From 102 lbs, I went down to 90 lbs ’cause I didn’t want to bulge under my swimsuit. It’s possible though that I gained back some of those weight during our Ilocos trip because well… it’d be a sin to miss all those delectable Ilocano dishes! And today I am featuring some of them, beginning with…
This one we had at the Hidden Garden coffee shop for PHP 40 (USD 0.85). It is different from the usual empanadas that I tried. The dough is crispier, thin, and oily. Main ingredients include shreds of green papaya, egg, mung beans, and Vigan longganisa. It is served with atsara and vinegar.
I found it so-so. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I feel like there was something missing. It was a bit bland, not even the vinegar made a difference. [Read: Trapped in Time – Vigan City]
When we went to Laoag we tried the empanada from a side walk vendor for PHP30 (USD 0.64). It was of deep orange color, with the same ingredients except the mung beans. This one is practically swimming in oil, but I’m willing to let it pass because it tastes more delicious than the one that we had at the Hidden Garden.
In Paoay we had a super late lunch at Herencia Café, which sits right across Paoay Church. Kuya Arnel said that this restaurant is famous for their pinakbet pizza, which for some reason, we didn’t think of trying.
So here’s what we had, first, the eggplant salad with a naughty name, Poqui Poqui. Fact: I don’t eat eggplant, not if I can help it. But I’m glad to have made an exception on this one lest I would have missed half of my life. It has tomato and eggs, and god-knows-what ingredients, but whatever they were, they sure made this dish unbelievably good. It’s a bit sweet, tangy, and moist. And yeah I’m gushing for an effing eggplant dish! So you gotta believe me. I swear to you it was the best dish on the table.
My regret is that we left Vigan without trying bagnet so we made sure to order one at Cafe Herencia. They serve it with minced tomato and onions with fish sauce. It tastes just like your ordinary pork chop only this one is meatier.
If you want better-tasting bagnet though, I suggest you buy from the market in Vigan. To this day, I still haven’t gotten over that delectable, I-don’t-mind-if-it-kills-me bagnet that my former boss bought when we went to Vigan few years ago. That bagnet is juicy, tender, ridiculously delicious, and lasted for days.
I mistook it for Vigan longganisa, so the waitress was quick to correct that this one is called, Ilocos longganisa. Honestly, I couldn’t tell it apart from the Vigan longganisa because they sure tasted the same; a little bit sour and salty.
Well, this is not exactly exclusive to Ilocos but I just have to include this here because this is the first time ever that I’ve eaten lobsters and I love it! We got it for PHP 350 (USD 7.43) per kilo when we went swimming in Blue Lagoon.
This one is called Halabos na lobsters, cooked by Kean. The lobsters were boiled in soda and then that’s it. I loved it, the taste is a cross between shrimp and crab.
Filipinos like to give and receive pasalubong. I’m not sure if there is a word for it in English, but it’s something that you buy and take home to your loved ones when you’ve been on a trip. For our officemates, we bought Balicutia.
Balicutia is made from sugar cane so it is very sweet, tastes like caramel candy, and dissolves quite easily. It is uber sweet so I advise against eating it alone, oh well you could, but stop at two pieces. I find that it’s a good alternative to sugar especially with black coffee.
Probably the best pasalubong you can take home from Ilocos is the all-time favorite chichacorn. It is a snack made from glutinous white corn. I personally like the cheese flavor.
I would have wanted to try more Ilocano dishes like dinengdeng, sinambong, and ar-arusip but we didn’t get a chance to try many restaurants and most of the places we dined in didn’t offer these foods. Anyway, there is always a next time. How about you, what is your favorite Ilocano dish?