Saturday, September 24, 2011

TSS at Pepita's Kitchen: Lechon Degustacion!

It was truly an awesome night! The moment I was informed about this one of a kind gathering, I urged myself to clear my schedule up and have it blocked just with this: Lechon Degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen. Just by the mere sound of how they have called this event is already very tempting. And so, after finishing all of my workloads that day, I decided to meet up with my fellow foodie friends, Yedy of the Yedylicious Food Blog and B'ley of Blogalag, to have one of the best dining experiences I've had.

Let me start this wonderful affair with a brief background about Pepitas's Kitchen. Located at the Magallanes Village, it was owned and managed by Mrs. Dedet dela Fuente and the name "Pepita" came from how she calls her daughter who also helps her prepare some of the offerings in their menu. Pepita's Lechon brought our traditional lechon to a higher notch, with its true creativity and originality, this favorite Filipino fiesta treat has become more special than ever. Aside from their lechons, they also offer interesting Filipino dishes made with a twist.

Mrs. Dedet dela Fuente & her daughter

Let me begin with their appetizers. The first two that was handed over us were the Pinoy Caviar and Pinoy Pate'. Ms. Dedet presented this two along with a guessing game - of what main ingredient is used for the pate'? - and that whoever guesses it right will bring home one of the cute lechon breads lying very cute on the long table.

Lechon Bread

Upon tasting, I immediately fell in love with the Pinoy Caviar. Originally made with sauteed "bihod" (fish roe) I loved how it delivered the amazing flavors from the sea to my mouth. I also can't help not to admire its grainy but smooth texture that would signify the use of pure fish and fresh fish eggs. Its flavors bursted inside my mouth and gave my palate an interesting feeling that I've never had with the other appetizers I've tried. It was so good I actually asked my friends to bring the bowl containing it closer to me for I cannot stop eating it with or without the soda crackers.

Pinoy Caviar

I may personally love the Pinoy Caviar but most of my foodie friends preferred the Pinoy Pate'. This is the dip that we're supposed to guess about its main component. Most of us thought that it was made from either chicken or pork liver but we're all wrong! We were surprised when it was revealed that it's actually made from balut and wine - indeed very avant-garde, groundbreaking and new! The taste of this dip is rich, almost like a liver pate', only milder I think. Though I don't really eat balut, now with this I can consume and enjoy this original Pinoy delicacy like I never did before. Awesome!

Pinoy Pate'

One balut after another. I am uttering this because of the next dish that was presented to us - the Balut Salpicao. The moment I saw it on the menu, I was already very skeptical about it since just like what I've mentioned, I am a "balut virgin". But this experience will not be complete without me tasting it - not the whole balut though, just the yolk (corny but that's all what I am capable of, haha!) and I liked it. A very interesting dish, it was whole balut sauteed in olive oil and garlic. What I liked about it is that the balut yolk was more tasty and has more bite into it compare to the regular hard-boiled egg. This dish is also an evidence of true Filipino ingenuity when it comes to cooking. It was worth tasting it!

Balut Salpicao

Hope for the flowers, this is what this next dish is all about. Rellenong Bulaklak is actually pumpkin flowers stuffed with native cottage cheese and anchovies - another exceptional dish that you can only find at Pepita's Kitchen and it was so good you'll rave about it after eating it. This one of my favorites, I love the crispiness and the mild taste of the breaded pumpkin flower especially when it combines with the flavors of the creamy cottage cheese and hint of saltiness from the anchovies. Interesting flavors are actually playing in my mouth after every single bite of this stuffed treat, never imagined that pumpkin flowers cant be this good and can be served this special.

Rellenong Bulaklak

Its now time for the star of the night, no other than the amazing lechon creations from Pepita's Kitchen. Consisting of four different lechon variants, it a truly a lechon degustacion night! The moment they have sculpted the lechon, aroma of the cooked pork is every enticing, making us crave and very excited to try it. First we had the Chinese Lechon. Who would not love a lechon stuffed with "machang" in it, no one I bet. The rice was really good, even if it is not that sticky compared to how an original machang should be. I liked the combination of the pork fat flavors with the rice and chestnuts as well as the soft pork meat and crispy skin as well.

Chinese Lechon

The next lechon was filled with different aromatics and marble potatoes ala spernekel instead of rice, making it more flavorful and a stand out. As for me, the German Lechon was truly divine as it was also one of the crowd favorites. What's good about this lechon is that the meat has absorbed all of the good flavors from the lemon, calamansi, lemon grass and heads of garlic, resulting to a very tasty, juicy and succulent pork meat. Also, I love that there's way lesser fat underneath its crispy-licious skin. I followed the instructions of how to eat it, mashing the garlic along with the potatoes then incorporating it with the meat and it was superb! It's undeniably incomparable and I must say that it's the best lechon that I've had so far.

German Lechon

Pinoy flavors at its finest! Every Filipino gastronome will surely rave about this another great tasting lechon that we've had - the Pinoy Lechon. Stuffed with Sisig rice, this lechon truly catered to the Filipino tastebuds and is great-tasting from the skin, to the meat up to the rice. The pork fat made the sisig rice so sinful yet phenomenal. It has this right spiciness and "malinamnan" taste into it that everyone will sure fall for for. What I did is that I saved the crunchy skin (save the best for last as they say... hehe...) and ate the strips of pork meat along with the flavorful sisig rice. It was a lechon made to perfection! Truly exceptional!

