Friday, January 31, 2014

Malaysia: Hawker food in Penang!

Asam Laksa
Hawker food in Penang, Malaysia is superb! Whenever I visit Penang, I always make sure to try out the local flavors.

Char Kway Teow
Char Kway Teow, a stir-fried flat rice noodle dish, is a personal favorite. This one sold near our hotel had prawns and deshelled cockles.

Bak Kut Teh
Another favorite is Bak Kut Teh which literally translates as meat bone tea. The hot broth is a complex mix of pork ribs plus herbs and spices that includes star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dong quai, fennel seeds and garlic.

Penang Asam Laksa
Asam Laksa, specifically Penang Laksa, is quite popular and a dish that is distinctly from Penang. A sour tamarind and fish-based soup, it's main ingredients are shredded mackarel, finely sliced vegetables, chili, thick rice noodles and a sweet prawn paste. I had this delicious bowl at the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre.

Bakkwa Dry Meat
Bakkwa Dry Meat
I enjoyed the Dry Meat or Bakkwa and the Black Pepper Dry Meat they were grilling at the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre. The hawker stalls also sell sweet and spicy sausages and other dried meats.

Cendol
To end our day, we had Cendol, a shaved ice dessert made with coconut milk, jelly noodles made with rice flour and colored with pandan coloring, red beans, and palm sugar syrup.

Apom
We also tried Apom, an Indian coconut pancake filled with coconut meat and bananas. Really good!

Thanks to Doc Gelo for the treat at the Gurney Drive Hawker Center!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Quezon City: Claypot rice meals at Eat Fresh Hong Kong Famous Street Food (QC Chinatown Banawe)

Eat Fresh Hong Kong Famous Street Food Banawe
Have you been to Quezon City Chinatown? Banawe Street is slowly highlighting its character as a Tsinoy community, especially with the many Chinese restaurants in the area. I tried out the Beef Brisket Claypot Rice and other dishes at Eat Fresh Hong Kong Famous Street Food at Maria Clara Street (near the corner of Banawe). The Beef Tendon and Spareribs Claypot Rice are also good. They serve a wide range of dishes, really good Chinese food. Why not celebrate the Chinese New Year at Quezon City Chinatown?

Eat Fresh Famous Hong Kong Street Food 
100-A Maria Clara St. Sto. Domingo, QC
Telephone No. (02) 5168022

Quezon City: US Angus Beef Tapa at Tapsilog Centrale Kamuning

Kamuning, Quezon City is a great place to find interesting small restaurants. There's one which serves US Angus Beef Tapa 24 hours a day! Try to find Tapsilog Centrale, a sidewalk restaurant at 11th Jamboree Street corner Kamuning Road. The US Angus Beef Tapa costs Php138 per serving with fried rice and egg. If you want to splurge, they have Wagyu Beef Tapa as well. For dessert, they have delicious cakes. Try The Dome, Belgian dark chocolate cake with Nutella mousse filling.

Tapsilog Centrale
11th Jamboree St. cor Kamuning Road, QC
Telephone No. (02) 2680621

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP) updated 01/28/2014

Manila Central Post Office Building and Liwasang Bonifacio (Manila)
Two days ago, I updated the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP) with declarations of the National Museum in 2012 and 2013. Today, I got a copy of declarations of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) during the same period. The NHCP declared five sites in 2012 and four sites in 2013.

Fort Pikit (Pikit, Cotabato)
Capul Lighthouse (Capul Island, Northern Samar)
Capul Lighthouse (Capul Island, Northern Samar)
The following were declared National Historical Landmarks or Pambansang Palatandaang Makasaysayan: Manila Central Post Office Building and Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila (Res. No. 1, S. 2012); Fort Pikit in Pikit, Cotabato (Res. No. 7, S. 2012); Crash Site of Mt. Pinatubo (the plane carrying President Ramon Magsaysay) in Mt. Manunggal, Cebu (Res. No. 8, S. 2012); Manila Bay and Waterfront (from Del Pan Bridge to the CCP) in Manila (Res. No. 19, S. 2012); Capul Lighthouse in Capul, Northern Samar (Res. No. 12, S. 2013); Saint Joseph Parish Church Complex in Las Pinas City (Res. No. 8, S. 2013); and the Zapote Battlefield and Zapote Bridge in Las Pinas City (Res. No. 11, 2. 2013).

Manila Bay Waterfront
Rizal Monument (Manila)
The Resting Place of the Remains of Melchora "Tandang Sora" Aquino in Banlat, Quezon City was declared a National Shrine (Res. No. 4, S. 2012) and the Rizal National Monument in Manila, was re-declared a National Monument (Res. No. 8, S. 2013).

