Vamos a almorzar!-A A +A
By Betsy Gazo
Saturday, October 6, 2012
THE Quiet Place reserves October 13 and 14 (Saturday and Sunday, respectively) for buffet lunches featuring Latin American dishes prepared by muy simpatico Bolivian chef Julio. You do not need a Spanish dictionary to go through the meal because the tastebuds know no language. Besides, Spanish-influenced fare is an oh-so-familiar repast for us Filipinos.
Julio will prepare the same South American dishes that he had made me try late last month. There’s mole poblano made from chicken pieces simmered in a black sauce that will make you think of dinuguan. But surprises! Not a drop of pig or chicken blood was shed; the mysterious ingredient is unsweetened dark chocolate.
Mole poblano is the national dish of Mexico and can contain 20 ingredients including lard, chili peppers, cloves, and coriander. Julio’s version was slightly spicy, and heady with aniseed and cinnamon. The chocolate serves to counteract the heat of the peppers. The blend of spices brought me flashbacks of an Oriental journey in a not-so-distant past. It was love at first scent for me even while it was still cooking in the kitchen.
There’s something for the pork lover. Try the Bolivian quezo de chancho, a terrine of pig’s head (terrina de cerdo) on which you may drizzle llajwa. LLajwa is known as the Bolivian National Hot Sauce and, like ketchup, accompanies just about any dish. This sauce is made up of tomatoes, chili (a.k.a. locotos) and huacatay which Julio substituted with cilantro since the latter is more available. The Peruvian herb huacatay is also the Amazon black mint that can be replaced by the aromatic quirquina (a.k.a. kilkina) or Bolivian coriander.
You will love the papas a la huancaina, a Peruvian-Bolivian dish of steamed and salted yellow potatoes. The name of the dish is from Huancayo, a city in the Peruvian highlands and is a staple of everyday and holiday cuisine there. The sauce is from freshly toasted peanuts, aji amarillo (yellow chili pepper), and milk, among a few other ingredients.
Julio also made aji de lengua, thinly sliced ox tongue, and this is where its similarity to our lengua estofada ends. It has a spicy sauce in contrast with estofada’s sweetness. The Bolivians treasure their hot peppers. Find out how at the buffet lunch.
Rejoice, health nuts, for included in the menu is quinoa ensalada with chopped peppers and onions. Quinoa (keen-wah) is a superfood which the Incas started cultivating a long, long time ago up in the Andes mountains.
Once upon a time, snooty South Americans considered quinoa to be “comida para indios.” This seed is a complete protein and contains all the amino acids necessary for good nutrition. Complete protein in plants is rare, so, in quinoa, vegans can be assured of this essential chemical. It is also high in iron and calcium. The ensalada exploded in refreshing flavor at the first mouthful. Ole!
Dessert may be a slice of roselle cheesecake. Roselle is grown right at The Quiet Place so we get freshly harvested bracts and calyxes processed into jelly that is drizzled over the cheesecake. This can be the local version of cranberry cheesecake. Tart meets cheesy. With phytochemicals and gamma- tocopherols to sweeten the deal.
So, shall we lunch at The Quiet Place? Vaya a almorzar o va come el almuerzo. Whatever. Julio is waiting.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 07, 2012.