Monday, August 14, 2017

THE PANSIT RESURGENCE

More than 11 years ago from today, I started blogging about the colonial churches of the Philippines and campaigning for the pansit to be proclaimed as the Filipino national dish.

Hundreds of photographs and 656 blog posts later, the pansit has somewhat faded away.


Maybe because I just had too much of it, or perhaps there were more interesting dishes to shoot and write about from the countries I've visited around the world in the last 11 years.


It took a spur-of-the-moment lunch at a Kapampangan buffet restaurant to remind me that I was the Pansit Guy of blogsphere, and that there's a lot of pansit dishes still to be discovered out there.


And it took me the pansit puti, sauteed bihon noodles wafting with ground black peppers that was supposed to have originated from the LSS Fastfood in Makati, to realize that I was a pansit connoisseur second, my MVI persona being the first.      


So hail to the pansit sang the band as bilaos of its various interpretations were brought to the 2017 Bowling Games, to be consumed by the drunk and happy crowd, to be balo-ted by the Atengs, or simply to rot in the heat of a fierce August sun.


Shooting churches and eating noodles might have segued into The Bicycle Diaries and a travel and food blog of sorts, but I always tell the sheep, cows, carabaos and dogs that I meet in the bike trail that it all started with pansit and two old churches in Obando and Bambang...  

Monday, August 07, 2017

OF SNAILS AND BEER

"Bisukol", that with an ebony black hard shell, used to be the King of Snails back in Almaguer until the imported "Golden Kuhol" --- light brown, brittle and almost inedible --- was introduced and radically altered the ricefield ecosystem.

The Prince and Princesses would be the "Agurong" and "Dukyang" that we usually picked in places where there is running water.    

What can be trash snail is the slimy "Birabid" that, if not cooked the right way, can daze its diners.

I enjoyed harvesting these "Treasures of the Ricefields" with my childhood friends but have never eaten any of it in lieu of my Sabadista upbringing.

Until now.  


I was introduced to the culinary pleasure of the "Agurong" much later in Nueva Ecija where my gustatory senses were teased by a plateful of "Kalderetang Susong Pilipit".

My drinking buddies in Bacal 2 would later introduce me to the pleasure of the ginataan version which is the standard pulutan during San Miguel Beer-spiked birthday celebrations.

Anything cooked with coconut milk is supposed to be anti-beer but that turned out to be hearsay.

"Ginataang Susong Pilipit" in fact blended well with beer.  



But I had too many of snails and beer last week, including a feast of "Ginataang Batukari" --- large sea snails tenderized in coconut milk all the way from Casiguran during Day 1 of our annual Bowling Games --- plus sinful dishes of pork [dinakdakan, sisig, barbecue, chicharon] that I've been eating a lot lately.

That plus the small folding bike in Manila acting up and hindering my daily early morning urban prowls has created an uncomfortable sense of fullness inside me.  

So for this week, I decided to work-at-home and so far, I have been trail biking a lot for the sake of being able to enjoy more snails and beer.

Monday, July 31, 2017

CHICKEN RICE AND FISH HEAD CURRY

Tian Tian Chicken Rice [Maxwell Food Center]


What is more Singaporean than chicken rice, and what better place to have it than Tian Tian's?

That of course is so unplanned, just a random thing as we foraged for a late dinner, and I was actually there for the beer than anything else.

But the next day's lunch was no fluke as the jewels of of the Imperial Treasure Noodles and Congee House were presented to prelude a feast of heirloom Chinese dishes. 


Back to the chicken rice, the rightful term is Hainanese chicken rice since the dish originated from Hainan province's Wenchang chicken which eventually made it's way to Singapore where it has become a national dish.

It is in some ways similar to the New Bugis Street's transformation from being Albert Street and erstwhile epicenter of a regular transgender culture to what is now billed as the largest shopping street in Singapore. 

In other words, Singapore is emerging to be a harmonious blend of the old [colonial houses] amidst the new [gleaming highrises]. 



It was Jo's mission to buy something and Oskar's familiarity with the city-state that brought us to Bugis which led us to the golden domed Masjid Sultan, the centerpiece of Kampong Glan, and to a discreet corner tea shop where we refresh ourselves with Teh Tarik prepared by a barista who seemed to pull the milk tea between two vessels.



At nearby Haji Lane, we ogled at street art and tested craft beer at Good Luck Beerhouse which sounds funny in the Filipino context, like husbands going home late from sleazy beerhouses to angry waiting wives, so good luck!  



At Chinatown's Food Street, we got overwhelmed by the options and ended up in the wrong place.

Fatty Weng's Restaurant may have a significant place in Singapore's culinary history but their seafood noodle is flat, their alleged best-selling honey-glazed pork ribs is too sweet, and I don't really like tocino.




Banana Leaf Apollo [54 Race Course Road]


Day 2.5 found us lunching at Banana Leaf, Singapore's oldest Indian restaurant, where Thomas Thomas scratched my itch to sample fish head curry, another must-try in Singapore at least as far as my understanding of KF Seetoh is concerned, which was presumably invented in Singapore by an Indian chef to capture a share of the dining Chinese who have a propensity for fish heads.   

There were two heads and I ate all four eyes of them, that is why I was having double vision while exploring Chinatown one final time, everything so clear that I discerned that one single line [South Bridge Road] connecting three major religious centers in Singapore: the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple of the Chinese, the Sri Mariamman Temple of the Hindus, and the Masjid Jamae of the Muslims.  





They were all there in peaceful co-existence in that stretch of Chinatown that also lead to the rowdy Street Market of bargain items of all sorts although my extra-powerful vision pierced through all that to an almost deserted street corner bar where I found Oskar's lost craft beer joint.

And that's [almost] it, a concluding two pints of cold Archipelago Brewery liquid gold and a free Tiger Beer mug from the friendly bartender to top my extraordinary quest for chicken rice and fish head curry.  




Epilogue at the Sidcor Sunday Market [Eton Centris]

But there's more from the chicken rice and fish head curry of course, like Bicolano and Ilokano food stalls at a Sunday market just across the big street from my Manila abode.

There, Bulan had dinakdakan in lieu of the steamed chicken, and Italian sausages in place of the fish head.

And did I went back for a second on a pork barbecue with a burnt-out stick, an acidic kilaweng kambing, and chewy ube ice cream.  




The best part though is the French and Dutch beer moment with Bulan, and that's no chicken shit or fishmonger's tale.