Trip to Lemery and Taal
- Lydia Castillo (The Philippine Star) - March 1, 2015 - 12:00am

Lemery is not really a sleepy town, but its immediate neighbor Taal is more interesting.

That was not planned in advance. It was more like a spur of the moment activity.

It was a chance to meet up with relatives we have not seen for quite a while. That was our recent trip to Lemery and Taal, Batangas. We traveled leisurely through well-paved roads and reached our destination safely. After a long drive, we knew we were in Batangas when we saw the billboards with the giant photo of their lady governor.

The family bonding was good. Lemery is not really a sleepy town, but its immediate neighbor Taal is more interesting. Who has not heard of the tiny but fiery Taal Volcano? It was drizzly and cloudy that day, so we missed seeing this from the road. Taal is where the historic Basilica de Tours is located, a site that any tour group should not miss.

Taal is also where the well-seasoned pork tapa is sold, in the bustling public market. It is a popular pabaon (souvenir) for visiting relatives. If one is lucky, tawilis, the small savory fish that has become rare, would be available. Taal tamales are smaller than those found in other towns, but are a tasty blend of flavors. The empanadas (meat pies) are a new discovery. These pies are busog, meaning they have ample meat filling with a slice of hard boiled egg, unlike others with hardly anything inside. The crust is chewy, the edge crusty. They are individually packed in boxes of 10s.

Our trip was capped by lunch at the Taal Bayview Bistro hosted by our nephew Mimoy and niece Riza, both doctors. Owned and managed by Joseph and Mia Razon, we were told that it had its so called humble beginnings in a small stall in the public market. As it gained approval from the residents, they constructed the building in its present location, like an old Spanish-type house with a playground for children at the back.

Their specialty is the roast chicken, perfectly browned, apparently it has been bathed with soy sauce, plus other Chinese seasonings. And old favorite soup, hototay, is served here, as well as lomi, which has become a signature dish of the Taaleños, the latter topped by crunchy pork skin (chicharon). The crispy pata is garnished with fried potatoes while the sisig was oozing the spice of chili. For non-meat eaters, Bistro has the famed Batangas maliputo and tawilis. It was a day well spent.

We are sharing herewith a recipe to make fresh dill sauce, which homemakers can serve with steamed cream dory. You need to mix sour cream, which you either buy from the supermarket or make yourself; chopped fresh dill leaves and salt to taste. To make sour cream, mix milk with the juice of calamansi. Let it stand for a while until it curdles.

On the days when we need to abstain from meat, seafood dishes are ideal. They are actually healthier. If you are cooking shrimp tempura, you can buy ready-to-use coating from the supermarkets as well as bottled tempura sauces. Alternatively, make sauce from beef broth, chopped ginger and chopped radish.

Enjoy your Sunday with your family!

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