Going loco over local food with Myrna Segismundo and Jill Sandique

CONSUMERLINE - Ching M. Alano (The Philippine Star) - May 19, 2016 - 12:00am

One blissful bite of the succulent burong (pickled) mangga or of the burong santol and we knew that nothing could be sweeter than home. Soon, Myrna Segismundo and Jill Sandique, two of our finest chefs who have carved a name for themselves internationally, would dazzle our taste buds with their signature Pinoy cooking. Myrna’s oh-so-tender beef kaldereta (beef stew cooked to fork tenderness), smothered with green olives and heartily doused in tomato sauce as well as her dreamy and creamy pastel de pollo (chicken pastel) and Jill’s sinfully divine dulce de leche cheesecake and dark chocolate and mango mousse are but some of their many assorted offerings at Diamond Hotel’s Culinaria Filipina that opens today and runs until May 29 at Corniche restaurant.

“Ask any chef and they’ll probably tell you that their strongest influence is what they grew up with,” says Myrna Segismundo who grew up in a big family, hoarding precious memories of festive family gatherings, flowing food, holidays and summer vacations spent in Lipa, Batangas. “My biggest influence is my yaya because I was always left behind at home, being the youngest of 12 children.”Myrna declares she learned how to eat first before she learned how to cook. “And based on the flavors I grew up with, I learned to put these flavors together. Then I started working professionally in hotels in the US. Coming back home, I had all these flavor profiles I had a very strong memory of, food I grew up with and got exposed to, which was my guide in getting my hands dirty.”

Myrna, who wears many hats, aside from her toque (she’s magazine editor-in-chief, book author, TV host), stresses, “My formula is a play on flavors and textures. In fact, when we were helping promote Madrid Fusion in Spain, they were asking what was the best way to promote Filipino food and I said it was through a flavor profile — maasim, maalat, matamis, mapakla, malinamnam — which is our version of umami.”

Wearing her nationalistic heart on her sleeve, Myrna vows, “I will only go as far as using imported ingredients, but I will still apply Filipino techniques. My objective is always to go local in taste, focusing on the ingredients and how best to bring out the flavors of the food. So it will be a mix of both local and imported  — there are some very prime ingredients where we can introduce some of our local techniques in cooking. Like salmon kinilaw would be nice, it doesn’t always have to be salmon sushi. At Culinaria Filipina, you will also taste my roast rack of lamb with calamansi-guava glaze.”

Or prepare to be regaled by Myrna’s US Beef Tenderloin Morcon a la Emilia, roast tamarind chicken butter jus, kaldereta rellenong alimasag with coco-aligue sauce, crispy binagoongan with burong mangga, prime roast beef Tagalog with caramelized onions and basi wine sauce, or monggo soup with smoked tinapa, olive oil and vinegar.

And what’s a Filipino meal without panghimagas (dessert)? To satisfy our insatiable sweet cravings is dessert queen Jill Sandique, who holds the honor of garnering near-perfect scores in the Career French Pastry and Baking Program. For Culinaria Filipina, Jill has done what other pastry chefs can only dream of: swirling together a dulche de leche and dayap cheesecake.

“I made the dulce de leche from scratch, boiling it for four hours,” she reveals. “Then I baked the cheesecake for another two hours. It’s like two cheesecakes swirled together — one is a dulce de leche cheesecake, the other is a dayap cheesecake. You can add a dayap zest to give it more aroma. Other people do it with dayap, but not two flavors swirled together. Dulce de leche is cloyingly sweet so to offset that, you have the lime for the citrusy balance.”

To add to the Pinoy ambience, Jill is also bringing in a sorbetero or ice cream cart. “I remember when I was young, I would eat ice cream stuffed inside a pan de leche (bread),” Jill relates. “At the food fest, you can have ice cream flavors like queso de bola, ube, Kape Barako, langka, dulce de leche, mantecado, mais, halo-halo, and Choc-nut.” Pinoy ice cream has certainly come a long way from Jill’s childhood days. Now, you can choose from assorted sauces such as Malagos chocolate sauce and coffee caramel fudge as well as toppings like toasted pinipig, cornflakes, ube haleya, kaong, leche flan, macapuno, pastillas de leche, sweet corn, etc.

Jill is surely proud of her dark chocolate and mango mousse. The dark chocolate comes from the famed Malagos Farm in Davao. “The mousse is a pale yellow because there’s no artificial coloring. It’s topped with roasted Malagos nibs.”

Jill will also delight guests with some time-cherished desserts our grandparents or great-grandparents probably grew up with, like the Suspiros de Macapuno (or Nangka/Langka) con Natilla, Peanut Chocolate and/or Muscovado Coconut Masi, Brazo de Mercedes, Mango Crepe Casserole (Crepe Samurai).

Undoubtedly, with this dream gem of a cooking duo, expect the most dazzling chowtime ever!





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Culinaria Filipina runs May 19-29 for Corniche lunch and dinner buffet. Two lucky guests will each win a two-night stay in Baguio for two. For reservations, call 528-3000.

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