Cebu delicacies sold in one place during August

Craving any of Cebu delicacies like the Argao torta, Bogo pintos, or Carcar chicharon?

For the whole month of August, you don’t need to travel two to three hours to buy Cebu specialty products as countryside cottage industries have come to sell these in the ongoing Agro-Trade Fair 2014 at the Capitol compound along Osmeña Boulevard in Cebu City.

Just by walking a few short steps from stall to stall, you get access to many products from Cebu places that are several kilometers from each other.

Cebu delicacies

capitol agro-trade fair
These radishes are among the fresh produce being sold at the Capitol Agro-Trade Fair 2014 in Cebu City.

Get the cabcab from Tudela, budbud from Sogod, polvoron from San Fernando, dried dish from Bantayan, and ampao from Carcar in one spot. Tudela, a town in the island of Poro, sells food products made from cassava: cookies and cabcab. Cabcab is a thin and crisp wafer eaten paired with latik, a sweet syrup derived from coconut milk.

Rice crispies and durable shoes that are trademark goods of the southern town of Carcar are also on display as well as household furniture and home implements fashioned from wood and rattan.

bogo pintos
Pintos from Bogo

The main ingredient of the budbud is sticky rice. In one kind, the rice is ground and mixed with chocolate. Another is made with whole grains.

Fruits, vegetables

Fresh produce from farms in various towns like Moalboal, Cordova, Barili and even Busay and Sirao in City City occupy several of the makeshift kiosks. Vegetables like squash, radish, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, string beans as well as fruits like avocado, banana, coconut, and jackfruit are being sold at the fair.

busay plants
Flowering and decorative plants from Busay.

The barangays of Busay and Siraw also sell decorative and flowering plants at the agro-trade fair, one of the activities of Cebu’s 445th Founding Anniversary that falls on August 6, 2014.

It is being held behind the Cebu Provincial Capitol along Osmeña Boulevard in Cebu City.

Pepper Lunch Ayala introduces new dining concept in Cebu

My first time at Pepper Lunch soon after it opened in Ayala Center Cebu, they brought my beef still very red and looking raw. When I told the waiter I wanted my steak well done, he explained I was still supposed to cook it on the hot plate.

This “zizzle-it-your-way” serving style is a distinctive Pepper Lunch feature and allows diners to have control over how their food is done and seasoned, explained chef Jeroen van Straten.

Straten’s company – Benmark Holdings, Inc. – holds the master franchise for Pepper Lunch Philippines. The Pepper Lunch in Ayala’s new wing is the 23rd and newest branch in the country, Straten added during a media get-together in Cebu this week.

The secret to the Pepper Lunch dining experience is the patented Iron Plate, which is heated up to 250 degrees Celsius using a special electromagnetic cooker in just 70 seconds. The plate remains hot for more than 20 minutes, ensuring that your food remains warm up to the last bite.

Van Straten of Pepper Lunch Philippines
Chef Jeoren van Straten of Benmark Group Holdings, Inc. pours Pepper Lunch’s signature sauce on its bestseller dish beef pepper rice.

Straten said this do-it-yourself fast-service dining concept was created by Japanese chef and inventor Kunio Ichinose. His goal was to provide fast and quality food even without a trained chef, and he realized this with the establishment of Pepper Lunch in Japan in 1994.

Signature sauces

Pepper Lunch servings also enjoy the advantage of the restaurant’s signature sauces, honey brown and soy garlic. Aside from beef dishes, other choices are chicken, pork and salmon.

At my first Pepper Lunch dining experience, I learned enough to grill the meat on the hot plate but I missed out on the sauce. The best way to have your beef pepper rice is to mix the steak with the rice with its pepper, corn and spring onion toppings and then season it with any or both of the signature sauces.

Not a fan of pepper? Just tell the restaurant crew to omit it from your dish.

I’m not a sauce person but they persuaded me to try it during Thursday’s media launch and it did go well mixed with the steak and pepper rice.

According to van Straten, Pepper Lunch delivers on its “fine steak, great value” promise through strict quality control standards on its imported US and Australian beef.

The restaurant also offers seasonal menus, and this time it’s carrying the typical Filipino fares of lechon and sisig.