Also check out the declarations of the National Museum in 2012 and 2013.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ilocos Norte: Sarrat's Santa Monica Church, President Marcos Birthplace and heritage walk

Santa Monica Church, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
The Santa Monica Church and Casa Parroquial in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte have got to be built in one of the most picturesque settings in the country. The church's claim to fame was that it was host to the grand wedding of Irene Marcos and Gregorio Araneta in 1983. Built in front of the wide and sandy Padsan River, the Sarrat Church is surrounded by numerous trees, creating a cool and breezy environment around the church complex.

Santa Monica Church, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
Santa Monica Church, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
Unfortunately, the beautiful facade and altar of Sarrat Church were destroyed in a strong earthquake that hit Ilocos Norte just two months after the wedding. They were never able to reconstruct the beautiful Baroque facade. But now that it's declared an Important Cultural Property, I hope government can restore its old facade.

Casa Parroquial, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
Casa Parroquial, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
The adjacent Casa Parroquial or Casa del Palacio Real was said to be built before the church and was later used as the Presidencia Municipal of Sarrat.

Sarrat Central School, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
Beside the convent is the Sarrat Central School, where President Ferdinand E. Marcos finished his elementary education. The school was previously used as the Casa Real of Ilocos Norte when Sarrat was provincial capital during the Spanish colonial period.

Birthplace of President Ferdinand Marcos, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
The Edralin House, more popularly known as the Birthplace of President Marcos, can also be found in the town. The house was heavily renovated during the Marcos presidency and today hosts a small museum.

Casa Parroquial, Sarrat, Ilocos Norte
There are plans to create a heritage walk to connect the many heritage properties of the town. The banks of the Padsan River are also becoming popular with visitors as locals have set up nipa huts for picnicking and videoke.

Sarrat is just nine kilometers from neighboring Laoag City. And speaking of Laoag, there are several places in the city to find the best empanadas in Ilocos Norte. Guess where?

Ilocos Norte: Paoay Church and Paoay's heritage houses

Diaz House, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
We're all familiar with the Paoay Church, one of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Most visitors visit the church, maybe have lunch in Cafe Herencia, then leave for the next stop on their Ilocos tour. But Paoay, Ilocos Norte has a lot of other interesting structures if you have time to walk around.

Paoay Church, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Paoay Convento Ruins, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
Ever wonder where the convento of the Paoay Church is? It's on the left side of the church right across the street. Unfortunately, only ruins of the old convento remain. But they are interesting and worth a look nonetheless.

Duque House, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
On a parallel street, behind the ruins, is an American colonial house with a unique octagonal shape. Locals refer to the Duque House, built in the 1930s, as the Octagon House.

Diaz House & Carpio House, Paoay, Ilocos Norte
The Paoay Central School, a Gabaldon school, is on the other side of the church. The road in front of the school used to be called the Camino Real that linked Paoay with Currimao. On it are well-preserved Spanish colonial houses including the Diaz House and Carpio House.

Since you're in Paoay, it's now time for the best empanadas in Ilocos Norte. Guess where?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP) updated 01/26/2014

Spanish Colonial Era Municipal Building (Romblon, Romblon)
It's been quite a while since I updated the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PRECUP). I'm adding declarations made by the National Museum in 2012 and 2013, including Bohol churches declared after they were damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol on October 13, 2013.

Parish Church of the Holy Trinity (Loay, Bohol)
Fuerza de San Antonio (Romblon, Romblon)
Newly-declared National Cultural Treasures (Category I) include the Santo Domingo Church Complex and its Liturgical Objects in Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City (10/04/2012); the Twin Forts of Romblon: Fuerza de San Andres and Fuerza de Santiago in Romblon, Romblon (03/19/2013); the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity in Loay, Bohol, also a National Historical Landmark (10/22/2013); the Parish Church of the Santo Niño in Cortes, Bohol (10/22/2013); and the Motto Stella or Rizal Monument in Rizal Park, Manila (12/30/2013).

Parish Church of the Santo Niño (Cortes, Bohol)
Parish Church of the Santo Niño (Cortes, Bohol)
Both Bohol churches sustained heavy damage during the earthquake and were set for declaration when the earthquake struck. The declarations went ahead to allow the government to fund the restoration of the churches.

Three National Cultural Treasures were completely destroyed during the earthquake, namely the Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Church Complex in Loon, Bohol, the Parish Church of the Holy Cross in Maribojoc, Bohol and the Balilihan Watchtower. The Balilihan Watchtower will be reconstructed. But it may be impossible to restore the two churches. This may lead to delisting in the future after undergoing the proper processes.

Old Provincial Building (Tagbilaran, Bohol)
Spanish Colonial Era Municipal Building (Romblon, Romblon)
Several Important Cultural Properties (Category II) were also declared namely the Old Municipal Building of Angeles City, Pampanga (06/12/2012); the Mauban Public Bath in Mauban, Quezon (07/14/2012); the Old Provincial Building in Tagbilaran City, Bohol (07/22/2012); the Spanish Colonial Era Municipal Building, Traida de Aguas and Bridges in Romblon, Romblon (03/19/2013); the Guyangan Cave System in Banton Island, Romblon (03/19/2013); Casa de San Fernando in San Fernando, Sibuyan Island, Romblon (03/20/2013); the Saint Augustine Parish Church in Lubao, Pampanga (10/28/2013); and the Parish Church of Santa Monica in Alburquerque, Bohol (10/22/2013).

