Filipino Creativity, Spanish Inspiration

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When I first arrived in the Philippines, I was excited to enjoy Filipino Cuisine. For one year, I enjoyed Filipino food almost exclusively. I wanted to try it all. I had pizza a time or two during that year, at Shakey’s, had a few burgers here and there and I had Southern fried chicken several times. I lived with a Filipino family for one year and communicated daily with the cook, concerning what I wanted to eat. Her dishes mostly highlighted Spanish inspiration instead of dishes that were Chinese inspired. She also had Indonesian and Malaysian inspired dishes that she made very well. Bakmi Goreng, Indonesia style fried noodles, became an all time favorite, even until this day. With lots of lime juice.

It was during this time that I first discovered toyomansi, soy sauce with calamansi (lime) juice. It is a great condiment on a variety of dishes. One of my favorite condiments is Sambal. It is a spicy bottled chili sauce, which also has a little bagoong, patis, ginger and lime juice. It is of Indonesian origin and has influenced Filipino Cuisine in some islands.

I may have strange tastes but I enjoy bagoong (shrimp paste) and patis (fish sauce) as condiments. Most of the expats I know do not often eat Filipino food. One told me bluntly, “I don’t eat that crap,” referring to Filipino food. He has a very bad attitude and I do not like guys like that! For me, it is part of the adventure. Nowadays, I don’t eat Filipino food everyday but I eat it often and I have a number of favorite Filipino dishes. My mother in law makes short pork ribs with jackfruit for me from time to time and it is excellent.

Spanish Inspired

Adobo is considered by many as the National Philippines Dish. I enjoy making pork and chicken adobo as a one wok dish. I tend to use more soy sauce and vinegar than the local Negrense style adobo.

Paksiw is my wife’s favorite dish and she makes it often. She seems to favor Paksiw with fish but she makes Paksiw with pork for me. It is a vinegar based stew with fresh chili peppers.

Many local dishes in our area have Spanish names. Mechado, Kaldereta and Menudo are only 3 examples among many.

Eggs Sarciado

Eggs Sarciado is a Filipino dish that is a play on Huevos Rancheros.

Eggs Sarciado is served with fried potatoes, onions, garlic and Filipino style sweet tomato sauce.

I prefer Huevos Rancheros and there are many variations. I use scrambled eggs, served on a corn or flour tortilla, with salsa, sliced avocado and Mexican or Spanish style rice. It’s awesome!

Especial Paella Valencia

Paella Valencia originated in Valencia, Spain. You will see this one pot yellow rice dish served during Christmas, other holidays, special occasions and during barrio fiestas, in the Philippines. I love Paella Valencia!

There are many variations and recipes of Paella Valencia. I have one special version that I will share with you.

My Paella Valencia includes the following ingredients. White fish stock, dry white wine, chopped celery, chopped onion, garlic cloves, peeled tomatoes, chopped red bell pepper, chopped green bell pepper, chopped yellow bell pepper, smoked Andouille sausage, whole chicken thighs, whole chicken wings and 1 dozen each of clams, mussels and prawns. Wow! I think you will like my version of Paella Valencia.

The cover photo of this article is of Especial Paella Valencia.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod!

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

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Best Beef and Pork in Bacolod

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Some expats in the Philippines value the beef they buy much more than others. They do not think twice about spending P1,500 for an imported American steak at the supermarket. I am not in this category. It is not important to me.

I didn’t move here expecting to find US Beef but it is available. More common at SM Supermarket is Australian Beef and while cheaper than US Beef, it is still pricey. I have been disappointed a number of times with the beef sold as Australian Beef. The exception was Beef Brisket but that is not exactly a prime cut, yet it was better than Rib Eye!

Other than in canned corned beef, I have not seen actual beef cuts from Argentina, Brazil or New Zealand.

I am still happy with the Monterey brand Porterhouse and T-Bone Steaks. P240 is about the average price for a large Monterey brand Porterhouse Steak. I marinate the steak several hours with pineapple juice before grilling and I never had one steak turn out tough.

Wagyu Beef is available in our area but the price is off the charts!

I avoid the local beef sold in public markets. Always too tough. It is a waste of money unless you want to feed the dogs. I also avoid the pseudo-steak houses. Been there, done that a few times and was always very disappointed.

Bahamas Meat Shop

My favorite place to buy pork in Bacolod is at Bahamas Meat Shop, located on Tindalo Avenue next door to Hua Kong Chinese Pharmacy. A German national is now making wonderful sausage and German style ham at Bahamas.

We shopped at Bahamas Meat Shop yesterday and loaded up for a family barbecue at our home. We bought Pork Steak and Pork BBQ Steak. Wow! Everyone enjoyed the grilled pork steaks last evening.

I also restocked with the Debrecener Sausage. It is really among the best sausage available in Bacolod, in my opinion. It is the real deal!

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There are other sausages available at Bahamas, including the new Curry Sausage but we have not tried that one yet. Bratwurst is available.

There are ham roasts, pork chops and many other fine cuts of pork at Bahamas Meat Shop and I highly recommend your shopping there.

I hope to see you someday, somewhere…all around Bacolod!

