It was such an honor to curate the first ever 15-Hour Food Tour in the Philippines--a culinary introduction to the best of Filipino food and culture. This is also the official press launch of the World Street Food Congress happening in Manila on April 20-24, 2016!
Related Blog Post: Announcing... World Street Food Congress in Manila! (April 20-24, 2016)
From the foodie backstreets of Metro Manila to the culinary center of Pampanga, over 30+ culinary ambassadors, food journalists, and bloggers from Manila, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Spain came together to eat their way to the coveted title of “Commando Foodie”.
Here's a photo essay of Philippines' first 15-hour Food Frenzy Safari...
The safari kicked off bright and early at Seda Hotel in Fort BGC. Upon signing in, we were given a handy survival kit that contained all the necessities and essentials needed to complete our 15-hour Food Safari.
7.00 am: RECOVERY FOOD (BGC Stopover)
Annie Montano Gutierrez and MM Vasquez shared the inspiration behind Recovery Food. RF aims to elevate the Pinoy breakfast experience and help you recover from your hangover, stress, or cravings and leave the place happily satisfied.
We sampled the classic Pinoy breakfast meal--Tapa de Morning--Recovery Food's Tapsilog version made from cured or braised meat (tapa) atop fried rice (sinangag) with a side of fried egg (itlog).
We also got to taste Amadobo, which is an old-fashioned adobo of pork and chicken with adobo rice.
My personal favorite was the S.S.T. (Sweet Spicy Tuyo) made from salted dried fish--similar to anchovies--and has a pungent smell.
The healthy eaters love the Hey Jude's Paksig made with Sarangani Bangus (milkfish) belly served with brown rice and egg.
From BGC, we drove for 2 hours to Pampanga, the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, home to the oldest surviving restaurants and some of the country's culinary masters. Pictured here is KF Seetoh, our culinary comical host.
10.00am: EVERYBODY'S CAFE (San Fernando, Pampanga)
Everybody's Cafe opened its doors over 70 years ago, having served Filipinos, Americans, and Japanese during World War 2. Their doors still remain open to anybody looking for a delicious home cooked meal.
We were treated to an impressive selection of traditional Kapampangan dishes: Pindang Kalabaw (carabao jerky), scrambled eggs with tomato...
Chorizos made of pork with a sweet marinade...
Tidtad (blood cube stew) or Dinuguan as it's known in tagalog, but the Pampanga version has more vinegar...
Camaru, fried crickets from rice fields, with the wings and feet removed before serving...
Tamales made of ground rice with annatto (atswete) oil and pepper, topped with slices of egg, ham, and chicken, wrapped in banana leaves...
Suman with Latik (glutinous rice cake), and...
Morcon, made of ground pork, duck eggs, quezo de bola, and chorizo cooked for 6 hours.
It's rich and flavorful with a salty-creamy texture that melts in your mouth. What makes this sauce so amazing is that it can be eaten with almost anything, and it's not uncommon to find this sauce in things like pasta dishes or fried rice.
This family-run establishment by Beth and son Poch Jorolan believe in the importance of preserving Kapampangan cuisine and made it their mission to pass along their rich culinary heritage to the younger generation.
Another great thing about Everybody's Cafe is their Tsokolate Batirol, hand-ground daily with gilingan batu (stone grinder) from roasted cacao and peanuts.
The thick chocolate sauce is then added to boiling water with milk, cream, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Before serving, the drink is hand whipped until frothy, giving it an almost cappuccino-like texture.
The balance of silky-sweet and slight graininess is what sets Everyday's chocolate drink apart, making it by far, one of the best Tsokolate Batirol in the Philippines.
12.00 NN: ALING LUCING'S SISIG (Angeles City, Pampanga)
Coming off a chocolate high only six hours into our 15 hour Food Frenzy Safari, our next destination seemed like a no-brainer...
No food expedition to Pampanga could ever be complete without a visit to the birthplace of the "unofficial" national dish of the Philippines.
Sisig has become almost synonymous with Filipino street food and can be found nearly everywhere in the country with hundreds of variations and twists.
However, arguably the best is of course, the original, which was invented by Aling Lucing when the Philippines was still a territory of the US.
Roasted pork head (face, cheeks, snout, and ears) is chopped and mixed with onions and chicken liver spread, before being cooked on a hot plate with spices and calamansi juice.
Sisig is best enjoyed with ice-cold San Miguel beer, as it helps to cut through the richness of the dish.
12.30pm: CAFE FLEUR (Angeles, Pampanga)
Our last and certainly not the least stop in Pampanga took everyone on the safari by mouth-watering surprise at Cafe Fleur.
Chef Sau del Rosario is one of the highly regarded chefs in the Philippines and it was an honor to have him personally prepare our meal for us. He explained the thought processes that go into his dishes and how his travels abroad have helped inspire his creations.
Upon arrival, we were treated to freshly-harvested and sweet coconuts from Pampanga.
Chef Sau's unique take on Kapampangan Cuisine manages to preserve the spirit of Kapampangan food, while presenting it in such a way that feels almost as if you're trying something completely new for the very first time.
Like his take on the classic Tamales Pampangueña, where instead of steaming them in banana leaves, he adds coconut cream to quality rice flour to make a kind of velvety pudding that's served in a cup, with a subtle yet well-balanced flavor.
My personal favorite is the fresh Paku Salad with Watermelon, Kesong Puti, and Salted Egg, which I think is the best salad in the Philippines. :)
Next we had Buro (fermented rice) with Crispy Hito (freshwater catfish) wrapped in mustasa leaf with tomatoes and salted egg.
Chef then served up a delicious bowl of Ulang in Sinigang sa Bayabas (sour guava and prawn soup) with River Prawn with big, juicy heads. Beautifully presented, it was a real crowd pleaser.
The main dishes were literally to die for...
Rellenong (stuffed) Bangus was super creamy, made from fresh milkfish cooked using Chef Sau's Mom's secret heritage recipe.
Roast Lamb Shank Caldereta, cooked until fork tender with a perfect blend of spices that added depth and character to the dish.
The best Kare-Kare I've ever tasted, with rich peanutty sauce made from flour, peanuts, and annatto oil. It's served deconstructed with Baguio beans, eggplant, sweet salty bagoong (shrimp paste) and melt-in-your-mouth pork liempo.
Food experts, bloggers, and journalists alike were taken aback by the sheer complexity yet simple execution of Chef Sau's food!
First dessert was Tsokolate Batirol with San Nicholas arrowroot cookies still made traditionally in Pampanga.
The quintessential Filipino dessert--Halo-Halo--made from crushed ice, carabao's milk, leche flan, ube (purple yam), sweetened saba (banana), and nata de coco. It's like ice kachang but better.
Finally, queso dirty ice cream!
Dacal a salamat, Chef Sau!
1.30pm: Marquee Mall (Angeles, Pampanga)
...sample the best ensaymada from Pampanga--Homemade Treasures Classic 1930's Ensaimada!
To be continued...