|Cast of Characters|
Cely V. Kalaw
with time to kill before my flight to Cebu, i met up with a friend to drop by the Legazpi Weekend Market in Makati. for the uninitiated, legazpi village is right smack in the middle of the makati central business district and is just a stroll from some of the more ah... affluent... side of the city. set in an empty weekend parking lot with mismatched tents providing respite from the sun, people milled around and almost always, holding a small plate with food tidbits. eating is the philippine's national sport, that and dodging cars when crossing the street.
which brings me to a point. the weekend market felt like a retro snobbish affair with some of the wealthier denizens of makati walking around checking out bargain after bargain in stalls lined up right beside each other. some of the people i spotted won't be caught dead walking through baclaran. (click on read.more for food review and peeektures)
that aside, my interest really was food. all about food and more food. 90% of the stalls have food items with an international selection of korean, indian, portugese, turkish, japanese and chinese. as expected, majority of the stalls served pinoy and spinoy food (spanish-filipino).
maning is my choice as partner-in-crime for this particular adventure. as the PR director for Peninsula he is a walking address book. people called left and right with ola! hello! dearie! dahling! sweetie! enfant chéri! querido! - it came to a point that i suspect half of them don't even know his real name.
maning introduced me to mara, the lady who was responsible for setting up the whole shebang. a gracious and talkative lady, she pushed oxygenated dayap flavored water in my hand while extolling everything organic. apparently, the weekend market started with organic stuff but grew in scope to include the current version of food samplers all over the place.
going around, i spotted hecti's that served stewed lamb, callos, kare kare, dinuguan and baboy sa kadyos. if you're negrense then you'd know that kadyos is one of the select signature dishes in an ilonggo kitchen. more on that later...
Lamb Stew from Hecti's
eventually, we ended up in tita cely's stall where an array of filipino dishes invite the nose to an olfactory orgasm. pinoy food is not really known as a visual feast but it makes up for sheer variety of taste. i honestly don't know tita cely from the next maria but she held herself (all 69 years i heard) proud in the fact that she has been referred to as the doyenne of filipino food. there are few who can claim the right to having invented the Bicol Express. If Cely is too generic, you probably would have a better idea if i mentioned that the family name is Kalaw. Yes, THAT Kalaw.
seated beside her was miguel ongpin all sweaty and red. perhaps with the hours spent laboring over his ovens to serve pizzas with the curiously thin, crispy, chewy and soft dough topped with a selection of delicious ingredients. i was able to sample his margherita, what better way to sample italian than this pizza that uses the primary colors of the italian flag : mozzarella, white cheese, fresh whole green basil and luscious red tomatoes. on the side, miguel used to frequent cebu for business and he rattled off places that are truly cebuano food landmarks.
of course maning couldn't help rib him that Grace was the one fussing about the stall while he spent time munching and talking with us. Pizza Di Grazzia deserve another space in this blog as well as tita cely.
maning got the fiesta pata from tita cely (pochero, Manileño style with cabbage, tomato sauce, potatoes and sweet sab-a banana) while i ordered the stewed lamb and kadyos from hecti's. we settled in tita cely's table as we took samples of each other's food and enjoyed the conversation.
Fiesta Pata, Tita Cely's
for a person to stake one's reputation on a dish, the guinataan of tita cely deserve special mention. unbelievably rich and creamy, i half suspect she didn't use any water to dilute the coconut milk.
Baboy sa Kadyos, Hecti's
the conversation would have lasted longer if not for the fact that i am supposed to be heading off for the airport at 145 PM. Extracting myself from the table is probably the hardest thing to do when all the elements of a perfect moment are in place: fabulous food, cheerful conversation, friendly people. what else can you ask for?
for those inclined, the Legazpi weekend market is every sunday along legazpi st, legazpi village - it is right across the union church. if you get lost, close your eyes, empty your mind and follow your nose.
Lamb Stew on Rice, the Perfect Pinoy Way of Eating!
October 26, 2008