When I hear the words "pork barbeque", I immediately equate them to "Aling Nene".
|Pork barbeque! F@#%! F@#%! F@#%!
Although the circumstances were not entirely happy, I was glad that I was able to spend an entire day with Little J when she was in Manila earlier this month. Really, I didn't mind tagging along while she and her mother ran some errands in Makati, because being stuck in traffic together gave us a chance to catch up.
The best part of that day was our lunch at Aling Nene's along South Superhighway (Wait, is it still called that?) which I consider to be practically in another time zone. It's so damned far from my parents' house and the traffic is so damned bad. Even though it's my favorite barbeque place in the whole wide world, I've only been there three or four times.
Little J grew up eating this stuff, since she lived just a few blocks away, and for that I am very envious. I mean, look at it. It's the perfect mix of lean and fat. It's pure, unadulterated porkiness. No fillers, no extenders, no disguises. It's just freshly slaughtered pig on skewers, expertly grilled over charcoal. Oh, and I love those carcinogenic black bits.
OK, here's another picture. Get ready.
Little J's mom, Milagros, mentioned that she wanted to have some lechon before she went back to China where she lives and works. Aling Nene to the rescue! The lechon skin was crispy and had a nice thin layer of fat. The meat was surprisingly moist. I'm partial to lechon that's eaten without dipping sauce, but Aling Nene's liver sauce had a great savory kick to it and rounded out the mild porky flavor of the meat. I was so happy for Auntie Milagros.
I pity those non-Filipino peoples of the world who've never had crispy crablets. This dish satisfies on so many levels, it's like some kinda magic food. It's for people who like to eat crab, but they're so tiny that you don't have to pick or smash or struggle with them-- just pop in your mouth like candy.
|Don't you wish you have this on your table right now?
But it's also for folks who love deep fried stuff in general, not just crab in particular. Aling Nene's version is done really well. The crablets are not greasy, not fried to death and have a substantial mouth-feel. It's like the best chicharon or crackling, but much better because it's fleshy and briny. Crispy crablets are the most delectable finger food.
Our last dish was a garden-fresh ensaladang talong, literally "eggplant salad", which is a misnomer, in my opinion. It's more relish than salad, actually. It's a medley of roasted mushy eggplant with chopped onion, tomato and green mango, crowned with a dollop of smelly and salty fish paste (bago-ong). It's a condiment which goes perfectly with inihaw, or grilled anything.
|A wonderful, delicious, fantastic, ugly mess.
That quick lunch we had at Aling Nene's is one of my contenders for My Best Meal of 2010. I am elated that they're still going strong and still serving the most sublime barbeque and Pinoy classics, and I am overjoyed that they have air-conditioning now.
|Heaven on earth.