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Bacolod’s Sweet Delights: A Guide to Native Delicacies and Pasalubong Shopping

Bacolod City, the “City of Smiles,” is a vibrant hub in Negros Occidental, Philippines. Beyond its warm hospitality, Bacolod boasts a rich culinary scene, especially regarding its delectable native delicacies. If you’re planning a trip to Bacolod, here’s your guide to indulging in these sweet (and savory) treats and finding the perfect pasalubong (souvenir) to bring back home.

Bongbong's Piaya Pasalubong
Bongbong’s Piaya

Pasalubong Shopping Gems

Bacolod offers a treasure trove of shops specializing in these local delights. Here are some must-visits:

  • Bongbong’s Piaya and Barquillos: This iconic store is synonymous with Bacolod’s most famous pasalubong – the piaya. Their classic piaya, a thin and crispy flatbread filled with muscovado sugar, is a crowd-pleaser. But Bongbong’s also offers enticing flavors like ube (purple yam) and langka (jackfruit). They also have delectable barquillos (wafer rolls), another Bacolod staple.

  • Virgie’s Homemade Products: This charming store offers various homemade delicacies. Their bestsellers include pastillas de leche (milk candy), a melt-in-your-mouth treat made with fresh carabao milk. They also have a selection of other delicious candies like cashew brittle and peanut kisses, perfect for satisfying a sweet tooth.

  • Merzci Cuadra – Bakeshop and Pasalubong: This bakery is a haven for those seeking a diverse selection of pasalubong. Merzci’s shelves are filled with their signature tarts, pastries like lengua de gato (cat’s tongue cookies), and an assortment of local delicacies like peanut butter squares and banana chips.

Barquillos
Barquillos

Must-Try Delicacies

Now, let’s delve into the delectable world of Bacolod’s native delicacies:

  • Piaya: As mentioned earlier, piaya is the undisputed king of Bacolod’s pasalubong scene. This sweet treat has a crispy exterior, giving way to a soft, melt-in-your-mouth filling traditionally made with muscovado sugar. Today, innovative flavors like ube (purple yam), langka (jackfruit), and even mango are increasingly popular.

  • Pinasugbo: This savory dish is a Negrense specialty made from cassava. The grated cassava undergoes fermentation, resulting in a slightly sour and tangy flavor. Pinasugbo is enjoyed in various ways – fried, boiled, or even incorporated into salads.

  • Inatata: Another cassava-based delicacy, inatata is a chewy and sweet snack. Grated cassava is combined with coconut milk and sugar and then steamed in banana leaves. The result is a delectable treat with a hint of coconut aroma.

  • Lechona Patik: Bacolod’s version of lechon (roasted pig) is topped with a special sauce—patis (fish sauce). This savory dish features crispy skin and tender meat infused with the unique flavor of patis.

  • Chicken Inasal: This iconic Bacolod dish involves marinating chicken in a special concoction of annatto oil, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and other spices. The chicken is then grilled to perfection, resulting in a smoky, flavorful, and juicy treat.

  • Guinamos: For the adventurous eater, guinamos is a fermented shrimp paste with a pungent aroma and strong flavor. It’s usually enjoyed as a condiment with mangoes or vegetables.

Bacolod Chicken Inasal
Bacolod Chicken Inasal

Beyond Delicacies: Native and Indigenous Products

Bacolod also offers a glimpse into the rich culture of Negros through its selection of native and indigenous products. Here are some shops worth checking out:

  • Negros Showroom: Located at the Bacolod-Silay International Airport, the Negros Showroom offers a curated selection of handcrafted products from Negros. You’ll find woven bags, textiles like hablon cloth, and handcrafted wood carvings, all made by local artisans.

  • HandMADE in Bacolod: This non-profit organization supports local artisans by showcasing their handcrafted products. HandMADE in Bacolod offers a unique and meaningful pasalubong option, from intricately woven baskets to colorful home decor items.

