Bibingka and Tita Flips

Posted on December 4, 2011


One of the things I was lucky to have when I was in Manila was bibingka.  This sweet-savory treat most commonly appears only during the Christmas season, signalling the start of Misa de Gallo.  It’s Filipino tradition to rise up and early for mass that starts at 4:30am for nine days before Christmas.  As a kid, I used to see it as a reward, for rising so early.  I was always eager to buy bibingka for breakfast after mass (yes! I didn’t know it then, but I was very much a foodie even as a kid).  It was such a treat to see someone sell it in November when I was home.  To watch someone bake it on authentic terracotta bibingka ovens and smell the aroma of burning banana leaves was a food trip.

My food trip was extended in Toronto by Diona Joyce of Tita Flips Catering.  Tita Flips caught my eye through Twitter, through a retweet by @TOundrgroundmkt.  Seeing someone showcase Filipino cuisine in an innovative way, I followed her tweets and was especially impressed with the images she shared on Twitter.  Diona and I shared a connection of our love for Filipino food and have talked with an ease of long-standing friends even if we haven’t met each other in person.

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I finally met Diona this weekend when I went to support Kapisanan Philippine Centre’s Krismas Bazaar at Kensington Market.  For a few days now she has given me a teaser that she is selling bibingka on her booth.  Maybe I am looking for a cure of my seemingly long jetlag of missing Filipino comfort foods.  Just as she promised, she made sure she doesn’t run out of bibingka and put one aside for me.  When I walked away from her booth, I looked like I was going to feed a family of four.  I walked away with not only a bibingka but also pancit palabok, turon, cassava cake and a container of adobo-flavoured peanuts.  I had a silly smile pasted on my face as I walked and started to head for home.  I feel like I was back in Manila with a stash of comfort food.  The turon never made it home.  They are slivers of plantain rolled tight in spring roll wrapper and deep-fried with brown sugar.  I was eating it even before I left the bazaar while I was talking to a friend I haven’t seen for ages.  Sorry Diona, I can’t show pictures of something I find too irresistible.

I did have some restraint when I came home as I still took the time to set my equipment before eating Diona’s food. Each one was an absolute homesickness cure.  The bibingka was just as I remember it from a few weeks ago in Manila.  Soft, sweet and savory at the same time, it’s a piece of comfort to relish.  I don’t know how Diona baked it in a conventional oven and I was glad she still used a banana leaf while baking the bibingka.  She could almost fool me that she baked it in a terracotta oven.  It’s that good!  If you are interested in experiencing Filipino food, contact TitaFlips at I stand by her food, it doesn’t get more Filipino than that :)

Posted in: Toronto Eats