his unique way. Tender beef and collagen-rich, gelatinous tendon, swimming in its delectable sauce, are poured over his special shallot fried rice paired with his very own chili garlic sauce.
You may opt to enjoy Pucha Pares with the chef’s secret spicy noodles. For nonbeef eaters, there’s chicken pares. They’re sold in solo, medio and todo sizes.Tel. 0922-8298508; @puchapares on Instagram
Heavenly cheese roll
The cheese roll made by Seventh Heaven is in a league of its own. I haven’t encountered a cheese roll I would describe as cheese covered in ultrasoft, pure butter dough. Though surely it has other ingredients, it feels like that to me, as it melts in the mouth so effortlessly. Gone before you know it! To describe it simply as soft is an injustice.
On my palate, this cheese roll is a new experience, feather-light, so rich, and so true to its name—sinful but heavenly!
Seventh Heaven by Ivy Allyson, tel. 0917-8902889; @seventhheaventreats on Facebook and Instagram
I like my empanada flaky, lightly sweet and bursting with well-seasoned chicken filling. Dang’s Empanada is exactly that.
What impresses me is the fact that it stays delicious even if it has been stored in the fridge for days. This empanada has a homemade feel and makes an extremely comforting snack, any time of day.It took years for Dang the owner to perfect her recipe. The pastry that she used to sell in Sidcor Cubao many years ago was finally perfected during the quarantine. Made initially to make her mother-in-law happy, the empanadas have served their purpose, and Dang now rests easy—she has won, hands down!
Tel. 0917-6302978 INQ
reggieaspiras.com;@iamreggieaspiras on Facebook and Instagram