13 Oct2006

book1

I was fortunate enough to be offered a sneak preview of the new cookbook “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Photographs by Neal Oshima. Neal was kind enough to lend me his pre-release copy at the height of the Milenyo storm two weeks ago. I had promised to return it the next day, thus I had to peruse it in the midst of a blackout engulfing the city. Despite the conditions and cursory review, I took several pages of notes that I have now misplaced, what with all of the post storm mess and clean-up activity! But rather than waiting any longer and hoping the notes will miraculously turn up, I thought I should write this review or else it won’t be as timely (actual release is early November) and relevant. So this post is done from memory and I apologize for being less than precise about any details (can’t recall all of them nor proper spelling of names)… What is the bottom line? At a pre-publication price offer of USD21.71 (USD35 list price) plus 97 cent shipping from Walmart on-line, I would encourage you to order this book now if you are a Filipino or Filipino-American residing in North America and you have an interest in food. Read on if you want Marketman’s full review…

The publication of this book is a landmark of sorts. It is the first major Filipino cookbook published by a major U.S. or international publisher. book2As such, it is bound to be put under the spotlight and a magnifying glass. With over 3-4 million Filipinos or those with Filipino ancestry domiciled in North America alone (the second or third largest Asian group on the continent), you would think there would be a dozen or more glossy Filipino cookbooks on the market by now. Memories of Philippine Kitchens is a serious production. It has tons of content courtesy of Ms. Besa, Mr. Dorotan, families they visited, trips they took back to Manila and independent research. It has a highly respected publisher. It is written by the owners of Cendrillon, a Filipino fusion restaurant in downtown New York City. It has forewords by a former food reviewer of the New York Times and another by a leading food historian/writer. Neal Oshima is a brilliant photographer. The book lists a phalanx of editors, art directors, lay-out specialists, etc. It is printed on good paper, with clear photos and has a nice hardcover and jacket. It is professionally edited. In other words, every critical building block of success appears to be there and despite it all, I had this cloying feeling that there was something about the book that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It was a bit like putting out a huge halo-halo and hoping everyone at the table would like your version… But some don’t like beans, others want more kaong or nata de coco, no artificial food coloring please, others like shaved ice not crushed, ube ice cream not mango, no leche flan, etc. — in other words, it’s really hard to please everybody with that particular dish. Yes, halo-halo is a good description. Another might be that there were too many cooks involved…

Content

The title itself is totally apt — the book reads like it is written by expatriate Filipinos for expatriate Filipinos. It is about various food memories of book4both the authors and selected families, dateline 1960’s and thereabouts. It isn’t just a cookbook. It is part personal diary and family history, part history of other families who take their food seriously, part culinary history as an archipelago. It jumps from personal food memories, to types of food (sinigang, kinilaw, etc.), Spanish and Chinese influences, different family kitchens, local regions (Ilocos, Pampanga, Laguna, Bicol, Negros), Cendrillon restaurant recipes, etc. It has a little bit of everything, and it struck me, if I were in critical hat mode, to be a bit distended. I understand that there was a LOT of material that could have been used, and like good editors, a lot of it was cut out. But if taken in the wrong context, it could engender a bit of indigestion…

Photos/Layout/Art Direction

The photos of Neal are superb. I must say I have always been a fan and in the many books he has done on food or food related topics, I have always been book3drawn to the photos – first of markets and people, and now, of close-up food shots that I know are very difficult to do right. But what must have been a portfolio of thousands of spectacular shots was then arranged in a surprisingly dense collage motif in some parts of the book. In some areas like chapter headings, single photographs are simply stunning, but in other areas more than 8 different photos are smushed together on a single page. It is only a personal opinion, but of the 400+ cookbooks in my library, I tend to gravitate to those which have a cleaner, more focused lay-out. It’s more about the food or the dish, not the artsy layout. But that may be just me. Perhaps the “focus groups” suggested that more books would sell if it had this photo-bite mentality instead. It’s as if the memories were flashing in front of the readers eyes at a dizzying pace and the art layout reflected this.

