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!

Heavy Keto Breakfast

After I arrived from my NYC and D.C. adventures, I have been quite successful in keeping myself under ketosis.  I am also no longer the worrier kind who needs to think and contemplate on what food I should next be consuming that is keto friendly.

This is especially true regarding my breakfast meals!  Aside from ordering breakfast meals from a nearby café in my office (with lots of keto-laced instructions and special requests), I have already settled and established the kind of keto breakfast that suits me.  I actually do and prepare my own keto-breakfast meal.

And for those who think that I am actually starving myself that is why I lose 39 pounds and is now on my ideal and preferred weight of 155 pounds, here is actually a set of photos I took of the type and kind of usual breakfast that I would usually consume. 

2 burger patties, 5 cherry tomatoes, 4 slices of jack-cheddar cheese, 4 slices of rosemary keto bread and 1 huge grilled schublig sausage

2 burger patties with spicy mustard sauce, 4 tiny sugar-free pickled shallots,  4 slices of jack-cheddar cheese with 4 small slices of rosemary keto bread (the slab of keto cheesecake on the side was consumed as dessert for lunch)

2 burger patties, 3 broccoli-laced scrambled eggs, 4 small slices of rosemary keto bread and a mug of bulletproof coffee

One fault though is I can’t seem to count the carbs in these meal, but it nevertheless seem to maintain my preferred and ideal weight.  But for the sake of counting, the estimated number of carbs for these types of meal would be around 10 to 15 grams, which is actually not bad.

This breakfast no doubt fills me up and actually get me going until late lunch time!  And as the saying goes, “a bachelor’s life is like a fine breakfast, a flat lunch and a miserable breakfast!”  I now seldom have dinner for I try to keep up with mixing keto with that of an intermittent diet.

And for those who are starting keto, good luck and I hope you achieve your goal the soonest!

Hebigat na almusal!

My NYC Bagel Exploit

Prior to leaving for NYC I know already that my maintaining under ketosis and keeping a keto diet is doomed.  That is why I gave my delicious in-ketosis body a break.  I ate what is supposed to be eaten in NYC! 

Since being given by fate the opportunity to revisit NYC which for me is such a stupendous blessing, not eating the classic NYC staple could therefore be deemed like a mortal sin.

Because of this, I obliged and dragged myself on eating the classic New York bagel.  They say that NYC bagel is strangely incomparable because of the water chemistry of this urban zone.  And what seem to be remarkable with my bagel-eating exploit is that I did not go to the usual, popular, well-published, most-recommended and tourist-infested café or store that offers the best bagel in NYC.  Besides, every New Yorker seem to have their respective strong opinion on who serves the best NYC bagel.

there must be something in the water…

 I then instead chose a guileless, un-fussy and archetypal type of a deli and mini-grocery store.  At one quiet neighborhood in Brooklyn, there sits and operates Longevity Natural Gourmet Market.  And to complete the complex puzzle of my NYC adventure, I decided to be a traditionalist on this exploit.  This prompted me to order for a no-frills kind of a bagel.  I simply ordered a classic variety with cream cheese on it.

 Longevity’s bagel has no food coloring, not fancy and thankfully was the traditional kind of a bagel.  It nevertheless was impressively squishy inside and remarkably crisp crust on the outside, which clearly defines the classic kind of an NYC bagel. It is soft-on-the-inside and lacquered-on-the-outside!

inside longevity natural gourmet market with people doing their own respective business

a mandatory selfie inside longevity

yum!

This is to confirm then that bagels in this part of the globe are indeed unmatched and should really be something to be gratified with.  Now I can really say that I am and was indeed in New York City.  And a piece of bagel made it further complete.

Yami! kakaiba pramis!

Language of Planet Ketosis

It’s been exactly 24 days that I have been doing myself a ketogenic diet.  And since this high-fat, adequate protein and very low carb diet is new to my being, I have to do a massive research and study so as to keep myself from being under ketosis and prevent being kicked out from it.

Through the days of my research, I discovered that there are words that exists which I never use or even encountered prior to my being on keto.  It seems that there is a totally different set of language that exists because of this diet.  It was like I was transported to a different planet and was exposed to a totally different language.

with nengkoy and my sister joie (who’s been my patient buddy every time i need to do a keto grocery shopping)

 Where on earth would you encounter the words keto flu, ketosis and medium-chain triglycerides? How on ordinary earth would you bump into words like ketones, hypoglycemia and gluconeogenesis?  A cheese is a cheese is a cheese. But now I have to care about its containing conjugated linoleic acid

And since I got the sweetest tooth, I have to come across with aspartame, erythritol, tagatose and monk fruit.  Even my computer’s spelling-check feature could not ascertain if some of these words really exists!

The keto language even have homonyms for sugar!  To the tune of glucose, sucrose and fructose.  Prior to keto diet the only 3-same sounding words I knew that are related to each other were the nephews of Donald Duck! Huey, Dewey and Louie!

Hahaha! The only bulletproof I know is a vest.  Now I have to be familiar with a bulletproof coffee! Macros is short for macronutrients.  May it be shortened nor lengthened, I both never knew it prior to ketosis.  If my two favorite Disney villains were Flotsam and Jetsam of The Little Mermaid, now my two favorites – not villains but fats – are MUFA and PUFA! Go google it!

