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Archive for the ‘Sugarlandia’ Category

Sharyns Cansi

When we were kids, our dad used to take us to these hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the Chinese quarter of Bacolod. We discovered a lot of gems that way, and Sharyn’s Cansi House was one of them.

R and I actually had one of our earlier dates here when we were just starting out. Aaaah, memories…..

We were finally able to go back last January. I must say that although the price has gone up considerably in the past few years, the flavor hasn’t changed. It was heaven.

What is cansi exactly? It is a sour soup of beef bone marrow, with slices of unripened jackfruit and a little meat on the bones. The sourness of the soup comes from a fruit called batuan (pronounced bat-wan), a fruit that I have never seen off our island of Negros.

The day we went there, R and I finished two bowls of cansi, four servings of rice and an extra bowl of the stock. All washed down with some ice cold Coca-Cola. Talk about recipe for a heart attack.

Sharyn’s Cansi House is located in Shopping, Bacolod (I have no idea why they call it that, but that has been the way it’s always been). The place is clean and up to sanitation standards, but don’t expect fine dining digs. This is a place where one gets down and dirty with their food, if you know what I mean.

Sharyns Cansihan

When they say it’s the best in town, they aren’t kidding.

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Chicken House Inasal

I admit, I have a lot of blog backlog on our (not-so-recent-anymore) holiday. I’m trying to ease them in a little at a time, and today is dedicated to inasal (barbecued chicken).

Inasal is the quintessential Negrense food. Many have tried to imitate it, but very few have succeeded. The chicken is marinated (usually overnight) in a special sauce. I have an inkling what the ingredients are, but at the risk of being hunted down by Negrense inasal makers, please forgive me if i do not divulge it here.

Since I’ve watched the movie Namets, a romantic comedy centered on Negrense food, every time I see inasal I can’t help but remember the “Paa o Pecho?” (Thigh or Breast?) scene. According to one of the protagonists, high maintenance people prefer the chicken breast, while low maintenance, adventurous people prefer the thighs.

True or false?

Anyway, that photo above was taken from Chicken House along Mandalagan St., my all-time favorite inasal restaurant.

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Following our visit to the Negros Museum, we went for a walk at the Provincial Capitol Lagoon.

 Lagoon Run for Unity Flash Mob

We were treated to a flash mob dancing to promote the “Run for Unity” activity, most probably sponsored by the province. The dancers were lounging around, pretending to be all sorts of people, one of them a jogging man with a box head:

Run for Unity man with boxhead

That sure got my attention.

We were hungry after all that excitement, and went straight to the Dunkin Donuts store across the street. This store has been at the corner of 6th and Lacson St. for ages.

The Dunkin Donuts staff gamely allowed me to take a picture of the donuts. It was already almost six o’clock in the evening, and they were out of my favorite Choco Web.

Dunkin Donuts

My next favorite would be the Ham and Cheese Bunwich with an egg. R ordered his favorite BLT Bunwich (also with egg), while the Babii got the Tuna Bunwich with cheese. This was her introduction to Dunkin Donuts.

Dunkin Donuts bunwichThree bunwiches for three different personalities

As I have previously observed in other establishments, the portions are noticeably smaller. The Bunwich is no exception. Sigh, this is a reflection of economic times, more than anything else.

One thing that remained the same, however, was the coffee. Dunkin Donuts has the “cheapest best coffee,” with the exception of La Corona Cafe near the Burgos market, at P35 (US$0.80) a cup.

Dunkin Donuts coffee

The total bill for three bunwiches and drinks: P280 (US$6.40). It is simple pleasures (read: cheap) like these that I truly miss abroad.

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R and I are proud Negrenses. We were born and raised here, our home away from home has that distinct Negrense flavor, and we continue to talk, think and behave the way we were taught by our Negrense parents.

(A Fil-Am friend who visited us earlier this year expected to learn more Filipino during his two-week stay at our house. He went back to the United States speaking Hiligaynon.)

Despite the time we spend away from Negros, we always make an effort to educate the Babii about her roots. And yesterday, we took her to the Negros Museum.

