Albay's Spicy Bicol Express, Now In a Decadent Ice Cream!
Choose Philippines | Sep 22, 2016
Named after the passenger train that traveled from Manila to Bicol, the Bicol Express has since become an icon of Bicolano cuisine. Composed of siling mahaba, coconut milk, bagoong, as well as pork, onions, and garlic, it combines all the signature tastes and textures Bicol is known for: creamy, decadent, and most importantly, spicy. Legends say that it was popularized in Malate, Manila by a Bicolano cook who had been missing his home down South. As it grew in popularity, it spread across the Philippines, eventually becoming the icon it is today, loved by many, reviled by some, and revered by all Bicolanos who are simply enamored by the fiery heat of their favorite fruit-bearing sili.
Because of its iconic nature and popularity, it was to be expected that certain versions of it would be created. One strange yet innovative version of it was created by renowned Bicolano chef and restaurateur Chef Benzon Liao, part-owner and head chef of Lila Restaurante, located at Venus St., Centro Occidental, in the beautiful hilly lands of Polangui, Albay.
The Bicol Express Ice Cream is, according to ice cream connoisseur Chef Benzon, “a spicy coconut semifreddo (frozen custard or ice cream) topped with Bagoong and served with pineapple caramel sauce which you pour on top of the ice cream. It is also served with sautéed pineapples and a dehydrated pineapple chip.” He further explained that “the caramel sauce comes from kalamay/panutsa which is a local product of Polangui, Albay, [while] the concept of using pineapple comes from the family tradition of using pineapple in Bicol Express, giving it that tangy kick that blends with the salty and spicy taste of Bagoong and Sili.”
But this strange yet enticingly spicy ice cream is not Chef Benzon’s sole creation: to wash down the spiciness and creaminess of the dessert, Chef Benzon also created a Violet Lemonade, made using the natural color of certain edible blue-hued flowers, such as the butterfly pea flower, to provide the deep indigo color of the drink. Afterwards, you simply add yellow lemon juice extract to the blue drink, and it turns into the Violet Lemonade the restaurant is well-known for. However, the color is not the only special trait of this drink: the flowers are boiled together with lemongrass and honey, and creates a colorful, delicious, and absolutely refreshing drink you can down by itself, or with all of the other scrumptious offerings that Lila Restaurante offers.
If these two offerings got you excited to visit the fiery lands of Bicol, make sure to check out our other articles, detailing the things you can do and places you should visit when you come to the Sili Capital of the Philippines.
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