Baguio Eats

There’s a certain kind of love that compels me to travel up North every now and then. Must be the weather, must be the food. This post will be focusing on the latter.

As previously mentioned in most of my posts, I have spent but a brief time in Baguio in 2005 during my freshman year in UP. I never actually cared about the good eats then. I relied majorly on cafeteria food, carinderia stalls, fastfood, food my roommates bring back from home, or some food I experimented. It was actually only a few years ago I realized Baguio really does boast of good food finds. Here are a few from my last trip:

Cafe Sabel is the restaurant within Bencab Museum. The restaurant has an artsy interior and a breathtaking view of the Benguet mountains. A cup of coffee would actually suffice (the view was already filling to the soul), but since it was a little past lunch time, I had to order something heavy. I opted for the Tuyo Pasta. I liked that it wasn’t too salty but still flavorful – there was a hint of herb, of cheese, and of tuyo (dried anchovies). It was a tasteful delight to the palette.

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Boyfriend had the chops. It was rather ordinary, if not for the fresh siding.
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Vizco’s Strawberry Shortcake!!! This is something you just can’t miss when in Baguio. Creamy and dreamy, just the right amount of sweetness. I’m so craving now, wish we had Vizco’s here in Manila.
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Oh My Gulay is one of the most popular culinary finds in Baguio. Owned by artist Kidlat Tahimik, it’s a restaurant and a gallery in one – the most beautiful too, methinks. I personally consider this one of the most memorable places in Baguio. Not only have I spent afternoons here after researching for my thesis, I met and had the most sensible tete a tete with artist Willy Magtibay. I believe that conversation persuaded/lead me into actually going to the direction of Artsafter Graduation.

Well, that was too much an introduction! My favorite from Oh My Gulay is their Bulaklak Tempura (Deep Fried Pumpkin Blossoms) but was unfortunately already phased out (WHAAAAT?!) so I opted for this Kabute (Mushroom) Pasta instead. Must be because I was never a fan of purely vegetarian dishes, I felt some “meat” taste lacking in the pasta.
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The Sili Omelette, however, was nice and cheesy. I always loved omelettes and have been used to having omelettes with only veggies so I had no issue with this one. Don’t let it fool you though, it isn’t hot nor spicy.

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OMG’s Clubhouse Sandwich was as fresh as it could be. It didn’t bother me that the egg was substitute for meat. I actually kind of liked it, like it was a healthy breakfast sandwich of some sort. I loved the fruity, sweet, and tangy salad dressing!
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50’s Diner is one of the oldest establishments in Baguio. Best known for its Hollywood themed interiors,you’d see posters of old movies hanging on walls. I just hope the Jukebox still works though! This is also one restaurant that boasts of grand servings so just had to had She. It’s actually a protein plate – with beauty all mixed and mashed up – pork chop, chicken wing, beef sirloin, fish fillet, hotdog, french fries, and mixed vegetables, all golden fried. Taste was nothing spectacular though, or maybe I was already full upon first sighting.
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Boyfriend had the Gambler’s Choice. It was a heavy plate too. It had beef chops, prawns in barbecue sauce, and mixed vegetables. Nothing spectacular again.
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For days, we had breakfast at the Tam-Awan Village Cafe. I was very impressed with how they fused the normal food fare with traditional flavors of the north. For example, their clubhouse sandwich had etag (fermented lean pork) instead of ham and bacon. Taste was more smoky and flavorful.
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As for their omelette, you wouldn’t get butter alone for your toast. They mixed in honey, which is one of Baguio’s best produce, to give a tinge of sweetness to the savory breakfast.

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We also dropped by Hill Station for sugar fix one afternoon. We sampled on their New York Cheesecake, which was smooth and creamy, nothing special though.

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I’ve developed an instant liking though with their Lemon Meringue Bars. It gives the right tang when you’re already having a feeling of “umay” from all the sweetness.

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For the boyfriend’s Birthday Lunch, we opted to just stay in the Village and have a helping of their Cordilleran dishes. Boyfriend chose Pinikpikan, as we missed this during our trip to Sagada a year ago.

Pinikpikan is basically a chicken stew much like tinola, only more savory. Its root word “pikpik” directly translates to “light beating”, a process the chicken undergoes for its preparation. The dish originated from Cordilleran ritual of sacrifice for special occasions.

