I love the dawn… at 6:00a.m. I am at the hotel lobby to meet Tina Decal of Fantasia Travel and Tours. Tina is the lady behind “Viaje del Sol” a culinary tour of Southern Tagalog. Together with Ms. Bernie Villodres we are off to Laguna, Quezon, and Lipa Batangas to do the itinerary for our Filipino Cuisine class tour.
Our first stop is Kusina Salud located in Barangay Sta. Cruz, San Pablo Laguna. It is the home of fashion designer Patis Tesoro. The restaurant is run by her daughter Nina and son-in-law Chef Paul Poblador. For breakfast we had salted eggs with spicy dilis, longganisang Laguna, omelette with Laguna cheese, carabeef tapa, garlic rice, and coffee. Then Chef Paul demonstrates to us how to make a Luguna specialty known as Pako Salad (Fern Salad).
Chef Paul Poblador’s version of Pako Salad – Fern, tomatoes, onions, calamansi, grated cheddar cheese and red eggs, onions, peanuts, fried garlic, spring onions, with a Filipino version of Caesar’s salad dressing
After breakfast we head to Lusacan Tiaong in Quezon to the home of potter Ugu Bigyan. This multi-talented artist also cooks! Ugu is known for his native dish “Kulawo”. It is made from banana blossom cooked in smoked coconut milk. It is so yummy that until now the flavor still lingers in my mind. Ugu also has his own version of Pako Salad with guava slices. We also had sabaw ng halaan (clam soup), green mussels with mustard leaves, fish in yellow mango salsa, calamares, and ribs. Food was presented in the pottery that he created…it was set in his beautiful garden which is also a photographer’s heaven.
Kulawo – banana blossom cooked in coconut milk. The edible flowers used as a garnish are called “Tarnate”
Ugu’s version of Pako Salad
Last stop was a tour of the Casa Segunda Katigbak . The ancestral house has been there since 1880. It was home to Jose Rizal’s first love Segunda Katigbak. We had Batangas bibingka (made form rice flour) and salabat (ginger tea). The bibingka comes form D’Lover’s Line which is a store famous in Lipa.
During merienda(snacks) our host Mrs. Lilet Malabanan explains to us that during the late 1800’s coffee plantations around the world were attacked by a virus. Lipa became so wealthy because it was the world’s biggest producer of coffee. As in the time of Rizal…. the aristocrats of Lipa had big houses and sent their children to Europe to study. However the virus caught on and later destroyed the coffee plantations. Many of the beautiful ancestral homes were later bombed during the Japanese occupation.
We are back in Manila at around 6:30 pm. If you want to do the tour check out www.viajedelsol.org or contact Tina Decal at firstname.lastname@example.org