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July 06, 2008


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It's midnight here & my mouth is watering from your kamias picture!!! I grew up with a kamias tree in our backyard. I'll definitely try one again when I go visit the Philippines! with rock salt, too!

Thanks for your post! it was as if I was visiting the Phil.

Your last post nearly killed me and this one's even better. I may never recover. Want, want, want.


Okay, probably not, but my husband was born in Badoc. He says he has no close relatives left in the P.I. though.

My mouth was watering from that kamias picture too. I grew up in Guam and the red empanadas are the ones I'm used to also, except the filling wasn't quite the same.

Kamias with salt? You must be quite masochistic! Just kidding. I usually cook it in sugar, a little vinegar and salt. My niece says it reminds her of chutney. Nice with fried fish! I usually give this kamias chutney to Filipino women married to foreigners here... as a contraband :-)!

I really enjoy your posts!

Kamias shakes rock! I think someone should make calamansi-kamias shakes, combine two of the sourest agents in the country and make something that will pucker us into a shrivelled little ball. With sugar.

The empanadas up north are definitely a meal in itself, I like the ones from Northern Ilocos more than southern, but I won't turn away any ilocano empanada doused with sukang iloko.

Pinoy mangoes are the ultimate in custardy sweetness. How nice you had a chance to pick one fresh from a tree.

i am so jealous marvin :-)

way back in college days my friends and i went stayed up for a month in ilocos for some papers to write..but actually the rest of the time we were enjoying beaches, sceneries,the food and people's hospitality!! great post!

I love kamias with salt, too. (Some like it with bagoong.) You've reminded me that I haven't had it in many years -- my grandmother had a kamias tree in her garden and we always used to get from her. After she died and the house was sold, I don't think I've had it again. I should find out if it can be bought from the market.

I'd never heard of goat kilawin before! In fact, I don't think I've ever heard of any meat kilawin. I'd have been scared to try it, too. I do enjoy goat meat (yes, especially in caldereta with cheese!), but never had it raw, and I don't like offal. But...you say it's actually better than fish kilawin?!?! Now I'm curious. Is kilawing kambing an Ilocano dish?

If Ilocanos call both deep-fried pork belly and pork rind chicharon, then how do they distinguish between the two? The two are quite different, and usually eaten/served in different ways, too. And since bagnet is known as an Ilocano dish, I wonder where the word "bagnet" came from, if not from the Ilocanos themselves? It even sounds Ilocano. Hmm...conundrum!

Greenwich Pizza is actually a very Pinoy pizza. They often come up with interesting seasonal flavors that use local ingredients, like longganisa, red egg, or even sisig. Those flavors you tried use their new Rolled Crust, which is similar to pan de sal. Though Greenwich is a fast food pizza and not one of the more Western, high-end brands, I really appreciate how they try to experiment with novel flavors. I still miss their dessert Mango Custard Pizza from a long time ago! It was like a mango cream pie, but in pizza form.

Speaking of mangoes -- I'm SO GLAD you've finally seen the light! ;-) There's just no comparing our mangoes to those Mexican or Indian mangoes you get in the US. Filipinos split hairs about which are the absolute best -- the mangoes from Cebu or from Guimaras -- but for me, any Philippine (carabao) mango is the perfect mango. And when you're lucky enough to get it organically ripened and in season, you're spoiled for good.

Glad you liked the mangoes. Did you know that the Philippine carabao mango was recognized in 1995 by the Guiness Book of World Records as the sweetest fruit in the world? Although the mangoes all over the Philippines are wonderful, the ones from Guimaras have earned the most praise and are generally considered the best. However, there is a newer variety of carabao mango called the Sweet Elena that comes from Zambales that is now considered superior. My mom's family owns a mango farm in Pangasinan and she'd tell me stories of her childhood where she'd have mangoes stored under her bed because they had so many. Needless to say, I am extremely envious. :D

haha, it's funny cuz my mouth also watered when I saw the kamias.

That goat kaldereta looks awesome!!!!!

Greenwich is definitely a Pinoy thing. So is Magoo's Pizza. If you visit again, try Magoo's if you have a chance. In terms of bugers, you should try Burger Machine, another Filipino classic.