O sha na.. at baka magka-ketoacidosis pa ako sa inyo!

First Baking Exploit

If the skill for baking will be evaluated from 1 to 5, five points being outstanding, my self-evaluation reveals I fall under 0.43 points.  And the only flour-based dish that I can prepare are plain pancakes.  Not those pancakes made from basics and scratch but those instant type of varieties of pancakes.  Those that you just add 1 egg and water and voila! Pancakes!

Bread products I consume are always those that are available from a nearby bakeshop or grocery store.  Thus, the unhealthy ones.  But now that I am in ketosis and has been doing a ketogenic diet, one food item that I totally miss is the bread.  The white, fluffy and unhealthy kinds of bread!  And this deprivation has gone me nuts!

I am no food blogger nor am I a baker!  And this is definitely not a keto food blog.  But I would just like to post the first bread that I have baked since birth…

yummy magic! frankfurters at the background were the keto friendly variety…

sliced it for 2 servings...

It’s a 90-second microwaved oven keto mug bread! Hahaha! Trying to make keto diet fun… Yoohoo!!!

Lasang tinapay. Inpernes…

Vanilla Cafe in Baguio City

I would like to believe that I have some level of proficiency on determining what and how good food would be like.  My taste buds know how to ascertain and adjudicate what good food is.

And though I love cakes and may seem to have the sweetest tooth on the planet, I have never been a fan of Red Velvet cakes.  And though I have yet to encounter a Red Velvet cake that makes my taste buds do a double-somersault with one and a half twists in the free position, I think I just had one that is the most remarkable.  

red velvet… it tastes delicious or it tastes beautiful

But my appreciation of this Red Velvet was not due to my taste buds doing a standing ovation but it was my sense of sight that makes me rejoice and be delighted towards the cake I was consuming.  I was at awe about the look, design and colors of Vanilla Café inside Kamiseta Hotel located in Baguio City, the tourist summer capital of my country. 

I guess this is the cutest café I have seen in Baguio.  The interiors were so stunningly pretty, it will definitely put some very sweet delicious smile on every one’s faces.  The café was so visually attractive, the happiness it ignites would surge towards all the other senses making all dishes they serve to be so happily pleasant and appealing.       

Vanilla Café have seem to possess some enchanting potion that smoke-screened my usually resplendent sense of taste.  I actually could no longer recall if the Red Velvet I had was good or mediocre but what I know is that I was smiling while consuming it inside Baguio City’s lovely and bewitching Vanilla Café.     

Hindi lasang masarap.  Pero lasang maganda!

Piniritong Galunggong The Dashing Version

While I was growing up, there was one fish that has politically been used as a benchmark in terms of determining my country’s economic inflation rate  and the people’s purchasing power.  It was a Filipino staple that resulted to having the first female president in Asia and the Time Magazine’s Woman of the Year awardee.  It was the increasing price of this measly poor-man’s fish that was used to ignite in toppling a dark authoritarian regime that resulted to the triumph of a peaceful people power revolution.

This fish was the mundane and inglorious Galunggong (known in the US as the Round Scad Fish).  This fish is so cheap, so common and so trivial you will never see this served as part of the menu in any grand or special Filipino banquet feast.  Some Filipino folks would not even eat it because they consider it as the fish of the poor and the low-class.

But the sordid, meek and lowly fish seem to have an ally in revamping its unfortunate and underprivileged image.  It is the 35-year old Filipino restaurant called Bistro Remedios. 

I think Bistro Remedios is the only prime-quality restaurant in the metro that carries a Galunggong dish in the menu.  I have yet to know or encounter an equally ingenious restaurant of the same caliber that serves this variety of fish.

Bistro Remedios serves Galunggong and they simply call it Piniritong Galunggong.   I recently got an interest of trying one and it was one surprisingly beautiful dish that was served on my table.

I consider Piniritong Galunggong to be the chic and dashing version of this common fried fish.  It is actually a complete meal.  It is served with a special rice cooked in coconut milk and also comes with the savory-flavored Filipino shrimp paste mixed with crispy tiny anchovies. 

The presentation, the plating and the big portion definitely exceeded my expectations.  Those fresh sliced tomatoes and banana leaf bedding definitely added beautiful colors to what could have been a plain looking dish.  The sautéed shrimp paste with anchovies was packed with flavors while the special coconut milk rice was a real big surprise to the palate. 

that’s jorge, the manager

chic and dashing version

The Galunggong fish was definitely the highlight of this dish.  It was crisp, meaty and flavorful.  And for those who hate eating bony fish, Bistro Remedios’ kitchen painstakingly got rid of the fish bones!  The fish served were boneless!

Bistro Remedios (who was the inventor/creator of the now-very-famous Binukadkad Na Plapla which almost all Filipino restaurants seem to serve now) definitely did a great job on introducing and carrying Galunggong in their menu. 

Chomping on the fish seem to brought back childhood memories and of living simple and joyous lives in the past.  This dish was a definite glorious gastronomic experience!  And after having my last bite, I was already planning on when to order it again. 

inside the dining area of bistro remedios

     Bistro Remedios branches are

are at Adriatico St, Remedios Circle, Malate

and at the Grond Floor, The Block, SM North EDSA

Pinasosyal na isda…