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Food, tourism, Travel, vanj padilla

Cagayan Food Crawl: Promoting the Philippines, One Flavor at a Time

20 restaurants. 10 bloggers. 2 days. 

In two days, close to 20 restaurants in Tuguegarao have hosted the bloggers and social media influencers and allowed them to review their best-sellers and must-try dishes. Authentic local cuisines were served, heirloom recipes, the flavors of Cagayan was put to test. 

Will the bloggers like it? Will it pass their discriminating palates, will they share the local food stories in the region? 

The first-ever Cagayan Food Crawl is a food appreciation tour for bloggers and digital influencers in Northern Luzon. It aims to promote and help the F&B industry in Region 2, Cagayan Valley. 

It was held last April 8 and 9, in line with the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) theme – Flavors of The Philippines. The DOT Cagayan Valley Region  supported the said momentous event. 

 The most exciting part was the warmth of restaurateurs in the area. A total of 60 dishes were served for review. Each has its own characteristic, each has its own story to tell. 
There was fusion. Asian. Filipino. Western. Italian. It was food tourism at its best. 

Pan De Cagayan Pizza

We started the food crawl at exactly 9am. The first participant was the Pan De Cagayan. Pizza, pasta, breads and more on a premium. Cagayanos are lucky to have this kind or concept in Tuguegarao. What stood out to the bloggers is the 5 cheese pizza- a combination of five kinds of cheese that is ultimately gooey. 

Manio’s Pampaguenos Kare- kare

Manio’s Pampanguena came next and their palabok and kare-kare is a must-try among other dishes. Lechon cannot be left out in important occasions and Cris’ Lechon has perfectly captured lechon’s flavor the way it should be. 

Cris’ Lechon

Then comes a Filipino buffet, Kainang Pilipino, an icon in Cagayan food industry. Bloggers were immersed in an actual cooking demo by the owner. You should try their pinaupong manok, a local favorite. 

Lumping Gulay at Kainang Pilipino

Must try Baked Caggu

Ice Craze surprised the bloggers with humongous slabs of pork baby back ribs cooked to perfection, it almost melts in your mouth. Sold at a very affordable price, customers can just take it home and feed the entire family.  

Humongous slab of tangy melts-in-your mouth baby back ribs

Ice Craze specialties for Cagayanos

Hap Chan’s bestseller Beef Broccoli

Hap Chan also served Asian and Chinese dishes. We loved the dimsum and the beef broccoli no questions asked. It is a runaway winner.  

Xanjero’s Pinoy Big Burger

Xanjeros’ pasta creation

Xanjero’s served the biggest burgers in Tuguegarao. If you wanna join the Guinness Record’s biggest burger. If you are hungry for days, you will never complain at the enormous size of its burgers.  

Hilaria’s cocktails

Hilaria’s bestsellers

Get these heavenly baked goodies at 8th Avenue

Indulge in 8th Avenue coffee

Leonardo’s steaks are very palatable. Good steak at very friendly price. Again, big servings. 

Leonardo’s steaks, perfectly big and affordable

Steak, just the way you like it

Billy Jack’s  Pancit Batil Patong serves the best-tasting and most unique pancit in town having balut as topping.  

Billy Jack’s Pancit Batil Patung with Balut

Barako Boy Coffee set up

Bark Boy pasta selection featuring Tuguegarao Longganisa

Get artisanal coffee from Barako Boy . La Luna Grill serves good food, also kare-kare and their sizzling plates.  

La Luna Grill’s crispy Kare-kare

Not to be left out, Hotel Carmelita also let bloggers review their pancit batil patong and the Culinare Pizza , a thin crust pizza filled with all the goodies on top. 

 

 

 

 Charlie’s Kitchen Savory has the uniquely different crispy path version. Get their fish rolls and you will never regret. 

Kitchen Savory Crispy Pata

Food is undeniably the second reason for traveling. It is next to tourism and destinations. Tourists travel for food, too. Tourist explore flavors different from their point of origin.

Our last was Fracasso, the giant pizza store in Tuguegarao. Margin four pizza flavors in one massive 30-inch pizza served hot and fresh from the oven.  