There are two photos that caught my eye as being a bit odd — “one was the two-page spread for a section on Sinigang that has a caption of a large pot of “Visayan sinigang or tinowa,” EXCEPT that the soup had lots and lots of unripe sampaloc in it. At least the part of the Visayas I come from, our tinowa is not sour at all — and this to me, is a disconcerting or careless oversight. The second odd photo is one of Glennda Barretto of Via Mare fame making her pot of hot chocolate, standing over the pot, twirling with two hands as she smokes a cigarette. Inevitably, one wonders where some of the ashes might end up…

Recipes

Cendrillon is about “fusion” Filipino food. It is what has garnered it attention and accolades from diners and critics in the New York area for over a decade. I actually ate there soon after it opened in the mid-1990’s. I think I ate there again a couple of years later. But I have not been back since at least 1998. While I applaud the experimentation, I would describe myself as being more of a traditionalist. I tend to eat fairly straightforward Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Malay, Filipino food, not too much of the more fusion variety. So yes, I have a bias against more fusion type recipes, though I am not totally opposed to them. I didn’t get a chance to try any of the recipes in the book but I will when I buy my own copy after it hits the bookstores. Fusion means some of their recipes meld ingredients or techniques together in new ways… think this stunning looking lumpiang sariwa with a lavender ube crepe as the wrapper. Or the kinilaw in the photo up top with pomelo and other ingredients added in. Rabbit morcon another dish, I think. In addition to the Cendrillon recipes, there are family heirloom recipes from around the Philippines including those of Marc Medina’s family whose ensaimada Marketman singled out as my top pick of commercially sold ensaimadas last December. But the featured ensaimada recipe in the book isn’t one I would rush to try…

I think it all really boils down to commercial viability. This book must sell enough copies to justify the extensive effort and resources put into it. I cannot read the mind of the publishers but I suspect the target market is expatriate Filipinos who have lived in North America for many decades. They have fond food memories of home. They have families back in the provinces and cities of the archipelago. They yearn for something vaguely familiar and comforting. They lack some of the authentic ingredients and are very happy to replace them with more readily available substitutes. But if I were NOT a Filipino or a foreigner who has spent a lot of time in the Philippines, and I was browsing in an American bookstore, I don’t think I would feel as compelled to buy this book.

A good friend (a foreigner) who happened to be present while I was leafing through the book said it best when it was obvious I was wrestling with what to make of it… He said it “looks like a great book for a coffee table; but not to take into the kitchen and cook with” and I think that nailed it on the head for me. Nevertheless, I will buy this book and encourage all of you to get a copy as well. Why? Because it is an impressive first step. Because it has opened the doors and will hopefully encourage publishers to keep thinking of more Filipino titles. Because a lot of effort has clearly gone into it. Because at USD22 or so or PHP1,100, it’s better than any other Filipino themed cookbook out there at the moment. When you do get your copy please leave a comment to tell me what you think…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. arlene says:

    Wow, interesting… Is it in the market already? where can I buy one?

    Oct 13, 2006 | 3:57 pm

     
  2. linda says:

    Í’ll definitely buy one for my coffee table.

    Oct 13, 2006 | 4:24 pm

     
  3. sam says:

    Hello,MM! Thank you for the notes on “Memories of Philippine Kitchens”. I pre-ordered some copies to give away during the holidays,hoping this volume may be a good introduction to Philippine cuisine. I will definitely share my thoughts with you as soon as my copies arrive.

    On another note, I have been itching on really “getting my feet wet” and ditching grad school and moving over to the cooking school across campus. My teachers call me crazy, but whenever homework is dumped on me, I have this evil fantasy of walking across the street into the culinary arts department!!

    I am at a loss here. Whenever my friends ask to try Philippine cuisine, in all its diversity, I instantly shy away from offering to take them out, and end up cooking for them. Sad to say, even in CA, I have yet to find a restaurant (serving Filipino food) that I can proudly bring friends over. As an example, Asian Noodle (which proudly proclaims to be related to the operators of Manila’s Ma Mon Luk) on Chinatown in downtown LA is overrated. How can I say it gently? Maanta ang sinigang, and the kaldereta was awful.Even the pinakbet and laing were bastardized. The LA Times gave it a good review a few years back but hey, I do not flip on the food section to look for really good down-home Filipino food! I still hope they adapt and learn good Filipino cooking , then survive the food scene. There are a lot of take-out places with good food but the steam table is not a very enticing idea for a leisurely meal, eh? Do you have a few Filipino food places in LA dear to your heart? Readers, help! I have this maniacal craving for Filipino food, but am always stiffed on flavor and taste. Do share your info.

