Does pinikpikan have an international equivalent? Wala lang - just some drinking session question I remember from simpler times while waiting for that first job.
Does pinikpikan have an international equivalent? Wala lang - just some drinking session question I remember from simpler times while waiting for that first job.
Pinoy food takes some doing to make it into "presentation style" of plating as they say in professional kitchens. Pinoy food is really more for the "family style" of serving, one of the sure signals of our community/family-oriented.
RagingBlue mentioned karekare. Imagine trying to plate that presentation style for one entree serving. It'd be messy to say the least, and not that easy to manage with a knife and fork.
Adobo seems to take to presentation style plating with a bit more facility, but really, what self-respecting Pinoy wants to see maybe three small pieces of pork/chicken adobo served on a small mound of rice, drizzled with some of its own cooking sauce, sprinkled with some parsley and then eaten with a knife and fork? It might seem nonchalant for a foreigner, but for a Pinoy, that just plain doesn't make sense.
FRIENDS LANG KAMI
Hindi lang pala bibingka ang galing sa India.Originally Posted by danny
"The end justifies the means"-from Machiavelli? Nope. :D
If Manila has chicken and beef mami while Iloilo has their batchoy, Ilocos has an answer to that, the hibol (pronounced as high ball). Just imagine our beef paksiw mixed with our own version of pancit (not pancit canton but just plain pansit, flour, water and salt). Sarap and the taste is superior to the beef mami sold in Manila.
I don't know the history but you know Ilocanos are not beef eating folks (we don't have a good pastureland except maybe Abra but that province is remote). Maybe some chef just added the beef paksiw and pancit and the common people like it.
These are some of the pictures of the food:
Ingredients: Beef paksiw, noodles, shallots (sibuyang Tagalog or in Ilokano Lasona)
Note: Masarap na pulutan ang beef paksiw. It serves a dual purpose actually. Merienda, almusal, soup et al.
"The end justifies the means"-from Machiavelli? Nope. :D
7,000 islands with 28,000 ‘adobo’ variations
By Ambeth R. Ocampo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
10:19 pm | Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
Teaching A course on food in Philippine culture to Japanese students has opened my eyes to what we eat, why we eat, and what our cuisine reflects about our history, leading to ideas on what we think we are as a people. My Japanese students were assigned to try Philippine food, and the easiest way to do this is to sample the street food outside St. Ignatius Church on Sundays: lugao, pancit, barbecue, banana-Q, all sold together with phone cards, Pinoy movie magazines, banana ketchup, Eskinol, and rubbing alcohol in the familiar green bottle that makes you remember, “Di lang pangpamilya, pang-sports pa!” The stalls outside this church on Sundays present a slice of home in a foreign land; in early spring you can have adobo under the cherry blossoms. With winter approaching, I’m thinking of trying Japanese tinapa, tuyo, or daing na bangus because I won’t risk eviction by cooking these in my apartment.
My students went the extra mile: They looked for turo-turo tucked away in different corners of Tokyo, one interviewed his Filipino friends, some tried cooking adobo by following a recipe on YouTube. I also asked them to look up the CNN list of 50 foods that define the Filipino. We are an archipelago, and in Spanish-period dictionaries, the food-related terms in our languages are mostly related to rice, our staple food, and fish from river and sea. Why is it that in the 21st century, fish and rice are listed way below meat dishes that are predominantly pork, followed by chicken and beef?
Preparing my lecture was a challenge because I wanted to use pictures that flattered our food, which is far from photogenic. Adobo is always brown and oily. How could I entice my students to try dinuguan, balut, betute or kamaru? My students were an adventurous lot and tried Tokyo turo-turo, and one of their striking observations was that Pinoy “restaurants” were small and seemed to cater only to Pinoys. In contrast, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian restaurants, for example, can be found all over Tokyo catering to a general or curious public, not just homesick nationals abroad.
