Touching down at the new airport at Silay at day break, I knew I was going to enjoy the weekend. I was at Bacolod last weekend for the final leg of the FitPhil provincial tour and it proved to be one of the most enjoyable I ever had. From the swanky new airport that reminded me of the Centennial airport in Manila (French-designed as PAL likes to brag in their ads) to the gentle Negrense, Bacolod is definitely going to be in my list of favorite cities for a long time.
Charming and sweet. Bacolod has none of the crass commercialism and hurried cosmopolitan feel thatCebu and Cagayan de Oro has so tried to duplicate in the name of progress. Why anyone would want to be another grimy concrete jungle boggles me. Life is not all malls, skycrapers, and buildings. Cities should be built around life and living and not the other way around. It should be clean and wide roads amidst refreshing greens and easy traffic. Living should be having the comforts of urbanity but still being able to look up and seek the blue sky. Bacolod evokes quiet grandeur and gentle ways of life with even more gentle manners. The lilting language intonation, the soft breezes coming from the sea, and the stately old houses seem to remind everyone of its past while not blighting the future. Charming best describes it. Sweet i what it tastes like.
Sugar Heaven. Bacolod is the sugar capital and its saccharine delights are absolutely wonderful. Cebu’s La Marea and Dessert Factory has always topped my list of sugar heave. That is until lunch at Bob’s. A Bacolod favorite, Bob’s has been serving yummy meals and even yummier dessert for decades. The special brownies were the best I’ve ever tasted–the chocolate was velvety smooth with a mousse-like quality to it. Bam’s must-try was the Chocolate Decadence in a pool of warm caramel. The lunch was good but the desserts were a blast. Of course, I went back the next day for more pastries.
The best pili pastry ever. Our answer to the walnut, I don’t know if Negros has pili plantations. I know Bicol is pili territory. Emma Lacson’s Pili Pie, found only in Silay brings the pili to epicurean delight. More of a brownie-like cake than a pie, I first got a taste of this when Kitty brought a box to Manila a couple of years ago. It reminded me of the baklava but less sweet and more interesting. So brought a box home with me. At least it lasted a week unlike the napoleones which I polished-off in a couple of days.
Eating the host. As a kid, I’ve always been fascinated with the holy host. You know, when the priest breaks it apart and says “This is the body of Christ” then proceeds to swallow it whole. It was interesting how the priest could manage to swallow and entire wafer whole. I enjoyed communion because I wanted the wafer. I thought (and still do now) that it tasted just like a wafer—thin, crispy, and slightly sweet. It is no surprise that someone would actually turn into real food—you know, not the metaphorical one that it’s supposed to connote. “Lovingly baked by Carmel,” the label says. Heaven’s Cookies are cookies like no other because they’re made from crumbled hosts. The texture is both crunchy and crumbly with a vanilla sweet taste that is addictive. If only communion would use these cookies….
All that food. My first taste of honest-to-goodness Bacolod cooking was Bar 21 in SM Megamall and of course, Bacolod Chicken Inasal. Bar 21 has since closed and chicken inasal has turned-up in all corners of the mall. Dinner was at Aboy’s with its lovely antique furniture reproductions and dessert and coffee was Imelda’s. Amidst all that food, it is ginamos that I will remember the most. Bam raves about this salty delicacy and she says we are lucky that we found it in the market as previous visits have found the markets empty of these. Similar to the Tagalog, alamang, ginamos has more character and flavor. I especially love the freshly-made one of Tita Offie.
There were still some delicacies I failed to try due to my busy sked– lumpia, empanadas, mango tarts. That means I’ll be back.