Since I lived a great deal of my life in the neighboring Cebu, I was awfully surprised to discover that the beautiful City of Bohol celebrates an annual "Ubi Festival", held last January 27-29. It has only been going on for 16 years so it was understandable why I had never heard of it.. And I was uncertain what exactly "Ubi" was. The spelling initially threw me off, but upon further inquiry, I was ensured that the the festival was in honor of the Purple Yam that we all know and love.
But as it turns out, there's some much more about ube that I don't know about, and Air Asia, together with the Bohol Provincial Tourism Council Inc., and in partnership with the United States of America International Development, would help me learn more about, including why the crop is so close to the hearts of the good people of Bohol.
We took the first Air Asia flight out to Tagbilaran. Air Asia flies out to Tagbilaran 3x a day so you shouldn't have a problem booking a flight to Bohol, whether it's for business of pleasure!
Head on over to www.airasia.com for more information on schedules and flight rates!
A wide variety of freshly harvested Ube from different municipalities around Bohol, such as Alicia, Antequera, Alburquerque (yup), Dauis, and Duero were allotted booths around the plaza, which was available for the denizens of Bohol to purchase.
Our next stop took us to the Bohol Cultural Center, where we witnessed the intense Ubi Cook off sponsored by the Bohol Association of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurants.
This was like having a front row seat to "Master Chef", with some of the best Chefs from the finest hotels and resorts of Bohol, battling it out for culinary supremacy, by whipping up some of the most creative Ube based dishes!
The entrees ranged from Soups such as Thick Cream of Ube Soup, Sauteed Shrimps on a bed of Ube Puree', an Ube infused Bulalo, among many other savory dishes.
I'm more used to seeing Ube being used in a dessert, but the creativity and technique shown by the participating Chefs were still impressive nonetheless.
What made this really fun was the involvement of students, who were allowed to watch the chefs at work, and even eventually taste some of the dishes being made. This was a great way to get them interested in culinary arts, as well as encourage them to think of their own innovative ways to use the Ubi.
The students couldn't resist taking pictures with our groups' lovely, companion, Jem!
With esteemed panel of judges composed of Culinary Guru Jessica Avila, as well as powerhouse Chefs Nancy Reyes-Lumen and Myke Sarthou, more fondly known as "Chef Tatung", The Ubi Cook Off was won by Bellevue Bohol, with South Palms coming in as first runner up and popular local restaurant "Cusina Ni Tisay" garnering second runner up honors.
Also present to cover the event was a crew from ABS-CBN, headed by Kat De Castro for her show on TFC.
Like all good things, our trip sadly had to come to an end. But this trip was incredibly fulfilling, not just because I was able to see some spectacular sights and feast on some incredible food, (stay tuned for my upcoming posts) but because I learned so much about Bohol that I had never known before!
Thank you Air Asia, the Bohol Provincial Tourism Council Inc., and the United States of America International Development for granting me the honor of being a part of this trip!