28 Apr2011

When Margarita Fores texted at 1:30pm, on a recent Sunday afternoon just before Holy Week, asking if Mrs. MM and I would join a hastily arranged dinner that evening, she sounded uncharacteristically stressed in a good kind of way. She was hosting visiting U.K. Esquire Magazine Food Editor and book author Tom Parker-Bowles, who was in town for a whirlwind visit to check out Filipino food for an upcoming article. Margarita had little advance warning, having been contacted late the prior evening while she was visiting Capiz, and thus had literally less than 20 hours to pull together a dinner menu, venue and guests, while still out of town! She arrived in Manila just after lunch on Sunday and less than seven hours later, welcomed over a dozen guests to a spectacular dinner…

Mid-afternoon, and feeling the nervous excitement that the host was channeling my way by text, I offered to send over some lechon sisig, lard and dried labuyo chilies as well as make up a fresh batch of pili nut brittle to bring along for dessert or to be enjoyed along with coffee and tea. But Margarita’s professional catering crew pulled together a spectacular meal, complete with lechon, ulang, pancit, baked apahap, sinigang na bangus with batuan, adobo ribs, talbos ng kamote salad, etc. The dessert table was groaning with a variety of sweets, including a spectacular cassava cake cleverly topped with parmesan cheese instead of the standard processed cheese food often used…

The table was beautifully set, the centerpieces Margarita’s signature mixture of recyclable natural materials, flowers and fruit in season. We arrived at the venue on time, and chatted with Margarita until her guest of honor arrived. Tom Parker-Bowles writes a weekly food column for the Mail, was a previous food editor/writer at several publications before his current position as the Food Editor for Esquire, and has authored two food related books. The son of Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and his stepfather being Prince Charles, this is the closest “brush” we will have with the Royal Wedding that will be taking place on Friday, April 29 in London. One of the first things he said after we were introduced was that he loved sisig and had tasted several versions in the past 3 days. I smiled and said it just so happened we had yet another version for him to try, and he could watch it being cooked if he liked…

While Margarita fielded questions and explained a bit about Filipino cuisine, I cooked up a batch of lechon sisig, using some home-rendered lard, home-dried siling labuyo and other ingredients. We transferred the sisig to a sizzling plate and headed back to the buffet. He seemed to like it, and consumed a huge serving, but I have to say it was bordering on a bit overcooked, the sizzling plate turning it more crisp than I would usually serve it. The next 3-4 hours were spent answering one intelligent and insightful question after another. With Margarita flanking Mr. Parker-Bowles on the left and me on his right, I felt like I was giving a sort of fast forward download on dishes we enjoyed that evening, Philippine ingredients, heirloom recipes, Filipino food in the global arena, Filipino influences in food hitting the U.K. restaurant scene, side bars on some of the top chefs and restaurants in London, etc. It was a wonderful evening of food and food related conversation. An incredibly affable man, he was a pleasure to dine with. Other guests at the table included luxury retailers, modern architects, hosts hoteliers from the Mandarin Hotel, a representative from the Department of Tourism, friends and foodies alike.

Tom took copious notes, and I hope that evening combined with his other meals and experiences during his four-day stay (including a lunch with Claude Tayag) will result in a good article on Philippine food. Kudos to Margarita and her crew that pulled off a spectacular dinner on such short notice. Sometimes, things just work out. And work out really well. That evening, it was as if the culinary planets aligned for a four-hour period and maybe it was fate, serendipity, experience or whatever, but I am convinced foodies have a universal language so compelling that we could talk about our obsession for days on end… And just as we were finishing up our plates filled with dessert, Tom had a bite of the freshly made pili nut brittle, and I explained what a pili nut was, and that at some point in the past, Doreen Fernandez (the food writer and historian) had hand-carried (and presumably smuggled) some fresh pili fruit and nuts to England for Alan Davidson (the author of The Oxford Companion to Food). Talk about tying things together in an increasingly small world… :)

I didn’t bring my camera to dinner but Mrs. MM brought her tiny digital “instamatic” and managed to get these shots. I don’t think the Esquire Magazine took any photographs that evening, which was a shame, as the buffet and dishes Margarita laid out were more than photo worthy. Ah well, another time perhaps. I promised Mr. Parker-Bowles a Zubuchon fresh off the coals should he ever find his way back to the Philippines in the near future. :)



  1. Thel from Florida says:

    Wow, How cool!

    Apr 28, 2011 | 9:39 am


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  3. Footloose says:

    How exciting. I am a progressive democrat so I allow myself to be dazzled by merit alone but still I would have stood aside for a famous fellow foodie who happens to be the son of the woman who inherited Lady Di’s husband. With your newly attained James Bondish physique, did you introduce yourself as Man, Market Man?

    Apr 28, 2011 | 10:31 am

  4. Risa says:

    Wow. Very interesting. I can totally get talking about food to no end. Was he using a Moleskine?

