Monday, August 20, 2007

Food gifts from Naga & Some good news


C was on a business trip last week in Naga, a city in the Bicol region of the Philippines. Naga is a leg-numbing 8-hour drive from Manila (where we live), unless there is traffic (which is often, especially in last Friday’s rains), in which case the ride can stretch to 10 hours.

***The Bicol region has some gorgeous natural gems such as: Mayon Volcano (with a nearly perfect cone!), the incredible butanding (whalesharks) of Donsol, and a great many beautiful beaches and idyllic islands. If you are sports minded these are great spots for surfing (in Daet, Camarines Norte), diving, and wakeboarding (Camarines Sur is now a popular wakeboarding and wakeskating destination). So despite the long drive, I would definitely love to see it one day (you can fly too if you’ve got extra moolah on you).***

Anyhoo, back to reality, and a rain soaked Friday evening. I had just finished a full day meeting and C was on his way back from Naga, stuck in traffic, tired and hungry. He finally gets home at past 9 in the evening and we are just about ready to slay a cow with our bare hands. Hunger, fatigue, and metaphorical cow-slaying aside, I was delighted to see the stash of regional delicacies C had (thanks guy!) brought back for me.

My loot:

  • Polvoron – Best described as a “powdered milk candy”, polvoron is made of (you guessed it) powdered milk, flour, sugar, butter, and perhaps some sort of flavoring. Some have crushed bits of pinipig (puffed rice) which give it a great crunch. The flour is toasted, the ingredients are mixed, and the resulting fragile powdery blend is stuffed into special oval-shaped molds. It’s like eating sweet, solid, milk…yum! (well, yum if you like milk)

  • Tablea – These are blocks of crushed local cacao beans. They are used to make hot chocolate and champorado (our local version of chocolate rice pudding). These blocks are grainy and intense, turning out a hot chocolate that is earthy and rustic. This type of hot chocolate reminds me of my youth, when I would dip heavily buttered toast into it, watching the beads of melted butter float on the chocolate’s surface before sipping it up. I will be making a cup for breakfast very soon!

  • Candied Pili Nuts with HoneyPili nuts are native to the Philippines, and although they are grown as ornamental trees in other tropical countries like Malaysia, only in the Philippines are they produced and processed commercially. All this production take place mainly in the Bicol region, making pili products one of Bicol’s most popular sweets. I love pili nuts, and candied pili nuts are an unholy addiction. I have eaten myself sick many times, so I’ve placed this batch far from reach in the hopes that I won’t get too out of hand (I'm having them right now on my yogurt -- tops!).

  • Coco jam with pili nuts – This was a first! I’ve had coco jam (coconut jam) since I was a kid but never with pili nuts. I love jams and preserves that have got nuts in them so I was extra excited about this. Predictably, I loved it…coconut jam and pili nuts? How could I not? I wish they had more pili in it though, but that’s ok because I have one whole pack of candied pili nuts to add to it :) I can’t wait to buy some pan de sal and make some coco-nut-sandwiches!

I have an interview up on Culinate!
Culinate is a great new website on everything food-related. I discovered it through Liz Crain, one of their writers, who contacted me asking if I could be interviewed for Blog Feed, her column in Culinate that focuses on food blogs. To say I was flattered would be an understatement! Somebody out there wanted to put 80 Breakfasts on her column? Beside features on such fabulous blogs like La Tartine Gourmande, Cook & Eat, Baking and Books, and MattBites? Oh yes thank you kind stars! :) You can check out the article here and do check out the rest of Culinate, which has loads of interesting stuff to peruse!


Patricia Scarpin said...

Congratulations, sweetie!
I'll check the website - with all these wonderful bloggers, it will be a hit!

Manggy said...

Congratulations, Joey!
Champorado's in the air again... Hay... I can't believe you braved the typhoon! That's insane. I just curled up in bed and hibernated.

katrina said...

Congratulations, Joey! Well-deserved, for sure!

I like pili too. At the Luzon Fair in Megamall recently, there were lots of pili products I hadn't seen before. My favorites were the suspiros de pili, and one whose name I don't know but was like those butterscotch bars but with pili. Try making pili pie -- my sister has baked this several times and it's WONDERFUL! Hmm...I wonder why they don't make pili nut butter? Someone should!!!

The Knittymommy said...

Congratualtions Joey! That was a very nice article. That was very cool.

katiez said...

Congratulations! How Fun!
Amd what a sweet present you had... It all makes my mouth water and my sweet tooth envious!

Belinda said...

A big congratulations, Joey! I peeked in on Culinate, and it looks like a beautiful website, how lovely. :-)

And yay for the fun goodies that C brought you. You know, I've always been fascinated by whale sharks...such huge, graceful creatures. I know I would have a fit if I came face to face with something that gigantic, but they seem so enchanting.

Mansi Desai said...

Wow, Congrats!! I came here for the first time, and i think u deserve the recognition!!

Nice blog, but what caught my eye was the title:)

Rasa Malaysia said...

Congrats. I just read the interview and it's so cool. You rock! :)

Franco said...

Congratulations, Joey!

You most definitely deserve the recognition. You are true pinoy food blogger. :) You do us all proud.

