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Monday, August 12, 2013

Heritage in Cuisine

August in the Philippines usually means paying homage to Filipino as the official language.  While this is just one aspect of Philippine culture, the recognition of the language brings with it activities that also touch on other things truly Filipino.  Thus, during this time, schools all over the country are now geared toward learning activities that relate to all things involving the language - be it literature, songs, dances and even food.
On this note, I remember our visit to Marikina which is a city quite active in promoting its food culture.  An example of this is the conversion of the old Guevara ancestral home, a genuine bahay-na-bato (stone house), into the city's cultural center.  The house is a good example of turn of the 20th century architecture.  It was previously owned by Don Jose Guevara and Don Laureno "Kapitan Moy" Guevara, who belonged to Marikina's elite at that time.  It was said that Kapitan Moy's claim to fame was as the one who manufactured the first pair of shoes in the country in 1887.  It is probably from this beginning that Marikina rose to everyone's consciousness as the shoe capital of the Philippines as the industry itself flourished until the early 1970s, if I recall correctly.

Nevertheless, it was through the efforts of then Marikina mayor Bayani Fernando that this ancestral home was purchased and repaired.  The second floor is now used for cultural events of the city, but is also open to be rented out for private functions and events.  The ground floor houses the Café Kapitan Restaurant on one side and the Piano Bar in the other. 
If you're looking for a place that is rich in local Marikina culture and/or treating friends to a hearty Marikeno meal, head to Café Kapitan.  On the day we went, there was Cream of Mushroom Soup, Waknatoy (Marikina's version of Menudo), Bistek Tagalog, Breaded Fish and Chicken Fingers. 
However, the Cafe's version of Vegetable Paella is quite popular, and upon tasting it, I found out why.  The rice was cooked slowly in the saffron broth, and generously peppered with a variety of vegetables, it is a meal on its own. 
The buffet price also includes a dessert of the day (Buco Pandan Salad or coconut shreds in screwpine infused cream and Palitaw or raised rice flour cakes) and bottomless Iced Tea.  All this for Php150/person amid stone walls and a genteel ambiance, it was certainly worth recalling a bit of history this side of Metro Manila.
Kapitan Moy Building
C. Cruz Street, Barangay San Roque, Marikina City
(across the Church of Our Lady of the Abandoned)
Tel. No. +63 2 646 4303

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