Filipino Wine, Filipino Food

Img_3046

For home consumption, I very rarely purchase bottles of wine for over $10. Rarer still are my purchases of wine for over $20. And when I'm at a nice restaurant, I use my ol' standby for ordering wine: I tap my chin with my forefinger, cock an eyebrow skyward, then order the cheapest bottle on the wine list (it's a classy move).

As I've mentioned many times in this space before, I prefer my brain cells to die by way of fermented grains rather than fermented grapes–I would much rather spend my money on good beer than iffy wine.

It's not that I don't like wine, or don't enjoy wine. It's just that, honestly, besides the generalities, I don't know anything about wine. And when indulging in Filipino food, I instinctively clear my gullet by reaching for the nearest cold beer–be it a San Mig or one of my favorite microbrews.

With all that said, I had to put my predilection for cheap wine aside after discovering a particularly intriguing winery–a winery that promotes the pairing of Filipino food with wine.

Yes, you read that right.

Wine pairing with Filipino food.

It's a concept that many of us, myself included, have never even considered. But it's a concept that perhaps more Filipinos should start experimenting with. Although our cuisine has historically been enjoyed with beer, Filipino food is equally delicious when paired with wine.

Img_3016

Eden Canyon Vineyards is located in California's San Luis Obispo county and is the first winery in the United States to be completely owned and run by Filipino Americans. This was of particular interest to me because Filipinos made up much of the migrant workforce that planted and picked California's grapes throughout the 20th century–a largely unknown and unappreciated part of our history. I even had aunts and uncles that worked the grapefields in the Bakersfield area (not necessarily wine grapes, but the same backbreaking work nonetheless).

After discovering this winery through a random internet search, I looked far and wide for a bottle of its wine at various local wine shops and liquor stores. No luck. But then I figured out that I could actually order Eden Canyon wines through their website and have a bottle delivered to me. Alcohol delivered right to my doorstep? I couldn't resist that now, could I? Of course not.

Including shipping and handling, a bottle of Eden Canyon's 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon costed me almost $45.00–officially the most I've ever spent on a bottle of wine outside of a restaurant. (And yes, I did purchase this wine on my own. I am in no way shape or form being paid to write about this particular winery.)

While waiting for my wine to arrive, I found a couple of articles (here and here) that mentioned how Elaine Villamin, one of the proprietors of Eden Canyon, paired her wines with Filipino dishes. So I decided to contact Elaine via email and ask her straight up what I should prepare with the Cabernet I ordered. It was a shot in the dark, but I was hopeful she would reply.

Luckily, Elaine did reply and suggested a variety of Filipino dishes to pair with Cabernet Sauvignon: kare-kare (oxtails stewed in peanut sauce), adobo with coconut milk, lechon, crispy pata (fried pork knuckles), and caldereta (spicy beef stew).  In my mind's eye (or should I say my mind's tongue) all of these dishes sounded like they would pair very well with a strong red wine, but the caldereta sounded especially good.

Caldereta is like any other beef stew: browned beef and sauteed veggies and aromatics that are cooked in a flavorful liquid for a few hours. But the thing that makes Caldereta uniquely Filipino is that it is usually thickened with pork livers in the form of canned liverwurst. Hey, I see you! Stop making that face! Liverwurst is delicious!

Anyways, to make my Caldereta I browned some chunks of beef chuck, then sauteed some onions, garlic, and carrots, and added some chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, red chili flakes, and a couple of bay leaves. I then added a cup of the red wine to deglaze my pot.

Img_3026

Finally, I added some water to cover and let everything stew for 2 hours. Towards the tail end of the cooking, I threw in some diced potatoes, diced bell peppers, and the mashed chicken livers.

In researching Caldereta, I found that there are 101 ways to make it. Although many recipes called for canned liver pate, I decided to stick with fresh chicken livers. You can also put whatever veggies you like in the stew, or add a small can of tomato sauce for more of a tomato-ey base.

The Caldereta I made was very satisfying. It had a nice bit of heat from the chili flakes, was chock-full of tender cubes of meat, and had a nice difference in texture between the soft vegetables and al dente bell peppers. The Caldereta also didn't taste overly liver-y at all; the chicken livers only enriched and thickened the stew but didn't give any off flavors.

