Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Red Velvet Brownies: A Christmas Hangover

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting
After having a very heavy roast beef lunch for Christmas, I got a hankering for brownies. My last attempt at making brownies was a disaster, just as bad as the one before it. So I kind of stayed away from making brownies for a while. 

Then I tried making date and walnut bars, a.k.a. food for the gods, thinking I would have better luck with it, and it is  sort of like a brownie, so if I do well with it, I will eventually get better at making brownies. (Trust me, inside my brain, that makes sense.) THAT was a disaster, too.  I took it out of the pan and the thing just collapsed. The top was decidedly hard but everything underneath was goo. I did not know what to do with it. I think it sat in the fridge for quite a time while I thought about it. I never figured it out.

After that I decided I was not good at making any sort of bars. Maybe I do not have the right pans. Or I could not get the temperature right. Or I over-mix my batter. Or I am impatient about letting them cool before cutting. Whatever it is, it is getting in the way of me making an edible brownie.

For some reason, yesterday, I thought I could make a good brownie. Ok, that reason is-- I thought Christmas is a magical day. It is that day of the year when anything that proved to be impossible the rest of the days of the year becomes possible. And that day, I believed I could make not just a brownie, but an awesome Red Velvet Brownie. It is Christmas after all. I am going for broke.

I halved the original recipe to fit my 8 x 8 pan, used metal rather than a glass pan, buttered and dusted the pan with cocoa powder (per Martha), and added a cup of walnuts in the batter, but I followed the rest of the recipe to the letter. I also hovered around the oven for a good 40 minutes to make sure the oven temperature stays at a constant 350 F. And when I stabbed the brownie with a toothpick and only moist crumbs stuck to it on its way out, I took it out of the oven to rest on a wire rack until completely cool. I mean it. I left it there on the rack, went to the mall with my family (spent a horrible 2 and a half hours there thanks to the hoards of people who take pictures of themselves in the middle of the busy halls and who push and do not understand the meaning of maximum capacity in elevators and a restaurant staff that dished out service so bad it was unbelievable), and took out my red velvet brownie from the pan only after I got back home.

Red Velvet Brownies
It was perfect. I knew it the very moment I cut into it. It was thick, dense, moist, just slightly sweet, delicious, and quite stunning to look at. The smattering of generous chunks of walnuts was a beautiful touch, I am glad I added it. I also frosted some bars with cream cheese frosting (see recipe here) and because the brownies were not so sweet, they went wonderfully together.

Red Velvet Brownies
adapted from Smells like Home

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 oz red food coloring (optional)
4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 9 X 13 clear glass baking pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then stir in food coloring (if not using food coloring add 4 T of water or milk) and vanilla, mix until the color is fully incorporated. Mix flour, cocoa and salt in a separate bowl. Slowly add in the flour mixture being very careful not to over mix.. Do not over mix. The batter will be very thick.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir up the batter with a rubber spatula once or twice just to ensure all of the flour has incorporated from the sides of the bowl and there isn’t anything stuck on the bottom of the bowl. You’ll want one uniformly colored (red) batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. 35 minutes for a thin crust on top and gooey underneath. Set aside to cool, cut into bars and serve.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Waiting for Christmas

Coconut Biko
Biko is a traditional Filipino delicacy that is enjoyed in our house come the holidays. It is made by Kuya Iyong, our jack of all trades handyman, who harvests the coconut component of the delicacy himself from the trees that grow around our house. Biko is made with equal parts of glutinous rice, coconut milk, water, brown sugar, and garnished with latik. Kuya Iyong made this latest batch of biko a bit more special though, one bilao with coconut shreds and another with langka. It makes waiting for Christmas Day a whole lot more yummy.

Langka Biko
Wishing all of you joy and fantastic food this Christmas Eve!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dips and Crisps at Cafe Republiq

Spinach and Parmesan Cheese Gratin
Yesterday I had the audacity to plan to go watch the Lantern Parade in UP Diliman. It was a ridiculous proposition, I knew that, because in addition to the fact that the UP Christmas Lantern Parade attracts hordes of people every single year, that same day was 1) payday Friday; 2) the inauguration of the monorail in the UP Diliman campus; and 3) a perfect candidate for Christmas party schedule. But I had not seen the Lantern Parade since I graduated from the university a couple of years ago and I truly, madly, deeply, wanted to go this year.