Pepper Lunch Ayala

Van Straten said response of the Cebu crowd to Pepper Lunch has been favorable and two more branches are planned for next year. They’re also thinking of opening this year a Pepper Lunch Express, which is more like a food court stall where the portions are slightly smaller and prices cheaper.

The first Pepper Lunch branch in the Philippines was opened in 2008 in Rockwell and 22 others have been added since then. The latest one is the Pepper Lunch branch in Ayala Center Cebu’s new wing.

Although they wanted to put up a restaurant as early as two years ago in Cebu, van Straten said they weren’t able to find the right partner or place.

“Now is the perfect time for us to come to Cebu,” he cited, adding they found the perfect local partner in Pepper Up Cebu, Inc. led by Allen Arvin A. Tan.

Pepper Lunch at Level 4 Ayala Center Cebu is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and up to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Pepper Lunch has over 200 outlets in Japan and all over Asia, including China, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

Cafe Namoo provides different cafe experience

If you want a place where you can drink coffee and do some work or business on the side, then Cafe Namoo is not for you.

Cafe Namoo, which labels itself as a dessert cafe and bistro, is more for lounging around or hanging out with family and friends. My son describes it the coolest coffee shop in town. He’s 11.

cafe namoo
Cafe Namoo in City Time Square, Mandaue City is filled to the rafters with messages on post-it notes by customers.

Instead of tables and chairs, the cafe has sections separated by wooden partitions. Each square section is closed off on three sides and curtained on the remaining open side. Cushions are provided and guests, who have to sit on the wooden floor, can use them as back props or pillows if they want to lie down. I learned the hard way that a short dress is a definite no-no.

There’s a low table where you can put your food and drinks.

There are sections with a top tier, like bunk beds. The top areas are accessible through wooden stairways. I haven’t tried it though. I don’t know if there is a limit to the number of people that can quite safely and conveniently stay on the top areas. Vandalism is prohibited but you can bring post-it notes, write inspirational words on them and paste them on the walls.

cafe namoo sections
At Cafe Namoo, guests squat on the floor and are provided with pillows for their comfort.

The Cafe Namoo I’ve tried out is one at City Time Square across Parkmall in Mandaue City. I heard there’s a Cafe Namoo along Old Banilad Road in Cebu City. It’s at the second floor of Northgate Cente, across Gaisano Country Mall, in Banilad.

Getting there

Cafe Namoo is just near Parkmall in Mandaue City. From Cebu City, you can take the Urgello or Mandaue jeepneys that pass by Parkmall. It’s a short trip by cab.

Address: City Time Square, Mandaue City
Business hours: 8 a.m.-1 a.m. (weekdays); 8 a.m.-3 a.m. (weekends)

5 Carcar delicacies you shouldn’t fail to try

From food to dry goods, Carcar delicacies and specialties are created with the Carcaranon values of hard work and creativity.

Take for example the Carcar lechon. While it is roasted the traditional Cebuano way, the Carcar version comes with a strange and delicious twist – its own special sauce.

Carcar Chicharon
Carcar Chicharon

This special mix of ingredients – which include a local herb indigenous to Carcar called “patiotes” – serves as seasoning for the pig during the roasting and sauce when it is served.

1. Carcar Lechon

Carcar’s roasted pig is sold by the kilo at the Carcar Public Market. You can eat your lechon there or have it wrapped. Don’t leave the city without trying its signature lechon.

Carcar lechon
Carcar lechon is sold by the kilo at the City Public Market.

The public market is of walking distance from the Carcar rotunda and church complex and a tricycle ride from farther distances.

2. Paksiw na isda

Perhaps a good cuisine to pair with the lechon is the paksiw na isda, a specialty of eateries at the market. Carcar’s paksiw (usually tuna) has the distinct quality of being very soft-textured, owing to the “palayok” or “kun” where it is cooked.

The “palayok” distributes the heat evenly inside that the cooked fish dish almost melts in the mouth when eaten.

carcar rotunda
The Carcar rotunda is where guests buy the city’s delicacies.