    MM, you definitely rock!

    Oct 13, 2006 | 4:37 pm

     
  4. fabian says:

    perhaps a good option as a xmas gift for some people i know.

    thanks for posting MM

    Oct 13, 2006 | 5:28 pm

     
  5. mignette says:

    Hi MM! Where can i buy a copy of this book in manila? I am living here in Switzerland and i am going there to Philippines next month for a vacation. Thi
    hanks.

    Oct 13, 2006 | 5:32 pm

     
  6. skymermaid says:

    based on your review above, the best way to support the book is to tell all your kin now living in the states about it. thanks for telling me about it!

    Oct 13, 2006 | 5:39 pm

     
  7. Toping says:

    Will definitely be buying this book. BTW, that lumpiang sariwa in lavender crepe looks daunting. Inedible, even, hehe…

    Oct 13, 2006 | 7:32 pm

     
  8. Marketman says:

    Sorry, I forgot to say the book doesn’t hit the bookstores in the U.S. until early November. I am not sure when it hits the local bookstores but maybe before Christmas though I hear they have a launch sccheduled for February sometime. You can order this book online (several options if you google it) and it is highly discounted as a pre-order. I suspect mignette if anyone has it when you visit Manila, it will be Fully Booked in Rockwell Mall, Makati.

    Oct 13, 2006 | 7:32 pm

     
  9. neal oshima says:

    The book should be available in Manila sometime in November. The publisher, Stewart Tabori Chang, is doing a full book promotion in the US with lectures, signings, magazine reviews and tv appearances for the authors. These are the same people that put Vietnamese food on the American food map, about a decade ago and they are hoping that Memories of Philippine Kitchens will do the same for Pinoy food.

    Oct 13, 2006 | 8:35 pm

     
  10. oggi says:

    The book will be available at amazon.com on November 1st according to the email I got from Neal Oshima’s daughter. I am buying it for the stories, recipes and specially for the photos. I haven’t been to Cendrillon but heard about it in Martha Stewart’s old show. The chef prepared the ube and pandan lumpia wrappers and the mango tart.
    Am looking forward to have my book signed if they come to the Washington, D.C. area. Thanks for the review, MM.

    Oct 13, 2006 | 8:56 pm

     
  11. perkycinderella says:

    I’ll definitely buy 2!

    Oct 13, 2006 | 9:01 pm

     
  12. fried-neurons says:

    I’m gonna buy one, if only because (a) I love Cendrillon and go there everytime I visit NYC and (b) Neal Oshima does really good work.

    Thanks for clueing us in on this book, MM!

    Oct 13, 2006 | 10:02 pm

     
  13. mignette says:

    oh thank a lot MM! i’ll visit the rockwell bookstore when i get there.

    Oct 13, 2006 | 10:11 pm

     
  14. Danney League says:

    I’ve tried Bibingkahan, Salo Salo and Manila’s Lechon in Los Angeles. I wish Manila’s Lechon will do a major improvement of its ambiance. The place has so many clutters. The food is good. Bibingkahan is nice and with very good ambiance.

    I wish classy restaurants like Via Mare will put up restaurants in the United States or elsewhere that can truly convince the foreigners to enjoy highly presented Filipino food. We need excellent chefs like Claude Tayag, Glenda Baretto and more in America.

    We have alot of beautiful pastry shops in the Philippines that can compete very well in the world. We have the best ube rolls, brazo de mercedes, leche flan, halo halo and buco pie and buco salad in the world. Americans are very familiar with our pritong lumpia, bistek tagalog, adobo and pancit and they love it.

    Foreigners are not very fond of fatty food like crispy pata, dinuguan and lechon but France convince the world with their foie gras and live pate as well as British and Irish with their black sausages and hummus.If Russians have fish eggs called caviar, we have do better with dulong and alamang.

    We should also create smoked hito, tilapia and smoke bibe or itik.

    Thai, Chinese and Japanese are the leading Asian food chains in the world. Why can’t we not beat them? Our fresh lumpia is better than Vietnammiese rolls. I wish we can truly capture the world food chains.

    Oct 13, 2006 | 11:20 pm

     
  15. Rampau says:

    I already ordered on line from Amazon.