    Apr 28, 2011 | 10:32 am

  5. mek says:

    is he attending the royal wedding? ;p

    Apr 28, 2011 | 10:43 am

  6. Marketman says:

    mek, yes of course, he will be attending his step-brother’s wedding. Risa, sorry, I didn’t notice what he was jotting down notes on. Footloose, I didn’t realize until conversations recently, that the Queen is actually the Head of State of Canada? Whoa! As for the weight, I am, today, exactly the same weight, height and color of hair as “James Bond” as described in Ian Fleming’s books… :) Just a lot less hair. Hahaha.

    Apr 28, 2011 | 10:54 am

  7. Betchay says:

    Oh wow! A very timely article— with all the frenzy on the upcoming Royal Wedding!
    Great job, Ms Margarita and I’m sure Mr. Parker-Bowles will never forget Filipino Cusine and Hospitality. I look forward to what he has to say……
    And to you MM, I’m really amazed — the new you! it is not the diet but your unwavering determination! I wish I have that too! :) You really look 10-15 years younger!

    Apr 28, 2011 | 10:56 am

  8. jo says:

    up & personal w/ the famous MM=)

    Apr 28, 2011 | 11:05 am

  9. jay p says:

    wheres the food? :o

    Apr 28, 2011 | 11:12 am

  10. Risa says:

    He really looks like his mom!

    Apr 28, 2011 | 11:17 am

  11. Lambchop says:

    What a beautiful centerpiece! And it was a really good choice to let him try leachon sisig. It’s an interesting dish in so many ways. :)

    Apr 28, 2011 | 11:30 am

  12. natie says:

    @Risa-he sure does! wow, MM..a brush with royalty! he’ll be getting some media coverage soon.. and you look great, MM!

    Apr 28, 2011 | 11:34 am

  13. MiMac says:

    at first glimpse of the b&w photo, i thought you posted an old photo of yours, MM! you do look a lot younger with the weight loss. keep it up (er, down!) hahaha!

    Apr 28, 2011 | 11:59 am

  14. Mimi says:

    Talk about timing! The Royal Wedding fever is contagious!

    I miss Doreen Fernandez’ column. My sibs and I would religiously follow up on her reviewed places and try whatever she ate too. Thank goodness there is Marketmanila.com.

    Apr 28, 2011 | 12:38 pm

  15. alicia says:

    You and Ms. Fores are simply amazing. If I had to name two Filipino culinary ambassadors, it would certainly be the two of you.

    Apr 28, 2011 | 12:58 pm

  16. Mom-Friday says:

    Great job!!!
    I’m sure this dinner will be very memorable for the Englishman. And you’re looking fit and fab MM!

    Apr 28, 2011 | 1:27 pm

  17. millet says:

    footloose, am imagining the “Man, Marketman” scene, and you are just so funny!

    way cool, MM and Gaita!

    Apr 28, 2011 | 1:30 pm

  18. Susie says:

    I hate to admit in pubic that I read the Mail online but I have to say that I have enjoyed his column for ages. He is erudite and quite an amusing writer.

    Apr 28, 2011 | 5:10 pm

  19. Ley says:

    He really looks like his mom:)

    Apr 28, 2011 | 5:15 pm

  20. DJ says:

    he looks like her mum!
    congrats to margarita and you mr. MM for the opportunity to share filipino food and our pride

    Apr 28, 2011 | 8:55 pm

  21. Gej says:

    First Saveur, now Esquire! Way to go!

    Kudos to Margarita Fores for presenting Filipino food at its best.

    The Bicolano in me cheers for the pili that you brought (as well as your story about Doreen bringing the fresh pili fruit over to England).

    And since you mentioned about local substitutes for olives, I suppose the softened pili pulp can likewise be an interesting sub as well.

    Apr 28, 2011 | 9:23 pm

  22. Gezel says:

    My God! Marketman you are really up there, i read this guy in Live ( Daily Mail Sunday Magazine) and son of Camella ( Duchess of Cornwall) no less! hay believe na gid ko sa powers mo….


    Apr 28, 2011 | 9:33 pm

  23. Flying Fish says:

    This is wonderful, so glad to hear that you and Margarita Fores were the food ambassadors for the Philippines. I can’t wait to get hold of Esquire UK, when you get word about what issue exactly, please let us know.

    I wonder what Tom Parker-Bowles’ take was on sinigang na bangus with batuan (forgive my ignorance but what is batuan?).

    Apr 28, 2011 | 9:48 pm

  24. tonceq says:

    Another medal added to your battery of achievements! Congratulations MM! BTW… didn’t really notice how tall you were until set beside Mr. Parker-Bowls! (Spatially challenged) :)

    Apr 28, 2011 | 10:25 pm

  25. linda says:

    Like the song goes”the only way is up” for you,MM!

    I also had a brush with royalty a few years back, I shook Prince Charles hands during his visit to Tasmania and his hands felt like a babys’ bottom – it was sooooooo soft!

    Apr 29, 2011 | 7:27 am

  26. Pinksalmonlady says:

    Way to go MM! I remember watching Tom Parker Bowles on foxtel food channel called “Market Kitchen” as he is one of the regulars. A good british food show i would say.

    Apr 29, 2011 | 10:16 am

  27. Lex says:

    Linda, if you read the Time magazine article on Kate and her forthcoming wedding, it mentions that Prince Charles does not even press the toothpaste tube himself. He has someone in his staff do that for him.