Reading the papers of my students and listening to their experience of tasting Philippine food made me realize how the tastes and eating habits of Filipinos have changed in the past two or three decades. In the past, Filipinos would not go out to eat Philippine food that they enjoy at home or in the homes of friends. Today there are many restaurants that serve Philippine food, mostly the cholesterol-rich staples of fiesta fare. One can credit the late Lorenzo Cruz for bringing the Pampanga food of his father, E. Aguilar Cruz, to Manila. He was one of the first to serve: kamaru (mole cricket), betute (frog minus the head and stuffed with ground pork), palos (freshwater eel cooked in coconut milk), etc. These were viewed as gastronomic exotica in Manila, but old folk in Pampanga would say that these were common country fare that wouldn’t have been served to guests at a party.
Food ways have changed because we now have fast food and ready-to-eat Pinoy goodies. Big food companies like Magnolia and Purefoods distribute pre-packaged food all over the country, changing the way we eat. Clean, air-conditioned supermarkets are now preferred over wet markets. Fresh produce is harder to get than blast-frozen chicken, shrimps, meat, etc. One does not even have to know how to cook because we have “instant” food preparations now. Leche flan, kare-kare, paella, etc. come in packets that have the simplest instructions like: “Just add water.”
In Pampanga the generic term for food is pamangan. The Pampango fixes his menu around the nasi or steamed white rice, which is the staple food of Filipinos. The asan (which can mean fish, “asan danum,” or meat) must contrast with the bland nasi. So you have, among other things, nilaga or liga (boiled pork or chicken or combinations of these with seasoning, potatoes and cabbage), sigang (Pampango for sinigang, a dish with pork or fish with broth soured by tamarind, kamias, santol, etc.), arobu (Pampango for adobo, pork and chicken sautéed in garlic and soy sauce), asan danum (any type of fish fried, grilled, or in soup), tidtad (Pampango for dinuguan, and, unlike the Tagalog kind, uses pork tripe, bituka, etc. and gets its name from tidtad, meaning “chopped”), to name a few.
These foods are basically the same everywhere, but what makes food different in each region is worth further study and observation. Food is something we see every day and we rarely give it a second thought, unless we are comparing it with something else. I studied the food of my father’s province for my undergraduate thesis, and now I’m learning about food from the eyes and palates of my Japanese students.
Food is not just for eating; it is a language that expresses the history and identity of a people. Maybe the Filipino search for that elusive thing we call national identity can be found not just in history books but also in the adobo and sinigang on our plates. The problem is that we have 7,000 islands and over 28,000 variations of adobo. Where to start is part of the fun.
‘Laswa,’ ‘adobo sa dilaw,’ ‘damuraga nga darag,’ ‘kilawin nga baboy’–Ilonggo dishes in the spotlight
By Micky Fenix
Philippine Daily Inquirer
2:38 am | Thursday, January 10th, 2013
We hit the ground running, so to speak. After emerging from the Iloilo airport, it was a quick lunch at Esca restaurant before judging a cooking competition, the second “Tabu-an: Western Visayas Ilonggo Heritage Cooking.”
Chef Miguel Cordova, who was also judging that day, made sure we enjoyed many of his dishes—a great welcome indeed to this cuisine-rich Visayan city. Laswa was predictably sweet because the vegetables were fresh, simply boiled and seasoned minimally. Bagongon (black cone shellfish) cooked in yams and coconut milk was heavy but so flavorful. Native chicken was cooked as adobo sa dilaw (turmeric). Shrimps were boiled then fried a bit, the shell clinging to the flesh, a sure sign that those were fat because it was molting season.
The setting this time for the second Tabu-an was in the municipality of Sta. Barbara, which was celebrating the 114th year of its revolution against Spain with a festival called Kawilhayan. But even without a festival, Sta. Barbara has attractions that can make a visit worthwhile, such as the town church and the oldest golf course in the country.
This town was once called catmon, after the tree that produces beautiful white flowers and green apple-like fruits that are used to sour sinigang dishes. Yet when I asked Chef Tibong Jardeleza, untiring organizer of Tabu-an, about the tree, the query drew a blank stare, possibly because today, there is only one catmon tree existing in Sta. Barbara. It was in Infanta where I encountered the tree for the first time, and thought its fruit was beautifully designed with its swirling green structure inside that contrasted with the magenta threads shooting out of the stem.