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Patricia! It's a thrill to be in the same website as them :)

Hi Manggy! Thanks! Yes, with this weather, champorado is definitely in my thoughts :) You should have seen me in Milenyo!

Hi Katrina! Thank you! :) I would love to try pili pie...sounds like something just my type (I love pili and nut pies so I guess it follows...) :) Do you think your sister would mind sharing the recipe? Pili nut butter sounds sure has enough fat for it, hehe!

Hi KM! Thank you :)

Hi Katiez! Thanks! And yes, it was a very sweet present :)

Thank you Belinda! Culinate is really nice and has loads of interesting topics :) Christine has actually seen our incredible...did you get to see that post? :)

Hi Mansi Desai! Thanks for dropping in and for the sweet comment! :)

Thanks so much Bee! :) You rock too!

Thanks Franco! That's a sweet thing to say :) I am not an expert on Pinoy food (by far!) but I do eat lots of it, and I'm trying to learn more about I think that's a pretty good start :)

Kalyn said...

Congrats on the interview, going to read it now.

kaoko said...

Congrats Joey! Clipping your interview for reading later. You really deserve it, even a first time visitor to 80 breakfasts can easily tell that your blog is internet gold. Not only is it rich content-wise, but it's always a visual treat looking at your lovely pics.

(Walang bola, I really feel that way :D)

Belinda said...

Joey...thanks so much for pointing me in the direction of Christine's post about her whaleshark encounter! Wow! She is such an adventurous gal, and really lives life to the fullest, which I think is wonderful. :-) Through reading both of your blogs, I have fallen in love with the incredible beauty of the Philippines.

mtan said...

Congratulations on the article Joey!

And if you end up making anything gooey and sweet from the hot chocolate/cocojam/pili combination, let us know! :D

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Kalyn! :)

Hi Kaoko! Thank you so much...what a sweetie! I'm glad you enjoy this site :)

Hi Belinda! So nice to hear that! :) And yes, Christine is quite the adventurer...I have travelled with her before and it is always a blast! :)

Hi M! Thanks :) I'll hold you to that when I need someone to consume my attempts! ;)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Joey that is fabulous news! Congratulations!
Love the way you describe that chocolate!
Sure wish somebody would finally invent teleporting, it would seem so much better for us than traffic.

veron said...

congratulations Joey, so well deserved! Ha! You better blog about that binagoongan ;)!

canDIshhh said...

Congrats Joey!! :)

SteamyKitchen said...

Oh you ROCK my friend!!!

Congrats on your article.

I wish I had coconut jam too....

Midge said...

Kudos on the Culinate interview, Joey! And I have yet to meet anyone who didn't like tablea and pili nuts!

christine said...

Hey Jo! How cool is that! I loved the interview, congrats! :) And ooohh I love pili, I'll be making my mazapan and salchichon de pili shortly. I need to use up my stash of raw pili nuts soon.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Tanna! Thanks! :) I agree...scientists of the world: kindly speed up on the teleporting research! :)

Thanks Veron! :) I will! Just doing the final tweaking of the recipe :)

Thanks Candishhh!

Hi Jaden! Thank you! I'm sure you can find some cocojam at an Asian store near you...and just add some nuts to it :)

Hi Midge! Thanks :) Hehe, I'm sure you're right!

Thanks Nens! Ok, I’m applying as taste tester for the mazapan and salchichon de pili!

Kelly-Jane said...

Well done :)

Coconut and nut jam, oh my!

Erika of Sweet Pea Blog said...

Congratulations, how wonderful :) This is my first time visiting your blog, and have really enjoyed your writing + photos, especially about the pili nuts. I was in Barcelona this summer and visited a great epicerie / delicatessen called E&A Gispert - who specialise in nuts including pine nuts - the taste of which was like nothing I had tried before. The link & details are on my blog under TRAVEL :)

Stephen said...

I love getting roadtrip treats! Anytime my wife goes anywhere I ask for a culinary present. ;) Congrats on the interview. Very cool.

Tartelette said...

What a bouty! and congratulations on the interview! I loved it!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Kelly-Jane! :) Cocojam is really good!

Hi Erika! Thanks for dropping in and leaving a nice comment! Your site is really nice...I will be visiting more :) I have not been to E&A Gispert although I have heard about it...more for next time I go :)

Hi Stephen! Thanks :) Lucky you to have a sweet wife! :)

Thanks Helene :) I love these little presents...and they are so yummy to boot ;)

katrina said...

Joey and Nena, just take your favorite pecan pie recipe and switch the nuts to pili, that's what my sister did. :-)

Oh, and I also volunteer as taste tester for any pili/tablea/cocojam creations by either of you. ;-)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Katrina! That pili pie sounds so yummy...thanks for sharing your sister's technique! :) I made some champorado with the tablea/pili/cocojam but it's almost gone...will post about it soon and will call you for the next round! :)

Anonymous said...

next time you have a friend going to naga, ask him/her to bring back some dried fish for you (if you are into dried fish). their "new look" is excellent, with soft flesh and the bones are almost edible. the pagutpot is also good


ChichaJo said...

Hi Honey! Yes, I am very much into dried fish...I love it! So what is "new look"? Is that the name of the fish? And pagutpot? And where in Naga can we get it? Thanks...I am already making a list for his next Naga trip...hehe :)