Fracasso’s massive 30-inch pizza

With the success and positive feedback the Cagayan Food Crawl has generated from the event, and most importantly the online content it created for the F&B industry, participating restaurants are thankful to DOT Region 2 for bringing in events like this one. 

More of these, please DOT,” stated the owner of Crown Restaurant who boasts of the best Yang Chow rice in Tuguegarao. 

Crown Restaurant’s Pork Asado

Crown Restaurant’s famous Yema cake

And because the Philippines is a bountiful archipelago, each locality, each town has its own unique food to offer for its visitors. 

Note: 

This post also appears at MomFluencer Blog

Food, tourism, Travel

Best Places to Eat in Pangasinan: Matutinas – Gerry’s Seafoods

The bangus at the facade of the restaurant represent Dagupan’s pride, the tastiest milkfish

Matutina’s is an icon in Pangasinan dining experience. As it grows, it also evolves. We were able to taste Matutina’s – Gerry’s Seafoods thru the owner Mam Meng Pasion Austria. You will love her the first time you see her. She is like your best Tita ever or the best Ninang. Kindhearted, down-to-earth, very accommodating  and a good conversationalist.

Mam Meng Pasion Austria and husband Gerry own the restaurant

She accommodated us very well. Telling stories about how they started. It was her husband who thought of deviating from the original Matutina’s brand which belongs to their mom. Then his sisters eventually continued the Matutina’s branches in Bonuan where it began.

Sampler crab-a dab-dab in buttered garlic

Gerry, Meng’s husband and the heir to the Matutina brand put up his own, Gerry’s Seafood but still attached to the original name from the mom for goodwill.

The Austria couple strengthened their brand with seafood. Filipino dishes and seafood, Pangasinan seafood.

“Actually, Pangasinan seafood is the best, we have the best-tasting bangus, oyster, crab and other sea bounties” shares Mam Meng to the Norte Bloggers. True enough, we were served one of the best tasting seafood dishes in Pangasinan.

How can you say no to this big fat crabbie crustacean?

Can you ever say no to a King Crab? He will punish you with thick, hard crabby fat but drool. This is soo good. No, good is an understatement. This is fit for a queen. And kings and little royalties. A good amount of crab once in a while is also good for your sanity. Haha.

So go and indulge. Reward your palate.

Buttered oysters

Buttered Oysters are our second favorite. There are people from Manila that come over to Pangasinan just to eat buttered oysters from Matutina’s Gerry’s Seafood- and its not even a joke. If they are willing to do that, then their oysters must be that scrumptious.

We are Pangasinan, we live in Pangasinan where oysters are abundant, but for us to like the oysters at Gerry’s Seafood, it means ‘talagang masarap sya ha‘!

Pinakbet

Pinakbet is perhaps one of the most ordered veggie dish. It combines the abundant local vegetables cooked in fish sauce or bagoong, slices of pork and chicharon.

Hipon Crispy

You can talk all day and munch on this crispy-fried shrimp. Just dip it in the vinegar-garlic and spice sauce and you’re all good.

Pork Barbecue

No doubt, we are all barbecue lovers. I try to avoid red meat but when you see this pork barbecue in front of you with a piping hot bowl of rice, say goodbye to your diet plans. Its mouth-watering, I am honestly craving for barbecue while writing this post.  🙁

Singing na malaga

If you crave for that savory fish soup, order the Sinigang na Malaga. Malaga or samaral or siganid is a freshwater fish that has white meat and commands a premium price. It is usually served on special occasions. Their sinigang na malaga emphasizes the flavor and taste of the malaga, the savory, sour soup complements it.

Inihaw na Dagupan Bangus

You can find Inihaw na Dagupan Bangus anywhere in Dagupan but their bangus is definitely from a reliable Dagupan fishpond. So you actually taste its difference. Try also their Bangus sisig as well as the Kilawing Bangus. 

I will not forget to tell you to try their desserts which have stories of their own. Order the buko pandan, fruit salad, or the creamy leche flan.

Matutina’s – Gerry’s Seafoods can be found in De Venecia Extension, Dagupan City. Call them to reserve your table at 0977.826.0228 or 0932.853.9901. Look for Ms. Cherry, the ever-friendly manager.   Check out their Facebook page, too. They also have a branch in Urdaneta City along Mc Arthur Hi-way Nancayasan, San Fernando City, Pampanga and Tarlac. 

