A trip to the old neighborhood & a bite of Chef C

Woke up to a lazy Saturday morning… still trying to shrug off my Jakarta hangover.

So I decided to show Pam the old neighborhood that sits between the Ermita-Paco districts where most of my siblings and I were born and grew up in.

So there’s Pennsylvania, where Clinica Lopez was located… the mini-hospital where most of us Garcia siblings first saw the world.

(Until the late 60s, the area had mostly street names of US states.)

Then, there was the house on Oregon St., where we stayed for a spell.

The same abode a thief tried to enter but was driven away – with matching, unscheduled heart attack – by one bullet from my dad’s reliable service pistol (he used to be a detective – one of Manila’s finest).

We took a side trip to San Marcelino where I showed Pam the exact spot where her favorite shopping mecca was born – Rustan’s.

Of course, no tour is complete without our 1438 General Luna address.

The house was just across the street from the back entrance of Plaridel Masonic Temple – one huge structure which Rene and I would explore and get goose bumps from, with all the big framed photos of dead “wizards”.

Less than fifteen meters ways was Paco Park. The postcard-pretty walled cemetery/park with a little chapel – the playground of choice of my neighborhood mates.

Memories rushed in.

Sunday mass at the chapel… and smelling myself reeking of Johnson’s Baby Cologne to “impress” the many colegialas also attending the 11 AM service.

And, Acke’s!

I still remember saving my baon and spending it on a big juicy sausage at Acke’s, a delicatessan beside the park, which I suspect later spawned Swiss Inn. (Gotta ask Katrina Limcaoco.)

The neighborhood has changed little – okay, okay, just a little bit.

Thankfully, for the better.

Before decay could set it, a culinary tremor triggered the area’s sudden and unexpected renewal.

Chris Locher – a well known chef who opened a legendary resto in Angeles City – decided to open his signature restaurant right across Paco Park.

And business has been so good, it has defied the dictum that a merchant’s success depended solely on three elements – location, location, Deal Grocer.

I ordered a simple meal, but it was so good… I simply had to share it with you.

For starters, homebaked bread dipped in olive oil and pesto sauce
Caesar’s salad with lettuce so fresh – it crunches!
The Panizza (Chef C’s claim to fame – this one smothered in pepperoni)… I reckon that this creation may have been a huge part of his Swiss-Italian childhood years
Panizza is best enjoyed rolled with aragula and alfalfa, spinkled                                                             with a grenerous dose of chili oil

With the help of artisans like Chef Chris, it looks like our lovely Ermita-Paco area is nowhere near uglification or abandonment.

In fact, the old neighborhood is actually on its way to a much-deserved redemption!

1 thought on “A trip to the old neighborhood & a bite of Chef C”

  1. …definitely back to memory lane. all you mentioned i know about, been…rustan’s, masonic temple (my dad’s father was a member), etc. i have to check out chef c’s bistro.

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