Now, I am by no means a wine expert, but the Cabernet Sauvignon went very well with the spicy Caldereta. There were no competing flavors. The boldness of the red wine stood up to the spice of the stew, and the wine's fruitiness was a nice complement to the Caldereta's richness…

…wow. I had to stop myself. I was starting to sound like that guy that thinks he knows something about wine but really doesn't. I don't mind the dude that actually does know what he's talking about, I just can't stand the wannabe. I hate that guy. I don't want to be that guy. Let me just say this, folks:

Plain and simple, the Eden Canyon Cabernet and the Caldereta just tasted good together.

Ahhhhh, much better sounding, no?

But you don't have to take my word for it. Just take your favorite wine (it doesn't have to be from Eden Canyon Vineyards) and try imagining which of your favorite Filipino dishes will go with it.

For instance, I'm not quite sure what type of wine would match well with the bitterness of Pinakbet. I'm thinking maybe something on the dry side with a little bit of sweetness. Maybe a nice Riesling with a fresh and fruity nose and a dry, crisp aftertaste…

…wait, I was starting to sound like That Guy again. I have no idea what I'm talking about and am just guessing with the Pinakbet/Riesling combo. It might end up tasting good, or it might end up tasting like piss. If it ends up being the latter, I could always wash my mouth out with a cold San Mig, and try another wine pairing the next time.

And that's the point I'm trying to make. You're not going to find perfect pairings every time, but that's the fun of it all. Trial by fire, I say! Even if you don't know anything about wine, or if you have your suspicions about pairing it with Filipino food, you'll only improve your palate and appreciate your food more if you experiment a little. You don't need to be an expert to experiment. 

Wine isn't just for the French and Italians anymore. Wine goes well with any cuisine–including Filipino cuisine. Even a dish as simple and rustic as Beef Caldereta can be elevated and taken to another level with virtuous vino.

In the end, it's just Filipino food paired with wine. And they taste damn good together.

Img_3048

Spicy Beef Caldereta

Serves about 6-8

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium red onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or more to taste
2 large tomatoes, diced
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup full-bodied red wine
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/4 lb. chicken livers, rinsed and drained
1/2 lb. potatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
Juice from 2 kalamansi limes, about 1-2 Tbsp.
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper and sear beef in batches until brown on all sides. Remove browned beef from pot and place in a large bowl. Set aside.

In the same dutch oven over medium heat, saute the onions and carrots until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, and tomato paste and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the red wine and deglaze the pot, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Continue simmering the wine for 5 minutes.

Return the beef to the pot then add the water, soy sauce, and bay leaves. Bring pot to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer and cover for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

After the beef has simmered for 1 hour and 30 minutes, season the chicken livers with salt and pepper. Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to a saute pan over medium-high heat and saute the livers until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.

Img_3028

After livers are cooked through, process in a food processor until smooth. If you don't have a food processor, add cooked livers to a bowl and mash with a fork until as smooth as possible.

Add the mashed chicken livers to the dutch oven and stir well. Add the diced potatoes and continue simmering the pot for 30 more minutes, uncovered.  If stew reduces too much, add more water as desired.

During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the bell peppers and Kalamansi juice and check the stew for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as necessary.

Serve stew in large bowls with or without steamed rice. Provide Tobasco sauce on the side if desired.

Img_3050

 

  • manggy February 20, 2008, 9:20 pm

    Ooh, I love caldereta, especially with lots of chili, tomato sauce, and liver spread :)
    Don’t worry about sounding like “that guy”, hehe… We trust your opinion, you know ­čśë

    Reply
  • TeddyKim February 20, 2008, 9:50 pm

    Very cool find with that winery.
    Do you know if there is much difference in flavor between the canned liver spread and the real deal livers?

    Reply
  • Mila February 21, 2008, 12:17 am

    Pinakbet’s a hard one no? Bitterness of the ampalaya and the saltiness of the fish sauce/bagoong.
    Thanks for the link to Eden Canyon Vineyards, a true blue family enterprise. I hope they’ll eventually be able to sell some in the Philippines.

    Reply
  • dhanggit February 21, 2008, 4:41 am

    im glad to hear about this filipino wine..thanks for the link one reason to piss off again my hubby “that filipinos are everywhere” he ehehe :-)
    i love the idea of using wine in cooking caldereta..i also use wine for my calderate version as you said there are tons of version..i love your version of using real chix liver rather than the canned one full of extenders :-)

    Reply
  • paoix February 21, 2008, 8:34 am

    Great post! I’ve been really trying to get people to embrace wine with Filipino food! It’s a great combo.
    Would you recommend the wine? It’s a little pricey. I’ve heard of them a while back because Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan (Cendrillon / Memories of Philipppine Kitchens) did a wine pairing dinner with this winery. But I’ve yet to try it.