Alas, as expected, traffic was a disaster. And no matter how early I thought I was leaving the house, it was not nearly early enough to avoid the brewing traffic nightmare. Traffic was bad not only in Quezon City, but the entire Metro Manila. Worse, by the time I realized that I will not see the Lantern Parade again this year, traffic going home was likewise in a standstill.

So instead I found myself in Resorts World, Cafe Republiq to be precise, where I drowned myself in Spinach and Parmesan Cheese Gratin and nacho chips. The gratin was warm, creamy, and comforting in its deliciousness. Something I needed to make me feel a little bit better for missing the Lantern Parade. While I can imagine how much the cheese made the dip utterly sinful, the fact that it had spinach in it easier for me to convince myself that I was munching on something healthy. I had to believe that, see, because I munched through those chips and dip like there was no tomorrow.

Cafe Republiq-Newport Mall is located at  2/F Resorts World Manila, Newport Mall, Newport Blvd, Domestic Airport, Pasay.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Dinner Ideas and The BIG Holiday Outlet Sale (A Giveaway!)

December is the season for fabulous feasts. That time of the year that we go on a diet for. You know, to make room for all the food that we will partake of during all those parties and reunions that we will go to.

Nobody goes on a diet on December. The two words, while they start with the same letter, is simply antithetical. That is why every year, I rack my brain to come up with recipes that will knock everybody's socks off during Noche Buena and Media Noche. Of course there will always be roast beef, but it's always nice to have something new and exciting on the table next to it.

Next to food, family, and friends, it is also the season for shopping. Every year, I seem to forget how frenzied the crowd gets in the malls and it never fails to amaze me. Never mind if the sales come in before and after December and everything on the shelves is at full price, people seem to always do most of their holiday shopping in December. Those people, unfortunately, includes me. It's a good thing that my friend (the new mom), Mossy, told me about this huge 3-day sale starting on December 21, 2012, dubbed as the BIG Holiday Outlet Sale 2012
WHEN: December 21-23, 2012, 10a-9p
WHERE: SMX Convention Center, Hall 4, Mall of Asia Complex
WHAT: Sponsored by BPI Edge, SM Cinemas and e-PLUS
  • Up to 80% off on select merchandise from major brands
  • Free entrance to BPI + e-PLUS cardholders (w/ valid ID)
  • Hourly raffle draws for BPI Edge cardholders (1 raffle coupon per P1000 minimum receipt)
  • New Brands!
  • Havaianas, Vibram Fivefinger, Oakley, Skechers,  Levi's, Dockers, Technomarine, Hush Puppies, Sebago, Cushe, CMG (Celine), Melissa Shoes, Ipanema, Grendha, Adidas, Maldita, Space, Speedo, Uratex, Ikea, McJim Leather, Digital Walker, Rudy Project, JBL, Sennheiser, Creative, Ray-Ban, Homedics, Parker, Giordano, Suki Shoes, Daniel Hechter, Robe di Kappa, Case Logic, JB Music, Guerlain, Shiseido, Majolica Mallorca, JB Sports, Polo Leather, Rustan Marketing, Paul & Joe, Nike Golf, Bridgestone Golf, And-1, Gola, Ryka, Pollywalks, Switch, Philips, Triumph, Jockey, Babolat, and SO MUCH MORE!
I love love love outlet stores and just thinking about event makes me feel all giddy inside. So naturally, I plan to do the rest of my Christmas shopping there. Entrance to the event is Php50. But for everyone with a BPI credit card or those apply for one during the event, entrance is free. Not eligible for free entrance? Let me make this outlet sale sweeter for you...

My Food Notebook and Malibu Enterprise, the good folks behind the BIG Holiday Outlet Sale, are giving away FREE tickets to the event. Just send an email with the subject, "TBHOS" to  and in the body of the email, write your first and last name  and help me figure out what to serve along with my holiday roast beef by completing the sentence:

My favorite holiday food is _____________________.

