This June 12, wouldn't it be nice to rediscover the Pinoy pride and heritage that our heroes fought so hard to gain independence for?
Well, part of that Pinoy pride can be found in celebrating the best of Philippine cuisine.
During a recent pre-Independence Day food crawl hosted by SM Mall of Asia, we rediscovered many, many delicious reasons that make us proud to be a Filipino.
Reason number one all started with a lunch during merienda time in Abe, a dining establishment that hails from the country's culinary capital: Pampanga.
We hope you're ready for an epic feast of Independence Day proportions!
Chef Gilbert Puno selected only the freshest ingredients straight from Abe's farms to ensure we would have a delightful time.
Our meal started with the Paco Salad.
One way to know if a paco salad is any good is if the leaves make a crunching sound in your mouth (it did), and if it has absorbed the taste of what it has been mixed with, without becoming soggy (it did and no, it didn't sog). This salad was served with some salted eggs and fresh tomatoes.
We hadn't even finished the salad yet when we were immediately served Kinilaw na Tanigue.
From the moment it was served, we could smell the aroma of the fish that had been stewing in the vinegar and the fresh ingredients mixed with it. The kinilaw served as a good lead-in for our next dish.
For any Abe regular, Binukadkad na Pla-Pla is a must-order. But sometimes, we ignore the fermented rice on the side also known as buro.
For this food crawl though, we all challenged one another to give it a try. When we wrapped it up in the lettuce, along with some well-fried tilapia (that's what Pla-Pla is) and buro, we found to our amazement that the buro, which is basically rotted rice, enhanced the flavors.
The Klassik Kare Kare was served with each of the ingredients not yet mixed in, allowing you to take as much as you want from each. What made it special for us is that the flavors were enough already that none of us even looked for the mandatory bagoong.
Now there are many ways to prepare chicken adobo but the Abe way includes some fried-then-cooked banana slices (the saba variety) and some brown mushrooms which were actually mini-portobellos. Suffice it to say that this was one sweet and elegant dish.
With all this going on, we of course had some rice. And not just any rice. The Bamboo Rice prepared for us was served in what else, a bamboo cut in half. It was aromatic and just the right amount of tasty to not overpower any of the entrees.
We were already so stuffed but had left just enough space for dessert. We were glad we did.
Chef Gino prepared Suman sa Lihiya which had a roasted, smoked and not too sweet taste to it. It was prepared just the way we liked it and served as a great way to end our rather filling meal.
The Turon at the very end surprised us as we found slivers of jackfruit and ube. Again, we found it to our liking as it was not too sweet but fried to just the right consistency and crunchiness.
Chef Gino specifically gave instructions that for our food crawl, we would be served Tamarind Shake. At first, the light brown drink didn't seem appealing.
But the moment we sipped, we slurped and kept doing so. The sweet-sour taste of the tamarind, a quintessential Filipino fruit, served as a fitting backdrop to all the flavors we had.
Abe, along with Manam and La Fiesta, are part of #MOAPinoyEats and #MOAEats for this Independence Day weekend.
Be sure to check them out this weekend. Bring family and friends and of course, make sure to go there on an empty belly.