Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sabroso's at Libreria: A Most Unusual Meal at a Bookstore

I've had my share of lechon. And now that my husband is frequently in Cebu, lechon has become common dining table fare.

So, maybe, I'm a little bit jaded now.

But I was in for a surprise treat with my first try of Sabroso Lechon.

One day before 2010 ended, we got invited to a lunch at the best bookstore in the planet, Libreria.

Libreria is a quaint, little bookstore tucked into a corner of the metro's most happening art spot, Cubao X. Outside, it looks a little bit like Hugh Grant's bookstore in Notting Hill. Inside is a scrumptious melange of white brick and teal walls, floor planks salvaged from a bowling alley, shelves and shelves of books, kitsch (the good kind), and the heady scent of brewed coffee. It's small in area but big on personality. It's a place one goes to not just to buy and browse affordable books in great condition; it's also a place for friends to chill, to discuss books, to party.

And this little party last December was called by Libreria's lovely owner, Triccie Cantero. I didn't know if she was thanking us for our patronage or bribing us to come over when she whispered that lechon (roasted pig) would be on the menu. She neither had to bribe nor thank us because we go to her bookstore just because we love it there. But still, lechon! Who says no to a lechon invitation? So, even if my husband and I were off to an anniversary vacation, we had to stop over.

My husband, artisan, surgeon, demi-god of lechon carving, showed off his skills and left not one splatter on the books. He didn't even break into a sweat. And he finished carving in pretty good time too. He was in his element. And I was in mine, surrounded by books, good food, and my bookish friends.

Sabroso Lechon, as the packaging says, is incredibly flavorful. I have yet to find food that is better than sex, but this comes dangerously close. This is lechon that comes from the Cebu tradition of pig roasting, but deviates a little to make it unique. For one, it comes with a thick garlic sarsa, which might raise the eyebrows of Cebu-lechon-purists. And to my palate, there's a distinct flavor, something that resembles sinigang and something I cannot guess. I wanted to take a sampling of the stuffing to have our resident science geek Mike analyze. Maybe I have to try it again to find better words to describe its interesting flavor. For now, all I can manage is that it's lovely, lovely lechon.

Lechon and books -- a most unusual combination, a fusion of heaven for the senses and hell for the cholesterol conscious. At least now, I can argue that my vice (books) is so much healthier than my husband's (booze and baboy).

Lechon without rice is like, well, lechon without rice. Good enough, but a little sad. So, Triccie made sure the experience was complete by supplying seafood paella lovingly prepared by her mom. Cholesterol + carbohydrates; now, what else is missing?

Ah yes! Sugar. Fellow book club friends Blooey and Czar took care of that with a box of Krispy Kreme and the famous ADB chocolate crinkles, respectively.

Then, finally, the appetizer arrived. Like we need it. Our friend Mike (yes, the science geek slash sports watch endorser) contributed the ridiculously delicious hummus made by his mom. All of us now want to be adopted by an Iranian family.

And finally, a cupful of Libreria's house blend. The bookstore gives out free brewed coffee. Didn't I tell you this is the best bookstore in the planet?

Unfortunately, my husband and I could not stay longer for the reincarnation of the lechon in paksiw (cooked in vinegar and garlic) form. Pampanga beckoned.

We can always have some more of the lechon by visiting their shop at 1237 E. Rodriguez Ave., Corner Tomas Morato, Quezon City. And according to my Manila by Day book (Thanks, Peter and Rhett.), they serve meals there too. According to the same book, a full lechon costs PhP3k.

For delivery, you can dial +632-725-0711, or +632-515-8253, or +632-515-8259.

Thanks, Triccie! Thanks, Libreria, for this splendid lunch like no other.