Homesick (A Pinoy Food and Wine Special)

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It’s probably evident from my blog posts (and occasional lack thereof) that Chad and I have come to call planes “home” for the past few months.

At the risk of sounding like I’m #humblebragging, I have to confess that as much as the prospect of spending time in different parts of the world seems fun, there are moments that I get homesick… It often manifests itself with a strong craving for Pinoy food.

Nothing in the world compares to Filipino cuisine, IMHO. The great Fil-Am comedian Rex Navarette brought up a couple of points regarding Pinoy cuisine that I find incredibly insightful: First, it looks better in the dark… Visually speaking, the concept of eating Adidas (charcoal grilled chicken feet), our legendary Balut, Monggo, Pinakbet, and even Kare-kare (saving the arguments about whose mom’s version is the best for later… But just to put it out there, my mom’s Kare-kare is DA BEST) can be a bit unappetising.

I must say though, our food is delicious. I can describe our food by saying it contains so many different but very subtle flavors in one dish, owing to the different spices we use. For example, Adobo is equal parts salty and sour with a touch of sweet, but none of these tastes is overpowering enough to cancel out the other, or be dominant.

Another excellent point that Navarette pointed out is that we Filipinos can do anything to every part of a pig (in one of his routines, he even said that if we can harness the ghost of the pig, we would probably capture it and deep fry that sh*t). We are legendary for having Lechon (whole roasted pig) in our traditional parties. Chicharon is available in varying degrees, from the cheap air-filled versions peddled by vendors along EDSA, to more upscale ones from Lapid’s (some of which still contain the fat), to my all-time favorite: freshly-popped ones from our family’s house in Pampanga. There is also the pulutan (barchow) staple: Sisig.

Had a heart attack yet? Not to worry. I’m moving on to the beverage bits of this piece.

Taking all this into consideration, add that to the recent wine phenomenon in the Philippines (yup, we are now aware that the best wines don’t necessarily have to be sugary-sweet), and I would end up with this frequently asked question:

What wine should I pair with Filipino food?

kinilaw2

Tuna Kinilaw in Café Ysabel

 

To further investigate, I decided to attend the Pinoy Food and Wine Pairing Dinner with the Chaine des Rotisseurs. We had a seemingly endless number of courses for dinner, all of which were fantastic representations of some of our food, done in an impeccably gourmet way (nope, our kinilaw doesn’t look like this too often).

riesling

Just one of the wines we’ve had the good fortune of experimenting with

We were also invited to experiment on a few wines to pair with the food: An impossibly rich Prosecco (Zonin), a crisp and sweet Riesling (Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt), and a light Rhône (Laurus).

My personal finding is this: The Prosecco (a sparkling wine from Italy) has crisp, refreshing qualities that compliment some of our gentler but complex dishes. A mildly textured, not-so-sweet Riesling (some Rieslings can be too sweet, or too rich) is phenomenal with most of our food. Our bolder red meats, especially ones that we roast, go well with a gentler, less tannic red wine.

One of my all-time favorite Pinoy food and wine pairing combos (which was not part of the dinner) is a greasy lechon paired with a well-kept new world Pinot Noir (I highly recommend Casillero del Diablo’s take on the wine). The light red fruit flavors of the Pinot Noir go beautifully with the greasy, rich lechon, without overpowering its mild flavors, and extra points for wine being good for the heart (as with everything, moderation for both the lechon and wine is key).

What is your favorite Pinoy food and wine-pairing combo? Cheers!

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