After the pleasant food experience, its time to take a photo of busog-faces.

Norte Bloggers pose with Mam Meng after the Food Crawl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food, tourism

Best Places to Eat in Pangasinan: Caffe La Tea

Caffe La Tea is strategically located at the Star Building, Arellano St. Dagupan City. Just below the DTI office near Nepo Mall Dagupan. It mainly serves coffee, milk tea and Filipino food. Its a hip combination of a cafe+ a full service restaurant. It has a good concept offering both coffee, food and dessert.

What caught our attention is the creativity put into their dishes. This Crispy Binagoongan with Rice is surprisingly good. It has the right balance of salt, pepper and chunky crispy meat on top of a binagoongan rice.

Its unique, isn’t it? You and me might not guess at first glance that indeed it is crispy binagoongan. This best for breakfast, lunch and dinner dish is so versatile you can order it anytime of the day.

Crispy Binagoongan with Rice

I love the cozy interior of the cafe. Its relaxing and just the chill vibe that we all want while dining alone, with friends or family.

Cozy interior
Affogato is a dessert made of  ice cream or gelato, milk and cream in one glass

Affogato is a coffee-based dessert. It usually takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped or “drowned” with a shot of hot espresso. But in this case, its milk. And you will surely appreciate its combined flavors.

Caffe La Tea’s drink spread

You must order Perfect Matcha, CLT Houseblend Ice Tea, Green Apple Ice Tea and Lemongrass tea. These drinks will not only quench your thirst but make your taste buds ecstatic. All their drinks are the best, but my personal favorite is the Lemongrass tea coz I like it hot.

The food spread

We were intrigued with the CHIZ BUCO, a fried roll composed of cheese, young coconut or buko and other delectable filling. Chiz Buco is one of Caffe La tea’s signature bestsellers. The dip is so good, it really enhances the already flavorful ‘chiz buco’.

Look at the ambiance, it feels like your family living room area.

Our overall verdict for the experience is ” YOU MUST TRY THIS” and “ITS REALLY, REALLY GOOD.” 

Look at how the crew carefully and meticulously prepare every drink

The pasta is to die for. We have finished eating the pasta in less than a minute 🙂

Chicken pesto ( gone in almost 60 seconds)

 

Clubhouse sandwich, a comfort food

I wonder how devil this Devil Tofu is but it actually tastes so good. It became my instant favorite. Tofu is healthy and the gravy or sauce that CLT mixed in this dish is simply appetizing!

Devil tofu

What we love about Caffe La tea is its wide selection of menu as it offers a fusion of ‘east meets west’ cuisine and the Filipino comfort foods have taken an innovative transformation and presentation.

How about you? What is your favorite Caffe La Tea experience?

Call them for inquiries and reservations (075) 540.2237 and like them on Facebook

 

Food, tourism, Travel

Best Places to Eat in Pangasinan: Lucky Ba ngoAi’s Kitchen #9

Its very hard to pronounce its name so we call it the only Vietnamese restaurant in Dagupan. Its Lucky Ba ngoAi’s Kitchen #9. You can finish their bestseller Pho faster than trying to say the restaurant’s name. Well, three visits later and two food crawls after, I still find it challenging. Haha

very Vietnamese? Bloggers love the greens 🙂

We were served unlimited greens. And we loved it. Fresh rolls, light and yummy, its the kind of creatures you’ll gladly stuff in your tummy and it won’t complain.

 

The bestseller is Pho-bo-ga-tom

Pho-bo-ga-tom is a Vietnamese Beef or Chicken or Shrimp Noodle Soup and they serve it with fresh bean sprouts, lime and basil leaves. The aroma of the fresh herbs blends perfectly well in the hot soup. For only P178 pesos, you can have this Pho all to yourself. If you are like me whose tummy is as big as my fist, you can share it with a friend.

Come to Lucky Ba ngoAi’s Kitchen hungry and you will leave happy ever after.

