Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Davao is RP’s new gastronomic destination

The city has a reputation for being one of the best destinations when it comes to adventure tourism. However, no one will argue that it is also fast becoming one of the country’s top gastronomic destinations.

Those who have visited Davao City for the past ten years will tell you never to leave without trying Luz Kinilaw’s sinugbang panga and buntot. The budget-conscious foodies also raved about Taps and the fastfood’s famous vinegar and pepper sauce. And who can forget eating durian along the sidewalks of Uyanguren?

With the construction of malls in the city came the various specialty restaurants and fastfoods from Manila. While the newbies provided a variety of gustatory options for Dabawenyos and their visitors, the homegrown food providers still kept to their traditions and prevailed.

“We are becoming the country’s new gastronomic destination thanks to the many home-grown food entrepreneurs in the city,” Department of Tourism (DOT) XI Regional Director Art Boncato said. This, he added, has never been more emphasized than during the Kadayawan Festival which is a celebration of good harvest for Dabawenyos.
photo courtesy of DOT XI

Kadayawan street food festival

One of the very first components of the Kadayawan when it started in 1986 is the street food festival which was held at the junction of Roxas Avenue and C.M. Recto Street. “This was a Kadayawan staple which has been replicated every year,” Mr. Boncato said. The street food festival was actually an extended and a more glamorous version of the various barbecue stalls in the city.

Kadayawan, which is celebrated during the month of August every year, is itself all about the bountiful harvest of food including the fresh seafood, vegetables and fruits that abound in the city. After all, it is during this month and hereafter that you will see the streets with bukags (the native baskets) filled with colorful and delicious fruits in seas. During this month, it is natural to see trees alongside the streets teeming with luscious red rambutan and durian. It is easy to be tempted to just pick up the fruits from these trees as they hang beyond the gates.

Mr. Boncato said through the years, the city has developed its own unique blend of gustatory concoctions that can only be referred to as the Davao flavor. Kadayawan 2008 started featuring the local food choices through Ka-an Mindanao or the Indigenous Food Fiesta. This featured the indigenous cuisine of the city.

Durian Festival

Another Festival staple is the 15-day Durian Festival slated from August 10 to 25, 2013 at the SM Premier in Lanang. “We wanted to feature the different varieties of durian not only to let people taste these varieties but also to educate them,” Durian Industry Council of Davao City chairperson Larry Miculob said.

Visitors to the city can get their fill of fresh durian through the eat-all-you-can-durian at P150. For those who just want to satisfy their craving without overindulging, the P40 per kilo price for durian is good enough. The agricultural fair at Ecoland also features a durian booth where visitors can buy durian at P50 per kilo and eat the fruit at the durian tents provided by the exhibitor.

Mr. Boncato said the Davao Fruit Craze also opened at Abreeza Mall just in time for the Kadayawan. “Visitors will get the chance to enjoy all their favorite fruits including pomelo, mangosteen, banana and other fruits in season right at the mall,” he said. This is clearly a proof that August is indeed a season of harvest in Davao, he added.

One of the events that showcased Davao as a real gastronomic destination not only during the Kadayawan Festival but all throughout the year is the three-day Gourmet Collective which opened at SM Lanang Friday.

“This is the first effort to gather the gourmet chefs of Davao to showcase their tastiest specialties,” Mr. Boncato said. Among the food choices on display are the concoctions of Bangkok Wok which showcased Thai Cuisine, Cellar de Boca which served Spanish-inspired food using Davao’s very own brown rice and Monica Floirendo which served Mexican-inspired food.

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