Gata, or coconut cream has been a food staple in my family for years. For one, having a lineage rooted in Quezon, I was exposed to cuisine with tons of gata. From Laing to tinuto, I got the hang of having this creamy soup. Now, there are different ways to cook gata. Quezon definitely has a difference with their neighbor Bicol. Bicol is what everyone knows as the center of spice and gata. I have eaten countless laing and bicol express from different restaurants but none can compete with the flavors I have been accustomed too. Until Market Manila posted about the joy of eating Tita Cely’s food.
Tita Cely is a stall in Market!Market! and she prides herself in serving great Bicolano food. I knew I just had to try it! I managed to eat their Bicol Express, Laing, and Ginatang Kohol. All were lovely dishes although slightly different from what I was used to. Her Bicol Express would be similar to the a ginataang sili (trans. chili) on our end, sans the spice. She used the spicy green sili used for our sinigang rather than the non-spicy one which I don’t even know where my aunts and uncles get. Her laing was good but sweet for my taste. But her laing is as good as our local tinuto wherein taro leaves looks like mush (but tastes oh so good!). It was just sweet for my palate but it does taste great.
The winning dish for me was the Ginatang Kohol. This is a lovely dish of snails stewed in coconut cream and… bagoong. >w< Yes! It's hard to believe that a concoction of coconut cream and bagoong would actually work! My uncle has tried this before but with great failure! Not Tita Cely. Her Ginatang Kohol rocks my socks off that I'm a firm believer that bagoong and coconut cream could work. :3 The thing with Tita Cely is she totally shows her mastery of gata. She knows how to cook the coconut cream and it shows in her cuisine. Although, in the end, some of her flavors were not to my taste, but I'd have to say that she does cook them a lot better than other Filipino fare restaurants and stalls.