Saturday, June 19, 2010


The lunch served at Bale Dutung is a ten-course (mostly) Kapampangan affair, with the notable exception of Chicken Inasal. Ms. Mary Ann explained that it is like a degustacion menu, with flavors of each course progressively getting stronger to tickle the taste buds.

Being the overzealous carnivore that i am, i will gloss over the other dishes served (Ensaladang Pako, Talangka sushi, etc.) and jump immediately to the 5-ways lechon.

The atmosphere on the table was convivial, as everyone was by now on familiar terms with one another; and i guess there is nothing like the prospect of a good meal that loosens tongues. :D

So, let us start counting the ways we love dear porky piggy!

1ST WAY: Balat ng Lechon at Liver sauce

The lechon skin was chopped and passed around the table on a dish.

Unfortunately, something went wrong and it was NOT crispy, as expected. They actually had to fry the skin. It came with a choice of two dips, vinegar or liver sauce.

Consensus around the table was that the skin was a bit tough to chew, and could be hard to swallow at times. A bit of a letdown (sigh)

2ND WAY: Fried Lechon Flakes binalot sa Tortilla at Claude's Oriental Sauce

As per below pic, the lechon was shredded to resemble floss. Combined with tomato, onions, basil, kimchi and Claude's Oriental sauce, it was put together in a pancake, and eaten Peking Duck-style.

Here's a sample of how to wrap it all up:

Unanimous thumbs up!!! If this were Facebook, it would be LIKE, LIKE and LIKE! Winner!

See cheeky Femme swallowing the whole thing in one gulp! :D

3RD WAY: Sinigang na Lechon

Sinigang is a type of Philippine soup noted for its sour flavor. As Chef Claude explained, the leeks, lemongrass, garlic, etc. stuffed inside the pig were used to make a "gelatinous broth", and served with steamed rice. This adds body to the sourness, unlike in regular sinigang.

(Above) Ingredients for the broth
(Below) Here's how it looks on the plate:

I generally don't eat sinigang, and just took a tablespoonful of my seatmate MJ's dish. The sourness was well-balanced; it won't make you make a sour face. Haha.

4TH WAY: Inihaw na Tadyang na Lechon at Ensaladang Talong

In English, grilled ribs. The meat was tender and tasty, albeit a tad too salty for my taste.

The eggplant and salted egg complemented the dish very well.

5TH WAY: Inasadong Pata ng Lechon

Fifth, but not least, the hind leg was roasted, in a combination of Kapampangan and Chinese styles.

At this point, Ms. Mary Ann marvelled at our group's collective appetites, as we were all readying our plates to dig in into this dish. It turns out one of their previous groups had thrown in the towel (no, not the tuwalya con yelo :D) by this point; and they had to raffle off this dish to the lucky participant.

This ended the 5-ways lechon on a good note. Or so we thought.

Chef Claude wheeled out a brand-new lechon, and invited us to partake of the skin by ripping it directly off the pig! This time, it was perfectly crispy and crunchy! Yesss!!!

Uric acid, Triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels be damned, i feasted on as much balat as i could!

Up next, dessert!

(Many thanks to lovely ladies Leslie Perez, Steph C. and Femme P. for the food shots)

Sunday, June 06, 2010


A hot and humid Saturday morning is not really the perfect time to be out in the sun, but i couldn't resist joining the Ultimate Pampanga Culinary & Heritage Tour run by this group of four friendly chaps-cum-bloggers, namely: Anton (Our Awesome Planet); Ivan Henares (Ivan About Town); Ivan Man Dy (Old Manila Walks); and Spanky (Manila Boy).

Itinerary for today was the following spots: First stop was Everybody's Cafe, a family-owned resto that serves authentic Kapampangan cuisine (plus some frogs and crickets - if in season), followed by Betis Church and Bacolor Church.

And for the piece de resistance, a lunch at artist-chef's Claude Tayag's house (called Bale Dutung, meaning 'House of Wood' in the Kapampangan dialect), where we will partake of their specialty, the 5-Ways Lechon!

Yesss! (with matching fist pump) Truth be told, this was the sole reason i joined this tour.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A couple of hours later, we arrived at Bale Dutung for the much-anticipated lunch. We had spent most of the morning exploring the churches, buoyed by the entertaining commentary and funny anecdotes of our guide for today, Spanky. (Oh, did i mention he is one of Manila's eligible bachelors? :D haha!)

We were welcomed by Chef Claude's gregarious wife, Mary Ann. Seeing our sweaty perspiring visages, she quipped that their house did not have air conditioning, but had frozen towels which served the same purpose.

Take a look:

I tried dropping it on the table from a foot high, and the thing is as solid as a rock!

See it here STANDING beside their delicious juice:

The towels had a really pleasant smell that calmed one's brain from the stifling heat. We tried figuring out what it was. General consensus was it came from Alcologne or baby cologne, although someone did mention baby's breath.

Whatever the scent was, these towels (which i dubbed "Towel Popsicle", or in Tagalog, "Tuwalya con Yelo") really hit the spot!

Our noisy Swiss mate Stefan applying on his forehead. Sarap ba, pare ko? :D

Demure Steph demurely applying it on the side of her neck.

Cheeky Femme loving the cold cold tingle on her cheek!

According to Steph, should one wish to try making the 'tuwalya con yelo' at home, one just wets the towel with water, and then freezes it for a couple of hours. Then, wallah!

After an hour or so, it softens and starts to unravel, and you can use it the conventional way.

Up next, the 5-ways lechon!

For more info regarding the various tours of Spanky and his friends, check out the Ultimate Philippines website.