Friday, August 8, 2014

Winding down

Hi, folks! I know it's been awhile since my last post. It's because I intend to say goodbye to this blog as I start with a new one called Buffet of Blessings. I hope you visit it. Thanks so much for reading my posts here in The Awesome Grind. God bless you. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ilocos Norte food trip: Saramsam in Laoag, