Tita Cely is the one on the extreme left, enjoying her food.
I wanted to write more about Tita Cely (Kalaw), the culinary genius behind the Bicol Express. That article only barely scratched the surface of what this cook can do.
As I mentioned earlier, my Bin and I bought food from the San Lorenzo Sunday market last weekend. Tita Cely has a stall there serving the food that she offers in her store at Market! Market! She serves nothing but the most exceptional of home-cooked Filipino dishes: my Bin and I went home with generous servings of laing, longganisa (native spiced sausage), binagoongan (pork dish cooked with shrimp paste), and of course Tita Cely’s revered Bicol Express.
an array of food at the Sinigang Bar
Eating the food at home, my Bin and I couldn’t help but exclaim over how good the food was. There we were eating, our mouths ablaze from the Bicol Express and all I could think was, “Shoot, Filipino food is so good. It’s so good.” Granted, all Filipino food is good, but if it’s cooked by someone who respects it, understands the ingredients and how they pulse as one, then the ultimate in Filipino food is created. There are cooks and then there are COOKS.
Tita Cely runs a stall at Market! Market! called Tita Cely’s Sinigang Bar. It’s an unassuming little place that belies the gloriousness of the food that is offered; it’s down home Filipino food the way it was meant to be. Start off with one of her many sinigangs (Filipino sour soup), piping hot and sour enough to send tingles down your throat; and then proceed unabashed into the humba, steamed prawns, chili crab claws as large as a woman’s arm, dinuguan, adobo, fried chicken, various vegetable dishes, and plenty more. Chow down and eat all of this with rice. Plenty of rice. You’ll be overcome with a delirious sense of satiety and Filipino food so outstanding you’ll want to salute. No kidding.
bananas in sugar syrup
Don’t forget dessert. Tita Cely is remarkable with sweets. She serves a mean ginataan halo-halo (sweet coconut milk stew of sweet potatoes, taro, sticky rice balls, etc), matamis na saging (thick-skinned cooking bananas simmered in a sugar syrup), among others.
The best thing about Tita Cely’s Sinigang Bar is that you can have a better meal here than what you’d pay at other (more expensive) Filipino restaurants. Waddle off with a bursting stomach and still have plenty of cash to spare. Now that’s something to say mabuhay! to.
Tita Cely’s Sinigang Bar