The folks behind Manila-based Josiah’s Catering (wedding caterer extraordinaire) and Fat Daddy’s Smokehouse (barbecue specialists who do burgers and desserts just as well) have launched Sartin, a Tagaytay restaurant that draws on the diverse culinary traditions of the owners’ wide-reaching family tree — matriarch Jet Versoza is from Tarlac, Jet’s mother-in-law Agnes’ hails from Quezon and Jet’s daughter-in-law Darlene is from Bacolod. Throw in a few contemporary recipes that have become favorites among the family, and what you get is a gastronomic tour of the Philippines. But if you come to Tagaytay for the view, the cool air and bulalo, chef Jasper (Jet’s son), who helms the kitchen, serves up a version flavored with batwan, a small round fruit often used as a souring agent in Ilonggo cooking.
1. Valenciana (Bacolod)
Chef Jasper’s take on the popular special-occasion dish uses glutinous rice to achieve that thicker, risotto-like texture. The Bacoleño recipe handed down to Darlene is followed to a T — pork, Chinese chorizo, fresh seafood, bell pepper, hard-boiled eggs and peas are piled on top of turmeric-infused rice.
2. Escabeche na isda (Quezon)
Straight out of Lola Agnes’ cookbook, this dish is made by taking the fresh catch of the day, coating it in seasoned flour, deep-frying it and dousing it in a sweet and sour sauce. Chef Jasper spices things up with cilantro and mango salsa, for an Asian play on flavors that also helps keep the dish contemporary and tuned to modern tastes.
3. Tibok-tibok (Pampanga)
Tibok-tibok is basically maja blanca (coconut milk pudding) — just milkier and creamier. The Versozas’ Kapampangan variation is made with carabao’s milk, supplied by nearby farms in Cavite, and dayap (native lime). It’s then garnished with latik (fried coconut cream curd).
4. Jet’s kare-kare (Tarlac)
This beef, oxtail and tripe stew is cooked with peanuts and annatto, an aromatic, orange-red condiment that comes from the tropical achiote tree, and served with a cup of bagoong alamang (shrimp paste). Chef Jasper’s version is also full of locally sourced ingredients, such as the beef that also goes into prominent Tagaytay dishes like bulalo. The kare-kare sauce is made with fresh ground peanuts and ground rice (as a thickener) — a super change-up from the common recipes that feature store-bought peanut butter.
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2 B&Bs in Tagaytay where breakfast is serious business
- Whether you prefer your morning meal savory, sweet or both, Tsokolateria at the Boutique Bed and Breakfast has got you covered. From bacon dipped in black tablea (cacao tablet) sauce,
to chocolate rice porridge with adobo flakes, there are plenty of options to fuel you up for your adventures. 45 Aguinaldo Hwy, Silang Crossing East; theboutiquebnb.com
- There may not be a fully functional restaurant at Moon Garden, but overnight guests can still count on enjoying fresh morning pick-me-ups as part of their stays. Breakfast is served at the foyer adjacent to the flower field, or in one of the floating cabanas by the pond. Try the homemade corned beef with garlic rice, scrambled egg and pickled veggies. SVD Rd; fb.com/moongardentagaytay
This article first appeared in the January 2019 issue of Smile magazine.