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Visit Matabungkay Beach Resort for an Authentic Batangueño Heirloom Food Feast

4 months ago
Celebrating Batangas heritage cuisine: Fay Colon (MBH Operations Manager), Third Jazul (MBH Creative Director), Jovy Javier (MBH Senior Sales Executive), Andy Mariscotes (MBH General Manager, Tintin Lontoc, Jaime Lontoc, Chef Jaja Andal, Chef Nancy Reyes-Lumen, Appetite's Nina Daza Puyat, Alex Limjoco, Chef Jun Diño

Celebrating Batangas heritage cuisine: Fay Colon (MBH Operations Manager), Third Jazul (MBH Creative Director), Jovy Javier (MBH Senior Sales Executive), Andy Mariscotes (MBH General Manager, Tintin Lontoc, Jaime Lontoc, Chef Jaja Andal, Chef Nancy Reyes-Lumen, Appetite’s Nina Daza-Puyat, Alex Limjoco, and Chef Jun Diño

After a long hectic week at work, I welcomed the invitation to travel out of town over the weekend to witness the 3rd Batangas Food Festival (BFF) at the Matabungkay Beach Hotel over at Lian, Batangas. Having roots in this vast southern province (my mom Nora Daza is from Batangas City and my dad Atty. Boy Daza retired in Lipa), I thought I knew something about the Batangueños and their food with classics like Kalderetang Batangas and Lomi ng Lipa. But I was surprised to learn that there are many other dishes that haven’t burst into the national scene simply because they have been kept hidden in family kitchens, where they are enjoyed in the privacy of their ancestral comedors. It turns out that many heirloom recipes are cooked by local Batangueño families–some of them enjoyed for generations–and it took Adobo Queen Nancy Reyes Lumen to coax them into sharing their favorite family dishes.

To commemorate the Matabungkay Beach Hotel’s 35th anniversary, the grand dame of southern Philippine resorts is holding a Batangas Food Festival starting in November up to December 2017, featuring family heirloom recipes from true-blue Batangueño families: Limjoco, Leviste, Poblador, Lontoc, Andal, Daza, and Segismundo.

At the launch of the BFF at the Matabungkay Beach Hotel’s Beach Front Pavillion last October, the atmosphere was festive and convivial, with friends swapping stories about their own memories of food that inevitably involved sourcing of ingredients–through farming or fishing, and also backyard gardening.

Chef Nancy Reyes put everyone at ease with her wit and charm, mixed with some light-hearted ribbing between her and the audience. It must have been because the guests were quite giddy from the Ala-Eh Mojito, May Anghang Ito, a rum-based cocktail with kick of red bird’s eye chili. I opted to have the Moringamansi, a refreshing malunggay-calamansi drink that was perfect for the summer-like weather. I also tried the Blue-ya, a sweet ginger drink colored with the blue ternate flower. What’s fascinating about this drink is that it turns purple when mixed with a squeeze of calamansi.

I was fortunate to have shared a table with Mr. Alex Limjoco of the Limjoco-Lejano clan, who shared his Pesang Tilapia recipe. After spending an hour or two with him, my impression is that Mr. Limjoco is a walking Wikipedia on the landscape and seascape of Batangas

After lunch and the raffle (where most of the guests went home with wonderful prizes from Masflex), I talked to some of the recipe contributors privately as I wanted to dig deeper into the stories behind their chosen dish.

One of them is MBH’s Executive Chef Jun Dino, who was born and raised in Calatagan, Batangas. He told me how his father used to work as a farm hand in the Hacienda Calatagan of Don Enrique Zobel–all 10,000 hectares of it. Whenever a cow was slaughtered in the big house, the not-so-choice pieces were given away, including the beef shank and knuckle.

Kinamitisang Bulalo

Kinamitisang Bulalo

He remembers how his father would bring home the piece of meat, as if it were some prized cut, and they would all gather to build a fire and simmer the bulalo for four hours. He said they would either cook the shanks as sinigang in alibangbang leaves, or as bulalo. For the festival, he prepared his family’s Kinamatisang Bulalo, a simple nilaga using wild sour cherry tomatoes picked from the Calatagan mountains. He describes the tomatoes as “Maasim na maasim. Pagkabunga ngayon, kinabukasan ay hinog na.” Pressed further for more details, he says, the broth was simply seasoned with rock salt, whole peppercorns, and a bit of patis. “Walang patatas o gulay.”

Another is Chef Jaja Andal of Balaya, Batangas who talks about her family and shares her Dinuguang Paella recipe.

These casual conversations made me realize that people enjoy talking about their favorite memories, especially stories about food and family.

 

The DISHES ON THE SPECIAL BATANGAS FOOD FESTIVAL MENU

Sinaing na Tulingan sa Gata by Leviste family

Pesang Maya-Maya with Ginisang Kamatis at Miso, Limjoco family recipe from Lian, Batangas

Sinampalukang Manok, Poblador family recipe from Balibago, Batangas

Sinaing na tulingan sa Gata, Leviste family recipe from Batangas, Batangas

Pinais na Baboy, Lontoc family recipe from Taal, Batangas

Menudo ng Batangas, Andal family recipe from Balayan, Batangas

Klasik Kaldereta, Segismundo family recipe from Lipa, Batangas

La Jajingka Bibingka, by Chef Jaja Andal

The Batangas Food Festival dishes are available as an ala carte offering until December 2017. For more information, visit www.matabungkaybeachhotel.com.


Words and photos by Nina Daza-Puyat

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