More Expat Comfort Food in the Philippines

Comfort food is not the same across the board. Other than personal tastes and likes, the country and the particular region of that country also has a vast influence on Expat Comfort Food in the Philippines.

Great Northern Beans with Black Forest Ham

Fried Cornbread

Now for me, this is a real Happy Meal! Great Northern Beans with Black Forest Ham and Fried Cornbread. Some of my family members and friends back in the States are always amazed that I can readily buy the food products I enjoy in Bacolod City to prepare excellent dishes at home. The Black Forest Ham is available at Aribu Sausages and Cold Cuts, located in the Mandalagan Art District. If the dried Great Northern Beans are not in stock at one of the Bacolod Supermarkets, you can buy the canned beans. The brand is Molinera and sold under the name “White Beans.” Just simmer a couple cans of the Molinera White Beans in a large pot, add the shredded Black Forest Ham and you got it going on! Don’t forget to open the cans and pour the beans into the pot but you know that already!

Getting the cornmeal to make cornbread is a little trickier. Bob’s Deli Grocery on Lacson Street is the only place I have ever found packaged cornmeal in Bacolod City and it is out of stock much more often than in stock. The alternative and much cheaper, is to buy corn in the public market and have the grinder grind it to your specifications. The grinder at Masinlingan Public Market in Bacolod charges P45 per kilo to grind the corn. We often get one texture of cornmeal for making cornbread and one texture to be used in battering fish and meat.

Popcorn Chicken

The grind of cornmeal used to turn out these food nuggets, popcorn chicken, is coarser than the cornmeal to make cornbread.

I have been eating and enjoying Filipino Cuisine since 1986. For this expat, some of the dishes are also excellent comfort food.

Pinakbet

A variation of Pinakbet is found in almost every Region of the Philippines. Our version includes the vegetables pumpkin/squash, green beans, eggplant, okra, ampalaya/bitter melon, onions and garlic. Sometimes, we add tomato. We always add Barrio Fiesta bagoong or shrimp paste. In this particular dish, we added chicken still on the bone, which is not so common. Mostly, you will see shirmp and/or pork in Pinakbet.

There are a number of homemade soups that I would include among my personal comfort food but that will be another post. I don’t really know what your personal comfort foods are but I think you will find the ingredients to make them in Bacolod City and you may even find them in one of the excellent restaurants in the city.

 

 

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A Fishing Village in Bacolod City

After living in the Bacolod Area for over 3 years, there are still places that I discover for the first time every week. Last Sunday, we went to a fishing village, which is located near Barangay Sum-Ag and in Punta Taytay. There is popular restaurant known as Alcala’s Higad Baybay Resto Grill located here.

Turn right at the sign in Punta Taytay Beach area and you will be taken to a fishing village and small beach resort.

Fishing Boats

The Red Boat gets attention.

Boats at Rest

Fishing Boats Going Out to Sea

Fishing Village Community

This is a great place to spend an afternoon. We rented a pavilion for P100 and it included a coin operated karaoke machine. Singing is something I really enjoy and even if you are not into today’s music scene, the karaoke machine in the pavilion included songs by Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and Bill Haley and the Comets from the 50s and 60s. The Rolling Stones and the Beatles also were included from the 60s and 70s. There were so many songs to chose from that I would say that you will find several you enjoy singing!

Darts, Anyone?

Our six year old son enjoys playing, so we took our dart board and darts along. We adults had as much fun playing as our son!

Your Throw!

A Tree House

You never know what you may see or find! A tree house on the beach.

Fisher Folk Gathering Shellfish

The “specs” in the sea are fish folk gathering shellfish at low tide. Oysters, clams and red shell mussels are what are being gathered. Right down the road from this area is a row of seafood restaurants known as the Viewing Deck.

A Row of Restaurants

Never judge a book by its cover! There are a number of these seafood restaurants that don’t look like much from first appearance but once inside, it is a different look.

Inside Restaurant

The bar is well stocked with even imported spirits available. A shot of tequila? It’s available. You can eat in or take out. There are also many vendors selling seafood that you can take home for a later meal. I enjoy all the shellfish. Oysters, clams and mussels.

