Even though chefs Francisco Romero and Carlos Garcia were miles away from their home region of Extremadura in Spain, home for them has always been the kitchen. And this time, they brought a part of Extremadura to the Philippines by gracing the kitchen in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Quezon City.
Romero is originally from Cáceres, while Garcia was born in Acedo, both towns are part of the Extremadura region, located in the west of Central Spain.
Garcia has been in the Philippines for quite some time, owning two restaurants in the country—The Black Pig in Alabang and The Pig Pen in Nuvali. Meanwhile, this is Romero’s first time in the Philippines.
Asked how it feels to be in the Philippines, Romero told BusinessMirror in Spanish, “It’s a very nice experience because it is the first time that I come to the Philippines.”
“I’m very proud to be here to promote the town of Extremadura and it’s an amazing experience,” he added.
Celebration of Spanish culture
ROMERO and Garcia were invited to spearhead the kitchen in the very first La Fiesta. La Fiesta is the celebration of Spanish culture featuring Spanish wines, liquor and beer from all the regions of Spain.
The invited region for this year is the Extremadura region which is located in the west of Central Spain. It has a magnificent culinary tradition and a rich history that dates back to the Roman Empire. The cities of Merida (the Roman Augusta Emerita), Caceres, and the Monastery of Santa Matria de Guadalupe are World Heritage Sites.
Extremadura is also recognized for its environment, characterized by its reserves of water and natural diversity. It has 72 natural spaces under official protection, which makes it a unique region in Europe.
La Camara, together with the support of the Spanish Embassy, spearheaded La Fiesta which was held in Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Quezon City. More than 300 guests joined the celebration.
TO START the evening’s dinner, Romero and Garcia served a carefully curated “Regional Cheese and Iberian Charcuterie Platter.” It was composed of Iberian Jamón, Iberian Chorizo, Queso Ibores D.O.P. cheese with red pepper, and Membrillo: quince preserve from Extremadura.
Following the charcuterie platter was the starter “Mollu de Bacalao.” The starter is a salad with lettuce hearts, cod fish, orange, black olives, olive oil from Extremadura, and Red Pepper.
Next was the main dish composed of Iberian pork loin, Cabecero de cerdo ibérico, fora peppers, Zorongollo salad, chestnut puree, and Queso Ibores D.O.P cheese sauce.
Garcia revealed that the Iberian pork loin is his personal favorite. He said, “My favorite is the main course with the pork… it’s very classic.”
But what is a set menu without a dessert?
Of course, dessert was served, with Extremadura flavor as well. Garcia and Romero served in each plate a biscuit of figs with honey and orange sauce; and Técula Mécula: Spanish almond and egg tart with chocolate sauce.
48 hours preparation
ACCORDING to Carlos, cooking for 300 people is challenging enough, but the most challenging was that it took them 48 hours to prepare everything.
Once everything was served, Romero expressed nothing but satisfaction and pride. He said, “It is satisfying to give back and to introduce something that came from my town, my region, and to share it with the customer. It’s very satisfying. I feel very proud of it.”
He is proud to represent their home region Extremadura, which according to him has yet to be discovered by many people since the airport is 500 kilometers away.
Romero reflected, “The Philippines have yet to discover that part of Spain because everybody only knows Barcelona… and it’s a very unknown region because the airport is 500 kilometers away.”
He added, “It’s very isolated but we resemble a lot with the Philippines because of the flavor… it’s a little bit like a married couple.”
Image credits: Patrick Miguel