Ilonggos are more familiar with alumpiran, the leaves of which are used for souring. One of the competitors, the K Carsi Culinary School, used those to flavor the young native chicken (damuraga nga darag) in the dish pinaisan nga darag sa kuron. They mixed together all the ingredients, which also included garlic, ginger, shallot, langkawas (blue ginger), lemongrass, salt and coconut cream, then slow-cooked these in a clay pot (kuron) for an hour.
The group also made adobado nga biga-biga, braised pig’s innards cut into bite-size pieces—perfect for feasts, and made orange with achuete oil. The group won second prize; the members chose the dishes well, because after all the chopping, slicing and mixing, they just had to wait until the food was cooked over charcoal.
The contestants were busy since morning completing their three-course menu. We were in time to grade the preparation and correct procedure of the six groups.
Aklan State University did ukoy nga talaba (oysters in batter) and squid relleno, both of which required too much chopping, which worked against the team. West Visayas State University made kilawin nga baboy (fried pork seasoned with a vinegar mix) and pochero nga guya ng baka (beef face or maskara) with some pork knuckles cooked with tomato sauce in the Spanish style.
Finally, I saw how the panara was made, the turnover, or empanada, with an outer shell made with rice flour. Each was filled with shrimp and mongo sprouts, shaped into a half-moon then placed on banana leaves from which each piece slides down to the hot oil.
The IRC Sta. Barbara, which made the panara, also made pancit efuven (egg noodle) with steamed shrimps (tinuom nga pasayan), uhong (mushroom) and patola (sponge gourd). We had a good laugh, though, about the brand name of the pancit efuven, which read “Streams in the Desert.”
Third place went to Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, which did fresh lumpia made with ubod (coconut pith) and lengua con setas con olivas (ox tongue with mushrooms and olives).
It was quite delightful to know that the first place went to a group that belong to the Barangay Nutrition Scholars of Santa Barbara, the host town. They made two dishes that seemed unattractive at first. There was nilagpang na pantat (hito, catfish), fish grilled then picked (the bones discarded), mixed with grilled onions and tomatoes, flavored with vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and chili, then added with hot water to make a curious but tasty soup.
For the main course, it was escabeche of lison, sweet and sour dried fish. Both were so tasty, and I’m sure the guests that evening who sampled all the food must have noticed as well. Like last year, the awarding ceremony involved a dinner where the competitors cooked for several guests, giving them a taste of what the judges had a few hours before.
The contest and the rest of the visit was a feast for us, the judges. It was also a time to connect with many of the figures in the culinary industry.
Our thanks to Cebu Pacific for bringing us there. And to Amigo Terrace Hotel, which pleasantly surprised me with its remodeled rooms, refurbished with first-class amenities, from when I was last there. This January should be a great time to go to celebrate Iloilo’s Dinagyang, the feast of the Sto. Niño.
Cocido/pochero – Manila style
By Claude Tayag
(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 14, 2013 - 12:00am
Sauces of contention: The berenjena/eggplant and tomato sauces are a Filipino invention to accompany our cocido and pochero. The sauces are born out of the Tagalogs’ penchant for adding sour (i.e., vinegar, kalamansi and kamias) as a counterpoint to a cloyingly rich dish (pampaalis suyâ).
In my column last week, “Spanish Cuisine 101,” my lesson plan (if you will) was tracing the origins, similarities and differences between our cocido/pochero and that of its progenitor, cocido madrileño. As is the tradition in Spain, the kind of meats and vegetables may vary from house to house, region to region, or what is preferred or afforded. But what separates us mainly is the manner of eating it and the condiments that accompany our version.
I received several reactions from readers, basically agreeing with what I wrote, but all were wondering where our berenjena (Spanish for eggplant) sauce that goes with our cocido/pochero came from. The tomato sauce is easily ingestible (pun intended); the Spaniards have their pan con tomate (pa amb tomaquet in Catalan), which is basically a mash of ripe tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and salt, slathered over a slice of toasted bread, and also we’ve borrowed their way with sofrito or sautéing with garlic, onion and tomato, but have parted ways with our addition of ginger and bagoong alamang/shrimp paste, bagoong isda/anchovy paste, or patis/fish sauce.