As the saying goes, “different strokes for different folks,” but I am keeping myself busy by taking in the different things to see and do all around Bacolod!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Villa Rosa Beach at Punta Taytay, Bacolod City

Villa Rosa Beach

Villa Rosa Beach is located at Punta Taytay in Barangay Sum-Ag in Bacolod City. We went to Villa Rosa Beach last week and while it is not Boracay, of course, it is a nice place for a day activity. Admission is P20 per head and all day rental for a beach cottage is P100.

Nipa Beach Cottage

The nipa beach cottage is nothing fancy but good enough! Good enough to have some great fun.

A Row of Cottages

Getting Ready for Lunch.

A BBQ grill is included in the day cottage rental.

Kinilaw

Kinilaw is a Filipino raw fish dish that is prepared with vinegar, lime juice, chopped onions, garlic, ginger and chili peppers. We prepared this as one of our dishes at the beach.

Grilled Mullet

Being from Florida, I prefer smoked mullet but grilled mullet also works for me! Locally, this fish is known as tonkan.

A Jug of Tuba

Our Filipino friends enjoy tuba or palm wine. I can say I have tried it but I am not too craZy about it!

Red Horse Beer

Now, we’re talking! Red Horse Beer any day at the beach for me!

Seaweed and Seawall

Shady Area

More Beach

Pavilion

If you are going to Villa Rosa Beach with a large crowd, there are pavilions available for rent. Sounds like a good place for a Birthday Party! A party is a groovy thing.

It was another great day for us in Bacolod during our visit to Villa Rosa Beach. It really is more fun in the Philippines and especially, all around Bacolod.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By The Sea Garden Resort

By The Sea

Located in Talisay City, just north of Bacolod, is By The Sea Garden Resort. There are several nice seaside resorts in the Bacolod Area but many only offer a few native cottages by the sea, overnight lodging, a resto bar and a karaoke machine. Nothing fancy but a very inexpensive place to kill half a day with some fun with friends and family. A great place to have a BBQ, a picnic or order food from the restaurant to enjoy with a few cold ones.

Last Sunday, we went to By The Sea Garden Resort in Talisay. We were the first and only guests there at the time. Su Tu Kill Resto was closed, as was the flea market but we were still determined to have some fun by the sea!

Family Album

A photo to add to the FamilyAlbum! Directly behind us is where clams are harvested. The photos were taken in a kubo, or a native nipa and bamboo cottage, located at the end of a pier.

Silhouette By the Sea

We never did see any clams but we did see some mud crabs!

Mud Crab

To the left of the pier piling is a mud crab.

Reflections By The Sea

Shortly after this photo was taken, it became very windy, so we moved from the cottage at the end of the pier to the small open sided restaurant at the resort. About 5 minutes after our drinks arrived, a tornadic water spout blew in from the sea and damaged the nipa cottage we had just left! All the picnic tables were strewn about and left standing on end. We were blessed that day not to be injured. In the open sided restaurant, our drinks were toppled over, as were some chairs due to the strong wind but we weren’t injured. A Filipino couple in another nipa cottage sustained minor injuries when the cottage collapsed around them.

Needless to say, our food was one hour late arriving. The slightly inured couple refused to seek medical treatment and were treated to a nice lunch and rounds of drinks on the house.

It was only merienda or afternoon snack time for us, so we ordered house fried chicken and Pancit Canton Ilonggo Special, which is a Filipino noodle dish, similar to Lo mein or chow mein. Both are simple dishes but were good. Nothing to complain about at all!

While nothing spectacular, By The Sea Garden Resort offers a few hours of fun during a family outing. For the romantics, By The Sea offers overnight lodging for P1,200 per night.

 

 

 

 

Punta Taytay

In Bacolod City, there is a beach resort located in Barangay Sum-Ag known as Punta Taytay. There are actually several beaches there and Villa Rosa Beach is our favorite.

