MANILA -- It’s not just about food. The 2017 Madrid Fusion Manila experience was a multi-layered treat of gastronomic proportions, catering to all culinary indulgences.
And one of the things that elevates any eating experience -- and was given some well-deserved emphasis in this three-day endeavor, especially in the curated regional lunches -- was alcohol.
While bound by themes, the curation of distilled and fermented liquids showcased the talents of the country’s word-class mixologists. "Liquid chef" is a term that I’ve only encountered in this congress, and why not? Mixing drinks is definitely both a science and an art.
The Mutiara at Maharlika cocktail of Liquid Maestro's Kalel Demetrio that was served at the rice-centric Luzon regional lunch, fermented rice gave the drink a unique flavor, a bitter and slightly sour (think buro) backnote that mixed well with calamansi. Unique, refreshing, and quite the visual stunner with pretty violet flowers floating on top.
The Visayas lunch was all about nose-to-tail eating. The usual pulutan and "ulam"favorites were cooked in different ways from betamax to sisig to isol to tripe and all of these found the perfect alcoholic counterpoints to the drinks on offer.
Ken Bandivas of ABV served the Geronimo, a cocktail using local Destileria Limtuaco’s Very Old Captain Rum. This was a straightforward drink, with an infusion of barako coffee in liqueur that was felt mostly in the finish. Mixed in with some egg white for body, this is a boozy and creamy treat that cut the richness of various offal preparations.
In just a few years, craft beer in the Philippines has gained quite the following in the Philippines, and in the Visayas lunch, local craft brewer, Pedro Beer, gave a special preview of a small-batch beer using our national citrus, the calamansi.
A sip gave the same bright notes of pale ale favorite, Endless Summer with some additional sparks in the finish courtesy of the calamansi.
Also served in the boozy-filled Visayan lunch was Cacao Wine from local chocolate sage, Risa Chocolates. Clear like vodka, the wine was to be sipped in between bites of her chocolate confections. At 12% alcohol, the liqueur went down smooth and tasty, with nuttiness and smoke.
This was reportedly only made for this event as the farmers were hesitant to produce it in bigger quantities. They should reconsider.
The last regional lunch was inspired by the flavors of Mindanao, and the corn. Featuring dishes by culinary heavyweights like Margarita Fores and Claude Tayag, the lunch also served as the launch of Destileria Limtuaco’s new corn whisky.
Julius James Corn Whisky is produced from yellow corn sourced from Isabela, and named after the distillery’s founders. While not as aromatically pleasing as other whiskeys, it is the only single-origin corn whisky in the country, and also the first wholly domestically made whisky as well.
Aged in oak barrels for 3.5 years, this whisky was light bodied, and had hints of oak and slight buttery flavor, making it an interesting glass to sip.
On the expo side of things, the Department of Agriculture showcased a lot of local wine and liquor makers as well.
Some notable brews tasted included a sweet and very accessible Pineapple White Wine sourced from Negros by Probinsya Hits; local moonshine in the Barik Supremo Lambanog; and wine made from the local-berry du jour of the moment (if we’re going in the number of times one saw it pop up in the congress) sampinit (local wild raspberries) liquor from Elements of Tomorrow.
If you missed the Madrid Fusion Manila and want to get a taste of what was on offer, at least on the alcoholic side of things, it’s as easy as visiting the bars where our liquid chefs hang their hats, or for the expo goodies, it’s finding the vendors online or visiting the next Department of Agriculture trade fair.