MANILA,  September 8
, 2004 (STAR) IN MY BASKET by Lydia D. Castillo - The family flew to Bohol for a bit of R and R, and to show other parts of the country to our Cairo trio who by then had more than enough time to visit the tiangges and all the malls in Metro Manila. Being all foodies, food was one thing we all looked forward to and we were certainly not disappointed as we went through the ‘feasts’ of Bohol from Tagbilaran, Panglao, Dawis, Carmen and Danao. An early morning flight brought us to the pier area for breakfast at the MR restaurant. It was more like brunch–grilled pork with a dip of soy sauce and onions; a big chunk of grilled talakitok, really fresh it tasted like the Batangas maliputo; dinuguan, seaweeds, squid and rice. For a party of six we paid less than P500.

Lunch found us on a boat, sailing around the very clean Loboc river, with a seafood and meat buffet (P250 per) plus entertainment, dished out by a lovely Boholana and a male musician. Dinner was at the exotic Alona Tropical Resort, where chef-owner Ondo Montero prepared delicious mixed vegetable soup, pork adobo flavored with star anise, grilled fish with a savory sauce topped with roasted garlic, chicken Catalan with a distinctive Spanish flavor. Dessert was sweet mangoes.

The highlight of all these feasts was the buffet lunch (P250 per) of honey-based dishes using organically grown ingredients prepared by the very creative Vicky Wallace at her Bee Farm, which was profuse with yellow cosmos and where, of course, we met hundreds of thousands of her bees before settling at the dining table for all her inspired creations. We started with camote bread (P120 a giant loaf) taken with honey mustard cream. We had flowers (gumamela, cosmos and bougainvilla) for salad (without any after taste). The vegetable soup with a distinctive ginger flavor was of patola, radish, carrots and chunks of fish. We found the roast chicken and pork ribs almost like our herbed chicken and menudo pork–so very close to home. Vegetable lasagna was cut into individual pieces and the dessert was freshly baked squash muffins. Coffee was of roasted corn grains made with an-an (indigenous berry) which gives it a sweetish taste. Bottles of pure honey, honeyed tableya, and bread are for sale..

Boholanos can now shop in a giant mall. Recently opened, Island City Mall is not so different from SM here in Manila. The supermarket carries both local and national products from processed meat to cooking oil. They sell a lot of carabeef–cubes at P130 a kilo and shank at P200. In the wet market fish is still cheap, with lapu-lapu selling at P120 a kilo at the highest.

Fine dining, strong but smooth gourmet coffee plus cakes and rolls? Look forward to that when taking domestic and international flights of Philippine Airlines, starting this month. The carrier has acquired the services of a veteran chef, Ian Hall McKenzie, a Scot who has served various airlines and hotels in the region. He is tasked with re-styling the inflight menu using Filipino flavors and ingredients.

Judging from the offerings at a recent media launch, Ian has succeeded in blending international and Filipino flavors, coming up with tastier dishes, so unlike the usual flight meals. He decided to include in the menu veal osso bucco; while Italian, he says, it answers the Filipinos’ preference for saucy food. He has the familiar baked king prawns, marinated in lime and the pork shin seasoned with patis, something Ian holds in high esteem. The chocolate and Nugotin mousse was certainly calorific, but surely nobody will care because it is the supreme dessert!

PAL has also partnered with two companies that have done the country proud with their respective products. Coffee connoisseurs should be happy to know that the Figaro Classico blend will cap their in-flight meals. Snacks (rolls and cakes) on specific flights will come from Goldilocks. Now, indeed PAL is taking off to please travelers through their stomachs.

* * *

Email comments and questions to:

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved