Still the Best: China Blue

August 14, 2022 | Sunday

China Blue has already sealed its reputation as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Manila. I finally got to visit again after 3 years and I was so happy to see that it was as if no pandemic ever happened. It’s still every bit as excellent as I remember it to be.

China Blue, Jereme Leung, Margaux Salcedo, best chinese restaurant in manila philippines, top food writer philippines manila asia

My distinguished and saintly guests were keen to observe that the architecture of the hotel is such that as you emerge from the elevator to the floor of the restaurant, because of the glass walls, the first thing you see is the gorgeous view of Manila Bay. Rushing from Pasay traffic, I wasn’t able to pause and take this in but made a mental note to stop and stare when I dine there again. Usually for the Manila Bay sunset, I would go to the hotel’s C Lounge where you can have your cocktail of choice while taking it all in (after dinner, C Lounge is also great for listening to authentic jazz as – if you’re lucky to catch them – this is where the true jazz artists like Sandra Viray, Colby dela Calzada, Henry Katindig perform on some days).

The walk from the elevator to the restaurant is quite distant and I scolded myself for forgetting this as I rushed down the hall — scanning the art on display — in heels. If you will go with an elderly or anyone who needs assistance with mobility, make sure to bring a wheelchair or allot enough enough time for that walk. Think going from gates A to C at an airport. If you have no mobility issues, I would even recommend wearing skates!

But once you reach your destination, it’s another beautiful setting to enjoy. Try to snag a table by the window (if it’s a floor to ceiling glass wall, do you sit by the wall or by the window?!). If you need more privacy, they have a few rooms. Then immediately order an aperitif to calm you down after that long walk and to accompany you as you go through the splendid menu of Chef Jereme Leung.

Chef Leung, who was a judge on the Chinese edition of MasterChef for several years and appeared in the popular food documentary entitled A Bite of China, is a true master of his craft. He can immediately transport you to the elegant world of Chinese fine dining with one bite of his cooking. Think Babette’s Feast – the final dinner – but Chinese. 

While he is simultaneously running several restaurants around the world, he makes sure that all the restaurants he has committed to exude his brand of excellence.  So you might as well be dining at Yi at the iconic Raffles Hotel in Singapore, which he just opened last 2019. He was also the chef behind Jiang Nan at the Venetian in Macau and Puben in Shanghai.

He is committed to sharing “the rich heritage of regional Chinese cuisines that are rarely seen outside of China”. He has been honing his love for Chinese cuisine since the tender age of 13 when he started working the wok, roasts, dim sum, and knife prep stations at various Chinese restaurants until becoming the executive chef of the Mandarin Oriental Surabaya at the young age of 24 and then becoming executive Chinese chef of Four Seasons Singapore’s Jiang Nan Chun at 29. In 2003, he moved to Shanghai, where he became part-owner and chef of Whampoa Club at Three on The Bund and became known for his innovative interpretations of traditional Chinese dishes.

He continued to make a name for himself as he received the Five Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Science; the XO Hennessy Culinary Award; the inaugural Rising Chef of the Year Award at the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence; the Global Chef Award from the culinary academy At-Sunrice; the International Famous Master Chef for Chinese Cuisines by the World Association of Chinese Cuisines; and Chef of the Year by Timeout Magazine. Today he has around 14 restaurants, his own line of sauces, wine and kitchen equipment, several cookbooks and was welcomed grandly back to Singapore as the chef of Yi at Raffles.

At China Blue, you will witness his creativity. The dimsums that arrive tickle both your eyes and your palate. There’s the famous steamed truffle mushroom bun whose bun is shaped like a mushroom (think Smurfs). Chicken dumpling is served underneath a layer of corn made to look like a very cute corn on the cob. Pork barbecue dumpling is deceivingly healthy in the shape of a carrot (think Bugs Bunny). And the smoked duck dumpling is made to look like a green pear.

Beyond the eyes, the chef plays with textures. Make sure to order the paper-thin crispy beef that isso fun to munch on and addictive with its hint of spiciness. We were told to pair this with cherry tomatoes to balance out the flavors.

Then there are the traditional dishes executed with a Leung twist. The sweet and sour pork has a tang from strawberries; beef tenderloin is inspired by Hunan cuisine; and the veggies are given character by the restaurant’s XO sauce.

Twice a year, Chef Jereme Leung himself comes to Manila. I am hoping that on his next visit, he will share with us more of his authentic regional Chinese cuisine finds. His creations are truly Chinese cooking at its best and it’s always an authentic, wonderful experience at China Blue. /MS

Berna Romulo Puyat, take a bow!

On June 30, we will see a new administration take over as the current administration bids us goodbye. Some Cabinet secretaries, as early as now, have already turned over the office for transition to the incoming leadership and moved on. One of these is Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat of the Department of Tourism, who has been appointed and has in fact started working as Deputy Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas this June.

She leaves the Tourism Department with an impressive record: Under her leadership, the DOT served with utmost transparency and integrity, as shown in the Unqualified Opinion Rating from the Commission on Audit (COA) for two consecutive fiscal years (2019 and 2020). This rating proves that the financial statements of the DOT were found to “be presented fairly in all material aspects after being subjected to scrutiny in accordance with International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions”.

The DOT was also recognized by the Government Quality Management Committee (GQMC) in 2019 for successfully implementing its Quality Management System (QMS), which was expanded to cover three additional regional offices, DOT-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Regions 4A (CALABARZON), and Region 10 (Northern Mindanao).

The DOT also received its first ISO 9001-2015 certification since 1973.

National Tourism Development Plan 2022-2028

It also started projects for Farm Tourism; Medical Travel and Wellness Tourism; and Halal Tourism, which are highlighted for focus in the National Tourism Development Plan 2022-2028.

While food tourism had its challenges during the pandemic, Farm Tourism which focuses on providing authentic and educational rural experiences and offering fresh produce and healthy dining options to travelers, emerged in the list of “highly preferred activities” among travelers, and became identified as a major contributor to the recovery of the industry.

Medical Travel and Wellness Tourism, initially included under the “Health, Wellness, and Retirement Tourism product” is currently one of the fastest growing tourism sectors. Sec. Berna explains that its significance further increased during the pandemic. “The Philippines has a number of world-class hospitals and medical facilities that can compete with the price and service quality of other countries,” she shares.

Finally, in the spirit of expanding the coverage of tourism to our Muslim brothers and sisters, Sec. Berna highlights that Halal Tourism, now considered one of the fastest growing tourism sectors in the world, has the potential to become one of the major new “products” of the DOT. She explains that this has been largely untapped in the Philippines in spite of our almost 11 million Muslim Filipinos. She adds, “As one of the major new products of the DOT, halal tourism will bring special attention to the attractions and cuisine of Mindanao, while also attracting more tourists from the Middle East.”

Surviving the Pandemic

But the biggest achievement of Sec. Berna was navigating the tourism industry out of the pandemic, helping the players not only survive but thrive. She recalls, “Even the pandemic did not stop Filipino cuisine from gaining traction worldwide. It even paved the way for wider market reach with the sudden need to innovate campaigns and shift to digital platforms.”

“During the pandemic, we were able to set up the Kain Na! Trading Post (, promote food tourism via social media outlets, and conduct cooking shows within the comfort of the viewer’s household. Through this online pivot, we generated 800,000 video views, a reach of 700,000 and our online store registered 13,000 store visits,” the Tourism Secretary proudly shares.

As for promotions, in 2021, the DOT also connected with global networks and publications for them to explore, together with their audiences, “the history, heritage, and diverse culinary wonders that the Philippines has to offer”; partnering with the National Geographic Channel, Disney, BBC, and Tasty “to spread the word about what Filipino food is and what exquisite dishes are there for them to try here”.

She adds, “To further promote food tourism, we are continuously organizing hybrid events that feature native cuisines and delicacies of regions and provinces in the country. Aside from promoting the food offerings of the country, these events also provide a networking avenue for our local tourism stakeholders, and helps revive the local and regional tourism industry.”

World Travel and Tourism Council

In the end, she emphasizes that tourism is not just about promoting products but also about further discovering what the Philippines has to offer and equipping tourism stakeholders with the tools and skills: “The usual notion about my job is that it is limited to promoting tourist destinations and encouraging everyone to travel to the Philippines. But tourism isn’t only about promoting the best of what we have; it’s also about developing tourism products that are relevant to the current market, finding lesser-known attractions that have potential to bring in more tourists and create more businesses and jobs, equipping our tourism stakeholders and workers with the necessary tools and skills, and preserving our natural resources, cultures, and traditions.”

Seeing her all around the country riding carabaos, getting dirty in the mud to personally experience planting rice, visiting famous and yet-to-become-famous sights, we have all witnessed her sincerity in promoting our country. This was also not lost on the international community, as the Philippines bravely hosted the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit last April 20 to 22, participated in by over a thousand tourism professionals, stakeholders, and media representatives from all over the world, on top of the virtual attendees.

During the summit, WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson announced that travel and tourism in the Philippines is “firmly on the road to recovery, primarily due to our efforts to tirelessly promote domestic travels. ” The WTTC projected that travel and tourism in the Philippines would reach an annual growth rate of 6.7% in the next 10 years, exceeding its overall economy average growth rate of just 5.6 %, with employment growing annually by an average of 3% in the same period, generating 2.9 million new jobs that will account for 21.5% of all jobs in the Philippines.

This courage to host the WTTC also comes as the DOT led initiatives for the vaccination of 98% of tourism workers under the A1 and A4 categories, and established minimum health and safety standards for tourist destinations, accommodation establishments, enterprises, and tour operators, to prepare for the eventual resumption of tourism under the new normal.

Back on Track

Sec. Berna proudly shares, “When the Philippines opened its borders to international leisure travel on February 10 of this year, we were beyond prepared to welcome back foreign tourists, and we are happy to note that our efforts to boost traveler confidence in the country has paid off. Since we reopened, the number of tourist arrivals to the country have already exceeded our expectations, with more than half a million (559,832 as of May 31) entries recorded.”

The DOT also developed and opened 115 tourism circuits across the country, “to introduce the best travel products and experiences in each region, including culinary, history, nature, wellness, agriculture, and faith-based tourism.”

It’s certainly been a good stint for this hardworking advocate for all things Filipino. In spite of the pandemic, the tourism industry is back on track, thanks to her leadership and the hard work of everyone at the DOT. Thank you for your dedicated service, Sec. Berna, and for never making us forget – even during the pandemic – that indeed, “it’s more fun in the Philippines”!

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Wanted: Executive Chef for Malacañan Palace

by Margaux Salcedo | First Class, Philippine Daily Inquirer | May 15, 2022

And just like that, elections are over.

Congratulations to incoming President Bongbong Marcos and to incoming Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte.

I know that many of the readers of this column might have had a different preference for head of state. However, just as it was our duty to vote, it is now also our duty to support the new administration as it fulfills its duty to serve the people. We are many colors but at the end of the day we are one nation. You cannot have a rainbow if the colors don’t come together. Even with a heavy heart, we need to give our new leaders a chance so we also give our country a chance.

That being said, I think one thing we can look forward to is better food at the Palace! I still remember the appalling coffee served for a meeting in Malacañang sometime in the mid-2000s and thinking, “If this is the coffee they’re having, no wonder they can’t think straight!”

I hope that this time around, they promote our excellent Philippine coffee from different parts of the country: Benguet Arabica, Kalinga, Batangas Barako, as well as coffee from Davao and Bukidnon, among others. There is also the excellent Cacho Coffee from a private farm in the north that may be exclusively produced for the Palace. This would impress even the snootiest Italian coffee connoisseurs!

It would also be wonderful to finally have an official Palace chef! Just as Cristeta Comerford has become known as the White House Executive Chef, holding the post since 2005 throughout various administrations, it would be great to have a Malacañan Executive Chef who can ably and proudly showcase Filipino food. By Filipino food, I do not mean just the usual adobo and lechon but to truly showcase Pinoy regional cuisine from north to south: the empanada, bagnet and pinakbet of Ilocos; the sisig and tocino of Pampanga; the chicharon and kakanin of Bulacan; the tinapa of Cavite; the laing of Bicol; the inasal of Negros; the pianggang of the Tausugs; and the list goes on.

Chef Glenda Barretto, former Executive Chef of Malacañan

In showcasing Filipino food, I hope they avoid the trend of deconstructed Filipino dishes which is absolute rubbish, to be honest. While this may be great for a cutesy patootsie little restaurant trying to be noticed, it is ultimately not recommendable for diplomatic dinners because it essentially massacres the cuisine and would be a poor introduction for visitors who might be trying Filipino dishes for the first time. They should also avoid chefs who are known for promoting other cuisines like Italian or Spanish and find a new name to hone and call Malacañan’s own so that the focus can be on cuisine that is truly Filipino.

We can be inspired by the likes of Chef Bongkoch ‘Bee’ Satongun of Michelin-starred Paste in Bangkok, who has painstakingly studied Thai culinary history, including the century-old recipes and long-forgotten techniques, and then presenting them in a fine dining setting. Malacañang is a dream venue for dinners like this showcasing Philippine cuisine at its finest!

During the first Marcos administration, there was Chef Glenda Barretto. I remember a conversation I had with her wherein she shared how former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos would come back from state visits abroad and then tell her all about the delicacies and presentation of food in other countries’ state banquets. And how she would encourage Tita Glenda, as she is fondly called in the food community, to upgrade the presentation of our dishes to be truly world class. And that she did. To this day, Glenda Barretto remains the queen of Philippine cuisine, always reliable for events that present Filipino food.

Chef Glenda Barretto, former Executive Chef of Malacañan, with former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos. Photo credit:

Writing this, I can already taste Pinoy palate cleansers like dalandan and calamansi sorbet. And desserts like buko sherbet, ube halaya, maja blanca, and kakanins served in shapes inspired by the Philippine flag.

Photos and videos that circulated on social media of Uniteam victory parties with the Aranetas, Zobels, Aboitizes and Tans evidenced some fine wine (any wine lover would be quick to spot the Opus One!). But just to note here that while a Chateau Margaux is always a welcome idea, state dinners can also be an opportunity to showcase Philippine drinks: tuba, lambanog, and the excellent Don Papa rum.  

Finally, in a restaurant or at an event, the experience is made complete by the music. Mrs. Marcos was known to host dinners where the music was a live performance by no less than world-renowned pianist Ingrid Sta. Maria. Mrs. Marcos was also known for supporting musical prodigies like Cecile Licad. We hope that under this new administration, a new generation of Cecile Licads will be born. Irene Marcos-Araneta has also been a great supporter of the jazz community. Hopefully, under the new administration, Philippine jazz will play loud and proud, with our musicians being heard not just around the country but around the world.

The White House Vegetable Garden. First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Chef Sam Kass show students from the Bancroft Elementary how to plant a garden. Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Beyond dining, the incoming First Lady, Atty Liza Araneta Marcos, might like to also take a cue from former US First Lady Michelle Obama, who incidentally was also a lawyer, and create a Malacañang Garden showcasing Philippine plants, herbs and fruits. Imagine a dinner where the dalandan and calamansi are from the First Lady’s garden; as well as the pechay and tanglad. It will not only be great for conversation but would also be good for Malacañan’s chi and in promoting a new sustainable lifestyle. This can then be a model for a lifestyle change for people with different incomes: from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor, with no less than the First Lady being the leading advocate for a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

As it is with beginnings, there is always hope. So let’s hope that this new Marcos administration will be one that will put an end to color coding and finally truly benefit and uplift all. And one that will have really good Philippine coffee in Malacañan Palace!

More from the author at Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram.

Cebu Eats! 2022

I finally got the courage to travel again and am writing this from beautiful Cebu, where the 2nd National Mission Congress and the closing mass for the celebrations of 500 Years of Christianity — with Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles John Brown; Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines; and Archbishop Jose Palma of the Archdiocese of Cebu — are taking place.

Margaux Salcedo, Msgr Joseph Tan, 500 Years of Christianity, Cebu, Closing Ceremonies, Archbishop Charles Brown, Fr Mhar Balili, Archbishop Jose Palma
Hosted the Closing Ceremonies for 500 YOC before the Eucharistic Celebration began. April 24, 2022 at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. With me is Msgr. Joseph Tan, Media Liaison Officer of the Archdiocese of Cebu. Photo: Msgr Ting Ancajas

I am happy to share that it looks like we really can start doing food trips again and now is the time, while fares are down. We flew via Cebu Pacific and a round-trip ticket was just P3,000 (without the add-ons)! Your health is your own lookout, though, as the crowds are back as well, so just make sure you wear the proper mask and that it is sealed correctly around your nose and mouth. Also make sure you are fully vaccinated so that even if the COVID-19 virus hits you, it will just be like the flu.

Here are few new foodie finds on this trip:

Maribago Bluewater’s ‘Sinudlan na Manok ‘

Maribago Bluewater is paradise. The 7-hectare beachfront property with gorgeous Balete trees is perfect for a relaxing getaway. It is just one hour from the city center so it’s also an ideal location if you have to meet friends in the city. I say paradise because it really is, especially if you get a bungalow—literally a two-bedroom, one story “house”—right on the beach.

It’s also safer for meals because the setup is al fresco. Even if you will not sleep over, have a meal at Allegro restaurant. They have a really delicious chicken stuffed with chorizo called Sinudlan na Manok. It does not come as a whole chicken but like a roll, similar to morcon, and sliced beautifully on the plate. The chorizo used is Cebuano chorizo hubad. Another unique dish is their ube sinigang. The fish in itself is sumptuous, a pan-seared snapper. But what makes the dish unique is that it’s purple, even the broth! In place of rice, the fish is laid atop a chunk of sweet potato, taro and halaya. Make sure to squeeze the lemon onto the mash as this does wonders in bringing the flavors together; otherwise it’s like an odd combination of fish and ube jam. But with the lemon, it’s like they are wed in holy matrimony and becomes really enjoyable!

Of course, the best option is to sleep over and have fresh oysters with champagne by the beach! Live the life!

‘Bibingka de Mandaue’

Every town has its version of kakanin. Mandaue in Cebu also has its own version of bibingka and Bishop Midyphil “Dodong” Billones, auxiliary bishop of Cebu and rector of the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue, says that Bibingka de Mandaue is the best. Count on a bishop to choose something that is very austere but spirit-filled! This rice cake is plain and almost looks like pita bread but its beauty is inside! No salted duck egg, no cheese on top but it is very flavorful!

Another must-try in Mandaue is Didang’s masa real. This is a bar of finely-ground boiled peanuts and coconut syrup. It’s a great pasalubong, too!

Part’ebelle Seafood Restaurant

This is a “karinderya “that I am sure Anthony Bourdain would have loved for a true taste of local flavors. The specialty of this al fresco resto is a seafood soup called Tinolang Isda (or tinowa) that has a clear broth. They use blue marlin and I learned from a local culinary expert to ask for fish roe instead of just plain fish meat for a first class treat in a casual atmosphere.

Tinolang Isda at Partebelle

Another specialty here is the sinugba or grilled fish. There is a huge grillery just outside the restaurant where they cook the liempo and blue marlin. It is very tasty and fresh! Served with a huge mound of rice per person, even if you just get your utensils from a communal container with hot water (don’t be maarte!), this is one of the best meals I’ve had on this trip!

Matias BBQ

For a great hole-in-the-wall experience, Enrico Monsanto of Bluewater in Maribago highly recommends Matias BBQ in Mandaue. This is on A.S. Fortuna Street in Mandaue. The must-trys are the pork barbecue, chorizo and balbacua.

Carcar ‘chicharon’

Carcar Chicharon beside the St Catherine of Alexandria historical church in Carcar

For chicharon, the place to visit is Carcar. While you are there, make a trip to the Shrine of Archbishop Teofilo Camomot, former Archbishop of Cebu and now Servant of God. On May 3, the Vatican will determine if he qualifies to be called Venerable, which is the next step to sainthood. So please pray for Archbishop Camomot and hopefully, we will have another Filipino saint!


Also make sure to try Tagaktak. In Cebuano, this means “to drop.” It looks like fried noodles presented in the shape of a triangle and is enjoyed as a snack. It earned its name from the process by which it is cooked: rice batter is poured into a perforated coconut shell and the batter then falls through the holes while the one cooking sways the shell to force the batter to fall “taktak” into boiling oil. You can find this from vendors just outside the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu.

World travel and tourism

Back in Manila, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat just opened the 21st Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council. She said: “A new age of travel and tourism is upon us, and it is up to us to drive the change towards a better and more hopeful future.”

This is so true. I confess I only agreed to fly to Cebu because Fr. Mhar Balili, chair of the 500 Years of Christianity celebrations in Cebu, promised that I would be hosting the 2nd National Mission Congress right in front of the original image of the Sto. Niño that was given by Ferdinand Magellan to Reyna Juan 500 years ago—a promise he fulfilled. But now that I have traveled, I would love to encourage everyone to welcome this new normal and fly!

Incidentally, Catholics call this day Divine Mercy Sunday and we are truly so grateful for this mercy. Now we can really get out of our caves and live life to the fullest again! Hallelujah!

Kaon ta!

First Class by Margaux Salcedo | Philippine Daily Inquirer | April 24, 2022 Sunday

It’s April! It’s Filipino Food Month!

A legacy of the Duterte Administration that we in the food community are grateful for is the declaration of Filipino Food Month.

Since April 13, 2018, when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Presidential Proclamation No. 469, we have been celebrating the month of April as National Filipino Food Month. This has been significant in promoting Filipino food both locally and internationally, bringing an awareness worldwide to what Filipino food is and rejuvenating the love for Filipino flavors here at home, including the desire to preserve our Filipino culinary heritage.

This April, we continue to celebrate National Filipino Food Month or, in Filipino, “Buwan ng Lutong Pilipino”. 

It has now become a collaborative effort led by the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement alongside the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Department of Tourism and the Department of Agriculture.

The theme this year highlights Filipino food as a key to progress and change (“Pagkaing Pilipino, Susi sa Pag-unlad at Pagbabago”).

Chef Jam Melchor, who initiated the Filipino Food Month, explains the theme:  “The way we produce, distribute, choose, consume and preserve food significantly impacts our nation. Future scenarios will change significantly depending on how we relate to food.”

The festivities will start with face-to-face Opening Ceremonies on April 1 at the Metropolitan Theater. The Department of Agriculture will also have its own virtual launching on April 4 via their Facebook page.

One highlight of this year’s Filipino Food Month is a Culinary Cinema series that will showcase short films relating to Filipino food.

There will be screenings of the short films every Friday of the month at 2:00 p.m. via the page of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts while every Friday they will have short film “talkbacks”. There will also be the launch of Culinary Cinema Luzon on April 25; Culinary Cinema Visayas on April 18; and Culinary Cinema Mindanao on April 11. These will all be on the NCCA Facebook page.

Meanwhile the Filipino Food Month page will host “KainCon” sessions (short for ‘eating conference’, i.e. ‘kain’ means ‘to eat’ while ‘con’ is short for ‘conference’). The first session will be on how to grow your own food, to be held on April 7; the second one on preserving Filipino culinary traditions through gastro-diplomacy and tourism, to be held on April 12; the third one on innovations inspired by Filipino food history, to be held on April 14; the fourth one on starting a sustainable business, to be held on April 19; the fifth one on gastronomy as part of the Filipino cultural identity, to be held on April 21; the sixth one on the flavors of Muslim Mindanao, to be held on April 26; and the final one on a global perspective of preserving and promoting Filipino food traditions, to be held on April 28.

Schedule of Activities for the Filipino Food Month in the National Capital Region / Metro Manila

On the part of the Department of Agriculture, they will have a webinar series on High Value Crops (HVC).

This will open on April 11 at 9:00 a.m. via the Facebook page of the Department of Agriculture. They will also host a planting ceremony for inter-cropping of cofffee and cacao in coconut areas. There will be two webinars: one on April 12, tackling diversification in Philippine coconut areas, and another on April 13, on diversification in rice areas.

For those who simply love to eat, there will be a Filipino Food Festival at the Atrium of Shangri-la Plaza from April 22 to 24. For those who love to travel, you can look forward to the 21st World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit – Fun Philippine Finds Pop-Up Store that will be at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay from April 20 to 22.

There will also be many regional events.

One of the highlights would be the Sustainable Diner Series hosted by the Department of Tourism – CALABARZON and the World Wildlife Fund. This will be via Zoom on April 6, 11, 13, 18 and 20. Iloilo stands out as well for their regional activities, with a food art/carving contest at the Robinson’s Main, Iloilo Fountain Area on April 13 and a Farmers’ Cooking Contest on April 14 at the Department of Agriculture lobby in Koronadal. Pampanga will also hold a Filipino Food Month cooking contest at their Department of Agriculture in San Fernando. Pampanga is also hosting an Innovative Food Product Contest in Angeles City. Meanwhile, there will also be several food festivals: Capiz will host a food festival called Food Trip sa Capiz at the Capiz Provincial Park on April 22; Palawan will host Hapag ng Pamana sa Palawan on April 30 at the Cacaoyan Forest Park and Restaurant, which may be viewed on the NCCA Facebook page; in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, you can visit Punsyunan: A Showcase of CALABARZON Cuisine at the Ayala Solenad in Nuvali; and in Cagayan de Oro, there will be a CDO Foodcrawl that those in the rest of the country can follow via the Facebook pages of Cagayan de Oro city.

It is truly an exciting culinary month! What a delicious April this will be! Congratulations in advance to the organizers and all involved. Yes, let us all celebrate Filipino food! Kain na!


For updates on Filipino Food Month events, follow the Filipino Food Month page:

Drink Like Monks and Saints

Margaux Salcedo | Inquirer Business | First Class

It’s October! And that means one thing for F&B connoisseurs and beer lovers: Oktoberfest!
Sadly, Oktoberfest was cancelled again this year. It was first cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. There were high hopes for its return this 2021 but in May it was announced that the 187th Oktoberfest, which should have taken place from September 18 to October 3 on the Theresienwiese in Munich, would also be cancelled.

The organizers explained: “The risk is simply too huge that people here could become infected with the Coronavirus.” They added: “Oktoberfest can only take place completely or not at all. Or, in one Bavarian sentence: ‘So a bissl Wiesn geht ned. (There’s no thing like a little bit of Wiesn.)”
In pre-pandemic Philippines, there would usually be beer festivals at various hotels, bars and pubs all over the metro the entire month of October. Sadly, all that is cancelled as well.

Oktoberfest 2013. Photo: Heribert Pohl | Wikimedia Commons

Beer connoisseurs

But no one is stopping us from drinking at home and celebrating with the people in our bubble or virtually. (For some of us, this is what has kept us sane every day!) So in the spirit of Oktoberfest, let’s make ourselves feel better with some good beer!
The operative word is ‘good’. We are not promoting mindless drinking here but an appreciation for the complexities and nuances of carefully thought out brews.

Strictly speaking, Oktoberfest revolves only around six breweries: Augustiner, Hofbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Löwenbräu, Paulaner and Spaten. And there are clear specifications on beer quality: The festival beer must have an original gravity of at least 13.6%. The beer must be golden yellow, drinkable and full-bodied; and must have original wort percentage, alcohol content, bitterness and color. The Munich Purity Law of 1487 applies and the water must come from Munich deep wells, which reach into layers of the Tertiary period. Finally, brewing is only allowed in the territory of the city of Munich.

St Francis

In the Philippines, Paulaner is especially appreciated. And here’s some timely trivia as we celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi tomorrow, October 4: Paulaner was named after St Francis of Paola, founder of the mendicant Order of Minims, whose friars of the Neudeck ob der Au cloister established the German brewery in Munich in 1634. St Francis of Paola, meanwhile, was named after St Francis of Assisi, as his parents asked St Francis of Assisi for intercession when they were trying to conceive and also later when he was in danger of losing his eyesight due to an illness.

The young Francis of Paola entered the friary of the Franciscan Order and later went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Assisi, after which he chose to live a life of solitude, living in a secluded cave. Later, in 1436, he was joined by two companions, which led to the foundation of the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, which would eventually become the Order of Minims (O.M.). The Minim friars are known for their humility but also for their ‘fourth vow’: a Lenten way of life, which includes abstinence from meat and other animal products.

Perhaps this vow is what inspired some brothers of the order, i.e., the monks in the Neudeck ob der Au Monastery in Munich two hundred years later, to become creative and make exceptional beer!

Then whatever the monks did not drink, they would give to the poor. In 1634, the city council received complaints from other brewers about competition from the monastery. The date of this letter is considered the first documented evidence of the Paulaner Brewery and used as the founding date of the brewery.


Personally, though, with all respect and reverence for St Francis, my personal preference for beer is named after St Michael. I still love our good ol’ San Miguel Pale Pilsen (not Light!), proudly made in the Philippines!

And truth be told, I prefer dark beer over light. The best is still Guinness. And not from the bottle or from the can but draught! Guinness is an Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, Ireland, in 1759.

Since we cannot yet really travel as we used to, there is a good alternative here for dark beer lovers: Kozel. This is brewed in the village of Velké Popovice in the Czech Republic, just outside Prague, exactly where the first batch of Kozel was brewed in 1874. To this day, this beer is brewed the traditional Czech way, with select malts and the aromatic hop Premiant for a complex but well-balanced bitter and sweet taste. This is distributed in the Philippines by Don Revy (visit to order). It’s my favorite!

Whatever beer you choose to drink today, I hope it lifts your spirits! Let’s pray for the end of this pandemic and drink to that!

And as we remember his feast day tomorrow, let’s raise a glass as well to St Francis of Assisi and ask for his intercession to help us through this pandemic. Paulaner cheers! Prost!


Read as published in the Inquirer here:


Margaux Salcedo | First Class, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inquirer Business, 19 September 2021

Margaux Salcedo | First Class | Inquirer Business | 19 September 2021 Sunday


Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. A big, loud Happy Fiesta to all Bikolanos and devotees!

Technically, we can travel to Naga today, which is now under general community quarantine (GCQ), to celebrate with Bikolanos because it was announced that from September 16 to 30, with Metro Manila under GCQ, leisure travel from Metro Manila to areas under GCQ and modified GCQ would be allowed, subject to local government guidelines. But, given it is only point-to-point travel, you may be stuck in just your hotel upon arrival and miss the festivities anyway. So we will just celebrate the fiesta vicariously through food and prayers!


Our Lady of Peñafrancia is the patroness of Bicol, endearingly referred to by her local devotees as Ina (Mother).
Her original image is in Spain, at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peña de Francia, located on the Peña de Francia mountain in Salamanca. It is reportedly the world’s highest Marian sanctuary.

Our Lady of Peñafrancia

Its origins are unknown but in the 1400s, Simon Vela, a Parisian from a well-to-do family who gave up his inheritance to become a chamber boy in the convent of the Franciscans in Paris, journeyed to the distant and steep mountains of Peña de Francia in Salamanca after hearing instructions from the Blessed Virgin herself in a dream: “Go to Peña de Francia west of this country, and there you will find the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.

He embarked on the journey and, upon finding the location, contracted men from the nearby town of San Martin del Castañar to assist him, and with them found, on May 19, 1434, embedded among the rocks, the most coveted image of the Holy Virgin with the Child in her arms.

Then in 1712, a Spanish officer from Peña de Francia arrived in Cavite. His son, Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, studied as a seminarian at the University of Sto. Tomas. While he was a seminarian, he became seriously ill and prayed for healing through the intercession of Our Lady of Peña de Francia, clutching a photograph of her image and vowing to construct a chapel if cured. He was cured and even became a priest, was ordained in Naga, then called Ciudad de Nueva Caceres, and there fulfilled his promise to Our Lady. He also asked a local sculptor to carve an image patterned after the photo he had of Our Lady of Peña de Francia which he clutched while sick. After reports of many miracles, on September 20, 1924, Pope Pius XI granted the image a canonical coronation. This image may be found today at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga.

Peñafrancia Festival

The Peñafrancia Festival is a huge celebration in Bicol, with millions of devotees and tourists alike participating. It has extended beyond religion to become a true celebration of life for Bikolanos of all faiths, with concerts, parades, triathlons, etc. It has also been acknowledged to be the largest annual Marian pilgrimage in Asia.

This year, though, due to the pandemic, the festivities will be more solemn than festive, with online masses instead. Of course, when there is a fiesta, there must be an abundance of food. So since we can’t travel, let’s do the next best thing and join in the fiesta today by cooking some of these famous Bicolano dishes even as we stay home:

Tinutungang Manok. This is my personal favorite of all Bikolano dishes. On a trip to Albay, I got to watch Colonial Grill’s Chef Jeric Llandelar make this and he explained that the coconut meat (sapal) is cooked in a cauldron until it is toasted or resembles ‘tutong’ (burnt rice). He advised to make sure that it is not burned black or it will be bitter instead of smokey. Once toasted, water is added to make gata or coconut soup. This becomes the Tinutungang Gata, which creates the cream for the stew. The unique thing about this is that it has a smokey flavor. This is then added to the chicken then served with slices of either green papaya or green saba bananas. A truly elegant dish even if I first tried it at the very casual 1st Colonial Grill.

Adobo sa Gata. The quintessential Pinoy dish but with a Bikolano twist! The Bikolano version uses coconut milk and siling labuyo. You simple braise the meat in the traditional adobo marinade but finish off with coconut milk. The result is a creamier adobo with a spicy bite. Quite festive!

The glorious Mt. Mayon and Bicol delicacies: Tinutungang Manok, Kandingga (Bopis), Kinunot na Pagi, Pinangat, Gulay na Dahon ng Kamoteng Kahoy.

Laing. In some areas, this is called Pinangat na Gabi. The original Bikolano version of this does not use shredded but a whole taro leaf, called natong by some. A mixture of pre-cooked cubed pork, shrimp, or fish flakes, plus crushed chili (siling labuyo), shallots, ginger, and shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) is wrapped in the taro leaf and tied with lemongrass (tanglad). It is then steamed in coconut milk until the leaf pouches are fork tender and the gata is reduced to a thick sauce. Now, though, we are more used to the shredded gabi version, so that will work for today’s festivities, too!

Ginataang Dahon ng Kamoteng Kahoy or Young Yuka Leaves in Coconut Milk. This is a fairly simple vegetable dish, though one may add pork belly or tinapa, that involves, yet again, just cooking the ingredients in coconut milk and adding siling labuyo. This would be perfect with steaming hot white rice.

Kinunot na Pagi or Spicy Stingray in Coconut Milk. This is really just a fish coconut stew but if you don’t know how to clean the stingray well, leave it to the professionals or it may have a stench. But otherwise, it is a true delicacy!

Sili Ice Cream. When one visits Bicol, you can’t leave without trying the Sili Ice Cream. As usual, it has coconut milk and – yes, even in ice cream – siling labuyo. What an experience. At first bite, you think it is regular ice cream then two second later, the chili creeps in to surprise if not shock you.

There are so many more Bikolano dishes, they won’t fit on this page. Perhaps with the guidance of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, you will find them! If Simon Vela found the buried image of Our Lady in the distant terrains of Peña de Francia, on the side of an uninhabited mountain, I’m sure you can easily find a Bikolano recipe to your liking to celebrate and honor Ina with devotees and Bikolanos!

Happy Fiesta once again to everyone in Bicol and to all Bikolanos around the world. May our faith in the Lord, strengthened by our devotion to Ina, get us through this pandemic. While we can’t gather in person today, we certainly will have the Peñefrancia Festival once again – hopefully next year!

In the meantime, we celebrate life and all blessings, big or small, everyday! Dios Mabalos!


Le Cordon Bleu Rises at the Ateneo

As you might have heard, Le Cordon Bleu, the legendary culinary institute, has partnered with Ateneo de Manila and to open Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo de Manila at the Arete, a new building at the Loyola Heights campus of the Ateneo branded as their “creative hub”. This seems to be Ateneo’s response to Enderun College’s Alain Ducasse Institute; Dusit Hospitality Management College’s partership with Institut Paul Bocuse; and De La Salle University – College of St. Benilde’s culinary arts, hospitality management and entrepreneurship courses. Of course in true Ateneo fashion, the Blue Eagles are quick to share why this school would be “the best”. This time, though, the bragging rights are well-earned.

Arete. The new home of Le Cordon Bleu Manila

The history of Le Cordon Bleu alone is worth taking pride in.
I am happy to highlight, first and foremost, a fact that Le Cordon Bleu International president and CEO Andre Cointreau, in my interview with him at the newly opened school in Arete, emphasized: that their founder was a woman.
“Le Cordon Bleu was created by a woman, who could have been a nun; she was unmarried.” Cointreau noted. “She thought it was unfair that women could not be trained in the culinary field, that although they were cooking for their families, it was still a macho world for hotels and restaurants. She was really dedicated to the idea of training women.”
The woman is Marthe Distel, a journalist and publisher (!). She started the culinary magazine La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu. To increase readership, Distel offered subscribers cooking lessons with professional chefs, with the first class held in January 1895 in the kitchens of the Palais Royal. These classes later on became a more formal school, Le Cordon Bleu.
Later the school became known not only for training women but for training an international audience of aspiring chefs who wanted to master the art of cooking using French techniques. Cointreau notes that their first international student was from Russia, in 1978; a few years later, in 1905, they had their first Japanese student. One of their most notable graduates is the legendary Julia Child, an American lady who studied at Le Cordon Bleu Paris in 1948 and authored the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking before becoming a television personality in the USA.

Marthe Distel, Le Cordon Bleu founder. Photo:

Today, there are 30 Le Cordon Bleu institues around the world, each making a dent in the local culinary scene.
In London, Cointreau shared proudly, Le Cordon Bleu prepared the Coronation luncheon for Queen Elizabeth II in January 1953. And just last 2017, Le Cordon Bleu London was asked to recreate the 9-foot tall, 250-kilo Royal Wedding Cake wedding cake of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip for the documentary A Very Royal Wedding.

Coronation Menu of Queen Elizabeth by Le Cordon Bleu London. Photo:

In Thailand, Le Cordon Bleu Dusit became the first culinary school to be accredited by their Ministry of Education, teaching a comprehensive professional Thai Cuisine curriculum with more than 200 recipes of traditional, regional, royal and modern contemporary Thai dishes.
In Japan, Le Cordon Bleu has offered a special bursary program, developed as an official project by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan for the Promotion of Japanese Cuisine & Food Culture.

Local Flavors, French Techniques

Cointreau emphasizes that what they teach are French techinques, not just French recipes; and students are encouraged to explore local flavors.
He acknowledges that in each country, one must also explore a nation’s culinary history and traditions. Just as in France, where each region and even certain families are recognized for their heritage recipes, so must it be for each country.
But Le Cordon Bleu is on a mission to codify not only recipes but also cooking techniques that are somehow being lost as the world evolves. By learning and codifying these techniques around the world, Cointreau emphasizes, “we are at the service of the culinary arts of tomorrow.”
“We come not only with recipes but with a grid of training even before a student learns recipes,” Cointreau explains. So a Le Cordon Bleu graduate would be able to demonstrate not only memorized recipes but also the technical skills needed to compete and thrive in the culinary world.

Julia Child at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. Photo:

“But why did you partner with Ateneo, of all the schools in the Philippines?” I asked Cointreau. The Le Cordon Bleu International president and CEO explained that it’s because of their shared values of “integrating a true mastery of crafstmanship with enhancing and shaping the characters and  competencies of (their students).”
He has also become good friends with Fr. Nebres (the longest serving president of Ateneo de Manila) and loves that Ateneo focuses not only on educational excellence but also on the development of character and values, as well as the importance and joy of spreading the message of Christ to the underprivileged. He notes that the founder of Le Cordon Bleu also valued not only excellence and empowerment but also charity as she in fact left Le Cordon Bleu to an orphanage when she died in the 1930s (the school was later bought by another woman, Élisabeth Brassart.)
The LCB Network
More than its history, however, Cointreau shares that the advantage of Le Cordon Bleu over all other schools is its incredible global network of multi-awarded chefs and educators.
“We are probably the only one to have such an international network. We have been around for so long; we are accredited in more than 10 countires. Not only are we accredited but we can exchange our teachers, programs, internships,” Cointreau stressed.
Chef Theirry Le Baut, Technical Director of Le Cordon Blue Ateneo de Manila, shares his personal experience on this advantage: “There are a lot of us chefs (in Le Cordon Bleu) in different countries, in different parts of France, and all of us worked either in a big restaurant or a Michelin-starred restaurant so we have the combined experiences of different chefs from around the world. So if we want to know about a technique, we can just reach out to each other; I can go to Japan or London and stay there for 15 days to see their new techniques and recipes, or they can come to the Philippines. We work together and try to find the best techniques to teach our students. For me, this is what makes Le Cordon Bleu unique.”

Margaux Salcedo with Chef Thierry Le Baut, Technical Director of Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo de Manila
Margaux Salcedo with Chef Thierry Le Baut, Technical Director of Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo de Manila

But he also emphasizes that their strength is in giving each student the skills to be excellent in cooking using French techniques. “French technique is the most important in the world,” Le Baut says. “You can cook Peruvian cuisine or Thai cuisine using French techniques.”
The school then give each student all the tools they would need for cooking “the French way”: a set of knives, thermometer, pans, etc. (Students can go home with this set and keep the tools for life.) “Each student has his own work station where the student is personally guided by the professor as he learns each recipe. And everything is precise, down to the measurement of millimeters and temperatures, whether it be for a potato that must be 6 cm in size and 50 grams, or fish that must be cooked only up to 54 degrees, no more. “It must be perfect all the time,” Le Baut stresses.
Liza Hernandez-Morales, Institute Director at Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo de Manila, shares that the school now offers two courses: Bachelor of Science in Restaurant Entrepreneurship and Diploma in Cuisine. The Diploma in Cuisine has 3 programs or phases: Basic, Intermediate and Superior, with each course running 3 months.

Andre Cointreau, President & CEO of Le Cordon Bleu International with Chef Thierry Le Baut, Technical Director of Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo.

Here’s the Ateneo challenge, though: all applicants must pass the Ateneo Collegel Entrance exam. But once you graduate, you will receive two diplomas: one from the Ateneo and another from Le Cordon Bleu.
Now you can be an eagle that is not only blue but Le Cordon Bleu!

Clockwise: Margaux Salcedo with Andre Cointreau, President of Le Cordon Bleu International and his son Charles Cointreau, VP of Le Cordon Bleu. Andre and Charles Cointreau with Le Cordon Blue Ateneo Institute Director Liza Hernandez-Morales. Margaux Salcedo with Le Cordon Bleu Ateneo Technical Director Thierry Le Baut.

New Zealand salmon is the Wagyu beef of the sea

In my column First Class in today’s Inquirer (28 August 2016, Sunday), I talk about New Zealand salmon, my current obsession 🙂

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After being made aware by a wellness doctor of the dangerous levels of my visceral fat, on top of hideous subcutaneous fat, I realized it’s time to cut down on the Wagyu and Kurobuta and switch to healthier alternatives. Subcutaneous fat can be cosmetically removed, no problem, but visceral fat can lead to heart problems.

The bad news is that there is a real need to cut down on chicharon, lechon and even gloriously marbled beef. The good news is that this opens your eyes to a whole new world of healthy yet delicious options.

Topping the list is salmon.

I may be alone in saying this but I dare say salmon is the next best thing to bacon—at least if you can come by a really good salmon.

Fortunately, for us Filipinos, there is now Akaroa salmon in Manila.

My high school friend Rena Rico from St. Scholastica’s College tipped me on this. She was the smartest in her batch, leading the honor section and all, so I took her recommendation as gospel truth. Of course, consistent with Scholastican standards, she was right.

Chilled, not frozen

You can buy Akaroa salmon, a New Zealand product, by the pack at Rustan’s Supermarket. It is quite pricey but absolutely heavenly. It is so flavorful and decadent, and the texture is so creamy and smooth that it is almost as if you are eating healthy fat. This is the Wagyu of the sea!

The packs come in different cuts and you can even ask for the belly. But what distinguishes this salmon from others is that: a) it is chilled and not frozen, and b) the delivery date is on the pack to guarantee freshness. Every salmon is tagged as a guarantee of provenance and quality.

The brand even boasts of same day delivery. The only king salmon producer in New Zealand can harvest, process and distribute on the same day, often within hours of harvest. Starting their day at 3 a.m., the salmon is harvested and with minimal processing time, delivered chilled to the airport and destined for New Zealand and Asia’s finest restaurants in top condition. A true commitment to freshness, they target delivery within six to 24 hours “from the ocean to the plate.”

It is best to eat it on the same day. It is so fresh, even if purchased from a grocery store, that you can eat it sashimi-style. (Check the date, though, and make sure the delivery was on your day of purchase.)

Once the vacuum pack is opened, you can put it in the freezer for up to five days then cook it as you please.

The king

Akaroa is a harbor on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Akaroa salmon (the brand) is reared in Lucas Bay, a deep water bay near the entrance to the Akaroa Harbor, the natural environment and home of a wild salmon population.

As opposed to Norwegian salmon, New Zealand salmon is of the Pacific king variety, i.e., the only species that managed to survive and thrive after repeated efforts to introduce other species. Today, however, New Zealand king salmon has been hailed as “the creme de la creme of all salmon.” King of the hill, cream of the crop!

Like with Wagyu beef, founders Tom Bates and son Duncan have also created a special menu for the salmon, hand-feeding them a low-energy diet so they grow more slowly to enhance quality. Proof of quality: Duncan proudly shares that even if sea-reared, their salmon is most comparable in oil content to that of a wild king salmon.

Most farmed salmon have an oil content of around 30%, which is way above what the king salmon produces, thus leaving an oily aftertaste and drowning out real flavor qualities. New Zealand king salmon has an oil content of about 9 percent while the US king salmon has about 11 percent. Akaroa, although sea-reared, has an oil content of 10 percent.

Fountain of youth

Susie's Taba ng Talangka, Angeles, Pampanga
Since it’s so healthy, I cooked my Akaroa salmon with female crab fat! 😉

This fish is also sustainable. “We do everything possible to maintain and protect the ocean,” the firm says on its website.

There’s an added benefit to this aside from respecting Mother Nature: The species grow in some of the cleanest water on earth, giving the products a good clean taste. It’s just like Mayura beef—the cattle drinks water from limestone rivers, thus giving added quality.

READ: Producing high quality steak fit for kings of the corporate world

Also to maintain the target quality, Akaroa’s sea-reared salmon are hand-fed and closely monitored. No antibiotics are used.

I may start to eat this everyday. I hear that if you eat it twice a day for three days, it fights wrinkles. Whaddaya know? It’s the fountain of youth in the form of a fish!

Let’s hope supermarkets don’t run out of stock.

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Everybody’s Cafe & Susie’s in Angeles, Pampanga

Everybody's Cafe, Angeles, Pampanga. Photo by Margaux Salcedo

Here’s Part 3 of my column First Class published 21 August 2016, Sunday, in the Philippine Daily Inquirer + more pics🙂 I wrote about a recent day trip to Pampanga. Went with a few doctors of my dad, whom we met when they were just residents and now they have finished their fellowships!

Part 1: Cafe Fleur
Part 2: Downtown Cafe

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Everybody’s Cafe

Everybody’s Cafe Angeles is the little sister of Everybody’s Cafe San Fernando. But for those who want a taste of classic Capampangan cuisine, this is THE restaurant.

Food is served cafeteria or “turo-turo” (turo means ‘point’) style but the menu is exactly what would likely be served in a true Capampangan home.

Be brave and try the Betute—stuffed frogs legs. So beautifully savory you will forget you are eating frog. The morcon is another must-try, another fine example of how Capampangans are masters in the umami of the ulam.


Before heading home, make a pit stop at Susie’s. This is another cafeteria-like place perfect for merienda. If you have time, sit down and have the pancit. Otherwise, take home a bottle of Susie’s Taba ng Talangka (ask for the female crab fat) but make sure to eat in moderation.

Also try or take home their mochi-mochi and sapin-sapin.

The following day I wanted to eat healthy so instead of cooking the female crab fat with rice I cooked New Zealand Akaroa salmon in it. Good – but still better with rice! hah!

Holy Rosary

In between restaurants, say a quick prayer at the Holy Rosary Parish Church. Thank the Lord for the blessings of such delicious food just 2½ hours away from Manila and pray that you don’t gain too much weight after all that bingeing!

Cafe Fleur. L-463B Miranda St. Brgy Sto. Rosario, Angeles City. Open Tuesday to Sunday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations recommended especially for lunch, call 045-3041301 or 0935-7616550. Visit

1956 Downtown Cafe by Bale Dutung. 1 Plaridel St., Nepo Quad, Angeles City. 0917-5359198. More info at

Everybody’s Cafe. Nepo Mart, Angeles City. Everybody’s has a stall at the Salcedo Market in Salcedo Village every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Susie’s. Hilda St. Nepo Mart Commercial Complex, 2009 Angeles City, Philippines

More from the author at Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Email