I've never felt so embarrassed walking into such a chichi room as Curve. I came straight from
Pink Egg Episodes' Mayura Wagyu Burger event and I swear I infected the whole room,
the mega couture chairs, 100 teddy bears, and all the inverted umbrellas with the smell of
grease and cooked beef. Ughhgags. Good thing the very courteous Harry, who I was meeting
for the first time, pretended not to notice anything while we waited for our dinner mates
Leslie and Edward.
Chef Chele Gonzalez of Vask and Chef Julieta Caruso of Mugaritz
were also so nice to stand close to The Walking Burger for a photo.
Leslie was the only honest person. She said I stunk. Aahhh, a friend for keeps!
I almost choked on my water when she commented that the shape of
the glass bore a resemblance to her body. Hahaha! Leslie!!!
We were at Vask Gallery for a very special degustacion named Kulinarya, a 10-course meal born out of Chef Chele and Chef Julieta's passion and dedication to showcasing the best of our local ingredients. For two weeks they traveled around the Philippines in search for inspiration and resources, flavors and techniques, and came home with this masterpiece for the people of Manila:
40 Days & 40 Nights
Our meal started off with a sweet and spicy salabat cocktail
Balls of shrimp covered in rich shrimp bisque and encrusted with crispy baby shrimps.
Do not underestimate its smallness. Each tiny pop was an explosion of shrimp flavors,
like a hundred shrimps farted and gave birth and burped all at the same time in your mouth.
Quail egg yolk and balut juice wrapped in rice paper and served with adobo sauce
Lutong Bahay: Talong
Eggplant three ways: pickled, white cheese, and honey
My favorite of the lot was the pickled version in shiso leaf. It awakened my palate
and kept it excited for the courses to come.
This dish of a la plancha and tempura clams with pickled onion, fresh cashew and green mango
was my second favorite of the night. The mollusks were so plump and briny and creamy,
nothing like I've ever tried before.
Uni tocino, or uni kinilaw covered in… wait for it... Iberico lard!
I couldn't believe it was Harry's first time to try uni (?!?!?!?!?!?!?! WHYYYY?!?!?!?!?!?!?)
This next course was my third favorite. Check out the bamboo
flask from which the sinigang flowed.
Except the sinigang-tasting broth wasn't really sinigang.
In fact, there was no tamarind used in the making of this sour soup. The flavor
came from this magical leaf called kalibangbang. How incredible is that?
Didn't hurt that the cochinillo hiding under the crisp pork skin was so extremely tender
At that very moment I wanted to hug this Spanish chef who has done so
much for our local cuisine. So much love and passion in there. I felt it in every
twinkle in his eyes, every gesture of his hands, in every word he spoke.
Corn puree, crab meat, crab fat, cilantro root
Maya maya steamed in banana leaves, spring onions, vegetable soup
Thing is, the meat was actually tuna cheek trying to be beef. And I have to say it succeeded with
flying colors. The greens you see are talinum, kangkong, and a pesto made with native basil.
Local wagyu steak, wagyu cheeks (!!!!!), sitsaro seeds, and salted mustard leaves
Imagine chunks of our local cassava cooked for three hours in carabao milk, then draped with
torched milk skin, and topped with more milk skin speckled with dayap. The marriage of
every element on this plate with the sweet and milky coconut ice cream brought me
unbelievable feelings of joy. I've never loved a Filipino dessert this much (sorry halo-halo,
guinumis, sapin-sapin, buko pie, ginataan, puto bumbong) and I don't think I ever will.
My number one favorite dish of the Kulinarya degustation. ♥ ♥ ♥
The melted native chocolate was extremely rich and thick, the bread stick made using millet
grains was crunchy and just a little sweet. This was the chefs' take on suman at tsokolate.
Underneath the chocolate blanket was a very sour native berry, mint leaves, eucalyptus,
and pretty elderflowers
Mindanao arabica coffee creme brûlée, coffee cookies, coconut foam
"This story begins with 40 days and 40 nights and it continues with an invitation
to play this game. With each and every ingredient that you experience in the pods,
we hope that is will inspire you to continue to support local farmers, enjoy native
ingredients and share our new-found purpose to explore Philippine flavors."
Sampaloc, dried santol, coffee polvoron, mochi,
(I forgot), kaong, pili nuts, chestnut dusted with cocoa
Mochi, marzipan, tablea with pinipig, ube in coconut,
chestnut dusted with cocoa, pastillas, bucayo, dehydrated pomelo
At the end of the meal, each guest was given a roll of film with photos from the chefs'
two-week food adventure around the Philippines. It showed the beginnings and the
making of the Kulinarya degustation we so enjoyed that evening. What a wonderful
souvenir and a reminder that our country is rich and beautiful and that we should
appreciate, love and support our very own like Chefs Chele and Julieta do.
With Leslie, Harry, and our chef-friend Edward who is part of the team that developed the
10-course menu. This crazy guy traveled around Europe and ate at restaurants totaling
27 Michelin stars in 27 days to celebrate his 27th birthday. Read about it here.
We are all so proud (and so very jealous) of him. Lol. :)
Chef Julieta signing Edward's Mugaritz books
Congratulations, Chef Chele, Chef Julieta, and the whole Vask Gallery Team!
Vask: 5th Floor, CLIPP Center, 11th Avenue corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
Tel: +632 217-6563, +63915-5077047, +63917-8065292