Salt, Time, Smoke

Linamnam sa Pampanga, Bale Dutung-Angeles City

Seafood Kare Kare, very photogenic and delicious. Again this would have been a great meal on its own and we were all painfully full at this point.

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Bale Dutung

Villa Gloria Subdivision,
Angeles City, Pampanga

Mobile: 09175359198
(02) 6684038, (02) 5024527
reserve@baledutung.com

Often the question has been posed to me by Filipinos, why is it that Filipino food isn’t popular internationally? I do have opinions on the matter, but I won’t feign a response just yet. I’d like to hear the theories of those who visit mrdelicious.ph. Clearly you’re here because you like food and particularly food in the Philippines, so you probably have an opinion on the matter. You’re certainly not here because of my photography skills.

Claude and Mary Ann Tayag are working to change that. They are fighting the good fight and getting recognized for it. Famously they were visited by Anthony Bourdain to shoot No Reservations in the Philippines. I first learned about the Tayags when I was moving to the Philippines and started researching the local food scene. I’ve yet to encounter anyone else who embodies this philosophy like he does. Natural and local foods, slow cooking, he is a true champion for the cause of Filipino cuisine.

Claude is an artist, his work heavily influenced by his travels and Filipino folk art. I find the notion of a chef/artist interesting as food is often, I believe wrongly, called a form of art. Though that’s a discussion for another day…

The garden behind Bale Dutung is beautiful with the serene feel of a Japanese zen garden

Claude’s art work is beautifully integrated throughout the dining space and garden amongst rustic wood and abundant flora. Combining this with Mary Ann’s acute sense of detail, the pair have created an atmosphere that prepares the guest for what is to come, and there’s a lot to come.

Communal tables are set amidst rustic wood and traditional fabrics

Ten courses, with a few added demi-courses, and they’ll even threaten you with seconds. The food is really delicious but thing I will say about Filipino food: it is not light.

With each course Mary Ann diligently explains not just the dish, but the significance of the dish. Mary Ann is able to learn the names of all of her guests and is an incredible hostess. She is coyly enthusiastic with the underlying mannerism of a school teacher that you probably shouldn’t cross.  I really enjoyed her contributions and the information she provided really enriched the experience.

Claude’s nuanced style was characteristic throughout each course. His food is understated in a way that that never distorts the purity of its heritage. Each plate is simply presented and very satisfying.

Claude shares my passion of fermentation. Some of these sugar cane vinegars are more than a decade old.

Beginning with a Pako Salad, very light and fresh. Pako is a wonderful and abundant native green that I just discovered this year.

Chicken Inasal with Talangka Rice. Ironically in school we were taught to throw this part in the trash. The French are not fond of the chicken butt.

Adobong Pugo, this was one of my favorite dishes served. The quail was more subtly seasoned than most adobos and the liver and pan de sal were delicious together. I would be more than happy with just this.

 

Crispy shredded lechon with Claude’s homemade kimchi, absolutely brilliant! He’s ushering in a new generation of halo halo Filipino cuisine, incorporating Filipino, Mexican and Korean and it’s really damn good. Photo credit: Gen Enriquez-Gerodias (thanks!)

This pig made the ultimate sacrifice for the greater good. Claude’s knife glided through the crispy skin, which he served to enthusiastic diners.

Bulanglang Kapampangan, similar to sinigang but with very different flavor from the ripe guava. The soup is traditionally thick and it was garnished with prawns, bangus belly and pork spare ribs as well as sinigang vegetables.

Sisig, mmmmm… sisig. Claude and his family are champions of this traditional kapampangan dish. They pan fry it and offer an assortment of condiments and garnishes, pineapple juice, chilies, onions, sea salt and of course, pig brain.

The Bone Collector, beef marrow one with adobo XO sauce. Gratuitously carnivorous and my first experience sucking bone marrow through a straw. Why didn’t I think of that?

Seafood Kare Kare, very photogenic and delicious. Again this would have been a great meal on its own and we were all painfully full at this point.

We finished with a carabao milk Maja Blanca and a local barako coffee also with carabao milk and muscovado sugar. We had mostly sworn off food forever by this point.

By the end of the meal our host, my brother-in-law, Jardine began to succumb to abdominal bloating and dangerously high cholesterol levels, fading in and out of consciousness.

I expected great food at Bale Dutung and I was certainly not disappointed. Where they really won me over was in the experience they create. It’s not enough to have good food without ambiance and it’s not enough to have passion without execution. The Tayags have set the bar very high for the rest and good for them.

Claude spoke few words during our meal but his knowledge and his intensity and spirit showed through his art and his food. I look forward to returning and would love to bring visitors from outside of the Philippines to show them how great Filipino food can be.

Thanks Chef!

Paris Délice, Francofication-Makati

P1040865

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Paris Délice
1 Juno Street, corner Makati Ave.
1209 Makati City, Manila
PHILIPPINES

Phone:+(632) 798 0740
FAX:+(632) 421 0162
E-mail: contact@parisdelice.com.ph

http://www.paris-delice.com/

Situated on Makati Avenue, Paris Délice sits amongst a thousand fast food restaurants like a tiny oasis of French-ness. Though it is a self-described “alternative fast food” it is without a doubt a higher quality option than its neighbors. It’s not just fast food. It’s le fast food.

There are a couple of things that make this place a stand out against Coeur de France, which is more of a perverted mutation rather than an oasis of French-ness. Paris Délice imports their bread and croissant dough from France. Though I would love to see a good local option, as far as I can tell this does not exist. So perhaps their importing solution is still best.

When I first moved to France I didn’t understand why anyone would ever get excited about a plain butter croissant. But when you try a good one, you understand. In the hands of a skilled baker they have a flaky, crispy exterior with a soft, buttery interior.

My favorite breakfast

Paris Délice is French-owned and the authenticity is evident. Though a very simple café concept it is very simple and focused. They offer sandwiches, salads, soups, pastries and a few pastries. The sandwiches are exactly like what I used to eat about 5-7 times a week when I lived in Paris. The one I keep going back for is the Napoléon, which is Rosette de Lyon (a dried saucisson or French salami) with cornichons and butter on baguette.

Butter is indeed a wonderful condiment

They also offer free WiFi and have a delivery service. The minimum order for delivery is p300 and there is an additional p30 delivery fee. I think it’s really smart of them to offer this service because good bread can be difficult to get in Manila.

If you find yourself experiencing any French withdrawal symptoms this is an easy and inexpensive fix. Bravo for making high quality convenience food. Combined with free WiFi and strong coffee these poor people will never get rid of me.