Ack, just had to comment on the longganisa. It sounds like the longganisa you had is quite similar to longganisa lucban.

Filipino mangoes are divine - glad you got a chance to experience them! My mom is from Abra (very close to where you were) and my dad is from Zambales. I love green mango shakes (I had one at Max's in Manila 8 years ago and can still remember it... delish).

I love longanisa, but my husband doesn't like it when I eat them because of the longanisa burps that follow.

Omnivore's Dilemma is one of my favorite books of all time - it definitely changed the way I eat now.

I loved reading about your time in Ilocos! You are very lucky to have family there and thus all those home-cooked meals! The best way to eat the local food for sure...And of course the company can't be beat :)

The local guy who took us around Ilocos also referred to bagnet as chicharon :) Anyway you call it, it's pure heaven for me! I still have one slab in the freezer!

Arguably one of the best longanisas in the country I have to agree...C loved the ones I brought back!

Goat is the best way to have kaldereta in my book :)

And the mangoes...amazing huh? :)

Siiiiigh...this post brings back good memories of Ilocos!

So awesome, Marvin! I love seeing all of this through your blog. My dad's from Ilocos Sur, so it sheds a lot of insight on why he so quickly paved over our SoCal suburban back and front lawns and planted as many fruit and veggie plants as possible--your uncle's farm reminded me of it! Kilawin is the only way I've ever enjoyed goat; every other time, that gamey taste has turned me off of it. Now I'm hungry for food and family!

Oh goodness... now you have me craving that trip to the Philippines. Must...have...bagnet!

I miss how those seaweeds pop when you bite into it. This is like a gallery of things to eat if I ever set foot in Pinas again.

Thank you very much for the post. I've never been to Ilocos and it's fun to be there, albeit vicariously. Love the pictures: I miss the hustle and bustle of markets.

We had a kamias tree in the backyard before, and I never knew that they could indeed be used as a souring agent in sinigang.

Hey, Marvin... long-time lurker, first-time commenter. The seaweed w/ the little round 'bubbles' is called AR-AROSEP and the furry, wormy lookin' ones are called PUKPUKLO. Makes my mouth water just thinking about them - plus, the texture is half the fun of eating them.

damn you marvin!!! im an avid reader but not one to leave a comment, and with this post i am beaten! i hate you! well, more like i envy you hahaha i havent set foot in the philippines for 7 years now and you made me miss the homeland more than i already have... anyway, my mouth waterd with the sight of the kamias and the mango... omg the mangoes!!! philippines, wait for me! im coming home!! on october

Marvin, this is torture! The green mangoes, kamias and salt, seaweed salad, goat kilawin, oops, not kilawin, heheh. And IMHO no other mangoes can compare with ours!

I have seen an Ilocos empanada video on YouTube and had wanted to make for sometime now...it looks like there's too much work involved.

You're making me wish I had family to visit in the Philippines. . . my family is in Canada.

Great read as usual.

Thanks Kathleen! The kamias was so good and sour!

Thanks kiita, I'm glad you're enjoying these posts.

Hey, maybe we are cousins Fran! ;)

Kamias chutney is a great idea, bernadette. I bet it would have been good just dipped in sugar too, rather than salt.

I think my face would implode from all the puckering caused by calamansi-kamias shakes, mila! And the empanadas were definitely filling, but I was still able to eat more than one;)

You must have had a hard time to write those papers back then, dhanggit. What with all the distractions.

I had no idea about meat kilawin either, katrina, I thought it was always fish. And the goat kilawin was better than the fish in that it was more flavorful, and exciting, to eat--although I only had a few spoonfuls. And I'm assuming it's an Ilocano dish, but I really don't know. Also, I don't know how they distinguish between the different chicharons, but maybe by pointing at the different items with their lips? :P

Thanks for the useful mango info, Beth. I didn't know about any of that. It'd be neat to do a taste test of all the different mangoes from the different regions in the Philippines. I'll also give magoo's a try next time i'm there.

Longanisa burps are the best, Ruth! And yes, Omnivore's Dilemma can definitely be life-changing.

