La Comida de la Cocina de Tita Moning | The Food from the Kitchen of Tita Moning

From vajillas la Cartuja de Sevilla to the Murano centerpieces, dining at La Cocina de Tita Moning gives you the authentic Manileño meal our grandparents found pretty ordinary from before.

From vajillas la Cartuja de Sevilla to the Murano centerpieces, dining at La Cocina de Tita Moning gives you the authentic Manileño meal our grandparents found pretty ordinary from before.

As La Cocina de Tita Moning makes her final bow to the general public this coming 31 May 2016, I can only help but remember and be thankful for the savory family recipes I was able to try myself in the numerous visits I made in the former home of Dr. Alejandro Roces Legarda and his wife, Ramona Hernández or Tita Moning to her family and friends.

For the love of food! China Diaz, Suzette Montinola and myself at the World Street Food Congress held last April. The event was organized by the Tourism Promotions Board, Ayala Malls and Makansutra.

For the love of food! China Diaz, Suzette Montinola and myself at the World Street Food Congress held last April. The event was organized by the Tourism Promotions Board, Ayala Malls and Makansutra.

In another post about La Cocina de Tita Moning’s role in my tours, I shared that the owner of the restaurant, Suzette L. Montinola generously came up with a customized merienda menu for my tour groups. The menu was quite hefty for merienda but it was what my guests needed after hours of walking: toast bread with queso de bola spread (a signature La Cocina de Tita Moning product), sotanghon guisado, chicken relleno (that reminds me of so many Christmas meals), leche flan and pandan iced tea.

A member of the household staff serving paella for my tour guests.

A member of the household staff serving paella for my tour guests.

Claudia, Nicole and I at the sala of La Cocina. Claudia was for a time a vegetarian but when she saw the chicken relleno at La Cocina, she ate it with much gusto!

Claudia, Nicole and I at the sala of La Cocina. Claudia was for a time a vegetarian but when she saw the chicken relleno at La Cocina, she ate it with much gusto!

On other occasions, I was fortunate to have feasted on La Cocina de Tita Moning’s elaborate menus, which were reasonably priced considering the set choices covered soup until coffee/tea in the end. My personal favorites were:

The Molo Soup with papayas.

Sopa de Molo. Served hot and with gratings of papaya. Sarah!

Sopa de Molo. Served hot and with gratings of papaya. Sarah!

The baked Lapu-Lapu with lemon, garlic and butter sauce.

Whole baked Lapu-Lapu. This is served with a crusty skin and with meat that is tender and milky. It is complemented by a salty-tangy butter garlic sauce.

Whole baked Lapu-Lapu. This is served with a crusty skin and with meat that is tender and milky. It is complemented by a salty-tangy butter garlic sauce.

Their roast pork with crispy cracklings.

Roast pork with cracklings.

Roast pork with cracklings.

And the best of all: Tita Moning’s wonderfully fluffy, decadent and unapologetically sweet bread and butter pudding with candied pili nuts, a hit among Manila’s society matrons from way before.

They call it the best in Manila, and it had been so for decades. Tita Moning's bread and butter pudding with candied pili. Its as if you're biting into a pillow of buttery goodness!

They call it the best in Manila, and it had been so for decades. Tita Moning’s bread and butter pudding with candied pili. Its as if you’re biting into a pillow of buttery goodness!

One of the most sublime features of food is that it provokes memories. Tastes, aromas, textures, temperatures, presentation – all these can evoke stories from the past. In La Cocina de Tita Moning, nothing was more palpable for me but that strong feeling of eating the labors of love of one’s Lola or grandmother. My Lola herself was an excellent cook who specialized in Fil-Hispanic food. Her morcon, galantina, rellenos, embotidos, roast chicken, kare-kare, Pio Nonos, rostrillos, pancit palabok, steamed fish, home-made pancake and waffle mixes – oh my, the list is long – all those were prepared with much intensity and yes, good taste. The reason why my family loves to cook and eat is precisely her.

A photo myself with my Spanish teacher, Señora Chita Rosales.

A photo myself with my Spanish teacher, Señora Chita Rosales.

Whenever I visit La Cocina de Tita Moning, I always remember my own grandparents’ house – LIFE magazines, the reproduction paintings, the first Holy Communion photographs, bottles of old perfumes, the centrality of the dining table – all these were old Manila family house staples.

The patio at night. Adios!

With La Cocina de Tita Moning closing, I can’t help but feel that yearning for a place where I can eat dishes strongly associated with that generation of women who were born to a Manila of fine manners, exceptional taste and a proud Fil-Hispanic heritage.

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One thought on “La Comida de la Cocina de Tita Moning | The Food from the Kitchen of Tita Moning

  1. Pingback: Why I Will Miss La Cocina de Tita Moning | HECHO AYER

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