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Kabbara Cafe: Lebanese Cuisine in Bacolod City

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Last evening, my wife, our son, a nephew and our best Filipino friend and I went to The Billboards on a mission. We wanted to eat at Kabbara Cafe. That’s exactly what we did. Mission Accomplished! The Billboards Complex is located on Lacson and BS Aquino streets. Wow! Great Lebanese Cuisine.

We have been told that the husband of the owner of Kabbara is Lebanese and the ingredients used in the food preparations are sourced from the Middle East.

The service was also excellent at Kabbara Cafe. The menu prices are reasonable and Kabbara Cafe is not over priced. My wife greatly enjoyed the Iced Coffee and our son greatly enjoyed the Iced Chocolate. Those are priced P50 and P60 each.

Shawarma!

The Shawarma at Kabbara Cafe is not the run of the mill Shawarma that you find in the malls or as found in pseudo-Middle Eastern Restaurants. The Shawarma at Kabbara Cafe is the real deal.

What is Shawarma? At Kabbara Cafe, which is authentic, Shawrama is slow cooked chicken or beef, with special garlic sauce, french fries, tomato, parsley and served in warm pita bread.

I ordered the Chicken Shawarma and it was awesome!

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Other Lebanese Cuisine

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Kabbara Cafe is much more than only Shawarma. Our son ordered, and greatly enjoyed, Chicken Biryani, which is Grilled Chicken with Biryani Rice. Our son enjoyed it and he thought it was great. We also ordered the large Beef Arayes. This is Lebanese Beef-Stuffed Pitas. The style at Kabbara is sliced into 6 triangle slices, giving it the appearance of Lebanese Pizza. My wife and nephew greatly enjoyed Beef Arayes.

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The orange colored sauce in the photo above, is spicy! But not too much for me. The spicy sauce is Harissa style hot sauce.

For take out, I ordered Falafel. This dish is deep fried patties, made from ground chickpeas and fava beans. I was planning to eat this the next day but I could not wait! I ate half of it after I got home. It was also awesome. I was also given the spicy Harissa style hot sauce for take out. I like it!

On the menu of Kabbara, I was interested in the Goat and the Lamb Biryani. Next time!

There is much more Lebanese Cuisine on the menu at Kabbara Cafe.

If you are looking for a unique and delicious cuisine, which is not commonly found in our area of the Philippines, I do not think you will be disappointed by trying Lebanese Cuisine. At Kabbara Cafe.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Fighting the Boredom of Retirement

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You don’t have to go far when you get out of the house. An actual walk in the park is getting out of the house. There is a new park not far from where we live and it is even my walking distance. I get outside of the house most days and get some natural Vitamin D from the sun. I don’t sunbathe, though. Too hot for that! I also don’t stay too long in the sun, as that is counterproductive.

People meet up at the park as early as 5am to do tai chi, which is something I enjoy but I don’t wake up that early to join in. I have my own tai chi technique that I tweaked after learning it in China.

There is also Zumba Dancing every morning at the park. There is a full size track that is free to use. Some jog on the track, some walk on the track and others ride bikes on the track. A pool is now open but there is admission for that. P50 for adults and P20 for children. Still not bad if you like swimming.

I Had the Power

Some guys miss their jobs since they retired. Especially those in mid level management and executive positions. Those jobs met their particular needs and those needs are no longer being met since they are not the Boss in the Philippines.

Several expats told me that once the honeymoon period of living in the Philippines wore off, they hit a wall. Nothing to do. Nothing to do? I have been living in the Bacolod Area for 6 years 7 months and I haven’t hit the wall of boredom. I don’t think I ever will.

Become a Mall Rat

If you live in a city with a mall, I think it helps going there. There is also a group of retired Filipinos who meet up daily in the coffee shops or restaurants in SM Mall, who I know. I have been asked to join them a few times and I do. They mostly drink coffee. One group meets up at a Japanese restaurant daily in SM, orders many pots of hot tea and people watch, as the people pass by in the mall. They talk about everything. When I join them, which is certainly not daily or even weekly, they speak English in my presence.

I enjoy going to the mall and walking around. It seems like new stores and restaurants open fairly regularly. Two days ago, I saw the new Choobi Choobi Restaurant. Their menu looks pretty good. Scampi Baby Lobster, Chilean Mussels, Bag of Shrimp, Grilled Pompano and other delights. Since I was alone, I did not want to dine in a full service restaurant, so I went to Burger King instead.

“At SM, We have it all for you!” That is the saying at SM Mall. They do not exactly have it all for me personally but they indeed have many things that I enjoy. SM is my favorite mall in Baoclod City.

Say You Went Fishing!

There is the Negros Sports Fishing Club based in Bacolod. They also have regular fishing expeditions in Sipalay and go out on a fishing boat. Mostly out of Tzino Beach (Chino Beach).

Some of the fish you can catch include Sail Fish, Blue Marlin, Amber Jack and Skip Jack.

Closer to home, in Bacolod City, you can rent a bangka, local fishing boat, for P1,000 per day plus a tip to the Captain.

Bright Lights, Big City

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I am not interested in living in a large city but I enjoy living in a mid-size city. I enjoyed living on the farm and did that for 2 years when we first moved here. I already know that after living in Bacolod City for 5 years, I would not enjoy living year round on the farm.

Yes, you can Phil good everyday!

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~