Friday, March 8, 2013

Eatng Our Way to and out of Bagac, Bataan

Part One: Everybody's Cafe
Are you using a trusty GPS for driving?  We've been going around our country for years using a book of maps, now, that we have android phones we have been dependent on it.  And thank God for it, unless we would be able to track down this legendary restaurant at the heart of Capampangan's dining center, San Fernando.
Just along MacArthur highway, once you are at San Fernando Pampanga, you will never miss the old big sign of Everybody's Cafe.  I'm actually wondering how old the sign post is?  In front of what seemed to be a   70's designed house are rows of cars of diners, both locals of Pampanga and neighboring towns people including Manila's foodies.
I guess this wall said it all.   Well, one reason why we were here, navigated a number of towns in Bulacan instead of using NLEX to go to Bagac, Bataan for our 17th wedding anniversary, is to see and taste for ourselves why all the rants and raves were about.   I don't know much about Capampangan's cuisine except for the famous brand Pampanga's Best (a brand that produces and markets processed meats).   So I had to rely to our good old friendly neighbor, Mr. Google.   Wait let me let you in on a secret, this restaurant is on my bucket list.   Of course I do have one, actually there are a few more located at Pampanga.  
We left out home late at 10 am on a Sunday morning which was one of the stupidest thing we did, another is trusting Bhogs, cellphone navigator to bring us to our destination.   We aimed  to reach San Fernando by 12 pm or worst at 1pm, but we got to San Fernando by 2 pm, and my tummy was grumbling and all we have in the car is a bottle of water and slices of Mandarin Oranges.  We were supposed to be checked in at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar by 2 pm yet we were still at the cafe, waited for our late lunch which took 15 minutes or so to be served.   

Everybody's cafe is not what you might expect it to be.  It's  turo-turo styled (cafeteria-styled) were all their dishes were laid open on a long showcase.   You are to choose your food on the counter including the number of rice plates and beverages.    I was prepared to eat their conspicuous Stuffed Frog (fried frogs stuffed with pork) and Camaru (fried or sauteed crickets), but since it was already past lunch, they don't have it anymore.
So we had to contend with Tidtad and the house specialty, Morcon.  After which, we headed to the room adjacent to the counter.  There are actually three different dining venues, we preferred the first room which was air-conditioned and with the view of the main street.
The room was still designed mediocre but I like the lamp on the ceiling.  There is that feeling that the place is old already, but who cares, everybody seemed focused on the Pampango's delicacies.
Remembering this makes me wanna go back there.  This again brought back memories of my dad's cooking when I was young.  Tidtat is their version of Dinuguan (Pork Blood Stew).  Unlike other Dinuguan versions, this is not a stew that is all blackened,  The blood of the pork used have been clotted and sliced and cooked like any other pork and innards.  Sukang paombong is essential in making this dish, so this is a sour yet sumptuous dish.   This is how my dad cooked us Dinuguan.
The Pampanga Morcon looks more like an embutido to me, but is coarser and richer, as it is cooked submerged in a a broth with much umami.   Upon serving, it is sliced and drizzled with chorizo oil making it fragrant and rich in color.  What is so interesting with this one is that it is very savory but not that salty, I think that sets them apart from other local cuisines.    One serving costs like P450 but one can opt to order half.   Hefty serving, one whole serving can actually accommodate 3 to 4 people.  Same goes with the other dishes.
They also have Guinumis, fresh fruit shakes, and desserts.   On the same counter are other items being sold like these cooking ladles and some native delicacies.

Everybody's Cafe
Address:   Del Pilar, Mcarthur Highway

                 San Fernando, Pampanga

Contact Details:  (045) 860-1121

Part Two: The Beanery
Above was the story as we were about to embark an adventure in Bataan.   This feature however is a spotted coffee shop in Balanga, Bataan, again another late lunch, but this time as we go back to Manila.
Balanga is the nearest city  from the sleepy little town of Bagac.  Along the main road, you will not find a good restaurant so make sure to look for the road leading to the public market and municipal hall.  Down at the Capitol Drive lined good restaurants and coffee shops.  However, The Beanery is a bit hidden.  They are located inside a compound, which  is at the corner of Capitol Drive and  the they are inside the building where you can also see a pub, a furnishing store and alongside it is a Japanese resto.
I didn't find the place comfortable, for it needs more lighting.  At 2 pm, diners thrived sipping away cold coffee concoctions and noshing on afternoon promo meals.   Priced fairly, food are served hot and quick, but not that extravagant on the flavor, the coffee we had are way too sweet for us.  I had to finish my medium sized (recommended by the staff) coffee Jelly 'frap' at the car.
Macadamia cappuccino 
Forgive me but I forgot to note the name of this (but according to the staff it was their best seller)

Bhogs had the Fried Pork Belly which was huge and according to him was tender and garlicky.   It came with a rice, not bad for a lunch deal.
I had Fetuccini Alfredo.  It was just a so-so pasta dish for me nothing different from the usual kind that I order.
I also ordered a slice of Ube Cheesecake.   Now, this is so wrong, could have stuck to the fraps as our dessert.   Though not boasting with saccharine sweetness it still doesn't have that ooomhph factor I am always looking for in a cheesecake.   I'm feeling a bit weary about the kind of cream cheese used or seeing an improvement altogether to the recipe.  Good thing my husband loves Macapuno, so he was the one who consumed all the toppings.
All in all, though it was not that special as I expected it to be, we had our tummies filled ready for the 3 ours of travel back to Manila.
Below is a map wj=hic you can use when locating the cafe.

The Beanery:
Address Capitol Dr.  Balanga Town Proper, Bataan


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  3. The coffee jelly, parang yung sa Figaro ba?


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