Thursday, April 17, 2014

19th century dining at La Cocina de Tita Moning

Old Manila opulence combined with great-tasting food makes La Cocina de Tita Moning not just a restaurant but a dining experience.

Upon arriving at the Legarda Mansion where La Cocina is located, mi amigas y yo were ushered at the sala and given complimentary drinks and pica-pica, in the same fashion one would receive guests in his home. 

The lemongrass iced tea was refreshing while the warm ladyfinger toasts loaded with their decadent queso de bola spread was truly appetizing that I even brought home a jar!

After taking our orders, a guide gave us a tour of the mansion (which I’ll write about in a separate post). We found out that Tita Moning is actually Doñ Ramona, the wife of Don Alejandro of the illustrious Legarda clan.

After exploring the casa, we were seated on our designated table in the comedor. The set-up itself is already remarkable as rose petals and lit candles were attractively placed on the elegant table cloth. I was excited to use the Legardas’ antique collection of china, glassware and silverware.

Adding to the experience is a personalized print-out of the menu we will be having. A small campana is also placed at the head of the table to call the staff, just like how they did back in the good old days.

For our lavish multi-course meal, they first served bread and butter. Of interest is the salsa monja on the table. It is a condiment made of pickled shallots and olives made by nuns for the Spanish friars to accompany meals. It is suggested that you eat it together with the other dishes to make it more delicioso.

For starters, we had two kinds of ensaladas—(1) fresh organic greens with herbs, poached egg, roasted pumpkin & davao goat cheese, and (2) salad with caramelized walnuts and cheese.

Their sopa de oro (cream of pumpkin soup) is very rich, delicious and filling.

Next, is whole baked lapu-lapu and grilled eggplant with homemade vinaigrette. I must say that this is the best-tasting baked lapu-lapu i had! It is oven-baked in olive oil & garlic.

I noticed that the waitresses were scooping the food on our plates instead of placing the serving dish on the table. I guess this is how the “old rich” dined in the 1930s.

We then had Tita Moning’s signature dish of slowly roasted pork with its own cracklings served with candied sweet camote. The candied sweet camote alone is too die for!

As if it is not yet enough, we also had tender lengua cooked in white wine, sautéed fresh vegetables and their famous paella valenciana served in a dainty paellera.

To cap it off, we were served with a Legarda original, the bread pudding topped with candied pili nuts. This is unlike the usual pudding that i was accustomed to because it is soft and like leche flan. And the hot choco is good for that afternoon siesta too!

Though the cost of dining here is about PhP 1,000 to PhP 2,000 per person (at regular prices), it is definitely worth every centavo. Muy deliciosio food served in style is definitely priceless.

La Cocina de Tita Moning
315 San Rafael St. San Miguel District, Manila.
By reservation only: Telefax: 734-2141

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