Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Phillipine Food Festival: For the love of pork

I used to really love pork. Whenever I was heading home to visit, I'd ask my Mum for two things: a pork roast and a home made chocolate pudding. Not anymore. The chocolate pudding stays but if pork comes anywhere near me, my stomach starts to flip and I  wince.

Strange isn't it? I can't really remember why it started but I do recall when.

The Chief and I were in Rhineland in Germany and I was really looking forward to having a German classic, the famous pork knuckle- we ordered it, I even put my bib on in anticipation.

When it arrived, The Chief got stuck into his, being a big strapping Fijian boy, there is nothing better to him than a whopping hunk of pig on a plate- yep you guessed it, he was as  happy as a pig in mud (boom tish) with his knuckle.

Meanwhile, I could barely look at mine, initially, I thought it was the size that was putting me off. (It did appear to be as big as a three month old baby) Chief told me to eat as much as I could and he'd happily chow down the rest. I just couldn't and said I'd have to just eat the veggies around it, I'd lost my appetite anyway.

And there began my pork phobia, no more bacon, ham, pork chops, UK sausages the list goes on- I even almost vomited watching Master Chef once when there was a pork challenge- It's that extreme. If I don't think about it, I can eat chorizo and sometimes salami- it's a travesty.

So when Ms Mash, Bob Bob Bobbin and I make a reservation for the Philippine Food Festival, Ms Mash warns me, "Babe, you know us Fillos love our pork right?" Oh crap! I didn't even think about my pork issues when making the reservation.

I'd never had Filipino cuisine before, I was excited to try it and I really wanted to go with Ms Mash because her Mum's from the Philippines (her dad's English  and she's from London for the record) and she hadn't had "mum" food for ages.


I sometimes call Ms Mash, Mutya- in honour of my other favourite English Filipino-please note, Ms Mash does not wear extensions like Mutya  

The Philippine Food Festival at the Grace Hotel in the Sydney CBD is back by huge demand apparently- Ms Mash quips "There's a lot of hungry Fillo Mammas in Sydney Ames."

As we wait to be seated, I spot people drinking fresh coconut juice and I get excited- I definitely want one.
I lived in Fiji for a while where I kind of got sick of the sight of coconuts, but now back in Sydney, I take every opportunity I can to have fresh coconut.

Philippine chefs: Rodito Dimatera and Benjamin Zabala from the famous Via Mare in Manilla are in Sydney especially for the festival, which is a large buffet of traditional Philippine fare.

As I do a lap of the buffet, I need Ms Mash to tell me what everything is, I don't really recognise anything, its a bright mix of colours and unlucky for me (lucky for normal pig loving people) there is pork everywhere.

There's pork in the soup, cold buffet, hot buffet and a little piglet in the live cooking station.  Ms Mash is thrilled to bits, but being a good friend tries to skip past all the pork for me and and points out authentic dishes such as Laing at Hipon ‐ taro leaves with shrimps in coconut cream, Escabeche Maya Maya – red snapper in garlic turmeric sauce.

I just pile my plate up with all the non pork dishes and get ready to tuck in- I can say Philippines food is nothing like Fijian food. I've never had anything like it and a lot of the dishes are a bit too sweet for savoury dishes for my liking and it isn't very spicy- I'm a girl who loves heat. The prawn dishes are of course my favourite.

My plate of non pork goodness- a hot mess no?

There is desserts such as Leche Flan – caramel custard and Brazo de Mercedez which rolled meringue with creamy filling.

There is also a Halo Halo station. Ms Mash explains that this is her favourite dessert, it's a mixture of shaved ice and milk. Then you add as much  boiled sweet beans and fruit as you like, Its served cold in a tall glass or bowl.

I excitedly stuff my glass with ice and coconut milk and as many different colours and textures that fits. It looks pretty, but my Halo Halo isn't that yummy. Ms Mash makes me another one and it is a lot better.

"Phew I'm stuffed!" after eating enough Pork for a life time, Ms Mash and Bob Bobbin claim buffet defeat and although there was indeed a lot of pork, I did find the buffet interesting. I was excited that I got to try some Philippine fare finally and the desserts were delicious.
As we leave, Ms Mash jokes, "I guess you won't be over for breakfast Ames- we're having bacon and eggs."
Philippine Food Festival
23rd August – 5th September
The Grace Hotel: 77 York St Sydney

*Food images, my own and supplied by Philippine Food Festival, rest of pics from google

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, that Brazo de Mercedez looks amazing! I've never heard of it before, but it sounds mighty tasty. I love the idea of a make-your-own Halo Halo station, even though I've never had that before either. But I love getting to create my own flavours in any dish ;)


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