The Malagos Book Will Start Your Love Affair With Philippine Chocolate
You will probably reach for the Malagos Book of Chocolate for the simple reason that it is a book of chocolate recipes, from the usual desserts to lechon kawali tostada and kare-kare. But more than that, the Malagos Book of Chocolate is a bible for anyone who's had or continues to have an infatuation with cacao; more importantly, it's the first book to throw the spotlight on fine chocolate from Davao.
The book, which is launched tomorrow, August 2, in time for Malagos' 6th anniversary, is so much more than a list of all the things you could use with chocolate. If anything, it's proof of the quality of local cacao and how far it's come especially in the last few years. In her introduction, chef and restaurateur Amy Besa recalls how an acquaintance approached her in New York with a block of tablea from Mindanao and plans to import local chocolate. Plans fell through, but Besa was introduced to the potential of Philippine cacao. Fast forward to 2011, when Besa and her husband Romy Dorotan opened Purple Yam in Malate, they tapped Malagos chocolate to create their desserts.
Philippine chocolate has come a long way, from potential to prestige, present in international competitons and enjoyed all over the world. Rex Puentespina of Malagos writes:
"If you have told me fifteen years ago that the patch of trees we say every day on the edge of our farm would one day yield cacao beans that would be at the most prestigious chocolate competitions in the world, I would not have believed it. If you had gone on to tell me that this chocolate would bear the name of the place where our farm is located, and that we ourselves would be making this magical transformation from tree to bar, I would have thought you were crazy."
There's still room for local cacao industry to grow. When asked if most Filipinos are aware of the country's chocolates, the book's author, Clinton Palanca, replies, "not nearly enough." "There's every reason to use Philippine chocolate rather than imported, but some chefs continue to use the well-known brands out of habit." Malagos is hardly the kind you'd find near the cash register. He emphasizes that it is a luxury single-origin chocolate that comes from Davao.
Palanca helped produce the book with editor-in-chief and photographer Neal Oshima, who started the project, and anthologist Chef Ginny de Guzman, who was tapped by Rex for the book idea. The three of them contacted chefs they knew to contribute recipes as well as chefs who started using Malagos from the very beginning. Featured chefs include Savage's Josh Boutwood and Sarsa's JP Anglo.
The Malagos Book of Chocolate is currently available at Wofex (August 1 to 8, SMX Convention Center, Pasay City) and online.