On the road leading to Punta Taytay is a very large restaurant complex known as “The Viewing Deck.” Each section or restaurant is known by a number. We just happened to stop at Viewing Deck 15 to check it out since this was our first time in this large restaurant complex.

Viewing Deck 15

The photo of the actual building of Viewing Deck 15 did not come out well due to the lighting. It was really a bright, sunny day last Sunday.

Behind Viewing Deck 15 were other restaurants, also numbered, so we decided to take a stroll. A lovely, friendly hostess standing outside Viewing Deck 16 greeted us with a big warm and friendly smile. We decided to go inside and take a look at the menu.

Viewing Deck 16 Bar

All the restaurants at Viewing Deck are native structures and this is the bar area of Viewing Deck 16.

We took a seat in the restaurant that overlooked the sea. Across the way was another one of many Viewing Deck Restaurants.

Another Viewing Deck Restaurant

Without a doubt, night time dining on the sea at Viewing Deck would be nice. Lanterns are used to light up the area when the sun goes down. Of course, there is also electricity. 

Hanging Lanterns

Some expats may not find the menus at Viewing Deck Restaurants very exciting unless they enjoy native Filipino seafood. I enjoy most all the native Filipino food, so I was excited! However, the restaurant we chose, Viewing Deck 16, had grilled pork chops on their menu and I think most Americans would enjoy grilled pork chops! We decided to go the seafood route.

Appetizer

We had to battle the sun in our photo taking but this one is not so bad. My best Filipino friend, Randy, was with us, so we started with an appetizer of Beer na Beer in the one liter bottle. It was about 1pm. The sponsor of the Viewing Deck Restaurants is Asia Brewery, so they do not sell San Miguel Beer Products. Beer na Beer, Manila Beer, Colt 45 and Coors Light is available. Of course, Coors and Coors Light are American beers but they are now brewed in the Philippines by Asia Brewery. 

Sinigang

Sinigang, Filipino soup, was the first dish of our meal. This sinigang had a tamarind base and the meat was lison fish. It also included onions, tomatoes, kangkong or water spinach, long green beans, eggplant and green chili pepper. This sinigang was not overly hot and spicy, as it was just right and A#1!

Grilled Pusit

Up next was grilled pusit, or squid, on bamboo skewers. Very tender which is how I rate a good squid dish. I’ve had some squid dishes that was like chewing on a rubber band but these squid were tender and not very chewy.

Grilled Lison Fish

One of my favorite native fish is Lison. I really enjoy it best deep fried, whole, but grilled well also rocks! Kalmansi, or local lime, kicks up the taste of grilled fish and other dishes. I only ran across two small bones in the Lison, so it was a nice fillet.

Randy and Me

Randy is my best Filipino friend and here we are on the Deck. My lovely wife was busy taking the photos and we never did get a shot of her at Viewing Deck of Punta Taytay!

If you are looking for inexpensive, quality Filipino style seafood, check out the Viewing Deck at Punta Taytay. There are many restaurants to choose from. It has a nice view of the sea and it is on the way to Villa Rosa Beach.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Kuster’s Smoked Ham and Food Hub in Bacolod

A new and interesting food cart has opened at Lopues Mandalagan Shopping Center. Kuster’s Smoked Ham and Food Hub is located next to Roli’s, near the grocery store entrance. What is unique about this food cart is all the food that is sold is homemade. The hams are personally smoked, the different breads are baked fresh and not bought for reselling.

Food Cart

You can order food to eat right away or order food to go. You don’t have to buy a whole ham, as  you can buy as little as 200 grams or as much as a kilo. The smoked ham sandwiches are very good, so no need to buy grams or kilos. My wife and our son lean more toward Philippine food, so if that is what you also like, Kuster’s can fix you right up. Lumpia or Philippine spring rolls are excellent, as is the morosqueta rice.

I am really excited about the English muffins!! This is the first time I have seen English muffins anywhere for sale in Bacolod City. I bought 3 packs of English muffins at Kuster’s to take home. Smoked ham on an English muffin with a fried egg will really start your day out with a smile. Whatta breakfast! Mrs Kuster makes the English muffins from scratch and they are fabulous. I know English muffins very well and I have since I was a young boy. English muffins for breakfast were my favorites since the 1960s and still are today.