Norte Bloggers in action

Norte Bloggers can’t get enough of these goodies. Everyone likes the spread. And the rolls are super healthy. Fresh veggies are wrapped to goodness!

caught in the act

Goi Cuon sold at P50 per piece is a Vietnamese spring roll with pork, prawn, vegetables, bun (rice vermicelli) and other ingredients wrapped in Vietnamese rice paper. And take note, bloggers were actually caught doing their thing with the rolls. Haha.

Vietnamese Young coconut as dessert

My favorite food was of course the dessert! The young coconut dessert sold for only P120 is a great buy. I can finish two if really hungry. Its different, a jelly with the goodness of coconut in a not too sweet dish.

And the Ca-phe-nong (Vietnamese coffee), hmm, it sounds like the owner’s name, isn’t it? But don’t come to Lucky Ba ngoAi’s without ordering this coffee. Its heavenly good, trust me.

Ca-phe-nong Vietnames coffee

 

Cha gio (minced pork rolls)

These Cha gio Php128 minced pork rolls are one of the appetizers that is offered and its a must-try because the dip is uniquely different from our Filipino dips and sauces.

We went in hungry but we went out happily full. Its because we ate happy food and it could also happen to you. After the eating, its time to take a photo.

The staff/s  at Lucky Ba ngoAi’s are warm and friendly. When we came over, they gamely joined us in a photo.

Pangasinan Food Crawl featuring Norte Bloggers happy faces, happy tummies

The Vietnamese Restaurant is located at Malta St. Tapuac District Dagupan City. You may call them at 09260373312 and like them on Facebook .

 

Business, tourism, Travel

Air Asia is back in Clark 


Air Asia Philippines is set to resume its flights at the Clark International Airport, a move to seen as a welcome development by authorities of the state-run Clark International Airport Corp., the operating arm of the international gateway north of Manila. 

Air Asia will launch thrice weekly Clark-Kalibo flights starting March 27 and four times weekly flights to and from Davao by April 22, two routes that are expected to further boost CRKs passenger traffic.

“CIAC’s efforts to attract more airlines have been rewarded and we are glad that Air Asia has finally agreed to resume flights this year,” Alexander Cauguiran, CIAC’s President and CEO, said during the second leg of the CRK Roadshow in Dagupan City on Friday.

Clark Intl Airport President Alexander Cauguiran discussing the plans of CIAC

Cauguiran added that Air Asia’s business decision is a positive effect of President Rodrigo Duterte’s thrusts to further develop and encourage additional flights at the airport of the north

“(Department of Transportation) Secretary Art Tugade’s marching order is for us to entice airlines to ensure first-rate operations of Clark airport,” Cauguiran added.

Air Asia, awarded the World’s Best Low Cost Carrier for eight consecutive years, has earlier committed to connect domestic cities to the North and Central Luzon regions and to choice tourist destinations in the country.

The resumption of Air Asia’s flights at CRK is seen to strengthen domestic hub. It also marks the airline’s return after it suspended operations in 2013 and transferred operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“The target market (of passengers) from central and Northern Luzon is ripe and we expect that passenger volume will grow in years to come as we continue to promote CRK as the next choice gateway of the country,” Cauguiran said.

Philippine Airlines had already made its strong presence at CRK with domestic flights to Caticlan, Cebu, Davao, and international flights via Incheon in South Korea. The flag-carrier is also set to launch its Palawan route via Puerto Princesa and Busuanga domestic flights by March 26.

Clark International Airport hosts other airlines such as Emirates Airlines via Dubai, Qatar Airways via Doha, Asiana Airlines via Incheon, Jin Air via Incheon and Busan, Cebu Pacific Air via Hong kong, and Tiger Air via Singapore.

tourism, Travel

Sunflower Maze in Tayug is an agritourism destination

Allied Botanical Corporation has put up  an amazing Sunflower Maze believed to be the first in the country. 

The maze, since the announcement has drawn a huge crowd from nearby towns and provinces to farm enthusiasts in various parts of the country. 

This was the first time they focused on agritourism as the Agritourism development Law has been passed. They used to showcase their produce from the seeds they develop and offer to the market. 

Allied Botanicals are market leaders for Pinakbet seeds in Luzon. They sell seeds of edible herbs, Baguio vegetables, corn, onions, squash, peppers of all shapes and sizes. If you can name all the veggies in the ‘Bahay Kubo‘ song, they have it. 😄😄 

The Sunflower maze has mini-themed gardens inside it. So visitors can go through the maze and be welcomed by the floral beds in various themes. 

