Thursday, August 7, 2014

Silay Seashore

After eating a heavy dinner in one of Balaring's restos by the sea, we were greeted by this beautiful sunset.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Yummy Senoritas of Silay

These are Senoritas straight from the kitchen of Emma Lacson of Silay.  This artisanal kitchen is one of Negros' culinary secrets. There is no sign but you can enter the gate and go up their kitchen to purchase their delicacies.  However, it is highly recommended to call and order first before going here. One of their specialties is this heavenly square called Senoritas.

Online research yield that these decadent morsels were in fact Hispanic in origin, Cuban to be exact. How it came about in Silay is a mystery, but this may have been brought in by Spaniards or even Ilustrados coming home from the motherland.  Nevertheless, this dessert always elicits ooohs and aaahs from many first timers.  Who can resist a square of alternating layers of buttered crust and dulce de leche? Not me.  Such decadence is usually reserved for special event and sinful cravings.

Total damage? P300 for a whole box.

Cor. Rizal and Ledesma Sts (formerly Mckinley) 
It's the house at the corner stoplight whose gate face the Bank of the Philippine Island
Tel. (02) 495-5047.  
Call for orders from 6 AM to 6 PM.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Otap & Cheese Spread Canape

New discovery! Canapes, according to Wikipedia,  are small, prepared and usually decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in one bite.  This however needs several bites! Otap and cheese spread! Yummy!

21 Reasons for Eating at 21 Restaurant, Bacolod

Why we have to eat at 21 Restaurant in Bacolod:

21. Ambience & Interiors
20. Apan-apan
19. Toasted Ravioli
18. Margarita
17. Crispy Crablets
16. Spare Ribs w/ Sate Rice
15.  Fried Tobacco Onion
14.  US Angus Short Rib
13.  Grilled Salmon Belly w/ Nasi Goreng Rice
12.  Mushroom Cheeseburger
11. Frozen Iced Tea
10. Boquerones
9. Porkchop ala Bicol Express
8. Mango Jubilee & Banana Foster
7. Green Mango Shake
6. Price Range
5. Kadios soup
4. Leche Flan
3. Pepper Steak2. Moist Chocolate Cake
1. Batchoy

Friday, February 22, 2013

Provincial Capitol Lagoon, Bacolod City

 The Provincial Capitol and its adjacent lagoon (simply called the Lagoon), is one of the most splendid of all provincial capitols in the Philippines. Even the famous architect, Leandro Locsin calls it the most beautiful capitol because of its symmetry and layout. Accentuated by the cool waters of the lagoon, this complex is made more stunning during sunset when the sun strikes its golden rays to the water and when the orange glow fills the 2nd floor gallery of the Capitol.

History showed that the building was planned by Daniel Burnham and designed by Juan Arellano.  The entire building took a decade to be built during the prewar years and this was done in the Neo-Classical style of architecture as favored by our American colonial masters. The four statues adorning the area above the Corinthian columns were attributed to Italian artist Francesco Monti.

The two concrete carabao statues straddle the north-south pole of the Lagoon. The Northern statue which envisaged a 30's coiffed Filipina sidling with a carabao is attributed to Monti since he has an exact small replica of the said statue at the UP Los Banos School of Agriculture. The Southern statue meanwhile sports a nude male pulling a carabao, which is attributed to Arellano (but I am not sure if Mapua had a hand in this).

Currently, the capitol houses the offices of the governor while the Lagoon serves as a recreational park for the populace.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

San Sebastian Cathedral, Bacolod City

Scenes from an afternoon tour at the San Sebastian Cathedral....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Jacopo Kebabs & Steaks, Bacolod City

The hallmark of a great restaurant lies in its ability to sustain the interest and curiosity of its customers resulting in a strong patron-purveyor relationship as manifested by having a constant supply of satisfied regulars. So long as you keep your customers happy with your 1) consistent food quality, 2) consistent portions, and 3) excellent service, then the factor of price becomes secondary. Patrons will continue to pay for your food if they’re happy; they shall seek you out no matter how far is the distance.

