Australia and the Philippines: Adventure in Food

Lunch at the Residence of the Consul General in Melbourne.

Lunch at the Residence of the Consul General in Melbourne. On the far right is the Consul General of The United States in Melbourne, and her name is Mary Burce Warlick
Then the chef in residence is on her left, and his name is James Stone. The others are member of Australian Parliament in Canberra.

In the kitchen of the residence

In the kitchen of the residence

My path to Melbourne, this time, came through many detours. It started in Philadelphia at Germantown Friends School where I taught Spanish and Cultural Anthropology. I became friends with a very nice coworker who was teaching history at the time. I lost track of him for thirty years, and then I found out he was in Hawaii. I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii because of the climate and the beautiful vegetation. I wanted to do a project with Slow Food. I was lucky to discover that my friend, Bob Schmidt, was a member. I contacted him, and we agreed to create a lunch demonstration at one of the members’ house (See Hawaii blog). There I met a young lady who is the assistant of the Consul General of the United States in Melbourne. We talked about food and my wish to even cook for the Consul. And so it was, and so it took place.
I arrived early March in Melbourne, stayed with a friend of mine, Carol Lachal, who was a chef herself at the Spring Mill Cafe. Chef James from the Residence and I went shopping to one of the beautiful markets. The menu was Vichyssoise, Boeuf Wellington, and the dessert was a beautiful plate of chocolate mousse, poached pears, sliced kiwi and peaches from the Consul General’s garden. The guests of the Consul were members of Parliament. It was a big success.
Melbourne is a foodie city. One restaurant stays in my mind, it is called La Cucina. I discovered it on one of my wandering paths. It is a small place with a little patio in the back. The owner is a strong woman from Italian extraction, her name is Rina. I went to her kitchen, she was preparing rabbit. She cooks one menu. So you basically do not choose, she chooses for you. It is in Armadale, a suburb of Melbourne. I talked Rina into doing an exchange with my providing the chocolate mousse for dessert, and her a dinner. My friend Carol, her husband and I had a lovely dinner with our own wine.
Next, The Philippines. Are you ready to take off?
I arrived in Manila in the rain. It was hot rain. I was staying in a small hotel near the American Embassy on a very busy boulevard. I was warned immediately not to wear jewelry and to keep a close watch on my purse. I have lived through these reccomendations many times. So I listened, but also brushed it off so I could enjoy the people. I went to the old city, called Historic Intramuros, where I met, in an avant garde gallery a young lady, Mimi Santos, who is in charge of setting up the exhibits. She offered to take me to the Quinta market near the Chinese cemetery, where vendors sell not only fish, meat, and vegetables, but folk medicines and amulets with magical powers. The Chinese cemetery is a world in itself with graves that relive the life of the deceased. I mean that some of the mausoleums have a kitchen, dining rooms, and one even has a swimming pool to honor the ancestors.
We traveled by bus for a long time since the traffic is beyong erratic. We stopped in an old Inn, where the owner introduced me to the chef. He had prepared a delicious Adobo, cooked in vinegar and garlic. I tasted also Kare-Kare [an oxtail and vegetable dish cooked in peanut sauce]. I recommend the truly delicious Kinilaw, similiar to a Peruvian Ceviche. The next day I went to the American Cemetary and Memorial. It was amazing to me to realize the dimension of the Second World War. Being French, I saw it with the scale of Europe, but the whole world was involved. I stood in front of the wall of the missing, some 36,286 missing in action.
I heard about a community market which is linked with slow food. It is located in Salcedo Village in Makati. A few ex-pats who love fresh produce got together in early the 2000s and created this market where you can taste local specialties as well as buying produce, as well as attending an outdoor art show.

Olive Puntespina is a cheese maker and also runs a wholesale orchid business

Olive Puntespina is a cheese maker and also runs a wholesale orchid business

Marilyn Cosolan is part of a family who owns an organic coffee farm and organic cooperative for produce

Marilyn Cosolan is part of a family who owns an organic coffee farm and organic cooperative for produce

Olive Cosalan, Marilyn’s sister, runs and lives on the farm

Olive Cosalan, Marilyn’s sister, runs and lives on the farm

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