Aside from the flowers,  you will enjoy picking fresh produce in the farm. You can also buy seeds and agricultural products and farm inputs from the booths inside the demo farm. 

Be inspired to plant your own herb garden in thier own version of an edible garden. 

There is a pick and pay session that visitors will surely enjoy. Just be ready to shell out P100 entrance fee when you come over. 

Our farm day experience was worth the trip. We not only learned to appreciate the beautiful view, but most importantly we learned that agritourism is highly profitable if more farms such as Allied Botanicals will follow the lead. 

The sunflower maze is located in Lichauco Tayug Pangasinan. 

tourism, Travel

Dasol Dazzles Bloggers

 

 

Dasol’s Colibra Island

It was a quick and unplanned trip to the Land of the Solar Salt — the dazzling town of Dasol. Pangasinan Bloggers are to meet the Pampanga Bloggers in Tambobong Beach Rains Resort on the first weekend of February. We took a bus to Dasol, afraid that our little car might not be able to endure the rocky ascent of the road to Tambobong.

When we got there, we were welcomed by the sumptuous breakfast served to us by Kuya Greg and family who owns the Rains Resort. It was a feast and we were not able to resist. Resorts and home stays in Tambobong can cook meal for guests, using fresh harvest from the sea. Guests can just request the keepers, and they will be glad to do it for you for a minimal fee.

Breakfast at Rains Resort

After breakfast, we had our gears on to island- hopping. Boat ride costs P1,500 and each boat can accommodate 6 people.  There are three islands to visit.One is the Slipper Island, Colibra Island and the Crocodile Island. The first island is where the Sinmimbaan Cave is, it is like a cathedral cave. If the waves are not that strong, one can get off the boat and explore or take photos. I enjoyed the Colibra Island though. Docking to Colibra Island or the island where the sea snakes are will require you to shell out P100. Add another P25 per head as entrance fee and if you need to settle down and use their benches, pay another P100 bucks. I told their municipal tourism officer that they should standardise the pricing and fees as well as collect once so as not to surprise tourists with the fees and charges.

You can stay overnight or the whole day at the Colibra Island. It is one of the most interesting islands that I’ve been to.

Colibra island

According to a young tour guide by the name of Jeremy, one of the most unique spots in the island is the swimming pool where mermaids stay during full moon. I checked it myself and it was indeed interesting.

No wonder this island is the most visited island in Dasol. Aside from the sea snakes that thrive in the island, it has remarkable spots from old coral reefs and limestones hundreds of years back.  We were lucky to find a fisherman selling his catch, a fish I am not familiar with. It looks like a swordfish but its not.

fresh catch from the sea

Amid the bushes in the island, I found my happy corner in this side. Sitting down in the branch of a tree, a horny bush in the background and stones all over the place– this is where this blogger found solace. I felt I belong to the island.

my happy corner

 

the view from the bushes

We were not able to land at the Crocodile Island because the waves are furious. Believe it or not, while we are at the boat I was able to sing Josh Groban’s You Raise me Up three times because I was so scared of the bumpy boat ride. But that’s what made the trip more exciting.

Upon returning to the main island Tambobong, it was lunch time. Then a short nap to recharge the body then off again to the unexplored cave nearby. Did you know that Dasol has about 300 unexplored caves? I will make another blogpost when we visit some of them. And Dasol is one of the best dive sites in Pangasinan with its fish sanctuaries?

This sunken ship is now fully submerged and only professional divers can go down to see it

I was once told that a major submarine by the United States docked in Dasol was bombed by the Japanese during the World War II and so it remains submerged deep into the waters of Dasol.

The nameless underwater cave

So this short, quick and sweet trip to Tambobong white Beach Dasol made possible by Rains Resort in collaboration with Pampanga Bloggers and Pangasinan Bloggers was such a hit. Don’t go there without a definite place to stay. Contact Rains Resort Beach Front, Madam Salazar compound Osmeña,Tambobong Beach with mobile number 0927.764.6545 and look for Kuya Greg for all the arrangements.

How to go to Dasol? 

