Tuesday, September 25, 2018

My San Miguel Bulacan Food and Heritage Adventure Part 1

Purple Plum Fairy at the San Miguel arch
The very first time I had set foot in San Miguel Bulacan was last year when I was tapped to cover the ribbon cutting of the new clinic of the Camp Tecson donated by SM Foundation. However, the said visit was indeed a brief one that I never had the chance to see what the town of San Miguel Bulacan can really offer.

The Cultural and heritage group who visited San Miguel Bulacan

I was privileged enough to be given another chance to visit San Miguel Bulacan again. This time, however, I vow to see more of this place and learn more about its rich history, culture and taste its food. Architect Ervin Garcia, owner of Arki’s Grill together with its town mayor, honorable Marivee Mendez Coronel spearheaded a culinary and heritage tour with my good friend Rence Chan of #walkwithchan fame. Together with the help of other local entrepreneurs and restaurant owners, they had united with that one goal of helping promote the town of San Miguel, not just as a tourist destination but also as a place for foodies to discover.

Purple Plum Fairy's official ID as participant in the said culinary and heritage tour

Some travel to take in the sights, or to raid the shops and markets, while others travel in pursuit of indulging in unique cuisine in foreign lands. Culinary tourism is a growing trend as travelers are becoming increasingly focused on defining cuisine as a true artistic expression of a country's or in this case, San Miguel Bulacan's unique culture.

Culinary tourism is simply travelling beyond your immediate neighborhood to find great food. For me it includes any “tourism experience in which a person learns about, appreciates, consumes, or- dare we say- indulges in food and drink that reflects the local cuisine, heritage, or culture of the place”. The further you travel, the wider the range of culinary experiences enjoyed. It is not about the food you eat; food tourism is not necessarily about dining luxuriously, but more about eating adventurously to seek out new culinary experiences.

We found some of the best culinary discoveries in this quaint town for all the foodies out there. So whether you want to learn more, find a new local favorite or tour the town in search of some of the best food, check out this article!

Culinary History Walking Tour

Not only were we able to visit popular foodie hubs throughout the town proper but our private guide had taken us through the convict era as we explored the history and culture of this incredible quaint town of San Miguel. 

Did you know that our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal's best friend, the late Maximo Viola was a son of San Miguel? A little lesson in history tells us that Máximo Sison Viola was a propagandist, writer, revolutionary leader and doctor from Bulacan, Philippines. He is known as the best friend of Jose Rizal in Europe. They worked together, they visited museums, art gallery, restaurants and stayed in hotels to work there in Europe. Viola was also instrumental for the publication of Rizal's famous novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo because it was Viola who lent Rizal the money he needed to have his books published. Nowadays, his body lies at the town's historical church of San Miguel de Mayumo. 

Dr. Maximo Viola's tomb at the San Miguel de Mayumo church, Descansa en paz  (DEP)which means Rest in Peace

Speaking of San Miguel de Mayumo, we were able to tour around the said historical church built in 1763. Mayumo is a Kapampangan term for sweets which the town has been famous for because of its sweet delicacies. The municipality of San Miguel used to be a part of Pampanga. But it was yielded to the province of Bulacan in the same provincial boundary configuration in 1848. 

San Miguel de Mayumo Parish Church
While the other churches had their belfry beside the main church or on its side, San Miguel Arcangel de Mayumo's church has its belfry attached above the pediment adorned by the sculptured statue of St. Michael slaying down the evil. This gorgeous Baroque church was built during the Spanish era. In fact, it made us felt like we were somewhere in Italy or Spain. 

San Miguel de Mayumo's Machuka tiles

Interiors of San Miguel de Mayumo

The pews of the church of San Miguel de Mayumo
While we were there, we also took advantage of visiting another church nearby called San Jose Esposo de Maria. It was a simple church and it houses a small museum with different religious images. 

San Jose Esposo de Maria Parish in San Miguel, Bulacan

San Jose Esposo de Maria

An image of St. Joseph with the child Jesus as he does his carpentry

An image of Saint Joseph as he was on his death bed with his family

The main altar at San Jose Esposo de Maria parish

Now, let's proceed to the more interesting stuff which I've had experienced--The Food Discoveries!

I Ate My Way Through...

I Ate My Way Through culinary tours are tours led by foodies for foodies. Led by Arki's Grill owner, Architect Ervin Garcia, we were thrilled to sample some of San Miguel Bulacan's food treasures. These tours strive to connect fellow foodies with hidden gems they might not know of, so if you want to experience "heirloom recipes"as well as "food legacies in San Miguel, bring some cash so that you can pick up a few groceries while you're out! It is their main goal for their guests to be informed, inspired and to indulge! 

San Miguel Bulacan is known for their sweet pastillas, chicharon and other native delicacies. But what most people do not know is that they also have some of the most diverse cuisine choices. During our tour, we basically stopped and induged our senses with a vibrant blend of modern and heirloom recipes through the different food stops that we've had. 

