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Dining Adventure in Pampanga!

Dining adventure at Claude Tayag’s Pampanga home
By Sandy Daza, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Whenever I hear the words Pampanga cuisine, there is one family name that comes to mind: Tayag.

I first met Mario Tayag in our early days at the University of the Philippines, when he was a young suitor of our neighbor, Yeb Manalang.

Eventually, I also got to meet Mario’s 11 siblings. Their parents encouraged each of them to become a food lover. I remember talking to their mom one time and seeing her face light up when she described the food she loved.

Aling Lucing’s ‘sisig’

It was Mario who took me to Aling Lucing to sample the then unknown sisig (grilled pig’s head and ears) by the old railroad tracks in Angeles City.

Lito, the eldest of the Tayag siblings, would host dinners at his home—introducing us to the best tocino and longganisa of the province, as well as fish and shrimp buro eaten with fried dalag and wrapped in mustasa leaves.

Since then, I have been going back to Mining’s stall at Magnolia Lane in Nepo Mart for tocino and longganisa.

Driving to ‘Bale Dutung’

The Tayag siblings have gone a long way: Doren is a great baker; Paul sells various goodies like siopao and siomai; Abong has a dairy farm supplying many milk products; and the artist of the family, Claude, is a traveling foodie, an artist, food tour book author, furniture designer, and host of the most popular culinary experience of Pampanga in his residence dubbed Bale Dutung.

I, together with former UP high classmates, took the two-hour drive to Angeles to experience this adventure.

We were a group of about 12 hungry diners. We drove to Villa Gloria and were soon ringing the doorbell in front of what looked like an ancestral home. This is the gate to the famous Bale Dutung—Claude and his wife Maryann’s “baby” where many culinary feasts have been held.

The place had a nice, warm feel to it, with all the old-looking furniture. Most of them were designed by Claude, and many are various collections from many parts of the country.

12-course meal

We sat down to a 12-course meal, with Maryann briefing us on what to expect. I felt a certain thrill of anticipation.

We started off with Ensaladang Pako—fresh fern salad picked from Claude’s garden and served with a vinaigrette dressing. It was simple but refreshing.

Then we had Pritong Lumpiang Ubod with his Claude’s Oriental or wansoy sauce. Good.

Next was Boneless Chicken Inasal with Talangka sushi. It was the real deal.

The Adobong Pugo was delicious, too.

Hito Balobalo and sushi is the buro with mustasa. Sarap.

For the unhealthy part but worth breaking one’s diet over, we had the Fried Lechon Flakes wrapped in tortilla with Oriental sauce, Bulanglang Kapampangan na may tiyan ng bangus with a really nice and soothing guava sauce. Delicious.

We also had a Porchetta sandwich on ciabatta bread. This is a boneless, crispy, roasted liempo sandwich. Iba!

Main course

There was also Begucan Sisig Babi at Ensaladang Talong (but I still prefer the Aling Lucing version).

And for main, we had a thick Kare-Kareng Laman Dagat.

For dessert, I had an amazing one—carabao pastilles with a crusty top( torched like a crème brûlée) and topped with a variety of Pinoy goodies like ube halaya and leche flan. Super sarap.

All in all, it was an experience I strongly recommend that you try with dear friends. Get a group together, or call and just join in with a consolidated group for this dining adventure worth a drive. I heard Claude also serves lechon five ways. That I have to try.

Whenever there is a new find in the province, I am one of those who gets a tip from one of the Tayag siblings. Love it!

As soon as I got home, I just took a pack of Cilium fiber with lots of water and was back to normal.
Happy eating!

Bale Dutung is on Paul St. cor. St. Francis St., Villa Gloria, San Jose, Angeles City, Philippines; Tel. Nos. (045) 625-0169 or 0917-5359198. Or visit http://claudetayag.net/index.htm or email at claudetayag@gmail.com

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Paskuhan Village, City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines
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