3. Chicharon

No other place in Cebu makes the best chicharon than Carcar. The pork skin cracklings come in two variants: the “kubal” or purely pork skin and the chicharon which still has traces of meat. Whichever you prefer, they come perfect with plain vinegar.

Carcar locals can point out the best places to buy chicharon, and kiosks along the rotunda also sell products from different suppliers.

4. Ampao

Ampao or rice crispies is a popular Carcar specialty.
Ampao or rice crispies is a popular Carcar specialty.

People with sweet tooth would appreciate the ampao or rice crispies sold just about anywhere in Carcar City. Carcaranons have been making and selling them forever.

Aside from the rotunda where these are sold in abundance in kiosks or single table stores, ambulant vendors bringing these goods in packages would board buses when they stop by the town and sell to passengers.

5. Bocarillo

Another product distinctly Carcar is the bocarillo (candied coconut strips). It comes in colorful shades of pink, blue, green, yellow and, like other Carcar delicacies, is sold throughout the day in the city center. Ambulant vendors who run after buses and private vehicles carry them around and offer them in packs of three for only P50.

carcar bocarillo
Carcar’s bocarillo is popular with locals and tourists.

Carcar Shoe Expo

This city known for its heritage structures is also home to small shops that manufacture quality yet affordable shoes sold at a site in Barangay Valladolid called the Carcar Shoe Expo. When in Carcar, don’t forget to try out the delicacies and bring home a few pairs of those Carcar-made shoes.

carcar shoes
Carcar shoes are known for being durable and affordable.

The area is just a tricycle ride from any point in Carcar’s central business district and drivers know where it is. If you get tired shopping for footwear, a restaurant within the expo area serves refreshments and meals.

If you’re bringing your own car, there’s ample parking inside.

Getting to Carcar

Carcar City is approximately 40 kilometers from Cebu City and just an hour away by bus or 45 minutes by private transport. Buses leave for Carcar hourly from the South Bus Terminal along N. Bacalso Ave.

Photos provided by the Carcar City Government

Just Wine Cebu serves affordable, quality wines

It goes by Just Wine but don’t let the seeming simplicity of the name deceive you.

Cebu’s newest wine and tapas bar is cozy and comfortable and provides the perfect place for Cebuanos to hang out and bond with friends over a glass (or glasses) of red or white.

Just Wine sells a bottle of wine starting from a very affordable price of around P300, said one of the owners, Joseph Gandionco of Julie’s Bakeshop. He added that Just Wine also carries pricier labels at P2,000 per bottle.

just wine
Just Wine is the perfect place to chill out with friends over a bottle of red or white wine.

“Generally, wine is not the choice of alcohol for Cebuanos. We’ve noticed though that wine is getting popular among the young people. A lot of younger Cebuanos are coming here to drink wine,” he shared.

Just Wine offerings

Celebrations demand the bubbly kind and Just Wine has exactly the right bottles for such times. It offers Champagne for around P7,000 per bottle or its alternatives, such as Spanish sparkling wines bottled under Cava for only P800.

jose meneses
Titania Wine Cellar, Inc. owner Jose Meneses says the finer the bubbles, the better the sparkling wine.

According to Gandionco, the wine bar charges a 10 percent service fee for bottles consumed there.

Just Wine sells wines imported from France, Italy, Spain, Australia, the US, and Chile through Philippine importer Titania Wine Cellar, Inc.

just wine cebu entrance
Just Wine in Cebu is cozy, comfortable and serves affordable and quality wines.

The wine and tapas bar along Paseo Saturnino, Maria Luisa Road, Cebu City is a partnership between Gandionco and Jose Meneses of Titania.

Wine and tapas

Gandionco said he used to be a distributor of Titania in Cebu and knew that it was looking for a place to retail its wines here.

“This place was vacant and I thought it was perfect for what we had in mind,” he citing, adding that Just Wine opened in April this year.

Cold appetizers like mixed olives and cheese known as tapas in Spanish cuisine serve as the perfect wine pair.

As perfect foil for its red and white wines, it serves a wide variety of hot and cold appetizers or snacks called tapas in Spanish cuisine.

Its offerings include anchovy caviar, calamares, chorizo, chicken bites, callos, cheese, nuts and bread.

