Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Trip to San Pablo - Kusina Salud

When my cousin Butchie read about Kusina Salud in my previous blog, he was very intrigued by the salads served there.

With my mom in tow, we took a two hour drive to San Pablo, Laguna. But first, we had to buy Tita Socky's Coffee Alamid at the coffee bar at the Insular Life Building in Filinvest, Alabang.

"Coffee Alamid is Philippine Civet Coffee from wild civet droppings on the different forest floors of Philippine mountains. The Paradoxorus Philippinensis is a civet which belongs to the mongoose family - a nocturnal animal which uses its nose to choose the ripest and sweetest coffee cherries and relentlessly eats them during coffee season. Gathered very early in the morning usually before the sun rises, the forest dwellers climb the mountain and pick the civet droppings on the forest floors. On a good day, a gatherer can collect one kilo of civet droppings .

Coffee Alamid is a blend of the Philippine's finest Arabica, Liberica and Exelsa beans. When roasted, it exudes an almost musical, fruity aroma. It has a strong, sweet , dark chocolatey taste."

From arrengga.com

All three of us never had this coffee and we were curious of how it tastes like. We bought two cups of freshly brewed alamid coffee and we unanimouly loved it! Butchie loved it so much he bought his own bottle of Alamid coffe beans despite not having a coffee machine at home and vowed to buy one as soon as he got home.

The drive was very pleasant and filled with happy conversations about work, family and of course food and recipes. All the talk about food made us very hungry indeed.

When we arrived to Kusina Salud, we immediately took a group picture for posterity.

After pouring though the menu, we ordered Kusina Salud's famous salads. The Pako Salad (fern salad) and the Kulawo Salad with Calamares.

The Pako Salad (above) is made with baby ferns, crumbled salted egg, cheddar and local white cheeses, onions in a tangy vinegar and hollandaise dressing. The baby ferns we learned, are sourced from the local market. Butchie loved this salad so much, he ordered another one.

The Kulawo Salad, pictured above, is made from banana hearts with coconut milk cooked in a palayok or native clay pot over hot coals (the kulawo itself is the grayish mound in the middle of the plate) that's why it has a distinct, coconutey and smokey flavor. A must-try.

For main courses we had Kare-Kareng Dagat and Pinakbet with Lechon Kawali. The Kare-Kareng Dagat (pictured above) is a combination of prawns, mussels, fish and squid stewed in peanut sauce and served with bagoong (shrimp paste) on the side. This particular dish's sauce was surprisingly light and the shrimps are served tempura-style on top of the Kare-kare. Another winner.

The pinakbet was made using bagoong isda (fermented fish) instead of the typical bagoong. It also has ginger slices to mellow out the bagoong isda. The lechon kawali that accompanied it was also great, crispy on the outside but the meat is very tender.

For dessert, we had home-made Avocado Ice Cream, which is not on the menu. Be sure to inquire about this dessert when you dine at Kusina Salud because it very good. The ice cream itself is not too sweet yet creamy enough to satisfy any sweet tooth. The best part is that you can really tell it was made with real avocados.

My mom and I tried the Ube Guinataan, a coconut cream based dessert that had jackfruit, sweet potato, plantain bananas in ube (purple yam) sauce. A unique twist to your typical guinataan dessert. Yummy.

Butchie was also craving for Turon, it's fried crepes with banana, sugar and langka (jackfruit) inside. The turon was served with vanilla ice cream and cocojam sauce with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

My mom is very hard to please when it comes to dining out since she is a wonderful cook herself. But this time at Kusina Salud, she gave two thumbs up! A rare compliment to any restaurant.

After our very satisfying meal, we took more pictures.

During our drive back, we saw some lanzones stalls and bought a few kilos and managed to eat one kilo while talking about Butchie's famous home-made espasol. My mom and I were intrigued on how this particular kakanin was made. Butchie made an overseas call to his parents to get all the ingredient list to make his family's well guarded secret recipe (which I am not sharing here, as requested). Before going home, we dropped by the supermarket to buy all the necessry ingredients.

For dinner, Butchie had asked the maid to steam some baby blue crabs and oysters, as well as shrimps cooked in 7up soda, grilled and fried tilapia. Everything was cooked perfectly and laid out so nicely on the serving platters. The best parts of the meal were the lively conversations that we had while eating our meal and that hubby was able to join us this time.

I don't thing it should be legal to ingest this much food in one day :-)


Random Possum said...

another best day of my life!!!

right now im eating food...while reading about food :-)

Socky said...

From Coffee Alamid to crabs, with pako, kulawo and kare-kare, etc in between, what a day of feasts indeed!

Leica said...

It was truly a gastronomical experience!

ericbau said...

Was it any wonder that after dinner, we all couldn't move from the table? =)

jowein said...

Hi. I was googling alamid coffee and came across your post.

Would you care to share the name of that particular coffee bar selling Alamid coffee beans? I'm trying to get some for a friend (alam mo na, Christmas!), and how much they cost?

Thanks much!