Friday, September 14, 2007

Delights that have taken on a Fijian twist

In the hope of making the Fijian Dinner Buffet more inviting to guests, certain bounderies have to be broken to infuse concoctions that invoke a Pacific Island character. Fiji and Philippines share very similar agricultural produce. Hence, I have primarily introduced Filipino desserts into the local fare and added local flavors to qualify it as Fijian.

In the picture above, Keke, one of my staffs, is preparing the KUMALA Tartlets. Kumala means sweet potato. It is moist and lightly sweet. It is chiefly comprised of butter, eggs, milk and sugar.
Umm Ali is one of my favorite Arabic desserts. However, it needs to be more tropical in nature so I added coconut milk. Despite my hesitation in the addition of rose petal flavor, guests actually love the combination. It is selling more than the traditional bread and butter pudding which I find more rich and filling.

This is a truly fijian invention: Vudi or plaintain bananas enrobed with a mixture of grated cassava, sugar and grated coconut. It is a very wonderful dessert. It is neither too sweet or too rich. The caramel sauce provides a very good contrast of flavors and makes you want to grab one more serving.

Filomena is grating the coconut which will be used to coat a popular Filipino dessert called Pichi-Pichi. The coconut grater came all the way from the Philippines. I have to hide it gingerly in my luggage or else airport officers might question me for bringing an ancient, weird-looking tool.

Pichi-Pichi! One that tops my list of favorite native desserts. It is a very simple recipe made of sugar, grated cassava and flavored water. In the Philippines, Pandan is used to provide flavor while in Fiji I used Vandra. Vandra is more popular for making tobacco than for cooking or baking.

My pastry team sans the bakers. It is difficult to find well-skilled or well-experienced chefs on the island. It is very much a hands-on job for me.

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