Timpla

Food Trip: Baguio Part #1

Baguio's Panagbenga Festival, held yearly in February (NPPA Images)

Feeling the heat in the city? Time to head to the summer capital of the Philippines to enjoy the cool air, the fun attractions and of course, to take in the freshest and delicious food. Lori treks to Baguio to savor the best food finds

Stop#1:  Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad, Benguet

"At least now you'll know that you don't pick strawberries from trees," my sister tells her two sons, as we motor to La Trinidad, Benguet. We drive into the Strawberry Farm and survey the fields. "Oh! What happened? There were so many strawberries last time and there were even stalls that were selling honey," my sister laments. I'm not sure what I'm expecting but it looks like a regular field to me. We're approached by a woman selling little wooden baskets of berries. She's selling them for P250/kilo, just P50 lower than the going market rate. We already think that's high… so we're totally floored when we're informed that strawberry picking will cost us P500/kilo! We go for it anyway since we want our kids to experience this.

I imagine that a strawberry field in full bloom is a stunning sight. Each plant is a small, short shrub that one has to bend over in order to grasp the fruit. Some berries are big, most are small. There are few of the fruit today, but the ones that peek from their leafy covers are provocative — stains of red on glades of green.

Image iconFresh strawberries for the picking

The farmer whose field we are "harvesting," pleads with the kids to exercise caution. My rambunctious 5-year-old nephew is practically plucking every fruit he can find, whether red or green, while my daughter — girly girl that she is — is walking gingerly through the narrow footpaths, cradling each heart-shaped treasure before pulling and mindfully depositing it into her box.

In the end, the kids' strawberry stash amounts to a little under a half kilo so my sister and I augment that by buying a kilo of fruit from the vendor. In the car on the way home, the berries' scent intoxicates so we each nibble on a few berries. They're sweet and satisfying.

Image iconDid you know: the strawberry fruit blooms from a flower?

Where is it?
Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad, Benguet
Km. 7 near Benguet State University
Best time to go is from November to May.


Stop #2: Wood Nymph
Wood Nymph is not a new restaurant but it's apparently little-known and oh-so-good.

My favorite dish here is what I call black spaghetti, on the menu it's called janchajang or jajjangmyeon (P150); noodles stir-fried with black bean paste. Despite its rather startling appearance, its flavor is quite benign, a cross between light soy sauce and dark soy sauce — think, salty and smoky.

I also like the tokboki, traditional Korean rice cakes (cylinders, really) mixed in gochujang, Korean chili paste. The addition of potato (also called glass) noodles sends this dish over the top, enhancing the chewy-slippery-spicy succession of sensations.

Image icon

Of course no self-respecting Korean restaurant would be without some kind of Korean barbecue. I recommend the samgyupsal (P250), Korean-style bacon fried at table. I prefer mine soft and cooked just 'til opaque, but the majority prefer it fried to a crisp. Afterwards, embark on a choose-your-own-adventure by enclosing the bacon in a lettuce leaf, embellishing it with the various pastes and vegetables (kimchi, spring onions, and gochujang is nice), fold, and eat up. Cooking and eating at the table is a great experience.

Image icon

Wood Nymph does an outstanding haemul pajeon (P190), onion pancake with seafood. It's flat as a sheet, its surface an allusion to an abstract painting. The accompanying vinegar sauce slices through the pancake's eggy-ness, pointing up the onion's pungency. Also try the chapchae where the noodles shine (literally!) slipping and sliding on a white plate on a one-way wander into a waiting mouth.

Where is it?
Wood Nymph Korean Restaurant
36 Military Cut-Off Road,
Baguio City 2600
(74) 446 0272


Stop #3: Hill Station
Casa Vallejo is a white wooden inn on Upper Session Road. One of Baguio's oldest inns, it was renovated last year and a restaurant was opened adjacent to it. Called Hill Station, it's run by the family that owns Mario's. A beautiful restaurant it is with wooden beams, and large French windows flanked by loosely tied gauze curtains that allow the sunlight to filter in, making all the patrons look lovely. Shelves off to the side display pottery for sale in addition to house-made bottled goods — Filipino caviar, salad dressings, mango chutney, and whole guava jam.

