Abe’s Farm Is Like Next To Someone

I know that being next to someone is the ultimate favorite place of everyone.  But if a spot that is about 2.5 hours drive and you no longer cannot count the number of times that you have been there, does this mean that such a place is also one of your favorites?

the compulsory posing! hahaha!

This will be short…

Abe’s Farm, a quiet staycation venue at the foothills of dormant volcano, Mt. Arayat, north of Manila is the place.  For me, Abe’s Farm is one of those perfect getaway places where one can just stay quiet, have a short social media detox, simply breathe and relax.

A perfect add-on to this is the food that they serve.  Situated right in the heart of Pampanga, the culinary capital of the Philippines, Abe’s Farm food offers what one can call an assault to the senses – texture, color, presentation and of course taste.

happy eating! yum!

Yeah. I gave myself some short quiet break.  And just this weekend I am again at Abe’s Farm.  I guess Abe’s Farm though not a “next-to-someone” is one of my favorites.

Rediscovering Asiong’s Restaurant

Fed-up, tired and cloying from staying indoor due to the pandemic, me and 3 of my close colleagues decided to sneak out of the metro.  Despite the continuous spike in coronavirus cases, we agreed to break the monotony of staying in our respective houses and drove up to the scenic city-province of Tagaytay, an hour and a half drive south of Manila just to have lunch. 

We nevertheless took extra precautions prior to leaving the metro.  We were wearing face-masks and face-shields, brought along bottles of alcohol and I even have a huge pack of disinfecting surface wipes!

But only about five minutes away from our destination, we encountered a highway check point.  To make the story short, we were prevented from entering Tagaytay because we do not have the local government’s required travel pass to enter the province.  Yeah, this is how strict it is here in the Philippines due to this ridiculous pandemic.

We made a U turn yet decided to still have lunch someplace else.  And when I turned on Google to check for the nearest highly recommended restaurant, it responded ‘Asiong’s’.

I remember having dined at Asiong’s in the past.  I know that the food is really good but the atmosphere is something I really do not admire especially that moment when it would be the first time after a very long time of not dining out.  I know Asiong’s is not even a casual dining restaurant but some sort of a low-grade canteen or a roadside eatery which in the Philippines is called carinderia.

I nevertheless still suggested to proceed to Asiong’s because of their great food!  But I warned my colleagues that the ambiance is not like the typical snooty restaurants found in Tagaytay.

But when we followed and let the GPS navigation app point us to our destination, the road we were taking was totally different.  It seem no longer the same road I took when I last dined at Asiong’s eight long years ago.  (Click HERE regarding my 2012 blog post about Asiong’s)

pose first (the obligatory photo taking session)

a collage of photos i took (with jb, willy and mj)

The location of Asiong’s now is a totally different spot in Cavite!  And the establishment is totally dissimilar from the way it was!  The concept and its aesthetics has impressively been improved.  Their alfresco dining is no longer by the dusty road side but a cool garden dining set-up.  We actually settled alfresco for we did not want to be confined in a closed area during this time of pandemic.

The only akin and parallel to how Asiong’s was in the past was the marvelous food!  The awesome gastronomic experience was still the same.

asado de ignacio (braised meat and innards) an authentic savage caviteño dish

adobong pula (pork adobo in annatto sauce)… a must in asiong’s

pancit pusit (rice vermicelli noodles cooked in squid ink)… a house specialty

crispy tawilis (a fresh water sardine exclusively found in the philippines)… this dish is gone in 3 minutes!

a filipino meal will not be complete without the rice. this one is “binagoongang rice” (fried rice in shrimp paste)

Thanks to the valiant military men manning the highway check point. Hahaha!  If not for their being so rigorous in implementing the pandemic rules and protocols of the province, I would have not rediscovered the fineness of the present Asiong’s restaurant.

A Snake Thing

Which among the creatures of the animal kingdom that you fear most?  The animal that provides irrational trepidations.   The beast or creature you don’t know why you dread the most.  I got one.

It would be the snake.  I don’t know why, but the mere site of a snake gives me discomfort.  If virile, macho big guys can hit the highest note known to mankind when they encounter spiders, my vocal stamina can be tested by the mere site of this reptile.

Oftentimes, I don’t remember my dreams but each time I dream about snakes, I can always recall it when I wake up.  I haven’t touched a serpent and I don’t have plans of holding one.  I don’t know why I abhor and fear the poor snakes. 