The first 20 email senders get 2 FREE entrance tickets each to the BIG Holiday Outlet Sale.


Monday, December 10, 2012

My Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Having made fresh basil pesto recently inspired me to make pesto out of what remains of my big jar of olive oil-soaked sun-dried tomatoes. "Red pesto," others call it, owing to the beautiful deep red hue of the sun-dried tomatoes with which it is made with. It is so easy to make, but the ease with which I was able to whip this up belies the utter deliciousness of this pesto. I learned that the very second that I licked clean the spatula that I used to scrape out the sides of the blender where I made my sun-dried tomato pesto. It tastes of summer, if that makes sense at all.

At first, I just wanted to use the sun-dried tomato pesto on my new pack of rigatoni. But my recipe yielded a lot, good for more than two-servings worth of pasta, so I got creative with the remaining pesto. It makes for such an elegant dip for melba toasts, for one. Combined with cream on the other hand, it results in a pasta sauce so sinful, you will forget about all the health benefits of sun-dried tomatoes.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons walnuts
3 garlic cloves
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Pulse together sun-dried tomatoes, chili powder, cheese, basil, walnuts and garlic in a blender until combined. With machine running, gradually add olive oil and blend until smooth paste forms.
Makes about 3 cups pesto.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lago de Oro: A Weekend of Food and the Sea

I spent the weekend in Lago de Oro with friends and already I want to go back. Aside from a vast pristine mangrove you can walk on taking the place of a beachfront, the resort offers an amazing view of the China Sea and a spectacular sunset. Most importantly, for me at least, the food did not disappoint.

At first, I thought that the only thing we were going there for was wakeboarding. My interest however, grew a hundredfold when upon entering the gate of Lago, I was greeted by a sign saying that they make their own bread and bacon, among others. I simply admire restaurants that go that extra mile. As I expected, I ate so well there, to the point of guilt. It is funny, come to think of it now, that we were not expecting there would be good food in Lago. We even talked about finding some restaurant nearby to have dinner in when we got to Batangas. It is a good thing that we stayed.

The first thing I ever ate there, at 4:45 PM and I have not had any lunch yet, was Gnocchi (Php335). Freshly made dumplings bathed in thick home-made Italian-style tomato sauce, Lago's Gnocchi was delicious. The parmesan cheese was served on the side which I found quite thoughtful. It also came with a basket of bread, freshly baked in the resort's kitchen, and some butter. Despite my hunger and the fact that it was so good, I thought the serving was good enough for two people. Now I regret not having snapped up a picture of that meal. Maybe next time... Definitely, next time.

I did however, take a picture of our breakfast, which came with our accommodations package at the resort. My friends raved about Lago's home-made bacon, which are obviously heftier than the ones you buy from the grocery. I on the other hand, ordered beef tapa. Tapa is not exactly on Lago's menu, but the server told me that what they could do is boil away the sauce of the Filipino Beef Steak, leaving the beef. Perfect, I say, that is exactly how we do tapa at home anyhow.

My beef tapa, as with the bacon breakfast, came with a choice of plain or garlic fried rice, toasted bread and butter, two eggs (I like mine fried with the yolk completely cooked.), a choice of fruit juice, and a choice of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. (I had my beef tapa with garlic fried rice and for drinks, I chose orange juice and hot chocolate.) The beef tapa came out great and I was satisfied with the amount of serving, which was quite generous. And because it is basically simmered down beef steak, it was not oily, making it a bit healthier than beef tapa. With a set breakfast as hearty as this, who needs buffet?

Lago de Oro is located at Bo. Balibago, Calatagan, Batangas. Check out Lago de Oro and its menu at:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An Impromptu Get-Together Dinner at Sariwon

Coming from the book launching of Memories of Philippine Kitchens at Enderun, I was in the mood for some dinner. All that talk of food certainly made me hungry.

