Cavite is just a drive way from us, being lived in Pasay all my life, however I am not really aware of what kind of food Cavite boasts. Even after living in Dasmarinas, Cavite for three years, all I can ever think of is Digman's Halo-Halo, where it is said to originate in my father-in-law's hometown, Bacoor.
Not after the tour sponsored by DOT that I got to know more about how history built the gastronomy that is true to its Caviteno roots. With its strategic planting as a coastal area, it's not a question why an opulence of dishes crawling with seafood (excuse the is marked in Cavite's culinary heritage.
After visiting and trying out the new menu of Fishing Village inside Island Cove, it made me moon over the rich Caviteno cuisine. So if you think highly of yourself with your knowledge of traditional Caviteno food, you better think again.
Every weekend starting November 18 a new menu will be offered to highlight the Caviteno's own and favorite dishes. Together with a culinary team headed by Executive Chef Vill Purification, they curated some dishes from the various towns, touted as "Taste Cavite." This will be then served on a daily basis on starting December 22.
Island Cove’s “Taste Cavite” menu is a showcase of indigenous ingredients, history, and tradition. It is a one-stop Cavite food tour. “Being located at the mouth of Cavite, Island Cove should be the gateway of all things Cavite,” points out Managing Director Gilbert Remulla who hails from Imus. “We’d like everyone to know how rich Cavite cuisine is. We are serving the food of our childhood. A lot of the restaurants that offered these specialty dishes are no longer around but we want to bring the food back. We’ve also sourced dishes which are proprietary from other restaurants,” he continued.
The hefty "Taste Cavite" lunch I had with fellow foodie friends begun and ended with the term "lawlaw." It's sounds funny but seriously tastes good. Lawlaw is a kind of fish that can be found in the coastal of Cavite, it's often made into sardines, or fried to a crisp. When fried the taste profile is somehow the same as Taal's Tawilis, dried fish. It is a good alternative to chips actually, but I heard that it is also eaten with rice in the morning.
Another sensational appetizer is the Tahong Chips, famous and had been Bacoor's famous delicacy. Every crunchy bite gets you to imagine the kind of lifestyle Cavite has over the years. This deep-fried, crisp mussels chips is usually made of flour, spices, and salt
Mutya ng Cavite followed suit. After getting several sips and some crab meat which I lwas able to crank our, I was deliberately asking for rice. It a rich creamy, chowder-like soup which was inspired from the old 7 Sisters Restaurant, owned by the Sabater family in Marulas, Kawit. Filled with the treasures from the sea, mussels, crab, clams, and shrimps, it shows off the fresh seafood catch available in Cavite. It is said to be Gilbert Remulla's personal favorite. “It brings back memories,” he enthused.
They also have the Calandracas, a popular soup that uses ham hock stock as base and has carrots, potatoes, cabbage, chickpeas, chicken, gizzard, chorizo. There are times Caviteno's would use sotanghon, but the resto uses macaroni pasta, it is then seasoned with patis Tanza.
Bacalao, another regional-sounding dish was also introduced to us. It's a Spanish-influenced dish which uses dry-salted labahita or surgeon fish cooked with vegetables, Spanish chorizo, garbanzo, and annatto oil. I was definitely gunning for rice at this time, for I found this dish salty for my taste buds, but I'm sure it would definitelty go so well with hot steamy rice.
The Adobong Imus does not have a trace of soy sauce. Instead, it is slow-cooked in vinegar, annatto oil, bay leaves, and salt and pepper. “This manner of cooking Adobo has been a tradition, since the time of my lola,” said chef Vill who proudly declared that he is a full-blooded Caviteño.
Annato oil, also know as atsuete extract, is als oftentimes referred to as the “poor man’s saffron.” The atsuete is a natural coloring and flavoring agent that yields a moderately soft to delicately earthy flavor and is universal to a number of Filipino dishes. It played a particular role in the creation of traditional dishes of Cavite which is undoubtedly also was an influence from the Spanish culture.
Valenciana, it is one of my most coveted dish, since I first tasted it from my mother's cooking during fiestas, it was when she was still living the life here in the country. Now that she had found a home in Milan and couldn't come home due to dialysis, this dish made me miss her more.
In the Visaya's it is know as Arroz ala Valenciana, which is a typical dish from General Trias, Surprised? It is similar to the Spanish paella with chorizo de Bilbao, chicken and pork but with coconut milk. “It’s something that I’ve always been familiar with, we had it at all our fiestas and family gatherings,” recalled Gilbert.
Also from Kawit is the Afritadang Gulay na may Baboy, stir-fried vegetables with sweet potatoes, pechay, bell peppers and sautéed pork. Another witness to how generous they would use annato oil.
But the dish that really caught my attention and heart was the Pancit Kawit. It is better known as Pancit Pusit due to its dark shade of the noodle. The noodle got it's coloration from squid ink and with it the deep and salty flavor of the squid was infused into the noodles but without being eeky. It is topped with squid rings, grated green mangoes, and scallions.
Another noodle dish from the same area is the Pancit na may Puso ng Saging, a Caviteñean pancit using a combination of bihon and miki bihon cooked in achuete with small slices of pork and thinly sliced green beans, carrots and cabbage. Instead of calamansi as souring agent, Pancit Puso is served with thinly sliced puso ng saging (banana blossom) cooked in generous amounts of vinegar. The pickled puso is mixed into the pancit to achieve alternating bites of salty pancit and chewy, sour-sweet puso.
Another General Trias specialty is Pancit Malabon. This dish of glass noodles, shrimps, smoked fish and eggs mixed with shrimp sauce and topped with chicharon began back in the day when General Trias was still called San Francisco De Malabon.
Gilbert's hometown, Imus is also the source of the Kakanin (Kutsinta , Sapin-sapin, and Puto) that Island Cove serves. They also offer Kalamay Bunalejos from Indang.
With this delectable line up, you can travel far and journey though the province of Cavite with your taste buds. The relaxing ambiance at the Fishing Village enhances the feeling of being far away from the urban chaos. The cluster of bamboo huts standing on water facing Manila Bay is an ideal dining destination for balikbayan relatives visiting for the Christmas holidays. And all it takes is a quick drive through the Manila – Cavite Expressway.
The “Taste Cavite” menu will be available at the Fishing Village in Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting this November 18 and will be served daily beginning December 22.
Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park is located in Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite only 20 minutes away from Mall of Asia. For more information, log on to www.islandcovephil.com, call (046) 434 0210 or email email@example.com.
Check out Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park on social media : https://www.facebook.com/IslandCoveHotelandLeisurePark, http://instagram.com/islandcovephil, http://twitter.com/islandcovephil.