I got an invite to try out a Lechon Degustation at Pepita’s Kitchen, of course I said yes, I was had at lechon (roasted pig). Living in the province for quite a while opened my taste buds to wonderful lechon,with a wife that had the goods on which were the best part and a deft hand at slicing and dicing the path to them.
A couple of mystery bowls of pate were laid out in front of us.The lighter one was called Pinoy Caviar, made up of bihud (fisheggs/roe) and the darker one was a Pinoy Pate, made up of balut (fertilized duck egg). Of the two the one that tickled my plalate was the Pinoy pate, without being told the ingredient you would be hard pressed to identify it.
Rellenong Bulaklak. An appetizer dish of fried squash flowered stuffed with kesong puti (white cheese) and anchovies. I love the vibrant color of the dish, its orange and green alternating colors blitzing through the heavy ceramic plates. The earthy taste of the kesong puti dominates with only a slight hint of saltiness from the anchovies, a little more would really complete this dish.
Balut Salpicao. A new take on how balut is usually eaten. I just drink the soup and eat the yolk part of the balut, but now I can’t even get to taste the soup since its been commandeered by Lauren. The balut was cooked with olive oil and garlic, lending a different taste to the experience of eating balut.
The first to arrive was the Chinese Lechon, a cochinillo sized pig, a little small for my tastes though. The rice inside was mixed with generous amounts of chestnuts,herbs and some mushroom. It was meant to imitate machang (lotus rice), but to me it reminded me of Christmas because of the chestnuts maybe because it lacked the sticky rice.
Next up was the German lechon, the only lechon not stuffed with rice. The lechon was stuffed with whole cloves of garlic, potatoes, lemongrass, lemons and calamansi. Being the only one without rice served the pork very well, as it was able to absorb all of the flavors from the stuffing instead of losing it to the rice. The meat was tender, juicy with strong hints of citrus. To enhance the flavor experience, you can choose to spread the soft garlic onto the meat.This lechon was the favorite of the night, in terms of the meat.
A brief chilly interlude, meant to wipe the palette clean, was served next. Scoops of Calamansi Lemon Sherbet, we later found out to be store bought Arce Dairy brand. We’ve since bought this at the grocery, that’s how good it was.
A brief respite was all we were given before another lechon was laid out. Pinoy lechon, so called because of the sisig rice stuffed inside.The rice inside was the best tasting for me that night. It just matched the concept of lechon for me, Filipino in taste represented by the sisig rice. The lechon was now of the medium size, which had a little thicker skin, though still crispy, can’t really beat straight from the oven.
Accompanying the culinary assault was Pinoy Carbonara, a white sauce based pasta with ground pork, mushrooms and chicharon (pork rinds) shavings. Yes you read that right, chicharon shavings in lieu of cheese. I actually liked the taste of the dish, if only I had more room in my poor stomach.
Another palate cleanser was laid about, Sabachara, pickled banana. I liked the unconventional use of the banana, as substitute for the usual vegetables. It cleared up my taste buds of the greasiness from the lechon but had a bit too much onions, resulting in the pungent smell.
The last lechon has arrive and it is the French lechon, its rice stuffing containing mushrooms and truffle oil. This was ranked 2nd on my list. Opening up the lechon released a lot of the fragrant truffle scent that is oh so familiar nowadays.
Two things served in small glasses came concurrently, one called a Darna’s Surprise and the one on the right called a Cholesterol Sweeper. I didn’t like the cholesterol sweeper, an oatmeal take of champorado, not a fan of both ingredients. I loved the Darna’s surprise, which I described as melted butter ball candy from eons past. It has a little liquer kick at the end, so no children allowed. Be sure to taste the creme also
Dayap Cheesecake. Made by a friend, a Filipino take on cheesecake. It’s light, with a nice thin base made of nuts and with a nice citrus topping.
Guava and Pastillas Ice Cream. I love the pinkish guava ice cream (left), similar to my favorite pink guava juices, it even had bits of guava mixed in. The pastillas was a little too rich for me following the taste overload we had that evening. I tasted a couple of pieces of pastillas, favorites from my youth.
Here’s something interesting I saw at Pepita’s Kitchen, Patron of Paid Vacation, which elicited a chuckle and a comment from me.
This is so far the most decadent dinner I have had this year, stretching on for more than 4 hours, a nice match to the 4 stuffed lechon we had that evening.
The stuffed lechons are already available for pick up from Pepita’s Kitchen. The degustation on the other hand is still being finalized and will probably included 1 or 2 lechons only.
Stuffed Lechon (whichever variation)
7 kilo – P 6,500.00 14 kilo – P 13,000.00
Medium – P1,000 Large – P1,900
Pinoy Pate – P450 (party tub)
Pinoy Caviar – P550 (party tub)
Sabachara – P200 (party tub)
Pepita’s Kitchen by Dedet dela Fuente