It was our last day at Mactan Shangri-La but we could not pass up the chance to take a dip before we leave. Our flight was still at three in the afternoon.
Before lunchtime, we went up to our rooms to prepare to prepare our things, clean up and get ready for our flight. However, when we opened the door, we were surprised to discover a wonderful spread composed of Cebu Lechon and a big bowl of puso waiting for us. This delicious feast is courtesy of the hotel staff.
For those who are not in the know, puso is rice encased in woven coconut leaves then steamed or boiled. This is how Cebuanos typically cook and consume their rice. It is usually sold in roadside stalls or eateries and commonly eaten without the use of utensils.
Meanwhile, Cebu Lechon is a mouthwatering dish that the province is also known for. The cooking method is similar to that of other lechon varieties in the Philippines – whole pig is skewered on a bamboo pole and slowly roasted over hot coals or firewood. What sets Cebu Lechon apart is that is that the meat and skin are generously seasoned with herbs, spices and salt, infusing a rich flavor to the dish. Most Cebuanos would tell you that you do not need a sauce to go with it and it’s true. You can eat the tender meat and crunchy, tasty skin on its own.
I first tasted Cebu Lechon at Waterfront Hotel in Lahug during one of our corporate events in 2011 and I immediately fell in love with it. For me, a trip to Cebu is not complete without a bite of this superb dish.
The skin is my favorite part because it was very crunchy and tasty – much like chicharon but with a more robust and richer flavor.
Our Cebu Lechon came with a vinegar dipping sauce with slices of red onions and red chilies. It was my first time to try dipping Cebu Lechon in vinegar and I must say it was very good. The spicy vinegar provided balance by cutting the richness of the meat.
For the kids, we ordered fried chicken and noodles. I did not try the chicken but i had a few forkfuls of the noodles; it was good and filling with generous toppings and thick tasty sauce.
By 1:30 PM, we were on our way to the airport and by 3:00 PM, we were Manila-bound. This will not be our last time in Cebu though. In fact, my wife and I felt that this is just the beginning of our love affair with the province.
But what did I learn from our Cebu getaway? Firstly, although I have previously been to Cebu twice, I still do not know much about her because I did not find time to go out of my hotel room. There are still many places to explore, beautiful corners to see and exciting new tastes to try.
Secondly, my initial impression of Cebuanos’ religiousness was affirmed when we went to the Sto. Niño Shrine. Most of the people we have encountered were also very warm and hospitable.
Lastly, I learned that stalls in Taboan Market sell more than danggit and dried squid. There are scores of other fish varieties that most of us probably do not know about. And while in here, I also learned that dried seafood actually smells pleasant and not repugnant contrary to what most of us think.
Hasta la vista, Cebu!