What Do You Miss in the Philippines?


While living in the Philippines, there is not much that I miss from the Southern USA. For the most part, items I cannot actually store buy, I can make at home.


If imported Grits are not available, I can buy White Corn and take it to the grinder to run it through several times to get the texture I like to make Grits. Imported Grits are not available year round in Bacolod and I have not seen the boxed Albers Grits in more than one full year.


Moon Pies! I have not had a Moon Pie in 17 years. Unless S&R in Iloilo sells Moon Pies, I doubt I will ever eat one in our area of the Philippines.


Slim Jim is another product I would enjoy but I have never seen them in the Visayan areas of Philippines where I have been.

Licorice is not available year round in our area.


On the social scene, I do miss going to a Honky Tonk with a live C&W Band and seeing Stetsons, Tony Lama Boots and the Honky Tonk Angels/Redneck Cowgirls with their names on the back of their belts, waiting to be asked to cut a rug out on the dance floor. However, I know those days are long gone and my Dance Card has done been punched.


I am not complaining because, overall, there is very little that I miss from the South, which I cannot get or see in the Bacolod Area. I see many similarities here compared to where I am from. There are many Filipinos here who love God, Family, Country and Flag. Many Filipinos still respect the elderly, they are friendly and neighborly. The Filipino Hospitality is much like Southern Hospitality.

I do not remember ever encountering many people in the Southern USA who are so unhappy, mean and ornery like I have met among the expat crowd in Bacolod. There are some nice expats here but there are also a number of crabby, grumpy, grouchy, ill-tempered and down right vicious expats in the City of Smiles. That is why I avoid most of them. Over time, even some of the expats I thought were nice could only put up a front for so long and out came their real characters and personalities.

Overall, I am certainly blessed and who could not love living among wonderful Filipinos in the City of Smiles?

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Advertisements

What’s For Breakfast?


I have read all the medical reports about how important the first meal of the day is…for years. For me, the first meal of the day is not usually Breakfast any longer but it is usually Brunch.

Cooking for one person is not fun for me, although I do at times. Only for me.

If I have leftover Pizza or Chili on hand, I will eat one or the other for Brunch. However, I do not have leftover Pizza or Chili on hand everyday.

Cooking Oatmeal or Poaching an Egg to eat on toast is a snap for me but I often do not want to. So, I constantly look online for the good Brunch Recipes. I also take a stroll down Memory Lane and think about what I ate for the first meal of the day when I was growing up. Usually somewhere in the Southern USA.

Many Brunch and Breakfast Choices

Pascual branded Greek Yogurt is available in our area and I can buy it by the case at the distributor, Asia Brewery. Greek Yogurt, Chickpeas and Feta Cheese is a recommended Mediterranean Breakfast or Brunch.

An Over EZ Egg Sandwich on an English Muffin or on your choice of Bread, with Cheese and Mushrooms is another suggestion.

Scrambled Eggs with Tofu and Curry Sauce does not float my boat! No, I will pass on that suggestion.

Avocado, Tomato and Cheese Platter for Brunch is something I can get into.

Hash Browns with Refried Beans and Egg of choice sounds good to me!

I like Steel Cut Oats and I like Rolled Oats but I do not want to eat those everyday over the long haul. Most of the Quaker Oats I see in our area are overloaded with Sugar. No thanks for me.

A couple of days ago, I had a Cheese Omelet on a split Croissant. It hit the spot!


In South Carolina, I had Deep Fried Catfish with Grits and Cornbread, Toast or a Biscuit more times than once. Always good and I wish I could eat it on Saturday! Also She Crab and Grits.

I like Eggs Benedict and I make it but I leave off the Hollandaise Sauce. Purists may not like it but I am the one eating the Eggs Benedict and they can prepare it the way they like it.

Dried Fish with Rice, Instant Noodles, Rice with Corned Beef/Beef Tapa/Tocino/Longaniza/Hot Dog and Fried Egg remain popular among Filipinos in our area for their first meal of the day. Do not forget the Coffee! I also eat those, often referred to as Tapsilog in the Visayas to cover all, other than just Tapa.


I enjoy Lugaw and my wife makes great Lugaw. Yellow Rice with Boiled Eggs made into a Porridge or she will leave off the Boiled Eggs and add Shredded Chicken Meat. Both are good but my wife knows I never, never, eat Eggs and Chicken together.

