Madrid Fusion Manila 2016: Rediscovering Filipino Food

It’s understandable when people get accustomed to the food that they grow up with – the food that they take for granted because of how common it is served, even though it is a reminder of home. It’s a good thing there are events that make it possible to get excited about the food that we’ve gotten to used to.

This year’s Madrid Fusion Manila did exactly that. The first and only Asian edition of the International Food Congress showcased the best of Filipino food through its local produce and ingredients from various regions and even brought together acclaimed chefs from different parts of the world.

Here’s a rundown of our favorites and new finds at the event:

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Down to Earth
Makati Curb Holdings, 7433 G/F, Unit J, Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City

Vegetables aren’t usually the type of food that people get giddy about, but the produce from Down to Earth always draws a crowd. This isn’t surprising, though, once you join the crowd to take a closer look. The produce, grown in Bukidnon for months or even years, are a treat to the eyes with their unique colors and shapes. They have purple corn and Chioggia beets, which look like candy inside when split in half.

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Don Papa Rum

Chances are, you know or have already heard of this local brand of rum. Don Papa Rum is a premium aged rum from Negros. The rum is aged for seven years in the hills of Mount Kanlaon and later blended to create a light rum with a hint of vanilla.

CMBV Confectionaires Co.

Local chocolates are continuously getting more popular, thanks to local brands like CMBV. The brand, which was also in last year’s Madrid Fusion Manila, uses local ingredients in their chocolates to produce flavors like Gin Pomelo, Minted Calamansi, Santol and even Gumamela.

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One of the award winners at the 53rd World Selection of Spirits and Liqueurs 2015 in Portugal, this lambanog or coconut vodka by Lakan is strong, but ridiculously smooth. Lakan, which was the title given to warrior rulers during pre-colonial Philippines, has been around since last year and is already available in many outlets, including Kultura at SM, Rustan’s, S&R and Duty Free.

Kitchen BookstoreChef Ricard Camarena signs a copy at the Kitchen Bookstore’s booth. Photo from The Kitchen Bookstore’s FB page

The Kitchen Bookstore

Just launched this year, The Kitchen Bookstore is an online bookstore with a selection of culinary reads that will make any food enthusiast giddy with excitement. Some of the titles they have include The Foods of Jose Rizal, Arzak Secrets, Nerd Baker and Broths and  El Celler de Can Roca, two titles with copies signed by their authors who were at this year’s event. 

The Regional Lunch

One of the highlights of Madrid Fusion Manila was the regional lunch, which showcased regional food from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Local foods, such as balut, itlog na maalat, monggo and Palawan honey, were used by chefs including Chef Margarita Fores (Cibo), Chef Jessie Sincioco (Top of the Citi) and Chef Miko Aspiras (Scout’s Honor) to create stunning and inventive dishes.

Madrid Fusion 12The humble salted egg reinvented by Chef Khalel Chan (Raintree Group): layers of salted egg tofu and salted egg cream topped with salted egg polvoron.

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The surprisingly delicious savory ice cream by Chef Him Uy De Baron (East Cafe): coconut lemongrass and aligue ice cream shrimp and crab salad with tangy calamansi aligue dressing.

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Soft bruleed carabao milk-soaked Palawan honey cake by with salted butter Chefs Nikki Misa (Raffles) and Kristine Lotilla (Scout’s Honor).

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Monggo guisado is one of those dishes that remind one of home – and this Monggo Guisado sa Baka at Batwan by Chef Mikko Reyes of Hungry Hound is a delicious, elevated version.

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This goat dish in wine and tablea chocolate by Chef Rafael Jardeleza of La Cucina del Sur in Iloilo is ridiculously good.

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The line never got short for Pepita’s Kitchen. The belly of the pig is stuffed with a variety of rice dishes. They’ve got sisig paella, binagoongan rice, laing rice, bicol express rice, curry rice and even truffle rice.

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Tsokolateria Artisanal Cafe’s hot chocolate – with pork belly at the bottom. Yep, you read that right.

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Reinvented mais con yelo with sourdough bread, corn puree, sea urchin and seaweed dust on top by Chef Gabriel Bustos of The Girl and the Bull.

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Deconstructed balut by the guys at Your Local. The crispy cracker is made of the sisiw, squid ink and uni and topped with yolk mousse and foam made from the balut’s soup and pinakurat.

These dishes created especially by Filipino chefs for Madrid Fusion may not be entirely the types that can be recreated at home, but they’re a sweet reminder that the food we grew up with can still surprise us and may even be on their way to becoming the next sought-after global cuisine.