Image icon

When in Baguio, eating a salad makes lots of sense. At the Hill Station, forego the Caesar Salad (P260) for the Hill Station Green Garden (P240), truly a garden of a salad with tomatoes and leaves, blueberries, white cheese, and caramelized walnuts tangled in a sesame-mirin dressing. It's one of those dishes where you can delight in examining the results of your food forage, every forkful yielding a different combination.

Image icon

As befits its un-rushed atmosphere, Hill Station specializes in slow food with an emphasis on international flavors. The waiter is quick to recommend the Cambodian Coriander and Garlic Chicken (P360), the herb's distinctive liveliness a foil to the soft chicken, only to be wakened again by the side dish of pickled cucumber. The Crispy Duck Flakes (P360) meanwhile, hides a heap of laing, an unlikely combination that plays well off of the duck, like a crispy coconut curry.

Image icon

Hill Station is elegant and romantic at the same time, both for families and more intimate couplings. Service is crisp but friendly with no unnecessary flourishes.

Where is it?

Hill Station Tapas Bar and Restaurant
Casa Vallejo Upper Session Road
Baguio City
Open daily, 7am-11pm
(74) 424 2734 / 423 9100 / 423 9558

Coming up soon: Lori's Baguio food trip, part 2

Lori Baltazar is the whiz behind the popular food blog, Dessert Comes First.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • EU threatens Thailand with seafood ban over illegal fishing
    EU threatens Thailand with seafood ban over illegal fishing

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union has given Thailand six months to drastically crack down on illegal and unregulated fishing or face an EU seafood import ban, but has lifted the threat of similar action against South Korea and the Philippines. …

  • Philippines accuses China of turning water cannon on its fishing boats

    Filipino activists denounced China's coast guard on Tuesday for turning water cannon on Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters, near where hundreds of Filipino and American Marines landed on a beach in a mock assault. The presidential palace in Manila said China's coast guard used water cannon on Monday to drive away a group of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, damaging some of their wooden boats. …

  • Image of Asia: Training to storm a beach in the Philippines
    Image of Asia: Training to storm a beach in the Philippines

    In this photo by Bullit Marquez, a U.S. Navy amphibious assault vehicle with Philippine and U.S. troops on board storms the beach during a joint exercise at the Naval Education and Training Command center in Zambales province, northwest of Manila. The Zambales shore faces the disputed Scarborough Shoal, where Chinese vessels were reported to have driven away Filipino fishermen with a water cannon and seized some of their catch in early April. Philippine military officials say the maneuvers with …

  • Pinoy team wins global disaster preparedness competition

    The Philippines was one of the big winners at the 2015 Global Innovation Competition last week for a cloud-based information system for disaster. The project, called "Balangay," is the brainchild of cousins Frei Sangil and Paolo Sangil. …

  • How Asia uses Bitcoin in one color-coded map
    How Asia uses Bitcoin in one color-coded map

    Bitcoin is a global phenomenon, but not everyone around the world uses it in the same way. Here in Asia, the way a person from the Philippines uses bitcoin is probably very different from how it’s used in Thailand, and both are very different from the typical user in Taiwan. Despite bitcoin being hailed as …

  • Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash
    Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash

    Manny Pacquiao's face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero's "fight of the century" nears. Pacmania is sweeping the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. Of course, it's the fight of the century," Manila film producer Lucky Blanco told AFP. …

  • Manila 'cute little submissive' of US: China media
    Manila 'cute little submissive' of US: China media

    The Philippines is nothing more than the "cute little submissive" of the United States, a Chinese tabloid with close ties to the ruling Communist Party said on Tuesday, criticising Manila for military exercises with Washington. The English-language editorial came a day after the Philippines launched giant 10-day war games with the US and Australia, partly aimed as a warning shot to Beijing amid competing claims in the South China Sea, home to vital shipping routes. "Of all the countries …

  • Philippines seeks more military aid from US to counter China
    Philippines seeks more military aid from US to counter China

    The Philippines said Tuesday it would soon ask the United States for more military equipment and training to build its defences, as it faces Chinese "aggressiveness" in disputed waters. As hundreds of Filipino and American Marines simulated an amphibious assault to reclaim territory from invaders during annual war games, military chief General Gregorio Catapang told AFP he was drafting a "wish list" for US aid. Catapang said the Philippines would ask for "equipment and training", when Foreign …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options