And I don’t know why I am including a video of my cooking Snake Beans Adobo in this blog post. Hahaha!  Maybe it is because while cooking this dish, I am reminded of my fear of the said animal.

I know that the heavens will not place snakes on mother earth if it does not play a significant role in the ecosystem.  Regardless, I will not hug a black mamba or a king cobra any time soon but will instead run my fastest at the sight of one.

Oh, and by the way the Snake Beans Adobo was heavenly.  I guess it is the only type of snake that I can personally deal with.

A Pointless Chicken Adobo

One worry and hesitation that I have when posting a write-up on this blog is that readers won’t get anything – a point, a learning, a realization, a wisdom – from my writing.  Non-sensical, worthless and throwaway posts already abound in social media.  Lots of it can actually be seen on Instagram and watched on YouTube (in the form of absurd senseless vlog posts).

But let me be brazen this time by posting a short ridiculous clip of my cooking a chicken adobo, the national dish of the Philippines.

I have posted in the past my first-time cooking of a pork adobo (tagged as New York Style Pork Adobo) so let me then include my experience on my first cooking the poultry version of it.

Pointless as it may seem, this Chicken Adobo clip actually garnered 52 likes and 195 views in my Instagram.  And by the way, my average Instagram likes is only 21.

It looks good right?  It tastes awesome too! Anyway, thanks for reading this nonsense of a write up and I hope you encounter in one way or another some pretty good amount of light bulb moments in the course of the day.

Nengkoy’s Preferred Sea Salt

I have always believed that not all salts are equal.  Varieties of this important yet often neglected flavoring abound.  Popular ones are the ordinary iodized salt and sea salt while the chic, hip and pricier array would be Kosher, Himalayan, Fleur De Sel and Celtic salt varieties.

But Nengkoy (my mom) prefers a different variety of salt.  Afraid to run out of stock, it is the seasoning that we never miss to buy and bring back to Manila every time we are in Alaminos, Pangasinan, a province north of Manila, tagged as the sea salt capital of the Philippines.

a gorgeous morning site of sea salt beds in Pangasinan

And unlike the strong, robust and concentrated variety, Alaminos Sea Salt seem subtle, calm and pleasant to the palate.  I don’t know why but this salt never overpowers and would seem to simply let the flavors and taste of the food standout.  It has some strange way of accenting the flavors of the food. 

Alaminos Sea Salt variety is really good.  In fact, the extra one sack that Nengkoy has in her house was actually purchased by a Korean guy who makes and sells home-made Kimchi.  Upon learning that Nengkoy got an extra high-grade sack, the Korean dude never hesitated on offering a good amount so as to buy my mom’s reserve/stock.

Online Sea Salt sold by Winner Joe’s

Good thing though, Alaminos Sea Salt can now be ordered and available online through Winner Joe’s Facebook page.  Thanks to Winner Joe’s, Nengkoy nor my family need not travel to Alaminos, Pangasinan anymore so as get hold of this exquisite seasoning.

Now, watch the beauty and magic in the creation of this pleasing flavoring.

Try this sea salt variety.  I am so sure your taste buds will do a standing ovation and definitely thank you for it.

Drool, Dribble & Slaver on Vigan Cuisine

The color, look, texture and taste of dishes of a certain region is an excellent way to depict the richness of its culture.  A local cuisine can tell a lot about a place’s unique character.  Say for instance, what food ingredients are rampant in their area, what implements and raw materials are readily available, what type of weather does the place often encounters, and what does the majority of the population’s palatal preference.

During my recent trip to Vigan City in Ilocos Sur (9-hour bus ride away from Manila), I was fortunate to have experienced a delectable treat! From scary black dish to creepy beef innards to comforting sweet indulgences.  Food choices – with very weird sounding names – from Vigan’s local cuisine though seem extensive are so unique and so exclusive that such are rarely found and hardly served in popular restaurants in Manila or elsewhere. 

I opted not to describe the palatal experience I had for each one of these dishes.  I rather settle posting photos of it.  One thing though is for sure, these dishes will not make it to this post if it is disappointing or something to forget about.

I can definitely say that my Vigan food exploit was a totally different yet enriching culinary experience.

