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Traveling the world through gastronomy

By Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, The Philippine STAR Published Jun 05, 2021 6:00 am

Yes, we have been traveling the world the past year through our favorite dishes. It started when we were doing our book on windows, going through all the photos and books related to each tableau.

We saw all those beautiful places again in photographs and the memories came back: the dinners, the parties, the restaurant discoveries. Before we knew it, our tummies were grumbling and we had to recreate those flavors, too.

We rarely spend time in the kitchen, so our fingers on the smart screen did the work most of the time, courtesy of our favorite restaurants with their home delivery. We can never stress it enough, but please support your local restaurants so that they will still be there when the pandemic is over and also to keep our economy running.

Aside from takeout, try to visit them as well so that their dine-in staff will have work.

Roman Holiday

One summer, a friend in Rome made the most delicious Spaghetti Carbonara, which we were dreaming about, so we tried to do it in the kitchen after finding the guanciale and pecorino Romano.

Spaghetti Carbonara from our kitchen

We’re normally spoiled by Margarita Fores’ Cibo and her staff right in front of our store in Greenbelt 5, where you can tour Italy through her many dishes. Her Fiori di Zucca pizza we wouldn’t even attempt to recreate, so we always have it there. You can also order from her catering arm Cibo Di Marghi whenever you miss the dishes that she prepares at parties.

Pistachio gelato from Crem Gelato

To complete the fantasy, we displayed some of our Italian antique finds, like framed Roman intaglio seal casts. We could never have enough gelato in Italy and this summer we developed the same habit with Crem gelato, which lives up to its name. The customer service is also amazing. We wrote them because we found the pistachio a tad too sweet and they immediately made a batch with less sugar!

Imperial Russian Indulgence

Peterhof Palace in Russia (All photos by Ricky Toledo except Casa Manila by J. Antonio Mendoza)

Watching the Bolshoi in Moscow followed by an evening of indulgence can be duplicated, thanks to YouTube and an order of a tin of caviar available online from Dough & Grocer or The Bow Tie Duck, among many now specializing in fine specialty food.

Caviar and vodka spread

A gift of Russian vodka from a friend was the perfect accompaniment. Another discovery during lockdown was the caviar cake of Isabel Silverio Dee (@bellesfave), which was so good and luxuriously topped with gold leaf.

Belgian Delights

Bruges, Belgium

There are so many things from our holiday in Brussels and Bruges that we dream about, but the moules-frites seemed to be the one we wanted most often, and Wildflour satisfies our craving every time, not to mention that the chocolate cake and pain au chocolat completes the Belgian fantasy. Their fresh organic salads are also a plus, as well as the ice cream from their sister establishment, Farmacy.

Moules-frites from Wildflour

Barcelona Nights

Watching a performance at the divinely maximalist Palau dela Música Catalana followed by a tapas crawl in Barcelona was a fond memory that was recreated in a recent Zoom event, “Iconic Living” by Casa Bella and Philippine Tatler, with sangria and pintxos from Bar Pintxos making us dream of one of our favorite cities while we saw some great European furniture and talked to interior designers and friends about life and decorating during the lockdown.

Palau dela Música Catalana in Barcelona

On another occasion, we had a wonderful cochinillo from @machocochinillo, with the most succulent meat and crispy skin, perfect with their cilantro rice and sauces.

Pintxos and sangria from Bar Pintxos during the Casa Bella x Tatler Zoom event

The Romance Of India

The Taj Mahal may be one big tourist trap, but you still have to see it once in your life because of the great love story behind it. It was extra-special because it was our first time in India, and we just love their food with complex layers of flavors and spices.

The authors at the Taj Mahal

Every time we dream of India we go to or order from Kashmir at San Antonio Plaza, where our curry and papadum cravings are always satisfied and where we feel at home with the staff, who anticipate our needs.

Rogan josh, raita, samosas and moutabal from Kashmir

English Afternoon Tea

Revisiting trips to the English countryside and the tea salons of London made us dream of scones with clotted cream and jam, so we Googled and were happy to find some from Dough & Grocer, which were divine, made with Echiré butter. Match it with their Christine Ferber jams, preferred by chefs like Alain Ducasse and Pierre Hermé.

The aviary garden at Waddesdon Manor

Of course, for the whole afternoon tea experience with the additional sandwiches and pastries, there’s The Peninsula Manila, both for dine-in and takeout.

Teatime scones with clotted cream and jam at home

Dine During The Time Of Rizal

Casa Manila in Intramuros, recently redesigned by J. Antonio Mendoza

The other restaurant in front of our store that spoiled us was Pia y Damaso, which sadly closed but is happily still available for home delivery from chef Bambi Sy Gobio (0917-848-0620). When you want to travel back to the colonial Manila of Rizal’s famous novels or are just craving all those divine Spanish-Filipino dishes, you can easily have your lockdown reward.

Ensaymada and chocolate from Bambi Sy Gobio’s Pia y Damaso