Just Wine recently started selling Spanish wines produced under the Palacio de la Vega, Musso, and Casa Rojo labels. Available are red and white wines manufactured in Palacio de la Vega, the oldest winery in the Spanish region of Navarra or Navarre.

Argao torta is best made using traditional methods

Argao torta is delicious but I have my favorites from among the town’s many bakers.

If you want to know who makes the best torta de Argao, you need to find out what the bakers use when they create this Cebu delicacy that is a popular pasalubong or take-home gift of town visitors.

One of Argao’s torta makers, Jessie Magallones, said tortas are traditionally baked in the hurno (clay oven) and use tuba (coconut wine) as leavening.

The best-tasting ones are still those made using traditional methods, she added.

Torta recipe

Argao torta and sikwate
Argao torta is best paired with the town’s signature sikwate (hot choco).

Unfortunately, according to Magallones, several Argao torta bakers now utilize modern ovens and yeast for leavening.

Argao bakers use the same basic ingredients like flour, eggs, and sugar in a torta recipe. The varied taste of the torta is a result of the differences in the amount of ingredient used and baking method, she explained.

Magallones shared her secrets to baking delicious Argao torta in a previous post.

Trying the home-made torta is one of top to-do things in Argao. Even better is pairing the torta with sikwate, a local term for hot chocolate made using the bitter chocolate rounds created by drying, roasting, and then grinding cacao beans. Tableya and torta are two indigenous industries in Argao started way back during Spanish colonial times.

Torta makers

One of Argao’s homemade torta makers is Jessie Magallones. You can buy torta at her bakery located just beside her home in Barangay Canbanua. She can serve you torta and sikwate at an open native cottage beside her house in Barangay Canbanua.

To contact her, call (landline) 367-7455 or (mobile) 0947-6994027.

Other Argao torta makers in the town and their contact details:

Chitang’s Torta | 485-8095 or 09204046002
Oj’s Torta | 367-7572
Argao Bakeshop | 367-7253

Jessie shares secrets to delicious Argao torta

Baking the perfect Argao torta requires a confluence of several things, revealed one of the town’s top makers Jessie Magallones.

The tuba (coconut wine) must be fresh and fermented just right so it is neither too sweet or sour. A clay oven or what Cebuanos call the “hurno” gives the best Argao torta results. Cooking temperature should be kept at moderate levels all throughout the baking process.

She said these were the things she learned as she grew her Argao torta business. Magallones, who runs the popular Jessie’s Homemade Torta in Argao, said she remains true to the traditional methods of torta making.
Continue reading “Jessie shares secrets to delicious Argao torta”

Blue Bell Ice Cream launches in Cebu

First, I had some of the homemade vanilla because this was cited as the bestseller of the Blue Bell Ice Cream flavors by Andrew Evans in an article that came out on the Digital Nomad section of National Geographic.

Since I’m not a fan of vanilla flavored ice cream products, or at least the ones I’ve previously tasted and that included local and imported brands, I had been prepared to dislike Blue Bell Ice Cream’s version as well.

Surprisingly, I like, no, love Blue Bell’s homemade vanilla ice cream.

Continue reading “Blue Bell Ice Cream launches in Cebu”

Blue Bell Ice Cream introduces products in Cebu

One thing I’m looking forward to this week is Saturday’s Discover Blue Bell Ice Cream event that will serve to introduce the brand in Cebu.

The Blue Bell Ice Cream is exclusively distributed in the Visayas by Visfood Corporation and it has organized a country fair-themed ice cream-tasting party at the Ayala Center Cebu Activity Center. There will be free ice cream, of course.

Plus, there will be games where guests get the chance to win extra scoops of ice cream. Although the Saturday event is by invitation only, the Blue Bell ice cream is available at several stores in Cebu.
Continue reading “Blue Bell Ice Cream introduces products in Cebu”

Golden Cowrie opens newest Hukad branch at Parkmall in Mandaue

Sisig tofu and other dishes for the health conscious as well as new variations on old recipes make up the menu at the newest and seventh restaurant branch of Golden Cowrie at Parkmall in Mandaue City.

