Adarna Food & Culture Restaurant: Philippine Time Space Warp!

Muni on this:

Have you ever wondered how Filipinos lived and dined several decades back, or even a century ago?

I hadn’t heard of Adarna before, in spite of my frequent trips to the Sikatuna / Teachers’ Village area, but Candice Quimpo of Homegrown PH had invited me and Noreen Bautista of Jacinto & Lirio for a casual dinner. Little did I know that I would be so charmed by Adarna’s decor and ambience, which in spite of formerly being a warehouse, and only turned into a restaurant in December 2007, manages to convey the feel of an ancestral home, what with its wooden doors of capiz and colored glass, heavy wooden furniture, your lola‘s fancy dinnerware, and other vintage memorabilia.

Food & Culture

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of my cheese-lover’s kesong puti and queso de bola torta – I dig in before remembering to take pictures of my food – but it looked and tasted as good as it sounds. I noticed though that their torta’s texture was a lot smoother than the average torta these days, and I later learned that Chef Giney used an old method she learned from a Bulakeña cook, steaming the torta on a banana leaf.

When probed further about her approach to the food, Chef Giney said: “We use a coconut-charcoal fired stove to tenderize our meat, flavors come together better when slow-cooked, the meat I feel is also juicier. Sure, more work and time is involved because you have to take extra steps to extract flavors when you make your own stock for example, but it’s the philosophy of the restaurant, i.e. replicate as much as possible the traditional cooking method, taste, even presentation of the food to keep the food alive and not relegate it to just a memory.”

In purchasing local ingredients, supporting small scale food producers, cooking from scratch with regional recipes and old methods (as long as they are sanitary), Adarna could not better exemplify a restaurant that lives by the Slow Food philosophy.

…And More Culture!

The place’s decor and ambience had already won me over when I stepped in, and you can definitely get on my good side by servings me loads of cheese, but the icing on top was the surprise tour our waiter-turned-guide, Anghel offered to give us after our meal.

I was thoroughly impressed with all the dates and factoids he shared, only some of which I remember now (this is why I fared poorly at history). You could also see his pride and enthusiasm in sharing what he knew, which makes you that much more compelled to learn and retain more Philippine culture, heritage and history factoids. Muni should organize a quiz night there. 😛

The good stuff doesn’t end there. The cherry on top of the icing was getting to chat with Chef Giney Villar and Beth Angsioco, the creative minds behind Adarna, who are so evidently passionate about what they do. Chef Giney works hard to preserve traditional, regional and heirloom recipes, while Beth salvages Filipino home pieces (that Chef Giney says initially seem beyond salvaging), and turns them into beautiful testaments of our country’s rich design heritage.

Philippine history, I’m ashamed to admit, was one of my poorest subjects back in college. However, I’m a fan of places with great ambience and traditional Filipino interior and furniture design. Whatever reason you choose to come to Adarna: the interiors, the ambience, the heirloom recipes, the culture and history lesson, the chance to throw a costume / theme party (yes, they do that at Adarna), the friendly owners and staff –  you leave with an increased appreciation for all of that, and infected with the desire to preserve Filipino heritage.

From L-R: Candice Quimpo, the author, Chef Giney Villar & Beth Angsioco of Adarna Resto, and Noreen Bautista

Thank you so much, Chef Giney & Tita Beth for the work of art you create for our eyes, taste buds, minds and Filipino pride! 🙂

In what other ways do you appreciate and preserve Philippine culture, heritage and history?

Adarna Food & Culture Restaurant 119 Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City +632-9268712 / +63917-9618113

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