‘The Alba Cookbook’: Spanish cuisine for the Filipino palate

(The Philippine Star) - November 29, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Spanish chef Anastacio de Alba is well-loved by culinary professionals and food-lovers alike for introducing the Filipino palate to authentic Spanish cuisine through the popular Alba Restaurant. His colorful life has inspired friends and   peers to tell his story, which is a classic example of how Philippine cuisine is influenced by foods from other lands.  This wonderful story is now out in the much-awaited The Alba Cookbook.

 Now 86 years old, Alba will grace the book launch this December, which coincides with the grand opening of Alba Restaurante Español’s new branch at the fourth floor, Prism Plaza Harbor Drive, MOA Complex, SM Mall of Asia.

“When he first landed in our country in 1952, he sowed the Filipino’s liking for Spanish cuisine’s palatability. He is the master of all time. He is the real chef,” wrote Marilou Garcia-Morera in her introduction.    Esteemed food writer and good friend, Chona Trinidad, wrote Alba’s biography and translated his Spanish poems and anecdotes. 

Another family friend, well-respected foodie, Nancy Reyes-Lumen, is the book’s editor. The rest of editorial team are Alba’s son Miguel, daughter-in-law Cachelle, designers Ige Ramos and Mike Gomez. 

Chef Miguel, to whom Alba passes the culinary torch, said in the book’s preface:  “My father is indeed an extraordinary person, not only in the eyes of his children, but also in the hearts of his many clients whom he has served in his unique and charming manner, as well as the employees he taught and trained.”

In his message, Alba thanked all the people who helped him settle in the Philippines, the adoptive country he so loves.  “I brought with me a great dream — my grandest fantasy coupled with so much enthusiasm and Filipinos who helped realize this dream,” he said. “My son, chef Miguel, will surely continue the Alba tradition for another half a century or more,” he added.

Released by Anvil Publishing, The Alba Cookbook is more than just a collection of Spanish recipes but a celebration of the man — his love for life and reverence for Spanish cuisine. 

The bueno cocinero himself shares valuable cooking tips for traditional Castilian dishes like fabada asturiana, callos a la Madrileña and some Alba originals like solomillo a la pobre, tuhod y batoc and canonigo. Also included are step-by-step instructions in making the perfect paella Valenciana for the holidays and family gatherings.

The Alba Cookbook is available in National Book Store, Bestsellers and Powerbooks. As a special treat for buyers, every purchase of the cookbook includes one free lunch buffet coupon at any Alba Restorante Español branch.  The promo is ongoing until Dec. 5. Those with free coupons can avail of the free lunch buffet any of the Alba restaurants located in Polaris St., Bel-Air, Makati; Tomas Moratocor Scout Lozano, QC; Prism Plaza, MOA Complex, Pasay City; and Westgate Center, Filinvest.

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