    Oct 14, 2006 | 2:50 am

     
  16. Maria Clara says:

    With utter frustration from past Filipino cookbooks I bought, I will await feedbacks from your throng of followers before I get my hands with this one. I am a minimalist, do not want a filler in my book shelves or coffee table. Pictures are always inviting especially the work of highly acclaimed photographer Neal Oshima. I go for the cooking instruction side. I want something useful, informative and very good reference that I could get my hands. Thanks for the heads up.

    Oct 14, 2006 | 3:38 am

     
  17. Marinel says:

    hi sam. i share your frustration. it is so hard to find a nice, classy filipino restaurant in north america! there are so many great restaurants in the philippines – with great food and ambiance combined; i’m not sure why we can’t do the same here. my american friends have the impression that all our restaurants are turo-turo style. and that’s because every filipino restaurant we’ve seen here, with the exception of Max’s, has the steam table, turo turo style setting. although the food is good, the ambiance is bad. i am dying to bring my friends to makati where they can experience philippine dining at its best – great food in an exceptional setting. i haven’t been home in 23 years but i’m sure i wouldn’t have a hard time finding a great place to eat.

    Oct 14, 2006 | 5:34 am

     
  18. Veronica says:

    Just pre-ordered it from Amazon. I will post my review when I get and peruse the book.

    Oct 14, 2006 | 8:34 am

     
  19. sylvia says:

    I will definitely pre-order this book. Even if it may not be much of a cookbook, it will be an addition to our growing number of coffeetable books on the Philippines. I like to show these books to our American friends in the hope that they will be enticed to visit the Philippines.

    On another note, I agree with Sam re the dearth of good Filipino restaurants here in the US. I can’t speak for the whole of the US and I didn’t get to eat at Cendrillon when I was in NY but, here in Sacramento, there are a bunch of Filipino restaurants (not counting the chain restos ha) and I can’t say that any of them actually serve really good Filipino food. My American hubby just recently lamented that it is such a pity that there are no good Filipino restos in the area that would attract the non-Filipino crowd. He knows, from visits to Manila, that Philippine cuisine is so rich yet the average American only knows lumpia and pancit canton. “You’re Filipino? Wow, I love lumpia!” The last time we ate at a Filipino restaurant here, the sinigang was more maalat than maasim and they didn’t even use the right cut of meat. I think the cook was too generous with the patis. To the Bay Area posters, do you know of any good Filipino restos you can recommend? We would gladly drive all the way there if only to have really good Filipino cuisine (aside from the homecooked, of course).

    Oct 14, 2006 | 12:50 pm

     
  20. Dennis says:

    Danny League/Sam/Marinel,
    There used to be a few decent sit down Filipino restaurants in LA, Via Mare or Jeepney Grille on Wilshire right in the heart of downtown, and even a Tito Rey’s on Rosecrans in Gardena. The food was quite good and the ambience is very presentable especially Via Mare. But I don’t think they’re still around. And I don’t blame them cause the very few times I’ve been to these restaurants, there’s hardly any other customer. I guess Pinoys in the US don’t eat out as much as those at home. Just don’t have the time, maybe.

    Oct 15, 2006 | 3:46 am

     
  21. Mitch says:

    MM, thanks for the tip. I agree, this is an impressive step. However, I do wish I could find a beautifully designed and written cookbook of traditional Filipino recipes. I’m not bashing those that are currently on the market, but I do find that some of them are imprecise and vague in their directions and listing of ingredients. For now, I’m making do with some Nora Daza books and my mother’s “notebook of recipes” (which is vague as well, as she cooks mostly from memory and using her own senses to measure and taste). I also echo the remarks of those readers who desire more decent sit down Filipino restaurants (or even bakeshops or grocery stores) here in the U.S.

    Re Cendrillon–Chef Romy is an affable and gracious host and I love his mango tart (like an apple tatin, but with mango). However, I must admit that I’m not such a big fan of Filipino fusion food.

    I hear there are good traditional Filipino restaurants in the NY/New Jersey area (although nothing like back home). Those I’ve visited (but not recently) and can recommend are Ihawan (Queens) and Elvie’s Turo-Turo (lower Manhattan).

