What did Nigella Lawson do and eat in Manila?
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Nigella Lawson, known as TV’s “domestic goddess”, was recently in Manila to introduce Contadina products to the Philippine market.
To those who have watched her on TV, the former editor and columnist, who has authored ten books, represents simplicity in cooking. Her recipes normally utilize very few ingredients and are easy to follow.
My late cousin Chelo was a huge fan of Nigella! Because of her, I just knew I had to go to this event.

Nigella Lawson and Sam Oh
Nigella Lawson with event host Sam Oh

Six months ago, Del Monte Philippines contacted Nigella on the possibility of endorsing a brand created in 1914 by three Italian immigrants in the United States.
The Contadina brand, which was originally owned by California-based Del Monte Foods Inc. and acquired by Del Monte Pacific Limited, is focused on products such as canned tomatoes, pasta sauces, pasta and olive oils.
The products are made of the finest quality ingredients sourced from the best-producing region such as Andalusia, Spain (olives); Canada (pasta); Italy (sauces); and California (canned tomatoes).

Contadina Products2

“She wanted to try the products before giving us an answer,” said Justine Ferrer, Group Product Manager of Del Monte Philippines. “We had to ship the products to Nigella in London from different parts of the world, because we didn’t have them here at that time.”
Ferrer said they chose Nigella because she represents the brand’s philosophy of simplicity and authenticity in cooking.

“Crates and crates of products arrived at my house and I tried them all,” said Nigella during Contadina’s media launch at The Enderun Tent at The Fort.
“I cooked spaghetti and kept it pretty plain with Contadina’s extra virgin olive oil, chili powder and garlic. I made tomato sauce with some meatballs. I also made penne à la vodka with the Formaggio Pasta Sauce,” she added.

Nigella Lawson

Her cooking philosophy—achieve maximum flavor wit minimum effort—perfectly fits Contadina’s brand DNA.
Nigella loved the idea of how she can prepare something in an instant should friends come over for dinner. For instance, she can make bruschetta with bread using Contadina’s Stewed Tomatoes.

Contadina market place

While in Manila, Nigella said she has eaten “more than any human being should have.”
She had sisig, four kinds of adobo (“three of them in one night), leche flan, sinigang, menudo and “noodles with a shrimp broth-based sauce”.
She also went to Salcedo Market over the weekend and had a “giant chicken skewer.”

Thank you Marion and Eugene for introducing me to the joys of Sisig! #filipinofood ??

A photo posted by Nigella (@nigellalawson) on

Lechon Pata – divine deep-fried pig's trotter #filipinofood ??

A photo posted by Nigella (@nigellalawson) on

“I love how Filipino food perfectly melds sour and soy flavors, like in adobo,” she said.
She loves how Filipino food seems complicated but actually is just a combination of different flavors that burst in one’s mouth.

Although she loves to play with flavors while cooking, Nigella likes to eat simply. She fell in love with Italian food while working as a chambermaid in Italy when she was 19 years old.
Her book Nigellisima is her love letter to the country. Living in Italy also changed the way she felt about pasta and how it is prepared.


“The first thing I noticed is that portions were smaller, and that the pasta itself was
‘respected’ and not treated just like a vehicle for the sauce. It was a real partnership between the two elements, and the pasta wasn’t swamped with too much sauce. The Italians have a very fixed view of what kind of sauce goes with what shape of pasta. I also learnt certain rules—that cheese is never grated over pasta with any fish or seafood, for example. But I think the lesson I learnt was that simplicity is key. It’s not about using fancy techniques or a huge amount of ingredients.”

She likes using olive oil in her cooking and normally uses the regular olive oil for frying or sautéing because extra virgin smokes easily. For drizzling over already cooked dishes, Nigella uses extra virgin olive oil.

Contadina products

Another cooking tip from Nigella, which she learned from the Italians, is to make the water for cooking pasta “as salty as the Mediterranean.” She uses one cup of the cooking water and adds a bit of that as she tosses the pasta and sauce.
“For cooking, I have no secret ingredients. I make sure I use the ingredients that are best for me. That’s why I am proud to be partnering with Contadina,” said Nigella.

Nigella Lawson and Sam Oh

During the launch, Chef JP Anglo, Daphne Oseña Paez and Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi competed in a cook-off using Contadina products with Nigella Lawson as judge
Guests were divided into three teams. I joined Team JP.
First, he briefed us on what he was going to make: squid pasta with tomatoes, lemongrass, queso de bola and Tanduay white.

JP Anglo's station

Some of them chopped and helped cook pasta, while I took photos

JP Anglo's station

The Domestic Goddess dropped by our station to talk to the Chef

JP Anglo's station

I watched as JP carefully plated his dish

JP Anglo's station

And he won!
PS. I heard later on that Nigella finished the entire plate instead of just having a taste.

JP Anglo's station

The Contadina line consists of Mediterranean cuisine essentials, including:

Olive Oils (Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pure Olive Oil)
Made from the fine olives grown in Andalusia, Spain. The aroma is very distinct; one can really smell the notes of freshly-cut greens and fruits. The taste of olives is very pleasant and enhances the flavor of any recipe without overpowering the other ingredients.

Contadina market place

Pasta (Spaghetti, Linguini, Penne)
Made from 100% Canadian Durum Wheat Semolina known for its fine texture and ability to create firm pasta with the right bounciness and golden, creamy color.

Contadina Products

Pasta Sauces (Formaggio, Napoletana, Arrabbiata, Aglio Arrostito, Pesto Alla Genovese)
From Italy, very fresh and flavorful, like they were bottled yesterday uses authentic Grana Padano cheese and fresh Italian herbs.

Contadina market place

Canned Tomatoes (Diced Tomatoes, Crushed Tomatoes, Diced Tomatoes with Italian Herbs, Stewed Tomatoes Italian Recipe)
From California, known for producing Roma Tomatoes with juicy and meaty flesh. The cuts, particularly for the Diced and Stewed variants, are very clean and the shape is preserved even after cooking.

Contadina products

Contandina is now available at leading supermarkets.
To know more, follow Contadina on Facebook.

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The food are so delicious.. 🙂


Jay Lozada

Sunny also gave me a box of tocino del cielo for Christmas 😛