    Reply
  • oggi February 21, 2008, 10:01 am

    I read about this Filipino owned vineyard somewhere but has never tried it. Unfortunately here in VA we can’t order wines by mail, don’t know why.
    The hubby and his father have been taking wines with their meals, Spanish or Filipino dishes don’t matter really. The hubby has a stash of wine bottles that we serve when we have company and some we have on weekends with our dinner. I myself don’t know much about wines but I like the reds that he chooses for any dish.
    I love spicy but without the liver caldereta! Yours looks specially yummy with all that sauce.
    BTW, I have tagged you for the meme over at my blog. Hope you can join.:)

    Reply
  • Pat February 21, 2008, 8:51 pm

    Pairing Asian cuisine and wine is quite a conundrum, especially stronger-flavored dishes ( I can’t imagine what wine would go well with shrimp paste?). I’m thrilled to find out about Eden Canyon, hopefully there’ll be more Asian-American owned wineries to open in the future!

    Reply
  • socky February 21, 2008, 11:42 pm

    $45! But what’s that among friends and kababayans :-) At least you enjoyed the wine.
    Would you know if they have a distributor or trader here in Manila?

    Reply
  • Jen Tan February 22, 2008, 3:01 am

    Looks sooo good Marvin! Hey I love chicken liver too…I find it funny when they make fun of it in American TV shows…how they use it to make kids go ewww…or like some sort of “fear factor” food..hahaha love liver =) ..like chicken liver adobo? now how’s that with wine???
    Caldereta and wine…and why not =)

    Reply
  • Babette February 22, 2008, 6:42 am

    A Fil-Am owned winery, wow, thanks for the info. I would have to ask my dad to order it for me since wine cannot be shipped to MA. (How much is the bottle of wine without S&H?)
    I remember my mom using canned liver spread, I don’t use it though since it’s a pain to find it here in New England.
    You were right, you were starting to sound like ‘That Guy’ on some parts of your post, I prefer the crazy err other guy. LOL Tnx for the visit to my blog, it’s much appreciated.

    Reply
  • Julie February 22, 2008, 11:54 am

    Eden Canyon did a benefit with Ozomatli!!! That increases their radness ten-fold in my book.
    I’m not really a drinker, but deglazing a pot with wine is always a great thing, and in that sense, all wine and liquor gifted to me goes “straight to pot.” I’ll be on the lookout for a bottle of their Cab, but it doesn’t look like they retail.
    As for your caldereta, it really looks yum. I haven’t had any in ages!

    Reply
  • catswalks February 22, 2008, 1:50 pm

    I prefer to serve Filipino food with beer. When forced to serve wine (specially here in Europe), a bottle of cabernet sauvignon is not so bad with our meat dishes…never pair our food with an oaky wine, it just taste bad.

    Reply
  • choy February 22, 2008, 5:47 pm

    your caldereta looks and reads wolfable. will try it soon. with olives.
    in the visayan provinces, we eat everything with either coconut wine (tuba) or beer. sometimes scotch…or brandy.
    anyway,when aged properly, tuba can hold its own against western wines. anytime.come by and experience why and how.
    great blog, by the way.

    Reply
  • white on rice couple February 22, 2008, 8:42 pm

    My filipina customer was mentioning this dish to me the other day (I think). It sounded delicious! Maybe I’ll wait for her to bring it in to me before I try cooking it. I have yet to pair wine with filipino food so your information here is very useful!

    Reply
  • elmomonster February 24, 2008, 12:54 pm

    Whoa. I didn’t know you were so cultured. Even if you go for the cheapest, you actually know what’s good. I can’t tell wine from expired grape juice.

