If one would ask me what food the province of Cavite is known for, I’d probably answer Tahong Chips. That’s the safest answer I know since Cavite is known for its abundance of seafood. But thanks to the invitation of Island Cove Hotel & Leisure Park, I got to discover the rich Cavite cuisine and realized that the province is indeed another foodie destination. Fortunately, Chef Vill Purificacion put up a “Taste Cavite” menu which showcases the finest fare from the various towns. It will be a one-stop Cavite food tour because Managing Director Gilbert Remulla believes that Island Cove should be the gateway of all things Cavite.
From Starbucks 6750, it only took us an hour to get to Island Cove via Cavitex. We only encountered traffic in EDSA but it was a smooth ride from Macapagal Avenue to Cavitex going to Kawit, Cavite. At the Fishing Village, we were greeted with a jovial mood of the staff and the surroundings.
We were ushered to our cottage to start our gastronomic adventure.
For starters, we had Fried Lawlaw and Tahong Chips. At least I was right that Tahong Chips is from Cavite :p.
We can’t get enough of Fried Lawlaw! It may sound funny but it’s no joke to make. The small lawlaw fish is filleted, breaded, and deep-fried until crunchy. Only one small restaurant in Cavite City has been serving it since the 1800s. If Cebu has danggit, Pangasinan has bangus, then Cavite City has Lawlaw, and I like eating this one because it’s already filleted.
For the soup, we were served Calandracas and Mutya ng Cavite. Calandracas is a popular soup that uses ham hock stock as base and has carrots, potatoes, cabbage, chickpeas, chicken, gizzard, chorizo, and sotanghon then seasoned with patis Tanza. I love clear broth and it’s the perfect companion when it’s cold or when you’re sick.
The Mutya ng Cavite is Gilbert Remulla’s personal favorite… and my personal favorite too! I strongly agree that this dish must carry the name of Cavite because it highlights the fresh seafood catch available in the province. It has mussels, crabs, clams, and shrimps, slow-cooked to make a rich creamy broth. You can literally taste the sea in this one.
Bacalao, also from Cavite City, is a Spanish-influenced dish that uses dry-salted labahita or surgeon fish cooked with vegetables, Spanish chorizo, garbanzo, and annatto oil.
From Kawit is the Afritadang Gulay na may Baboy, stir-fried vegetables with sweet potatoes, pechay, bell peppers and sauteed pork.
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. The appetizing color is from annatto oil.
When it comes to pancit, we all know that different provinces have their own version of pancit. In Cavite, different towns have their own take on pancit.
Here’s Pancit Kawit or Pancit Pusit. Noodles in squid ink were topped with squid rings, grated green mangoes, and scallions. This is pancit’s seafood version. I enjoyed eating this because the noodles are flavorful even when eaten alone.
Another noodle dish from Kawit 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.
Now, for some bit of history, General Trias was called San Francisco De Malabon before. They claimed that this is the original Pancit Malabon, glass noodles with shrimps, smoked fish and eggs mixed with shrimp sauce and topped with chicharon.
From the three pancit dishes, it’s really hard to pick one and I hope they will consider offering a pancit sampler in their menu so that we can all enjoy the 3 kinds Cavite has to offer.
It is not a Filipino cuisine if there is no rice involved, right? Let’s get to know the Valenciana of General Trias. It is similar to the Spanish paella with chorizo de Bilbao, chicken and pork but with coconut milk. My Nanay is from Visayas and she also cooks Valenciana, but the Visayan version is sticky. Cavite’s version is a mix of malagkit and regular rice.
I can clearly see the Spanish influence in some of Cavite’s cuisine. Take for example this Tamales of Cavite City, it’s made of galapong or glutinous rice flour mixed with corn meal, chicken, pork, and salted egg then wrapped in multiple layers of banana leaves and steamed.
This Kesong Puti is different from the ones I tasted. It’s almost buttery, I wished I had one for take-out.
Now time for dessert or panghimagas. To complement the all-Filipino menu, Island Cove offers kakanin from Imus such as kutsinta, sapin-sapin, and puto.
The Sapin-sapin is love at first bite. It has a thick layer of ube which I really love.
They also offer Kalamay Bunalejos from Indang. The kalamay is made of glutinous powderized rice called malagkit mixed with coconut milk and panutsa.
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, 2016 and will be served daily beginning December 22, 2016. The menu is a melting pot of all the Cavite cuisine, you don’t need to travel far to taste them all. Just 20 minutes away from Mall of Asia, you can have a relaxing ambiance feasting on Cavite’s cuisine.
For more information, log on to www.islandcovephil.com, or call (046) 434 0210.