Negros Showroom Pasalubong
Negros Showroom

Tips for the Savvy Traveler

Here are some tips to maximize your pasalubong shopping experience in Bacolod:

  • Buy fresh: Many delicacies like piaya and inatata are best enjoyed fresh. Consider buying them closer to your departure date.
  • Check for shelf life: Some delicacies like pastillas de leche have a longer shelf life, while others like pinasugbo are best consumed within a few days.

Sweet and Savory Shopping Spree: More Delicacies and Pasalubong Ideas

Bacolod’s culinary scene is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. Here are some additional delicacies and pasalubong ideas to add to your shopping list:

Sweet Treats

  • Calamansi Tart: This delightful tart features a buttery crust filled with a tangy, refreshing calamansi (Philippine citrus) curd. It’s a perfect balance of sweet and tart, making it a popular choice.

  • Banana Cue: A classic Filipino street food, banana cue is a must-try. Deep-fried saba bananas (plantains) are coated in caramelized brown sugar, creating a crispy and sweet treat.

  • Buko Pie: This delectable pie features a flaky crust filled with young coconut meat (buko) and sweetened condensed milk. It’s a creamy and sweet treat with a delightful textural contrast.

  • Bacolod Champorado: This isn’t your ordinary champorado (chocolate rice porridge). Bacolod’s version uses dark chocolate tablea, giving it a richer and more intense chocolate flavor. It’s often served with carabao milk for added creaminess.

Savory Delights

  • Nilagang: This Negrense comfort food features a light broth simmered with beef, vegetables, and legumes. It’s a hearty and flavorful dish that’s perfect for a satisfying meal.

  • Kansi: Another Negrense specialty, kansi is a sour and savory soup made with bone-in pork belly and various vegetables like green beans, okra, and sigarilyas (shrimp flower buds). The distinct sourness comes from using batwan leaves or tamarind.

  • Chicken Pastel: This savory dish features flaky puff pastry filled with a flavorful chicken stew. It’s a delightful combination of textures and flavors, perfect for a light snack or appetizer.

Negros Wine
Negros Wine

Unique Finds

  • Negros Wine: Locally produced wines made from fruits like mango, guava, and cashew are gaining popularity. These wines offer a unique and refreshing taste, perfect for a souvenir.

  • Tablea: Chocolate lovers shouldn’t miss out on bringing back tablea, the raw chocolate tablets used to make champorado. You can find tablea in various cocoa strengths and even flavored varieties.

Hidden Gems: Exploring the Local Markets

For a truly immersive experience, venture into Bacolod’s vibrant public markets. Here, you’ll find a wider array of delicacies, fresh produce, and local crafts at more affordable prices. Some popular markets include:

  • Bacolod Public Market: This bustling market is a treasure trove of fresh produce, seafood, and local delicacies. Be prepared to bargain and brush up on your basic Tagalog to navigate the market smoothly.

Planning Your Pasalubong Adventure

To make the most of your pasalubong shopping experience, consider these tips:

  • Make a list: Before venturing out, list the delicacies you want to buy. This will help you stay focused and avoid impulse purchases.

  • Consider packaging: Some delicacies like piaya and pastillas de leche have fragile packaging. Choose stores that offer sturdy packaging options for travel.

  • Bring an eco-bag: Bacolod is becoming increasingly eco-conscious. To reduce plastic waste, do your part by bringing a reusable bag.

  • Don’t forget to taste it! Many shops offer samples of their delicacies. Take advantage of this to find the flavors that suit your taste buds.

Bacolod’s Delights: A Lasting Memory

Bacolod’s pasalubong scene offers more than just delicious treats. It’s a window into the city’s rich culture and heritage. From the iconic piaya to the unique flavors of Negrense cuisine, your pasalubong finds will be a delightful reminder of your Bacolod adventure. So, pack your bags, embrace the warmth of Bacolod’s hospitality, and embark on a lovely journey of culinary exploration!

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