STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — One might say that Jesus helped build the new Filled Cafe in Tompkinsville. Indeed, the church community is where Ellen San Miguel and Kats Alvir found inspiration to launch their “Silog House” and Filipino bakery. Their mothers’ traditional recipes form the base of the business.
“We work hard. We’re honoring our mothers because the recipes live on through us,” said Alvir. “That’s what we want people to feel – home cooking and baking, no pretense.”
For now, in these early days at 400 Victory Blvd., the entrepreneurs sell a single savory item — silog, a classic Filipino breakfast that is served all day. The dish features two eggs served sunnyside up or over easy with garlicky fried rice and Pampanga Longanisa, a fat, sweet pork sausage.
Alvir explained the word “Silog.” It is a portmanteau of the words “sinangag” — garlic fried rice — and “illog” which means “egg.”
“We’re the first Silog house in New York City,” she declared. “Other restaurants have Silog. We’re the only ones who do purely Silog. It’s available all day.”
Between a small Christian library and a few framed Bible quotes, Filled serves bubble teas, juice concoctions and traditional Filipino beverages like kalamansi juice (from a Filipino lime that is more sweet than tart) and nectars.
But the real show-stoppers are the traditional desserts made by San Miguel and Alvir — cassava cake, sweet potato pie, custards and tiny packages of fruit cake known as “Food for the Gods” or panlasang panoy. That is melodic Tagalog, the Filipino language, for a square dessert made from dates, butter, flour and walnuts, a cuisine contribution from Spanish settlers to the Philippines.
Also in the hand-crafted inventory at Filled are Sansrival, a four-layer wafer cake layered with crushed cashew meringue and rum buttercream.
It’s crunchy and chewy at the same time, a toothsome confection with a deeply satisfying textural contrast. Alvir reported that Russian customers who have tasted this dessert at Filled liken it to a Kiev or Kievsky cake.
Similar in flavor profile to the Sansrival, yet with a softer sensation on the palate are Silvanas, delicious, finger-shaped pastries with cake crumbs and, compared to Sansrival, with a milkier version of buttercream. Little white puffs of Brazo de Mercedes patries are built from meringue and egg custard. These come as individual servings as well as a rolled cake.
THE STORY FROM BAYONNE TO STATEN ISLAND
San Miguel and Alvir are Bayonne transplants who now live in Silver Lake. Before the baking business, the pair sang professionally. One day at a store in New Jersey, a clerk recognized San Miguel from prior performances and asked if her group could be hired to sing at a Bayonne church as a gift to its pastor.
“We normally don’t do that kind of work but my heart said, ‘Yeah, do it!’” recalled San Miguel.
When they heard a fellow band playing during the service, the women said they were stunned.
“We didn’t know it was a worship band! All the songs ministered to us. We accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior and we kept coming back,” said Alvir. And that also meant coming back to fellowship gatherings after church where the focus turned also to food.
“After the service we had potluck. You had to see the first cake we made! It was crazy.” said Alvir.
The pastor’s wife, Melinda Del Mar, encouraged them to keep baking.
“We started getting orders in 2010. We started researching and practicing until it became what it is now,” recalled Alvir.
“I didn’t even have a mixer back then,” said San Miguel.
Alivir hails from Quezon City and San Miguel from Laguna.
“Laguna cooking is Northern style, marinated foods that are saucy stews,” said San Miguel. “We prepare our table with banana leaves and we use our hands.”
For now the ladies’ days are filled, so to speak, with a steady stream of customers who are liking their pastries and birthday cakes. They ponder closing on Sundays, a busy day at Calvary Assembly of God in Bulls Head with its food pantry and worship throughout the day.
“We’ll open on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. as an experiment. But it’ s a little tough with our church schedule,” said Alvir.
For now, hours will be Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with extended hours for alternating acoustic nights on a small stage.
Filled is located at 400 Victory Blvd., Tompkinsville; 347-857-6360.
Source: Thanks https://www.silive.com/entertainment/2020/01/new-filipino-bakery-opens-on-staten-island.html