Hi joey! I'm glad my post could stir up good memories for you.

Ah, so you've had goat kilawin Julie! Awesome. I'm guessing the vinegar in it kills the gameyness.

Hello veron! Bagnet is quite addicting!

I hope you do set foot in the Pinas again, Jude.

Hi vancouver! The hustle and bustle of the markets was great to see. And kamias do make a mean sinigang!

Ah, those are the names alright, melikalani. Thanks for the reminder! And thanks for de-lurking to post a comment;)

Hi ahnjel, thank you too for de-lurking! I hope you enjoy your time back home in October.

I've seen those vids on youtube also, oggi. It does look like a bit of work, but the empanadas turn out so good!

Thanks Erin! Though I'm sure you'd have just a good a time visiting your fam in Canada;)

Hail to the Philippine mangoes!!! I'm from Cebu and we're touted to have the best mango in the Philippines, and to my opinion, in the world! Anyways, looks like you had an awesome culinary adventure-trip there, huh? I'm glad. All the pics made me water and made me long for Pilipinas, my beloved motherland.

Goodness, where to start? First of all, I am thrilled to see such fresh fish! Look at their eyes, their skin, OMG, they can't get any fresher than that! And the mangoes...I can just taste the tart, fresh, sourness of the green mangoes. Looking at those fresh fruits makes me long to go to VN and buy a fruit orchard.
Again, I have gained another 10 pounds here, but it's worth the feast!
Bourdain should have been with you on this trip Marvin! You kept me smiling during the whole read and I'm sure Bourdain would have totally been thrilled to be there with you.
Lastly, I know what it's like to travel with mom. I work with mine, so I don't think I would want to travel with her anytime soon! ;)

awesome post marvin! I agree that Philippine mangoes are the best in the world!

you were pretty brave trying the goat kinilaw. i remember i wouldn't even eat the chicken there (as a young kid visiting back in 79) because i saw my dad cut it's head off!

loved reading your descriptions of the empanadas, the bagnet, the..heck, everything!

can't wait to read your other posts!

Wow, great post! It's definitely best to have on-the-ground intelligence about what and where to eat, but having local chefs to cook, too, is unparalleled. Great photos and details -- brought back happy memories of growing up on Guam, especially the red empanadas and the kamias tree! We used to eat kamias with salt and tabasco--mmm...

wow, i've never had a craving this bad until i saw pictures of those chickens, malunggay and papaya tree. one of the best meals i've had which sadly can never be replicated here in northeastern united states consisted of a freshly slaughtered free-range chicken with unripe papaya, fresh malunggay leaves and lemon grass (tinola).

Once again you managed to eat in a few days what I haven't in my lifetime here (and several trips to Ilocos Sur!-- not even the empanadas! I suck). I'm glad it was a great experience for you, Marvin :)
I love the sour American pizza sauces and the tomato-y Italian sauces, but the sweet Greenwich sauce also has a place in my heart :)


You are developing quite a following here in Seattle amongst the foodie community. Your blog is really great - even us pasty middle age white guys are diggin it. You may drive me to make my next vacation to the Philipines - if you keep this up. Thanks for the great food stuff and laughs....

Oooooh! I thought I went to heaven (Pinas).
Marvin, I request that you keep travelling back home. Please, please! And make it every year.
Those wonderful pictures of food, glorious Filipino food ~ I can't get enough of them.
I really love the photo of the town of Vigan. My mom is originally from Ilocos Sur. But I cannot recall visiting the province. It was always Pangasinan (my dad's hometown) and Baguio. I love Baguio.
Thanks for letting me reminisce for a little bit.

It is wonderful that you had such a nice time in the old country, and it is appreciated that you share the experience with us through fotos and your blog.
Here in Australia the Philippine mango is considered the gold standard, as the best in the world, and the Mango Growers association is setting a goal of breeding a similar mango within 7 years.

