We didn’t vacation in the Philippines this year. Heck, we wouldn’t have gone back, either, had Binay won. So now it’s near Christmas and Filipino food is making me homesick for the dishes that are difficult to find/eat here. Sometimes the hankering is so strong, I just have to whip it up even though it takes me hours to finish. Or ask the hubby to cook. Like dinuguan, laing, siopao or fresh lumpia. Sometimes, though, I just stare at photos of the food trips we went on the last time we returned.
Below was our lunch at Lando and Lorie’s Banay-Banay Eatery, which used to be a turo-turo cafeteria by the side of the national highway going to Manila. I think the last time we ate there was in 2001/2002 when our two older sons were still toddlers and we shopped for groceries in Lipa City’s South Supermarket. Even though it’s been more than ten years, I still remember the freshness of their seaweed salad in vinegar and onion – ah!
Today, the restaurant is packed everyday with lines snaking around the tables longer than the lines at McDonald’s or Jollibee’s. At least, that’s what I saw when we visited in August 2014 with our four kids. It was very hard to get a table. It was harder still to catch a waitress’ eye to compute our bill. For the price of our lunch, it was definitely value for money! Sigh. It’s just too bad we had no time to return before flying back to Abu Dhabi.
We travelled to Bataan twice during our 2014 holiday in the Philippines. The first was to condole with a close friend over the murder of his wife. The second was to mourn said friend’s death less than a week later. Since Bataan is hours and hours away from Batangas City, our home base in the Philippines, we stopped at Gerry’s Grill to eat lunch. And boy! Everything was delicious: the pork bbq, the sisig, the grilled squid, etc … So much so that we simply had to eat at their SM Batangas City branch. Sadly, the quality of the dishes at Gerry’s Grill, SM Batangas City, was not up to par with those at their Bataan branch.
Pining for food native to the Philippines lately, I’ve actually been looking at online recipes for bopis, sisig, goto, batchoy, kilawin, chicken pastel (which I tried cooking for the first time two days ago) and other uniquely Filipino fare. As if I don’t cook Filipino dishes every week, ha, ha!
To get back, most of the ingredients are not available in our town which is close to the Saudi Arabia-UAE border. But. On December 1, we were in Dubai and went to Satwa to buy pork. And. There they were: pork liver, pork heart, pork legs, pork ears, pork chops, spare ribs, pork blood, minced pork from Brazil, suckling pig for lechon, etc … If Miss Piggy was there, I could just imagine her exclaiming
My eyes were bulging and I’m afraid I got a little carried away at the array of hams, hotdogs, bacons, tocino, etc … The hubby could not believe his eyes when the cashier tallied up our groceries. I reasoned out that we were buying Christmas gifts for family friends plus pork ingredients for our noche buena and New Year’s spread.
Sadly, my budget’s not unlimited. Thus, it’s tiis na lang for the moment with canned bopis and sisig …
Which I promptly cooked the next day for breakfast (I offered an alternative to the hubby and kids: beef stew). Of course the taste is a far cry from homemade bopis or bopis ordered in a restaurant. Still, it’s consoling that after spending so much, we got two free Toblerones from the grocery … so what if my kids enjoyed the chocolate better than the canned bopis?