When Fresh is Best
BY JEREMY C. MALCAMPO
Before one can even intellectualize and gauge what fine cuisine really is, one need not look beyond the importance of fresh ingredients. This is, perhaps, what sets Dampa Sa Libis as an upright gastronomic destination at par with all fine-dining establishments, one can think of.
Situated within a semi-open warehouse which exudes an RTW drop-zone, kiosks of house goods, and tiange, Dampa sa Libis offers forerunner dishes as the ones we're most familiar with that label good food with honest ingredients.
Here one can go pick the freshest meats and veggies sold at the wet market behind the main dining area, and ask a particular kitchenette to cook it the way one prefers it done. As a basic procedure, a customer must buy from the market all the ingredients, and register them at the counter for cooking preferences.
Not to put this spot alongside mediocre foodcourts, this market bids some of the most notable produce from different parts of the Philippines. To note, Seabass sells by the kilo, as Lapu-lapu by the piece.
Tiger prawns are indeed tiger prawns and finely crusting a fresh pack of shrimp meat well enough for a platter of Buttered Sugpo, lightly veiled by toasted garlic and limey aftertastes. For this dish, go to Emperor's Garden Kitchen.
For drinkers, a full serving of Ebi Tempuras will definitely suit even the most discriminating Japanese tastebuds. Noted for this dish are Kusina sa Libis Kitchen, Aling Cely's, and Emperor's Garden.
To include Lola's Kitchen, and Kusina Ni Manang for exquisite cookery, this establishment does not put Filipino cuisine in a secondary tableset. Sarangani Bay's fishes are available for all types of Visayan fares; Batangas beef for steaks; and fruits for all types of desserts and salads and the Pork Liempos from a Batangueno supplier are heaven to grill with two types of marinades. One can always choose between a garlic-vinegar-and-pepper, and Sweet and Sour.
If it was indeed the one in Paranaque, I once visited that place before I came to the USA. That blog post was made after the first wave of Pinoy foodbloggers came into the open (internet) and provided help to a lot of newbies, as well as seasoned foodies who have their own expertise to share with one another. Lola's Kitchen and my blog, as well as other Pinoy food blogs were among those first food blogs put up by Pinoys/Pinays who got into blogging as an answer to the pleas of one like me (when I was starting) for sharing/teaching cooking tips and survival in the Western (or other non-Philippines) kitchens. Since then, cooking and baking the most terribly missed Filipino foods have been easier for those of us expats.
Then there's also Kusina Ni Manang in Iloilo, and that my statcounter account always shows me a follower from Iloilo. I wonder if there's a connection? (If you are reading this post now, I would love to hear from you! Please email me.)
Now I know I have some readers/co-foodies in the Philippines. And I have met one who works in media. Maybe someone can feature Dampa and all the stalls there in a blog post? Anyone? It will be interesting to learn more about these stalls, if they have anything to do with our food blogs, if they even refer to our food blogs for some of the recipes they use....
I know I promised ube haleya/halaya/jaleya (whatever!)...later on, ok? I will try to cook it again today with some other methods that might make it easier to achieve what I want, with clearer instructions and proportions of ingredients...