31 May2012

You know you are in for a treat when Margarita Fores has invited you to lunch and the first thing that greets you is this fresh, ebullient, and colorful vegetable centerpiece. It sits on top of her stunningly large, single piece wooden “buffet” table (actually an old dining table). Mrs. MM and I rarely go to these events, and frankly, I had no clue how many people would be there, including press from all the television networks and several newspapers and magazines. So rather than pre-empt those stories, I will just give you a few snapshots of the lunch and formal signing of agreement between representatives of Casa Artusi and Gaita to set up Casa Artusi Philippines…

Margarita surrounded by the press…

Some rustic chicken liver pate with sage to gnosh on while all the hubbub was going on. I noticed several ingredients from Gejo gracing the plates… from stunning flat leaf parsley to tomatoes to sage, etc.

Waiters in white offering wines from Bacchus, a co-sponsor, and some gumamela or hibiscus iced tea.

Margarita has perfected the concept of appetizers or hors d’oeuvres for a cocktail crowd, and the “slam dunk” at lunch yesterday were breaded or battered caperberries that were then deep fried. They were juicy, tangy, salty and everything you would want with a drink before a nice meal… They were similar to stuffed and fried green olives but easier to handle and eat in one bite. She also had some fried slices of fennel as well. But the caperberries, I ate 4 or 5 of them! :)

The Italian Ambassador to the Philippines, Luca Fornari, trying his hand at making fresh pasta while the Mayor of Forlimpopoli, Paolo Zoffoli, looks on.

A few words from the guests of honor and Margarita, explaining a bit about the new school they are setting up…

…a formal signing of a memorandum of agreement accompanied by some champagne for a toast…

…followed by a buffet featuring several kinds of pasta, vegetables, tuna and beans, soup, etc. all mirroring some of the classic recipes described in Pellegrino Artusi’s cookbook, The Art of Eating.

We started with a Ciambotta, an Italian vegetable stew, quite close to a ratatouille in concept. We also had a classic tonno e fagioli or tuna and beans with a particularly refreshing dressing of lemon (but lots of it) and some olive oil. Instead of a typical veal or vitello, a platter of pork loin with tuna sauce or maiale tonnato appeared on the buffet table, topped with some micogreens. For pasta there was tagliolini Bolognese and garganelli with tallegio cream. I didn’t have any of the cappelletti in brodo, but it certainly looked and smelled wonderful.

One of my plates… I have to admit, I went back for more… :) And below a snapshot of the little boneless and stuffed lechon, and served with a light sauce au jus that was delicious!

It was a wonderful light(?) and delicious lunch. And went home with a wonderful box of Italian chocolates. Margarita is a good, good friend, so yes, you might say I am a biased observer and guest at her event. Nevertheless, I don’t know many people in Manila who can pull off a lunch like this one, let alone be asked to partner up with Casa Artusi to open up a school here in the Philippines. So Brava Margarita, Brava!!



  1. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Mr. MM, what a treat! Casa Artusi in Manila soon! I am intrigued by the caperberries, where can you buy them?

    May 31, 2012 | 8:51 am


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  3. sophie says:

    WOW that’s really amazing. The foods makes my tummy rumble (lol)… oh the small lechon looks delish…
    Kudos to Ms Margarita.
    A great day to you .^_^.

    May 31, 2012 | 9:14 am

  4. millet says:

    beautiful, just beautiful! thanks for sharing, MM. i doubt that the dailies and weeklies and monthlies would be able to do better than this post.

    May 31, 2012 | 9:20 am

  5. pinayfoodie says:

    the gumamela or hibiscus iced tea sounds interesting :) the presentation looks great and I’m sure the food is too..love going to Ms. Fores’ Cibo :) this is another feat for her :)

    May 31, 2012 | 9:55 am

  6. Natie says:

    So well-presented—more beautiful than some food magazines!

    May 31, 2012 | 11:56 am

  7. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Brava Indeed!! so beautiful..everything!! Love the Vegetable centerpiece..love everything!!

    May 31, 2012 | 12:17 pm

  8. MP says:

    MM, they chose the right person to partner with. How can they go wrong with Ms Fores who has long given us excellent Italian food? I used to frequent Cibo when I was still based in Manila and now that I am based elsewhere, I never miss going there when I’m home! Several Italian colleagues/friends that visited Manila loved Cibo (and Lusso for that matter) so I suppose my judgement is right! Can’t wait for this school to open!

    And btw, got home 3 weeks ago and been to Cibo 6 times already!

    I love the centerpiece!

    May 31, 2012 | 12:42 pm

  9. Danney says:

    The lechon is very cute!!!

    May 31, 2012 | 8:34 pm

  10. Socky says:

    Great! With the Fores partnership, we can expect a cooking school that’s more focused on taste than presentation. Am not saying Fores food is lacking in that aspect, but sadly, so many chefs/schools nowadays are obsessed with presentation.

