CULTURAL POTPOURRI| Susan M. Antepuesto’s Wild Garlic

IT WAS  a surprise encounter I had with Susan Magno-Antepuesto last Sunday at SM City-Davao.  We reminded each other that by about this time, SM City Davao and Oca G. Casaysay would have invited us already to sit as judges for the Grand Sagala held on the festive month of May.  SM City’s staging of the Grand Sagala in the past was like a religious celebration of the Sta. Cruzan and Flores de Mayo festivals combined.  I think the last one I attended was last 2012.  And Oca couldn’t give me a straight answer as to why it’s not staged anymore thus making the month of May less merrier in Davao City.

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THE Magno family’s Wild Garlic restaurant at DBP Village, Ma-a

“We have to have a get together again with Oca and Maureen Avisado-Siongco at my Wild Garlic restaurant,” invited Susan.  Since Susan opened the Wild Garlic restaurant in 2015 in her family’s residence at DBP Village, Ma-a (just at the back of S&R), I haven’t heard of the place nor has Susan invited me there in the first place.  “Wild Garlic offers traditional and straightforward home-cooked comfort food in a restaurant quality cuisine.  These are dishes that have been passed down to my family from my Ilongga grandmother and Tagalog grandfather.  It’s a fusion of both worlds—the rich and lavish continental cuisine and the simple, native fare,” enticed Susan.

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JOJIE Magno with her blueberry cheesecake

Wild Garlic is a restaurant where people can easily feel at home just as Susan envisioned it to be.  “Happily, from its opening in 2015, Wild Garlic became an instant hit, building a solid following while attracting new set of diners every now and then.  Most of our valued clients look to get a taste of honest, slow-cooked, comfort food that appeals to the Pinoy palate.  We serve our food family style which a lot of Davaoeno families enjoy,” disclosed Rommel Magno, Susan’s brother who is into the construction business.  Indeed, dining at the Wild Garlic with Rommel and Jojie Magno, Man and Susan Antepuesto, Oca Casaysay, Pidot Villocino and the balikbayan from New Jersey, USA, Rey Rivera, was just like having a casual dinner of delightful and lovingly prepared dishes in Susan’s cozy home.  Oh my, but it took us about three hours to finish eating the feast that Susan prepared for us.  Indeed, for Susan, the real joy in cooking is in sharing it.

First served was the Pansit Malabon, the pride of Susan’s family.  “This is the old traditional dish of Malabon which, in the olden days, was one of the most important trading posts just north of Imperial Manila.  The old Malabon was a melting pot of local, Chinese and Spanish traders that influenced the local cuisine of Malabon with the town’s pansit being one of the very first examples of “fusion” food.  Pansit Malabon has a wide spectrum of flavors from the dried, smoked fish, spices and herbs, that is both unique and satisfying,” described the multi-tasking Susan who, with a BS major in History degree from UP Diliman became first a researcher, then a fashion designer cum dressmaker of Isadora and now, a happy and passionate cook.  Then there was Susan’s version of the Kapampangan Sisig which she recommends as a perfect appetite inducer.  Also on the table was the binagoongang baboy, an old and reliable dish of tender pork belly cooked in a salty-sweet shrimp paste.  Proudly touted as Wild Garlic’s best seller is the Grilled Chicken with Garlic Sauce which is Susan’s culinary interpretation of the Portuguese peri-peri, a richly marinated grilled chicken with nine natural herbs and spices.  I loved Ciano’s kare-kare which is done in the rich Tagalog version making it unique by using ground roasted peanuts and pounded rice to thicken the kare-kare sauce.  “Everything is slow-cooked and we don’t do instant or fast food,” said Susan.

Iberian-influenced dishes like callos con chorizo Lucban and mechado, which are rich, tomato-based dishes, never fail to impress me.  To make us less guilty of our Wild Garlic pig out that night, Susan also served vegetable dishes like the ensalada ng nayon and the rich and yummy pechay ni Chuchay which has pechay stuffed with ground pork and fish tinapa; and then simmered in coconut milk.  It’s a more delicate version of the laing.

 For dessert, Jojie Magno presented us with such sinful but heavenly-tasting sweet concoctions such as the blueberry cheesecake, oreo cheesecake and the simple banana turon to go with our barako coffee from GenSan.

I just had to take my Xenical after the three hour long marathon dinner at Wild Garlic.  Indeed, the food tastes even better and quite longer to consume when shared with friends who gossip.

Thank you, Man and Susan Antepuesto and Rommel and Jojie Magno for the delightful Wild Garlic experience.

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