BY NERIA NIDEA SOLIMAN
BICOL Culture was showcased last 26 October 2019 at Flushcombe Rd Blacktown City during the 1st BICOL TRADE & TOURISM EXPO and BICOL STREET FOOD FESTIVAL organized by the Bicol Communities League Inc otherwise known as Bicol Inc. There was beautiful Fiesta atmosphere with the scent of the Pinoy barbecue in skewer looming in the air. Caterer Aunty Los Kitchen made available barbecued thinly sliced pork on the spot and Mix Mix Co. stall provided the gorgeous bountiful flavours of halo-halo. Both simply brought the nostalgic memory of home sweet home Bicolandia and Manila in the Philippines!
The day brought so much joy to the Bicolnons coming from all over New South Wales. I met few Bicolanos who came from NSW country and introduced themselves as readers of my newspaper column. Good signs for more kabanwang Bicol from the country and interstates in Australia to join and participate in future Bicol expo. Congratulations to Bobby Lastica the event’s Project Manager and the working team!
I interviewed fellow journalist, Ms Benjie de Ubago who said that she was hoping to see and taste the very best of Bicol to encourage her to fly to Bicolandia the next day. Surely next Expo should showcase more exotic products and tourist destinations. The Pili nut products from sweets to cosmetics is something new, with its packaging which speaks of Bicolandia having reached the age of sophistication in technological innovation.
Another media person, Nonoy Perdon said ‘What happened to the hot Bicol cuisine which could have been served to VIP guests at function in the Library. The rolled sandwiches and cheese platters were out of context. There was rice and pancit which was duplication. The Costco Chicken wings are a poor choice and not enough as main protein dish. The last three statements are my thoughts. We need improvement in this department.
I undertook to review the food during the expo As requested by Mr Bob Lastica the project manager. For two hours I observed transactions in various food stalls. The Fil OZ Restaurant had the most reasonable prices, four sticks of BBQ with rice was only $10. Gulaman drink was $1.00. But l was disappointed of the Bicol Express the region’s signature dish which was more of a soup. I felt so sorry for the ingredients used to prepare this Bicol delicacy
The Mama Love Goods Filoz Snacks was expensive: four small dimsims cost $5.00, empanada $3.00, small Vege Lumpia $3.00 and the Suman (double) $5.00. Angeles Kitchen was most expensive: Laing with Rice or Bicol Express with Rice is $12.00. The best food stall was Aunty Lo’s Kitchen of Fairfield which had dishes like kandinga (or bopis), costilla, BBQ, dinuguan, Bicol Express and BBQ stick. From the smell and presentation, I can say the dishes were palatable and acceptability was 100%. Congratulations!
Other stalls amazed me as well, the Sylvania & San Rival and Swirl Deli were neat and organized. The ladies were properly attired. I would rate this as 100% in sanitation and food handling not because the owner is a friend, where l order Sans Rival and the exotic Sylvanas before they have this mobile stall. The Halo Halo stall, Best of Bicol mix mixis was a joy to watch. The most innovative flavours were exotic and pride of Filipino culture indeed! The big Halo Halo was expensive for the price of $11.50 and the regular was $10.00 including the Corn (Maiz con Yelo) and $7.00 for the Taro flavour.
The Phil Consulate stall had Mazapan de Pili priced at $6.00. I think this was a very good idea showcasing the Bicol Region’s pride, the Pilinut’s most exotic Pili sweet ever! Every time l go home to Legazpi, l have Mazapan de Pili done homemade by a gourmet friend. The Miso Soup Powder of XMZ Property/G. Musa Pty Ltd was a good initiative by the real estate information stall. I would have loved to savour the soup. They could have provided the stall with boiling water for tasting. The recipe with enokido miso is very good considering its health benefits. Maybe next time we should also showcase our very own Pinoy powder soup Mamasita.
Congratulations Bicol Communities League Inc. for achieving this first momentous and gargantuan project. I predict other regional communities have been inspired to showcase the very best of their regions as well. I was talking to Kapangpangan Marivic Manalo and l could see from her eyes her enthusiasm and eagerness. Mabuhay Bicol Trade and Tourism Expo and Bicol Street Foods Festival. It was indeed a celebration of the very Best of Bicol , our rich Bicol culture and Bicol Pride!