 Negros Museum facadeFacade of the Negros Museum

The Negros Museum used to be housed at the Provincial Capitol a few blocks away. The Provincial Capitol used to be the seat of the Governor, but over the years, some Governors stopped using the place and it was given over to the Museum. Some years back, however, Governor Joseph Maranon revived the Provincial Capitol as the office of the Governor (rightfully so, I think). The Negros Museum was moved to a smaller building behind the Capitol, formerly occupied by the Provincial Library if memory serves me right.

Negros Museum floor

I have a weakness for old tiled floors, and the Museum’s is no exception. I dream of  my future house having tiled floors like this (I cringe when I see houses and buildings tiled with bathroom-like tiles). The walls in the Museum display a good number of paintings and murals depicting pre-modern and modern life in Negros.

Talibong

At the entrance, one is greeted by a huge talibong. R says the length indicates it was wielded by a tall man.

I was looking forward to showing the Babii the gallery of international toys which made a big impression on me ten years ago, but sadly the gallery was closed. We moved on to the second floor.

Negros Museum stairwayStairway of the Negros Museum

The Museum, fittingly, has a grand stairway. The Babii, however, asked: “What is that thing at the top?” (Uhm, I don’t know, maybe it’s some revolutionary theme?)

At one wing on the second floor is a display depicting life in the sugar industry, the backbone of Negros.

Hacienda House

Above is a typical model of a hacienda house. Note the 360 degree view on the veranda and the little watchtower at the top for, uhm, certain activities.

Hacienda ViewA mural on hacienda life.

Further in, gadgets related to the production of sugar are displayed in various cabinets and tables.

Sugar Gadgets

On the left is a “quedan machine” according to R. Quedans are those little slips of paper confirming how much sugar a haciendero has in a particular sugar mill. This machine is supposed to type out those quedan amounts. On the right are laboratory equipment used for testing the concentration of sugar in the sugarcane brought into the mill.

Negros Museum food vendorA vendor selling local delicacies. But who eats at a food stall wearing a barong (formal wear)? (Ok, maybe the guy just came from High Mass.)

Negros folk songs

Local folk songs printed on canvas hang from the ceilings. A nice touch. I was quite surprised though when R started singing them.

Negrs Museum closed section

There was another display involving a huge boat and religious figurines, but the gallery was also temporarily closed.

On the right end of the second floor is another display on Negros life and the Negros Republic.

Negros Museum Wedding Dress

I took a lot of pictures, but posting them all here would just be picture overload. Above is an old wedding gown, probably donated by some kind soul. I forgot to take a closer picture of the details, but it was clear that each flower was painstakingly sewn and attached with a lot of care. One of my grandmas used to make dresses this way, but they don’t make dresses like this anymore (unless you want to pay an arm, a leg, and your first born child to a designer label, that is).

The Negros RepublicA brief history of the Negros Republic

Very few Filipinos know that when the Tagalogs launched the Revolution in Luzon, Negros launched its own revolution and won against the Spaniards. The Republic, however, was short-lived as the Americans arrived and the rest, as they say, is history.

Some observations and unsolicited (amateur) advice:

1. The Museum has a lot of potential, but space limitations are very noticeable. The Provincial Capitol was a lot bigger, and displays that are evenly spaced from each other give a significantly different impression compared to ones that are placed right next to each other. Sensory overload, and sadly some stories may fall into the cracks.

2. Aside from the stray foreigner who arrived just as we were leaving, there were no other visitors in the Museum. Unfortunately, this just confirms my observation that not too many Filipinos visit their own museums (aside from the mandatory school trip). If we don’t make an effort to know where we come from, how can we go anywhere?

3. I suppose that funding, as in most historical institutions, is an issue. I am sure that museum officials are exerting their best efforts, but sometimes the best of plans can’t move without funding.