There are so many things you can do with English muffins! Eggs Benedict is one of my favorites. A poached egg on top of smoked ham or Canadian Bacon, on a toasted English muffin. Eggs Benedict! Cheese, cream cheese, jelly, jam, marmalade, Vegemite, butter or your favorite sandwich spread will go well on an English muffin. Liver pate will work. I’ve never tried it but bagoong, or shrimp paste, will work, too!

It seems that every month in Bacolod brings us new places to eat and new places to buy food. I am busy trying to keep up with the all new places!


Tito Gary’s Ribs

Ribs are popular in the Bacolod Area of the Philippines. Many native Filipino restaurants have back ribs and spare ribs on their menu, which are grilled to perfection. Often the barbeque sauce is soy sauce and kalamansi, which is the local lime. Depending on my mood, I can enjoy the local BBQ Sauce but I also make my own BBQ Sauce. I have three. One is vinegar based, one is red based and the other one is white based.

I made the red based BBQ sauce for today’s lunch of grilled ribs. To make the BBQ sauce native, I suggest using some banana ketchup instead of all tomato ketchup to get a nice consistency with the two kinds of ketchup and add some Tanduay Rhum. The ingredients include banana ketchup, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup of Tanduay Rhum, finely chopped onions, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a little mustard, a dash or two of black pepper and honey. Depending on how many ribs you will need to baste, you will adjust the amount of ingredients and also adjust according to your taste. If you really like sweet BBQ ribs, add more honey!

I started with a rack of pork ribs bought fresh this morning at the nearby public market. For the freshest meat, buy early in the morning at this particular market. Boiling the ribs or putting them in the pressure cooker for 10-15 minutes tenderizes the ribs before grilling. I like to grill the ribs after the first step but not completely. I like to finish the ribs by applying the BBQ sauce and putting the ribs in aluminum foil but loosely closing for finishing on the grill. WoW! Fabulous juices from the ribs, together with the BBQ sauce, will be saved in the bottom of the foil. You will want to brush this on the ribs before eating for a wonderful flavor.

Tito Gary’s Ribs

Grillin’ and Chillin’ with family and friends is one of my favorite activities in the Philippines. We often go to one of the many beaches in our area for a Sunday BBQ.

Gold Eagle Beer

My beverage of choice with any kind of food but especially with BBQ! San Miguel Pilsen is the National Beer of the Philippines and Gold Eagle is made by San Miguel Brewery. Many farmers in the province drink Gold Eagle because it is cheaper and it does not hit them hard like Pilsen. I acquired a taste for Gold Eagle when socializing with other farmers in the province since we also have a farm there with rice, sugar cane, chickens, pigs, carabao, goats and cattle. Eagle is the beer of choice for family gatherings.

Just One More Time

Tito Gary’s Ribs! I have many nieces and nephews in the Bacolod Area and I am fondly known as Tito Gary. Some who are not my nieces and nephews also refer to me as Tito Gary.

I hope you can enjoy the ribs recipe, as it has a native Filipino touch with the sauce but still the red based type sauce for those who like it.

 

Crayfish

Several days ago, Bacolod Central Market had, what looked like a ton, of crayfish for sale! At P50 a kilo, it was a pretty good buy, too. Crayfish look like baby lobsters, complete with claws. We only buy crayfish if they are still alive and they were at Central Market.

There are a number of different ways to prepare these delicious shell fish, depending on if you like them hot and spicy or mild. Adding red pepper flakes or actual chili peppers to the water when boiling the crayfish will kick them up a notch. Steaming will work, too. Once the crayfish turn red in color, they are ready to eat!

A dip will add to the taste of crayfish. Melted butter is a favorite. I like cocktail sauce, so I make my own using ketchup, wasabi or horseradish and lemon, lime or the local citrus known as kalamansi. Using your imagination to create a dip for crayfish is part of the enjoyment of eating.

