SAN Miguel Pure Foods Culinary Center loves to take its media friends on guerilla food trips. Last year, it was an overnight trip to Cavite and Tagaytay to enjoy exquisite food finds in the area, capped by an overnight stay with pampering at the Nurture Spa Village in Tagaytay. Just last Tuesday (March 25, 2014), San Miguel once again sprung a surprise on its media friends when it took a group of food editors, writers and photographers to BF Homes, Paranaque, for a guerilla dinner like no other.
Yes, a guerilla dinner. So it meant that we once again didn’t know where we were going. It was like exercising complete trust in the San Miguel group, led by Chef Maricel Manalo and Chef Kai Verdadero-O, and the corporate marketing group of Jayson Brizuela, Jon Hernandez and Francene Callueng, to lead us where they wanted to take us. San Miguel made transportation arrangements to pick up everyone from their work places, homes or late afternoon commitments. A van whisked my husband Raff and me off from our FLAVORS Magazine office along South Superhighway in Makati, made one other stop at Ayala Center to pick up another colleague, and then the van was off to Paranaque via the Skyway.
Not knowing where we were going, we just watched as the van made its way down the Skyway, along the restaurant row of President’s Ave. in BF Homes, Paranaque, took a right turn to Aguirre Ave., and made its way in through the gate of Sinagtala Village. The van pulled over in front of the lovely home of Chef Tina Legarda, and we were ushered into the garden, making our way through a narrow footpath that was lined with romantic lights. The footpath opened up to the spacious garden, which was romantically set with a canopy tent over a long dinner table lined with white tablecloth, perfect for our exquisite guerilla dinner. The colorful printed table napkins and the potted cactus plants as table centerpiece gave away the Mexican theme of the evening.
Turns out we were at Tina’s Table, a venue for private dining that people had been raving about. With BF Homes, Paranaque, as an emerging dining destination in the South, Tina’s Table was the perfect venue for private dining, where guests could book for groups of as small as 10 people to a maximum of 20 persons. Chef Tina had opened her home to private dining groups in December of 2012, after having trained under renowned chefs Jessie Sincioco at Le Souffle and Billy King at The French Corner and having cooked at Chef Mario Batali’s Osteria Mozza in Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Add to her credentials the fact that she hails from a family of foodies and her own mom had her own catering business. Chef Tina just recently opened a restaurant called Bamba, which specializes in Spanish-Mexican food.
San Miguel’s Chef Maricel Manalo, who is always on the lookout for exquisite dining destinations to bring family and friends to, “discovered” Tina’s Table when a friend posted about the place on Facebook. Chef Maricel got curious about Tina’s Table, booked a meal to try the food, and was convinced that it was the perfect place for San Miguel’s next guerilla event, which was the guerilla dinner that took place last March 25 (2014).
“We decided on a Mexican cuisine theme because we wanted to work on Chef Tina’s strengths. Her restaurant specializes in Spanish-Mexican food, so we asked her if she could center the meal on Mexican cuisine. We gave her some San Miguel products, and she worked around them,” explains Chef Maricel.
The Mexican themed guerilla dinner thus opened with a glass of Sangria and some Pintxos – Tartaletas of Purefoods Luncheon Meat Mousse with caramelized onion and fried rosemary and Patatas al Horno with Purefoods Corned Beef.
For the formal sit-down dinner, the amuse bouche was Artichoke and Purefoods Chorizo Crostini (Ricotta, Magnolia All Purpose Cream, Basil Puree and Sweet Balsamic). A ‘floret’ of artichoke sat snugly on a piece of grilled bread or crostini with Ricotta cheese, cream and basil puree, and drizzled with balsamic dressing. I actually enjoyed the artichoke. I usually don’t.
Then came a Taquito of Lengua & Steak. It was slices of Monterey Beef Tenderloin and Ox-tongue, served with red slaw, tomato salsa, Magnolia Quickmelt and Magnolia Cheddar Cheese, Sriracha aioli, salsa verde, shoestring potato and guacamole; with a shot of Tequila-Rosemary Lemonade to wash it down. You’ve got to give it to Chef Tina for putting together so many different flavors and textures in one soft taco and actually making the flavors work harmoniously with each other.
Seafood Chistorra Bouillabaisse, the soup, was my favorite. It was seafood all the way, with prawn, fillet and mussels with potatoes, carrots and Magnolia All Purpose Cream, in a delicious and flavorful soup. If you’re a seafood lover like I am, you’d be tempted to ask for another serving.
Next, Three-Mushroom Raviolo was served. It was fresh pasta made with Magnolia All Purpose Flour and Magnolia Brown Eggs, stuffed with three kinds of mushrooms – Porcini, button and Portobello – and served with Pomodoro or Amatriciana Sauce, and topped with Purefoods Thick-cut Bacon, red onion and chili.
The Chicken Roulade that followed turned out to be another gastronomic treat, as it was made with Magnolia Chicken Breast filled with mushrooms, Magnolia Gold Butter, fig and Magnolia Cream Cheese, drizzled with Romesco Sauce, Corn and Saffron Risotto, and topped with microgreens. Corn, incidentally, is one of the most common ingredients used in Mexican cooking.
Finally, dessert, my favorite part of the meal, arrived, and it came in a trio of flavors aptly called Trio Platanos, which worked around Mexico’s favorite fruit, the banana. The three desserts on the platter were Banana Tres Leches, Magnolia Best of the Philippines Kesong Puti Ice Cream and Banana Milkshake, and Fried Plantain with Chocolate-San Mig Coffee Sauce. ‘Twas an awesome threesome!
After the guerilla dinner, the San Miguel group sent the vans to bring their media guests back to the metro with memories of a lovely dinner in the company of friends and colleagues.
(Tina’s Table is a private dining venue which can be booked for groups of 10 to 20. For inquiries or booking, call 0917-5389752 or email email@example.com.)