Drool…

Deconstructed Dinengdeng (native vegetables in simmered fish bagoong soup topped with grilled fish)

Poqui-poqui (grilled eggplant salad omelette)

Dribble…

Sapsapuriket (spicy chicken stewed in chicken blood stew served with potato chips)

the jewel of region’s cuisine is called Ilocos Empanada

And slaver…

ordered this at Cafe Leona — the classic Vigan Platter (composed of Vigan Longganisa, Bagnet, Daing na Milk Fish plus Vegetable Pinakbet and Ilocos Bagoong with Onions & Tomatoes as Sawsawan)

Chicacorn! (the greatest Ilocano snack)

Balicucha (the sweet handmade muscovado sugar curly bar of the province)

Hotel Luna’s Sapsapuriket

Kicking modesty aside and based on my sense of taste’s practical background of experience, I think I have reason enough to say that I have the authority to judge if a Dinuguan is excellent, atrocious or just passable. Dinuguan is a savage Filipino dish known as pork blood stew!

I am saying this because I know what an excellent Dinuguan tastes like.  I just happen to be the son of the best Dinuguan maker on the planet.  Nengkoy’s Dinuguan is so delicious, this ferocious-looking dish would often be one of the most requested part of our family’s handa (food served during special occasions).

sapsapuriket

looks scary… yum!

My recent visit to the City of Vigan in Ilocos Sur exposed me however to a different variety of a Dinuguan.  Locals call it Sapsapuriket!  It is a blood stew variety in which the meat is not pork but the tasty cage-free native chicken. And the blood used to make the stew was not pig’s blood but from the fowl’s fluid that runs through its veins and arteries (Hahaha!).

I was fortunate that my first time eating of the savage Sapsapuriket was in Comedor, the restaurant outlet of the well-esteemed Hotel Luna in Vigan.  One would know that Hotel Luna’s Sapsapuriket is special, for it is served with potato cracklings instead of the usual rice. The hotel’s style of pairing the dish with potato chips was actually a success.  Texture on the palate plus tangy flavor of the pair was something to praise about!

comedor… dining at hotel luna

loved my short stay in vigan (inside a souvenir shop)

I am writing about Sapsapuriket, the Dinuguan of the north, so I guess, this dish served by Hotel Luna’s Comedor is something to praise and look forward to when in Vigan.

I am @keto_sa_kanto

Reason behind my not being too active in this blog is because I recently launched a new Instagram account. Since it is basically been a challenge on keeping in ketosis and determining what acceptable meal to eat is such a chore and undertaking, I decided to stylize, beautify and might as well take photos of these eats and post it on Instagram.

Let me then reveal that I am @keto_sa_kanto!

keto_sa_kanto if translated in english is “keto at the corner”

my recent instagram post!

What is so amazing about this new Instagram account is that it is slowly gaining popularity.  My 7-year old personal Instagram account that chronicles a cornucopia of stuffs, from travels, to food to friends and other highlights of my being a being, has only so far garnered 301 followers.  But my 1-week old @keto_sa_kanto account has already 125 followers as of this writing!

give me flowers! cauliflowers!!!

Follow me at @keto_sa_kanto and see what I have been eating!

Cloying Made Me Do An Exciting Keto Meal

Cloying is a word.  The arrogant in me thinks that only few Filipinos know this word.  If translated in Filipino it is “nauuta”.  It is the sickening feeling you have when you already consumed large doses of super rich eats (like belly fat meats, heavy cake icings or crazy butter-laced sweets).   It is so nauseating, you feel like your head is growing and it will just burst anytime!

At this stage of my being on ketogenic diet, I think I am in the cloying period.  I am starting to get so gutted out by the limited food selections that I have to make.  But the irony and dilemma is that I don’t want to be kicked out of ketosis.   

Espousing on the basic thought of finding a silver lining in the midst of a difficulty, I decided to make my keto meal today a very exciting one!  I instead took time to stylize its plating and took tons of photos of it.

Let me start with my lunch today.  It’s my recipe but it’s Nengkoy who did the heavenly-delicious pickled shallots…

Grilled Rosemary-Marinated Pork with Spicy Mustard, Fresh Cucumber Slices and Nengkoy’s Pickled Shallots

My afternoon snack (and my final meal today) is even more exciting.  Thanks to Joe Duff, the Diet Chef for the Choco-Coffee Mud Cake recipe…

yum!

Choco-Coffee Mud Cake topped with Choco-Peanut Butter and Sweet Fresh Strawberries (Who doesn’t love the mix of strawberries & chocolate inside the mouth? huh!)

I totally enjoyed stylizing these! If not for my crazy cloying, I would have not done this.  Expect more of stylized keto meals in the future…

‘Yan ang mga nagagawa ng mga taong, NAUUTA!