Friday, May 26, 2017

When in Pampanga: Bale Dutung

As much as I love to eat out, I also enjoy staying at home and experimenting in the kitchen. Lately, I find attending events a bit too much especially when all my loose clothes are starting to be fit. But an invite to Bale Dutung is too good to resist. And before my brain cells could even process the pros and cons of attending, I already click the send button with yes as my reply.
Hello, Bale Dutung!
I've been eying this restaurant for over a year now. But it being located outside Metro Manila and requiring a minimum of a dozen to reserve made it difficult for me to visit Bale Dutung sooner.
Thankfully, I was invited by Lifestyle TV to attend the press launch of Claude Tayag's cooking show Chasing Flavors which will air on June 3, 9 p.m..
While waiting for everyone to arrive, we munched on some jicama with shrimp paste.
I was thrilled to tour this spacious and picturesque restaurant with Chef Claude as our guide. He showed us Almazen which is also the shoot location of Chasing Flavors. The vintage decors and rustic vibe made the frustrated interior designer in me so giddy.
After our quick walk around the compound, Chef Claude did a quick demo on how to make Lechon Tortilla. His simple steps and basic cooking terms made it easy for me to grasp everything. In fact, I want to try making it at home! I just need some of that lechon rub to make it taste sweet but with an attitude.
I absolutely love the soft shelled lechon taco.
Each bite was packed with flavors and the different veggies added extra crunch. Don't forget to add sauce to tie all the flavors together.
Next served was a plate of Pako Salad which was quite tangy because of its dressing. Chef Claude said that they decided to serve it to prep our tummies for the next lechon dishes.
Chef Claude also showed us how he makes sisig. He also mentioned how sisig became what it is today and the different varieties of the well-loved Filipino dish. It started as a simple dish and evolved to several versions from different restaurants and regions.
My favorite among the different kinds of sisig? The most sinful one, Lechon Sisig. I loved how Bale Dutung's version remained true to Kapampangan's way of cooking sisig. It had this sour note in each bite thanks to the pork being cooked with calamansi. It is also mixed with chili but since this red spice is added after cooking the pork, the whole dish doesn't turn too hot.
The star of our lunch was the classic Roasted Lechon.
The skin's crackling sound was music to my ears and its crunch and slightly salty flavor was divine. The moist meat was great too and would go well with the liver sauce or with vinegar.
And just when we were about to unbutton our pants, we were each served a bowl of Sinigang na Lechon.
I was about to reach food coma then so I told myself that I'll just have one sip of the soup and tiny bite of the lechon. But it was too good to be enjoyed that way. I ended up finishing more than half of what was served. The tangy soup made it a legit sinigang in my book and the soft lechon was just too heavenly not to munch.
As we wait for the last two dishes, we were given some Frozen Bloody Mary which were spectacular as well. The frozen tomatoes were really tangy making it a great palate cleanser and a nice break from the rich flavors we just indulged. 
Second to the last dish served was Inihaw na Tadyang na Lechon with Enseladang Talong
Our table agreed that the lechon ribs reminded us of the famous chicken inasal given its smokey taste. It went very well with the eggplant as it gave our taste buds a break from all the pork served to us.
Last served was Lechon Asado which came from the lechon's hind. Served with some greens, carrots and marbled potatoes, a serving of this could stuff one up.
I was expecting a sweeter taste given that it's asado but it had a beautiful balance of sweet and salty flavors. I liked it that way though.
And to cap our heavy meal, we each had a cup of buko melon sorbet. The light and sweet frozen treat was perfect to close our superb lunch. 
It was indeed a scrumptious afternoon and I left Chef Claude Tayag's wooden house with a full tummy and culinary inspired. I can't wait to watch his show Chasing Flavors this Saturday! 
Bale Dutung is located at Villa Gloria Subdivision, Angeles City, Pampanga. For reservations or inquiries, you may contact them at +639175359198 or email them at / (If you really cannot pull eleven more foodies with you, you can shoot Mary Ann an email to schedule you with another group.)

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