'Ultimate' lechon has foie gras, truffle rice

By Joko Magalong

Posted at Dec 04 2014 01:33 PM | Updated as of Dec 05 2014 08:10 PM

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Pepita's Kitchen is famous for its stuffed lechon. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA -- The "Lechon Diva" strikes again!

Dedet dela Fuente, who was nominated as Best Emerging Talent at the recent MBKRS Awards for her venture Pepita's Kitchen, has unveiled a new uniquely Filipino culinary experience, headlined by her new stuffed lechon creations.

The new degustaction, dubbed Dinner at Tiffany’s, is a homage not just to the movie but also to the glitz, glamour and classical elegance of its star Audrey Hepburn. Silvery touches were all around in the candelabras and beautiful tableware, to even a whimsically shaped pig vase of flowers and fruits, all creating a relaxing and quiet ambiance of elegance and luxury.

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Ube Pandan Cosmopolitan. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

Dinner at Tiffany’s started with the cocktail Ube Pandan Cosmopolitan, served in a glass rimmed with dehyrdrated ube and pandan. The cocktail of lambanog with a special juice was sweet and refreshing, reminiscent of mangoes and oranges, readying our palettes for the feast to come.

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Lechon Scone. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

Next was a rather surprising course: Lechon Scone with Mr. Thomas Butter. Scones are typically enjoyed during afternoon tea-time. Nonetheless, these scones were buttery mouthfuls punctuated with lechon meat and skin, slathered with a compound butter infused by one of the most well-known Filipino lechon sauces. What was not surprising? There were no leftovers.

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Tendocini. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

A unique mouthful followed as we were served Tendocini with Mango Atchara Dressing, wherein tendon is battered and fried into a ball crusted with powdered chicharon bituka crumbs and served with a nicely sour mango slaw/atchara. It was my first time eating deep-fried tendon, as well as eating anything with a chicharon bituka crust. The experience was unique in itself, with the tendon making chewing a little bit more challenging and exciting.

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Farmer's Pasta. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

The vegetable/salad course was next. Farmer’s Pasta had cooked vegetables like carrots, cucumber, pumpkin, and radish shaved into thin noodle-like strips and dressed with a salted egg and wansuy dressing. If you take a bite of this with the cherry tomatoes in the dish, that’s where the flavors of this dish truly sings.

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South Sea Pearls. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

One of the favorite accessories of Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" were pearls. The next dish, South Sea Pearls, was directly inspired by this -- small sago pearls were mixed with coconut cream and spice, and topped with shrimp and a scallop. Placed in a shell cup, it looked like a beautiful gift from the sea. The play of textures and flavors with the sago and seafood, as well as that kick of spice at the end made it one of my favorite courses for the night.

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Pepita’s Lechon Manok. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

This was followed by the innocuously named, Pepita’s Lechon Manok, which was also one of my favorite courses. Baked chicken with truffle essence and foie gras with a beautiful glaze, each bite was juicy and flavorful. Lechon manok definitely elevated to a higher level.

To ready our taste buds for the main star, we were given the “KKK,” which stands for Kinayod na Katas ng Kundol. Served in a silver goblet, the wintermelon juice was refreshing and sweet.

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Ultimated Lechon. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

Each Pepita’s degustacion features any of her lechon de leche varieties. For this dinner, we tried two out of her three new ones. The first was the Ultimate Lechon, lechon de leche stuffed with French truffle rice with foie gras. The truffle essence wafted as you cut into the lechon, and the foie gras added a bit more creaminess to the rice. (Not to mention that hint of liver that would surely please our lechon liver sauce-loving nation.)

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8 Treasures Lechon. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

Meanwhile, 8 Treasures was lechon de leche with a stuffing of sticky rice, chestnuts, longganisa Macau, salted egg, various nuts like pili and kasuy, pork cubes and pumpkin seeds. The stuffing tasted very much like the Chinese machang or sticky rice dumpling, very filling and rich.

The last lechon variety was said to be the New York Lechon, which the Lechon Diva served in a sold-out degustacion event in Purple Yam in New York City. The filling of the New York lechon would have been rice, Portobello mushrooms and cheese.

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Binatog Panna Cotta. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

Any good degustacion ends with something sweet and we were given three desserts to sample. There’s the Binatog Panna Cotta, which nailed the taste of the street food binatog or boiled white corn. The panna cotta was rich and smooth, meanwhile, with just the right hint of sweetness and saltiness.

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Halo-Halo, Sapin-Sapin. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

The next dessert, Halo-Halo, Sapin-Sapin was co-created by Chef Miko Aspiras of Scout’s Honor, a layered or “sapin-sapin” dessert of puff pastry, cream and ube -- somewhat like a Filipino version of a Napoleon -- with a side of langka ice cream.

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Pinoy Mango Trifle. Photo by Jeeves de Veyra, ABS-CBNnews.com

Last but not the least was the Pinoy Mango Trifle, another layered dessert of mango mouselline, fresh mangoes and Filipino pasalubong favorites like otap, rosquillos, broas, puto seco, pilipit and leche flan.

Dinner at Tiffany’s is the third version of dela Fuente's famed lechon degustacions and by far it seems the most balanced and well-paced of the three, leaving the dinners pleasantly full and extremely satisfied.

For more information, check Pepita's Lechon on Facebook.