    Oct 15, 2006 | 6:14 am

     
  22. Marketman says:

    Mitch, I think Elvie’s turo-turo is where my sister, who lives in New York, heads for a fix of Filipino food when she has a hankering for it. It’s near the LBC or Johnny Air Cargo office, I think. She thinks it has GREAT value for money…

    Oct 15, 2006 | 9:14 am

     
  23. Veronica says:

    There was a pretty classy filipino restaurant in Richmond called Manila! Manila! but it did not do very well. Now they have to convert it to partly Karaoke to make money. I haven’t been there for a while, it’s a shame really.

    Oct 15, 2006 | 9:47 am

     
  24. ayleen says:

    been to cendrillon a couple of times. Hindi rin ako fan ng fusion but i admire their dedication and hardwork. Romy was a gracious host and we had the opportunity to interview the guy after our meal sa labas ng tindahan habang naninigarilyo sya. It was fun to know how he started the business .It was a total surprise when he told us that he doesnt cook at hindi sya mahilig magluto.

    Oct 15, 2006 | 10:27 am

     
  25. sylvia says:

    The local paper here just came out with its fall dining guide to the city and it had an article featuring ethnic eateries outside of the usual Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese & Mexican that you have everywhere. The Philippines was featured pero the resto was Max’s Fried Chicken! Don’t get me wrong, I like Max’s chicken but I don’t believe it is the best we have to offer to introduce the rest of the world to Philippine cuisine.

    Oct 15, 2006 | 1:12 pm

     
  26. Jon says:

    I am so happy to see that there is a lot of interest in Amy Besa’s ‘Memories of Philippine Kitchens’. I think Cendrillon have taken the Filipino cuisine closer to mainstream than any other restaurant in the US. Thanks to Amy and Romy ! In the same token, we at Bistro Luneta aims to take our cuisine to another level. It’s about time Filipinos realize that we are so far behind in promoting our cuisine here in the US or in the world for that matter. I think Filipino Restaurateurs should try to do more to promote and achieve that crossover. In the spirit of contributing to the effort, we are planning to host Amy’s book launch here in Northern California at Bistro Luneta sometime in February 2007. Please check our website for further information on this event at http://www.bistroluneta.com.

    Oct 15, 2006 | 4:50 pm

     
  27. negrosdude says:

    i was just in bale dutung, claude and mary ann tayag’s wonderful house/studio in angeles city where claude laid out a fabulous native spread for lunch for some friends and neal oshima was there with a copy of the book, Memories of Philippine Kitchens. It will cost P1,790 once its released next month. Going through the book, with beautiful photographs by Neal, believe me, its worth every centavo! Beautifully written, terrific photos by Oshima, I recommend this to everyone, go get a copy once its out in bookstores next month…

    Oct 15, 2006 | 6:09 pm

     
  28. Marilou says:

    I ordered this book from Amazon back in January 24, 2006, so I’m really glad it is finally going to be published. While I am a stickler for authentic cooking, I realize that some fusion might be enevitable in order to appeal to a wider readership specially in the west. Anyway, no other recipe is exactly like one’s Mama or cook etc. so I’ll accept this as part of our cuisine’s evolution (somewhat). I just turn to your blog for the real stuff! I ordered this book for each memnber of my family, including the ones who do not cook so I hope it gets here in time for Christmas

    Oct 15, 2006 | 10:00 pm

     
  29. stef says:

    i’ve got mine on pre-order from amazon. thanks for sharing your thoughts about it. so, when you’re not too busy, mm, could you e-mail me sometime and let me know what you think, based on the book that you’ve seen, and the chapter i’ve sent you from the cookbook i’m working on, if there’s still a chance that my book would have a market, at least here in the US? i’ve always valued your opinion, so if it’s not too much to ask…

    despite the comment about not taking it into the kitchen i’m still looking forward to cooking from this cookbook and having it dog-eared in a few months. if only i can get it in my hands!!! when i placed it on pre-order i was told it was coming out in august! october na.

    Oct 15, 2006 | 10:07 pm

     
  30. Marketman says:

    Yipes and double yipes, stef, I AM SO EMBARRASED. I have just found the file and realized I never got back to you and will within 10 days, I promise. It’s 70 pages but I will get back to you…

    Oct 15, 2006 | 10:34 pm

     
  31. Mitch says:

    MM–Yes, I agree with your sister about Elvie’s being a great value, especially by Manhattan standards!

