From religion to surnames, Spain’s near four-century regime has firmly left its mark on the Philippines. But despite retaining a few elements of Spanish cuisine, Filipino food is in a different category in its own right. Items like chorizo and paella can hardly be described as staples of the average Cebuano’s diet. This is probably because finding authentic-tasting paella in town hasn’t been the easiest task; however this changed when Dos Hermanos burst onto the Cebu food scene.
Consummate epicureans, the sibling duo of Alfonso and Miguel Martinez started making chorizo while living in Manila. When Alfonso was in college, his brother Miguel came up with a recipe for Spanish chorizo. He then started making and selling this dish. As a student in need of extra cash, Alfonso was offered a job by Miguel to help with his chorizo business. Miguel’s product became a success and gained a following among Manila’s gastronomically-inclined community. Working with his brother made Alfonso realize that he had an innate passion for cooking as well. After graduating, Alfonso brought his passion for food back to his hometown Cebu where he diversified his cooking repertoire and gave the small business a name, ‘Dos Hermanos’ (Spanish for two brothers).“I love food,” he says. “I appreciate everything from street food to Michelin-rated restaurants.”
Dos Hermanos has a myriad of Spanish dishes, many of which incorporate chorizo in it. “I wanted to find new ways to use Miguel’s homemade chorizo and incorporate them into traditional Spanish dishes,” Alfonso claims. Aside from chorizo, his version of traditional paella includes chicken, chorizo, squid, shrimps, and shellfish. He also makes its darker counterpart known as paella negra, a seafood variation with squid, fish, and shellfish, cooked in squid ink and blackened to perfection. Straying away from the conventional, Alfonso also likes to experiment in the kitchen. A personal favourite of his and his burgeoningclientele is his chorizo paella withchorizo, bell peppers, oyster mushrooms, and semi-poached eggs on top. Culinary innovation that even Jose Andres would appreciate.
Also on the menu is callos, a hearty, aromatic stew made of ox tripe, ox feet and pork; traditional tortilla depatata, a Spanish omelette with chopped potatoes sautéed in olive oil; he also does his own version of the dish with chorizo and bell peppers. These dishes can be gracefully complimented with Alfonso’s salsa monja, a vegetarian salsa with green and black olives, blanched shallots and cloves of garlic, pickled in paprika and vinegar, a combination that will inevitably create a hedonistic taste explosion unlike anything your palate has experienced.
Not only does Dos Hermanos offer reasonably priced quality food, it provides Cebuanos with the opportunity to try real Spanish cuisine; and in many ways sheds light on our colonial history, at least from a culinary perspective. Cebuanos will be able to indulge in a taste of Spain from the confines of their own province, perhaps even rivalling Filipino favourites in terms of sheer gastronomic pleasure. So next time you are craving genuine Spanish food, keep the airline booking to San Sebastian on hold, Dos Hermanos offers a closer and more cost-effective solution.
*You can catch them in the BTC Sunday Market! -editor