FOOD TRIPPING IN MANILA

I’m not a foodie and my blog is not a food blog albeit I do enjoy writing about food. Earlier on, I did write about food, mostly restaurant reviews, for work. So what’s the difference you ask? Writing about food for work isn’t as fun as writing about food that you stumbled upon serendipitously and fills you with a bursting need to share the goodness. It wouldn’t have been possible writing about food out of my own volition several years ago as I also had a far less amicable relationship with it. But that’s all in the past. Now each day is a food adventure.

Pancit luglug makes for a satisfying lunch or merienda

Pancit luglug makes for a satisfying lunch or merienda

The holiday season is the perfect reason for food adventures.  Food is everywhere – malls, cafes even Sunday markets – and it’s truly hard to resist not taking a bite. In a recent jaunt to National Bookstore Building on Quezon Avenue, which houses National Bookstore, Goldilocks, Crossings department store and supermarket and several food kiosks, hunger led me to a newly opened food kiosk called Isla Café. It specialises in Filipino cuisine like laing (taro leaves in coconut milk), daing na bangus (fried boneless milkfish marinated in vinegar and garlic) among others. What got my attention were two items: pancit luglug and puto.

Pancit luglug (or luglog) is one of the numerous versions of the pancit or noodle dish in the Philippine. Every celebration has to have pancit – which version will grace the table is up to the fancy of the party host. Pancit luglug is similar to another pancit called pancit palakbok, which have a shrimp-based sauce and generally garnished with sliced boiled egg, tinapa (smoked fish), chopped spring onion and crushed pork rind. The most telling difference is the thickness of the rice noodle; pancit palabok has a thinner noodle. Another difference is the sauce – pancit palabok has thicker sauce.

Isla Café’s pancit luglug (PhPP99+) was a good lunch choice. The sauce’s viscosity was just right and I had the pork bits replaced with shredded chicken. Adding a tangy punch to the taste was kamias (camias ginger lily), which my mum, said, was part of the genuine traditional pancit luglug recipe. The café serves its pancit luglug with a piece of puto, steamed rice cake topped with cheese, which, you can say, is the Pinoy’s take on the garlic bread accompanying an Italian pasta dish.

Christmas cupcakes - delicious to the last crumb

Christmas cupcakes – delicious to the last crumb

Then there are the cupcakes. My mum received 12 wonderful Christmas cupcakes as a present and I thought they were the best gift ever. Each chiffon cupcake is swirled with a mound of marshmallow icing and topped with a plastic or plastic-coated Christmas décor – snowman, gift, mitten or elf.  The chiffon base complemented the icing that had a crunchy taste due to the translucent sugar sprinkles.

Still on cupcakes, I chanced upon a vendor selling cakes and cupcakes at the Centris Sunday Market and bought a box of four cupcakes for PhilP200 from him. The cupcake assembly featured two Red Velvet cupcakes, a chocolate cupcake and one butter cupcake in which the Red Velvet cupcakes were a tad disappointing as the cupcake base was bland and dry, and sprinkling the icing with cinnamon – a daring move, I say – resulted in a clash of flavours. However, the remaining trio were a delight because the cupcake base and icing created a perfect blend with each bite.

The Red Velvet was a letdown but the other three weren't

The Red Velvet was a letdown but the other three weren’t

Popping in at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is very much part of my food tripping outing. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is nowhere to be found in Bekasi unlike Starbucks, which has a solitary outlet in Metropolitan Mall, so it’s my choice café in Manila. A perennial favourite is hot genmaicha tea – the combined flavour of green tea and roasted rice is smooth on the palate. Paired with my all-time favourite tiramisu, it’s a perfect hanging-out-with-my-dad tea time menu. In one of our afternoon visits, I decided to try their Christmas drink, hot Red Velvet Chocolate, and it proved a good choice. The twist on the traditional chocolate drink was a pleasant tumble of vanilla and chocolate on the tongue that wasn’t cloyingly sweet. Foregoing tiramisu, I went for a piece of lemon square that provided the yin-yang balance to the chocolaty drink.

Genmaicha and tiramisu - perfect for high tea

Genmaicha and tiramisu – perfect for high tea

The drink is as great as the cake and cupcake versions

The drink is as great as the cake and cupcake versions

Now that I’ve established a harmonious relationship with food, I’ve to work on maintaining a strict balance between food-tripping and exercising, which is easier said than done. To make the balance a reality, I’ve been reciting the mantra over and over again: “Yoga and badminton in January…yoga and badminton in January.” My fingers are crossed.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Zinnia Sandoval on December 27, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Hi Rhissa,

    Hope you remember me from our UP days. Anyway, chanced upon your series of articles in wordpress. Your style remains impressively effortless. The reader is transported to your side to personally savor the gastronomic delights, take in the featured places, or empathize with feelings of varying frustrations. Hope life is treating you well. Regards to your family.

    Zinnia

    Reply

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