More than the panoramic view of the scenic Metro Manila skyline, Antipolo City in Rizal province has a lot more to offer.
On top of the homey restaurants, underground and overlooking cafés, the city is home to some of the country’s most celebrated chefs.
This is what the 2023 Manila Food and Wine Festival sought to showcase in the successful run of the “Antipolo Evolution” that gathered six chefs and took casual fine dining enthusiasts on a seven-course degustation of Filipino cuisine – all with a touch of what Antipolo as a culinary destination has to offer and with a twist.
The three-hour meal featured Chef Florence Hassig of Vieux Chalet Swiss Restaurant’s “Alay Lakap” Chicken Sotanghon Soup with Atsuete, Tahanan Bistro’s bone marrow croquettes, and Burrow Café’s mechado bruschetta perfectly matched with a refreshing mango-mint cooler.
Its unique “Putobumbong” salad was also an ode to the Filipino purple rice cake traditionally served during Christmastime but is available in Antipolo all-year round.
The three delectable entrées started with Chef Dan Puga of Burrow’s Sinaing na Isda followed by Chef Editha Singian’s chicken wings relleno with salsa monja, also an homage to the hilly city’s nuns, and Chefs Kevin Tuason and Nikki Macaraig’s “Neck to Tail of Rabbit,” a plateful of kuyog and lemongrass-marinated rabbit tenderloin, rabbit thigh inasal paired with a side of rabbit dinakdakan, and coconut sticky rice.
Ending the courses on a sweet note was Chef Monique Tancongco’s signature guava cake and a creative ensemble of dessert bites by Hassig, Puga, Tuason, and Macaraig.
The inaugural Manila Food and Wine Festival, scheduled from July 14 to 27, is in partnership with the Department of Tourism.
“We’re planning to do another run (of the Antipolo Evolution), same chefs but different menu because one way to elevate the dining scene here is to collaborate,” Manila and Food and Wine Festival organizer Anton Diaz said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
“Not a lot of people know there are a lot of restaurants in the Philippines. The (Tahanan Bistro) is only one of the beautiful restaurants here in Antipolo and it is very hard to get reservations here. It opens on weekends and usually only for 30 slots,” he added.
After the Antipolo leg held on July 18, the food festival is bringing another set of chefs for a culinary collaboration in Cavite.
Diaz also hopes to stage the event every July in the coming years.
“The idea is each city will have its own food and wine festivals one weekend to promote the city in terms of food tourism. There are really a lot of travelers after pandemic who traveled for food, culture, and meeting the local chef,” he said.
“This will be about the food culture in the Philippines. Somebody can do adobo in other places, in the United States, but they cannot replicate the Filipino home or experience here in Manila.” (PNA)