What happens when you put together two extremely passionate, creative and talented master chefs, both successful in their respective fields, a managing director of a popular resort and her culinary team all together? That’s what Security Blanket had witnessed when I was invited to the media launch of Batangas Food Festival 2016 at Matabungkay Beach Hotel. It was a gorgeous lunch that could be called a symphony of flavours, tastes, aromas and textures that make up the Batangas Food Festival menu.
Ms. Charley Leviste-Antonio, managing director of Matabungkay Beach Hotel in Lian, Batangas put together top chefs Ms. Nancy Reyes-Lumen, the “Adobo Queen” herself and Chef Jaja Andal to collaborate on the menu for this year’s Batangas Food Festival, which will run from October to December 31st, 2016.
Aside from being known for its rich history, Batangas has a wide variety of foods that Batangueños are really proud. To showcase the best of Batangas food, Matabungkay Beach Hotel came up with Batangas Food Festival where they created colourful re-interpretation of Batangueños well-loved dishes as well as other sumptuous buffet spread of local flavours.
Chef Nancy Reyes-Lumen needs no further introduction. She is considered a doyenne of Filipino cuisine. She’s a jack-of-all-trades: a band vocalist, author, food writer, Masflex Cookware ambassador, culinary consultant and the list goes on and on. Not to mention, she’s from the popular Reyes clan. Her kitchen philosophy is creating familiar but classic Filipino flavours, something new through the presentation.
Chef Angeli “Jaja” Andal traces her brand of cooking from Balayan, Batangas where her family hails from. Her featured dishes are Blue Paella, Pistang Pate and Native Chicken Adobo in Kapeng Barako and Tablea Sauce. She also whipped up different salad dressings with hints of Bagoong Balayan (salt-fermented fish sauce), Guyabano, and Calamansi. She also made use of Ampalayang Ligaw (Pickled Mini Wild Bittergourd) as an appetizer. Her philosophy is to do unusual dishes but spin it with familiar flavours.
|Ampalayang Ligaw (Pickled Mini Wild Bittergourd)|
|Inihaw na Pinakbet (Grilled Vegetable medley)|
We had a blast as we were treated on both traditional dishes with twists made from locally sourced ingredients in one gastronomical adventure that features the best of Batangueño foods. For starters, we were welcomed with Camote Tops Iced Tea with Philippine Lemon (Calamansi). The drink was refreshing and perfect after the three-hour drive from Manila to Matabungkay Beach Hotel.
|Camote Tops Iced Tea with Philippine Lemon (Calamansi)|
The festive buffet spread showcased various dishes typically served in Batangueno households but with some distinct twists. For starters, Chef Jaja Andal prepared Pistang (Fiesta) Pate, a collection of pate in different flavours with vibrant colors namely: Salted Egg Pate (both egg white and yolk), Kalabasa (Squash/Pumpkin) Pate, Malunggay (Moringa Olifera) Pate, Atsuete (Annato Seeds) Pate, Talangka (Crab) Pate, Paminta (Peppercorn) Pate and Labuyo (Chili) and Cheese pate. Among the flavours of pate mentioned, Talangka pate was the biggest hit. River crab fat pate spread generously over locally fresh baked crisp half sliced pandesal crostini.
|Paella Ala Eh|
Another interesting feature is Rodrigo’s Roast—made of rolled pork belly braised Adobo style and seared with brown sugar—then sided with dipping sauces. I ate a couple of bites, needless to say it was mouth watering. If you’re a carnivore, you'll surely love it. But be careful though, make sure to leave more room in your tummies as there are more palatable dishes you'll have to try.
For the health conscious, they have also prepared refreshing salad with garden-fresh greens with a choice of playfully inventive dressings: patis calamansi, creamy bagoong balayan, and guyabano based dressing. They also have Chef Jaja’s version of Korean’s staple banchan (appetizer) called Kimchi Tagalog made from locally grown papaya, cucumber, and shredded green mango. Chef Jaja also took a creative spin on another Korean favourite spinach side dish, but instead of the usual spinach, Chef Jaja opted for local Talbos ng Kangkong (swamp cabbage) and drizzled them with sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic and other spices. Another popular among the side dish was the Inihaw na Pakbet Salad. It’s very light and really healthy. Also worth mentioning was the Pickled Ampalayang Ligaw (Pickled miniature bittergourd), surprisingly, it wasn’t bitter at all, rather it was more palate cleansing.
|Native Chicken Adobo in Barako and Tablea|
Another dish worth trying is the sweet-savory taste of Native Chicken Adobo, shredded adobo flakes slow cooked in Barako and Tablea and deep fried served with signature coffee as sauce. They also had a twist on Batangas famous Sinaing na Tulingan—cooked old style in Palayok with kamias. But this time, it’s Sinaing na Bangus.
|Kinamatisang Baka (Stewed Beef in Tomato)|
Batangas Food Festival also features Suam Mushi—a derivation from the Japanese egg and custard-based hot appetizer infused with corn bits. What makes it interesting was the inclusion of Malunggay and Balanoy leaves. Balanoy leaves (a relative of Basil). Balanoy gives the soup some minty and sour taste. It’s basically a sour based soup with a whole bunch of other goodies in it. The sour taste marries the natural sweetness of the corn soup, making the said soup a great appetizer to warm up your tummies for such a delightful Batangueño feast.
For those with sweet tooth, enjoy sumptuous saccharine based treats, Galapong Puti, Bikong Batangas and Bibingkang Galapong Batangas. But I love Suman ala Churros with Tablea Chocolate sauce (deep fried rice cake rolls with chocolate dipping sauce)the most. Featured beverages were Si Labuyo Eh (Mojito like drink based in Lambanog with chilli), Dayap Pa More, and Kamias Smoothie.
|Suman Con Churros|
|Featured drinks includes Si Labuyo, Kamias Smoothie and Dayap Pa More.|
With so many interesting palatable dishes they have prepared for the Batangas Food Festival from the collaboration of Chefs Nancy Lumen-Reyes, Jaja Andal and Popit De Leon for Matabungkay Beach Hotel, there’s no best time to head off South and enjoy the beach + these awesome food festival!
Matabungkay Beach Hotel has a special promotional package for those guests who’d want to avail and experience the Batangas Food Festival: For only Php4,300 net, guests can avail of a Deluxe room for two pax, breakfast for 2, set BFF lunch or dinner for 2 and a gift bag of Batangas food products. This promo is valid from October 1 to December 31, 2016 only.So what else can I say? Ala Eh, tara, tayo na sa Matabungkay!
Matabungkay Beach Hotel is located at Barangay Matabungkay, Lian Batangas. For accommodations and bookings as well as more information on Batangas Food Festival, you may call them at their Makati office: (02) 751-6685 or email them at email@example.com. Visit their website at www.matabungkaybeachhotel.com.