For the late dinner, I found myself in Sariwon together with some friends. (I love love love it when I call friends out of the blue for a get together and they say yes!) I had been reading good reviews about Sariwon and the first time I tried to have dinner here, the place was fully booked so I was not able to get a table. So when one of my friends suggested it, I agreed right away. Needless to say, I was very excited to finally find out what all the fuss over Sariwon was about.

As is traditional with Korean restaurants, we were welcomed with little plates of appetizers from kimchi to mashed sweet potatoes. I appreciated the courteous gesture of offering wet towels before we started our meal. These wet towels start their life as little dry white tablets and they grow to their full size when water is poured onto them. I must admit that the child in me found this quite magical.

Dolsot Bibimbap
We ordered Dolsot Bibimbap, which is your typical bibimbap but served in a hot stone bowl. Left alone, the hot bowl toasts the rice in the bibimbap, which I quite like. I normally mix my own but that night, I let Sariwon's servers mix it for us, with the instruction of using only half of the Korean hot chili paste, gochujang.

Ggot Galbisal
For the grill, we ordered Ggot Galbisal and Toshisal. Ggot Galbisal is 130 grams of boneless USDA Choice ribs while Toshisal is 130 grams of fresh lean USDA Choice short plate. These beautiful cuts of beef are cooked on the grill right at our table together with some slices of fresh button mushrooms. My friend suggested grilling some kimchi as well. It resulted in a slightly sweeter kimchi with a nice smoky roasted flavor.

The food we ordered seemed to be on the thin side considering there were 4 of us sharing, but with the side dishes it was a very filling meal for all of us. To wash everything down, we were given barley tea which, despite being hot, I found to be refreshing. And if that were not enough freebies, the good people at Sariwon also gave us Sikhye, on the house. Sikhye is a traditional sweet Korean drink made with malt and rice. It was a perfect sweet ending for the wonderful dinner. 

Sariwon Korean Barbecue-Bonifacio High Street Central is located at UG/F Bonifacio High Street Central, West Superblock, 7th Ave cor 29th St., Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. Contact Sariwon at (0922) 535-2446

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Scenes from a Book Launching

Last November 13, 2012, the newest edition of the book, Memories of Philippine Kitchens was launched at Enderun Colleges. Authors Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan and photographer Neal Oshima all graced the event and signed copies of the book.

"Memories of Philippine Kitchens (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; May 2012; ISBN: 978-1-58479-973-3) by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan, tells a story that all Filipinos should read.  It is the story of our cuisine, told in the many voices of our countryside cooks, and told from the hearts of a couple who have become champions of Filipino food.   
x x x 
In this revised edition, the authors reflect on their continuing journey as they delve into their relationship with food, explore connections with our Asian neighbors and how their food has influenced our own, and share how they embraced these varied and wonderful flavors, transforming them into the much-acclaimed dishes that they serve at their Brooklyn restaurant, Purple Yam.   
Filled with hundreds of Neal Oshima’s delectable photographs, Memories of Philippine Kitchens is more than just a cookbook.  It is about connections and cultures, stories and more than 100 unique recipes from local cooks around the country (some of them little known to us, but all of them researched and documented with painstaking care); it is about vivid food memories passed from generation to generation, and a love for our land and our heritage.  Whether you cook, or not, this book will fill you with joy and pride.
(Memories of Philippine Kitchens-Now Newly Revised and Updated, Press Release)

Nana Meng's Dinuguan
A panel discussion also marked the event. At the end of which, the guests were treated to cocktails and some selected dishes from the book. Among those dishes was Nana Meng's Dinuguan (paired with puto, of course) and Lola Anday's Chicken Kinulob

Lola Anday's Chicken Kinulob

The Kinulob was cooked onsite in palayok (clay pots) over flaming hot charcoal. As the name suggests, between the pot and the cover, there was a layer of banana leaves to seal in all the goodness of the ingredients as the dish cooks. This ensures that the chicken is smothered with all of flavors of the Kinulob.

