Gata: Flavors of Bicolandia
Coconut Cream and Spice and Everything Nice
It’s called “Kakang Gata”, the first pressing, the first squeeze of the shredded coconut meat that yields the thickest cream. When used as an ingredient, the resulting dish is almost decadent in its richness, and in Bicol, when the gata is combined with more than a little heat from siling labuyo? Then we have some of the most irresistible, intensely and insanely delicious, extra-rice-required dishes in the country.
But here’s the rub. It’s much easier to look for a restaurant that specializes in Italian or Korean food, than to find one that specializes in the cuisine of Albay, Camarines Sur and Norte, Masbate, Catanduanes, and Sorsogon. It’s odd how such wonderfully flavorful food has yet to gain a secure foothold in Metro Manila. There’s a smattering of tiny restaurants, in Makati and Mandaluyong, holes in the wall, really, that serve excellent Bicolano fare, but that’s about it in that part of Metro Manila. I have a list of sukis in the “jollijeeps” of Legaspi and Salcedo Villages that regularly offer a legit laing or an authentic stingray specialty, kinunot na pagi. And every couple of years, to get my most complete food fix, I take a vacation Polangui, Albay. In the home of one of my best friends, Dr. Elmo Isip, it’s a non-stop
04 1 Laing2 Bicol Express3 Adobong Bicolano Liempo4 Honey Glazed Bicol Danggit5 Interiors6 Sinantol with Kamote Chips