Low Country Boil

When I lived in Charleston, South Carolina, I learned about the Low Country Cuisine. It is not as heralded in much of America, however, it is known for its Fabulous Food, throughout much of the Southern USA.

There are a number of Essentials in Low Country Cuisine and I will name the ones I am most familiar with. Shrimp, Crabs, Oysters, Grits, Fried Chicken, Country Fried Steak, Fried Green Tomatoes, Okra, Collard Greens, Pulled Pork, Chicken Bog and Boiled Peanuts.

The above photo is Low Country Fried Steak with Gravy and the good news is, you do not have to be in the Low Country to make it…You can make it right here in Bacolod!

The above photo is Fried Green Tomatoes. There are certainly many Green Tomatoes in Bacolod. After you eat just one, next time, you will slap yo granny down, getting to that batch of Fried Green Tomatoes. Hot, right out of the skillet.

One of my All Time Favorites is the Low Country Boil. You may ask yourself…Self, where is the Low Country. The Low Country is the Coastal Regions of South Carolina and Georgia.

This is what you need to do and then…you really have something good to eat!

Season the Seafood, Season the Veggies and Season the Water in the Stock Pot. Bring the Water to a boil and add…Corn on the Cob and Potatoes. After 10 minutes, add Whole Onions. After 5 minutes, lower heat and add Smoked Sausage, Shrimp, and Crabs. Continue to simmer until done.

Old Newspapers are perfect to use as a Table Cloth when eating the Low Country Boil. Ice Cold Beer is the Beverage of Choice.

Chicken Bog. What the heck is this? Chicken Bog is almost always found in Low Country Homes or in the Homes of those originally from the Low Country but have relocated.

Chicken Bog is a Rich Porridge, consisting of Chicken, Rice, Onions and Smoked Sausage. Fancy restaurants refer to Chicken Bog as…are you ready? Chicken Pilau! However, it is all the same.

There you have it Amigos and Amigas. From the Low Country to the City of Smiles and right to you in yo Kitchen!

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Seafood…And Eat It!

There are a number of good Seafood Restaurants in Bacolod. However, even eating at the best, I have experiences Mild to Moderate GI Disturbances after eating there. Therefore, the best and safest Seafood is at Gary’s House!

My wife and I both know how to safely handle Fresh Seafood and we know how to prepare it.

The Seafood Dish I eat most often at home is the Fish Po Boy. I use Vietnamese Catfish Fillets, AKA Cream Dory, to make the Po Boy, Deep Frying the Fish.

The key to any Fried Fish is…the Batter. I like Beer Battered Fish. Other Ingredients include…Cornmeal, Flour, a variety of Spices of Choices but I use All in One Creole Seasoning that is all in. Everything is in it already.

I dip the Fish Fillets in Beer and then dredge it in the Seasoned Cornmeal-Flour Mix. If you do not like dipping Fish in Beer, dip it in a beaten Egg first.

On the Po Boy, I slather both the bread and the Fish with Mayonnaise and Horseradish, accented with Pickle Relish. I then top with Cole Slaw. The Fish Po Boy is down home New Orleans. Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulez! Let the Good Times Roll!

I make a Shrimp Po Boy from time to time, using the same Technique as making the Fish Po Boy. If I see the large Oysters, an Oyster Po Boy is awesome!

When eating Boiled Shrimp, I make Shrimp Cocktail as the Sauce. I leave off the Pickle Relish and I use Ketchup instead of Mayonnaise, never forgetting the Horseradish. Required!

Scallops and Oysters are at the top of my favorite Seafood. I learned my lesson well and I will never, never, never again eat Raw Oysters in the Philippines.

I also like Clams, especially Razor Clams, Mussels, Crabs and Sea Snails.

The Fish I eat, I am very picky about. Head and Tail on does not bother me but them Bones do bother me!

Vietnamese Catfish, Lison, Lapu Lapu and Bangus are the Fish I enjoy. Forget Tilapia!

There is a Marine Bounty and a Treasure Trove of Seafood…all around Bacolod. I hope to see you here…one day!

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Vaya Con Dios!


Kuya J

Kuya J2

Kuya J is one of the coolest restaurants in Bacolod City, The City of Smiles. Kuya J is located at SM Mall on their North Wing, just down the way from Krispy Kreme.

It is mostly serving Filipino Food but there is something for everyone. Most of us like seafood, di ba? I know I do.

Their service is great at Kuya J. Kuya means older brother for the most part in the Philippines and they are serving up some great food everyday. It is Filipino Comfort Food at its best! Their House Iced Tea is served in a type of Mason Jar and it is the best iced tea I have tried anywhere in the city. You can buy it by the pitcher.

One of my all time favorite dishes is scallops. For P160 at Kuya J, you will get 10-12 scallops on the half shell. They are garnished with fried garlic chips and served in a savory melted butter sauce. Wow! They’re awesome.

If you are looking for excellent Filipino Cuisine, please check out Kuya J. I don’t think you will be disappointed. I give them 5 Stars!

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

~ Gary McMurrain ~

Panaad Festival 2013 at Night

Sunglasses at Night

Sunglasses at Night

There are hundreds of vendors at the Panaad Festival selling so many different items, which is part of the fun of looking around.

Balut and Peanuts

Balut and Peanuts

One of the most common night time snacks in the Philippines is balut. Balut is duck eggs that have been fertilized with the embryo for about 8 days and then boiled before eating. The peanuts are simply roasted peanuts.


Seafood Market

Seafood Market

There are a number of seafood markets at the Panaad Festival. After choosing your favorite seafood, you can have it cooked or packaged to take home.




Nice Looking Prawns

Nice Looking Prawns

Grilled Scallops

Grilled Scallops

One of my favorite treats at the Panaad Festival is eating grilled scallops on the half shell. P150, or less than $4, will buy a lot of scallops for several people to share.

Local Handicrafts

Local Handicrafts

More Handicrafts

More Handicrafts


Beautiful Vases

Handicraft Vases

There are many beautiful handicrafts to choose from at the Panaad Festival and these are only a very few among the vast variety.

There are still 4 nights and 5 days left of exuberant activities at the Panaad sa Negros Festival 2013. You still have time to make it!







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!
















Chilled Crab Salad in the Philippines

Hot! Hot! Hot! This has been the hottest season since we moved to the Philippines. When the weather is hot for extended days, I am into eating cool food. This week, I prepared one of my favorites, which is chilled crab salad.

Chilled Crab Salad

The ingredients for this particular chilled crab salad are pretty simple and easy to find in Bacolod City supermarkets. I used crab sticks, chopped celery, boiled egg and Virginia Honey Cured Bacon. Fresh crab meat or canned crab meat may be used instead of crab sticks. All the ingredients were purchased at SM Supermarket. The sliced crab sticks and celery were chilled in the freezer a short time before preparing. I boiled several eggs but I only needed one in my chilled crab salad. After boiling, I allowed the egg to cool down before preparing the salad. Next, I fried the Virginia Honey Cured Bacon very crispy. I was then ready to mix the salad.

Prepared Chilled Crab Salad

I added one heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise and mixed the salad by hand. I garnished with Spanish Paprika and I had one kalamansi, or local lime, handy to drizzle the final ingredient before eating.

A Closer Look

If you prefer, crumbling the bacon is fine.

One a hot summer day, a chilled salad is hard to beat for lunch. There are so many other salad options but the chilled crab salad was my choice for lunch.



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 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


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.


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, 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.









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.