Speak of Cebu and images of the Sto. Niño , the province’s patron, come to mind. And so does the valiant Lapu-Lapu, sweet mangoes, the famous lechon, guitars and beaches. But it is more than that. Cebu is a special and beautiful place. It is also my home.
For the traveler who goes around Cebu, the east side of the island province offers interesting foodstops that showcases homegrown delicacies that can be brought home as pasalubongs. Starting with this post, I will be featuring seven places outside of Cebu City that I have noted to offer these delights. ‘Best pig ever,’ Time Magazine quoted Anthony Bourdain as he savored Cebu lechon
What about the western side? Curiously, I haven’t found much interest with the foodstops in this part of the island. There were no interesting pasalubongs that are unique to the place except perhaps in Balamban with its bibingka or rice cake. Maybe, I still have to discover these places.1 Talisay City
“Best pig ever,” Time Magazine in their May 2009 issue of the Best of Asia 2009, Best for the Body quoted Anthony Bourdain, food guru, as he savored Cebu lechon. No contest. The best lechon (roasted suckling pig) in the country can only be found in this province and the best in the province can only be found in Talisay City. Very delectable morsel, red crispy skin, juicy meat and flavorful taste.
Manileños only know CnT as their source of Cebu lechon but if it’s a weekend and you have time to spare, head south to the place formerly known as “Yaro” in Talisay City, just around 12 kilometers and near the Catholic Church and the beach. Especially on a Sunday, still hot lechon on bamboo poles line the road ready to be chopped for waiting buyers.
One caveat though, while the price is per kilo, actual portions may be less as no weighing scales are used but are estimated only. In local parlance, mata-mata (direct translation: eye-eye) lang. During weekdays, the only way to get whole lechon is to directly source it from the roaster.
Other than lechon, buyers at the former “Yaro” can also try other items like Cebu’s dugo-dugo (blood stew), a must try and, I should say, better than those found in Manila; ginabot, deep fried intestines popularly known as chicharon bulaklak; grilled fish, squid and other seafoods. One other place in the province that claims that their roast pig is the best is in Carcar.
Note: If your only option is to buy lechon at CnT, skip their branch at the grocery section of SM City Cebu. It is overpriced by as much as 75 pesos per kilo compared to their other branch just across the mall. Their reason: mall space rent.
“Pintos sir!” A hawker at the Bogo bus terminal calls out to me from below the bus as he proudly raised his pack of this northern delicacy. Bogo, at the northern end of Cebu, is a major town center and trading area. If not for the book project that I did, I wouldn’t have tasted this one.
Pintos are ubiquitously wrapped delicacies that looks like suman (a type of rice cake) except that banana leaves are not used. It is made from ground corn, milk and, either butter (special) or margarine (ordinary) and wrapped with the husk (or is it sheath?) of the corn’s ear. It is then steamed. Special pintos may have additional ingredients like cheese or strips of coconut. At the bus stops, a pack of five is sold at 50 pesos and higher if it’s special. It is best eaten when still hot and steaming.