The Province of Cavite has always been a familiar territory for me. I have always been aware of what can be found here, particularly tourist attractions. Unfortunately, this sense of familiarity doesn’t apply to cuisine. Whenever I get questions about which food to try in this province, I always end up lost for words.
This is why I got really excited upon learning about the Taste Cavite menu of Island Cove’s Fishing Village. It’s basically an attempt to bring together Cavite’s most valuable dishes under one roof, hence providing individuals an opportunity to embark on a unique gastronomic experience without having to drive around the province.
I am lucky to have been part of a #TasteCavite food trip with fellow foodies one Saturday noon. It was a pretty fun and eye-opening experience, which I’d liken to a road trip with no dull moments.
That day’s epic food journey began with Tahong Chips. It was love at first bite; the chips were fresh and crispy, with just enough level of saltiness. Although I could taste mussel in every bite, there wasn’t a pungent smell at all.
Next, we had fried Lawlaw, which was said to be famous in Cavite City. This dish was a huge hit on that day, actually. One of the things we loved about it was its crispiness. It also had the right level of saltiness and it went perfectly well with the vinegar. We could also tell how delicate its preparation process was. Each fish was carefully deboned and filleted–a true mark of excellent kitchen skills!
Mutya ng Cavite was served after. It looked and smelled so great, that I forgot about my allergy to seafood and actually tasted it. I loved how fresh and creamy it was without the umay factor. It was also surprisingly light.
Next in line was Adobong Imus, which eventually found its way to the list of my favorite dishes. At first I thought it was Afritada because it was made from chicken and it was orange! But I was corrected immediately. According to Executive Chef Vill Purificacion, it looked that way because it didn’t have soy sauce, unlike the usual adobo. Instead, it was cooked with vinegar, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and annatto oil.
Then, we had Bacalao. However, instead of bacalao fish, dry-salted labahita or surgeon fish was used for the dish. It was cooked with vegetables, Spanish chorizo, garbanzo, and annatto oil. I have always been a huge fan of dry-salted fish, so I realy had fun eating this dish. I also liked its fine texture and right amount of saltiness.
Next, we indulged in the freshness of Calandracas, a a well-known soup in Cavite. Its base was ham hock stock and had carrots, potatoes, cabbage, chickpeas, chicken, gizzard, chorizo, and sotanghon. It was also season with patis Tanza.
Pancit Kawit, also known as Pancit Pusit, arrived at the table next. We were all wowed by its peculiar appearance. Apparently, the noodles were cooked with squid ink, making them black. It was also topped with strips of unripe mangoes, which went so well with the salty and savory taste of the dish. It was so light and refreshing, too.
Next, we had Valenciana, a famous dish in General Trias. We were told that it was actually similar to Spanish Paella de chorizo de Bilbao, chicken, and pork. However, it was cooked with coconut milk. No wonder, it smelled so great. It was yummy too. I really appreciated how balanced its creaminess and saltiness was. Even the texture of the rice was perfect.
Afritadang Gulay na may Baboy was served after. The dish was a symphony of stir-fried vegetables with sweet potatoes, pechay, bell peppers, and sauteed pork. It became one of my favorites. I loved how tender the pork was, which went perfectly with the properly cooked veggies. There was also an explosion of flavors in every bite.
The next dish we tried was something familiar to almost every Pinoy–Pancit Malabon. It was made from glass noodles, shrimps, smoked fish, and eggs mixed with shrimp sauce and topped with chicharon. But of course, we were shocked to have discovered that it actually originated from Cavite; back in the day when General Trias was still called “San Francisco de Malabon”.
We sampled another noodle dish. This time, Pancit Puso. It was served with thinly sliced puso ng saging or banana bossom cooked in generous amount of vinegar. The pickled puso was then mixed with the pancit. The result was fantastic–a combination of salty pancit and chewy, sour-sweet puso.
Next, we had Tamales, a famous Cavite City delicacy. It was made from galapong or glutinous rice flour mixed with corn meal, chicken, pork, and salted egg. It was then wrapped in multiple layers of banana leaves and steamed.
We also had fun sampling the different rice cakes served that day. There was Kutsinta, Sapin-sapin, and Puto. There was Kalamay Bunalejos from Indang, too. And of course, we also had Kesong Puti.
It was a unique dining experience, indeed. Apart from getting to know more about Cavite Cuisine, I also realized how rich the province’s culture has always been. It may seem to familiar but there are still lots of things to discover about and in it.
The Taste Cavite manu is available at the Fishing Village in Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It will be served daily beginning December 22, 2016.
Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park is located in Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite and is just 20 minutes away from SM Mall of Asia. To learn more about it, visit www.islandcovephil.com, call (046) 434 0210, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, don’t forget to follow Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!