    Oct 16, 2006 | 3:06 am

     
  32. Denise says:

    I just placed my order on Overstock.com for $21.95 plus $1 shipping. Cendrillon is just a few blocks from my job, and sadly, I haven’t eaten there yet. But I will try to this week. My clients highly recommend this restaurant and it was also featured in the NY Times – http://events.nytimes.com/2005/08/03/dining/reviews/03rest.html?ex=1161057600&en=4bc808740e6b5a0c&ei=5070

    Anyway, I can’t wait to get my copy =)

    Oct 16, 2006 | 9:54 am

     
  33. joey says:

    Thanks for the review Marketman! I already told my friend at Fully Booked to set one aside for me when it comes in (which it will be soon!) :)

    Oct 16, 2006 | 10:18 pm

     
  34. Knittymommy says:

    MM, I heard about this book while it was in its first conception stages as my sister was working at Cendrillon when they were beginning to work on it. Amy had asked her to help on the book, but my sister soon had to move on to another place.

    You are correct in advising that we should all buy and support this book. In my opinion, it is the only way, we can help future efforts viable. If we can help this book move forward commercially, others like it, even better ones, maybe, can be successful down the road. We truly need to showcase our food heritage, specially in our area here in the US, where the only Pinoy food imagery there is the carinderia style ones with the small sari sari store in front.

    By the way, I truly to enjoy your experiments. I am trying to build my courage to try the budbud kabog that I grew up with as a kid. Being from a cebuano family, but living in manila, I was one of the rare few that got he have it sent from Cebu, homemade from my lola’s house.

    Great job and truly inpiring to me.

    Oct 17, 2006 | 12:47 am

     
  35. trishlovesbread says:

    Denise (and MM), you’ve got to try the drinks at Cendrillon. The buco-lambanog martini and calamansi margarita are to die for. :-)

    Thanks for the post Marketman! Now I know what I want for my birthday! Do you know if Romy/Amy will sell the book at the restaurant?

    Oct 17, 2006 | 1:55 am

     
  36. shane says:

    thanks for the tip, MM. I have preordered my copy from walmart.com per your suggestion. I have been trying to coordinate a visit to Cendrillon when in NYC, but end up heading to the filipino restaurants in Queens. I first heard of Cendrillon from a Martha Stewart episode. Purchasing the book is far more economical than an airfare back to New York this time of the year!

    Oct 17, 2006 | 6:32 am

     
  37. shane says:

    BTW, my order from walmart.com will not be shipped until the latter part of November, if anyone is interested on the time frame for the shipment.

    Oct 17, 2006 | 6:38 am

     
  38. Brooklyn-Christina says:

    Shane, I was just at Cendrillon this weekend (the book put the restaurant on my brain, so I ended up eating there to friends). And yes, they’re selling copies there.

    I just got my copies from Amazon.com 2 days ago!!! I was so excited to get it finally, I’ve been hearing about this book for a while.

    It is really beautiful and well done. A lot of the recipes have a Cendrillon twist, i.e. an eye to trying new things that aren’t traditional (like one of the sinigangs has broccoli rabe in it), or ube pan de sal, mixed in with heritage recipes.

    I like the format of a mix of recipe book and food history. I’ve just recently been turned on to the writings of Doreen Fernandez, and reading her cultural food history of the Philippines makes a world of difference in understanding the culture behind the food I grew up on. It’s a good idea to have that culinary history introducing different sections.

    I do feel that some of the design is a little smushed together, and navigating the different kinds of information is a little unclear in parts. But altogether it’s a lovely book, from a visual standpoint. Neal Oshima’s photos really are beautiful.

    I must disagree with the coffeetable book idea. It has a lot of splashy photos in it, but so do Nigella Lawson’s cookbooks and many other cookbooks on my shelves (including another one on Philippine cuisine), I don’t think it’s quite in the realm of coffeetable book. I read that and anticipated a HUGE unwieldy book, but I think it’s a manageable size, and content-rich.

    Here’s to more books on Filipino cuisine hitting the shelves in the future! I do hope the publishers feel there is a market for that.

    Nov 15, 2006 | 11:50 pm

     
  39. Brooklyn-Christina says:

    Oops I meant to address that first part of my post to trishlovesbread, not Shane. Okay redo: trish, yes, they’re selling it at Cendrillon.

