Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

Magnum White King
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Caldereta & ‘que at Countryside

posted by in Filipino, Restaurants

This eatery is my idea of a hole-in-the-wall, and it’s one of my favorites.

Countryside was one of those restaurants that I’d drive by everyday when I was in college. I never ate there though, I was too busy with Full House and Sally’s (gosh, I miss those places). Plus, my boyfriend at the time once pointed at Countryside and stated, “I’d never take you there.” He never told me why and it’s ironic that the man I ended up marrying once pointed to the same place and said, “I’ll take you there.”

I’ve been told many times that I “… don’t look like the type of person who could eat in places like that.” You’d be surprised. I met my good friend K, at Aysee’s 11 years ago and I knew I had a friend for life when she also asked for a raw egg atop her already-heaving, heart attack plate of sisig. I’m attracted to people with hearty appetites; I think it says a lot, and not just about their eating habits either.

Cheeky wit, Pinoy style.

When I think hole-in-the-wall, I think of a place like Countryside: a roadside eatery with the day’s dishes displayed in aluminum pots. Most often they’ve got a grill going off on the side, its aromatic fog contributing to the fug and fumes perfuming the food. One look at the meat on heat automatically gets my mouth watering.

Barbeque (P28/stick) is what made Countryside. After a failed attempt at a steakhouse in 1970, owner Nerissa Aquino started up a sari-sari store and small canteen offering just two dishes, dinuguan (blood stew) and menudo (diced pork and liver stew).The barbeque came soon after.

Restaurant owners who make their fortune from the glories of the grill have a special formula that keeps the crowds coming. Countryside is no different. Its meat destined for the ‘que is marinated and then basted with an entirely separate sauce that boasts of 16 secret ingredients – some say 12 – apparently, it’s one of those ever-changing codes like those digital passwords that modify every minute. Took a decade to perfect too, I’m told. Whatever it is, it works. The sauce sticks to the meat, brushed on as it is and aided by the magic of charcoal and fire, offering barbeque that yields to bite. A shot of sweet first, then the pucker of pepper and vinegar and then sweet overshadows again. Obviously, it’s impossible to stop at just a single stick.

I’m also a big fan of the binagoongan, yet another viand that rages for rice.

I also like the other stuff on sticks, especially the pork liempo (pig belly); on the menu it’s called inihaw baboy on stick and it’s unique to this eatery. Chopped up liempo pieces all perfectly-sized, are skewered and grilled. It tastes so much like charcoal probably because of the disproportionate amount of fat to meat but it’s wonderful when dipped in my self-made condiment of finger chili, vinegar, and soy sauce. It also goes without saying that Countryside’s selection of grilled innards is exceptional. I cut my lifespan short sating myself with sticks of chicken butt, isaw, and chicken liver. I’m told the chicken barbeque is much recommended but there’s something else I come to Countryside for.

Countryside’s caldereta: not a looker but a real king in flavor

Everyone knows that Countryside’s caldereta is killer, and it isn’t just because regular servings of it will, in fact, send one early to that dessert place in the sky. There was one time I took home several orders of this star dish. As the girl behind the counter used this huge ladle to fill up my equally huge plastic container, she proudly related (in Tagalog) how Countryside used “… real olive oil, pimientos, and green olives. That’s why it’s so good!”

Too good, really. Countryside’s caldereta is so flavorful (malasa), it’s in one’s best interest to eat it with heaps of hot rice because to eat it as is makes the implosion of tastes on tongue almost too much to bear. A marvelous demonstration of the cook’s patience and skill allows unprepossessing ingredients to take flight in a flurry of flavors sitting and simmering, setting then softening. To eat it is to have a moment of some description where tomato sauce reveals its piquant secret of beef seared in olive oil then stroked with liver spread and cheese. Sometimes the meat is tough but never so much that I swear I’ll never come back.

All brown, all beautiful.
Drinking from this 8oz softdrink bottle adds a retro touch to my meal.

Uncanny really, how it’s possible to experience such fits of delicious delight in a restaurant where roaring motorcycles are the soundtrack, smoke is the perfume, and legs stick to seats because of sweat and plastic. But I like it. I should’ve come here in college even if my then-boyfriend was insistent he wouldn’t take me here. No wonder I didn’t marry him.

Countryside Restaurant
228 Katipunan Ave., Blue Ridge, Quezon City
(02) 647 1448.
Open Monday to Sunday, 10am-2:30am.
P100/dish. Barbeques P28 and up.

32 Responses to “Caldereta & ‘que at Countryside”

  • My dad and I have always been curious about this place and the long line of cars that are always outside. Will drop by for sure next time :)

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  • Bwahahaha! I know that Bin is “cowboy” but the fact that he brought you to Countryside is precious :)

    Not a fan of guys who profess to being squeamish in carinderias or fine-dining places. Period. :D

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    Aina L. Reply:

    “Not a fan of guys who profess to being squeamish in carinderias or fine-dining places. Period.”

