Bicolandia at Cafe Marco

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Restaurant: Café Marco [Culinary Journey – Bicolandia (Runs from April 20-29 ,2012) ]

Address: Cebu Veterans Drive, Nivel Hills, Apas, 6000 Cebu City, Philippines

Tel. No. 6332. 253 1111

Operating Hours:
Breakfast 06.00H – 10.30H
Lunch 12.00H – 14.30H
Dinner 18.30H – 22.00H

Mode of Payment: Cash/Card

Text by Rafi Mustafa | Photo by: Rafi and Zee Zarah Mustafa

The shortest of short-cuts to a place you’ve never been to but would want to experience is through that particular region’s cuisine. Nothing gives a better impression to what the region is about than their specialties, delicacies and food is cultivated and prepared.
Today we will take the “express route” up north of the country to the “Culinary Journey to Bicolandia”. And the good news is, we need not travel far! Just head over to Cafe Marco at the Marco Polo Hotel. True enough the least of your worries is not the distance but how much “heat” you can take.Marco Polo in conjunction with the Department of Tourism Region V (The Bicol Region) struck a deal in making this culinary experience possible with Ms. Maria Ong-Ravanilla, Bicol Regional Director – “Lets play it with fire” she said. Guest Celebrity Chef Doy Sto. Domingo who flew in all the way from Naga, also casually mentioned that the markets were running out of chilli preparing for this feast. For those with faint palates that might have been enough to make you sweat, but for those with heat tolerance? Challenge accepted.

Bicol region’s reputation for loving their extremely hot and spicy dishes did not disappoint with the first dish to taste. What can be more spicy than a Chilli Wrap? For an appetizer. And yes it literally is Chilli peppers, with stuffings, folded inside a lumpia wrapper. You can really taste the heat of the chilli but it’s worth a try.

To give the palate a break there were non-spicy dishes such as Beef Caldereta, Laing, Bicol Longganisa and two of interesting dishes we’ve tried, the  Lapu-Lapu sa Buko  - Lapu-Lapu fish cooked in coconut water, really delectable!

and the Pininyang Manok

Chicken simmered in coconut milk (gata) and pineapple juice. The aroma alone was exquisite and the blend of flavours?Even better.Of course the star of the feast and signature specialty of the Bicol region; The Bicol Express. Needless to say it is spicy. How spicy? Definitely depends on ones tolerance to Chilli pepper’s heat. But for those who aren’t fans of hot and spicy, you might want a trusty glass of water to cool you down.

To top of the meal, desserts are served. You would be surprised to know that even something as common place as Ice cream has not escaped the spicy treatment! Worth a try!
So to conclude this culinary journey, what kind of impression does one get from Bicolandia cuisine? As Ms. Ravanilla have said, the Bicol region is known as the land of fire, and the Bicolanos are known for their ardent passion.

The Culinary Journey: Bicolandia runs from April 20-29 at Cafe Marco, Marco Polo Hotel. Go and challenge your taste buds!

Masehan pero maharang.

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