Long ago and oh so very far away, I made the trek to Vigan, Ilocos, a Spanish town north of Manila, to visit a friend. She took me to the nearby bagnet and longganisa factory, where curtains of sausages hung on clotheslines and vats of pork belly slabs were being seasoned by bare-handed women rubbing the meat with spices before they hung them to dry.
In a basic sense bagnet is simply deep-fried pork belly cubes but in the Ilocano tradition these pieces of meat are seasoned and air-cured before cooking. The result is deep flavor that penetrates through the layers of meat and fat, a given when dealing with the wonderful gift of nature that is the pork belly.
Tortang Talong, Mangga at Bagoong (Eggplant Torta, Green Mangoes, Tomatoes and Shrimp Paste)
It was the beginning of the off-season in Boracay when we visited in early June. Because of this, Kasbah’s usual spread of silk couches and pillows on the shore were gone, instead during high tide the ocean water threatened to encroach on the restaurant’s main dining space.
This did not stop us from sampling their goods. We were with my siblings who loved the food at Kasbah, a Moroccan restaurant in Station One, a venue not only of food but of music and entertainment as well.
We sampled a selection of four kemias along with some flatbread, which is the traditional start to a Moroccan meal. Continue reading
We went to Cafe Juanita for a family lunch to sample their famous Filipino buffet. It was our during our first weekend in Manila and was the best way to be thrown back into the cuisine of the homeland, our favorite dishes filling voids we’ve accumulated over many years.
Part of the spread includes kare-kare, beef mechado, and adobo
While Cafe Juanita’s selection is your standard issue festive buffet food, they did not skimp on quality and quantity the way a lot of buffets do. It was simply an unlimited array of our favorite dishes, so good that we had to be careful with our precious belly real estate and not fill up on items not deserving of the space.
Lumpiang shanghai, lechon kawali, fried tilapia.
“Good eats, big smiles” is Chelsea Market Cafe‘s tagline. If this is also their objective, then they have succeeded.
I first visited Chelsea during a trip to Manila in 2009 and fell in love with their duck confit and chorizo pizza. As sinful as it sounds, as a first-time balikbayan then it was a mix of New York and Manila. So I had it twice!
Roasted Portobello Mushroom Pizza
Unfortunately they were out of both chorizo and duck confit during my recent visit, but I still visited Chelsea three times this past trip. Another Raintree innovation, this joint that’s reportedly patterned after the American cafe bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien is the first in the Philippines to adopt an infamous tradition in New York of combining a cafe within a food market, as is done in Dean & Deluca or at Balthazar, or my neighborhood favorite Brooklyn Larder. Chelsea is more like a full restaurant with a few food items on the side for the ambience. The color scheme definitely reminds of Le Pain and other small French cafes in New York. Chelsea’s Serendra branch does a good job in providing a bright and airy atmosphere conducive to long meals and good laughs. Continue reading
I recently wrote about a great birthday dinner I attended at Discovery Shores Boracay, a feast I still recall fondly now that I’m back in New York, far away from fresh seafood and the hearty eaters of my family.
Spaghetti carbonara over fresh oysters (Discovery Shores Boracay)
Another meal with mentioning is the first one we had upon arrival at the island. Discovery’s Sands Restaurant provides a mix of seaside creations alongside Filipino favorites. We definitely indulged. Continue reading