Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Filipino Picnic Food from Tita Li’s Kitchen at the Pines Market in Circle Pines

By Phyllis Louise Harris
June 2013

Lumpia, langonisa, empanadas, lengua machado and ube rolls would make a very tasty picnic and are some of the dishes available for takeout at the Pines Market every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. when Mena-li Canlas and her staff offer their Filipino Sunday brunches.  If meat and vegetable wraps (lumpia), pork sausage links (langonisa), deep fried meat and vegetable puffs (empanadas), sliced beef tongue (lengua mechado) and cake rolls (ube) are some of your favorite foods stop by the Pines Market, 2 South Pine Drive in Circle Pines on Sunday, then head down Lexington Avenue to Como Park for a truly delicious picnic.  Or eat in the store at tables and chairs that can seat about thirty people.  The menu changes each Sunday so check the current offerings on Facebook, Tita Li’s desserts and merienda pinoy brunch @ Pines Market.

On a recent Sunday I stopped by to sample a number of dishes including Chicken Afritada, a tasty example of the Spanish influence on the food of the Philippine Islands.  It is one of those homemade dishes you would long for from your childhood if you were raised in the Philippines. Succulent chicken slowly simmered in a bright tomato sauce with potatoes, and green and red bell peppers is a meal in itself and costs $5.00.  Add garlic fried rice or steamed rice and your picnic is complete.  Add another entrée and the whole cost is just $6.25.  Add two entrees and the total is only $7.50.  If you want to start with appetizers pick up meat or vegetable egg rolls or barbecued pork on a stick and suddenly your picnic is a feast.

But don’t forget dessert.  In the Filipino community Mena-li is known as the “cake lady” who makes amazing desserts.  This Sunday she offered nine desserts including a Ube Roll made from the island’s purple ube root and frosted with purple icing.  For something a little lighter there were Putos, the small two-bite sized steamed breads that would be wonderful with fresh raspberries or blueberries or just by themselves.  Mena-li’s versions are as light as chiffon cake.  There is also Halo-Halo, Flan, Cassava Bjbingka and Frozen Siopao.

Additional Sunday entrees included Talong Torta (eggplant), Binagoongan (pork with shrimp paste), and Palabok (noodles with beef, tofu, bacon and shrimp).  While some dishes are repeated from week to week, Mena-li likes to offer a variety of flavors from her homeland so check her Facebook listing for this week’s choices.

Mena-li started the Pinoy Brunch and Merienda at the Pines Market eighteen months ago and has been attracting a growing group of Filipino food fans.  It is one of just a few places in Minnesota where you can taste the wonderful cuisine from the Philippine Islands so stop by soon.


Read more about Filipino cooking and try some of Mena-li’s recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, now in bookstores and on
Buy online:  Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875

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