Cooking Comfort: What Makes These Epicures Feel Good Amid Pandemic

Nothing can make us feel better these days than indulging in comfort food—and these enthusiasts share with us their favorites.

As we deal with the impact of the pandemic and the long quarantine in the country, it is only natural for us to keep finding and creating ways to comfort ourselves. Self-care turned into a priority these days, and one way of doing it is cooking or indulging in our favorite nibbles and dishes. We speak with food enthusiasts from the social set to share their comfort food and go-to destinations for their favorite snacks, dishes, and desserts.

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Nina Alegre.

Nina Alegre

In the early days of the quarantine, anxiety was high and continues to linger until now that the year is closing. Like many, Nina experiences and tries to manage her worries about this crisis and the future. To help her cope, she enjoys ordering shrimp, beef, and chicken tacos from Lagrima. She would munch on them while watching her favorite Netflix shows, enveloping herself with a comfortable situation.

Beyond satiating her cravings, Nina shares her passion for baking. “I actually enjoy preparing banana bread for my family. I recently opened an online store called NatBakes,” she shares. Here, she bakes addicting banana bread in Classic and Chocolate flavors, the latter topped with chocolate chips. 

Banana Bread baked by Nina.

When asked for her drink pairing, she says any type of beer is perfect for her tacos, but if she had to choose one, it would be her favorite, Stella Artois. “For the banana bread, I usually have it with cold milk or even coffee,” she adds. Her choices for snacks may be different, but these two complement each other, ultimately giving her comfort amid the anxieties of the pandemic.

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Carla Magsaysay.
Mendokoro Ramenba’s Karai Tokusei Tsukemen.

Carla Magsaysay

“My go-to comfort food is ramen from Mendokoro Ramenba,” says the Locavore Kitchen and Drinks co-founder. A steaming bowl of Karai Tokusei Tsukemen with extra egg, gyoza, and chashu can bring her warmth and can satisfy Carla’s appetite from the burst of savory flavors. Together with this ramen, she orders Duck Lugaw from Locavore with a side order of TBPL (tofu, baboy or pork, pato or duck, and lengua). “I just combine those two orders and put all the condiments that come with the lugaw, and it tastes and feels almost better than a hug,” she elaborates.

Karai Tokusei Tsukemen.

When it comes to pairing comfort food with drinks, she shares, “cocktails and wine are comfort food on their own these days.” Nevertheless, she admits to pairing pasta with wine that at day time, she chooses white, but at night, she likes to have Kirkwood Merlot or Bread and Butter Pinot Noir.

If Carla is not in the mood to order, her fridge always has homemade Pinoy lasagna she can easily heat up. For creating a big tray, she shares the recipe:

Meat Sauce:
¾ kg of ground beef
2 onions, minced
1 garlic, head minced
3 carrots, medium-sized, minced
2 cans of Campbell’s cream of mushroom
1 can of button mushrooms
1kg of Clara ole Italian style spaghetti sauce
1kg of Clara ole sweet style spaghetti sauce
Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper

Sautee garlic and onions add carrots. Once cooked, add ground beef. Put salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Combine all other ingredients one by one and add more salt and pepper to taste.

½ cup of butter
2 cups of flour
1 liter of Full cream milk
½ liter of Cooking cream
Parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

First, heat the butter and then add flour, cook for three minutes. Add full cream milk, let it boil, and add cooking cream. After more boiling, put nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste, and finally, spruce with parsley.

Boil lasagna noodles with salt in water. I cut the cooking time by two to three minutes because I don’t like it overcooked when I take it out of the oven.

Chopped Parsley
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

I put a thin layer of meat sauce first, then lasagna noodles, a thick layer of meat sauce, and bechamel. Repeat until the tray is filled. Once done, bechamel should be the last layer. Add more chopped parsley and your grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Put in the oven on high until the top is brown. Let it cool before enjoying it.

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Pamela Gonzales Lopez.
Pancit Palabok.

Pamela Gonzales Lopez

Uncertainty about the future continues to take a toll on many, and Pamela is no different. “The pandemic brought a myriad of emotions, both highs and lows, month after month,” she says. Thus, it is no surprise for people to have cravings, guilty pleasures, and indulge in these now and then. For Pamela, the Palabok at Benny’s Place is her go-to comfort food. “It reminded me so much of my childhood at my paternal grandmother’s house during Sunday lunches,” she explains.

At home, she whips up her family’s recipe Lentejas, a staple at their house. With a base of lentils and tomatoes, the warm and savory profile of the soup is elevated with the addition of chorizo. Beyond this house staple, Pamela shares her love for fizzy drinks like LaCroix sparkling water. “It’s a total thirst quencher and helps with the flavors of the food. Plus, it’s [zero] calories [and thus,] it’s less the guilt, too,” she exclaims with enthusiasm.

Daniela Medalla.
Avo Toast.

Daniela Medalla

As the quarantine in the country continues, Daniela prefers to have her favorite dishes and treats delivered at home. Among those that give her comfort are the Uncommon Cookies of Real Food, DF-GF chocolate barks from Earth Desserts, and Japanese cuisine from Miyazaki. When she is in the mood for gluten-free bread from Charlie and Angus Home Kitchen, “I would have some avo toast in the morning (toppings depends on what’s available in the [fridge]), have a tuna sandwich or a DIY pizza type of merienda,” Daniela says.

Daniela likes to munch on Avo Toast while finishing her tasks.

She has a particular fondness for avo toast that she tries on and mixes ingredients to create new flavors. Her usual one includes alfalfa sprouts, egg, chili flakes, and any greens currently available at their home. “Sometimes I put in any of the following depending on what’s available: kimchi, mushrooms, tomatoes, shredded chicken, and tuna,” she adds.

When it comes to drinks, she usually takes gin or tequila on the rocks, making sure not to add tonic to lessen the sugar intake. For wine, she prefers Hope’s End or Tapas Tempranillo, both a wonderful blend of red.

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