The taste of Christmas: Memories of lola’s kitchen

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MEMORIES OF Christmas past are indelibly stamped on the holiday menu of Guevarra’s, chef Rolando Laudico’s buffet restaurant.

The menu will include the following as mains: Lengua ala Pobre with Mushrooms, Lechon kawali in taro sinigang sauce, Menudo pastel pie, Chicken ala king, Shrimp in coconut brandy sauce, Steamed fish mayonesa, Orange chicken galantina, Roast turkey with chestnut and chorizo stuffing

Ngohiong fried chicken, and Pata hamonado. Head spinning from all the choices, I ended up having to tuck into the turkey and the lengua (ox tongue), with a side of adobo lechon paella (vinegar stewed roast pig paella). The dishes I chose were perfectly comforting, and the lechon paella gave it a zesty touch.

The restaurant is one of several ventures by chef-endorser Mr. Laudico which include a Tribu Babaylan in Quezon City (where he sits as consultant) and OK Café in Pasig. Mr. Laudico has also done television stints, as a host and judge, for example, on Food Challenge Seasons one and two in the Asian Food Channel.

Mr. Laudico said that the dishes for the Christmas buffet were “Not exactly family recipes, but recipes that I loved eating during Christmas when I was a kid.”

He points out the site of Guevarra’s, a rambling house built in the 1920s in San Juan. “[It’s] like going back to your lola’s house.”




“We really wanted a whole experience.”

A DIFFICULT YEAR
It has not been an easy year for Mr. Laudico: a patron who had been hospitalized earlier this year was told that their family had been infected with cholera. It created quite a stir on Facebook, the family recalling that one of the establishments they ate in was Guevarra’s. The health department of San Juan closed the restaurant for five days as a precaution. “They checked us, and they’ve been checking us constantly,” said the chef.

“In fact, the first time they checked us, they said our place was highly satisfactory.” Another health check last month gave the restaurant a score of 95/100. Third-party agencies and the national Department of Health also stepped in. “They didn’t find anything,” said Mr. Laudico.

“The fact that they had themselves (the complainant) tested almost two weeks after they had eaten here… you know?” said Mr. Laudico with some frustration. “But for them to pin it on us — that cholera [scare — it’s really unfair, and baseless.”

Stepping beyond the troubles earlier this year, Mr. Laudico is setting his sights on the near future, with the launch of a line of sausages, done in partnership with Aguila Gourmet Meats, set to be released either later this month or early next year. — J.L. Garcia

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