    Nov 15, 2006 | 11:53 pm

     
  40. Veron says:

    I just got mine yesterday and I poured over it until late in the night. The photography is awesome and the colors are very dreamlike almost as if you are transported with the author and their memories. I cannot wait to try kare kare, beef tapa and bibingka. I am disappointed there is no binagoongan recipe.

    Nov 16, 2006 | 12:34 am

     
  41. trishlovesbread says:

    Just finished reading the whole book–it’ wonderful! To all avowed lovers of adobo, you’ve got to try the baby-back ribs adobo recipe. I’ve had it at the restaurant and it was excellent.

    Dec 2, 2006 | 7:05 am

     
  42. Myra P. says:

    FYI! The local debut of Memories of Phil Kitchens is tomorrow afternoon at Rustan’s Makati. Amy Besa will be there to sign copies and there will be a sampling of recipes at 3pm… Finally!! :D Will let you all know how it goes… If this book is as good as it sounds, it may unseat Glenda Barredo’s Flavors of The Philippines as my favorite filipino cookbook.

    Jan 10, 2007 | 7:44 pm

     
  43. Sal Marcellana says:

    I just received a copy ordered from WalMart.com (about $29 total) and my wife and I were so pleased. I’m not a spendthrift but will pay more for this beautiful book. If you love Filipino food, photography and maalaala-mo-kaya gastronomic anecdotes, this book’s definitely for you!

    I agree with most of MarMan’s original review but I also agree with the authors’ claim that most Filipino foods are, in fact, fusion. Like a live language, it should continue evolving through generations.

    Personally, I prefer Filipino food prepared with authentic ingredients, taste and color that I am used to in the islands – the kakanin from the public palengke of San Antonio, Zambales to Tatoy’s sinigang na isda in Iloilo – but I really have no problem trying creative (and better) interpretations to it like the book’s purple-colored fresh lumpia wrapper, pan de sal and other embellished favorites (for aesthetic considerations maybe?). What is a real turn off to me is bastardizing popular recipes like the lament of a fellow Sacramentan: kare-kare using pig’s feet, chicken adobo literally swimming in very thin, dark sauce, pork sinigang using so-so cut of meat. What are these proprietors thinking?

    Anyway, in 2005 an all-American ice cream shop fell on our lap and quickly thought of creating a complementary market to turn the financials around. Adding Halo-Halo to the menu – you guessed it – and with the heavy concentration of Pinoys in the area, voila! But first, my wife Angelita and I meticulously sampled all the halo-halos offered by both local and Manila-based restaurants in town. We turned out to be very unhappy customers concluding that scrimping food cost and “mababaw ang kaligayahan nila” (something is better than nothing for these hungry folks) seems to be the operators’ business mission statements . One name-brand bakery even substituted mango cake topping to the usual ice cream! So, – apologies for a little commercial break here – we came up with our upscale Tropical Treats 24-oz. “isang dosenang sangkap, isang dosenang sarap” Halo-Halo at an even $5 and the rest is history. Please read http://www.sacbee.com/104/story/313467.html

    Humbly, the lessons we learned so far (with universal food industry application and not just for Pinoy restaurateurs):

    1. Offer the best and closest to the original recipe (Interestingly, a rival shop’s chef – with his 2-page resume – even came to us and casually informed us that their company insists on tweaking their halo-halo and other menu items to cater to “American taste”. Huh?)
    2. Know by heart your entrees, each main ingredient, their origins and history: A competent, even a self-schooled cook vs. a “maski-paps” (whatever) self-anointed chef can survive this highly competitive industry, not to mention there-will-be-blood food critics.
    3. Make entrees simple, letting the predominant ingredient(s) stand out: Baboy should taste like baboy, nothing less.
    4. Present entrees knowing that everyone eats first with their sense of sight. Imagine serving dinuguan in a black tureen!
    5. Concede that you can never beat their mothers’ or cooks’ cooking and there will be peace on earth.
    6. Give credit when it’s due. My wife and I tried San Bruno’s Ihaw-Ihaw and we recommend it to friends who crave for close-to-home cooking. And yes, they do serve halo-halo.

    Marami pong salamat!

    Sal Marcellana
    HaloHaloUSA@gmail.com

    May 9, 2008 | 6:47 am

     
 

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