Monday, October 14, 2013

The Great Northern Food Experience

MarQuee Mall in Angeles City will host a major food market event

Northern Luzon has one of the richest food landscapes in the Philippines. The Ilocano region has given the country the iconic dishes pinakbet and bagnet, as well as the popular condiment bagoong, but there is much more to be explored by those not familiar with Ilocano dishes. At the eastern flank, Cagayan Valley’s food items deserve more appreciation such as the pansit Cabagan, sinanta and the mochi-like pawa of Piat. The Cordillera is home to several indigenous groups and has ethnic cuisines. The Tagalog province of Bulacan is rich in history and culture including the culinary one. Metro Manila, the melting pot, is where you can find sophisticated dining and many food innovations. And then Pampanga, which likes to be called the Food Capital of the Philippines, has a proud, rich and interesting culinary history, traditions and cuisine.
Thus, it is but apt that a northern Luzon food event is held here, particularly at the MarQuee Mall in Angeles City, Pampanga’s most urbanized area. Opened in 2009, the mall has become a favorable destination for shopping, dining and entertainment. With Big Bite! The Northern Food Festival, the mall ups the ante and offers both locals and visitors a one-stop showcase of the best of the northern Luzon gastronomic experiences.
The food market, which will happen for three days from October 18 to 20, 2013, at the MarQuee Park, will include over 100 vendors representing Pampanga, Metro Manila, Baguio City, Bataan, Bulacan, Cagayan, Ilocos, La Union, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pangasinan and Zambales. Aside from the sale of foods, there will be also cooking demos, a cooking competition among culinary schools, the best heirloom recipe contest, food eating contests, and food sampling.
The food stalls will be offering fresh produce, cooked food, baked goods, desserts and much more. Things to look forward to are the native and traditional delicacies, especially the unusual kinds. Pampangan cuisine is expected to be the star of the event, and there are several Pampangan food stores and companies participating, including Nathaniel’s, which is known for its buko pandan; Kabigting’s, whose halo-halo, which uses carabao milk and carabao milk pastillas, and pansit palabok are well loved; Pampanga’s Best, popular for its tocino; the restaurant Apag Marangle, which will serve exotic dishes such as mole crickets (camaru) and stuffed frogs (betute); and Susie’s Cuisine, which is known to offer the best kakanins (rice-based sweets), particularly the tibok-tibok, a coconut cream and carabao milk pudding topped with fried coconut bits. In fact these stores have outlets in the MarQuee Mall. 

Kabigting’s halo-halo
Kabigting’s pansit palabok

Nathaniel’s famous buko pandan

Tibok-tibok, a coconut cream and carabao milk pudding topped with fried coconut bits, is popular among Susie’s Cuisine’s kakanins
Expect also the sisig, a favorite pulutan. The dish of mixed and chopped pork parts, usually the face and ears, served on a sizzling plate actually originates in Pampanga, along the train tracks in Angeles City, invented by the late Lucia Cunanan, who now has several branches of Aling Lucing’s restaurant. Another dish to expect is the kare-kare, a stew of vegetables, pork, beef or seafood in a thick peanut sauce, eaten with rice and bagoong alamang, salty shrimp paste. Pampanga lays claim to this perennial Pinoy favorite.
Big Bite affords visitors to meet celebrity cooks and chefs as some of them are invited to do cooking demonstrations. Owner of Bistro Filipino and the catering business, the Chef Laudico Group, and judge for Junior MasterChef Pinoy edition, Rolando Laudico will share his expertise. Former beauty queen and now cooking show host Sabrina Artadi of Sabrina’s Kitchen will also be gracing the event. Pampanga, of course, has a host of excellent cooks and chefs, and the most prominent two will be at Big Bite. Chef Sau del Rosario of Le Bistro Vert will be there, as well as Lillian Borromeo. Atching Lillian, as she is fondly called, welcomes visitors to her ancestral home in Mexico, Pampanga, to experience authentic and traditional Pampangan cuisine, and hear her talk about the province’s culinary heritage. Most likely she will demonstrating how to make the San Nicolas cookies, and Atching Lillian makes them in heirloom moulds.
Many people have recipes handed down to them by their forebears. You can be like Atching Lillian and share them via an heirloom recipe contest with a P20,000 prize at stake. The contest is open to legal residents of the Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, the Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon. Entries will be accepted on Oct. 18, 7 to 10 a.m. at the MarQuee Park. 

Chef Rolando Laudico
Lillian Borromeo is a keeper of Pampangan culinary traditions and history

Celebrity chef and Pampanga native Sau del Rosario will do a cooking demo

Sabrina Artadi
Along with the culinary giants, student and emerging chefs will also demonstrate their kitchen skills via the Big Bite! Culinary Cook Off. Participating in this cooking contest are the culinary schools of Philippine Women’s University, System’s Plus College, Angeles University Foundation, NorthPoint Culinary Academy and Bulacan State University. The contest will be held every day of the festival from 3 to 5 p.m. On the other hand, those who can’t cook can eat; there will be eating contests. 
MarQuee Mall’s shoppers and patrons may also avail of the Big Banquet promo.  Every P500 receipt from a MarQuee Mall shop entitles the shopper to free food samples from selected vendors every day of the festival from 6 to 8 p.m. Big Bite! also features nightly music from live bands, making the festival a multi-sensory event which everyone can enjoy.

Big Bite! The Northern Food Festival is staged in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, Manila North Tollways Corp., Asian Food Channel, Cignal Digital TV, and Mercato Centrale Group. For further details and inquiries, call +63917-7527071 or email  Like and follow MarQuee Mall’s social networking sites:, @MarQueetweets, and @iloveMarQueemall (Instagram).

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