    Apr 29, 2011 | 10:19 am

  28. betty q. says:

    I am totally woooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwed, MM!

    Apr 29, 2011 | 11:22 am

  29. louinsanfran says:

    Hey, I know that guy on the right. He’s not the Marketman, is he? He is from Scotland Yard, that’s why the meeting with Parker-Bowles.

    Apr 29, 2011 | 11:57 am

  30. suzette says:

    WOW! on your slim figure now :)

    Apr 29, 2011 | 12:20 pm

  31. erleen says:

    And you would be our closest brush with the royal wedding as well :)

    Apr 29, 2011 | 12:41 pm

  32. Noel says:

    Hi MM, just a little correction, Camilla’s last name isn’t Parker-Bowles anymore since she’s already divorced from Tom’s father. She should now be addressed simply as “The Duchess of Cornwall” without a name before the title. Alternatively, you can identify her as “the former Camilla Parker-Bowles, now HRH The Princess Charles, Duchess of Cornwall” if you want to make a connection between her and Tom.

    The only people in UK who use “Camilla Parker-Bowles” are those who belittle her and refuse to accept her current status as the wife of the Prince of Wales.

    Have a great day sir. =)

    Apr 29, 2011 | 3:04 pm

  33. Marketman says:

    Noel, thanks for that, shows you how ignorant I am of royal etiquette. Will revise post now…

    Apr 29, 2011 | 8:31 pm

  34. michelle o says:

    I enjoy his articles. Have got one of his books but haven’t read it yet. Maybe it’s time to pick it up:-)

    Apr 29, 2011 | 9:05 pm

  35. rosedmd says:

    As usual, i can’t help but notice…. you lost alot of weight. your diet was a success!!! i am so envious.

    Apr 29, 2011 | 9:49 pm

  36. Footloose says:

    @Linda and Lex, based on my reading of history, aristocrats tend to have soft everything.

    Apr 30, 2011 | 1:03 am

  37. teddy says:

    Charisse (Chuidian of the Mandarin) was correct in asking Gaita to concoct dinner for Parker-Bowles. If you have foreign visitors who’d like to have a taste of modern Filipino cuisine, go to Gaita. I remember a friend once who asked me to organize dinner for some Hong Kong-based colleagues of his who are serious foodies (I mean the types who’d fly to any part of the world to sample food from the best venues). He told me they’ve never had Filipino food and were curious about it. Gaita was not in Manila; nevertheless, through her girl Friday, Jane Solano, I managed to have her give instructions to her kitchen to prepare dinner for six at (now no more) Pepato. Our guests were mostly quiet through dinner; at one point, towards the end of the meal, one of them looked up from his plate, looked my way and beamed as he said, “I feel like standing up and applauding.” Gaita is one of THE BEST, certainly among the classiest, ambassadors of this country where Filipino cuisine is concerned.

    Apr 30, 2011 | 8:24 am

  38. MrsKookie says:

    You look SO good, MM! :) And kudos to you for helping out on a fantastic dinner! Reading this post is so timely for me as having without internet and TV yesterday, im stuffing myself with royal wedding tidbits, today. That will include anything British, and their step-brothers too :)

    Apr 30, 2011 | 11:20 pm

  39. kitchen says:

    MM ang Payat mo na :)

    May 1, 2011 | 11:35 pm

  40. JOHN RAMOS says:

    MR MM you look good ! looks like your diet really works! i hope i can have your determination.
    keep up the good work. love reading your blog!

    May 2, 2011 | 3:41 am

  41. Rochelle says:

    well done MM! I will keep an eye on his article on the mail :D

    May 4, 2011 | 1:16 am

  42. margcibo says:

    still speechless…after many days have passed….

    May 4, 2011 | 2:11 am

  43. daisy says:

    uh, where’s the photos of the food?
    love your articles btw.

    Jul 22, 2011 | 9:10 am

  44. Rowena L. Cabañero says:

    I’m so happy when is there’s somebody in UK Love our Filipino Food, but as the son of Camilla Parker Bowles, I can’ t understand my Feelings, because i really LOVE Diana, Princess of Wales. When I saw Prince William talking to the Duchess of Cornwall, maybe He already move on to their situation or just a civilized Prince. I’m very sorry to comment like this.

    Jul 25, 2011 | 12:49 pm

  45. Vicky Go says:

    MM! Glad you’re back! That was a long hiatus! Finding MM back just made my day!

    Jul 26, 2011 | 10:42 pm

  46. traci says:

    hi MM, the article is out in the August issue of Esquire..haven’t finished reading it yet!

    Jul 27, 2011 | 6:32 pm

  47. Vicky Go says:

    After 2nd reading of this post: Can’t get over how FABULOUS you look MM! If I were the missus, I’d keep you on a short leash! Ha! Ha! Seriously as every one has noted, you do look years younger! The bit of gray hair just makes you look more distinguished!
    Again, I am sooooooo happy to have you back posting!

    Jul 31, 2011 | 2:50 am


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