By the way, in the Philippine context, cocido generally refers to the soup-based boiled meats and vegetable dish, while pochero is the tomato-based stew of the same meats and veggies (though interchangeable at times), and both are served with the berenjena sauce. But wait! In Legazpi City, Albay, cocido refers to their clear broth fish head soup (quite similar to sinigang but not as sour), while in Cebu, pochero is boiled beef shank, more popularly known as bulalo by the rest of us. Confusing enough? I’m just testing if you’re still with me (wink, wink).
Going back to the berenjena sauce. Cultural anthropologist Dr. Butch Zialcita of Ateneo de Manila University theorizes that Tagalogs love to counter cloyingly rich (suyâ, surfeit) dishes by adding a sour sawsawan (dipping sauce, i.e., vinegar, kalamansi, kamias). My co-author in the Kulinarya cookbook, former restaurateur-chef Conrad Calalang, attests that our berenjena sauce is a uniquely Tagalog concoction. He said it is nowhere to be found in Madrid, not even in his personal favorite restaurant Taverna La Bola (a Madrid institution since 1870, mentioned in my column last week); he also asked his friends residing there. Writer Chit Lijaoco of Sta. Rosa, Laguna, informed me they have la-oya, quite similar to berenjena sauce but with the addition of mashed boiled sabá and kamote to accompany their pochero. My sister-in-law Tessa Marquez, who grew up in a Spanish-speaking household in San Juan, says their family’s cocido is the tomato-based stew (guiso in Spanish), served with boiled saba, pechay Tagalog, olive oil, and a clear soup on the side.
Incidentally, it was a great privilege to have been invited by the Spain Tourism Board to attend the food conference Madrid Fusion last Jan. 21-23, which has afforded me the time and opportunity to investigate the origins of such iconic Filipino dishes bearing Spanish names that are generally believed to have come from madre España, like the adobo, estofado, escabeche, embutido, and yemas, to name a few. I have come home from the 10-day trip with a wealth of information, though a little squeaky in the joints from having my fill of the jamon iberico and quezos y vinos they feted me with everywhere I went.
To paraphrase an idiomatic expression: “There’s more to eat than meats the eye in Spain.” I got more than I bargained for.
Here’s a recipe for cocido, Manila-style, adapted from the Kulinarya cookbook (serves 6 to . Meats, meat cuts and vegetables are variables depending on one’s preference. .
Ingredients: 2 stalks leeks, clean and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces; 3 pcs celery ribs, clean by removing leaves and wash; 3 pcs medium-sized onions, peel, separate 1 piece and quarter, chop the other 2 pieces; 4 pcs medium-sized carrots, peel, leave 1 piece whole, quarter the 3 carrots lengthwise and cut each piece into 2; 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns; 1 whole medium-sized cabbage, cut into 4 along its core to keep the quarters whole, wash; 1/4 kilo Baguio beans, wash and trim; 5 stalks pechay Tagalog (or bok choy), wash but leave pieces whole; 1 can (225 gms.) garbanzos, open the can, discard liquid, peel each piece and discard the skin; 4 pcs saba bananas, peel and cut into 2 diagonally, discard peel; 2 pcs medium-sized potatoes, peeled, washed and quartered; 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely; 3 pcs of 1/2 kilo each medium-sized beef shank (kenchi) with bone marrow intact; 1/2 kilo beef brisket; 2 pcs chicken breasts with bone, fillet and set aside bones to make stock; 200 gms. thick bacon slab; 200 gms. ham hock; 2 pcs Spanish chorizo (known locally as chorizo de Bilbao), cut into 1/4” slices; enough water to cover meat in stock pot; 3 tbsps. olive oil.
1. Put beef shanks, brisket, chicken bones, bacon slab, salted pork or ham hock and chorizo in a large casserole with the quartered onion, whole carrot and celery stalks.
2. Cover with enough tap water and bring to a boil. After about 10 minutes, remove the beef shanks from pot. Using a toothpick, prick the marrow around the inner wall of the bone in a circular motion. This is to loosen and then extract it off the tubular bone. Set aside. Note: if one allows the shank to boil till tender without extracting the morrow, it will just melt away like oil.
