Front and Sentro

2 02 2011

Unexpected star – Sentro's Fresh Smoked Fish Spring Roll

WE WENT (there) for the corned beef but left singing the spring rolls praises on our way to get cupcakes.

One thing about hosting visiting family over is that you want to take them to places that you yourself love.  In my case, my list was full of restaurant choices – I left the sightseeing to the others.  Hahaha!  And oh, a little shopping was on my list too.

I say I had a “list” because the “visiting family” happen to have been away for exactly a decade already.  And the places to take them to did a list make.  At the top of the roster were the Serendra Piazza, Bonifacio High Street, Greenbelt 5, and Cupcakes by Sonja.

By way of restaurants, I saw it fitting to kick things off with my own Miele Guide retrospective that starts with Sentro, the one at the Serendra Piazza.

“We’re here for the ‘Corned Beef Sinigang’!”

“Corned beef in sinigang?!”

“Yes, you heard it right.  Corned beef in sinigang!”  I told my brother, enunciating ‘corrrned beef’ like it was Chateaubriand, but quick to add, “Though don’t you go back home to Chicago and empty a can of corned beef into a soured broth just to make this dish!”

Corned Beef Sinigang


That's a hunk of meat. As always, quite flavorful as it is quite tender.

I knew that by dropping the name of the restaurant’s specialty dish, I would elicit curious “oohs” and “ahs” from the guests.  I could tell that their excitement was building up to a raging crescendo, tempered only by the crackling of salted dried watermelon seeds (butong pakwan) that was the restaurant’s complimentary starter.

Being the self-appointed orderer that I am (“I’m an excellent orderer.  You may want to eat with me for the rest of your life.”), I built a spread ‘round the Corned Beef Sinigang (corned beef short ribs and boneless shanks in tamarind broth with native vegetables, Php 595.00) as the focal dish.  The Crispy Boneless Trotter (“Hinimay na crispy pata”, Php 550.00) was a necessary reminder that we’re having a full-on Filipino meal in honor of my brother’s family.  My nephew’s eyes opened wide as they passed around the platter of deep-fried tender morsels of trotter meat, not missing out to crown the pile they served themselves with with shards of the skin, fried to a perfect, deliciously crackly crisp.

The huge serving of the Kare-Kare (Stew of oxtail and beef tripe in a rice flour-thickened annatto peanut sauce with native vegetables, Php 820.00) brought us back to my mother’s kitchen where this dish would be whipped whenever we were in a celebratory mood.  Yes, the almost cramped seating at Sentro’s Serendra branch had already taken care of making the dinner cozy – I couldn’t turn without hitting someone or something with my elbow, not that I’m complaining – but it was the Kare-Kare that gave the get-together a really homey feel.  Familiar.  Warm.  Comfortable.

As if apologizing –almost, but not quite – for the undeniable richness of the meat dishes, we had to ask for the Rated GG (Deep fried fillets of galunggong (hard-tail mackerel or round scad) served in oil and generously sprinkled with fried garlic, Php 445.00), the Green Mango Salad (Php 100.00), and the Sitaw Express (String beans in coconut cream sauce, flavored with lemongrass, Php 160.00).

Rated GG


A fillet of Rated GG


Sitaw Express

The pièce de résistance turned out to be the Fresh Smoked Fish Spring Rolls (however paradoxical that sounds – “fresh” but “smoked”?).  We didn’t ask for it at first.  But my sister-in-law caught the description posted on the wall and eventually had her curiosity piqued.  I translate, “Fresh egg roll of smoked milkfish, salted duck egg, mustard greens, onions, and tomatoes.”

Fresh Smoked Fish Spring Roll

I do remember heaping praises on the corned beef sinigang still – even when nothing was left in the terracotta to tell that corned beef was even in there – but everybody else was bowled over by the ingenuity of the milkfish spring rolls.  I knew it when the look in my mother’s eyes told me she’d have my share if she could.  And she did.

I love love L-O-V-E Sentro's cutlery!


I wanted to take this home!


Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.

Presidential foodie

10 08 2009


TALK ABOUT wearing my heart on my sleeve!


Tita Cory - Food Fresh Corned Beef 00

From my years-old collection – newspaper clippings of Kris Aquino's column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Yes, I read her, together with Mr. Teodoro "Teddyboy" L. Locsin, Jr.!

My slew of posts this past week has revolved around the passing of our dear former president, Mrs. Corazon Cojuangco Aquino.  Yes, around her and at least a couple others – Ms. Kris Aquino and Mr. Teodoro “Teddyboy” L. Locsin, Jr..  And it just occurred to me that, together with Prof. Winnie Monsod, three of my most admired people (listed in my “35 Things) have Tita Cory as the common denominator.  And if I’d count the perfectly tempered PROFILES feature Ms. Cheche Lazaro made for her, that makes four of my most admired people!

So here – yet again – is another Tita Cory post.  There really is no doubt I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve!  At some point in the past, Batman told me that I was fortunate I have a blog, which he called something to the effect of an “outlet” for me.  And all the many personalities that make me up.  And all the many emotions in my wide spectrum.

But this time around, I want to talk about a different aspect of our former president that I have come to love – her love for food.

It was in her daughter’s column Kris & Tell’s December 25, 2000 edition that food first heightened my curiosity about and admiration for our former president.  I quote my favorite excerpt: “…and then we eat heartily from the Christmas buffet that my mom has prepared.  We normally have lechon, roast turkey (prepared by my sister Ballsy’s mother-in-law, Tita Caring, which is the most delicious turkey and stuffing I’ve ever tasted), pasta and fresh corned beef which my mom herself prepares, and various desserts.”  From that short – yet impressive – list, it was the fresh corned beef that tickled my imagination especially since the former president would make it herself!

Tita Cory - Food Fresh Corned Beef 02

A vivid description of the Aquino Noche Buena table. It was the "fresh corned beef" prepared by the former president herself, that really caught my attention – and made my mouth water.

From that point on, I would picture the Aquino Noche Buena (Christmas Eve dinner) table in my head every year.  My curiosity was particularly and incessantly piqued by the fact that in the midst of that spread would be corned beef that wasn’t akin to the ones I’d shake from out of a can.  No wonder that when I heard of Sentro 1771’s Sinigang Na Corned Beef (Corned Beef in Tamarind Broth with Vegetables), I immediately tried it… and added it to my list of faves.  I thought to myself that that could be the closest I could taste home-made corned beef.

And these past days, on morning shows and in the papers, I got to know about food items that Tita Cory loved.  She liked the ensaymada from Hizon’s.  She loved the special queso de bola on top!  And if I heard it right, she was also partial to their caramel cake.  (Now I don’t know if Hizon’s does have a caramel cake!)

And on the day after her interment, it was Tita Cory’s trademark chicken liver pâté that I learned about, courtesy of Vangie Baga-Reyes’s article in the Inquirer.  What actually got me was the mention that even during her illness, Tita Cory managed to whip this up three months ago.

Like the mention of her fresh corned beef eight-and-a-half years ago – and all subsequent references to it that I had heard or read about – this recent article on her chicken liver pâté didn’t share her secret recipe.  Though it offered someone else’s.  But compared to the one on the fresh corned beef, it did one better by at least mentioning that Tita Cory’s secret to her chicken liver pâté were red wine and cinnamon.  I couldn’t wait to try making it myself!

Tita Cory - Food Chicken Liver Pate

Our Tita Cory would make her trademark Chicken Liver Pâté for family and friends.