IT’S THE SMALL THINGS
By ALEX M. EDUQUE
Over the long weekend that had just passed, with the exception of an overnight trip, my family and I decided on a staycation in Manila. There’s something that is rather charming and restful about the peace and quiet of this otherwise hustling city when everyone packs their bags and takes off for an extended break. We decided to go up to Tagaytay on November first to dine in an all-time favorite – Antonio’s, which is always worth the drive, and never fails to satisfy. But since we decided to go quite early on in the day, lunch found us at Tootsie’s – another one on my most frequented food destinations in Tagaytay for a notch above your typical home-cooked, but true honest-to-goodness comfort food. Though it’s been around for a bit, I don’t feel enough people know about this not-so-hidden secret gem of a place. The perfect pit stop for a meal.
I must start this off with a disclaimer – the restaurateur behind this venture, Tootsie Marco, is my aunt, my dads first cousin. An homage to heritage if you will, all the dishes served are family favorites that are either straight out of her kitchen, or that have been passed down through generations. Some have an added flair by Chef Ed Quimson, but other than that, Tita Tootsie has decided to essentially open up her kitchen, and share some of her most prized recipes (including her father’s, her children’s, and grand-children’s favorites) with everyone. And what a treat this is!
My first foray into her cooking was as an eight-year-old in the La Loma cemetery. Every year, the Eduque family comes together to pay respect to our ancestors who have passed away, and it has become tradition to bring along adobo flakes – easily the best in my books – among some other dishes. I kid you not when I tell you that I would look forward to that yearly ritual simply because of that adobo which is like no other. And believe me when I tell you that adobo has to be especially good for me to rave about it as it is not always my top-of-mind pick when it comes to food. Served with fried señorita bananas at Tootsie’s, it is a must order for me every time I make the trip up there, and I am more likely than not to walk out with an order or two that I take home with me and re-heat for days to come. It is just that good! Other than that, I enjoy very much their crispy tadyang, lumpia ubud petite, the traditional Ilonggo chorizo with a steaming hot bowl of rice. The pancit molo which is another family favorite is a must try, as well as their ube palitaw which I love as well. Nothing though, comes close to the adobo flakes, so please do me a favor and plan a trip to try it out? I promise you, there will be absolutely no regret. Trust me when I tell you to take advantage of this home-kitchen being opened up to you –it will hit the spot and the craving you didn’t even know you had.
The foodie in me always enjoys discovering new gastronomic delights, but nothing quite comes close to comfort food I’ve grown up with to satisfy my forever hungry self. When there is a heart to cooking, and when a lot of love is poured into a recipe, it just makes the meal so much more meaningful, and that somewhat translates into the taste. Such are the dishes at Tootsie’s – made even richer by heritage, and more flavorful with the flair that comes with the family tradition.
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Tootsie’s is located at Aguinaldo Highway, Crossing Silang East, Tagaytay. For reservations and/or inquiries, you may contact them at (046) 483-4629.