3. Lower heat and simmer until meats are tender. Take out pork, chicken bones, chorizo and bacon slab first as these will cook ahead and set aside.
4. Take 3 cups/ 720 ml of the broth and pour into a separate pot. Put in the quartered cabbage, sliced carrots, Baguio beans, pechay, bananas, and the garbanzos. Bring to a boil. Season the broth with salt and pepper. When the vegetables are cooked, remove from the pot and place on a platter.
5. Using the same broth where the veggies were cooked, heat to a rolling boil. Dunk the chicken breast and let boil for 1 minute covered with a lid. Turn off heat and let the chicken submerge in the broth for about 3 minutes. Remove from pot with a strainer and dip in a bowl filled with iced water. This is to stop the cooking process, just like in making Hainanese chicken. You want a moist, tender chicken breast, not a dry overcooked one.
6. Place the meats that were set aside into the casserole where the vegetables were cooked and keep there until ready to serve.
7. In a preheated pan with the olive oil, sauté the chopped onions and garlic. Add the drained vegetables. Remove vegetables to a platter.
8. Remove the chorizos, brisket and bacon slab from the casserole. Slice into serving sizes. Set aside.
9. When the beef shank is fork-tender, remove from pot with a strainer. Place in a serving platter and put back its marrow.
10. Cut the brisket, pork belly, chicken breast, salted pork/ ham hock into serving pieces and arrange on the platter together with the shank; likewise with the vegetables. Accompany with tomato sauce and berenjena (eggplant) sauce placed in separate bowls.
Cocido tomato sauce:
Ingredients: 1 pc small onion, peel and chop finely; 2 cloves, garlic, crush, peel and mince; 1/2 kilo tomatoes, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, peel when cooled, cut into halves crosswise to remove seeds and then chop finely; 4 tbsps. olive oil; 1 pc bay leaf; 1 sprig parsley; 1/2 cup water; salt and pepper to taste.
1. In a preheated pan with olive oil, sauté onions and garlic, then add tomatoes. Add bay leaf and sprig of parsley and the water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Discard bay leaf and parsley sprig.
3. Add salt and pepper according to taste.
Berenjena (eggplant sauce):
Ingredients: 2 pcs long eggplants, roast over stove flame till skin is charred, peel and discard peel; 2 cloves garlic, peel then mince; 2 tbsps. vinegar; 2 tsps. salt; 1 tsp. pepper.
Procedure: Mash broiled eggplants and add minced garlic and vinegar. Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Bagoong Club: Just as good on its 5th year
By Joy Angelica Subido
(The Philippine Star) | Updated February 14, 2013 - 12:00am
Remember the childhood fable about the race between the hare and the tortoise? The hare bolts from the starting line quickly, becomes overconfident and soon loses steam. The tortoise, on the other hand, ventures determinedly along. Step by step, he sure footedly and confidently ventures forward. He overcomes all obstacles in his path so that he eventually ends up winning the race.
That fable could very well apply to the restaurant business. After the fanfare that comes with opening shop, the novelty soon wears off. The drudgery of the daily grind sets in and more likely than not, some restaurants are soon no more. Alternatively, success can bloat egos so that a once-welcoming place becomes insufferably stuck-up. Believe me, I’ve seen this happen often enough so that I catch myself asking, “Will this new place live up to its promise?” Thankfully, some restaurants do.
Bagoong Club is one of those happy stories. Five years after my first visit, I am happy to report that the place has stayed true to its commitment of serving good Filipino comfort food without pretensions. The prices remain reasonable, the servings are still hearty, and the service is just as attentive.
Of course, some of the original staff have moved on and there are quite a few unfamiliar faces. “People have been moving up to other things,” confirm restaurant co-owners Rosky and Franco Sevilla. But even if training new people entails additional work, the brothers cheerfully take on the extra effort. They are, after all, the sort of unselfish people who want others to do well. Thus, Bagoong Club is the kind of place that values and celebrates success. No such thing as “crab mentality” here.