Pinoy Lechon

Last but not the least is another European-inspired lechon that has also captured my heart, not less than the French Lechon. Stuffed with cooked rice with mushrooms and truffle oil, it was the best lechon rice I've had that night. I love how the aroma of the truffle oil teases my senses, making me extra excited to get a hand of these French delight. The skin is still as crispy as ever, the pork meat remained soft, succulent and juicy and the rice was par excellence! The truffle oil and mushrooms truly added a French flair into this lechon; its flavors are subtle yet absolutely palatable. It was one great lechon that truly left me in awe!

French Lechon

One pasta dish was served that night and it was so good I was able to finish one big serving of it. Very true to Pepita's Kitchen's Fusion-Filipino theme, the Pinoy Carbonara incorporates both Italian and Filipino ingredients in creating this one delicious dish. With the al dente spaghetti pasta topped with rich and creamy white sauce with ground beef, sliced button mushrooms and cheese-chicharon, it was a pasta dish to die for!

In between all those lechon and savory dishes were also some palate cleansers and desserts which made the night extra sweet and special. Just like what I always say, I may have a big appettite these kind of meals but I have a bigger room for desserts. The first palate cleanser was something that truly made it to the top of my list, it was really stellar that night - the Calamansi-Honey Sorbet! It was so light and refreshing and every spoonful of it brings me to certain happiness that I could not explain. It is perfect whether it is in its shaved ice or liquid form. This is something that is so exquisite and such a delish - so good that one scoop serving is not enough. Try it and I'm so sure you'll be asking for more!

Calamasi-Honey Sorbet

I am not a big fan of bananas and I only eat it when it is combined with spreads like Nutella, peanut butter or turned into a banana split. This next palate cleanser is made with "saba" turned into an atchara (Filipino pickled condiment originally made with unripe papaya), thus, having its name Sabachara. I was good but not a big hit for me. The onion flavors is also too strong for me that I wasn't able to enjoy the sweetness of the bananas that much.


I was really curious when I saw the name of this palate cleanser on the menu. I know that since we will be eating a lot of lechon, this one will really come in handy - the Cholesterol Sweeper, which is actually shot of oatmeal champorado. It reminded me of my how my mom used to prepare my breakfast when I was still in high school. I love its mild creaminess as well as the subtle chocolaty taste. A shot of this healthy treat is enough to beat those fats and enjoy the rest of the night!

Cholesterol Sweeper

I also fell in love with this next dessert/drink/palate cleanser. We all described its taste to be the same as the classic candy, butterball, but it actually gave me more an idea of how the butter beer in the Harry Potter Series tastes like. Made by Mrs. dela Fuente's daughter, curly Pepita, they call this delight Darna's Surprise! It is very addictive, especially for those who love the buttercream into their sweets and rootbeer flavors into their drinks, like me. The cream on top is also so light and frothy that instead of mixing it all with the drink, I reserved some of it to indulge more into its goodness!

Darna's Surprise

The last two desserts of the night also made it to my hitlist, these are the Dayap Cheesecake and Pastillas and Guava Ice Cream. I have tried a dayap flavored chiffon cake before and undoubtedly, from that moment on, seeing dayap on dessert list makes me smile and elates me. Add to that the fact that now it will be a cheesecake, so my expectations for it was really high. And it never failed me. It actually exceeded my anticipation of how delicious this dayap cheesecake is. I love its sweet and tangy toppings that blended really well with the other components of the cake. It made the cake stood up to its name. I also love the right layers of cream and cream cheese base, giving the ensemble the exact richness into it. The crust also has the right sweetness and adds up an amazing texture to the already creamy nature of the cake. A perfect definition of how a Pinoy version of a Key Lime or Lemon Pie should be.

Dayap Cheesecake

I never thought guava would be this good as an ice cream. Their Pink Guava Ice Cream was so refreshing and very innovative. I can't help not to be amazed by how delicious it turned out. The specs of the pink guava truly added some interesting color, texture and flavor to this creamy yet very fruity ice cream. On the other hand, the Pastillas de Leche Ice Cream is such a revelation! I adore its rich and creamy consistency so as to the small chunks of pastillas that made this cold treat a great feat! It was two true Filipino flavors that I will be craving as an ice cream.

Pinoy Ice Cream: Pink Guava & Pastillas de Leche

Good food are meant to be shared and enjoyed with a group of friends; that's what an amazing dining experience is all about. This event wouldn't be this fun without these hungry group of foodies and of course the delectable dishes that Pepita's Kitchen offered. Thank you guys for this happy and scrumptious experience. So then, til our next food trip! Live, Love and Eat!

L-R: Fran of; Jane of Between Bites;
Spanky of Manila Boy Blog and; and B'ley of Blogalag

B'ley of Blogalag and Jane of Between Bites

Pepita's Kitchen

Magallanes, Village, Makati City

Special thanks to: Dedet dela Fuente of Pepita's Kitchen, Anton of Our Awesome Planet & Spanky of Manila Boy Blog and for the invite!

For my fellow foodie friends: Richard of Tales from the Tummy, Roch of Hearty's Haven and Ajay of Ajay's Writings on the Wall