4. I hope that the Museum can soon migrate its website to http://www.negrosmuseum.com from negrosmuseum.blogspot.com. Having recently migrated our company files, I know that it takes some time and effort, but it can be done for a minimum fee or even free (if you’re a geek).   The hardest part is generating the content, and I would recommend including  a history of Negros, its geography, and short introductions to each gallery/section of the museum. Who knows, it may just garner more attention from potential funders.

5. Christmas season is the time when Negrenses come home for the holidays, often with some non-Negrenses/non-Filipinos in tow. This is the best time to showcase the Museum, but having certain sections closed is disappointing for visitors.

6. There was a scooter parked in the Museum. Right beside the Governors’ Gallery. Paging the parking police….

Scooter in the Negros Museum

The Negros Museum is on Gatuslao St. behind the Provincial Capitol. Entrance fee is P50 (US$1.14) for adults and P20 (US$0.46) for students.

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So I was this weird Negrense who never got to eat at Pendy’s. For thirty-three years. Yep, I lived under a rock.

I did finally get to have dinner there one night, and I can honestly say that I am happy to be scheduled to eat there for a few more nights this Christmas season.

I was ill-prepared for this first foray, however, as R, the Babii and I had a late lunch, followed by coffee and cake at tea time, leaving us quite stuffed come dinner time.

In an effort to “go light” for dinner, we ordered the Vietnamese spring rolls with peanut sauce and a Greek salad as appetizers.

 Pendy's Vietnamese Spring RollsThe last of the spring rolls which I couldn’t bring myself to finish.

Then the Babii chose a tuna sandwich, I asked for a club sandwich, while R and friend B ordered Angus steaks. R couldn’t resist giving a little speech about how “you don’t go to Pendy’s to order a sandwich, you go to Pendy’s to order steak.” (Well next time, we’ll skip Calea before dinner, ok?)

Ironically, they were out of steaks that night, so R and B ordered the Curry Shrimp in Lychee Sauce and Fish Fillets in Kaffir Lime Sauce instead.

Pendy's Curry Shrimp with Lychee SauceIf I wasn’t allergic to shrimp, I would have dug into this at the first instance.

Pendys Fish Fillet in Kaffir Lime Sauce

The spring rolls were great, and would have been greater if I didn’t ask them to take out the shrimps. But one can’t have everything. Sigh.

As for the Greek salad, it’s hard to judge this one after having eaten so many Greek salads made by actual Greeks (or close to Greeks). Plus I’m sure the cost of olives in Negros is horrendous, so I’m cutting the restaurant some slack.

The fish had a good balance of flavors; distinct but not overpowering, filling but not heavy. My kind of dish. The shrimp dish looked promising as well, but I didn’t feel like embarking on a massive public breakout so I skipped it. R and the Babii vouched for it and that’s good enough for me.

The club sandwich was a regular club sandwich, small by Western standards, but just the right flavor for me (and most other Negrenses, I suppose). In the end, we were so full that the Babii and I only finished half of our servings. I had the leftover sandwiches for lunch the next day.

Aside from the food, what I really liked about the restaurant was its distinctly Negrense vibe. There are no words to capture that aura perfectly, but it is in the way the waiters remember their patrons, the way they talk, the honesty of the food  and its flavors (no complicated plating and pretentious names here).

In this era of kitchen Olympics, it is oddly refreshing and comforting.

The next time I eat there, I’ll make sure to skip the cake, coffee, and maybe even lunch.

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I have been sorely remiss with my blogging duties this past week, but I have a very compelling reason: I am on vacation! (The best reason everrrrr.)

We have been in Bacolod less than a week and R has been dragging me to restaurants left and right because “it’s on the list.” How sweet. If I didn’t know any better, I would say he is just doing this so I would have nothing to complain about when we fly out. 😛

Less than a week and already we’ve been to a lot of restaurants. The only problem is I feel very self-conscious about whipping out my camera to take pictures. There are so many bloggers from Bacolod, but how come I don’t see anyone using their cameras in restaurants???? (Note to self: must go out more.)

Anyway, it’s not like I remember to take pictures. As usual, the dish is halfway to my stomach by the time I remember.

