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Our expert suggests wines to drink with vitello tonnato

Our expert suggests wines to drink with vitello tonnato

Vitello tonnato is a northern Italian classic mistrusted by those encountering it for the first time (sorry, veal with tuna mayonnaise?), but adored by legions of Italophiles. I am not sure why it took me so long to move from ordering it in every good Italian restaurant I ever visited, to realising that I could very easily make it at home, but now I know how straightforward it is, there’s no looking back.

I’ve even conquered my fear of homemade mayonnaise and discovered, after years of bad-temperedly ruining at least one lot for every batch I made, that going heavy on lemon juice and egg yolk from the start makes it all ok. So, wine. I like drinking red with vitello tonnato, but a red that has good acidity and savour, and isn’t too heavy.


The perfect match for me is nebbiolo, the tannic, pale coloured barolo-grape from Piemonte. These don’t come cheap, though I’ve managed to source one. Two other, less expensive red grapes from the same area are also equal to the task: barbera and dolcetto.

If you want to try a white, then the cortese grape, which makes gavi di gavi, is also local and its clean, lemony-herbaceous bite is perfect with the salty olives, tuna and pink meat. In the same vein, vermentino or verdicchio make excellent alternatives. On a summer’s evening, a pale Provençal rosé, or a rosé made from sangiovese, also rises to the occasion. Pick a pink that tastes more of herbs than it does of strawberries.

Vitello tonnato


Add new potatoes, rocket salad, chopped tomatoes and black olives,and then it will serve 3-4 as a main course.Reboil and strain the veal stock and freeze for another time,it’s great for soups or … Read the rest

Avocado 101

Avocado 101

avocado 101 (2)

  • Early start

    This buttery fruit first made it to Australia in 1840 when it was planted in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. Although the first commercial crop was in the 1930s, demand didn’t take off until the US troops stationed here in WWII raised awareness of it. The 1970s saw it grace the menus of sophisticated hostesses as an entrée; half an avocado with vinaigrette pooled in the hole. Nowadays, its mashed and fed to babies and is found in the fruit bowls of most Australian households.

  • Hot for Hass

    There are five main varieties of avocados in Australia: Hass, Shepard, Reed, Sharwil and Wurtz. Hass accounts for 80 per cent of avocado production in Australia, while Shepard makes up 10 per cent, leaving only 10 per cent between the other three varieties. Unlike Hass avocados, the Shepard variety doesn’t go brown once cut, making their buttery flesh ideal in salads.

  • Goodness me

    Avocados are an absolute treasure trove of nutrients. They contain 60 per cent more potassium than bananas, are a great source of fibre, folate, vitamins K, E and C, and are high in monounsaturated fat (that’s the good fat), which makes you feel fuller for longer!

  • Let it rip(e)

    When selecting avocados, apply gentle pressure to the stem end — if it’s ripe, it should yield a little. Try not to squeeze the middle as the flesh bruises easily. To ripen avocados, store them at room temperature not in the fridge. If you need to speed up the process, place them in a brown paper bag with a banana or apple, as these fruits release a plant hormone that assists in ripening. Once an avocado is at its ideal ripeness, store it in the fridge for up to three days.

  • Match made in heaven


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Sweet (and sticky) Temptations

Sweet (and sticky) Temptations

A kaleidoscope of Filipino kakanin in rainbow colors and various shapes, are sold all over our country: in public markets, city sidewalks, bus terminals, mall food court stalls, and even by ambulant vendors plying the streets with wide bilaos (flat woven baskets) balanced precariously on their heads. Primarily eaten as a snack or dessert, kakanin or Filipino sweet rice cakes make use of our country’s principal agricultural crop: rice.


A kakanin vendor from the Lipa Public Market, deftly cuts puto with a long piece of string

These tiny white grains of rice—usually glutinous (malagkit or sweet) or sometimes non-glutinous rice (table rice or bigas)—have a neutral taste is the perfect blank canvass to make all kinds of heavy and filling kakanin such as suman, bibingka, biko, kutsinta, sapin-sapin, and maja blanca. These rice-based snacks can either be shaped into cylinders, rolled into balls, or poured into large bilaos to be cut into triangles, squares, or bars. Depending on the recipe or availability of ingredients, cooks require newly harvested rice (bagong ani) or old rice (laon), which are kept whole or ground into fine rice flour.

To sweeten the formula, refined white sugar or soft brown sugar is mixed in, caramelized or sprinkled on top. Other sweeteners may be in the form of unrefined cane sugar called panutsa, partially unrefined muscovado sugar or thick molasses called pulot. Coconut is also employed in a number of ways. Grated mature coconut or niyog is extracted to produce coconut milk (gata) that provides the necessary richness or linamnam in kakanin.

sweet and sticky (3)

Isn’t it fascinating how a basic recipe using rice, sugar, and coconut can produce such a wide variety of kakanin?

This milky liquid can also be boiled down into dried brown bits called latik as topping for maja blanca and sapin-sapin; or when … Read the rest

It’s not called the “pambansang litson manok” for nothing.

It’s not called the “pambansang litson manok” for nothing.

For almost 30 years now, the bright yellow and red signage of Andok’s Litson Manok has been calling out to every chicken-loving Filipino on the street, and if that doesn’t get your attention, a whiff of that smoky aroma coming out of their rotisserie is sure to make you turn around fast. For how can one resist the sight and scent of Andok’s chicken roasting over a pit of hot coals, their skin slowly turning gloriously brown, glistening invitingly, dripping and oozing with lip-smacking juicy flavor?

While children of the eighties grew up loving Andok’s litson manok, so too did Maverick Javier, who witnessed firsthand how his father, Leandro “Sandy” Javier, Jr., built the brand from hard work to what it is today, the king of litson manok and a major player in the food industry. The story goes that Sandy, with no capital to start his business, borrowed 12 chickens to roast by the roadside, seeing the potential in litson manok when the craze hit the country.

Mayor Sandy giving President Cory Aquino a tour of the Andok's commissary when business was beginning to pick up in the mid-80s

Mayor Sandy giving President Cory Aquino a tour of the Andok’s
commissary when business was beginning to pick up in the mid-80s

Versions of the story range from his father selling only two to four chickens out of the twelve, but regardless which one is true, Maverick says the fact remains that his father failed miserably in his first bid to launch his litson manok business. Rather than feel disheartened, his father took the loss as a challenge. In his heart, he was determined to keep his promise to the elder Leandro “Andok” Sr.

For years, Sandy was considered the dark horse in the family. While his elder brothers, comedian George, and Danny Javier of the APO Hiking Society were making names for themselves in the entertainment industry, he still had to … Read the rest