El Ideal • Calea • Pendy’s • The Ruins Pizzeria • Aida’s Manukan Country
With more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is never lacking for exciting options for both adventurous locals and curious foreigners. It is my dream to experience as much as I can of what our provinces have to offer. One of the more popular ones, as I have read and researched, is a gastronomic trip to the City of Smiles, Bacolod. I’m sure we’ve all heard of stories of the province’s famous chicken inasal and sweet treats (having been known as the sugar bowl capital of the country). However, with budget constraints and limited time, I was only left with a little less than a day to cover and eat as much as I can, without putting too much dent on my already depleted wallet. And I gladly took up the challenge.
The province’s airport is in Silay, an idyllic town about an hour’s drive away from Bacolod City, and was a good jumpstart to get started on a Bacolod food trip. Breakfast at El Ideal was hot molo soup and a plateful of porksilog and gave us a preview of the day ahead. After which we went around town to look at the ancestral houses, and then set off to a jeepney ride to get to Bacolod City.
Once in Bacolod City proper, we asked the jeepney driver to get us off our next destination – Calea. If you go around and ask people who’s been to Bacolod for where we should go, everyone will insist that you shouldn’t miss Calea. Calea is along the city’s main avenue, Lacson St., and can be easily reached via public transportation. As soon as you step into the blue doors, you are officially in Cake Heaven. Several cakes are displayed shamelessly to taunt you, and it will be almost impossible to choose. After salivating for one cake after another, we finally settled on a White Chocolate Cheesecake served with Raspberry sauce and a slice of Apple Pie with a dollop of cream on the side. Both came fantastic with our coffee and quite surprisingly, with the hot chocolate. The cakes had just the right sweetness and richness you would easily fall in love with. Each bite was simply divine. The portions are huge and more than enough for sharing. I can go back to Bacolod if only for Calea’s cakes.
After putting down our bags and freshened up in the hotel, we headed up to lunch at another Bacolod staple, Pendy’s. We were recommended to order Spareribs, which was so tender, it was falling off the bones and melting off on our tongues. The meal was capped off with other famous sweet treats from Bacolod, Napoleones, Half-Moon and Brazo de Mercedes.
We then headed off to The Ruins. Similar to the Taj Mahal of India, the house was built out of love and in memory of the deceased and beloved wife of the lord of the house. The house was burnt down by the guerillas during the second world war to prevent the Japanese from using it as a headquarters. Only the skeleton of the house was left, but even so, one could see the grandeur of the structure it once was. There was a café within the grounds, and we decided to order salad for something light. We were not disappointed with our potato, squid and greens salad with an oil-based dressing which was perfect for our mid-day snack.
We headed back to the city proper and to our last destination of the day – the Chicken Inasal! We went to Manukan Country, fronting SM Bacolod to eat at Aida’s. Since we were already too full from all the eating we did, we only ordered a stick of chicken and tina-e or Isaw (Chicken Intestine). The chicken reminds me of Cebu’s lechon where you don’t need any more of the condiments, because the grilled meat alone is tasty and delicious enough.
I was so full as the day went off to a close. I’ve accomplished what I went to Bacolod for, and was more than thankful. Another item just got ticked off from my bucket list that day.
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