Fresh Filipino: Sariwa Pop Up

In a blog post I wrote a few months ago, I talked about the unbalanced meal I had from a Filipino restaurant. Vegetables may have been on one dish they served. I was interviewed by a friend of mine for a project she was working on for a class that dealt with food problems in public health. The outcome of the course was a lovely event called Sariwa or fresh in Tagalog.

Sariwa was a Pop Up dinner that occurred last Saturday at Cafe La Pena in Berkeley serving Filipino food. Ironically, the center pieces at the table were a variety of fresh colorful vegetables typically used in traditional Filipino foods.

There were two choices of main plates to choose from which worked out perfectly for my friend and I to be able to try both.

Bicol express was the vegetarian option with mushrooms with sliced green beans, lemongrass, chili, crisp tofu, and coconut sauce. I was impressed by how delicious and flavorful this vegetarian dish could be.

Bicolana adobo was tender chicken and kabocha simmered with a tangy sauce of coconut, chilies, vinegar, and tamari. This tasted like no chicken adobo I have ever had. I could taste the California freshness brought out in this dish.

Both dishes came with brown turmeric rice and a fresh salad of grapefruit, orange, radish, jicama, tomato, baby greens, and tamarind vinaigrette. These sides balanced the dishes very well.

There were two choice of dessert which we were able to enjoy.

One dessert was the chocolate bibingka with strawberries from Salinas. I was pleasantly surprised by the chewy consistency.
The cashew calamansi cheesecake was the second dessert and a vegan option. This was the one thing I didn’t enjoy from the entire meal.

Aileen, one of the students and also the chef, came out to thank everyone for coming. I was appreciative of the great food, company, and experience.