How Two Food Books Inspired My Bacolod-Silay Trip

It's been a struggle to write during these times because of the situation that we find ourselves in. Since January of 2021, I've been creating more content for my YouTube channel compared to writing articles. At times, it is easier to share my thoughts through video rather than writing about them. But, when I was named as one of the finalists for the Personal Blogger Category in this year's Best Cebu Blogs Awards, I felt revitalized and motivated. I have tons of story ideas that are still waiting to be written. 

So, please indulge me as I tell you about my food experience that happened two years ago. The following narrative contains a caveat lector warning...let the reader beware, that this article will make you salivate and hungry. Proceed at your own risk. 

In late 2019, I was inspired by authors Doreen Gamboa-Fernandez and Claude Tayag to take a trip from Cebu to Bacolod and have a three-day food adventure in the City of Smiles. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision and I'm grateful that my "gourmand" personality overpowered my introversion. I asked my partner, Nine Gabrillo, to accompany me since I would also need help in documenting my Bacolod food affair.

Most of the blog articles that I've written throughout the years were focused on food. I was even a finalist in the Best Cebu Blogs Awards (BCBA) 2017 under the Food Category. I consider Doreen Fernandez and Chef Tayag as my literary heroes when it comes to food writing. Their descriptions, food trips, memories, and no-nonsense style have been entertaining and motivational for someone like me who loves food and writing. 

During the trip, I brought my copy of Doreen Gamboa-Fernandez's book "Tikim" and Claude Tayag's "Linamnam". Both books are available in National Bookstore and Anvil Publishing. Days before our flight, I listed down the restaurants and eateries that I wanted to try out. I only had a few days but wanted to ensure that I would be able to satisfy both my craving as well as my curiosity. 

The books that inspired my Bacolod food trip

Definitely, Manokan Country was on the top of the list followed by El Ideal Bakery located in Silay City. I added Aboy's because of its Adobong Taba ng Pusit which Chef Tayag recommends in his book. And, of course, Bacolod is known for its Cansi soup. I've tried Chef JP Anglo's sizzling Cansi version in Manila but am excited to try the original soup broth in one of the popular eateries in the city. 

To be frank, this wasn't a Mukbang or binge-eating type of trip. I savor my food, I attach personal memories to every morsel that I taste --- with every bite that I take. I wasn't expecting that I would be able to eat in all of the places that I wanted to go. I only had a few days plus I would also be doing some sightseeing. 

Manokan Country

Our first official meal was in Aida's Chicken Inasal in Manukan Country. Aside from Chicken Inasal, we also ordered a small plate of raw oysters and a couple of sticks of Chicken Isaw. They were very generous with their chicken oil, siling labuyo, and calamansi. Without even us asking for them, the servers will automatically bring them to the table. It was a good thing that we went there before 11am and avoided the mad rush of the lunch crowd. By the time we left after an hour or so, the place was jampacked. 

That first taste of an authentic Bacolod chicken inasal was worth the whole trip --- I kid you not! It was the combination of the down-to-earth ambiance, the noisy diners, the plastic tables and chairs, and being in Bacolod eating chicken inasal that added to the ultimate experience. 

Aida's Chicken Inasal

For dinner, we also tried Bacolod Chicken House, and that for me was the true winner between the two chicken places. I wasn't sure how they did it but the chicken skin was crispy and it's something that is difficult to achieve when you're barbecuing or roasting chicken. We ate in that place twice during our trip just because of that crispy chicken skin. 

Bacolod Chicken House' Inasal with Crispy Skin

Sweet Experience

The distance between Bacolod City and Silay City was about 26 kilometers. It was one of our planned destinations because Silay is a historical place. It has houses that were originally built during the Spanish and American Colonial years. And it's also famous for its part during the Philippine Revolution, Cinco de Noviembre

Doreen Gamboa-Fernandez was from Silay and that fact including the articles she wrote about her hometown influenced me to make this one of the highlights of our Negros travel. We went to El Ideal Bakery which is located in a declared heritage house, the Cesar Lacson Locsin Ancestral House. It was aptly appropriate to have our Negrense sweet experience in Silay since this is where the original sugarcane plantation owners built their houses such as Yves Leopold Germaine Gaston

I spent a considerable amount of our food budget buying various cookies, tarts, and biscuits in El Ideal. I bought so much that I was able to bring half of my haul to Manila as pasalubong to my family during the holidays a few weeks later. After filling my shopping basket with sweet treats, we had our merienda of Lumpiang Sariwa and Fried Lumpia made of coconut ubod, their own invention of the Guapple tart with crumble topping (they ran out of the original Guapple pie) and Cassava. We wanted to order their Batchoy but my stomach was already complaining by the time I finished the last fried lumpia. 

If you have the opportunity to come across a kiosk selling Sugarcane juice, try it for the experience. I have to admit, it's an acquired taste. 


Guapple Tart

Lumpiang Sariwa na Ubod

Sugarcane Juice

My Adobong Taba ng Pusit Dilemma

On our second day in Bacolod, we had our lunch at Aboy's. I was excited about their specialty which is Adobong Taba ng Pusit but when I was right in front of the kawa, I abruptly changed my mind and realized that I'd already tried eating taba ng pusit before and didn't like the texture of it. We instead had Laing na Gabi, Baked Scallops, and Tortang Talong. Their serving sizes were generous. I would have wanted the laing to be less sweet but spicier since I am used to the Bicolano version of that dish. All-in-all, we liked our lunch, and fueled us for the rest of the afternoon. 

Tortang Talong

Laing na gabi

Baked Scallops

Cansi --- Love Me Some Tender Beef

We could not have flown back to Cebu without having a steaming bowl of Bacolod's sought-after Cansi. We had our Brunch at Sharyn's Cansi House and since it was still early in the day, we were the only ones there dining in. When our bowl of piping hot Cansi was brought to our table, we could not resist bathing our faces in the aromatic steam. When I first tasted the broth, I thought of my Dad and how he would appreciate the dish because he loves soups and stews. My Luzon palate had mixed emotions when it came to the flavor. It was similar to Nilagang Baka but had a flavor twist. They use batwan to make the broth sour which I think also adds to the thickness of the soup. The meat was so tender, the bone marrow so rich that instead of slurping it directly I combined it in the broth. I was glad that my last official meal in Bacolod during that trip was Cansi. By coincidence, it was slightly raining when we went to the eatery so having that Cansi with a little bit of cold weather was just perfect. 

It's been two years since I made that Bacolod-Silay trip. Who would have thought that it would be one of the last trips I would take before the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic and the numerous lockdowns that followed. Nowadays, there is still a fear and wariness in traveling for leisure. It could take a few more years before we totally embrace the new normal. But for sure, I would certainly plan another trip to Bacolod since I still have a long list of food items that I would want to eat and taste. 

#TeamMcNine: Travels with Margaux and Nine

More Food Review Videos:

El Ideal Bakery in Silay City

Lunch at Aboy's Restaurant

Cheap and Fresh Oysters in Bacolod City

Dinner at Bacolod Chicken House

Best-Selling Cansi Soup in Bacolod | Sharyn's

Aida's Chicken Bacolod | Manokan Country


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