International Food Blogger Meat-Up in Cebu City, Philippines

When you travel, you have no idea who you’re going to meet. And that is one of the most exciting things about traveling. You wonder who will cross in your path. Will it be fleeting, will it be memorable, will you wish you never started that conversation? I’ve never been great at walking up to people and just starting a conversation. So this was going to be one of my biggest challenges. Either I spend two months talking by myself (and go nuts) or approaching people and seeing what comes of it! When it comes to introvert or extrovert, I would definitely put myself up against the wall with the former. However, once that initial awkward (for me at least) hello is out of the way, I slowly slide over the spectrum towards the extroverts. Certainly not all the way, but I do inch over.
Nowadays, travel is easier on us introverts and for those who can’t read a map to save our lives! So I decided I would try and meet up with some local food bloggers in Cebu City, Philippines. After a quick Google search, I found two bloggers who seemed to be really fun and knowledgeable. There contact information was easy to find (a lesson many bloggers need to learn) and I emailed them together. I assumed they knew each other and sure enough, they were friends, game to meet up and show me around!

So, I met up with Marco of Lami Kaayo and Justinne of Babe for Food and my only request was traditional Filipino food and boy, did they deliver!

We started with a Jeepney ride and followed it with an evening of meaty goodness! First up was lechon, which is a whole roasted pig and something that the Philippines is famous for and particularly Cebu. The crowning glory of lechon is the crispy skin that is the pork equivalent to candy. It’s ridiculously crispy, salty and sweet! We began with Tatang’s Lechon Belly which serves only the pork belly meat! It’s all boneless and it comes “regular” or “spicy.” Unfortunately for us, we came after their dinner rush, so we missed out on the spicy, but we were lucky to get anything at all!

As it’s more a take-out location than a sit-down place, we grabbed our lechon to go and headed next door to Matias BBQ. It was definitely a local spot and thankfully I had help to navigate my way around. Everything is partially cooked and you grab everything you want, give it to the hard-working grill master and find yourself a seat. The place is pretty big and they didn’t seat us, so I was skeptical they’d find us with the right food. But, I probably should have had more faith because sure enough they found us with our bounty of grilled meat!

First up, I had to try the lechon and my goodness, it did not disappoint. They provide a dipping sauce as well which we just called “magic” sauce because that’s pretty much sums it up. It gave the lechon even more to go on about. It was sweet and made it even juicer, not that it wasn’t already. And yes, if there is such as thing as meat candy, this is it. Crispy like you wouldn’t believe, salty and sweet at the same time and one of the best things I’ve ever had.

As for the grilled meat, I went for the grilled chicken breast and it was everything BBQ chicken should be! The meat was tender, the skin was crispy and the dipping sauce was tailor made to suit your own desires. You’ll notice the little dish beside each plate. We all made our own dipping sauce which consisted of cute baby limes (calamansi) and small but potent chili peppers. Squeeze the calamansi into the bowl with the chilies and there you go.

You’ll also notice the packets on the table which is called puso. It’s sold pretty much everywhere like that in the Philippines. It’s rice that’s been put into a pouch made with from strips of coconut and then boiled. It’s sticky and sweet from the coconut and there’s a small slit to make it easy to pop open. It’s perfect to sop up all the juices and also give your tongue a break if you added a few too many chilies!

Did you notice there is zero cutlery on the table? This BBQ feast was a total free-f0r-all with our hands. Nothing turns strangers into friends faster than digging in with your hands! The evening was a success for all sorts of reasons. First, it was a great meal. Second, as I expected, we all got along famously. The best thing about eating with other food lovers and bloggers is that everyone understands the need to take a few photos prior to eating. No apologies, no hurried looks and in fact, it’s encouraged! And lastly, it helped me bust out of my shell a bit and get me on the right path for many more adventures with yet to be determined people!

Ethan’s note – Yes, all iPhone photos. When you go all in with just your hands to eat, it’s best to leave the fancy camera! in your bag! And unfortunately, these restaurants don’t have websites.

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3 Responses to International Food Blogger Meat-Up in Cebu City, Philippines

  1. Marco December 21, 2013 at 7:00 am #

    It was nice meeting you Ethan, more food trips when you get back to Cebu ;)

    • Ethan December 27, 2013 at 4:06 am #

      Count on it!

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