Still, it was good to hear that Tristan Bayani (who was the chef when the restaurant first opened) still holds court in the kitchen. Even without trying everything on the new menu, his presence and the Sevilla brothers’ hands-on style of management is an assurance that the food at Bagoong Club remains hearty, tasty, down-home cooking. With them taking an active hand in running the restaurant, we were confident that it remained a place for big eaters who truly enjoy rich, distinct and full-bodied Filipino flavors. This is not a place for those insipid, hoity-toity and exaggeratedly plated scraps pretending to be Filipino food.
On our latest visit, we were sorely tempted to choose the usual favorites yet again. But seeing as the bulalo sa monggo, crispy pork binagoongan and traditionally slow- cooked ox-tail and tripe kare-kare are always satisfying, we ventured to sample the newer dishes. There was a tasty, creamy laing espesyal made without scrimping on coconut cream, ensaladang cilantro sa ginulat na tilapia, and balut adobo with cloves of garlic and green mango. Most surprising, however, was a tasty dish called Mula sa Puso which is a crispy banana-heart sisig. Of course, the popular bagoong sampler is still around. But with all the tempting choices listed on the menu, it is easy to go overboard and order more than one should eat.
Fortunately, the restaurant offers lunch specials so that one can visit every day and try something new in acceptable (non- gluttonous) portions. “We came to a realization that the big servings may be intimidating for small groups of diners,” admits Rosky. Hence, for P175 one have a full course of soup (choice of bulalo con monggo, sinigang na bangus or sinigang na salmon belly sa miso), salad (ensaladang itlog na maalat, inihaw na talong or steamed vegetable ensalada), and viand (kare kare, binagoongang baboy, ginulat na tilapia, garlic chicken inasal, Bicol express na kamto), and rice.
“How do you hold out against the fierce competition in this area?” I catch myself asking and realize, too late, that this might be a dim question. I know firsthand that Rosky and Franco are direct descendants of warriors, heroes and patriots — a great grandfather who was the aide-de-camp of the Filipino revolutionary general Gregorio del Pilar (also their relative); and a grandfather who is the nationalist Francisco ‘Soc’ Rodrigo. Of course, they will not give in!
Rosky chuckles, “Hindi kami madaling patumbahin (We’re not pushovers).” He concedes, however, that there has been a real effort to retain authenticity of taste. Our conversation veers to the division of their hilltop, pine-clad property in my hometown of Baguio and I learn that Kapit Langit, their summer home in Baguio, has been sold. “I went around one last time, and thanked the house for many happy memories,” relates Franco. I, too, am a bit saddened as my city transforms.
But it dawns on me that although physical property may change hands or disappear, there is always food to make us remember. By staying true to the authentic flavors, we have a pathway to old and happy memories. This is Bagoong Club’s contribution. Its food is our handhold to memory, our kapit langit to good, old times.
* * *
Bagoong Club is at 122 Scout. Lazcano, Quezon City. For information, 929-5450
THE QUIET DINER
Recurring culinary pleasures
Restos at a glance
1:24 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013
Delicious culinary experiences actually lead foodies to go back to restaurants where they had very satisfying meals coupled with efficient service and pleasant ambiance. Sometimes, we are too conservative that we would rather go back to these dining places rather than try new ones and come out frustrated.
There is one which emblazoned the greeting “Hello, Happiness”—a fitting invitation to a memorable meal, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Another one, which in its quiet, consistent way, silently beckons those seeking uncluttered ambiance and good food.
74 Scout Limbaga, Quezon City
Contact nos.: 3525492; 3520774; 0926-6959885
Established by the Almario sisters (of the famed Interior Design outfit) and their other siblings. The clan must all have the Midas—incidentally the name of the hotel that they also outfitted—touch, for they have been literally “hounded” by success.
Relish Restaurant, which first opened in Salcedo Village, Makati City, now has a branch in Kamuning, Quezon City. The place bears the tagline “Hello, Happiness” and, fair enough, one gets very enthused about a joyful dining experience here.
After being extended a courteous welcome, you must take in the romantic ambiance, sit as elegantly as you can muster, and receive the longish, laminated menu card.
