Bacolod’s famous chicken roasting in the open fire
Originally uploaded by annalyn.
I was surprised to learn that two of my blog friends, Karen and Day come from Bacolod which is one of my favorite cities in the Philippines. I went there on an official assignment in November last year and until now I dream of going there again, if only to indulge in the ultimate food trip.
When we mention the word Bacolod, what comes to mind is its most famous import, the super tasty chicken inasal marinated in a melange of ingredients and grilled slowly over charcoal fire. In the City of Smiles, they even have a whole strip of establishments devoted to their own versions of the timeless inasal. Whether one is hankering for chicken gizzard, feet, ass, leg or leeg, Manokan Country is the place to be. Eating chicken Bacolod-style means settling down in one of those formica tables,sprinkling your hot rice with salt and achuete oil, and dipping your favorite chicken part in a sawsawan of soy sauce, vinegar, siling labuyo or what-have-you. This unforgettable feast costs as little as fifty pesos (soft drinks included).
We were able to talk to Bert Tarrosa who has been selling delicious inasal since the 60s. His joint, Aida’s Chicken BBQ, is one of the most popular in Manokan Country, averaging 50 heads of chicken a day. Although he has been very successful in his business, Mang Bert refuses to branch out and keeps his recipe a secret, even among his staff.
Seafood lovers, on the other hand, will revel in the culinary pleasures of Pala Pala. The equivalent of Manila’s Seaside Market, one gets to pick here the fresh catch of the day and have it cooked in adjoining turo-turo stalls. Dishes to die for include fish tinola, kinilaw, gambas, calamares, and steamed lapu-lapu, among others.
Bacolod – being the center of Sugarlandia – is definitely not wanting in heavenly desserts. This is after all the birthplace of in-demand pasalubongs like piaya, barquillos and napoleones. Other native sweets include butong-butong (similar to the Tagalog tira-tira), inday inday (Negros version of the palitaw), bayi bayi ( flavored like the espasol), dulce gatas and the puto Manapla.
Other restaurants to try are Aboy’s, near the Goldenfields Complex, which offers delectable native dishes (surprisingly, the owner of the place is a Kapampangan and a cozy nook called Calea’s Bakeshop which is fast gaining popularity even among the Manila crowd for its heavenly cakes and pastries.
Food-making is such a way of life for the Negrense that in places like Silay,they have the age-old ritual of the manug-libud. This activity happens daily in the market area where enterprising womenfolk barter and display 50 or more kinds of the town’s best delicacies. Of course, the culinary excitement peaks during the MassKara Festival where stalls of lechon, barbecue, lumpia and other specialties can be sampled by the revelers.
As we found out, Bacolod is more than just sprawling haciendas, ancestral houses and rolling golf courses. It is also about food, glorious food. There is always something for everyone in this Clean and Green city – be it Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Italian or good old Negrense home cooking.
I have made a list of “Ten Things To See and Do” in Bacolod City and I promise to post it in My Wandering Soul blog soon.