Our First Stop: BJ Snackhouse

BJ Snackhouse  was the home of the original "Gotong Baboy"in San Miguel, Bulacan. Established in the late 70's, Vivencio Cruz Chico, a public servant and his wife, Felicidad Ligon Chico has opened an eatery that serves the popular gotong baboy. The concept of a traditional Filipino "merienda" (snack) such as goto--a rice porridge with stewed ox tripe, tokwa baboy, which goes best with the heirloom recipe of "Pan De Carne" which has catered and loved by San Miguelenos for years. After Nana Felicing passed away, the only daughter Gracita Chico Dimacale took over the Gotohan. It was named after Gracita's eldest son, BJ which stands for Billy Johnson. However, BJ Gotohan closed down in 2007. But due to the clamor of its loyal clientele, Jam, the youngest son of Gracita, decided to reopen the said restaurant with the help of his friend Lei, in loving memory of Gracita. 

Photo courtesy of BJ Snackhouse FB Account

The concept and the original menu has not been altered since then but it has also the addition of other fusion cuisines such as Japanese, Mexican among many others. Good ambiance, good heirloom recipes and delicious food, what would one as for except for a tomorrow where one will embrace another's day's challenge ahead and comeback to this place o refuge to sit eat and enjoy? 

BJ Snackhouse has biker fans

Ask any local biker/cyclist who frequents the place every weekend morning, they'd be the first ones who would tell you how much they enjoy eating at BJ Snack House. They keep coming back not just for the comforting bowl of goto but also for a whole lot of reasons. 

Family, friends, whether old and new ones visitors from other places and nearby towns, whenever one wants to have a treat, this resto should always come into mind. Everything in this place is worth 5 stars. Never fails to satisfy your goto cravings. But I highly suggest you order their Pan De Carne. Do not be deceived by its simple pan de sal look. Okay, it's a bit greasy, but it tastes like French Toast with meat fillings inside. It's chewy yet super soft and fluffy. Words don't give justice to how delicious it is. You have to try it to believe it. And it goes perfect when you order their goto overload for Php49.00 (from 6:30AM-8:00PM). Oh, and put some ketchup please for an overload of flavors: sweet, spicy, sour and umami all in one bun!

BJ Snackhouse's Pan de Carne

I wish I could bring home a box of these yummy Pan De Carne which sells at P15 each

BJ Snackhouse's famous Goto with your choice of toppings

"We're not just doing this business for the sole purpose of earning money. We want to relive the memories and continue the legacy," said BJ Snackhouse's current owners. 

BJ Snackhouse owners Jam Dimacale and Lei

So if you ever find yourself in the town of San Miguel Bulacan, make sure to drop by and visit BJ Snackhouse. They are right beside Samibul Water District. They are located at 138 Victor Street, Poblacion, San Miguel Bulacan. 

Contact numbers: +63 916-2506995/ (044) 309-4088

bloggers, media and local organizers ( photo courtesy of Mr. Jam Dimacale)

Courtesy Call with Hon. Mayor Marivee Mendez Coronel

Hon. Mayor Marivee Mendez-Coronel

We hear a lot about millennials making waves in the entertainment and tech worlds, but a lady whose lineage comes from a family of politicians is making a name for herself through the time-honored tradition of local politics in the town of San Miguel Bulacan. She was the first lady mayor of the said town. Learning the ropes of political life was not exactly an easy task for Mayor Ivy. But she really has the heart of a public servant. 

A real trouper that she is, although she is still recovering from her recent tonsil operation, Mayor Ivy came to the municipal office to see us personally even if she could just send someone to represent her or give us her message. She also took the opportunity to thank everyone present in trying to do our part in helping to promote her town. To be perfectly honest, we were so overwhelmed by the reception she had given us--participants of the Cultural and Heritage tour of San Miguel. She gave us personalized certificates each as well as memorabilia of our photos with her. So we consider ourselves privileged for having met this amazing woman of San Miguel Bulacan. 

The municipal door reminds me of our Bahay na Bato in Taal, Batangas.

Second Foodie Stop: Adam's Pizza and Samara's Buko Pie 

Adam's Pizza Customers

Adam's Pizza is this little gem situated in the middle of residential houses. It's not somewhere you'd expect to find! The outside isn't much to look at but i can assure you the food is heavenly. Named after the first born of the owner, Adam, they've got absolutely awesome pizzas. They have a massive variety and we tried four variants namely Sisig, Hawaiian, Supreme and Ham and Cheese. They were all deliciously good. Pizza was served quickly too considering how busy it was (Saturday morning). It was really impressive in taste although it looks so simple from the crust. A pretty good alternative to all the gluten laiden, commercialized pizzas. 