Dining area: A foyer by the entrance provides a unique welcome to the guests. It feels like walking into a cozy living room of an upscale house. The romantic mood starts with the lovely settee and chairs with the softest cushions; a duo of geometrically designed towers; and a chandelier hanging from an inverted cone ceiling.
Inside, look around and “relish” the tastefully assembled objets d’art, arranged to blend with the vases of flowers in white and green. There is no unpleasant view across, seen from the glass walls, because the Almario sisters had the walls painted in the colors of the interior with decorative flowers. Even the loos are tastefully done.
Service: Impeccable. There is a greeter at the entrance. You are led to a table, the chair is pulled and the menu handed.
Staff: Mostly males, very neat and elegant in long-sleeved gray shirts tucked into dark trousers. Servicial, as a guest beckons. Unobtrusive but attentive.
Suggested orders: Chona Almario, who is credited for putting together the impressive array of dishes, most of which come from her clan’s heirloom collection, graciously makes her recommendations. For starters, quench your thirst with a very refreshing green drink.
Then select from the regulars, herbs rendering rich flavors on two appetizers: the Gourmet Pesto Cheese spread with a dollop of pesto on top, laced with a tomato-based dip with Melba Toast; and the Amazing Artichoke Dip with Tostitos.
A must is the Roasted Pumpkin Soup, so flavorful it would make you more anxious about what could come next.
An A-1 dish is the Pasta with Wild Mushrooms, so generously laced with truffle oil. This makes you sigh a happy note.
Three recommended mains: Stuffed Grilled Prawns; Slow-Roasted Beef Belly, tenderized for eight hours, turning it very soft that it falls off one’s fork, served with gravy and corn kernels; and Louisiana Pork Chop, amply thick but equally tender, served with apple sauce.
Other bestsellers: Smoked Salmon dip with caviar; Steaks; Lamb Chops; and Grilled Fish. And don’t forget the wines.
You can skip the dessert since the main entrées can be filling. But try a spoon each of the very nutty Sans Rival, the perfect Chocolate Cake and the light Bread Pudding.
Service and government charges are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.
Conti’s Bakeshop and Restaurant
G/L Robinsons Magnolia, Hemady Street, Quezon City
This chain, which got popular through word-of-mouth recommendation, has successfully spread its wings to many parts of the metropolis from its beginnings in BF Homes, Parañaque. It all started when the three Conti sisters introduced a line of fabulous, towering cakes which captured the fancy of sweet-tooth city dwellers. Later, they expanded to full-service restaurants and a very active catering service.
Dining area: All Conti’s restaurants have been given a new look, but most retain the original green-and-yellow motif. The resto’s new branch on Hemady took on a new color scheme—beige and chocolate brown.
The place is homey and soundproof. The Baked Products section is separate but accessible from the main door.
Service: Fast and efficient.
Staff: Neat in their uniforms, accommodating.
Suggested orders: The Filipino comfort food is what brings us back to any Conti’s branch, be it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We give a 10 for its Tapa with Garlic Sinangag and Fried Egg. The meat is very soft, the seasoning a perfect blend of sweet and salty.
The Pancit Palabok is just how our dedicated, late Tia Bana would do it—tender rice noodles bathed with atsuete-colored sauce, with no evidence of too much thickening starch.
Other choices: Salmon comes in baked, sinigang, grilled or salpicao varieties.
Never skip the desserts: tall Viennese Mocha Torte; Oreo Cheesecake; or any pastry.
Service charge and government taxes are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored in all outlets.
‘Pinikpikan,’ oranges, Arabica coffee–but also yogurt and gravy in Sagada
By Micky Fenix
Philippine Daily Inquirer
1:27 am | Thursday, February 21st, 2013
I had promised myself that I should see the Banaue Rice Terraces, and soon. My nationalistic conscience bothered me when friends from foreign lands would ask me if I had been to this wonder of the world. When that happens, I change the subject matter to other places like Batanes and Tawi-Tawi, faraway places I had been to, which, at the time, almost no one had visited yet.
And so when the offer to go to Sagada was made, I grabbed the opportunity.