The Village’s version had thick broth with mostly fleshy parts of the chicken and a few etag strips. Etag’s strong flavor greatly enhanced the broth, lending a smoky and salty flavor to it.

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I had kini-ing. It looks like liempo, yes, but undergoes a rather complicated method of preparation too. Kini-ing is mostly left under the sun to dry, but is smoked only when it rains. These are thinly sliced and possesses a smoky flavor. But do not mistaken this for etag, kini-ing does not undergo fermentation.

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Before we left Baguio, artist friends insisted we try dining at Good Taste. It was kind of hard to find, but if you’re wondering, it’s actually near the bus/jeepney terminal to Sagada. There were a LOT of people when we visited there. It isn’t an upscale restaurant so don’t expect too much.

Good thing though we were a bit observant of what other customers were ordering. The other table, which was only a group of three, ordered fried rice. Thus, a BIG bowl of fried rice was served in a matter of minutes, it would have been good for 8 people. Upon acknowledging the fact that their servings was hefty, we had the rice meals instead.

Boyfriend had Lechon Broccoli. Big serving, big taste. This one did not disappoint. Oh cmon, it’s lechon!

IMG_0752 I had the Beef Curry. From the smell alone, I knew they used a powdered mix. There was nothing to be overly happy about my order, except for the fresh green bell peppers perhaps.

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These are but a few of the many restaurants to dine in Baguio. I might do a better food crawl in the next visits. I need to have my boyfriend sample more food choices from Cafe by the Ruins, Tsokalate de Batirol, the Slaughterhouse, Ketchup Food Community, Sage, Solibao, Chef’s Home, and the list goes on and on.

Thus I assume, this one will be the first of many other Baguio food posts.

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How to Eat in a Town Fiesta

Born and raised in Manila, I never really had the chance to experience a real town fiesta. Do not pity me, our parish does have fiesta in honor of our patron saint. However, it is not as fun as how other places celebrate it. By “real” fiesta, I mean house hopping and getting stuffed with dishes every house has to offer.

I believe I mentioned in the previous blog something about learning from experience (late aircrafts, ugh), and from the town fiesta experience I had in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur just two weekends ago, here are some notes and tips on how to survive eating in a town fiesta.

  • Give your tummy an ample room for the (eating) activity. A cup of coffee or tea may already be enough in the morning. If you have a pretty large storage, a few slices of bread would be fine too. You know when they say “pinaghandaan ko to” (I prepared for this)? It’s the most appropriate for this.
  • Skip rice. Isn’t this already the rule of the thumb? Bet you have done this in buffets or all-you-can-eat restaurants. But if you really can’t say no to carbs, take less than a cup. Or mull over the space it will occupy in your stomach. Feeling guilty now?
  • Get food in small portions. Do not hoard ulam (viand). Sample each dish in small amounts and make papak (to eat with no rice) instead. If you like a dish, you can go back anyway. This is also a good way to not make flavors too empowering.

 Clockwise: Fried chicken wings, fish fingers and honey mustard dip, ginger prawns, Lechon, and Menudo.

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  • Get minimal portions of dessert. In the same household as plate number 1, desserts were individually served and equally distributed: a slice of chocolate cake, a square brownie, and a cup of buko salad. I would have wanted to say no to the chocolate cake and brownie, but I had to finish the dessert plate since it was served in front of me. I already felt a little bloated that time. I wonder how much starch and glucose that was!
  • Opt for greens, or dishes with vegetables. It was a blessing the second house had a make your own salad bar. I would have skipped the dressing, but the veggies needed a little more zest. Also, yes, that’s a lechon rib, because that’s a freaking lechon and rib in one.

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  •  Variety. Get at least one dish for every kind of meat. Get at least one dish for every kind of cooking or taste. From the choice of meat below, note that there are no two dishes of the same meat. Also, I kind of picked them out from the way they were cooked or seasoned. I had something dry (pork), something sweet and bony (chicken), and something smooth but savory (fish), so I wouldn’t get umay (feeling overloaded after consuming too much food or flavor) from similar taste.