Yes meet Adam, which the Pizza place is named after

The pizza place owner personally makes the pizza

Adam's Pizza in Ham and Cheese

Adam's Pizza in Hawaiian

Adam's Pizza in Supreme

Adam's Pizza in Sisig
This busy, bustling pizza place has got it going for them. They offer eat in or takeaway. And while you're there, take advantage of ordering Samara's Buko Pie and their homemade Bicho balls. The buko pies are named after the owner's daughter Samara who comes after Adam. 

Check out their growing family: Mr. Ariel Adriano Roura, Sarah, Samara and Adam

Samara's Buko Pie from San Miguel Bulacan

You may be hesitant to eat Samara's Buko pie when you see them thinking they're just like any typical buko pie. But I guarantee you, once you start you can't stop. The pastry is light and flaky, and the inside is filled with tender pieces of young coconut meat set in a light custard that's not too sweet. This is absolutely one of the best pastries I've had ever tried in the Philippines. It's so good, you can finish it off in one sitting. I honestly believe, apart from the Sisig Pizza that Adam serves, San Miguel should also take pride of Samara's Buko Pie. Coming from someone who's not really a buko pie lover, believe me, this is probably the only buko pie I'd love to eat. 

No need to look far, the buko's right there inside

Freshly made bicho balls

Bichu balls with milk powder

Adam's Pizza is located at 353 Libertad Street, Poblacion, San Miguel Bulacan

Third Foodie Stop: Rasta Taco

Rasta taco is another hidden gem in San Miguel Bulacan

I'd have to say that San Miguel Bulacan's Rasta Taco's buffalo wings are sooo good! I'd choose to have their signature buffalo wings over the bigger and more branded name wing places. What stands out to us is the quality of the wings. There is more flavor, more meat and more sauce. You can also adjust the heat of the wings by means of putting in some condiments like Sriracha, Hot Sauce, Tabasco, etc. But even in its mildest, there is still a good zing! It goes best with the sour cream straight up thick dipping sauce. 

Rasta Tacos Bestselling Buffalo Wings

As self-proclaimed 'wing aficionado'and traveler, I have tried buffalo wings almost everywhere. As far as chain restaurants go, Rasta Taco's buffalo wings will probably be my favorite. How I wish I live nearby the San Miguel town or that they can deliver in Quezon City where I live. Why am I saying these? Rasta Tacos' Buffalo Wings cover every base: 1) Wings are thoroughly cooked to easily come off the bone. 2) Crisp skin (even with the sauce) for that ideal crunch. 3)Sauces are tasty, unique, and regularly updated and comes in different variants. 4) The wings complement the thick and rich dipping sauce. 

Rasta Tacos Shawarma Rice

Rasta Taco's Soy Honeyed Wings

Shawarma rice filling

Hands down, Rasta Taco's Buffalo wings is the best place to go if you're hankering for unique and tasty wing sauces with a solid accompanying family friendly menu. If you're willing to deal with an understaffed location, and no dine-in (yes, they only do takeout and delivery!), and have time to wait, I highly recommend you give it a chance! Despite recent experiences, their buffalo wings and soy honeyed wings will haunt my tastebuds and will eventually bring me back. #yum

I strongly suggest for owner Ms. Mary Ann Manabat to please, please madam, maybe it's time to set up an actual dine-in restaurant or better yet, bring these yummy wings to Manila. 

Rasta Tacos is located at 379 Rizal Street, Pobalcion, San Miguel, Bulacan
Contact number: 0917-960-5173

Fourth Foodie Stop: Goyena's Chicharon

Goyena's Chicharon

Hands down, chicharon (deep fried pork rind) is one of the favorite snacks of Filipinos. In fact, it was so good that it is also used as toppings in certain Pinoy dishes such as Sisig, La Paz Batchoy, Guinisang Monggo, Goto and Pancit Palabok. 

Goyena's Chicharon are being weighed and packed
Chicharon everywhere!

What makes Goyena's Chicharon different? These cracklings, though, have generous layers of fat, which are not at all tough so that they melt in your mouth, making each crackling even tastier. Everything else, Goyena's Chicharon has in balance: Just the right satisfying crunch, bites of saltiness which aren't exactly overpowering, and generally good flavor all around. 

Goyena's Chicharon are deep fried everyday

The owners of Goyena's Chicharon

So remember, when you're in the town of San Miguel, do drop by Inay Goyena's Chicharon. Their lip-smacking deep fried snack is consistent and generous with the good stuff clinging to each crunchy bite-sized piece that can be eaten and enjoyed on its own, minus the vinegar. 

Goyena's Chicharon is located at 49 San Miguel, Tecson St. San Miguel Bulacan.

Contact number: (044) 764-0074

More foodie adventures on my recent travel to San Miguel Bulacan to follow soon...

Disclaimer: I am not compensated for this post. Opinions expressed are 100% my own. 

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