Claude and his wife, Mary Anne, were the most gracious of hosts. They regaled us with stories about the house and how it took almost 10 years to build, slowly but with loving care. As we listened, we milled around a round table replete with butong pakwan (dried watermelon seeds) and boiled peanuts. Just off the dining are was a little bar that had a seemingly endless supply of buko (coconut) juice, iced tea, beer, water, and soft drinks with a bartender helping to scoop up the ice and do the pouring. The table was beautifully set, and here we were ushered to by Mary Anne before they brought out the appetizers.
Top row: paella, kapampangan sushi, pako salad
Bottom row: paradiso, jars of fermented vinegars, the quail
This was the delectable menu: (thanks, wysgal!)
Kapampangan Sushi - taba ng talangka maki with kamias, piniriting hito at balaw-balaw (fried catfish with fermented rice and shrimp), pindang damulag (carabeef meat)
Ensaladaang Pako (fiddlehead fern salad, with slivers of tomato and onion doused with vinaigrette dressing)
Inasal na Pugo (grilled quail with shoestring sweet potatoes and carrots)
Paella Laman Dagat (Spanish paella with seafood)
Paradiso - haleyang ube, makapuno at kamote sa krema ng gatas kalabaw (purple yam, sweet coconut and yellow yam in sweetened carabao's milk)
Nothing like a slow afternoon on a full tummy
After lunch, we strolled around the house marvelling at all the pieces that he salvaged and collected all these years. Many of Claude's feria (fair) pieces were scattered around the house, lending a fun and festive feel to the place. He welcomed us upstairs and into his living room and office where we got to see where his genius is put into canvass and paper. We were surrounded by interesting pieces of furniture designed by Claude such as the rocking daybed inspired by a tennis racket (see pic above). We walked on floors made from wood from bowling lanes and amidst whimsical floor lamps and one-off chairs. This was like his own private gallery of sorts.
The artist in his office, and his other work stations
Snapshots of Bale Dutung
Before we finally headed out at almost 5:00, Claude autographed copies of his book and brought out his bottled specialties such as his XO (for extra-ordinary) sauce, pesto, taba ng talangka (crab fat sauce) and balaw-balaw (fermented rice). (As an aside: we were also in the company of another cookbook author, Catherine Jones, who cowrote the books Eating for Lower Cholesterol and Eating for Pregnancy) .
Because we couldn't make ourselves eat any more that afternoon, we decided to skip the other restaurants such as Zapatas, VFW, Cottage Kitchen , C, etc. for another time, and opted instead to buy some pasalubongs (gifts to take home). So we stopped at Susie's, home of the best tibok-tibok - a delicious and creamy white pudding made with carabao's milk and Rosing's for some yema and pastillas de leche (milk candies).
What we couldn't resist though was a quick stop at Margarita Station , fondly called "the ville" by the locals for some margaritas before heading home. The place was huge, and the Friday night crowd was pouring in. I had a jumbo glass of strawberry margarita which I shared with Joey. That hit the spot. Tired but happy, we toasted to yet another successful food trip, and I could almost hear the wheels in our minds whirring as we planned the next. I can't wait! :)
Tibok-tibok from Susie's
Nightcap at Margarita Station
Call Bale Dutung for reservations:
+63917 5355163 or (6345) 8885163