Parish Church of Santa Monica (Alburquerque, Bohol)
A new category was created namely Significant Cultural Properties (Category III). The National Historical Commission of the Philippines has turned over the declaration of Heritage Houses to the National Museum. And these may fall under any of the three categories depending on their significance. The Category III structures include the Mauban Seawall in Mauban, Quezon (07/02/2013); the Chanuangco Sunico House in Binondo, Manila (08/05/2013); the St. John the Baptist Church in Garcia Hernandez, Bohol (09/27/2013); the First United Building or Perez-Samanillo Building in Escolta, Manila (10/23/2013); and the Holy Infant Parish Church, Complex and Convent in Valencia, Bohol (11/04/2013).

Holy Infant Parish Church, Complex & Convent (Valencia, Bohol)For the first quarter of this year, several declarations are going to be made including the Capul Church in Northern Samar; Gota de Leche in Sampaloc, Manila; the Lopez House in Balayan, Batangas; Colonial Period Lighthouses (a blanket declaration for all Spanish and American colonial period lighthouses) and the Mural Paintings of the Paete Church in Laguna. We will report the official designations as soon as the declarations are made.

We also encourage everyone to write the National Museum to request for declarations in your own communities. Bohol has been very active in writing the National Museum for declarations, which explains why it has had many declarations in the past few years.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Are you craving for an authentic Mexican taco?

Mexican Taco: Tacos de Cazo
What makes an authentic Mexican taco? Did you know that what many people consider a taco here in the Philippines is actually American or Tex-Mex. This is something I realized during my trip to Mexico where we got to eat at many neighborhood tacquerias. It's as authentic as it gets! A traditional Mexican dish, the basic taco is made with either a soft corn or flour tortilla, stuffed with various kinds of meat, as well as onions and cilantro, and served with lime for added zest.

Mexican Taco: Tacqueria El Paisa I, Queretaro, Mexico
Condiments are always included in any tacqueria. These include salsa roja or salsa verde (chili sauce), salsa picante (chopped tomatoes, onions, chilis and cilantro) which locals also call salsa mexicana or salsa bandera because the salsa contains the tricolor of the Mexican flag, guacamole (avocado sauce), and more lima (lime), cebolla (chopped onions) and cilantro (coriander).

Mexican Taco: Tacqueria El Paisa I, Queretaro, Mexico
Mexican Taco: Tacqueria El Paisa I, Queretaro, Mexico
The differences in the tacos are usually in the meat filling. It can have beef, pork, chicken, fish or shrimps. The meat can be grilled, spit-grilled, griddled, stewed, simmered or fried. Even the way the meat is marinated varies. You'd also often hear the term adobada. We had really great tacos at a popular tacqueria in Queretaro called Tacqueria El Paisa I which serves a wide range of tacos.

Mexican Taco: Tacos de Asador
Mexican Taco: Tacos de Asador
Trying out tacos in various cities around Mexico, I've seen so many terms used like pastor (spit-grilled meat, carved to order), suadero (thin cut of beef from brisket), campechanos (combined meat specifically beef or bistec and pork, including longaniza or chicharrón), longaniza (sausage), tripa (tripe), alambre (meat cooked in a skewer then chopped), bistec (seared steak), cecina (salted and dried meat) and carne asada (thin slices of grilled marinated beef steak).

Mexican Taco: Tacos al Pastor
Mexican Taco: Tacos al Pastor
Tacos al Pastor stands actually look like they're selling shawarma. The vertical spit grills were said to be brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants. But the flavors are undoubtedly Mexican. We had our first taste of Tacos al Pastor in Mexico City.

Mexican Taco: Tacos al Pastor
Tacos de Cazo is filled with meat simmered in fat and juices usually in a large metal container, that is sliced and heated on a griddle before serving. This stand in Mexico City was so appealing, seeing and smelling all the delicious meats cook in the metal vat of bubbling oil and juices. On another side of the stall, they also had Tacos al Pastor.

Mexican Taco: Tacos de Asador
Mexican Taco: Tacos de Asador
Many of the tacos we got to try around Mexico were Tacos de Asador or grilled meat tacos. These delicious tacos with assorted meats are from Palenque.

Mexican Taco: Tacos de Asador
There are also variations to the taco condiments like this taco served with avocado slices we had at a food stall in front of Teotihuacan. All this writing about authentic Mexican tacos is making me really hungry! I definitely miss Mexico even just for the delicious tacos!
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