After 5 long years of going everywhere else but, I finally went home. And what is home without family, friends and food? Absolutely nothing.
To say that I ate like there is no tomorrow is an understatement. It was all I thought about. I planned my days on my meals and what I want to have. And how many pieces of my grandma’s rellenong bangus (stuffed milkfish) is still in the fridge. I had to fight my aunt for those rellenos! My grandma makes the best rellenong bangus I’ve ever had. I actually broke my own tradition of having Jollibee’s Chicken Joy as my first meal whenever it is available to me.
As I climbed into the car, my mom asked me what I wanted to eat and I asked her if there is Jollibee open. And she said yes but she wasn’t sure if they would have Chicken Joy at 5 AM. She did tell me that there was relleno at home. So I had relleno, a whole fish all to myself when I got home. My grandma sat there, watching me eat all of it. Yum. I also ate all of the mangoes. The Philippines has the best ripe mangoes I have ever had, specially when they are picked at their peak.
Later that day (yup, no time for jet lag!), we went to Greenhills Shopping Center, which is the tiangge or a flea market of export overruns and gadgets. I met up with my best friend, Antonette and later on finally had my first Chicken Joy and Jolly Spaghetti at the food court. Oh! Sometimes it is indeed the little things!
Surprisingly, I didn’t really eat out as much as I usually do when I’m on vacation. Except for boba. I really let it go with the bubble tea on this trip, I had my favorite Taro Milk Tea with pearls at pretty much every tea house I saw. LOL I hit up the ol’ favorite — Conti’s where my mom and I usually get the baked ziti that I had as an inspiration a while back. And also my forever favorite, Mango Tart. It’s usually eaten frozen but I like mine thawed out. Creamy mango custard and slices of mangoes on top. I am in absolute mango heaven. Conti’s has been around a few years and has remained a following because the prices are reasonable, the quality has been maintained and it’s comfortably good. It’s one of those places I go to when I’m hungry, I don’t really care what I eat but I really want my mango tart at the end of my meal.
On my day with my best friend, Antonette, we went to Provenciano, located in Maginhawa St — dubbed as the food capital of Quezon City. The restaurant is in a remodeled old house. The food is regional Filipino cuisine, when I say regional…I mean all the regions. LOL There was so much to choose from that it was a bit confusing for someone who wants to eat everything! At the same time, as a chef I had to wonder how they do their prep. We ordered the Kansi, a beef soup soured by jackfruit from Iloilo. We also had the Inihaw na Bangus (Grilled Milkfish), Tokwa’t Baboy (Firm Tofu and Crispy Pork Belly), no frills, just really good comfort food. We also ordered Bibingka – coal baked rice cakes with salted egg and fresh local cheese, and Putobumbong – steamed purple rice cakes served with raw sugar and fresh coconut shavings. I am not picky, I will pretty much eat these anywhere but Provenciano is definitely better than the food kiosks at the mall or Via Mare. I got so excited with this place I vowed to bring my parents and my grandma with me. And on our second visit we had Bulalo, Tokwa’t Baboy, Lumpiang Ubod – fresh egg roll with vegetables, crushed peanuts and sauce, and Binagoongang Baboy – pork stewed in fermented shrimp paste. My mom, my aunt and grandma had the famous Bataan’s Gabi (Taro) ice cream. Again, really good! My family was really happy after their meal. And it’s really had to please my mom when she eats out. LOL
One of my stops is Dekada for a partial family dinner. I was late for this one. I had the Adobong Bangus (Soy Marinated Milkfish), fried rice and mango juice. YES! I love Philippine mangoes! It was alright. Service was dismal. They “forgot” to serve a couple of dishes they ordered. I do not know if it was because we were there late but the air conditioning was not working. And to be indoors in a mall and to have fluctuating air conditioning is just pure torture. It was colder in the mall hallways than in the actual restaurant. My baby nephew started to cry because he was so uncomfortable. Even asking for the bill took a long time. Suffice to say I am not coming back. I highly doubt my family will too.
I had one out-of-town trip to Morong, Bataan with my best friend Farah and her friends! It was so much fun!!! We ate a lot. And I really have to hand it Ross (Farah’s husband) for doing a good job taking care of the food and drinks. I made it very clear, I was not cooking! LOL And spent most of my time on the beach. My parents picked me up the next day and we went to Loleng’s, a small open air cafeteria that serves almost authentic Vietnamese food (and some Filipino food). I say “almost authentic” because as far as I know the owners are not Vietnamese and I can only assume that they learned the dishes during the time the Vietnamese refugees occupied a part of Morong. We had the Hutieu-an (Vietnamese Rice Noodle Soup) and Bahn Mi (Vietnamese Pork Sandwich). It was tasty! I put too much chili sauce on my soup. So after a while it started to burn my tongue. LOL And I had the Halo-halo for dessert which I shared with my mom. Literally translated to “mix-mix”, the dessert of shaved ice and sweetened beans, preserved saging na saba (a type of banana close to plantain), jelly, leche flan, Ube jam, milk etc and you pretty much mix everything together until it kind of looks like a lumpy smoothie. So good!
I am getting so hungry and homesick remembering all the food I ate. I had so many mangoes! I saw my most favorite people and some of my best friends. And I would like to say thank you to my family — my Papa, for driving me everywhere (traffic was so horrible), my Mama for taking care of me and making sure I have mangoes, my Nanay for the relleno! My aunt and uncle, my forever sponsors. Thank you so much! To the mothers of my nephews and niece — thank you for letting me spend some time with the kids. And for my friends – April, Manel, Farah and Antonette for taking the time to spend a few hours with me catching up, shopping and eating!!!
Provenciano 110 Maginhawa, Teacher’s Village East Diliman, Quezon, 1101 Kalakhang Maynila, Philippines +63 2 922 2736
Dekada Central Bus. Dist. 2/F, Glorietta 3, Ayala Avenue corner Pasay Road, Makati Avenue and EDSA, Makati City, Philippines +63 2 841 0131
Conti’s with multiple locations in Metro Manila