Aside from the usual Filipino fare of crispy pata, pinakbet, ginataang langka, sinigang na hipon, diners can also order sisig squid, escabeching tanguige, and naked chicken pandan at the Hukad sa Golden Cowrie in Parkmall.

Continue reading “Golden Cowrie opens newest Hukad branch at Parkmall in Mandaue”

Dong Juan offers great food at affordable price

Entrepreneur couple Aubrey and Barney Borja were on a mission when they started Dong Juan and that was to provide fine food at affordable prices to the average Pinoy.

Six years on, Dong Juan continues to serve dishes made with only the choicest ingredients and finest herbs and spices.

Take, for example, its best-selling burgers. Aubrey said that outside of high-end restos, Dong Juan was the very first to offer a quarter of a pound USDA beef for burger patties.

At Dong Juan, the olive oil used is a Spanish brand considered to be the number one in the world, spices are imported from Europe, and food is served in special paper liners that preserve its flavor.

Aubrey and Barney Borja of Dong Juan
Couple Aubrey and Barney Borja have grown Dong Juan into 17 mostly franchised branches across the country. (Photo by Marlen Limpag)

“We have not found anyone here who can make paper of a similar quality and had to bring it in from Germany. We’ve tried to absorb most of the cost of the dishes to give Cebuanos something special,” Aubrey explained.

Specialties, dishes

From the original burger and pizza, Dong Juan now serves such dishes as sisig, crispy pata, deep fried chicken wings, and calamares.

Aubrey said she experiments with spices to give popular food a new twist. To achieve the Dong Juan crispy pata, pork leg is stewed for seven hours to tenderize it and flavored with seven spices and condiments giving it a definite Chinese taste.

Dong Juan herbs and spices
FINEST HERBS AND SPICES. Dong Juan, according to its owners, serves dishes made with only the choicest ingredients and finest herbs and spices. (Photo by Marlen Limpag)

Dong Juan french fries are not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill. Aside from other spices, it is flavored with imported sweet paprika that gives it an extraordinary twist.

Its chicken wings are coated with chili paste but balanced out with grapeseed oil and sesame seeds. What makes Dong Juan pizza different is its crust which is from a recipe of Aubrey’s grandmother. She calls it biscuit pizza.

She added that they plan to add three things to the menu this year: kimchi burger, pesto pasta, and cashew-encrusted chicken fillet.

Dong Juan name

The name Dong Juan combines the common endearment for the young male Cebuano “Dodong” and the wealthy libertine Don Juan to mean fine dining for every Dodong or regular Joe.

True enough, Dong Juan food, while foreign inspired, is quite wallet-friendly.

Since the opening of their first modest 10-table burger and pizza hub in Guadalupe in 2007, Aubrey and Barney have grown Dong Juan to 17 mostly franchised branches across the country.

Dong Juan Cebu branches have grown to four: at the Calyx Building in IT Park, Persimmon in Mabolo, and Guadalupe in Cebu City and a fourth one at Gaisano Island Mall in Pajo, Lapu-Lapu City.

Barney said they are studying franchise applications in three areas in Luzon, including Baguio City, and an inquiry for a possible outlet in Korea. At Dong Juan, he added, great things happen year after year as more dishes are added to the menu and new branches are further opened.

Dong Juan french fries
WITH A TWIST. Dong Juan french fries are not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill. Aside from other spices, it is flavored with imported sweet paprika that gives it an extraordinary twist. (Photo by Max Limpag)

La Vie Parisienne is newest Cebu French bakery, deli, wine store

Our visit to La Vie Parisienne was quick and unplanned but checked out we did this new Cebu French bakery, deli, and wine library.

La Vie Parisienne, which translates to Parisian Life, sits along the right side of Gorordo Avenue if you’re going towards JY Square and near where the temple of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) is in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City.

It’s within the same compound as the La Maison Rose restaurant.

We arrived just when the croissants were almost done so we had some of those and they were the best we’ve tasted.

Aside from croissants, other baked goodies on display at the new Cebu French bakery La Vie Parisienne include bread like faluche, platine, and baguette.
Aside from croissants, other baked goodies on display at the new Cebu French bakery La Vie Parisienne include bread like faluche, platine, and baguette.

