Spanish Cooking with Chef Juan Carlos de Terry

Dr. Nestor Alonso II (The Freeman) - July 26, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Last June, two food-and-wine events were sponsored in Cebu by Happy Living Philippines Corporation and their partner, Terry’s Selection. Part One was the Cebu Trade Wine Tour Wine at the Circa 1900.  Part Two was “An Evening of Authentic Friendship, Spanish Food & Fine Wines” at the Casino Español de Cebu Inc. with Chef Juan Carlos de Terry, a chemist and Doctor of Oenology sharing his culinary genius with the elite of the Spanish community in the city. I was quite fortunate to have been invited to the said events.

Spanish cuisine starts with authentic Spanish ingredients, a well-equipped kitchen and the expertise of a Spanish chef. Let’s take the Paella, for example, as the model Spanish dish known to most Filipinos. You start with Bomba rice, a short-grain variety that absorbs more water (1.5 times) than regular rice. It has non-sticky properties due to its high amylase content. Then you need saffron, to impart color and taste. Without these two ingredients, you cannot cook paella. Terry’s Selection imports ingredients, like Bomba and Angulas, for cooking authentic Spanish dishes.

At the Casino Español, Chef J. C. Terry prepared two paellas. The first, Super Paella Parellada, combined a saffron-based broth with seafood, chicken, pork, Butifarra sausage and Chorizo Cular de Salamanca. The second was his version of Paella Negra with Bomba cooked in Nortindal (saffron-base squid ink sauce) with shrimps, squid, clams and Allioili Sauce on the side. What delicious paellas I had tasted that night! Even the socarrat (du-kot), my favorite portion, quickly disappeared.

There were six Appetizers & Salads, two Soups, a Carving Station, three Live Cooking stations, four Main Dishes and three Desserts. I came on time, but many guests had arrived earlier. I had to take food photos (only of the intact dishes) and I had to wait for the replenishments. This limited my intake to only two Appetizers (Stuffed Piquillo Peppers with Tuna Belly, bound with Anchovy-Wasabi Mayonnaise and Artichokes with Cheese & Herring Caviar), two Live Cooking (Paellas), two Main Dishes and two Desserts.

A long queue had formed at the Carving Station where the Jamon Iberico Bellota was sliced and Casino Español GM May Ocaba asked the service for a plate of this quintessential Spanish delicacy brought to the Media table. Sometimes I’d wonder how raw pork, excuse me, could taste so heavenly. I tried the Fabada Asturiana (Beans & Pork) cooked with Lacon & Morcilla sausages with a dash of saffron. It was the best Fabada I feasted this year.

Desserts served were the Tarta de Santiago and the Helado Turron de Alicante (Almond Nougat Ice Cream sprinkled with Almond Praline). The Tarta or Almond Cake of St. James was so delicious that I went back for two more slices. Almond was the dominant flavor of the cake and ice cream and my craving for almonds was completely satisfied.

We had several wines from Happy Living Philippines paired with the food – but that would be another story.

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