Clockwise: Rubbed and deep fried pork spare ribs, roasted and glazed chicken, Fish Escabeche

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  • Skip carbonated drinks (and beer), if possible. I mean, with all the flavors exploding and inhabiting your mouth, you may rinse and burp it out a little with a glass of Coke. However, it is not necessary to gulp it down in every household. Refer to plate number 2, you think soda would go well with the salad, no? You can always request for water anyway.
  • Kill time before or after eating. Drop the little you’ve gained by walking from house to house, or engaging in a chit chat before delving into your food. If you are visiting distant relatives, it’s best to converse about family matters, and good old memories. If you’re dropping by homes of friends of friends, you can tell them about your stay and ask if there are places in the vicinity they suggest you to visit.
  • Do not be shy to ask for a to-go. If you are really really stuffed, you may ask to skip the meal and make pabalot instead. In the last house we visited, we were already too full to function (aka eat), so our Tita Tess asked for a to-go from her niece instead. The to-go landed the dining table the next day and we didn’t even have to say no to the host.
  • Be courteous and well-mannered. Not because it is a buffet sans the fine dining atmosphere means you have to let go of your table manners. Be mindful of your kubyertos, the area you take when eating, and the noises you make. Smile (even when your tummy’s already aching) to everyone you are being introduced or acquainted with. Be courteous when asking for extras like water, table napkins, etc. And lastly, return them hospitality of the hosts by greeting and thanking them warmly.

There, the town fiesta’s ways to a happy tummy.

Sagada Eats

Spotlight on food finds from Sagada:

Yoghurt House

Cream corn soup/corn soup. It was creamy and ~corny~. I could make this at home, not! I liked it, it made me warm.

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Home-made spaghetti. It was a usual mix of sweet, sour, and spicy. And yes, all red sauce pastas in Sagada tasted almost the same.

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Beef curry. I liked this because it had a strong curry taste, unlike some versions which seems to have just used artificial, powdery, commercialized sauce. It’s hot too!

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The serving size in Sagada is really big. It could be enough for two! As apparent in this baked chicken leg (as it says in the menu), which looks like a quarter of a chicken to me.

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Of course, how could you go to Yoghurt House without trying their yoghurts? I forgot how this one is called but it had banana, strawberry preserves (that’s different from jam), honey, and oats. Their yoghurt is sooo creamy, it rolled in my tongue and melted in my mouth like ice cream.

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Sagada Homestay Diner

So this is a plate of random things we had that night: Tuna sandwich, Pork Sisig, and Lechon Broccoli. We had red sauce pasta again but it was not included in this photo. I had mine separated because I am allergic to eggplant. UGH.

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Burnt cheese from the cabin we visited. Thank you, Ironman! Who loves burnt cheese? *Raises hand*

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Looks safe, but it’s fiery hooot! They served this as hot sauce for the Pork Sisig. You could actually see pepper seeds when you look closely.

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Tuna and Ham Sandwiches. Would you believe that the Tuna sandwich just went for Php65? And the Ham sandwich only for Php 85? They’re actually one of the best sandwiches in Sagada. You can even ask the diner to stack them on top of another.

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Strawberry Cafe

We didn’t actually dine here since some guy was fixing the path towards the restaurant, but I just felt like I needed to post the strawberries which they grow on bamboo poles. They’re so beautiful! Also, they were selling strawberry plants! Too bad, they cannot live in Manila.

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Lemon Pie House

Pasalubong, check!

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Salt and Pepper Diner

Cheesy Tuna Omelette is an entry in my comfort food list. I am not picky when it comes to this but the boyfriend was praying with his whole heart that this better be better than what we make. And, it did not disappoint! I loved how it looks mediocre outside, but oozing with cheese and juicy tuna inside.

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This is the only pasta we tried which had a distinct taste. It was made of fresh tomatoes, a lot of onion and garlic, and of course, tuna. Doesn’t look too appetizing in the photo, but it was actually the best we had.

And the bread was a bonus! It was buttered and toasted, yet soft. We turned it into dessert as it came with strawberry preserves.

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Last from Sagada Homestay. Lechon Broccoli! Do I still have to say something about this?

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A T-Bone Steak and a Smile

It’s the first day of that time of the month. I hate to be a damsel in distress but I need a little rescue from commuting because of my wobbly knees, resident migraine, and sore muscles.