Guests, including me, waited in anticipation for the Kinulob, and we were not disappointed. The dish was a spectacle even when cooked, as bright yellow globules of immature chicken eggs generously dot the "stew", and finally, before serving, it was laced with a kind of gravy made from ground chicken liver, artisenal patis, and calamansi. This curiously salty, tangy, and mildly bitter gravy makes the dish extra special.

I am sure I have heard about Kinulob for a long time, but I realized that I have never tasted it much less seen it cooked in the traditional way until that day. So it was truly and eye-opening experience for me. Now it may be the very first time that I have ever tasted Chicken Kinulob but I must say, the flavors of this traditional Filipino dish is certainly something that is comfortingly familiar. Much like what Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan achieved with Memories of Philippine Kitchens.

Php895, trade paperback
also available in hard cover

Memories of Philippine Kitchens by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan is available in National Bookstore and other major bookstores.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

FoodLab's Great Cookie Sale

FoodLab wants to make sure your cookie jar does not run out of cookies during the Holidays.

(Because nothing is sadder than an empty cookie jar on Christmas.)

Contact information:

Location: Mercato Centrale, 34th Street corner 8th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, 1634 Taguig 
(Midnight Mercato happens every Friday and Saturday, 10PM-3AM)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Divinondo": A Foodcourt Experience

Su zhou Shrimp Dumplings
Tuesday I spent the whole day in Divisoria and Binondo. Mostly, I just followed my sister around so I did not know exactly what part I was in at any particular point in time was there. But I was pretty sure we started our "Divinondo" adventure by puttering around Lucky Chinatown Mall. The last time I was in Divisoria, this mall was not yet in existence, so that was pretty exciting for me. It reminded me of Newport Mall and Eastwood Mall, and it was by far the most high-end of the malls that I had been to in that area.

168 Mall Food Court
From Lucky Chinatown, we crossed over to 168 Mall, which is in stark contrast to the former. 168 Mall is densely packed with stalls that sold merchandise that give you more bang for the buck and equally packed with shoppers that tended to cause traffic along the narrow aisles. Nevertheless, we combed through that place like there was no tomorrow, zigzagging through the many pasilios as methodically as possible to make sure we did not leave any store unturned. I was mesmerized by all the unusual trinkets and mind-blowing bargains being offered by merchants at every turn. And you kind of lose track of time there. It was lunch time when we finally decided to move away from the shopping area and into the food court.

Su zhou Beef Noodle Soup
While there are a couple of big-name food establishments that set up shop there, I was relieved to learn that the 168 Mall food courts (yes, there is more than one) have markedly different vendors from those that I am used to. There are more authentic Chinese food vendors, for instance, which was perfect because I was sure as heck that I was not going to have a burger for lunch in Divinondo. Among those we bought lunch from was Mitzi's and Su zhou. Mitzi's has very good siomai (Php60 for 4 pieces), which are bigger than say Chowking's or Henlin's. At Su zhou, we ordered beef noodle soup and shrimp dumplings. We had to wait for a while for our food here because they are cooked upon order, even the steamed shrimp dumplings was steamed on the spot, to make sure you get your meal fresh and hot. Su zhou's steamed shrimp dumpling is different in that it is not simply a shrimp ensconced in starch wrapper. Su zhou's wrapper for one, is not translucent unlike the usual steamed shrimp dumpling (hakaw) I know of. Secondly, the filling seems to be a combination of some ground shrimp and some fish mixed in rather than a whole piece of shrimp two. It is really quite interesting and something worth trying when you are in Divisoria.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Home-made Cupcakes on a Lazy Day

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes

I think I found my new favorite recipe for chocolate cupcakes. I love it for many, albeit simple, reasons. With this recipe, I can use butter straight from the fridge because the boiling water takes care of it. No waiting, planning ahead of time, or using the microwave to make sure the butter is at room temperature when I start to work on the batter. And because of the boiling water, I don't have to deal with the extra step of melting chocolate, too, since all I need is good cocoa powder.

Also, in a country where buttermilk is not something you see in a regular grocery, this is a cut above my other favorite recipe. Instead of buttermilk, it calls for sourcream, a more common local grocery staple. The best part about this recipe though, is how chocolaty and delicious the resulting cupcakes are. And they are not too sweet which make them wonderful with cream cheese frosting or good old fashioned buttercream.

