Dear Reader, if you have read this blog before you know my life revolves around food… and we also love road trips. We have only flown once as a family in The Philippines and that was before we had our last son. We are a definite road trip family mostly because it is affordable and of course we like it. However, if Google says four hours to our destination we always plan on seven hours. I know, it’s ridiculous but it’s how we do road trips apparently. With great errors I have finally started to get the hang of preparing food for our long drives. There is only so much McDonald’s one can stand. By the end of the trip I almost have an aversion to those dang golden arches.
Here are some of my tips to help you road trip like a boss through Luzon.
Carbohydrates! Don’t be fooled with all the rice this country consumes, they also have delicious carbohydrates and my personal favorite is pandesal. First created in the 16th-century Spanish Era, pan de sal is the gift that keeps on giving.
Pandesal pa more! I obviously just cant get enough.
Recently on our drives to and from Lake Pandin we finally tried bibingka and I am so very happy. Bibingka is natrually gluten free and is a rice cake mixed with coconut milk and cooked in banana leaves and coconut husks for charcoal. They often have salted egg in them, which unfortunately I am not a huge fan of but I still really enjoy this roadside treat. Make sure to get them hot!
Word to the wise: when in Baguio drag your butt to Cafe By The Ruins and eat their camote bread and massive pandesal with hot tsokolate. You’re welcome! If you find a baked good while traveling find out when their batches are fresh and schedule a pickup or delivery. We brought this box home to Manila with us.
Whenever the time comes we have to move on I think I will miss the scenes while driving in this country. Is there anything more vibrant than Filipino produce? If you need that veggie or fruit fix pull over and buy some from the roadside stand. If our travel is more than a few days we will often shop the local wet market for a more economical price and fresh produce.
A super easy and pretty unexciting (to be safe!) Filipino dish is Chicken Inasal. It is chicken marinated in a mixture of lime, pepper, vinegar and annato then grilled over hot coals while basted with the marinade. We ordered this just last weekend because we did not want to eat McDonalds. The restaurant was presentable and clean so we pulled over. For 80 php you can’t beat the value. *I wasn’t able to grab a photo of this but rotisserie chickens are super common on the national highway through the provinces. We sometimes pull over and just buy a whole chicken. For reals.
Sort of random but packed with protein and super filling are hard boiled eggs. If you can’t prepare your own don’t worry, 7-11 usually carries them and they are located right near the cash register. Fruit, the nectar of the gods. Filipino fruit is so juicy and full of flavor. A great tip, fruit stands will peel and cut your fruit right there for you. If you need a healthy sweet fix pull over and get that dragon fruit, mangosteen, watermelon or pineapple.
I had no idea what sorbettes (Filipino ice cream) was even two years ago. Luckily, a friend taught me how to pronounce it and the deliciousness of it all.
Local favorites are always a good choice to try and pick up for pasalubong while traveling. Suman is Filipino sticky rice and comes in the yellow wrapped leaf. Super yummy either sweet or savory.
When we were in Bolinao last year I had read all about binungey, a rice cake made in bamboo. It wasn’t my favorite but I did love finding a local favorite and trying it. Most Filipino restos always have turon (fried banana), lumpiang (essentially an egg roll) and suman. These are your safety nets but are also so so delicious. I am starving now!
I am no expert and am learning as I go but I hope this helps. I know how hard it can be when everyone is starving and you are in a foreign place. Please share other tips or ideas you have in the comments.
A few more tips:
- Pack one extra meal when traveling as you never know how long it can take.
- Healthy options: cut up vegetables, fruits and hard boiled eggs, rotisserie chicken.
- Meals you can make from ingredients are 7-11: tuna fish sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and if you have a kitchen, spaghetti!
- When all else fails, buy your kids happy meals. HA!