Am based in Iowa where farming is the norm. We have friends from Pangasinan who make a mean goat kilawin. They grill the skin & all the offals, so it is not rare, cut thinly and in small pieces; use copious amounts of lemon, finely sliced ginger/garlic, chilis, salt/pepper & it is wonderful:-) Your blogs have reflected your exposure and understanding of Filipino foods as a Filipino American. Ang galing!

i wish you have tasted the kalderetang kambing in batangas. we don't use tomato
sauce at all.i'm sorry to say but they are the best....lol.i'm not gonna argue with the rest
of the food they all looked great.
about the mango, other asian mangoes are not far behind they are also so sweet and cheaper.

Hi Jescel! Next time I'm in the Philippines, I'll have to make sure I try out the Cebu mangoes.

WORC, the fish was indeed fresh, literally just out of the nearby waters. And I don't think I'd have the patience to work with my mom;)

Thanks caninecologne! Chicken was the least of my worries:P But everything turned out to be so delicious!

They have empanadas in guam too, manju? And kamias with tobasco sounds awesome! I wish I would have thought of that earlier.

Yes, gemma, you are right. The tinola I had there can probably never be replicated here in the states... but I can try!

No worries, manggy. You are still very lucky to live where you do and have the option to eat these things whenever you want.

Thanks Dan! Pasty middle-aged white guys like my blog? Awesome!

I wish I could go back every year, YHD. But, for now at least, it will have to be every few years. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Hi quiapo. Hopefully Australia will be able to breed the mango sooner than 7 years!

Hi Guia! Goat kilawin in Iowa?!! Filipino food is everywhere! Thanks for visiting my blog.

Hello mareza. Mmmm, I think any kind of kaldereta is delicious! Thanks for stopping by!

I am so hungry, esp. after seeing the pictures of the empanadas. I've never heard of empanadas filled with monggo, sprounts, and egg. The pictures are great, as usual.

My father's family originally came from Paoay, Ilocos Norte. I was born and raised in the US, and I speak Ilocano. Although my parents spoke mainly Ilocano at home, my siblings can't speak Ilocano. Siyak laeng.

I love everything about your writing;the pictures are great too.
My family grew up in the Philippines and as I type on, my mouth is still watering just by thinking of kamias!
Thank you for sharing.

do you know how to make the empanada wrapper? thanks!

Caroline, my parents also spoke Ilocano at home, but me or none of my siblings can speak it either.

Hi Mae, thanks for visiting my blog.

Dimple, I attempted to make a similar empanada recipe. You can read about it here: http://burntlumpia.typepad.com/burnt_lumpia/2008/07/empanadas.html

Hello! The 2 seaweeds are my favorite. Its called ararusep(the tiny grape like ones)and pukpuklo. Pukpuklo can also be added to fresh pancit. Enjoy!!

I'm from Ilocos (Piddig) and i love your photos and everything... I do live here in England now....nami-miss ko na Pilipinas and the food....you know what???? my mum's business in Piddig is making longganisa and kahit dito sa UK eh gumagawa ako ng Ilocos longganisa...at least kahit papano...me longganisa ilocos kami...

In regards to the goat caldereta, I have been reading how goat has a particular odor. I want to make your caldereta recipe using goat instead of beef just to try something different. But I am nervous about reading about the smell. Do you not recommend trying it with goat, or is there a particular way to marinate or "soak" the goat in a substance to get rid of or downplay that odor. What is the odor like? I like lamb and I know some people are put off by that smell. TIA

Oh my God! thank you so much, this is great!!! I miss the seaweeds with tomato and bagoong.Yummmm!!!!
Thank you so much!

Fantastic blog! I found it via searching for Longanisa recipes (just had breakfast and though the store ones were ok, I'm convinced I can do better!). Planning a trip to the PI in January so this is a fantastic post. I was born in Baguio but haven't been back since '83, and not really as an adult, so I plan to eat my way up one side and down the other of the mountain provinces. Goat three ways, here I come! (The recipe I'd really like is to Pancit Palabok a la Little Qiapo...)

I've been in Ilocos Norte 2x already but I really love to go there again and again, missed the food specially empanada and pinakbet

these pictures makes me hungry! i miss everything in the Philippines esp our very own SWEET ELENA mango (my grandma's mango tree).Wish they can export here in the US.Missing seaweeds and bagoong and kamias also....

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