A creative touch to filipino cuisine
Dr. Nestor Alonso ll (The Freeman) - December 2, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines – There's such an Executive Chef I know. I've met Martin Przewodnik when he was the Executive Chef of the then Cebu Plaza Hotel and later at the Alegre Beach Resort & Spa, where he made a very interesting dish called "Baked Lapu-lapu on Jackfruit Humba." Later, Chef Martin moved to the Bellevue Resort Bohol of the Bellevue Hotels & Resorts - again as the Executive Chef - and introduced three new dishes: Crab Meat with Guava, Kinilaw nga Kanding (fermented raw goat meat) and Okra Salad with Shrimps.

Today, he has his own restaurant in front of Allure Hotel at No. 2 Albanio Subdivision, A.S. Fortuna Street, Mandaue City. It's called La'mas Restaurant (phone: 0977-178-5859, 5170637).

I was in a select media group invited to a 10-course dinner at La'mas. Your favourite food writer had all his taste senses on a red alert, ready to dissect the brand of creative Filipino cuisine of Chef Martin.

Appetizer was the Mongo Kare-Kare Salad with Smoked Duck Breast.  Peanut butter was added to the beans and the mango salsa and balsamic reduction gave the dish very complex flavours, ranging from the sweetness of the fruit to the slight sour taste of vinegar and finally the umani taste of the duck. Very interesting!

Soup was Light Spicy Seafood with Coconut Milk made with prawns and fresh tamarind. A special Coconut Rice was served. The rice was cooked inside the coconut and Chef Martin took the center stage to crack the nut with a long bolo.

The fourth dish was Pork Tenderloin, wrapped in Banana Leaf, and cooked in clay. It was slowly cooked pork with vegetables, then wrapped with banana and encased in clay. Similar principles applied to China's "Beggar's Man Chicken" and the taste just as delicious. The Mangyans in Mindoro, excuse me, also practice the same technique!

We then sampled Chef Martin's specialty - the Butonggata, which had the food (chicken, prawn or fish) cooked in green coconut shell, then simmered in fresh coconut juice (tubig sa butong) and milk (gata).  The Grilled Chicken Leg on Barbecue Fried Rice with Malungay Pesto then followed. We also tried the Prawn Sisig; the shrimps were sautéed with chilli and garlic. At this point, I felt transported back to Bicol because of the dishes that had gata in it.

The 8th dish was my favorite, Salmon Baked in Banana Trunk Sprout. There were many interesting innovations the way food were prepared, cooked and served during the dinner. The salmon, especially, was definitely delicious.

Dessert was Yoghurt Pannacotta with Fruit Compote, served with a chocolate cigar and fruit compote.

The wonderful dinner ended with the service of German Fire Cup or "Feuerzangenbowle," rum-soaked block of sugar is set on fire and drips down on mulled wine, which is traditionally served during the Christmas season.

ALBANIO SUBDIVISION ALEGRE BEACH RESORT ALLURE HOTEL BAKED LAPU BANANA LEAF BANANA TRUNK SPROUT BARBECUE FRIED RICE BELLEVUE RESORT BOHOL OF THE BELLEVUE HOTELS CEBU PLAZA HOTEL CHEF MARTIN EXECUTIVE CHEF
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