If you’ve been in Puerto Princesa many times, and is looking for new adventures for your tummy that is not a usual experience for a traveler, we recommend the latest dining joint to hit the City in a forest, something a traveler can connect to the locals.
Traveling Spoon is an online platform for locals who wish to showcase their culinary skills right at their own home, offering best dishes one can have if you want to feel immersion ambiance. It is a complete package of buying freshly harvested products in the local market, a one-on-one cooking demonstrations and a lot of exchanging stories during the eating session.
Palawan Daily News is fortunate to meet one of the local hosts for this happy and relaxing experience as Traveling spoon conquered the province. Mel Fernandez is a known artist and supplier of spicy condiments with a long background of culinary experience way back in her younger years.
Mel met with us past 9 in the morning along Rizal Avenue. From her own car we drove immediately to San Jose Public Market. We asked her what will be the menu for that day and she immediately answered it will depend on what are the fresh catch of that day.
In the market, there were shrimps and crabs. Mel started to grin and pick the best one from the stalls and decided to cook it with a coconut crème flavoured with different vegetables, eggplant and squash was pick by Mel before we headed to go at the Coconut milling area.
Mel is an advocate of environment. During our market tour, we noticed she brought her own tray for vegetables and seafoods; no plastic bag was used in buying those items. What she bought were packed and organized by Mel’s assistant.
An hour and half before lunch time, we headed to Irawan. The venue for this experience is situated in a forest area known as Kherekhetec Forest Tree Nursery. There a traditional Cuyonon house is situated in the center, the kitchen and dining area were separated from the main house. It is owned by Dr. Carlos Fernandez and his wife, Bituin.
Mel started preparing the dish for our sumptuous lunch. We pick some malunggay and herbs around the nursery first after we finished the welcome turmeric tea serve by the Fernandez couple.
Then the exchange of stories happened. We found out that as early as Grade 5 Mel already knew how to cook different meals. She admitted that her mom is not a good cook, and that’s the very reason she learned more recipes. But her specialty actually is more on international cuisine such as pasta food, she also share some tips about on how to chop and clean ingredients like garlic and vegetables.
Barely one hour in a simultaneous demo cooking, Mel prepared three viands for our lunch—crab and shrimp with coconut milk—-our most recommended is the eggplant with coconut cream, and the grilled fish with different peelings of spices. The eggplant is so palatable. It blew our mind with how it tasted.
The Fernandez couple completed our day with their stories of the farm. “Kherekhetec” is a cuyonon word for “moaning” and it’s a “love moan” according to Ma’am Bituin.
After the hearty lunch, we moved to the guest house for the desert. The yummy and sweetened banana with langka was served over coffee and tea, but the catch here is that stories were flying out by Dr. Carlos, particularly about his rich historical background in a long blood line of Cuyonons. It interesting to learn and ponder on it, plus the ambiance was full of natural sound that it completed our day as we bade goodbye past 2 in the afternoon.
Traveling Spoon aims to connect travelers with local and authentic food experiences, which includes homemade meals to cooking classes, right at people’s homes instead of eating at a restaurant, this immersion gives you a cultural experience worth more than a cost to a fine dining resto.
For Palawan, it’s only Mel for now who is available to be booked via travelingspoon.com and rates and special request and payments is only available online with a pick up arrangement that is good for 3 onlly.
Mel can offer every meal set up either lunch or dinner. This one is a memorable experience filled with warm hospitality and knowledge sharing. Being in that nursery farm makes you wish to stay longer or forever. For more information, please log on to travelingspoon.com.