Cavite is not usually part of any “gastronomic trail”. Cavite is often overlooked by people going to Batangas, which is known for its Bulalo, Lomi, Coffee, and travelers bound for Laguna, for its Puto.
However, a lunch at Island Cove Fishing Village completely changed my mind about Cavite and its cuisine. This province has more to offer to visitors than just their Annatto tinted food products.
I know Cavite cuisine for only one distinction from other Filipino cuisine, their heavy usage of Acuete or Annato seeds infused oil. But I couldn’t be more wrong, and I was more than happy to be proved wrong by Chef Vill Purificacion of Island Cove.
A simple lunch at Island Cove proved to me that Cavite has more to offer, as it is also known as or was known as the Seafood Capital. Having Oysters or Talaba, Mussels or Tahong, popular pasalubong from this coastal province.
Our lunch started with a popular Bacoor, Cavite snack Tahong Chips or Crispy Mussels Chips. At first I was hesitant to try this item since I had a previous bad experience with Tahong Chips. But this one, I could not stop eating! 🙂 You may try it with or without the provided vinegar and both ways the chips will deliver different flavor profiles.
Next came this Fried Law-Law or Fried Indian Herring. Chef Vill revealed that the fish are too small that it takes so much time filleting them, hence only one small restaurant in Cavite City has been doing it since the 1800’s.
The Lawlaw fish reminds me of a meatier version compared to Tagaytay’s Tawilis but is served with this really good vinegar mixture that we were told was made only in Island Cove.
If there is one dish in Cavite I am very familiar with, it must be this one, Mutya ng Cavite. Cavite, being known as or the Seafood Capital, made this Seafood Chowder of sort containing fresh seafood catch available in the province. Mussels, Blue Crabs, Clams, and Shrimps, cooked in a very rich cream and seafood base soup.
The next one looks like a milk-less Sopas known as Calandracas, ham hock base stock soup filled with Carrots, Potatoes, Cabbage, Chickpeas, Chicken, Gizzard, Chorizo, and Sotanghon, seasoned with a very popular Cavite seasoning, Patis Tanza.
Adobong Imus or Adobong Pula is how I envision traditional Cavite cooking, richly laden with Annatto Oil. Chicken pieces slowly simmered in vinegar bay leaves, garlic, salt, pepper, minus the ever popular soy sauce.
Island Cove is in Kawit, Cavite and one popular dish in that area is Afritadang Gulay na may gulay. Afritada is usually a dish associated with chicken, but this one is with sauteed vegetables, sweet potato or kamote, white cabbage or pechay, bell peppers, and pork bits.
One dish I was more than excited to try was Bacalao, salted and dried Cod Fish, cooked with Vegetables, Chorizo, Garbanzo, and Annatto Oil. Perfectly paired with just plain rice, but I assure you… Get the next dish we had to pair this with over plain rice any single time. 🙂
Valenciana, a popular dish in General Trias, also known as Arroz Valenciana or Bringhe, depending on where you are in the country. This dish is a rich coconut tasting rice pilaf cooked with Chorizo de Bilbao, Chicken and Pork and boiled with Coconut Milk instead of water, and Annatto Oil to give it that familiar color.
Also popular from General Trias or formerly known as San Francisco de Malabon is Pancit Malabon. Contrary to popular belief, this dish did not originate from Malabon City up north but from Malabon down south during the 1500’s. Again using the sea’s bounty such as Shrimps, tossed together with Smoked Fish from Bacoor, Shrimp Sauce, Chicharon completes this glass noodle dish.
Another very popular Cavite dish I wanted to try was Pancit Kawit or Pancit Pusit. This noodle dish is covered in Squid Ink, giving it its deep black color. Garnished with Squid Rings, Grated Green Mango, and Scallion.
A very interesting dish we had that lunch was Pancit na may Puso ng Saging. A Cavitenean pancit using a combination of bihon or rice noodles, miki or egg noodles, cooked in achuete with small slices of pork and thinly sliced green beans, carrots, and cabbage. The sour acidity of the dish comes from the Puso ng Saging or Banana Blossom pickled in vinegar.
We ended our lunch with Kakanin or Rice cakes made from Imus, Cavite such as Kutsinta, Sapin-Sapin, and Puto, also part of the spread is Kalamay Bunalejos from Indang, Cavite.
We definitely had a wonderful “gastronomic tour” of Cavite without leaving the Fishing Village of Island Cove.
The “Taste Cavite” menu will be available every Friday, Staurday, and Sunday starting this November 18, 2016 and will be served daily beginning December 22.
Disclaimer: Everything written here is entirely based on my own opinion, my own biases, and my own insights.
Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park
Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite
(046) 434 0210