Pan de sal with Peanut Butter is a local Breakfast that I enjoy. A Southern version would be Cornbread with Honey or Table Syrup…and Butter. What about Cornbread Apple Fritters?

I like the purple colored Salted Duck Egg with Sliced Tomato but my wife advised me not to eat this as the first meal of the day. I asked her why not and she just told me..It is not good for you!

I never had the Elvis Special, Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich, deep fried after being dipped in butter. Or so the story goes, as I never had breakfast with Elvis!

I think Southern Cuisine has some of the best Breakfast and Brunch dishes, at least that I enjoy. I will eat Sausage Gravy over Biscuits even at supper time. I also enjoy Grits any time of the day or night. There is also Bacon Gravy over Biscuits.


If I have Biscuits, I will have a good Brunch or Breakfast or for any meal. The Dixie Special is a large Cathead Biscuit with Ham, Sausage Patty, Bacon, Scrambled Egg, Sliced Tomato and plain White Gravy. Now, we’re talking!

Whatta bout Ham Steak with Red Eye Gravy, Biscuits and Fried Apples?

Of course, Waffles, Pancakes and Johnny Cakes, aka Hoecakes, are good to me. The Native Americans in Florida had Fry Bread available, Corn as well, often with Gator Tail, Turtle, Raccoon, Bobcat, Deer or Otter.

Have a great Breakfast or Brunch!

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Sardines


Yes, it is bad news for those living on a limited or daily income, concerning price increases. Many people in the Philippines depend upon the lower prices of canned Fish and Instant Noodles. Just to eat every day!

The DTI, Dept of Trade and Industry, has a website for price checking of basic and prime commodities in the Philippines but their website is not working properly for going on two weeks now.

Canned Fish, such as Sardines, Mackerel and Tuna are considered as Basic Necessities by DTI and they are supposedly keeping check on their retail pricing. To prevent Gouging.

Sardines Are Healthy

I buy canned Sardines and always have 3 or 4 cans on hand. I do not keep a mental note of the exact price of Mega, 555, Ligo, Saba, Capitan del Mar, Family’s Brand, Young’s Town, Master brands of Sardines but I know they are usually P11-P15 per can. Depending upon the brand.

I do not buy Sardines every week but I replace the stock I have on hand, as needed. I prefer buying Victorias Spanish Sardines, which are canned in Victorias City, Negros Occidental, Saba Sardines Adobo, Mikado Sardines and imported Portuguese Sardines. Among the local favorites, I buy both Mega and Ligo Sardines in Tomato Sauce.


When I was growing up, my Dad was a US Navy Officer, a real US Navy Officer, who lived, breathed, ate and slept the World’s Greatest Navy. However, my parents, my brother and I enjoyed eating Sardines on Saltine Crackers with Louisiana Hot Sauce. Thankfully, that was not our main meal of the day.

Inflation and the Sardine War

Sardines Premium Brands are not cheap in America these days. Certainly not as in years past. Crown Prince Sardines in Oil are now selling for $1.85 per can. Best I recall, Crown Prince Sardines were a product of Scotland.

Bumble Bee Sardines in water, canned in Poland, are about the cheapest in America at 89 cents per can. Walmart sells Brunswick Sardines for 96 cents per can.

King Oscar Sardines, sold in America, were also great Sardines, Product of Norway.


A brand of Sardines that I am familiar with in the Southern USA, is Possum Sardines. Those were great! Sadly, the long arm of the FEDS stepped in and put Possum Sardines out of business. According to News Reports. Possum Sardines owned their signature brand, as well as Admiral, Neptune, Bull Frog, Port Clyde and Admiral Sardines. They were the largest supplier of Sardines and when they tried to buy Bumble Bee Sardines, that is when the FEDS stepped in. Proving Possum Sardines was guilty under the RICO Act was over the top and a stretch of the imagination but they were found guilty of…Monopolizing Sardines! Wow, whatta crime!

With the death of Possum Sardines, Brunswick Sardines became most popular in the Southern USA. I also bought Brunswick Sardines when I was still in Alabama and Florida. I liked the Brunswick Sardines packed in Mustard Sauce and Brunswick Sardines packed in Louisiana Hot Sauce. However, Brunswick Sardines are a Canadian Company and not a Brunswick, Georgia Company.


The export version of the Philippines branded Ligo Sardines is internationally recognized as Quality Sardines. Ligo recently landed on a Top 10 List of the World’s Best Sardines in one write up.


