Monday, April 6, 2009

North Luzon Filipino Food at Baguio Gerry's Grill - Philippines (Part 1 of 3)

Summer Capital of Philippines - Baguio (North Luzon). 5000 feet above sea level. The temperature is balmy even in the afternoon. Its very developed with 300,000 residents where half are students. Also known as the college town.Gerry's Grill is located in SM Mall, Baguio City. Three of us (a 100kg+, a 90kg+ and me a 73kg) tried to tucked in 7 dishes but failed. Total Bill: RM120 inclusive of 6 drinks of different varieties!

Philippines generally has three sections: North which is Luzon Island, Central where the famous Cebu and Bohol Island are and the South which is dominated by the Mindanao Island and the infamous restive Sulu Sea islands. The three main dialects are Tagalog, Ilonggo and Cebuano.

My son was cared for by a Cebuano (Central - Visayas) Filipina in his first 4 years of his life. One of the first words he picked up was 'libang' meaning 'to defecate'. In Tagalog it means 'to have some fun.' Seems an OK association. But in my early travels, I found out that 'ayam' in Ilonggo (Central - Visayas) means 'dog'. Imagine an Ilonggo speaker spotting 'ayam' on our menu.

Such is the diversity of the archipelago of the Philippines with 7,000 islands at the last count. And I can imagine the food. The more my encounters with Filipino food the more it intrigues me. With American, Spanish and Chinese influencing the local cuisines I am sure they have a lot to offer contrary to certain critics.

This is my first trip to the northern island of Luzon. I have eaten in some good local and Mediterranean food in Manila (south Luzon) as well as decent food in Visayas and great stuff from Mindanao. But nothing prepares me for the riot of food I enjoyed in my last trip to mountainous north Luzon. The people here are Ilocanos and proud to be highlanders which can be a derogatory term as I found out in my very first encounter with Filipino culture.
Adobong Puso Rice wrapped in leaves with pork fillings. Flavourful and can be eaten on its own. RM11.
Bagoong Rice. Rice with dried and salty shrimps toppings. The dried shrimps is so addictive! RM10.00.
Sisig (Meat from Pork's Head). It means 'snacking on something sour'. In fact loads of vinegar were used. The onions and green chilis add to the flavour and taste. Mushy liver and crunchy cartilage from ears and soft and tender meat from the face and snout! An experience for me.
Crispy Pata. Roast Knuckle. An all-time classic Filipino dish available around the archipelago. When I make my frist trip here I was told not to miss this. Similar to German Roast Knuckle but this was better as the size is smaller thus meat is more tender and rind is really crispy and crunchy. RM31.Inihaw (Pronounced ini -how) Pusit. Grilled Calamari. Grilled to perfection with great sauces (not sure what) with a caramelized layer. Best I have had. RM45 per kg.Sinigang Bangus. Milkfish (national fish) in sour soup. In fact very sour. I am not sure why, possibly differences in palate and taste. Black peppered with kangkong vegetables. Too sour to bear for me! RM16.Pinakbet. An Ilocano dish meaning 'shrivelled'. Vegetables are cooked till they shrunk. Okra, eggplant, bitter gourd, pumpkin, long beans with seafood or meat. Topped with crushed chicharon - deep-friend and crunchy pigs rind. RM10.


foodbin said...

by looking at your post-they are a real pork eating nation-a great support for the pig's industry. the Puso rice is like our Bak Chang.

550ml jar of faith said...

That grilled calamari picture is pure poetry! There is no way something that looks so good can be bad!

Selba said...

So interesting to learn about Philipinnes.

Life for Beginners said...

Yippee! I guessed right! It was the Philippines that you visited! The wrapped rice with pork looks really good, btw. :)

worldwindows said...

FB... Cholesterol filled saturated fat pork. They have a way with it.

Faith... I could sing while eating it.

Selba... This is a beautiful country with bountiful resources.

LfB... The rice was savoury, subtle flavours from the leaves (not sure what was it) and steamed just right.

CUMI & CIKI said...

yay yay.. im so clever.. i guessed right.. (smug look on her face:P) hehe

worldwindows said...

CampC... Your pics are very difficult to guess lah.