Tuesday, January 3, 2012

GPI Cooks in Philippines

I was lucky enough to go to Philippines and spend Christmas with family. I thought to make the most of it by cooking a 10 course dinner, using the techniques I learned and ingredients from GPI. I had to bring some ingredients from Canada as variety is quite limited in Philippines. For example, I brought some double smoked bacon and short ribs from Cumbrae's farm. I also made the foie gras in Canada since it takes 3 days to make.

All in all though, it was a VERY challenging dinner, mostly due to the limited number of pots and burners, namely 3 burners. It was a painful bottleneck, but we managed. I had some help from a friend who studied in CCA in San Francisco. Another challenging aspect of cooking this kind of dinner in the Philippines is the ingredients; it's just different. Some of the ingredients are not even available, and its actually the ingredients that you would think are easy to find. For example, the only variety of milk and cream available are the ones that have gone under UHT treatment and as a result, some properties are different especially flavour. The flour is different, starches are different. Again, it's the ingredients that you would think would be the same across the globe. One factor that I would argue impacted the dinner most significantly was the weather. Philippines is brutally humid and warm. Salts left out in the open become clumpy, my freeze dried roasted garlic started to get soft, the foie torchon is quick to melt when taken out of the fridge. Also one thing I noticed was that fridges in Philippines aren't as dry, meaning the internal conditions are also quite humid. Again, although the dinner went well, it was definitely a learning experience.

Here are some photos. I wasn't able to take photos of all the courses. Sometimes I just forgot and well, the focus was really on the food.

Mango ravioli with lemon, basil, and a bit of apricot mixed in. Philippine mangoes are without a doubt, some of the best I've ever had.

Poached pear and Gorgonzola nugget
Tomato espuma, with guanciale, local cherry tomato, mussel and micro basil
Squash soup with creme fraiche, candied pecans, chive oil and truffles. The soup was poured table side. 
Scallop and squid, uni puree, pear puree, sweet ponzu soy. Uni is incredibly cheap there. I bought about half a pound of uni for under $10. I used some gums for both purees just to increase the viscosity as well as improve the mouthfeel. 

Tobacco and vanilla bread pudding, almond polvoron. The bread was soaked in an eggless custard. The custard was made using our lambda carrageenan. I love that stuff!
Here's a look at the kitchen I cooked in. 

The 3 burners, how I wish I had 3 more!

We had an amazing counter top to use for the final plating. I hope I didn't scratch it up though. 

Would I do it again...hell yes!