After writing this article, I am about to have Mega Sardines on Sky Flake Crackers with Louisiana Hot Sauce.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Tenderizing Pork Shoulder Ribs


I am trying a new method of tenderizing Pork Ribs and other cuts of Pork. when suspected of being…tough.

I made a Brine to marinate a rack of Pork Shoulder Ribs in the ref, for 12 hours. Water, Coarse Salt, Black Pepper Corns, Brown Sugar, White Vinegar and Toyomansi Sauce.

I had bought 2 racks of Pork Shoulder Ribs at SM Supermarket. I marinated the first rack in Pineapple Juice and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauces, however, not long enough. The Pork Ribs were not as tender as we like them.

I really do not like boiling Meat before Grilling. The slow cooker will take the Pork Ribs right off the bone, over- tender, and I like the Rib Bones intact.

The Sauce Makes the Difference!


I often make my own BBQ Sauce, however, I also buy several different flavors of Commercial BBQ Sauce, readily available in Bacolod City Supermarkets. Bulls-Eye Original BBQ Sauce is a personal favorite. I also enjoy Kraft Mesquite Smoke BBQ Sauce and Hunt’s Hickory BBQ Sauce. Basting Pork Ribs on the grill with a thick BBQ Sauce should be near the end of the grilling because it will burn if applied too early. A bit of blackening is alright but I do not like solid blackening. I greatly enjoy BBQ Ribs!


Due to a time constraint, I put the Pork Shoulder Ribs on the Grill last evening after 10 hours of marinating, instead of at least 12 hours. On a scale of 1-10, I rate using the Brine Marinade for tenderizing…7.5.

The Pork Shoulder Ribs were tender enough and I did not want them falling off the bone.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Leftover Rice?


Leftover Rice? My wife cooks extra rice each day because she mixes some of the rice with other food to feed our Belgian Malinois, Tasha. Tasha is our pet dog, of course, and she enjoys eating the Rice dishes much more than eating commercial dog food. No doubt, a full dog is a happy dog!

What About Me?

I use White Rice to make several dishes I enjoy. Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage, Black Beans and Rice with Grilled or Roast Pork, Stir Fried Rice and Spanish Rice.

Early on when I began cooking for myself, years ago, I did not know to use Cold Rice from the ref to make Stir Fried Rice but I quickly learned my mistake by asking what I was doing wrong.

Some people use leftover Rice to make Dirty Rice but I am not one of them. When cooking the Rice with all the ingredients together, wow, the Rice really soaks up all the flavors. Chicken Livers and Ground Beef make a much more flavorful Dirty Rice than using Chicken Livers and Chicken Gizzards. Onion, Celery and Bell Pepper round out the ingredients. Garlic is optional.


Rice Pudding can be made simply with Milk, Sugar and Vanilla Extract. To kick up your Rice Pudding a few notches, add Raisins, a beaten Egg and bake in the oven.

Rice, Ground Beef and whatever you enjoy adding make very good Stuffed Bell Peppers. Mushrooms are a great addition.

Deep Fried Rice Balls require more prep but nothing major. Cold or at least chilled Rice should be used. One-three Eggs, depending on how many Rice Balls you plan deep frying, grated Parmesan, Mozzarella or Cheddar Cheese and Japanese Breadcrumbs are the ingredients. Make the Rice Balls by hand and deep fry.

Milk poured over Leftover Rice, with sugar added, makes a nice Rice Cereal. I ate this often in the South, long before I ever came to the Philippines.

Rice is nice, when I use it to make Rice dishes, however, I am not a fan of plain white Rice as a side dish. If it has, at the very least, Gravy over it, I am happy.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

The Evolution of Sisig and Mayonnaise


For years in the Philippines, Sisig has been associated with drinking sessions, as Pulutan. Also, lesser known, nutrition for pregnant women in the Philippines. However, these days, Sisig is a staple at Filipino Restaurants, most often served on a sizzling plate.

On the home turf, Sisig was made with pig cheeks, pig snouts, smothered with onions and laced with red hot peppers.

Maybe foreigners would not like pig ears and pig tails any better than pig cheeks but it is a step up.