My lack of geographical knowledge was evident; I didn’t even know that the Halsema Highway from Baguio didn’t pass through Banaue, and so every terrace look-alike seemed a possibility, even if what were grown there were vegetables. And the long, six-hour trip made me regress to my five-year-old self, bothering my companions with the question every hour: “Are we there yet?”
The adventure part certainly was eternally present as we seemed to zigzag through the top of mountains forever. The dizzying height made one companion comment that, if we ever fell into the ravine, we still had time to call our loved ones.
We arrived finally at 9 p.m. in a darkened Sagada; our lodging, Rock Inn, was a few minutes outside the center of town. It was only in the morning when we connected the name with the limestone formation at the road entrance—limestone natural sculptures being an attraction in other places in Sagada.
The chilly weather required hot soup, and how great that there was sinigang na baboy to warm our stomachs. I don’t think chicken noodle soup would have done the trick. Nothing like sour soup to alleviate hunger while at the same time readying us for more food, because we were hungry from that long trip.
‘Killing Me Softly’
Still, another chicken soup should have sufficed for me, the pinikpikan which Rock Inn had in the menu. But I would have been the only one from the group, since the rest were wary about this Cordillera soup that had a reputation based on the title of the song “Killing Me Softly”: The chicken is tapped with a flat stick until unconscious and then finally killed, the tapping also producing blood clots that add flavor and texture.
And so I had to wait till the next day to show them how good this soup was, and that the flavor came from etag, the salt pork usually smoked and dried out in the cool Sagada air. It is used sparingly because protein is hard to come by in the mountains.
How disappointing to hear that during our visit, the Sagada orange season was over, according to Fely Capuyan Omengan, owner of Rock Inn. But there were still some on branches in the grove, which grows about 2,000 trees. It was only in recent years that Baguio has begun selling Sagada oranges. Every time I was offered one, I thought the vendors were just taking advantage of the Sagada tourism fever.
How unfortunate to know, when we were about to leave, that the Masferre farm still had some oranges. Eduardo Masferre’s daughter-in-law, Monette, brought out several pieces for us to take home from the family farm, smaller than what the Baguio vendors claim is Sagada orange—really sweet, thin-skinned, not too many seeds.
The trees aren’t that big, she said, and always heavy with fruit, so that they have to prop up the branches to prevent them from breaking.
Eduardo Masferre is a revered figure in the Cordilleras. He documented in striking photographs the people there—his people, actually, because his Spanish father, a Catalan soldier turned farmer and Episcopalian pastor, married a Kankanaey, one of the Igorot tribes of the Cordillera, found mainly in Sagada and in Basaey.
Masferre’s legacy not only includes the striking photographs and the oranges, but also the Arabica coffee planted in the sloping highlands of Sagada. We visited one of the coffee houses, Bana’s, where the Sibayan couple roast the beans onsite but out of sight of visitors like us. They also brew the coffee, and the aroma is so enticing that the simple bread they offer there becomes also a must to partake of.
Because Sagada is such a small town, you bump into tourists, both domestic and foreign, everywhere. There are a big number of women among them, which probably means they find the place safe.
Yet while Sagada is beautiful and reminded me of long-ago Baguio with its healthy pine trees and quiet, sleepy atmosphere, the food is geared to foreigners, with sandwiches proudly offered, many places serving battered pork and chicken with lots of gravy, and yogurt, which has become a specialty even if fresh milk can’t be easily had in these mountains.
We wondered why fresh fruits grown in the place aren’t always served, like the blueberry that grows wild. But we were glad the Lemon Pie House uses Sagada lemons. We wondered why the celebrated chef is French. And the day we left, dinner at Masferre Inn, where we also stayed, was going to have another foreign chef cooking for the mostly Greek and Israeli tourists he was accompanying.
If there is one place one should visit, it is Sagada Museum where owner Christina Aben gives an enlightened introduction to her Igorot culture through her collection of kitchen utensils, woven blankets and clothes, hats and bags and pipes, and stories about why women then wore tattoos.
She told me that a demonstration and tasting of the pinikpikan is now part of most tours. I am glad for that, but I hope it’s not the “killing me softly” process that is emphasized, but how this dish is part of Igorot culture—that it is this ritual food that keeps them in touch with their ancestors.