Cebu French bakery

They were flaky on the outside and melt-in-your mouth soft on the inside. I don’t like bread in general but I devoured two of those croissants that this Cebu French bakery sells for 25 pesos each.

Croissants fresh from the oven at La Vie Parisienne along Gorordo Avenue in Lahug, Cebu City.
Croissants fresh from the oven at La Vie Parisienne along Gorordo Avenue in Lahug, Cebu City.
A glass display of different kinds of French and other cheese, among them bleu d'auvergene, gouda, bre lafontane, rondin great, comte badoz.
A glass display of different kinds of French and other cheese, among them bleu d’auvergene, gouda, bre lafontane, rondin great, comte badoz.

At the left side of the door is an oven where you can watch the staff cook the bread. It was croissants when we were there. Other baked goodies on display include bread like faluche, platine, and baguette as well as macaroons.

There was a glass display filled with different kinds of French and other cheese, among them bleu d’auvergene, gouda, bre lafontane, rondin great, comte badoz, that sell from P100 to P200 per 100 grams.

Shelves of fruit preserves and spreads adorn a side of the wall. There is a small enclosure within La Vie Parisienne – about a fourth of the store’s area – that is chilled and filled to the rafters literally with wine.

Wine library

La Vie Parisienne's wine library.
La Vie Parisienne’s wine library.

I guess it’s an easy enough assumption to make that this is the wine library. I wanted to check out the bottles but we were pressed for time.

What I couldn’t miss are wines under the Michel Lhuillier label. That’s not surprising, of course, since the Lhuillier family owns the place. This is according to the store staff I talked to who also told us that La Vie Parisienne just opened on the fourth of this month, May.

The space is a bit small so it gets really cramped when there are 10 or more people inside.

However, the back door opens to a spacious garden where tables have been set up but they were already filled up when we were there.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu offers culinary treats at Cafe Marco

When they served my buko shake in its original green shell, I knew I would enjoy my lunch at Cafe Marco in Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

Anyone who spends extra effort on such details as presentation would pay even more attention to taste as well. I was right.

I’m not that into food so it would have to be exceptional fare to tempt me to a hearty feast. I haven’t remembered a time when I’ve eaten so much for lunch like I did at Cafe Marco.

Marco Polo Culinary Journeys

CAFE MARCO has been named one of the top 5 restaurants in the Philippines by Miele Guide, a guide to Asia's best eateries. (Photo by Max Limpag)
CAFE MARCO has been named one of the top 5 restaurants in the Philippines by Miele Guide, a guide to Asia’s best eateries. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Every three months or so, Marco Polo goes on a culinary journey and our lunch at Cafe Marco happened during “The Great Media Cookout” from April 12-21, 2013.

Media personalities brought out family recipes and transformed them into five-star dish with the help of Marco Polo consultant Jessica Avila and chefs.

We were told diners had lined up for the jade green prawns of The Freeman’s Dr. Nestor Alonso II so we tried some of that. We understood why it had become a hit.

JADE GREEN PRAWNS of The Freeman food writer Dr. Nestor Alonso II. (Photo by Max Limpag)
JADE GREEN PRAWNS of The Freeman food writer Dr. Nestor Alonso II.

I like crispy pata and kare-kare so I had to have some of the dish that combined both. It was from the recipe of the blogger brothers – Doyzkie, Reymond and Edd Buenaviaje – behind The crispy pata with kare-kare sauce was an unusual but not bad combination.

Other dishes by media personalities: Alexis Yap’s (RCTV) Kinilaw and Mango Float, Tonee Despojo’s (Cebu Daily News) Grilled Boneless Bangus and Steamed Lapulapu with Sunflower Oil, Noel Villaflor’s (Sun.Star) Sisig with Kesong Puti, Ann Marie Tan’s (GMA Cebu) Chicken Binakol and Humba with Egg, Honey Jarque Loop’s (The Philippine Star) pollo ala chilindron and Lapulapu al horno, and Alonso’s second recipe named Crispy Squid Rolls and Beef in Perpetual Sauce.

