Monday, December 3, 2007

Cebu Must-Munch

I just arrived from Cebu for the Nursing Licensure Exams held Dec 1 and 2. How did I do? What I know is that, I was more focused and physically amp for the exams. Only God knows how I did. Some parts were easy, some were difficult. Oh well, at least I did my best.

Cebu is becoming one of the great cities in the Philippines. I was surprised of their speedy progress. I recall the times when my Mom brought me with her as she frequents Cebu when I was little. Oh, It was around my grade school years, I think. We crossed the seas via those “very slow” ferry boats that took almost 4 hours of agony and torture between San Carlos, Negros and Toledo, Cebu! 35 years later, they have this fast crafts that make traveling between the islands effortless for only 35 minutes! By accident, my friend, Georgen and I, as we were looking for a place to eat, alas, brought into being “Hotel de Mercedes” in downtown Colon (well I guess at that time, colon was the only place to go around).
It is still standing alright after 35 years since I last stayed there! The façade is the same but the inside was completely renovated from what I recollect. Across the hotel was my favorite restaurant, Pete’s Kitchen. Oh, I remember the food they serve!!! At that time, the place was always full. Every time we went there to eat, I always had a mound of rice with only “lato” (grape-like seaweed) and “sinamak” (spiced vinegar) on my plate. Unfortunately, when we ate there, the place was never improved nor had any face lifts. Food was nothing great compared to my day... and the worst part was that “lato” is no longer served.

My only Mom’s sister, Tita Gamay, who’s blind since birth along with her yaya, Tita Acay, stayed in Cebu almost half of her life. My Mom built a small little cottage for her to stay at the blind community of Banilad. Those were one of the most fun times I have had with the company of great and wonderful, group of people. Inspite of their disability, they remained warm, energetic, jolly, gifted with musical instruments and ideal masseuses regarded as their major source of income. This community once held a concert with Nora Aunor as their special guest. Tita Gamay, my aunt, had a solo with her, as she played the acoustic accompaniment for Ms. Nora. Don’t be surprised if I did, too performed that night. Not to sing nor to play an instrument, but to dance the hula to the tune of the familiar Hawaiian song, “To you sweetheart, Aloha…”? I was about 8 or 9 years old then. Both of my brothers went to Cebu for college. So you see, Cebu is quite a big part of my life.

Of course Cebu, being so progressive has SM City and Ayala. One of my favorite places i love to hang around is the Pearl section of the Malls. Ayala used to have a large space for Philippine cultured pearls alone. When I came to visit recently, i was saddened to see only a few stalls with very limited jewelry selections.

One of the greatest things I love about Cebu are the food delicacies.

There’s this Pork CHICHARON, traditionally deep-fried pork skin, crispy, salty and hot. They now come in exotic flavors such as garlic and vinegar, sour cream and onions, and chili. I like the traditional ones with a little meat in the center. The famous kind are the ones of Carcar. But what I got was a large pouch of Chilen (this was my surprise gift for my husband). I heard the Villalonga Chicharon is good too. I serve this with my spiced homemade sinamak or with some balsamic vinegar and VOO (virgin olive oil) as sawsawan.

Why, I wouldn’t go home without some dried mangoes! I got a large package of dried mango chips from Chilen too. I find it tastier than the ones in small packages.

Georgen, my friend bought some AMPAO, a Carcar delicacy made from sweet crunchy rice crispies. They come in shapes of round, squares and rectangles. Sometimes, they are also in all sorts of colors: red, orange, green and yellow. Little kids love to munch these.

Great tasting MASAREAL a bar-shaped concoction of crushed and ground peanuts, sugar and milk, wrapped in white paper, which is then secured by a piece of string or twine. It's gritty, sweet, and absolutely delightful. The famous ones are that of Didang’s. But this will not hold long coz they usually develop molds if not consumed right away. This is far better than Choc-Nut!!!! Yum yum!

I wouldn’t miss PUTO MAYA (murag budbud sa bisaya, negros), two varieties of glutinous rice (pilit and tapol) mixed together and boiled in rich coconut milk flavored with salt, sugar and ginger. This is usually best served with sun-ripened Cebu mangoes and tsokolate, a traditional hot chocolate drink blended from cacao (tablea). This is great breakfast treats!!!

Then, there’s BIBINGKA A LA CEBU, a steamed rice cake made from ground glutinous rice mixed with sugar and coconut milk, and topped with strips of exotic goat or carabao cheese. I happen to get a bite near the Santo Nino church in Colon while waiting for my friends light some candles for Sto Nino. Look at that! It's generous with coconut meat! Now, what could be more spectacular than that?

(Me and Georgen in Ayala Cebu)

1 comment:

chloe said...

try Mana Acion's masareal. tastes so much better than Didang's. order directly @ 32) 4207819 / (906) 4033390