    May 31, 2012 | 9:36 pm

  11. Footloose says:

    @MP, Tempting to apply folk etymology to the Filipino canto-slang tsibog, to eat. Sounds as though it came from the Italian cibo which descended from the Latin cibus, food. By what route, hard to tell since we already have sebo, congealed fat, that we got from the Spanish cebo which ultimately also goes back to the very same Latin cibus.

    May 31, 2012 | 10:42 pm

  12. PITS, MANILA says:

    CONGRATULATIONS to Margarita Fores yet again!

    Jun 1, 2012 | 4:37 am

  13. ami says:

    MM, can you tell Margarita to bring back Cafe Bola in Makati? Pretty please?

    Jun 1, 2012 | 8:55 am

  14. Teresa says:

    The last sentence can be cajoling. But coming from you MM, such praise is endearing. So i repeat; Brava Margarita!! Brava!!

    After reading your article, how I wish I am again in that sweet junction in life where one chooses a carrer education. I would have a go for a degree in culinary.

    Jun 2, 2012 | 12:34 am

  15. Katrina says:

    That is truly a stunningly gorgeous centerpiece — no need for any flowers, even! I especially like the hollowed out pumpkin ringed with twigs and filled with cherry tomatoes — charming! I, too, like caper berries, so I can imagine how good they’d be battered and deep-fried. And I definitely agree that any event Margarita caters is guaranteed to have amazing food. :-)

    Jun 2, 2012 | 1:10 am

  16. AndreiMD says:

    really curious, how was the boneless lechon? :)

    Jun 2, 2012 | 1:15 am

  17. michelle h. says:

    Marketman, your website isn’t displaying properly on my browser (Safari). I’ve not had a problem before, and have tried refreshing/reloading to no avail.

    Jun 2, 2012 | 2:51 am

  18. Berto and Kwala says:

    Such a gorgeous centerpiece. So unique and colorful. I think it had more effect, giving the place a homey feel. Boneless lechon? So convenient.. hope it was tasty too.

    Jun 2, 2012 | 10:43 am

  19. Pink Carnations says:

    Hi MM, sorry to be off the topic ;) just wondering if the format of marketmanila changed, it’s different now in all our computers at home. Thanks!!

    Jun 2, 2012 | 12:20 pm

  20. Dianne says:

    Reading your blog is certainly a feel-good thing :) reading the comments is definitely the cherry on top! everyone’s passion for food is undeniable and absolutely contagious!

    Jun 2, 2012 | 12:52 pm

  21. ykmd says:

    Love that centerpiece!

    Jun 3, 2012 | 5:32 am

  22. tonton says:

    Wow… I wish I could enroll in this school… I really want to specialize in Italian cuisine…. anyone has an idea about the rates? thanks

    Jun 3, 2012 | 9:17 am

  23. Marketman says:

    tonton, they will officially open in a few months time, rates available then. Pink Carnations, no format changes on marketmanila, so I am not sure what your browsers are now showing… michelle h, has it come back? as you and pink carnations seem to have a similar issue and it worries me a bit… andreiMD, it was very good. It was served with an almost adobo style sauce… And the meat shredded and heated on a hot plate… Socky, I couldn’t agree with you more… the question I always have in mind when I meet a new chef is, “when was the last time you were at a market and what were the three most interesting ingredients you found” and when I do actually ask it, I am inevitably disappointed by the answers… too many folks going to culinary school that seem to be missing the essence of the career they are aspiring to…

    Jun 3, 2012 | 11:55 am

  24. MP says:

    Hi Footloose, I have to admit it never occurred to me that Cibo may be remotely connected with tsibug or that one is a derivative of the other!

    Cibo is one of my favourites as the price range is quite affordable and won’t break the bank if I have meals there at least twice a week. I also love that the staff do not make me feel like I need to vacate my table immediately after finishing my meal. I like to take my time so I keep going back to restaurants that do not mind when I stay for a bit (of course I leave when I know people are waiting)…

    Jun 3, 2012 | 3:25 pm

  25. michelle h. says:

    Hi MM, no, the site hasn’t gone back to normal for me. How do I send you a screenshot of what I’m seeing on my browser?

    Jun 4, 2012 | 4:32 am

  26. Marketman says:

    michelle, please take a screen shot and email it to me at marketman(at)marketmanila.com… many thanks…

    Jun 4, 2012 | 6:57 am

  27. jennifer gonzales says:

    Hi! I’m interested to take up culinary with Casa Artusi. Do you have any contact details? Many thanks!

    Jun 10, 2012 | 4:55 pm

  28. Barefoot Queeniebee says:

    Salud! What a feat indeed. Ms. Gaita, you’re a bundle of joy and your gastronomic feast is a wonderful example of a splendid shower of firework display, it topped the jubilee celebration in the UK! You do us proud:D Cheers!

    Jun 12, 2012 | 3:37 am

  29. armie velas says:

    hello , . . how can we contact Casa Artusi PHilippines . . . for enrollment details . . . culinary curriculum/program etc etc . . . thanks

    Jul 29, 2012 | 10:05 am

  30. Marketman says:

    armie and jennifer, I don’t think the school opens for students until January or so next year. I will post details as soon as I get them… Thanks.

    Jul 29, 2012 | 10:08 am


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