Sisig has now evolved. Ground Pork, Ground Beef, Chicken Liver, Chicken Gizzard, Tuna, Squid, Shellfish are all being utilized to create Special Sisig. Other ingredients include Calamansi, Pineapple Juice, Black Peppercorns, Salt, White Onion and Chili Peppers. The new chefs on the block recommend garnishing Sisig with Mayonnaise and an Over EZ Egg.

Mayonnaise

Kewpie is probably not the go to Mayonnaise to put on your Cold Cut Sandwiches but it is good with Asian dishes. Like Sisig! In China, where I was an English teacher for 9 years, that was the only brand of Mayonnaise available where we lived, unless you took the A-Train to Hong Kong for shopping.

For years in Bacolod, I bought Home Brand Mayonnaise, Product of Freedonia, NY, but this year, I am buying Kraft Mayonnaise since it appeared on the scene. Surprisingly, I never see Hellmanns Mayonnaise in Bacolod City.

I have never tried Best Foods Mayonnaise, which I see everywhere. I have tried Lady’s Choice Mayonnaise in a pinch and that was it! It is not bad but it is not my choice.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

How to Make Homemade Bacon in the Philippines


The Bacon Purists may give me the ho, ho, ho, but I make Bacon by what I refer to as…Organic Method. It really makes nice Bacon, tried and true since we lived in China, where I began making my own Bacon.

I do not use Prague Powder, Curing Salt, Salt Peter or whatever else many others use to make Bacon. I do not like playing with Nitrates!

The ingredients I use for Homemade Bacon are as follow. Of course, Pork Belly with rind or skin intact. Do not slice the Pork Belly at this point, as you want to season the entire slab, regardless of size. Sea Salt or the local Coarse Salt, Black Pepper, Fennel Seed, 1 Garlic Clove, Bay Leaves and Honey. You may add things like Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme if you like but I do not. I want to make Bacon and not recreate Simon and Garfunkel.

Concerning the Salt, since it is Pork, I do not use Kosher Salt on Pork but to give you an idea, that is the texture of Salt you need to use when making Homemade Bacon. The Salt ratio I use is one Tablespoon per each 1 lb of Pork Belly. It is better than Chemicals, in my opinion.


Rub all the seasoning on the Pork Belly, place it in a Zip Lock and put it in the ref. Turn the Zip Lock on the other side once per day. Seven days later, you have Bacon.

It is best to remove the Pork Belly on the 8th day and roast it in an oven at 200F degrees for at least one hour. Two hours if you like but not longer than 2 hours. If you have a meat thermometer, the Pork Belly should reach 150F degrees when roasting and then you are finished.

Once cooled down, the Pork Belly is ready to slice and Fry Up as Bacon. If you are not ready yet, put it back in the ref in a fresh, clean Zip Lock or Tupperware container until you are ready for Bacon.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Eating Korean Food In The Philippines

korea
A new Korean restaurant opened at Golden Field in Bacolod and the name is Hanok. I have been hearing a lot of talk about how great the Korean food is at Hanok. Of course, if you already know you do not like Korean food, no need to go there, as that is all they serve. Some of the dishes, you can cook at your table. There are many dishes that are prepared in their kitchen by an actual chef, so you do not have to cook!

A friend contacted me and told me that there is a Korean owner and a Korean chef at Hanok and he knows I know Korean food very well. I ate Korean and Thai food 4 or 5 times each week when I lived in Ft Walton Beach, Florida. A Korean friend owned my favorite restaurant/watering hole/karaoke bar in the Florida Panhandle. Mary Esther, Florida.

Korean Dining Experience

korean-star
Four of us dined at Hanok last evening and even our 11 year old son raved about their food! We could not eat all the food, of course, as each dish is for 3-4 people, depending on appetites. It is about social, getting together, ordering 4 or 5 dishes, sharing and having a few drinks. We ordered 5 dishes, a pitcher of house blend cold tea without ice and a couple of beers for my friend and I. My wife and I were the only ones who could use chopsticks and Korean chopsticks are normally metal, not wooden. Do not worry, as they have regular eating utensils as well at Hanok. The fare was exactly P1500 and we had a ton of leftovers to bring home.

For brunch today, I had leftover Korean Green Onion Pancakes and Cheese Egg Rolls. These egg rolls are not like Filipino Lumpia or Chinese Egg Rolls. No, no, no. They are actually eggs, rolled up and stuffed with wonderful cheese.

