Monday, April 25, 2016

Staying Classy: The Pepita's Kitchen Pop-Up at Fashion Interiors

I remember my first ever Lechon Degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen some years back, seeing it grow and evolve, all the way to my most recent experience a few days back, and I'm just amazed...


...a real class act that's even classier, it just keeps getting better and better.  Pepita's Kitchen recently held a pop-up at Fashion Interiors with her signature dishes, and this, by far, has to be the best one yet.

And there's just no better place for an elegant pop-up than Fashion Interiors along Chino Roces Avenue in Makati.  The spacious interiors provide limitless possibilities for any pop-up, event, or set-up, the perfect setting for a Pepita's Kitchen Lechon Degustacion. 

Since my first ever Lechon Degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen (see my post on that First Time at Pepita's Kitchen and my most recent experience here at Dinner at Tiffany's Lechon Degustacion), Dedet de la Fuente (L) just keeps getting better. Meanwhile, chefs Edward Bugia and Sharwin Tee lend a hand in the kitchen...


Guests were served a special welcome drink with Dragon Fire Wine, a local wine made from dragon fruit from the country's oldest distillery, Destileria Limtuaco (for more on Destileria Limtuaco's premium local spirits, see my earlier post on their new line of Philippine Craft Spirits), garnished with edible flowers. Refreshingly light and sweet, it's the perfect drink to get you in the groove for the evening's degustacion of modern Filipino flavors.


The first courses were then served, starting with Pepita's Kitchen's Pinoy Nibblers, with crisp crostini served with Bihod Butter, blended with fish roe topped with crispy dilis; and Burong Mangga Butter with shrimp paste...


...followed by Pepita's Kitchen's playfully inventive Lechon Scone with Mr. Thomas Butter. The homemade scones are the perfect base for the special lechon sauce-infused butter, hence the wittingly named reference to the iconic Mang Tomas Liver Sauce. There's an interesting story behind this dish, since Pepita's Kitchen does not serve any sauce at all with her signature stuffed lechons. The only way she'll ever include the popular liver sauce in her degustacion is with her Mr. Thomas Butter on homemade scones, and never  with her lechon. Dedet de la Fuente has taken the art of degustacion and private dining to a whole new level, with tasty bites of her signature dishes showcasing a wide range of familiar yet new and different flavor experiences. 


With the proper pacing, the next set of dishes were then served. The Ginseng Egg, Pepita's Kitchen's very own version of Balut Salpicao topped with spring onions, reinventing and elevating the classic local street food favorite. 


A simple yet flavorful salad is served next. The Jardin de Bacolod, with crispy Kansi, singkamas, micro greens, and Los Banos kesong puti with a side of mangosteen vinaigrette, is a refreshing dish in between the different courses at Pepita' Kitchen's Lechon Degustacion. Inspired by a recent trip to Bacolod, Dedet de la Fuente plays on the local kansi adding her own inventive spin, adding both flavor and texture to the salad. 


Hiplog, succulent white shrimp cooked with salted duck egg, and one of my personal favorites. The plump shrimp's briny sweetness is punctuated by the rich and mildly salty notes of the duck egg for perfectly balanced flavors. One of Pepita's Kitchen's bestsellers, this dish is included in Pepita's Food to Go along with her lechon orders.

Back in the kitchen, Dedet de la Fuente leads her team in prepping the next round of dishes in her epic degustacion at Fashion Interiors. Honed by experience gained from countless degustacions, the entire team performed like a well-oiled machine, expediting batches to specific tables without skipping a beat.  


But Pepita's Kitchen has even more flavorful surprises up her sleeves. The amusingly named Heaven In My Ears, with tender pig's ears topped with pig's brain and served with a side of crisp camote chips, is yet another delectable play of flavor and texture, with the mild, delicate yet distinct notes of the pig's ears capped by the creamy hint of the buttery pig's brain for sinfully rich flavors. A whisper of heat from the chili tempers the richness of the dish for balanced flavors. 


A seafood dish is served next, with the Sip It Sarap, cracked crab claw cooked in coconut milk and crab fat served with rice wrapped in banana leaf. The sweet notes of the delicate crab meat are punctuated by the rich layers of flavors from the creamy coconut milk and crab fat, and the rice comes in handy for soaking up the richness of the sauce. 


Squid ink and bone marrow combine for another memorable dish, with Pepita's Kitchen's Black Gold, a unique squid ink pasta topped with torched bulalo and crisp garlic chips, served on split bone. The nutty and butter-like texture of the torched bone marrow releases intense flavors, pairing well with the squid ink pasta, punctuated by the distinct notes of the crispy garlic. 


Pepita's Kitchen's Lambada, a spicy lamb caldereta, rounds out her tasty dishes before the main course. The tender chunks of lamb, slow-cooked and infused with a fiery heat, opens up the palate for the main course... 


...Pepita's Kitchen's signature Truffle Lechon de Leche, with juicy strips of succulent pork, a side of crackling, and soft, moist rice cooked inside the lechon infused with nutty truffle oil.


The truffle and pork combination is one of my favorite lechon pairings from Pepita's Kitchen, with multiple layers of rich flavors in every bite. Simply take a piece of the tender and juicy pork, some truffle rice, and tear off a piece of crackling, and enjoy. Each dish in the epic Lechon Degustacion is rich, bursting with bold flavors, and the portions are just right allowing you to enjoy each course. And Pepita's Kitchen has done it again, never failing to impress with her Lechon Degustacion.


For dessert, go for a tall slice of Pepita's Kitchen's elegant Mango Trifle, an indulgent dessert with mango mousseline, fresh mangoes, leche flan, rosquillos, and puto seko, all the familiar childhood flavors of Dedet de la Fuente. The dessert was also awarded as one of the best desserts by Philippine Daily Inquirer back in 2014.


A class act gets even classier. Pepita's Kitchen has gone a long way, and you can expect thing to get even better.

Fashion Interiors is located at 2307 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City or call 662-0391 for inquiries.

For more information on private dining at Pepita's Kitchen, call 0917-866-0662 or 425-4605 or send an email at pepitaskitchen@gmail,com.

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