Nicâs Rina Silayan Go.
Nic’s Rina Silayan Go.
Photo by Bernardo Batuigas
Love makes your heart melt like ensaymada
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - February 14, 2019 - 12:00am

Today, single mom Rina Silayan Go is going to wake up to a virtual garden of bouquets: from her good friend Tokie (who has been sending her flowers every Valentine’s Day for over 20 years now), and from her three brothers. There may be an extra bouquet or two this year, who knows?

Then, she’ll be going to work, her great love aside from her two daughters Nicole and Madison. Rina runs Nic’s, a coffee shop brimming with the most delectable savory dishes and mouthwatering pastries. Curiously, Rina is able to blend the two, making the sweet complement the savory.

The newest branch of Nic’s (the original restaurant is at the UP Town Center) was born out of love. Friends and clients from the Makati area who couldn’t seem to live without Rina’s roast turkey, chicken relleno, apple pie with quezo de bola, oatmeal bars, to name a few, clamored for it.

So, Rina lovingly put together a chic modern French café on the ground floor of the Park Terraces across Glorietta 2. Designed by Ivy Almario, the café has black and white striped walls, pendant lamps and white floor tiles with black accents. Splashes of red, like the fresh flowers on the tables do to Nic’s what red lipstick does to a woman. Rina says that for this month, Nic’s is seeing red with these cocktails for the “Girls Night Out” theme: Frozen Strawberry Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Sangria and Strawberry Cosmonaut.

Rina with her daughters Madison and Nicole. Photo by Bernardo Batuigas

Rina says those coming in today and for the rest of February have a special treat: for a Table for 2, Cheese Pizza, two Bowls of Aglio Olio Pasta and two glasses of Iced Tea for P399.

For a Party of 4, a Whole Traditional Caesar Salad, Cheese Pizza and two Bowls of Seafood Medley Pasta for P999.

Both packages come with their choice of free dessert: Red Velvet Mini-Heart Cake, Chocolate Mini-Heart Cake, Assorted Truffles, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Cookies. Nic’s also is dishing out Mini-Heart Cakes (P150 each; P280 for both) and “Love in a Jar” (P245 for a jar of six mini-cookies).

*  *  *

Nic’s quezo de bola apple pie, Parmesan ensaymada, cheese roll and yema cake. Photo by Bernardo Batuigas

Rina has always associated food with love. “Oh, please, don’t show me our grade school photos!” she shrieks, referring to how chubby she once was.

“Our family dinners were always feasts and friends who used to come to the house when my brothers, sister and I were growing up still equate our home with good food,” says Rina.

Though both her father Henry and sister Maggie have passed away, and her mother Aurora has suffered a stroke that has left her half-paralyzed, Rina continues the tradition of the family’s love for good food — not just eating them, but also preparing them. “We use no shortcut, no extenders. We prepare everything from scratch.”

“My brothers will not return to Nic’s if I ever dare tamper with a family recipe,” says Rina, whose chicken relleno is a favorite of Sen. Loren Legarda. Good friend Lizette Cojuangco’s favorite, according to Rina, is Nic’s “walang kamatayang” apple pie, topped with quezo de bola; while her other good friend Jojo Ocampo adores Nic’s oatmeal bars. My personal favorites are her Parmesan ensaymadas — the bitey Parmesan flavor complements the tender, moderately sweet, melt-in-your-mouth goodness of the ensaymadas.

(Clockwise) Baked Boursin (made with a sevenherb dip), Classic Ceasar Salad with Smoked Salmon, Cobb Salad and Charcuterie Platter. Photo by Bernardo Batuigas

Lately, Rina has been getting requests from friends to style their dinners, not just prepare the food to be served. “I am not a full-blown caterer, but I go to my clients’ house, look at their trove of wedding gifts and souvenirs, and come up with an interesting table setting to match the menu.”

“It looks more homey this way, because the flatware and the silverware are theirs.” She finds tablecloth and coasters tucked away in bauls and mixes and matches them to add drama to the setting.

*  *  *

Girls’ night out at Nic’s. Photo by Juro Ong kiko

Today may be just a working day for Rina Go, and she’s going to cap it by planting a kiss on the forehead of her mom. It was from Aurora Go’s table that all this love for impeccably prepared food and pastries came from. And tonight, like any night, is a good time to say thank you to her mother for a lifetime of love.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May your hearts be filled with love and memories.

(Nic’s is located at the Ground Floor of Park Terraces, Palm Drive, Makati City. For inquiries, call 0999-9933231 or 744-6427.)

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

CHEESE ROLL NIC’S PARMESAN ENSAYMADA QUEZO DE BOLA APPLE PIE YEMA CAKE
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