EATS

Sus­tain­ably sourced in­gre­di­ents to in­duce your hap­pi­est food coma yet

Northern Living - - CONTENTS - TEXT JES­SICA ALBERTO PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DAN­ICA CONDEZ

A jour­nal­ist turned chef telling sto­ries through food

In Ig­na­cia Place, there sits a restau­rant with a dark, in­dus­trial in­te­rior—a re­fresh­ing con­trast from the typ­i­cal bright, kitschy de­signs that pop­u­late the north. But don’t let the aus­tere im­pres­sion in­tim­i­date you. The place is ac­tu­ally quite cozy, and the food is warm and com­fort­ing.

We are greeted by Chris­tine Roque, one of the own­ers and founders of Half Saints. She sits with us as we wait for the food, telling us the story of how the restau­rant came to be. It plays out al­most like a for­bid­den ro­mance (with a happy end­ing). Roque grew up with an affin­ity for food and cook­ing. De­spite her in­ter­est, her par­ents en­cour­aged her to pur­sue a more “tra­di­tional” ca­reer. So her culi­nary dreams were put aside—at least, for a cou­ple of years.

Dur­ing her time as a stu­dent and broad­cast pro­fes­sional, Roque was able to travel around the globe and ex­pe­ri­ence a va­ri­ety of cul­tures along the way—which, in ret­ro­spect, be­came vi­tal in de­vel­op­ing the restau­rant’s in­ter­na­tional cui­sine. Just browse through the menu and you can pin­point the places she’s trav­eled to.

An itch she could not scratch, her love of food ul­ti­mately resur­faced. But this time, ev­ery­thing seemed to fall into place: She de­vel­oped her palate, re­fined her cook­ing, made con­nec­tions, and most im­por­tantly, knew her pur­pose.

She and her part­ners (an all-fe­male found­ing team, FYI) merged their pas­sion for food and ad­vo­cacy, thus cre­at­ing Half Saints.

Per­haps an in­di­ca­tion of the own­ers’ back­ground in jour­nal­ism and ad­vo­ca­cies,

the name “Half Saints” isn’t just ar­bi­trary word­play: One of the restau­rant’s main val­ues is pro­mot­ing sus­tain­abil­ity by sourc­ing their in­gre­di­ents re­spon­si­bly, when­ever pos­si­ble. This means sup­port­ing lo­cal star­tups and farm­ers—even if it means pay­ing a pre­mium. It’s a hum­ble act of ser­vice to our coun­try­men, off­set by the rich­ness of the restau­rant’s food. Just try or­der­ing some of the crowd fa­vorites and you’ll un­der­stand why they call them­selves half saints.

For starters, there’s the Chichar­ron Teriyaki, a plate of crisp strips of pork glazed with teriyaki sauce and cooked in the style of Camil­ing bag­net (an ode to the home­town of Roque’s mother). The Tar­lac-meets-Tokyo dish is meant to be eaten like a DIY taco: smear a gen­er­ous spoon­ful of cheese on the nori, top it with a glis­ten­ing slice of pork, and de­vour it in a sin­gle bite.

Fans of Mid­dle East­ern cui­sine will want to try the Humshuka: a com­bi­na­tion of hum­mus and shak­shouka (also known as eggs in hell). Served with a bowl of na­cho chips, this is your week­end com­fort food taken up a notch.

For a taste of Latin Amer­i­can fla­vors, the Ar­roz Con Pollo—chicken cooked in an aro­matic sofrito base com­bined with rice braised in co­conut milk—might sat­isfy your crav­ings. Al­ter­na­tively, you can try the Gallo Pinto, a bed of dirty rice topped with shred­ded beef, bits of ba­con, and a fried egg and served with a beau­ti­ful chunk of bone mar­row on the side.

As for dessert? The own­ers of Half Saints may not be fans of overly sweet tastes, but that doesn’t make theirs any less sat­is­fy­ing.

A play­ful twist on the Ital­ian recipe, the Tiramisu cheese­cake is two desserts in one, with dis­tinct lay­ers of espres­sosoaked la­dyfin­gers, choco­late, and old­fash­ioned cheese­cake. If you’re in the mood for some­thing a lit­tle more so­phis­ti­cated, try the 64 per­cent dark choco­late tart. It’s sprin­kled with pink Hi­malayan salt, which brings out the fla­vors of the lo­cally sourced Davao choco­late. Both desserts pair nicely with a cup of cof­fee, which you’ll be happy to know is eth­i­cally sourced.

Ar­roz Con Pollo and Humshuka, a com­bi­na­tion of hum­mus and shak­shouka

Geo­met­ric art in­stal­la­tion de­signed by Arts Ser­rano; Gallo Pinto with dirty rice, shred­ded beef, fried egg, and roasted bone mar­row

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