This is true with Jacopo Kebabs & Steaks, a small shophouse-sized restaurant in Mandalagan tucked behind the generator of the building across Robinson’s Bacolod Mall (see photo for details) serving fantastic Mediterranean cuisine. They have been pleasing our palates ever since they opened and they have not failed us yet.

The restaurant features warm American Moderne design with wooden tables and steel chairs embellished with muted Mediterranean kitsch suffused with the warm tangerine glow of their walls. What this means I have no idea but it sounds sophisticated and architectural. But people go here not to admire the cool interiors but to eat, taste and savor.

When we go here, we prefer taking the seats at the mezzanine floor above where we can defile the place with our chatter. And the cushioned seats and pillows help too.

Now, look at the menu (see photos). Can you see how reasonable their prices are? That’s their main draw. If only they would follow the Principles of Greenbeltsian Tariffs as espoused in Makati, then they can be sure to increase their profits while scaring off probably 99% of Negrense customers. Hence, putting an exorbitant price on their menu will mean that instead of having weekly or daily regulars coming in to try out their dishes, it would become monthly or annual regulars instead. This is why Negrenses are grateful to have Jacopo in their midst. And we can also thank our lucky stars to Rico Cajili, the restauranteur behind this and other well-trodden Bacolod restos such as Chicken House, Pepe’s and Bistro Negrense.

Click me!
Click me!
Back to the menu. Read the appetizers. Now feel that quick gush of your saliva from your Stensen’s and Wharton’s ducts as it then lubriciously coats your entire mouth. Read the Entrees. Can you feel your incisors and molars tingling with excitement that any more literary stimulus will drive you to chomp on your seatmate’s thigh?

No? Then let me give you a bit more push: I would recommend their Chicken samosas- such luscious morsels of curried chicken and potatoes drizzled with mango chutney. They’re quite heavy on the stomach but light on the pocket.  Care to try some Feta Cheese & Spinach Ravioli? You'll swoon as if you’re in some Greenbeltsian restaurant in where else but in Greenbelt. The silkiness of the cream and the slight herby taste of spinach makes it stellar.   However, the one thing that keeps us coming back for more is their Pita Platter: Head-size pita bread that comes  with an assortment of 3 flavorful dips (which we sinfully mix and match): babaganoush, chili con carne (not this time though), and hummus.  They are creamy and delicious. Perfect to start your meal.

The entrees of Jacopo form the basis of their existence. The kebabs are to die for.  Both lamb & Angus beef kebabs are soft and well-seasoned and are paired with a creamy horseradish-garlic sauce.  Mr. Cajili recommends the steaks which I totally agree. Buttery soft and juicy themselves, they come with brown pepper gravy. The taste spectrum simply explodes.   A friend of mine who tried their St. Patrick steak said that he can’t stop thinking of it even the next day.  It was the kind of steak he was looking for. Well, for something less than P200, I can see why. 

We tried the Mediterranean Grilled Chicken (P149) and it was perfect for a "salaryless" weekend.  Grilled yet juicy inside, the chicken was well seasoned with herbs (rosemary? basil? tarragon?) and was  paired with luscious hummus and yellow saffron rice and a nice tart salsa of cucumber and tomatoes.  More than the chicken, you’ll be amazed too by the size of your plate. They’re huge- enough to hold your head if in case it gets decapitated.  So far, we’ve tried their Lamb Casserole and Curry dishes and they’re good, but I would rather go for the steaks. Each time we eat here, it's always a happy experience.

One quip we have about Jacopo is the lack of desserts. No yoghurt ice cream. No Baklavas. Brazos and Sans Rival are too plain for this place.  I feel they deserve better. Perhaps they want to focus more on the main stuff but it would be great if there’s something to round it off with.  Hmm. Strong Turkish coffee, perhaps?