KINILAW. Alexis Yap of RCTV contributed Kini ang Kinilaw in The Great Media Cookout. (Photo by Max Limpag)
KINILAW. Alexis Yap of RCTV contributed Kini ang Kinilaw in The Great Media Cookout.

We had some of the kinilaw, sisig, grilled boneless bangus and, for dessert, mango float.

Cafe Marco buffet

Dishes featured during The Great Media Cookout are on top of the usual Asian, Japanese, and Western buffet spread at Cafe Marco, said Marco Polo Plaza Cebu e-marketing manager Yumny Mariot .

Net buffet prices during The Great Media Cookout were the Cafe Marco regular rates of P1,099 for lunch and P1,299 for dinner. The rates exclude drinks but come with free hot tea or coffee.

SISIG by Sun.Star Cebu Weekend editor Noel Villaflor.
SISIG by Sun.Star Cebu Weekend editor Noel Villaflor.

Yumny explained the buffet rates remain the same even if they are offering new dishes, local or international, that come out only on culinary journeys.

On the choice of getting media personalities to cook, Yumny said they thought of giving time and attention to people who come to Cafe Marco during culinary journeys.

“They take pictures and write about the food. We thought of giving them a break in the kitchen. We asked them if they have recipes,” she added.

1 of top 5 restaurants

According to Yumny, an exciting development for Cafe Marco was getting picked by the Miele Guide, a guide to Asia’s best eateries, as one of the top five restaurants in the Philippines.

Since there are customers who prefer to eat salad or have dessert only at Cafe Marco, the restaurant offers these selections as well at lunchtime. Net rates are P350 for sweets only and P852.51 for a selection of Japanese, greens, and soup and fruits of the day. Dessert only offering starts at 2 p.m.

Cafe Marco is open seven days a week. Buffet hours: lunch is from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner is from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Call (63 32) 253-1111 for inquiries and reservations.

CULINARY EVENT. Every three months or so, Marco Polo goes on a culinary journey and our lunch at Cafe Marco happened during "The Great Media Cookout" from April 12-21, 2013.
CULINARY EVENT. Every three months or so, Marco Polo goes on a culinary journey and our lunch at Cafe Marco happened during “The Great Media Cookout” from April 12-21, 2013.

Treasured recipes from Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

As one of the highlights of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s Culinary Journey, the hotel asked two of Cebu’s culinary icons, Cristina “Tina” Ebrada and Señorita Teresin Mendezona, to share their treasured recipes. The recipes have been compiled into an e-booklet for smartphones, tablets and E-readers.

To download the recipes for free, click on the book cover of the appropriate format for your device below.

epub format for iPhones, iPads, Android devices

Treasured Recipes in .epub version for iPhones, iPads, Android devices and other smartphones and e-readers. You may need to install an e-reading app like iBooks, Aldiko or Stanza in order to read the ebook.
Treasured Recipes in .epub version for iPhones, iPads, Android devices and other smartphones and e-readers. You may need to install an e-reading app like iBooks, Aldiko or Stanza in order to read the ebook.

.mobi format for the Kindle

Treasured Recipes in .mobi format for the Kindle.
Treasured Recipes in .mobi format for the Kindle.

Cordova’s bakasi and other bounties from the sea

Text and Photos by Boboi Costas

The bakasi (saltwater eel) thrives abundantly in the town of Cordova, Mactan Island, a 45-minute drive from the city of Cebu. In taxonomic classification, eels belong to the Muranidae family which includes 200 species in 15 genera.

In Buwagsong, Cordova, a local fishing community; the bakasi is a prized catch. Because Cordova’s tidal flats are mostly muddy and grassy, the bakasi is caught in abundance. It has become a common but famous fixture in its local cuisine.

Cordova Bakasi
Linarang nga bakasi

The most famous restaurant serving bakasi is Entoy’s Bakasihan. Entoy has been serving bakasi for over three decades now. He says it was his friends who liked his cooking and who advised him to open a restaurant. The rest is history.

He serves linarang nga bakasi which is eel sautéed and then stewed in soy sauce, black beans and sambag (tamarind). The dish is the equivalent of the Asian tom yum. It enjoys a huge following, mostly from men who think (and feel) that eels are a potent aphrodisiac. (The time I was there, the diners were mostly men: taxi drivers, salesmen, Korean and Vietnamese tourists. And it was Valentines Day!)

