How would you like to sample the best dishes of Cavite without going through the entire province? Or to put it simply, how would you like to taste a lot of great food in one place? That’s what “Taste Cavite” is all about, and here’s how you can enjoy it yourselves.
Last weekend, I had the privilege of experiencing firsthand, together with fellow bloggers, a preview of Island Cove Hotel & Leisure Park’s “Taste Cavite.” Our gastronomic adventure took place in the scenic Fishing Village where we were graced with a pleasant weather and views of Metro Manila skyline and the bay.
Island Cove is actually less than half an hour drive from Metro Manila via CAVITEX. And at the Fishing Village, you dine in into their “floating” huts that vary in sizes. Also, if you prefer, you can even do fishing! Fishing fee applies and different prices per kilogram apply to different types of fishes caught.
Our culinary tour began almost as soon as we arrived in our hut! Island Cove Executive Assistant Manager Malu Samaco introduced us to the man responsible for the food that we would soon be enjoying, Executive Chef Vill Purificacion. Also with us is Managing Director Gilbert Remulla who, like Chef Vill, was very eager to tell us stories and history of the food that were being served.
Before we dig in to the food, here’s what Island Cove’s “Taste Cavite” is really all about:
— Press Release —
Go on a Culinary Tour of Cavite at Island Cove Hotel & Leisure Park
Are you familiar with the cuisine of Cavite? Visit Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park in Kawit and educate your palate with the specialties of the province.
Executive Chef Vill Purificacion and his team gathered the finest fare from the various towns and put them all together in a menu which will be available at the Fishing Village every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting this November 18 and will be served daily beginning December 22.
Island Cove’s “Taste Cavite” menu is a showcase of indigenous ingredients, history, and tradition. It is a one-stop Cavite food tour. “Being located at the mouth of Cavite, Island Cove should be the gateway of all things Cavite,” points out Managing Director Gilbert Remulla who hails from Imus. “We’d like everyone to know how rich Cavite cuisine is. We are serving the food of our childhood. A lot of the restaurants that offered these specialty dishes are no longer around but we want to bring the food back. We’ve also sourced dishes which are proprietary from other restaurants,” he continued.
— (To be continued below) —
I’ll be cutting the press release midway as I know you’re excited for the food! Without further ado, let’s begin the culinary tour. I hope you’ve eaten. 😀
Let’s start with the appetizers and with the first one that arrived on our tables, the Tahong Chips (mussel).
I’d say this one is really for seafood lovers. The taste of mussels is quite strong so you won’t really mistake it for anything else! It is very crunchy and sure is an interesting appetizer for me.
Next on our table is the Fried Lawlaw. The name may sound peculiar, but the taste is just really, really good! It became an instant favorite for everyone, and I really, really recommend this one. I would seriously go to Island Cove just for this one! It’s so good that despite being considered an appetizer, I can eat this with rice and it would make for a very nice meal! And that house-blend vinegar on the side, it’s so good I could pour it over rice and make any dish better. Seriously, these are that good! And we’ve only just begun!
Starting this list is the Mutya ng Cavite, another instant favorite!
Everything in it is such a delight to the palate! Even the sauce is so rich you may enjoy it on its own. The province would be proud of this dish that they need not worry that it carries their name. This is another item that you must not miss! They didn’t call it Mutya ng Cavite for nothing!
Here’s another interesting dish that is sure to delight seafood lovers: Bacalao. It’s tastes just as good as it looks and for some reason, I can’t help but think that this would make for a good pulutan.
If you think you know adobo, you have not met Adobong Imus. This is adobo without the soy sauce! And you know what, it gets away with it! You may think it would taste lame but it is surprisingly tasty! I could say that this is one of those dishes that you must try! Great complement to all the seafood dishes presented so far.
The Valenciana is another dish that looks very familiar. Chef Vill mentioned that they use a mixture of sticky and Japanese rice with this dish that’s why the consistency is different, and they use coconut milk for that distinct taste. This is one really filling dish on its own!
Afritada is usually done with chicken but the Kawit version uses pork instead. The name may suggest that the dish is vegetables with pork, but it seems like it’s the other way around. 🙂 This is another great dish you should try here as an alternative to seafood.
The lone soup in this gastronomic adventure, the Calandracas looks very familiar:
It’s really so much like the traditional sopas that we know, but without the milk or cream. Just the same, this makes for a very good comfort food. It has a lot of ingredients in it so I’m sure it’s pretty nutritious as well. 🙂
Let’s begin this section with something familiar: Pancit Malabon.
Did you know that the original Malabon is General Trias? As Chef Vill told us, General Trias was back in the day called San Francisco de Malabon, thus, the original Pancit Malabon is actually from Cavite! Anyway, their version does not look vastly from those seen in Metro Manila, but theirs is just superb. It has that additional smoky taste from tinapa (smoked fish) and just enough coating of the sauce that it doesn’t become too greasy. Original or not, their Pancit Malabon is one of the best I’ve tasted.
This is not the first time I’ve seen a black pancit, but oh boy, their Pancit Pusit is one of the best pancit variants I’ve ever tasted! What sets it apart from the rest, aside from its dark color from squid ink, is that it has green mango sheds on top! You may think it’s weird, but trust me, it’s really good! This is another must try here.
If you don’t like black pancit, they also have a white pancit, with a heart. ❤️ Seriously though, this is another great pancit variant. This one is more on the sour side which is quite unconventional. Nonetheless, this is another must try especially if you’re looking for something new that isn’t too exotic.
Puso ng saging literally means “heart of the banana.” It refers to the heart-like shape of the banana blossom.
