Thursday, February 10, 2011

7 Reasons to Visit Pampanga

I wrote this for members of our travel club, ClubTravelNOW!TM, and titled it "7 Reasons why you should join the 'Mekeni: The Hot Air Balloon Festival + Pampanga Food Trip!' on Feb. 12, 2011". Of course, I was promoting our tour. :)

It will be too late for you to join us tomorrow (or, let me know, hehe), but I wanted anyway to be able to share this with all of you. Being an advocate of travel around the country, I hope this one gets you itching to come to Pampanga and see what surprises it has instore for you.

7 Reasons to Visit Pampanga

1. To see the Hot Air Balloons and various aerial exhibitions

Photo by Dio Delfino

The colors are as varied as the countries that will come to showcase their balloons: Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, France, United States of America, United Kingdom, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, Netherlands, Malaysia and more. If you have time, come today, til Sunday, or next year around the same time February.

2. To get a taste of Kabigting's Halo-halo, which rivals Razon's.

As Rina Jimenez-David on last Sunday's column said: "Kabigting's Halo-halo...teases the tongue with unexpected flavors and the contrast between the creamy milk, bits of ice and the sticky toffee-like texture of the yema." I am a big fan of halo-halo, and this one is really good.

Photo by Tristan Mirasol

Photo by John Baterna

Photo by Edwin Soriano

I cannot say which one is better, coz I like them all. (that includes Chowkings', or Iceberg's Mango-Caramel Flan - which is quite like Razon's, though it does not purport itself as a halo-halo.)

3. To sample chef Lilian Borromeo's buffet lunch (wait til you see what's for lunch!)

Chef Lilian Borromeo is a Cooking Show host and a famous Kapampangan Culinary Expert. She will be preparing the food for us this Saturday.

Atching Lilian Borromeo
Photo by Tristan Mirasol

Would you like to know what's for lunch? :) Okay, here it is:

1. Sisig (her own brand of sisig)
2. Chicken Galantina
3. Birenghe (their own version of the paella)
4. Dinuguan/Kilayin (one her best dishes)
5. Paksiw ng Demonyo (sounds interesting, isn't it?)
6. Pako Salad (delicious!)
7. Seafood dishes (surprise!)
8. Dessert: Maja Blanca
9. Bottomless Iced Tea or Pandan Tea

Photo by Jun Valbuena

4. To wander in Larry J. Cruz resthouse/spa/farm/resto at Abe's Farm

Photos by Tristan Mirasol

While Larry J. Cruz was known for his restaurants, the trip to Abe's Farm is a glimpse at his life and history. It will be a relaxing time looking around at his garden, his restaurant and his mini-museum. His life and his story is just as rich as the food he had all served us. (Admittedly though, I haven't tried many of his restos; this should inspire us to try his restos if we haven't.)

5. To enjoy the original Sisig Queen's Aling Lucing Sisig

Photos by Tristan Mirasol

Pampanga is the origin of the now ubiquitous sisig. But Aling Lucing Sisig is the best of them all, having won awards for the famous dish. You haven't tried real sisig if you haven't tried Aling Lucing's Sisig. (They used to have a franchised branch in Makati/Pasong Tamo - I used to supply them Bonuan Bangus, but the branch has since been replaced by Mang Inasal. Too bad.)

6. To try the different pasalubong shops with various kakanins

Nathaniel's @ Marquee Mall

Photos by Tristan Mirasol

There's Carreon's Sweets and Pastries (known for its tarts and yema), Susie's Cuisine (for its Tibok-tibok which is really totally exquisite; you can't get enough of it, believe me) and Nathaniels (for its buko pandan). If you could only join us, man, for sure, you'll be so full and wish you had more space to stuff all this food in. Good thing, you can always just bring these items home for yourself or as pasalubong to those you love. Their original stores are spread around Pampanga, but MarQuee mall has conveniently gathered them all at their mall so you can visit them all in one go.

7. To brave the authentic and exotic Kapampangan dishes of Everybody's Cafe

Photo by Tristan Mirasol

We went here on our last foor tour in October. It is owned by the Jorolan family - our friend Poch and my former co-worker Namee. They're both passionate about food, and make it their life to promote Pampanga, that's why we support them. Everybody's Cafe is a must-stop for anyone who wants to get to know the real Kapampangan food.

There you have it, folks. There are certainly more reasons to go to Pampanga for. Maybe I could add to this list next time (or comment with your suggestions). But for now, this is all my 10 minutes can muster. :)

P.S. If you'd like to join our Pampanga Food Tours, visit the ClubTravelNOW!TM website or Facebook page for future schedules. Or email us at travelbuddies[at] (replace [at] with @).

Book Recommendation:
Food Tour: A Culinary Journal

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