One of my hobbies lately is tracking the development and progression of this trend called the “Filipino Food Movement.” It’s a hashtag I’ve been using to promote my own culture’s food–more often when I eat out but also on the rare occasion when I cook something at home. I’m hoping Filipino food gets more traction internationally, just like how Vietnamese, Korean, and Thai food are familiar to Western palates now.
In support of such awareness and growth of Filipino cuisine in my own neighborhood, I attended one of Irenia Supper Club‘s pop-up dinners in Costa Mesa, CA. Yesterday was my first time going to such an event, and it was a great introduction into the world of fine dining. Irenia Supper Club is the brainchild of Chef Ryan Garlitos, who named his restaurant after his grandmother Irenia. “…the Irenia Supper Club aims to create modern Filipino inspired dishes that are reflective of grandmother’s style and values and also demonstrate Chef’s commitment to making deliciously imaginative plates. Currently a monthly Pop-Up Supper Club, Irenia’s long-term goal is to operate as a brick and mortar restaurant in Orange County.”1
Last night’s dinner was six courses prepared by two teams: Chef Garlitos and the folks from Irenia Supper Club, and Chefs Nate Overstreet and Ashly Amador of Wheat and Sons Butcher. I should clarify that not all the courses were strictly Filipino-based, but the non-Filipino dishes presented flavors that remind me a lot of Spanish cuisine, but within an American framework.
Here are the six courses from the dinner:
1. Salad Sariwa (Tagalog for “fresh”)
I wanted more salad so I could eat more dressing >_> 😀
2. Dungeness Crab Conserva
I would call this a very friendly, comforting introduction to chicken tinola soup. My own family tends to make theirs with a little more ginger/lemon edge with chicken drumsticks in a big pot. The version above is definitely a more elegant, muted take on what I remember from youth.
4. Mussels Caldo Verde
A hearty thick broth with potatoes, tomatoes, and chopped sausage. Almost reminded me of gumbo with the smoky sausage.
I’ve made afritada for myself before–but only with chicken thigh. This pork shoulder was tender, but a little dry. I much prefer making this dish with chicken. Nevertheless, the roasted carrot and shishito was a treat for me, and I could spoon the sauce over rice for days.
6. Cassava Cake
I’m not much of a coconut or cassava fan but this was delicious and not too sweet! Win win.
Overall the dinner was well-executed, and I could not have asked for a nicer first pop-up supper. I am looking forward to attending the Los Angeles series of dinners by Lasa LA.
If you’re in the Southern California area and want to learn more about fine dining and Filipino cuisine check out the following:
Irenia Supper Club (Orange County)
Lasa LA (Los Angeles)
It feels good to learn new things every day! 🙂