All in all, a very satisfying dining experience.  Recommended? Yes, for the sheer pleasure of eating a cuisine other than Chicken Inasal here in Bacolod City.  Jacopo is one restaurant you hope not to disappear.

Jacopo Steaks & Kebabs
722 Metropolis Tower, Lacson Street, Mandalagan
Bacolod City, Philippines

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Calea at Balay Quince, Bacolod City

Updated from my previous blogsite:

One of the most hallowed institutions of gastronomic delights in this fair city is Calea. The place well-known to all and Red Ribbon (which is the darling among other provincial towns) will even attest to the prowess and sheer tenacity of this dessert place. Only during force majeure will Calea fall. (A matchstick and a can of petrol will do the trick!) In a nutshell, because of its strict quality and generous adequate quantity, Calea will forever increase the diabetic curve of local Negrenses. Pass me the insulin will you.

Calea, hopefully, will not be beholden to the Sodom & Gomorrah called Manila when it tries to tempt our cakeshop with the promise of hyperbolic profits. I'm glad that instead of taking the bait and let ManileƱos have their cake too, Calea is contented to sit and relax and see its three shops here churn centavos in profits. At least this will ultimately force ManileƱos to order stuff provincially rather than to have everything available at their beck and call.

Their main shop sits at the ground floor of Balay Quince (as in the number, not the fruit), a Mondrian-inspired arcade similar in structure and taste to Greenbelt albeit much much smaller. You can find it at the corner of 15th Street and Lacson, and any tourist will appreciate that it is in front of L'Fisher Hotel rather than on the ally of 14th street, its previous location. Other branches are inside Robinson's Mall and at Eastblock. They close until 10pm weekdays while 11pm weekends.

But the question remains, what makes Calea very special?

1. Even though they are located in the heart of this provincial nest of vipers, Calea is able to make cakes worthy of Nigella Lawson with its ingredients imported all the way from the cowtits of Bavaria. Take for instance their White Chocolate Cheesecake. It's rich and sinfully so. Its decadence is improved by a spoonful of tart raspberry puree. Where in Manila can you find such treat for only P60 P85? Even Sugarhouse cannot afford such luxury.

2. The cakes abound in such variety and uniqueness that each is worthy of a blog entry. (Only in Bacolod will you find the racist dessert called Black Sambo which is simply chocolate-vanilla layered pannacotta.) Calea is not stuck with the usual regimen of Chocolate cake and Chocolate Crinkles and Blueberry Cheesecake that beset Manila bakeshops. Each cake is filled with soul and people who have tasted Calea will always point out how "uncommercial" the taste is. For instance their Blueberry Cheesecake are like the ones being made in NYC (less gelatin) and the crust! the crust! How to describe it? A buttery concoction of oatmeal crunch granola instead of the usual graham crust being peddled in Starbucks and Cheesecake Factory. They even have a good selection of ice cream cakes like their orgasmic Marshmallow pie and their Vanilla ice cream pie that has a delicious peanut-butter granola base.

3. The ambience is full of muted sophistication. Minimal without being sterile, simple but full of joie de vivre. The beauty is in the details. Calea has the same fantastic interiors concept as any high-end pastry shop in New York. It tends to become the place to see and be seen. Unlike some metropolitan pastry shops that take their inspiration from a Grimm's Fairy Tale or others who espouse an American-style Starbucksy kind of interiors (totally uninspired), Calea is in a class of its own.

4. They serve fantastic coffee. I don't know what blend or what style (perhaps human kopi luwak?) but their White Chocolate Capuccino is far better than Starbucks'. And their milkshakes are pure ambrosia.

5. The price! Their most expensive cake would be around P60-65 P90. Most cheesecakes are in the P50s P80s range and the Butter pecan slice about P64 P90. After 10 years, I have seen their prices increased 100% but it is still relatively inexpensive when you compare it to similar cakes in Manila. Prices are updated to reflect 2011-13 cost of living.

Bon apetit!