A Plate of Crayfish

A plate of Crayfish

If you want to create a festival atmosphere to feed many people, you can have a Crayfish Boil! It is always a big hit among hungry people unless they just don’t like seafood. A large 3-5 gallon pot is needed for the Crayfish Boil. You can add other shellfish, such as clams and/or mussels. A few crabs thrown in will brighten up a few faces.  Other ingredients include corn on the cob, potatoes, smoked sausage, two heads of garlic, bay leaves and 2 or 3 large onion. Be sure to season the water to your taste with herbs and spices before boiling. Boil the garlic, onions, corn and potatoes first before adding the smoked sausage and then the shell fish go in last.

Enjoy!

 

More Food in the Philippines

I love and enjoy everyday in the Philippines. Everyday continues to unfold a new adventure for me.

Weekends are a common time for family and friends to get together, just like anywhere in the world. When that happens, you can be assured of lots of good food to eat! Last Sunday was no exception.

Grilled Bangus Fish

Sun cooked on top and charcoal cooked on the bottom. Hey, this is the Philippines, so you know there is going to be fish.

Nice Grill Marks

Bangus, aka, Milkfish, is a staple in the Bacolod Area.

Bicol Express

Bicol Express is Super Hot! This particular Bicol Express was made with pork liver, heart, lungs and intestines, with many hot chili peppers and coconut milk. It will really get your motor running! Just make sure you have something cold to drink when eating Bicol Express.

Bopis

This Bopis was made with thinly sliced pork, hot chili peppers and coconut milk. A slight variation, as we switched up the recipes on purpose. Bopis is usually made with pork liver, heart, lungs and/or intestines but we decided to make this one lady friendly with the better cuts of meat and with less hot chili peppers, since there were more ladies around than men. We did the Bicol Express with what is normally used to make Bopis. We added sauteed garlic and onions to both dishes. It all worked out! Everyone ate a lot of both and everyone raved! The recipes were asked for, due to the slight variations on the original recipes.

Where's the Beef?

Joke only! I really enjoyed the native food. However, we don’t eat Bopis and Bicol Express everyday or even every week. We do eat a lot of fish and other seafood, a lot of chicken and pork without so much fat.

Philippine Cuisine is diverse and the very same dish can be prepared many different ways, as it differs from region to region and even from family to family in the same region. Check it out the first chance you have.

 


 

 


 

 

The Wonderful Watermelon

For those who have never been in the Philippines, watermelon is alive and kicking here. Most of the watermelon sold in our area of Bacolod City are from the Iloilo area, which is less than 2 hours by ferry or ship.

Going south of Bacolod in the area before Villadolid, there are many roadside vendors selling watermelon.

Squeezing the Melon

Yeah, he is at it again! One of my brothers in law is squeezing the watermelon at a roadside stand.

The nose knows!

My beautiful, adorable, charming wife has a better technique. She can smell the good watermelons and ferret out the best from among many to choose from.

Choose One?

There are many to choose from.

Watermelon is much more than just splitting them open, adding salt if you like and eating, as the juice runs down your hands.

With the right ingredients, watermelon will make a mean salsa. Add chopped watermelon, chopped bell peppers, kalamansi juice or lime juice, chopped green onions, sili peppers, chopped chili peppers or jalapenos, a dash of salt and now you got it! It is great with nachos, tortilla chips or corn chips.The cool watermelon is a nice balance with the hot peppers.

If you have a juicer, blender or a food processor, then you are in business. You can make many different kinds of watermelon drinks. You can have it plain or you can add other things to kick it up a few notches. Add coconut milk to have a wonderful watermelon shake. If you want a frozen treat, pour the watermelon shake into paper cups and put in the freezer. When about half frozen, add popsicle sticks and you will have a watermelon popsicle before too long. You can add mango juice and rum to watermelon juice to make a cocktail.

Adding watermelon to salads is always a nice treat. Just add chopped watermelon to your favorite salad.

Watermelon can be added to your favorite sandwich. Instead of tomato, add watermelon. You may be surprised!

The Wonderful Watermelon. It can bring a new love into your life.