    —I completely agree, K!

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  • Wow! I love caldereta!! Especially the one with olives!

    What are the nearest landmarks to this place?

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    Lori Reply:

    Marion Bernardo-
    Just go down White Plains Ave past Banapple and all those other restaurants. Countryside will be on your right right before the flyover leading down to Ateneo, etc.
    –lori

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    Melissa Aquino Valencia Reply:

    It is beside Kopiroti Katipunan and in front of Quirino Memorial Hospital.Please call 647-1448

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  • the serving’s not too generous for the price (P100) but i would have to agree it’s one of the best kalderetas i’ve tasted :D

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    Lori Reply:

    annie-
    Yes, people complain that it’s expensive for a “carinderia” and I do agree that it’s a small serving.

    –lori

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  • The pics on this post remind me of the days I used to eat the carinderia in Ateneo’s covered courts. Always got the inihaw na liempo paired with the talong, a cup and a half of rice then my own sawsawan of toyo, suka and sili with one calamansi. Those were the days.

    I wonder if it’s still there? I hear students talk about Sec A and Sec B and I haven’t the faintest clue what buildings those are hahahahaaha

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    Lloyd Reply:

    Manang’s? I believe it’s still there!

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  • @MellowMarco, it’s Manang’s. and i have very fond memories of their liempo too :)

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  • I’ve eaten there in my gradeschool days. I’m almost 30 and that says how long ago that was. This is another proof of how simple good food can help restaurants thrive and survive through the years. Oh I do think that the no frills ambiance also does help too ;p

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  • I love the binagoongan ang caldereta at Countryside. It’s been a while since my last visit there. This post makes me want to go back soon. Yum!

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  • MellowMarco: I think you’re talking about Manang’s! It was recently named one of the top 10 liempo’s in Metro Manila (though I prefer the lechon kawali)

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  • Brian and I have plans of getting at least the caldereta.

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  • Manang’s is still there, and legions of fans from all over still crave their oh so delicious liempo. The place looks better and they even have trays now.

    I ate there almost every day during my time at Ateneo.

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  • Countryside is our favorite too. My hubby was the one who introduced the place to me. They have the best inihaw na tenga. So yummy when dipped in their special vinegar and lots of steaming white rice. It’s making me drool now just thinking of it.

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  • Oh they have Igado!!!!

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  • i wanted to share my hole-in-the-wall experiences but most of them happened in Pampanga.you gave me the idea,though,lori. :) when i get home oneof these days,ill feature these hole-in-wall thingies. :) in the meantime,though,you might want to check a gotohan/pansitan in F.Torres St., Singalong, Manila. The place is known for being owned by the ‘Batanguenas.’ they have the best goto and pansit palabok i ever tasted! :)

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  • Ate here this earlier this morning. The caldereta is really gooooood and mind you, I know good caldereta (one of my many comfort foods). The bbq was quite…flavorless though? I dunno. Must try again next time! :D

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  • Hi Lori, I’ve tried Countryside’s caldereta and it’s good. I can only say it’s good because in my 29 years of existence I’ve never eaten any caldereta that tastes better than my mom’s. Her sauce is sooo good that there was even 1 guest at home who ended up licking his plate. Hihihi.

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  • I love their papaitan!!!!

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  • OMG Lori, I think we went out with the same guy :-) An ex also told me when I suggested we try the place that he’d never take me there!

    Ah, this one makes me terribly homesick.

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  • Full House I know but Sally’s must have come after my time in Loyola, but I guess you didn’t get to eat in Pampanguena’s. It was the hole in the wall place where a lot of Ateneans and Maroons (what where UP people called anyway?) would eat lunch in the late 80’s. Never got hepatitis which was surprising or just lucky.

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    Lori Reply:

    Gerry-
    Pampanguena’s was before my time I think, because it’s not ringing any bells…

    –lori

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  • So that’s what it looks like upclose! I pass that hole-in-the-wall everyday and heard it serves a good bbq stick but haven’t found a foodie friend who would want to live a little and try to eat there;) I guess, hepa is high on their minds too

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  • I agree. The best ang caldereta nila but its quite expensive for such a small serving. Sarap din ng fruit shakes nila. It reminds me of Jonas fruit shakes sa Boracay.

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  • Not a fan of caldereta but you really had me at inihaw na liempo and everything grilled on a stick. My boyfriend will love this place since he’s the caldereta fan.

    As for your ex, I think it was his loss that he didn’t take you to places like these. =)

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  • their tokwa’t baboy is to die for!

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  • Spent five years of training at Quirino Memorial Medical center and everyday,every night duties,without fail,we eat at countryside.Walang kasawaan to their chicken and pork barbecue plus the famous kaldereta.

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  • lutong kasambahay, pati attitude ng mga tindera, pang kasambahay na nagtataray sa oras ng trabaho, nothing special at ang dumi ng lugar.

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