As a teenager, I was a swimmer, which required a daily workout in the pool.
After the training, I would walk home and then devour as many as seven ham and egg sandwiches (that’s a whole loaf) or whatever was available.
I would eat as much as I wanted; gaining weight was something I didn’t worry about. And since my baon was limited, I would go out of my way to find hole-in-the-wall eateries. Friends gave me tips on where the best meals could be had without spending too much.
My mother also had a French restaurant, Au Bon Vivant, where I learned to appreciate fine-dining fare. I worked in our restaurants in Manila and Paris and got exposed to international cuisines.
I also took up Hotel and Restaurant Administration at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and enrolled in a few culinary schools.
All these experiences made it obvious that I would go into the food business. Soon, I was hosting a cooking show. For the past years, I have also been writing this weekly food column.
And just recently, I started doing food tours. This year, the Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) asked me to lead a culinary tour of Fukuoka, Hiroshima and Osaka.
Fukuoka and Hiroshima are not as well known to us Filipinos. We flew from Manila to Fukuoka and arrived around 2 p.m. Two hours later, we were doing the canal tour in Hakata.
Stalls are set up at this hour and shops open at around 6 p.m.
Some of our companions dined in the best gyoza place of Fukuoka. I, with my newfound friends—lawyers Ferdie Domingo, Mario Tayag, Lem Santos, Paolo Roxas, Dennis Espejo, Gerry and his wife Annabel Tan—discovered Ramen Stadium in the nearby shopping mall.
We accidentally found a pork neck ramen which was so unbelievably delicious that I am certain to include a stop in this place in my next tour in April.
That evening, we had a most delicious shabu shabu in a restaurant nearby. The next day, we visited the Yanagibashi market, where some of us boldly sampled the poisonous fubu fish.
For lunch the next day, we had sashimi and tempura of fresh squid. Then for dinner, I requested something familiar to us, but on a higher level. So it was tonkatsu.
On the third day, we had lunch in a place that served anago meshi or seawater eel, but a different variety from the unagi that most of us are used to. That evening, I suggested we go to a place offering sesame noodles; the dish was also delicious and new.
On the fourth day, we had lunch in an oyster place beside the sea and in the open air. We had unlimited grilled oysters with Japanese rice cooked in oyster broth. Outstanding meal! That evening, we just had light tempura.
For lunch on the fifth day, we had Superior Chiya beef.
And for our last meal in the tour, we had sushi in one of the top sushi places in Osaka. Of course, most of us were already talking about dieting at this point. But for me all diets should be off when traveling.
Everything we planned, we were able to do and more. By the time we ended, we were all friends. How could we not be? Every single one who joined was obviously a foodie like me.
Was it a perfect food tour? No. But I would give it a gold. I plan to give the next one a gold plus distinction! There will be improvements with Pia of JTB in the next jaunt.
For now, it’s diet all the way for me for two days now that we’re back in Manila. But on the third day, its taping for “Food Prints” and patay na naman my diet. I love my job!
The 2nd Fukuoka/ Hiroshima food tour is April 23-28. Please e-mail me at [email protected] if you care to join.
I’ve learned that where there’s food, there will be pests, whether it’s a restaurant or the home.
I’ve tried many pest control treatments. Only one has impressed me.
This guy looks behind picture frames, the rubber sidings of refrigerators, checks where pests can come in and how to prevent them, etc. (Call Pest To Go at 0916-7129394).