Thursday, September 3, 2015

Balai Ilocos

Craving for Ilocano food or a bagnet fix?

You don't to travel all the way up to Ilocos to savor Ilocano dishes. Balai Ilocos serves home-grown recipes that have been preserved for many generations by Chef Niño Mendoza's family, who hails from Paoay, Ilocos Norte.

Balai Ilocos is an Ilocano specialty restaurant that started out in Pagsanjan, Laguna. With the success of its pilot restaurant, Princess Aquino (Chef Niño's mom), finally decided to branch out in BF Homes Parañaque under Chef Niño's expertise. Chef Niño manages the Parañaque Branch while Francesco Mahamoud (his stepdad) manages the Pagsanjan Branch.

Clockwise from Right to Left:  Kalderetang Baka, Pinakbet, Dinakdakan, Gambas ni Pat and Binagoongang Bagnet 

It has been ages since I last gone to Ilocos Norte and so I immediately agreed on to a foodie meetup at Balai Ilocos. The gustatory experience would surely be a trip down memory lane, I anticipated.

Bagnet is the popular Ilocano version of a deep-fried pork belly known for its crunchy goodness. It is a cross between Chicharon and Lechon Kawali, making the pork skin, fat and the lean meat all crispy.

Binagoongang Bagnet was chopped bite-size pieces of Bagnet served with diced tomatoes, onions and sweet bagoong (shrimp paste). Bagnet is a gastronomic delight in itself and it’s even more satisfying to savor Bagnet in many ways. This twice the crunch, mouthwatering slab of deep-fried pork is to die for! Each bite mixed with the ensalada mix was heavenly!

They offer crispy sisig made from bagnet with chopped chili peppers, onions and mayonnaise. It looks like pulled pork made crispy, a far cry from the pork cheeks and ears sisig recipe I got used to that even uses brain as a binder.

Dinakdakan is another pride of the Ilocano cuisine that we got to try. Dinakdakan differs from sisig in size. Dinakdakan is cut in small cubes while sisig comes finely chopped. Chef Niño take on Dinakdakan is diced pork meat combined with vinegar, chillies and other seasonings.

They also serve delectable Spanish food that we have grown accustomed to. I got to taste Gambas (prawns in garlic oil), Kaldereta (usually a goat stew) and Mechado (a beef casserole).

Gambas ni Pat
I have tasted a lot of Gambas in the past and I have to say that this is one of the best! Chef Niño makes a very tasty shrimp sauce that even after the last prawn is gone, Gambas ni Pat remaining stock can still be great for bread to dip in.

Di Makakalimutang Mechado

Di Makakalimutang Mechado is what I love most! This tomato sauce-based casserole reminded me of hearty lunches spent over at my grandmother's home when I was just a kid. Chef Niño's version uses inhouse tomato sauce making it more delicious. Beef meat waas slow-cooked to perfection! It was tender and moist! The adequate moisture of the beef results to a flavorful and savory feast.

We had Maruya a la Mode (Banana Fritters) for dessert. Mashed, ripe plantain bananas were mixed with a pancake batter and fried. The sugar-dusted maruya then is served with vanilla ice cream.  It was perfect to cap a gastronomic experience.  I love its simplicity.  It reminds me of home.

Go to Balai Ilocos for a phenomenal Ilocano meal!

Balai Ilocos
188-D Aguirre Avenue
BF Homes Parañaque
Phone (02)832-0658

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

World Leukemia Awareness Month

Leukemia, commonly known as cancer of the blood, can inflict on anyone from all walks of life, from any social status. Leukemia is ranked as the fourth cancer killer in the country according to the Department of Health. And unfortunately, it has been the most neglected disease in the Philippines.

Dr. Erlyn Demerre founded EPCALM (Erwin Piedad Cabanag Adult Leukemia Ministries) in memory of her brother and former city fiscal of Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, Atty. Erwin Cabanag. He passed away due to leukemia on May 12, 2005 at the age of 45.

EPCALM Adult Leukemia Foundation of the Philippines is a non-stock and non-profit organization that assists leukemia patients and their families by raising donations and embarking on medical missions. The organization also provides a personalized, practical and family-oriented support group for patients journeying through this disease. It has an army of kind-hearted volunteers to assist patients by offering their time and services with their special needs in their journey.

They empower communities to help raise awareness by providing guided talks on the basic understanding of the disease, advocating new medical procedures and technologies. EPCALM has been mounting conferences on grief management, with speakers and facilitators coming from the US, sharing their knowledge, experience and skill in managing grief for the last 3 years.

Do join in the EPCALM grief seminar to be held this September 8, 9 and 12 at the Henry Sy Auditorium of the Saint Luke's Global. This activity is facilitated by EPCALM Adult Leukemia Foundation of the Philippines in observance of the World Leukemia Awareness month.

EPCALM welcomes kind-hearted individuals who can help and support this worthy endeavor. Let us make a difference.

Be an EPCALM Volunteer! Call EPCALM hotlines: 0932-8548459 to 61 and 723-1058. You may also visit or follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Erwin Piedad Cabanag Adult Leukemia Ministries (EPCALM)
Suite 341 Medical Arts Building
St. Luke’s Medical Center
279 E. Rodriguez Boulevard., Quezon City

Monday, August 31, 2015

Michael Learns to Rock live in Manila on September 19th

Michael Learns to Rock (also known as MLTR) is a pop/soft rock quartet formed 1988 in Denmark. The Danish band released their first album, Michael Learns to Rock in September 1991. Its track “The Actor,” was a hit in Scandinavia and Asian countries, selling 25,000 copies and earning gold status in Indonesia alone. After the success of its first album, the band’s follow-up record, “Colours,” sold over a million copies on the strength of the singles “Sleeping Child,” “25 Minutes,” and “Out of the Blue”, in 1993. Michael Learns to Rock's greatest hits album Paint My Love sold 3.4 million copies when it was released in October 1996.

MLTR was composed of Jascha Richter (singer and keyboard), Mikkel Lentz (lead guitars and additional keyboards), Kåre Wanscher (drums and percussion) and and Soren Madsen (bass), until Madsen left in 2000 to go solo. MLTR took a prolonged break starting since then, but regrouped in 2004. More albums followed then, accompanied by successful tours in at least 21 countries which included the Philippines. In total, MLTR have played in large and small open-air and closed-hall stage concerts, did TV appearances, performed unplugged and sing-back gigs, over a period of 25 years.

Their biggest and most comprehensive Greatest Hits collection, simply titled “25”, will hit stores and digital downloading sites soon. “25” marks the first time that all of Michael Learns to Rock’s soundtrack of hits are presented in one collection!

And as Michael Learns to Rock celebrate its 25th year anniversary, Filipino fans can once again look forward to a night of rock and heartfelt emotions with the MLTR band when they deliver their greatest hits live in a one-night-only concert this September 19 at the Smart Araneta after 7 years!

Ticket prices are as follows:

VIP – P 6,360
Patron A – P 5,830
Patron B – P 5,300
Patron C – P 4,240
Box – P 2,650
Upper Box – P 1,060
Gen Ad – P 530

Be part of this activity celebrating Michael Learns to Rock's 25 years of great music. Experience one big sing-along concert party as Michael Learns to Rock hits the stage with their greatest hits. Sing it loud, sing it live with Michael Learns to Rock! Catch them at Smart Araneta Coliseum, 8 PM on September 19, 2015.

Grab you tickets now Ticketnet Outlets or visit for more information.
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