Cordova Bakasi
Piniritong bakasi

There is also the piniritong bakasi (fried eel). The eels are deep fried to make it crunchy and appealing to picky eaters. It is dipped in vinegar and soy sauce with lots of chili. There is a slight bitter aftertaste when you eat a fried eel because the eel remains ungutted. (It is a time-consuming process because a bakasi is only about 8-12 inches long, and the bile is supposed to have medicinal properties.) If you are a first-time eater, try the small ones first then gradually increase the size as you go.

Cordova Bakasi
The bakasihan is open daily from 5 am to 7 pm.

And how are eels caught? Fishermen use a bantak, an eel trap fashioned from woven bamboo that looks like a small vase with a neck. Because eels by nature like to inhabit muddy flats with crevices, the bantak is just the perfect device. The opening allows the eel to crawl inside and since it doesn’t open from the inside, the eel is trapped.

Cordova Bakasi

A trip to Cordova is also a culinary delight for seafood lovers. There are shellfish, adobong nokos, piniritong nokos, guinamos, roe (bihod) from the suwaki, or sea urchin and sunlutan (sea cucumber).

It is alfresco dining at Buwagsong. You can order the bakasi from Entoy’s and bring it to the cottage set up by the barangay council. The view is remarkable, affording you to see Cordova’s local color unfold.

Cordova Bakasi
Piniritong nokos
Cordova Bakasi
Adobong nokos, ginamos and bihod sa suwaki
Cordova Bakasi
The bantak or eel trap
Cordova Bakasi
Barangay Buwagsong
Cordova Bakasi
Women cleaning sunlutan (sea cucumber) which they later sell to tourists and diners.

Oven fresh pretzels at Auntie Anne’s in SM Cebu

They shape the dough right in front of your eyes into a symmetrical loop shaped like a knot and bake it in the oven while you wait.

As a result, you get your pretzels at Auntie Anne‘s in SM City Cebu fresh and hot. They’re crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and, in my case or at least the flavors I choose, sweet.

I used to ignore this pretzel shop before, but I was tempted to buy one just recently when I saw a member of the crew cut the dough and shape it into a pretzel before putting it in the oven.

Auntie Anne's pretzel in SM City Cebu
FRESH AND HOT. Auntie Anne’s in SM City Cebu serves fresh and hot pretzels while you wait.

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Wellness in a Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt cup

With cherries on top, or cereal, or syrup, or all of the above and more, you get to decide what to put on your cup.

It has impressive health benefits, but yogurt’s natural sourness can turn off some people. If you’re like me who can stand only a few mouthfuls of the regular stuff, you can get your daily dose of healthy from frozen yogurt.

Aside from frozen product being smoother in texture, it also only has a little of the sourness and tanginess of regular yogurt.

One of the establishments that I regularly go to for my frozen yogurt fix is the Tutti Frutti branch in SM City Cebu.

It sells the stuff in eight flavors: original (always available) and seven others. Yesterday, Tutti Frutti also had taro, strawberry, chocolate, coffee, grape, French vanilla, and pina colada. They change flavors every 15 days, though, so you might have a different selection when you do get to visit.

Plus, the establishment allows you to decide how much of the stuff you would like to eat by letting you dispense the frozen yogurt yourself and provides you access to a variety of toppings: fruits, jelly, chocolate, candy, crackers, cereal, syrup. You can have one or five flavors of yogurt on your cup and mix and match toppings, and the charge remains the same at 20 pesos per ounce.
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Taboan buwad (dried fish)

Nothing compares to the danggit (salted dried fish) produced in Cebu, and the Taboan market is the cheapest source of this specialty food in Cebu City.

Danggit is just one of the many kinds of buwad (dried fish) sold in Taboan.

A kilo of danggit in Taboan ranges from 400 pesos to 500 pesos, depending on the size of the fish. Since the fish is already dried and de-boned, a quarter of a kilo of danggit could already last several days. Aside from the salted and unsalted kinds, Taboan stalls also sell the tocino and tapa variants of danggit.Continue reading “Taboan buwad (dried fish)”