The history of Easter

I did not leave town this Easter break. I have spent the last week packing and moving to a new home. I’m excited because the biggest area is allocated to the kitchen. More space to experiment on new recipes, invite chef friends to jam, and maybe even give private lessons. Honestly, I just miss entertaining and now I have a larger venue. So I have been purging, sorting, get rid of things that are no longer relevant to my life. The hardest part is letting go of the past, but spring cleaning is good for the soul. After-all Easter means “new life”, so I too start anew.

Pastry chefs are busy making chocolate bunnies and decorative Easter eggs. How are eggs and bunnies connected to the resurrection of Jesus? I found this on the Internet and hope it answers the question. Credit goes to whoever made it, thank you or sharing:

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The Ilocos La Paz Sand Dunes Experience

???????????????????????????????The La Paz Sand Dunes are a strange phenomena, no I was not in Dubai or the Middle East but north of the Philippines.

Ilocos Norte is a province rich in Filipino heritage and great food. The sand dunes offer thrill seekers a unique adventure.

A new addition to my bucket list was sand boarding.  Yes I did it!  And  for the ultimate adrenaline rush, the 4×4 “a la roller coaster”  experience. We were screaming so hard from all the excitement; but when we drove by the beach, I fell silent and was captivated by the breathtaking sunset.

In the end and right before the sun almost disappeared, we all gathered and started lighting lanterns. In the darkness, we released them into the heavens together with our wishes. Magical!

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????blog6If you’re look for a tour coordinator, I highly recommend the group of Angel Lao of www.travelilocandia.com

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Recovery Food at the Fort

Found this sosyal na tapsi place from the group of Mamou. We tried Tapa de Morning (P180) and S.S.T (spicy sweet tuyo P180), with fried eggs and organic brown rice. And for an additional P35, I had my SST with talangka (crab) rice. The side sauces of Sriracha, hoisin, and pinakurat vinegar made me finish the whole bowl. Yummy!
Recovery Food is located at the corner of 32nd and 8th avenue at Fort Bonifacio Global City. It is close to the football field and is open 24 hours.

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The day I crashed a wedding in Sagada

20140302-224241.jpg20140302-224216.jpgA decade ago, during my more carefree days, my friend Joy and I decided to take an impulse trip to Sagada.We took the late night bus to Baguio, traveled for 6 hours and arrived just before dawn. Back then, we didn’t have Wi-Fi or smart phones, so we did everything based on our hunches. It was connecting the dots the old fashioned way. Sagada was a hidden gem, I’m proud to say I came before the herds of tourists.

To get to Sagada, we rode the Lizardo Transit “chicken bus” for 8 hours. In the olden days Lizardo Lines had small buses which were used mostly by farmers or the natives. At certain stops I would be seated next to a local carrying a chicken or a basket of vegetables. Yes, just like in the movies!!! Today there are modern tourist buses and better roads. It was an amazing experience to be in the mountains, zigzagging the endless scenery of rice and vegetable terraces.

20140302-224226.jpgWe stayed in an old convent called Saint Joseph’s Rest House. During the long journey our bus mates became our friends. The ten of us just clicked and so we did the activities together. This included spelunking Lumiang and Sumaging caves, the hanging coffins of Sugong; and treks to the Old Spanish Trail, Echo Valley, and Bomod-ok Falls.20140302-224204.jpg

One evening we tried the native delicacy called pinikpikan manok. It’s brutally pounding a live free-range chicken with a stick until it is “myoglobin” black and blue (that’s what I perceive to call it). Then the chicken is slit at the throat and hanged until the blood drains out. Next it is thrown into boiling water or fire to remove the feathers. The chicken is cut up and boiled with a piece of salted pork (etag), ginger and peppercorns. Green papaya, sili leaves, or at times malunggay leaves may also be added. Wicked!

Our guide’s name was Edwin. I told him I wanted to experience an Ifugao tribal ceremony. He mentioned that his cousin was getting married the next day. I boldly asked if we could come and crash the wedding. He left to ask permission, he returned after dinner to inform us that we just get ourselves invited. Yippee!!

20140302-224232.jpgThe next day we took an early trek down the valley to a small village. I was so excited! Almost everyone in the tribe was a guest. To pay our respects to the bride and groom we offered money as a gift. This tradition is done to help with the expenses. In return they gave us a plastic bag of raw meat called boki or watwat for salted pork. We didn’t know what to do with our meat so we gave them all to Edwin.

The couple  fed over 200 villagers. The feasting lasted for several days, hence two cows and three pigs were slaughtered. I was curious to see how food preparation was done with no industrial equipment. At the back, a giant kawa (wok) was used fueled by firewood. Pancit (rice noodles) were cooked in big batches and transferred into native baskets lined with banana leaves. Chocolate colored pork blood stew called dinuguan was cooked in giant vats. Amazing!

After the wedding ceremony was tribal dancing. The tribesmen were no longer in g-strings or bahag, but both men and women wore clothing made from traditional weaving. We joined in the dance that formed a circle, and followed the beating rhythm of the gongs.

Note: Pictures were taken pre-digital age, I had to scan them. How to go to Sagada

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Ewald Notter in Manila

Learn from world pastry champion and chocolate guru Ewald Notter:

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Bulalo at Mahogany Market

Tagaytay’s Mahogany Market has rows of food stalls serving beef shank soup. We tried the town’s speciality at Niezel’s Eatery, the bulalo soup was served pipping hot with a side order of crispy fish tawalis. The tiny seniorita bananas on the table were even complementary. The only thing I didn’t like about the experience was the constant number of market peddlers interrupting us during the meal. After politely turning them away, I finally managed to enjoy the bone marrow.

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Palawan’s Chaolong Noodle Houses

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After the end of the Vietnam war in 1975, over half-a-million Vietnamese boat people escaped communism and took refuge in Palawan. The Philippine government, together with the UN High Commission for Refugees, helped process Vietnamese relocation to the United States and other countries. The remaining few chose to make Palawan their home. The Vietnamese originally stayed in Puerto Princessa’s Viet Ville. There they introduced noodle houses called Chaolong. These restaurants run by the Vietnamese became popular all over the island. In fact, I had a very nice bowl midway to El Nido in Roxas, then another one on my way home in Puerto Princessa. Chaolong is Palawan’s version of the rice noodle soup called Pho. I have been to Vietnam and it is not quite the same. This local version is more popular as a beef noodle stew. The noodles and the baguette are all freshly made. The bread represents traces of France’s influence on the former IndoChina colony. If you want to try the soup, just ask a tricycle driver to take you to nearest Chaolongan.

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