Hayop na Degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen

Back when I was still in Manila, I got to admit that the local Filipino cuisine was never one that I'd really crave for. As the saying goes: "You'll never know the value of what you have until you lose it..." perhaps a more apt saying would be "Absence makes the heart grow fonder..."

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Being miles away from home and not having the luxury of eating our local cuisine whenever I want to, I've grown to love it more and more. You have no idea how our eyes would sparkle at the scent of garlicky adobo or how our heart would do leaps and cartwheels at the mere sight of a shiny, crunchy roasted lechon. Thus, whenever we're home, we make sure to make up for lost times with our favorite dishes. One of the highlight of my recent visit was during a private dinner hosted by my favorite "lechon diva" D of Pepita's Kitchen. Note that I was burning with fever that evening but I made sure that I didn't miss this gastronomical experience. Of course, another reason is because I am excited to meet up with old foodie friends too.

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Here am I with my two favorite food bloggers -- Leslie and Jin

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Dinner began with this martini glass filled with pink cotton candy called Pepita's Magic Potion. Looks like we'll surely have a fun dinner ahead. For once in our lives, we had the chance to channel our inner Harry Potter / Hermoine fantasies as we turned the pink cotton candy into an interesting fruity cocktail. Yum!

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Following the drink was Pepita's first creation -- Tendon Chips with Dip. This is perfect for all chicharon lovers out there. Pepita has created one that's just as addicting but not as sinful. What caught my fancy though was the dip. It's a sinigang with gabi dip. I couldn't get enough of the slightly sour and creamy dip that I ended up licking the spoon clean even after consuming the tendon chip.

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Next was the HipLog a.k.a. Hipon at Itlog. To this day, I daydream about this yummy piece of prawn cooked with rich salted egg sauce. The sauce was very savory and I just love biting into chunks of salted egg. Give me a cup of white rice and I'd be happy to feast on this all night long.

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Following the HipLog was the Bone Marrow with Oxtail Marmalade and Special Salt. Now, as much as I love to indulge in good food, I have become more conscious about my food intake and what it can do to my body. Thus, I somehow waved the white flag on this. It was simply too rich and sinful for me.

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Moving on, we had the Salad Surprise. I was so happy to have some greens to balance out our gastronomical dinner. It's a mixed of fresh arugula, cashew butter, homemade cheese and the surprise -- Pop Rocks! Yes, 90s kids will remember dipping their lollipop into these colored "rocks" and enjoying the sensation of letting it pop in their mouths. It was such a treat for the senses and definitely the most fun salad that I've ever had so far.

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I was still thinking about the HipLog when we were served another seafood dish. The Sipit Sarap stayed true to its name as it was definitely a delicious crab claw dish. Covered with creamy crab fat, this is once again not for the faint-hearted but definitely a must-try dish. Yes, I let go of the Bone Marrow to be able to enjoy this one more. I love that we were served with long thin crab forks making it such a breeze to eat.

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Another intermezzo was the Lucky You. A very simple dish of cold sotanghon. I guess, D created this to somehow "cleanse our palate" in preparation for the star of the night.

Meet Lechon #1: Roasted Lechon stuffed with Than Long Noodles. 

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Coming home inspired during one of her trips abroad, D decided to experiment putting noodles inside the lechon instead of her signature flavored rice. The outcome was amazing. We loved how flavorful the noodles were and it has maintained a good al dente bite even after being cooked for a long time inside the lechon. The noodles were cooked with crab meat and served with butter garlic sauce. I drizzled some onto the noodles which I personally think is not necessary as it was very tasty on its own.

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Next, we had the Lambada which is a comforting spicy lamb caldereta dish. Normally, I would shy away from spicy dishes but I guess living in the Lion City has improved my tolerance for spicy food. It was yummy and I happily ate this even without the white rice that came with it. Will save my carbs for the remaining dishes.

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Before the next Lechon was served, we had another palate cleanser called Cheers. I love sorbet and this Sampaloc-flavored one brought back fun childhood memories as reminds me of my favorite afternoon snack -- Sampaloc Candy.

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Finally, out came the second lechon -- the Ham Lechon de Leche. I can see this becoming a popular choice this coming holiday as it has two of our Noche Buena favorites in one! Roasted Lechon stuffed with sweet ham. I just love this so much and I'm pretty sure you will too! I was dying to ask D for some warm pandesal as I would love to put this inside with some of her homemade pineapple glaze. Oh, Christmas please come sooner.

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We had quite a feast and to lessen our guilt, Pepita's Kitchen has prepared their signature Cholesterol Sweeper. Shot glasses of oatmeal cooked with Ghirardelli White Chocolate were passed around and while one would normally say no to oatmeal, this time we happily ate it till the last drop. If only my morning oatmeal can be this yummy... I'd probably be a happy camper all day long!

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To end our meal, we had the Guinataan Brulee with layers of Carabao Flan. I was already feeling too stuffed after enjoying my Cholesterol Sweeper so Paul happily got my glass of dessert after me taking one spoonful of it. I love guinataan but it was just unfortunate that my temperature was quickly rising making me feel really warm and weak after all that eating. Too bad as I really love Guinataan but seeing how much Paul enjoyed his two glasses was enough for me to conclude that this was also a winner.

Once again, we had an enjoyable dinner at Pepita's Kitchen. Everything was just so delicious and the company was great. I highly recommend that you try Pepita's private dinner with your family, friends or for your Christmas get-togethers. The rate is approximately Php. 2,250++ per head and she can hold the dinner in her home in Makati or in any venue of your choice. This is inclusive of one stuffed lechon of your choice.

For reservations or inquiries, contact Pepita's Kitchen at 0917-8660662 or 425-4605.

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