Local Ingredients Take the Spotlight at NXTFOOD Asia

Check out the special setting Islands On A Plate.

(SPOT.ph) In recent years, there's been no shortage of features on Filipino food abroad. There's Toyo Eatery making it to Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2019 and Cebu's food scene getting featured in an episode of Netflix's Street Food. Arguably, it was the late chef Anthony Bourdain who lent a helping hand in the promotion of Philippine flavors in both his shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown. The well-loved and respected food expert reintroduced the tastes of our islands to a much larger and gastronomically adventurous global audience. And an adventure is what the upcoming International Food Exhibition Philippines' NXTFOOD ASIA is all about. 

Organized by the Department of Trade and Industry through the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, this three-day food event is happening from May 24 to 26 at the World Trade Center in Pasay. The 13th edition of the food convention aims to showcase the various ingredients and food products in Asia, as well as flavors and ideas that will inspire both business-to-business institutions and enterprising foodies.

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One of the exciting special settings to check out is Islands On A Plate, where guests can take part in a one-of-a-kind tasting experience to be participated in by different exhibitors of food products. Presented in the NXTFOOD Asia preview is a 12-course degustacion menu prepared by creative director and Via Mare Chef Bea Nitard using the Philippines’ own Premium 7 export food products: mango, pineapple, banana, tuna, cacao, coffee, coconut. 

The creative and surprising local flavors elevated the infinite possibilities of fusing sacred, traditional recipes and ingredients with international influences. Here are some of the dishes:

This take on chicharon shows that it doesn't just come in delicious pork rinds. 
PHOTO BY Crissy Baluyut Hernandez
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The degustacion starts off with assorted Chicharon made with shiitake, button and straw mushrooms, as well as seaweed, served with Ilocos vinegar (pinakurat) on the side. This appetizer only proves that while the Philippines have the bragging rights to world-class crispy cracklings and pork rinds, meatless variants like mushroom and seaweed chicharon can also hold their own. Next comes the creamy-meets-tangy Cherry Tomatoes stuffed with Laguna cheese & Herb Parfait and Piña at Bagoong whet the appetite for the other dishes to come.

Simbang Gabi staples Rustic Bibingka, made with an heirloom rice mix and topped with salted duck egg, Laguna cheese, and roasted nuts, and Pirurutong Bumbong and Bukayo-panutsa with Roasted Cashews bring all-year-round Christmas feels with every comforting bite.

The creamy tuna salad pairs well with the sweetness of the local mango.
PHOTO BY Crissy Baluyut Hernandez
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The open-faced Mango & Premium Red Tuna Salad with Mango Poppers highlights the delectable sweetness that is the incomparable draw of our local Philippine mango, with a chunky and creamy tuna salad to balance the flavors out. 

In this dish, local crabmeat is served with a Provençal twist.
PHOTO Courtesy of CITEM
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A refreshing Calamansi Sherbet with Pomelo Bits cleanses the palate for the next dish, the Cebuanong Alimasag A La Brandade Gratiné. It offers rich textures with sweet crabmeat and minced Moringa leaves made into a tasty emulsion with oil, topped with broiled Sta. Maria Laguna cheese.

The Batangas Turmeric Rice and Chicken Inasal is a refreshing take on the Negrense specialty dish.
PHOTO BY CITEM
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The Champorado Waray will remind you of biko.
PHOTO BY CITEM

Meanwhile, the Batangas Turmeric Rice and Chicken Inasal pays homage to the Chinese machang using sticky local rice, and paired with the favorite Western Visayas-style of barbecue chicken for a perfect combination. Another savory offering is the Taba ng Talangka on Roasted Kinurat Rice with Fresh Ginger Relish comes with a drizzle of healthy MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil to keep this indulgent dish balanced. It features a delicate coconut flavor in every bite.

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The Champorado Waray with unsweetened condensada topped with boneless danggit a la cereal is reminiscent of our local sticky rice cake dish, biko, but made with the deep, dark flavor of the local cacao tablea. 

Not to be missed is the classic Pinoy merienda, Turon.
PHOTO BY CITEM

The desserts highlight an array of local favorites with the Crème Emperatrice, a delicate and creamy coconut milk mousse, the classic Turon, and a Drunken Coconut Tropical Fruit Cakewith bits of jackfruit, mango, and pineapple. Capping off the tasting menu are the Davao Dark Chocolate Bombs with spicy 12-herb turmeric ginger bread and spicy chocolate ginger nuggets with uraro.

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This conceptual tasting menu is not only a showcase of the ingredients' potential to international trade buyers and shoppers, it also tells the story of Filipino food, as well as Filipino farmers and fishermen who cultivate our local produce and products.

And while the actual tasting menu in International Food Exhibition Philippines (IFEX) will vary from the conceptual tasting menu, the public can get to experience a different take on the Premium 7 ingredients on May 26, with the first two days of Islands on a Plate open to trade buyers. 

Aside from Islands on a Plate, other exhibits include Tropical Wines and Spirits, which will focus on homegrown brands for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, wines, and spirits; The Cold Room: Seafood at Sub-Zero, a seafood-centric showcase where the products are displayed in an actual cold-storage facility; and Asian Food Champions, where you can find different food offerings from various parts of Asia. Those looking for local food brands with a strong global presence can check out the Food Philippines hall.

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DTI-CITEM Executive Director Pauline Suaco-Juan says the event seeks to answer the question “What’s NXT in the world of FOOD?" Food has always been an adventurous narrative of a people. And with this unique glimpse on what FIlipino food can offer the world at large, its future has never looked so bright. 

IFEX Philippines' NXTFOOD ASIA runs from May 24 to 26. It will be held at World Trade Center Manila, 1300 Pasay Extension corner Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Pasay City. Tickets, priced at P100 for general public/visitors, are available online. For more information, log on to IFEX Philippines' official website

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