Before we proceed to desserts, let us first take some time to digest the stories of the dishes I mentioned above from the folks that is organizing this delicious event:
— Press Release (Continued) —
The Mutya ng Cavite is Gilbert’s personal favorite. “It brings back memories,” he enthused. The rich creamy soup is originally from the old 7 Sisters Restaurant, owned by the Sabater family in Marulas, Kawit. Consisting of mussels, crab, clams, and shrimps, it shows off the fresh seafood catch available in Cavite.
Bacoor’s shellfish stars in the Talaba at Ensaladang Lato (fresh Bacoor oysters served with seaweed salad and vegetables in season) and the Tahong Chips (deep-fried, crisp mussels chips made of flour, spices, and salt).
Rosario’s famous tinapa takes centerstage in Pancit Luglog (thick rice noodles) with Tinapang Tunsoy (a small fish) or what is locally called Tinapang Salinas.
Cavite City’s Fried Lawlaw may have a funny-sounding name but the tiny fried fish fillet is no joke to make. “It is so hard to fillet that fish, only one small restaurant in Cavite City has been doing it since the 1800s,” revealed chef Vill. Other Cavite City delicacies include the Tamales (galapong or glutinous rice flour mixed with corn meal, chicken, pork, and salted egg then wrapped in multiple layers of banana leaves and steamed) and the Spanish-influenced dish called Bacalao but really uses dry-salted labahita or surgeon fish cooked with vegetables, Spanish chorizo, garbanzo, and annatto oil. They also have the Calandracas, 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.
The Valenciana is a typical dish from General Trias, it is similar to the Spanish paella with chorizo de Bilbao, chicken and pork but with coconut milk. “It’s something that I’ve always been familiar with, we had it at all our fiestas and family gatherings,” recalled Gilbert. Another General Trias specialty is Pancit Malabon. This dish of glass noodles, shrimps, smoked fish and eggs mixed with shrimp sauce and topped with chicharon began back in the day when General Trias was still called San Francisco de Malabon.
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. “This manner of cooking Adobo has been a tradition, since the time of my lola,” said chef Vill who proudly declared that he is a full-blooded Caviteño. His hometown, Imus is also the source of the Kakanin (Kutsinta, Sapin-sapin, and Puto) that Island Cove serves. They also offer Kalamay Bunalejos from Indang.
Pancit Kawit is better known as Pancit Pusit. The dark shade of the noodles is from squid ink. It is topped with squid rings, grated green mangoes, and scallions. Another noodle dish from the same area 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. Also from Kawit is the Afritadang Gulay na may Baboy, stir-fried vegetables with sweet potatoes, pechay, bell peppers and sautéed pork.
Those looking for condiments to enhance the flavor of dishes can try the Patis Labo and Heko, a dipping sauce made from shrimps, only available in Tanza.
— (To be continued below) —
Who’s up for desserts? 😀
When we think of desserts, we usually think sweets but the items on this list aren’t all sweet, and I don’t even know if we should consider them that. But since we ate them after “the feast,” might as well categorize them as desserts! 😀
Their kesong puti is vastly different from the ones I’ve tried before. It’s very smooth, it does not crumble, it’s not too salty that you can eat it on its own, yet still flavorful enough that you can eat it with bread or other pairings. What’s even better is that they don’t use preservatives so their kesong puti is always fresh, just a day or two old at most.
To be honest, I don’t know what category to put Tamales in. All I know is that it’s very rich in flavor and I really love it! It’s like a very flavorful bibingka but it has meat in it. If you think you haven’t had enough meat in your meal, have this one afterwards! 🙂
Sapin-sapin, kalamay, kutsinta, and puto are commonly referred to as kakanin and are some of the oldest native dishes of the Philippines. You may find them just about everywhere in the country, but even here, Chef Vill and his team did not disappoint! Somehow, their version is still much better even when compared to popular shops that offer similar items. For me, the kutsinta and sapin-sapin really stood out. These are some of the best kutsinta and sapin-sapin I’ve ever tried! No kidding! One co-blogger even described the sapin-sapin as almost like a cake. I, on the other hand, love that on top of the taste, it’s not greasy!
Hungry yet? I don’t know about you, but writing this post and recalling all the food made me. And what’s great is that you too can enjoy this great culinary tour! Here are the details:
— Press Release (Continued) —
With this delectable line up, you can travel far and journey though the province of Cavite with your taste buds. The relaxing ambiance at the Fishing Village enhances the feeling of being far away from the urban chaos. The cluster of bamboo huts standing on water facing Manila Bay is an ideal dining destination for balikbayan relatives visiting for the Christmas holidays. And all it takes is a quick drive through the Manila – Cavite Expressway.
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 and will be served daily beginning December 22.
Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park is located in Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite only 20 minutes away from Mall of Asia. For more information, log on to www.islandcovephil.com, call (046) 434 0210 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park on social media: Facebook: @IslandCoveHotelandLeisurePark, Instagram: @islandcovephil, and Twitter: @islandcovephil.
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I really love this idea of Island Cove of putting some of the best dishes of Cavite under one roof! Who has the time to go around an entire province to scour for these? And not only that they picked some of the more interesting ones, they also made everything really, really good! One food blogger even commented that he didn’t expect the food to be that good! Personally, I think that what they served is really at par with the best in the country, if not better. To have dishes that many of us tasted for the first time and instantly turned into a favorite, that is something! Great view, interesting ambiance, and excellent food, all just minutes away from the Metro. I highly recommend it!
Note: All photos taken with an iPhone 5 with no digital manipulation except for resizing to fit this screen and watermarking.
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