From Manila, allot at least 5 hours travel. Hop on a Victory Liner bus to Alaminos City or Bolinao and get off a Alaminos City. Ride another bus going to Sta. Cruz and board off at Bobonot, a few meters before the town proper of Dasol. Ride a trike for P250 to Tambobong. If you are lucky, you can haggle for a lower price.

If you have a car, take the Luisita exit along SCTEX. Take the Camiling route leading to Alaminos City. From Alaminos, drive towards the route going to Zambales. You will pass by the towns of Mabini and Burgos before reaching Dasol.

Pangasinan and Pampanga Bloggers at the beachfront

More of Dasol escapades when we return for a bigger project and a longer stay. Stay tuned for more discoveries and photos and/ or videos of the Dazzling Town of Dasol. Will do a separate post for their solar salt industry and the mysteries of their unexplored caves.

tourism, Travel

Rediscover stories from the Islands

Everybody loves great stories and  remembers them too. People travel to know more stories about places they go to, stories of people they meet, the food they eat and the cultural heritage they visit.

I would like to suggest to the Marianas Visiting Authority to capitalise on the rich stories of the Marianas Islands to entice tourists to come over. The islands are very interesting and each has its own memorable story to tell.

People love stories. Stories bring people closer together and share it with the world. Love.War. Triumph. Loss. Food. Adventure. Nature and everything in between.

“Rediscover stories from the islands”

Northern Mariana Islands or Marianas are three islands not known to many as a US territory through the commonwealth. According to sources, it is America’s one of the best kept secrets. The islands of Saipan (the most common of the three) along with Tinian and Rota have rich stories to tell. These islands are the close neighbors of Guam.

Continue Reading

tourism, Travel

Decoding the myth of Taal through Club Balai Isabel

The Taal Volcano is believed to be the smallest volcano in the world. Its also located in the Philippines.

The best way to go to the volcano island and personally see its crater is through Club Balai Isabel in Talisay Batangas.

IMG_4956

Club Balai Isabel Batangas should be your next destination. It has all the great things needed for a complete summer getaway. Nestled along the coast of Lake Taal, this first-class resort offers a wide range of exciting activities for the family, for the barkada, for the team and for organizations big or small. Continue Reading

Business, Food, tourism, Travel

Food, Investment ,Tourism and Technology (FITT) Blogger

Today I start my FITT Blog under my namesake. You can call me Vanj, from the bountiful province of Pangasinan. I am a digital influencer in my community. My day job is being a communications strategist specializing in social and digital media.

When not beating deadlines and not servicing clients, I blog. Among other things, hosting an agriculture and investment walkthrough show are two of my ventures that you will see here on later posts.

Recent Food Tour adventure, Bangsal’s Pinoy  Boodle Meal

I chose to blog about FOOD, INVESTMENT, TOURISM and TECHNOLOGY because its my passion.  My friends call me “laging gutom” (always hungry) because wherever I go, food is always an attraction for me. I am constantly looking for unique food offerings in a place. 
When travelling, I always assess the economic activity or non-activity of a place. Then see what they have or what they don’t. What they need and what would be profitable here. What is abundant and what is lacking. Then I ask myself, “what do they need, and how can I help them?”

The view from Sual viewdeck

Who doesn’t want to travel? I have been to a few places outside my country but I want to explore the beauty of the Philippines even more. It seems that every island has its own wonders and its really worth exploring.

    Amanjiwo Resort, Yogyakarta Indonesia

The advent of technology has modernized and made everything easy and shareable. Smartphones and tablets, netbooks and laptops has made every person his own media. It made everyone an instant publisher. Social media made it possible to distribute content easier and faster. Digital innovations are presented to the world at lightning speed. And then comes technology review and testing.  And since we move around the communications technology industry, it is imperative to be on top of it, at least be in the know, so you can teach and share.

What can you expect from  eVANJelist, the  FITT blogger? 

1. Lots of food adventures, interesting food stories from communities who make it.

2. Investment profiles of towns and cities and other remarkable business stories worth your while

3. Travel adventures and stories, destination stories, culture and the people, experiential tourism in the Philippines and Asia

4. Technology events, stories, ventures and start-ups

Join me, your local FITT Blogger and eVANJelist as we explore Asia and the rest of the world 🙂