    Reply
  • Hrio February 25, 2008, 4:00 am

    hmm.. would love to have a taste of it

    Reply
  • Burnt Lumpia February 26, 2008, 9:22 am

    Thanks Manggy, although I don’t think anyone should trust my opinion on wine.
    Hi TK. I actually don’t know if there is a difference in flavor as I don’t think I’ve had the liver spread before.
    Pinakbet is tough one, Mila. I’m really not sure if anything would pair well with it.
    We ARE everywhere dhanggit!
    Hi Paoix. It is a pricey wine, for me at least, for others it’s probably a drop in the bucket. But I do highly recommend the wine, at least just to try it once.
    I guess liquor laws are different in different states, oggi. You should try the caldereta with liver though!
    Hi Pat! There must be some world-class sommelier out there that can help us Asians out;)
    Hello there, Socky! I don’t know if they have distributors in Manila. Your best bet would be to check out there website and contact them directly.
    Hi Jen. I agree, chicken livers are delicious and more people should give them a try.
    Babette, without S&H, I think the wine was $34.
    I read about that Ozo benefit too, Julie. So I figured they couldn’t be all that bad;)
    Thanks for stopping by, catswalks. And thanks for the tip about oaky wines, I’ll steer clear of those when I’m eating Filipino food.
    Hi choy! Tuba, beer, scotch, and brandy! You sound like my kind of dining companion. Thanks for visiting my blog.
    W.O.R.C, you are very lucky to have someone bring you food like that. I’m sure you’d enjoy caldereta though.
    Ha, I’m not that cultured at all elmo. I don’t really know what’s good at all, low price drives my decisions rather than any discernable taste for wine.
    Hi Hrio, it’s definitely a good tasting wine.

    Reply
  • Wandering Chopsticks February 26, 2008, 12:52 pm

    Dear Marvin, Can I have your autograph? ­čśŤ
    You did great! And you look much better without a lumpia covering your face. ­čśë
    Whoohoo! I got you to mention Vietnamese food. :)
    What’s up with the hostess? You don’t interview a food blogger about gossip blogging?! WTH?
    Here’s the exact link to the video everyone.
    http://www.la18.tv/Video.aspx?vid=c55e58f0-8145-4286-8177-f29503eddea0
    And to upload on your blog, well, I don’t know if typepad works the same way as blogger, but paste this into the edit html version and it should show up.

    Reply
  • joey February 26, 2008, 10:05 pm

    So nice to know that there is a Fil-Am owned winery over there! I hope they start selling over here…would love to try it!
    I use wine in Filipino cooking a lot (ok, I use booze in any cooking a lot)…I de-glaze with wine for binagoongan baboy…really good! :)

    Reply
  • Krizia February 28, 2008, 3:15 pm

    Geez Marvin! You’re hardcore. This is taking it to a whoooole ‘nother level!

    Reply
  • Steph May 17, 2008, 8:01 am

    I love your blog! I just came upon it through my friend Arnold (inuyaki.com)…I am also trying to build my repertoire of Filipino cooking skills which often entails calling my parents and asking, “How do you make ___?” I also have the Cendrillon cookbook, which is a nice reference for those who need a little more structure than the “Oh, just add a little bit of this and that…I don’t know how much!” you’ll get from the parents. Sadly, my blogging of the endeavor hasn’t been as dedicated as yours and Arnold’s. Thanks for sharing your recipes and experiences! I’m def going to bookmark your blog.
    On another note, for the pinakbet wine pairing, what about a gewurztraminer? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gew├╝rztraminer

    Reply
  • Heather October 5, 2009, 7:51 am

    I made this recipe this past Friday as written. I used a full bodied Cabernet, unfortunately not the same kind you recommended. I thought the Caldera was excellent as you wrote it and rich with flavor. But then when my Filipino friend tried it, he said it was good but he normally has it a little sweeter. He is from the Ilocos Norte (I don’t know if that makes any difference in how they would prepare it). Well I did some research and could hardly find any that had sugar. There was one I found that was a pork caldereta and it had pineapple juice added as a sweetener. But for the most part none of the recipes contained any added sugar. What gives? By the way I made Bibingka and the blog on my Tinola is on my site if you want to check it out. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Vince July 26, 2012, 5:01 pm

    I just made this for my family tonight and they loved it! Thank you for the wonderful and delicious recipe.

    Reply
  • Filivino May 17, 2016, 4:25 pm

    Yes to this!

    Everyone family get together seems to be Lechon (Ok, not EVERY one has Lechon) Pabalok, Lumpia (and everything else you can deep fry), etc. and having a couple of great bottles out really seems to help refine the experience a bit. not that there’s anything wrong with a San Mig, but the right wine seems to enhance the experience that much more.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Next post:

Previous post: