Thursday, August 9, 2007

Pasalubong from Laguna

Last Tuesday, we were in Laguna to attend to some business in Santa Cruz. The trip took us about four hours going there and in inclement weather, it was not too pleasant. But as they say, every bad situation has a silver lining and that day, it was food. We had lunch at Grace, sister of Rose at Calamba. As usual, I got the spare ribs barbecue. We also ordered what looked like nilagang Lapu-Lapu. Used as I was to bulalo being the subject of nilaga, I was apprehensive on this fish dish. But the lapu-lapu looked so fresh that I thought, what can go wrong? I'm glad I took the leap. As it turns out, the lapu-lapu was indeed delicious! The nature of the nilaga (which literally means "boiled" in English) method of cooking did well to present the fish in its purest state. No spices, chaotic flavors, no frills. Just fresh, unadulterated lapu-lapu.

On our way home, we made sure we picked up some pasalubong along the way. Of course, there is only one stop for the Buko Pie- the Orient pasalubong shop along Los Banos. They also make this wonderful banana bread that smells as good as it tastes. I must admit that I buy a loaf of this partly with the intention to make my car smell like freshly baked banana bread. Tee hee.. The pie sells for Php120 while the small size banana bread sells for Php40.

When we got to Calamba, we felt hunger pangs again. And so happy were we with our lunch, we ducked back into to Grace, sister of Rose for an early dinner. More spare ribs barbecue, guilty as charged. Plus we added an order of kinilaw na tuna. This is another dish worth coming back for. The way they make their kinilaw na tuna here is quite unlike anything I've had and this is by far the best of the kind that I have tasted. The fresh tuna cubes are marinated in very good vinegar and heaps for minced onions, green chiles, and ginger. Makes my mouth water just remembering it.

And for that famous laguna delicacy, espasol, the best I've had so far is Floren's espasol. It's not like those run of the mill espasol is peddled by ambulant vendors along Los Banos. Certainly, it is substantial in size than most. You can get this at Grace, sister of Rose for Php45 per 5-piece pack.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Lydia's Lechon

Last Friday, my sister and I had lunch at Lydia's lechon in Baclaran. I was only supposed to drive her to the bus stop (She is taking her review classes in Makati and Baclaran is where she takes the bus going there), but on our way there, she mentioned she always wanted to eat lechon at Lydia's. And who wouldn't, after seeing lechon being cooked along that busy little row in Baclaran? She said the only thing that stopped her from ducking in that restaurant for lunch is her concern that to finish a meal there, it is best to share it with at least one person. So for days, my sister harbored this craving for lechon and she patiently waited for that moment when she could drag that one person with her to treat her to a lechon meal at Lydia's. Last Friday, that person was me.

Lechon Roasting
When we got there, we immediately ordered 1/4 kilo of lechon and seafood paella. We also browsed through the turo-turo section of the restaurant where lots of tasty looking food are just waiting to be picked. But that day, we were fixed on having lechon and paella for lunch. The waiter assured us that the paella serves two to three persons, but when it arrived, it was obvious that it served at least four persons. No way could only two people finish that feast of delicious red rice and seafood along with a serving of lechon!

Seafood Paella
The food was excellent. Although quite different from the paella served at authentic Spanish cuisine restaurants like Casa Armas and La Solera, Lydia's seafood paella has its own charm. I particularly liked the distinctive flavor of paprika in the paella and the generous portions of chorizo tucked in every nook and cranny of the dish. It was rice and viand on its own, and it is quite conceivable that without the lechon, two people can finish it in one sitting, as the waiter claimed.

Lechon with Liver Sauce
The lechon is fantastic, no surprises there. The skin is perfectly cunchy and the meat is juicy and very tender- and we're not even talking about lechon de leche or lechon Cebu here. Oh, and the sarsa (liver sauce)- it is a far cry from the commercial grade bottled variety. It is deliciously sweet and savory, a perfect complement to this expertly roasted lechon. I swear, you can almost taste how wonderful the lechon paksiw is going to be- on the off chance that there is any lechon (or liver sauce for that matter) left over, that is.

All in all, I think that Lydia's lechon, with years of experience behind it, has mastered the art of roasting this favorite Filipino specialty. (I can still remember one party we had at the house where we attempted to roast our own lechon. The skin did not come out crunchy at all. The whole attempt was a failure. Good thing we had ample good sarsa so almost the entire lechon went straight to the paksiw pot.)

1/4 kilo of lechon cost Php135 while the seafood paella cost Php450. Our drinks cost us Php21.45 for a bottle of regular Coke and Php29.50 for a bottle of Hidden Spring Mineral Water. Prices are VAT inclusive. Lydia's Lechon restaurant can be found at Baclaran, Metro Manila near the Redemptorist Church.
Related Posts with Thumbnails