I brought this up because I made these cupcakes again yesterday. It was a lazy afternoon. So lazy in fact, that I did not want to be bothered with the frosting so I wanted a cupcake that would taste wonderful even without frosting. Ooohh, and these cupcakes are especially good freshly baked. I wait five minutes for them to cool for a bit in the pan and I am rewarded with a warm, moist, and fluffy cupcake with its top still slightly crackly-crispy.

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup shortening or butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, combine boiling water, shortening, sugar, and cocoa. Beat until sugar is dissolved.
Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with the beaten egg, sour cream, and vanilla.
Fill greased and lightly floured cupcake cups about half full.
Bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Frost with your favorite frosting,  homemade or purchased. Makes about 10 to 12 cupcakes.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Shrimp, Mushroom, Pesto, Cream

Creamy Pesto with Shrimp and Mushroom Penne

A couple of days ago, I got a hankering for shrimp and pasta. Now I have a number of tried and tested shrimp and pasta recipes under my belt, but I was thinking about something new. So I surfed the web for a bit for fresh ideas for delicious pasta recipes, and the combination of shrimp, mushroom, pesto, and cream sang to me. For this recipe, only fresh button mushrooms will do, and not the canned sort.

The fresh mushrooms lend a distinctively sophisticated flavor to the rich aromatic sauce that no can of mushrooms could ever hope to achieve.

Creamy Pesto with Shrimp and Mushroom Penne

1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
9 fresh button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 kilo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup white wine
1/2 cup cream
1/3 cup prepared pesto sauce (see recipe here)
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
dash of chili powder
250 grams uncooked penne pasta

Cook penne according to package instructions.
While the pasta cooks, saute garlic in olive oil. Add onion and cook until translucent. Melt in butter. Add mushrooms and let them sweat in the pan.
Put in shrimp and saute briefly. Season with salt. Pour in wine and let the shrimp cook until the wine almost boils away.
Add cream, pesto sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Season with chili powder and stir until combined. Toss in cooked pasta until uniformly covered in sauce.
Serves 4.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Food Tripping in Bohol

Tarsier Sanctuary
As in Cebu, it was also my first time to visit Bohol. While only a catamaran-ride away, these two places could not be more different from each other. Bohol is quiet with long stretches of road with not a soul or structure in sight as Cebu is a bustling city, much like Manila.

Chocolate Hills

Despite the different sights and experiences those two destinations have given me, they are the same in that I was never wanting in food in both places. (It took a couple of days when I got back home for my body to get used to not eating full meals every four hours.) One of the most memorable meals I had in the Bohol-Cebu trip was on the Floating Restaurant in the Loboc River Cruise. At first, I was not too crazy about the idea of having lunch on board a moving vessel, more so on a river, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised about how I enjoyed the whole experience.

Loboc River

Loboc River is a serene river and its water is a beautiful jade green. I do not know if the water got any rougher down the line but at least that stretch that we cruised on did not have any rapids. It was so much than just having lunch, that river cruise.

On the banks of the river are some local kids who somersaulted into the water from the trees along the river. Some of the local folk performed for the tourists on the river cruise on one side of the river where a dedicated stage was built. I even saw a pack of all-white dogs farther along the river, some simply getting their paws wet in the shallow water and some actually swimming around expertly.

Another lunch worth remembering was the one we had at Miravilla Resort. On one side of the dining hall of the resort, near the entrance, was a line of chest freezers packed with beautiful shellfish and other kinds seafood, some of which I have never seen or which names I have never even heard of before.

Miravilla Resort

On another side of Miravilla Resort is a spectacular view of the sea.

In terms of pasalubong, all I was able to get from Bohol was Loboc Salabat for my father, which is an instant ginger powder beverage; a box of chocolate-covered banana chips called Banchos; a chocolate in the shape of Bohol's Chocolate Hill (of course); and a small tub of peanut candy called Star Peanuts, which never reached the house alive because I snacked on it and shared it with everybody on the long bus ride home.

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