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MUST-HAVE: Macau suckling pig with beautifully crisp skin. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MARGAUX SALCEDO

ANOTHER MUST-HAVE: Bacalhau laden with garlic. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/ MARGAUX SALCEDO





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Food trip in Macau

Reprising Abba at Fernandos

By Margaux Salcedo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 14:24:00 06/02/2009

Filed Under: Travel & Commuting, Food, Culture (general)

MACAU?It was impossible to get in.

?For how many?? The White Man bellowed. Three, we replied. I was with Roger and Jessica Rabbit. ?The list is long. See here, there?s a group of 16 and a group of 19. If you want to wait, okay; but I have seats at the other side now.?

The other side was a carinderia setting. Not exactly what we pictured for a Saturday night out in Macau. The room we were targeting has brick walls and warm lights.

?So, you want to wait or I can seat you now at the other side?!? the White Man, clearly Fernando, eyebrows burrowing into his nose, exclaimed impatiently. He might as well have held a gun to our heads. ?Yes, we?ll take the seats at the other side,? Jessica Rabbit caved.

Reprimanded for not making reservations, Roger Rabbit retorted, ?They don?t accept reservations.? We settled for a window seat in the carinderia, with a view of the wall that divided the restaurant?s property from its neighbors, and a smell that made me wonder if the boys outside used those walls as urinals. The checkered plastic table cloth, bendable silvers, and plain glasses made me look for stray cats, as would be expected to complete the same setting had we been in Manila. I felt like a backpacker. A backpacker determined to have Portuguese food.

?I want bacalhau, chorizo, and whatever the house specialty is,? I told Roger Rabbit, who promptly barked our orders in Cantonese to the smiling waitress.

The smell disappeared as our first order arrived, as we became possessed with the suckling pig. Reminiscent of our own Cebu cochinillo minus the lemongrass, this one had a toasted flavor to its skin, which was beautifully crisp, and with the fat almost melting underneath the skin. With no sweet liver sauce to counter the delirious fat, a beer was in order, which was promptly ordered. This is definitely a Macau must-have, I concluded.

While appreciating the Macau lechon, we also tried the Portuguese chorizo. The fat content of this kind of chorizo is very generous, reminding me of our own longganiza. However, it is served sweet at this restaurant, like sweetened ham.

Meanwhile, the bacalhau is laden with garlic, as compared to the plain but salty baccalau we are used to. The bean stew is less colorful?literally and figuratively. It is very earth-colored (black, brown, and olive green), and tastes like it too, even as it is flooded with lima beans. I truly did not understand why this is one of the restaurant?s greater hits.

After dinner, you can head to the al fresco bar past the kitchen at the back for more drinks or to bum a few fags (cigarettes). As you watch the people come in and make a go for the restaurant, from tourists to Macau society, it will hit you that this place is really a Macau favorite. It?s been said that all you need to say is ?Fernando?s? to any cab driver in Macau, and he?ll know exactly where to take you.

From this experience, in spite of the very plain, almost street setting, I am inclined to listen to the words of the wise quartet Abba: ?If I had to do the same again, I would, my friend... and head back to Fernando?s.? ?

Restaurante Fernando. Praia de Hac Sa No. 9 Coloane, Macau. (853) 2888 2264. fernandr@macau.ctm.net.



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