Cassava cakes come in different forms and tastes and there is one sweet, cheesy kind that is found in the sleepy town of Tayabas in Quezon Province, the Philippines. It is called budin and is found in abundance in a narrow strip called Kalye Budin (cassava cake street) where a string of mostly wooden houses make and sell the delicacy on the ground floors of those humble dwellings.
Budin is baked cassava (aka tapioca), coconut, sugar and margarine topped with cheese. The cassava cakes in Kalye Budin look the same and almost taste the same. Budin has a pudding-like consistency – some are chewy, others are melt-in-the mouth – and sweet. It is a favorite appetizer, snack or dessert in this town, a 15-minute drive away from Lucena City, Quezon’s capital.
Kalye Budin is actually a short portion of Emilio Jacinto Street, a few blocks away from the public market, where local and foreign tourists drop by just to grab freshly-baked budins (sold at PHP 28/USD 0.64/IDR 5,714 per cake) and other delicacies the town and the province are known for. Nilupak (pound cassava cake), halayang ube (sweet purple yam/taro), ube candy, pastillas (milk candy), espasol (sticky rice snack) and tikoy (the local version of the Chinese sticky rice cake) can also be found there. Lucban longganisa (sausage), pansit Lucban (noodles), puto seko (rice cookies) and the potent but liked lambanog (coconut wine/vodka), uraro (arrowroot cookies from Catanauan) and apas (thin sweet cookies from Sariaya), as well as mazapan (another kind of milk candy), cassava chips, fish crackers and meringue are also sold.
Just off the corner of Kalye Budin is Rodilla’s Restaurant where the popular yema (custard) cakes are sold (PHP 120/USD 2.74/IDR 24,500 per half portion, just the right size. It’s sweet and cheesy). The restaurant serves Filipino dishes (for lunch) in an ambience common to traditional Quezon restaurants.
After pasalubong (present to bring home for family and friends)-shopping one may visit the town’s centuries-old church, known for Asia’s oldest working bell tower clock and for being one of the longest churches in the Philippines. A walk in the town proper provides a display of old houses (original and re-constructed) and a glimpse of the life of the Tayabasin.