Finding an Excellent Korean Restaurant

I will be the first to tell you, finding an excellent Korean restaurant in Bacolod and even in Cebu is hit or miss. Mostly Miss from my experience. I have eaten at 2 different Korean restaurants in Cebu City and both were not good at all. Not authentic. Hanok is the only authentic Korean restaurant we have found in Bacolod. The only one!

A good tip for ya. See which restaurant has many Korean patrons eating there. If they eat in a Korean restaurant that is crap, they will not go back again. If you find a Korean restaurant with many Korean patrons, I think you have found the gem. Word of mouth spreads. “Don’t go to _____(fill in the blank.) No good!”

Last evening, there were two lovely young Korean ladies dining there and each had a full bottle of Soju. They are a better man than I am if they can drink a bottle of Soju! Perhaps they were drinking the 18% ABV Soju? I have only tried the 45% ABV Soju in the past and I already knew if I messed around drinking much of it, it would knock my socks off! I found it to be a hard drink.

No thanks! Just give me an ice cold OB, a Korean Beer. There is a joke that OB is Oriental Budweiser Beer. It is good beer.

I had not eaten an authentic Korean Green Onion Pancake since 1995. I am very happy I found them again at Hanok.

If you want to enjoy excellent authentic Korean Cuisine in Bacolod City, I highly recommend Hanok in Golden Field.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Daddy’s Pizza: Best Doggone Pizza in Cebu City!

daddy-pizza
If you want the best doggone pizza in Cebu City, which I have found during the last 2 years, go to Daddy’s Pizza. You may ask yourself, “well, how do I get there?” I am going to tell you the man to see and I will tell you right where to go! Edmund Samuel Comaling is the owner of Daddy’s Pizza and let me tell ya, Edmund has the best American English of any Filipino living in the Philippines, who I have met during the past 30 years. And you can believe that!

Go see Edmund at Daddy’s Pizza, located across Guadalajara Street on V. Rama Avenue, Guadalupe, Cebu City. You will not only get a fabulous pizza but you will not take a hit in your wallet! Very affordable for a top of the line, quality pizza. Everyone I told about Daddy’s Pizza agrees with me on that! You will as well.

You will find Daddy’s Pizza on Facebook. Check them out!

I love Pizza!

The first time I had pizza was way back in 1960 in Middletown, Rhode Island, when my dad was still in the World’s Greatest Navy. The pizza joint was a Mom & Pop Pizzeria, owned by a middle aged Portuguese couple. Their pizza is the pizza I always set the bar that I judge other pizza by. Edmund’s Pizza at Daddy’s Pizza in Cebu City measures up. Hands down!

I am not a fan of the national and international chain pizza restaurants and Daddy’s Pizza is not that type place.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod. However, I may see you one day in 2017 ay Daddy’s Pizza in Cebu City. I hope I do and so does Edmund.

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

 

Izumi: The Real House of Ramen

izumi
Can you believe that there is a place you can go, if you are a little run down on your soul and you want authentic comfort food? I  can tell you right where to go. Izumi Ramen House, which I call The Real Ramen House. Their Ramen is the real deal! Izumi is located in the Nolan Building on BS Aquino Drive in Bacolod City.

My family and I dined at Izumi Ramen House yesterday and we all enjoyed it. We ordered their large # 1 Ramen Bowl and my wife & I shared it. Four Thumbs up! After all, 2 people only have 4 thumbs total, di ba, so Izumi gets the highest rating from us.

Our 11 year old son was with us and a Filipino friend as well. We also ordered Japanese Dumplings and BBQ Pork on Skewers. All were very well pleased with their food and we were indeed hungry.

Cold Beer! Yep, Izumi has ice cold San Miguel Pilsen.

I Think I’m Turning Japanese

Not exactly but do you remember that song by the Vapors from 1980? I certainly do! Hey, I am age 62 now but I can take a licking and keep on ticking! And you can believe that!

I have been to Japan a number of times over the past 30 years and I lived in China while working as an English Teacher for 9 years. Personally, I prefer Japanese Food to Chinese Food. Moo Goo Gai Pan is a Chinese-American dish but you will not find it anywhere in China. Believe me, as I looked for it. I love Moo Goo Gai Pan!

I find Ramen as good Comfort Food. It is alright if you slurp the noodles and the soup! Go all out, have fun and check out Izumi Ramen House. Once you do, you will never eat instant Ramen again. It will not be Lucky Me but Lucky You!

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~