Many months ago I read a post in Yelp from a fellow writer, Roland. He was hosting a Pinoy dinner and invited the crowd to attend. I couldn’t go that day, but full confession: I really wanted to. I mean, I was simply curious. Really really curious.
Curious about things like: What did Pinoy mean? What did Kapampanga cuisine mean? And would I really be eating with my hands?
I connected with Roland, made sure I was able to go to his next event and drug Kelly with me for the experience.
Here’s what I learned:
Pinoy food is Filipino food, from the Pampanga region of the Philippines. It’s all handmade by a great couple, Roland and Trisha. What I find quite interesting is the growth of Filipino and Hawaiian food in the Plano region. I’m not sure why, but it’s becoming more common.
However, the food served by Roland and Trisha is not common at all. And that’s a good thing.
We met, along with a group of others, for a meal at a local hotel. We had a private room and there was plenty of space to spread out. The tables were covered with fresh banana leaves, which formed our communal “plate” for the evening. Layer upon layer was served – rice, kilayin (pork), roast chicken, roast acorn squash, grilled catfish, pampano fish, bitter melon, eggplant, fresh egg rolls…the food just kept coming and coming.
In this photo, we were just getting started (other people sat far more politely…Kelly and I started picking at the rice. We were hungry!):
Roland brought a wide variety of sauces. I hadn’t seen any of them before.
I also hadn’t seen Grape Fanta in quite a while, which meant (of course) that I had to have one. I immediately had the most intense sugar high I’ve ever experienced. (Ah, childhood memories!)
I can’t believe Roland made us wait…just look how yummy this stuff is!
Nearly everything was roasted or grilled. The oddest thing we ate was “bitter melon.” It was indeed quite bitter – not my favorite but now I can say I’ve had bitter melon.
The most surprisingly tasty thing we ate was Pampano fish. That’s not guts inside – those are cherry tomatoes and ginger. Amazing! I could have eaten just this fish and rice and left super happy.
But then there was the catfish. I’m not sure I could have left happy without eating catfish. It was tender and delicious also.
And shrimp – also very yum. Pork with chicken liver? The pork was great but the liver? Not so yum (we have a thing about blood organs. We’ll eat a small bit but that’s it. Again, personal preference.)
I’m also not sure I could have left happy without eating the roasted port. It was delicious!
I can’t forget the freshly fried egg roll…better than any I’d ever had.
And yes. It was finger food. (It was finger-licking good, too!)
But you do get a damp cloth to clean up with after you declare yourself FULL.
Pop up events are a fun way to get outside of your comfort zone and try something new. I’m glad I did. Not only did I get to try totally new food, but I made a totally new friend, Roland.