Bob’s North Drive

Our first stop was Bob’s for some Chicken sate and fruit punch. That went well for my stomach and not so well for my blog. The chicken tasted the same (i.e. great), but the portions were noticeably smaller. This is a trend that I noticed later in the week. Restaurants are feeling the economic pinch.

Chicken House

We took Cousin N and family to lunch at Chicken House, which again had great food but smaller portions. And smaller plates too! So hard to maneuver the chicken around it. For a group of 6, we paid around P1,000. My, how times have changed. (Generation gap showing here.)

Calea

cream puff

Finally, a picture!

In truth, I ate my cream puff right away. But the Babii was slow, so I got to take a picture of hers. It tasted the same, but there was a lot less custard underneath. Sigh.

We ordered three sets of cream puffs, hot chocolate for the Babii, cafe mocha for R, green tea for me, and a lemon meringue pie for good measure. Total bill was P485.

Mai Pao

Our first Sunday found us at Mai Pao, ordering food good for five (or six) people. We started with bird’s nest soup, then built up to  baskets of mushroom, quail egg and pork siomai.

 Mai Pao

Then we got really rolling with some Mai Pao fried rice, fried noodles, lemon chicken and salt and pepper shrimp. On hindsight, we should have ordered plain rice to offset the richness of the food, but the fried rice was fantastic! And I realized how much I missed Chinese chorizo.

Mai Pao Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Total bill was around P1,000. I’m rounding off, as it was actually P900++. For this much food, it was well worth it. (We ended up bringing the leftover rice and shrimps home.) The service was great, and the waiter even remembered us from two years back.

The best part was, NO MSG! And I know this for sure because I get allergic reactions from MSG.

Breakthrough (Iloilo)

Okay, so technically this is not Bacolod, but this week we also found ourselves on a day trip to Iloilo. Friends Rose and Mark took us out for lunch at Breakthrough, which is a seafood restaurant in a suburb off Iloilo City.

They have this pool where the seafood swim around until someone decides to eat them. (Note to self: Don’t bring PETA people here.)

Iloilo SeafoodWhoa, that’s some lobster.

We had green mangoes in ginamos (fermented shrimp paste), oysters, milk fish, crab meat, something like a snapper in soup, steamed prawns, and lechon (roast pig– hahaha, YES). Whew, just like typical Ilonggos, Rose and Mark definitely know how to entertain.

We were all bondat (stuffed) after lunch, and R and I were worried that we would have some barf bag episodes on the ferry back to Bacolod. Mercifully, the sea wasn’t choppy and I fell asleep on the way back.

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I will still be on holiday for the rest of the month, so I can’t promise to be coherent or to even blog regularly :-(. But I do promise to collect lots of stories and tell them all when I get back.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

M.

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We come from an island known for its sugar. For more than a century, sugar was the lifeblood of our island. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, was connected to sugar some way, somehow. Plantation owners. Field workers. Factory workers. Truckers. Pastry makers. Oh, do we have pastry makers.

Everything we ate had sugar, even the most unlikely things (think spaghetti, adobo, tinola, etc.). All throughout my life there it always seemed as if we put at least a little bit of sugar in everything we cooked (perhaps for good luck?). There are also times when some people in my family would go overboard, as in, equal-amounts-of-cream-and-sugar-in-the-fruit-salad overboard (yes Vru, I’m talking about you!).

But one can live on such sweetness only for so long. Is it a wonder that so many families I know, including my own, have diabetes?

Yeah, I thought so too.

I’ve seen grandparents, uncles, and even siblings struggle with diabetes. I’ve seen the injections, dialysis, foot wounds, and all those complications that go with the disease. I’ve also seen the opposite in my brother, where there is never enough sugar, and one missed meal could mean a collapse, or worse.

Hence the conscious effort to lessen our sugar intake. But it can be hard, avoiding all those pastries back home. At least the Shnufflebubby reminds us often: “You’re one-half diabetic, you’re one-half diabetic, so I’m one whole diabetic!”

DNA plus fractions gone haywire. I have my mother-in-law to thank for this.

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