You picked me up a little late than the time we’ve agreed. I was already dying in hunger and pain. I already lost my appetite upon our arrival at the steak house. You ordered for me since I was too preoccupied with gulping the entire glass of water. When the food arrived, you asked the server to put mine in front of you. I just looked at you suspiciously. I would have wanted to shove the whole chunk of steak in my mouth, but you took the fork and the knife and cut it down into smaller and smaller pieces. I guess you remembered my left hand hasn’t recovered yet from my previous injury. You moved it to my side of the table and handed me the fork and knife.

We had a silent dinner. We exchanged no words and rarely glanced at each other. Seems to me, we looked at each’s plates more than each’s faces. Until I took the steak with my hands and nibbled until the bones were clean and neat. You laughed. I looked at you mockingly and laughed too.

Guess you just know what to do when I’m getting hormonal and all – good food, a decent laugh, and a little mush.

You held my hand on the way out. You took me home and kissed me good night.

Letters from the Lunchbox

I usually come to the grocery with a list of things to buy. At the end of the day however, your heart was one of the random goodies I carried home.

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I think I fell in love with you at the grocery. I can’t actually determine when and where it was exactly, but it must be at the dairy when we battled over what to get – milk or yoghurt, but decided to get both instead. Or was it at the deli, we feasted over ham and sausages and bacon. Or maybe at the baking goods section where we got both pancake and brownie mixes because we’re the awesome twosome in baking. Was it perhaps in the cellar? When we acted drunk in front of a hundred bottled spirits. Perhaps it was in the fresh produce, when you tossed eggplants and zucchinis to our cart, thinking I’d learn to eat them.

Or maybe, there ‘s really no way of knowing because I was too happy riding the cart, both hands clasping the cold metal front like a koala bear hugging the trunk of a gum tree. You were a captain in control of a cruise ship.You pushed the cart with my weight added, maneuvering from one side to the other. People looked and stared at us, while they took sidesteps to let us pass. The corridors, the aisles, the gondolas – they were ports, stopovers of goodies.

Or I guess it’s because you made me feel grocery shopping is no chore at all. You actually made me want to live there. But I can’t, so I took our bags, and the memory, and you of course, back home with me – with the thought of falling further in love with you in the kitchen.

The Gourmet Carinderia (Mr. Snooze’s attempt on Food Writing)

“I don’t like food, I love it.”

Like Anton Ego of the famous Disney animated film, Ratatouille, My girlfriend* and I are also into good food. Just recently we went to an exciting carinderia that serves gourmet breakfast at such affordable prices. The Kanto Freestyle Breakfast, located at San Joaquin St. Mandaluyong City, is one of the must see for food lovers and alike as it was featured on GMA 7. After having a couple of dishes from the said carinderia, we can’t help but fall in love with that place.

The dish we initially ordered was the Spanish Sardines Tempura Meal inclusive of two freestyle eggs and tomato pesto. The Spanish Sardines were covered with flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then deep fried until golden brown. The combination of the Spanish Sardines tempura and tomato pesto was perfect that the two sunny side-up eggs might as well be considered merely a bonus to the dish. The best part was the meal only costs seventy pesos!

Spanish Sardines Tempura

Tuyo Flakes and Kesong Puti

We also tried the Tuyo Flakes with Kesong Puti which also included a tomato pesto on the side. The tuyo was removed of its scales, flaked, and served on top of hot garlic rice together with the kesong puti strips. The combination is fantastic. The saltiness, sweetness, and sourness blended in perfect harmony; it explodes inside your mouth. The presentation would also stimulate your appetite. You’d be salivating the moment it arrives at your table. You get to enjoy this meal for only seventy bucks.

We tried Fried Snickers for dessert. The chocolate bar was covered with batter, deep fried, cut in half, and served with chocolate syrup on top. We succumbed to the sweetness of the dish that it made a mark in our palate. For only fifty pesos, this dessert is definitely the bomb!

Fried Snickers

After our food escapade, we started recommending the place to our friends so that they too can experience the food ecstasy we had that day. We still go to Kanto Freestyle Breakfast to try more of their dishes. We get one after the other to get a taste of all the food that have to offer.

*He called me girlfriend. Omigahd. 😛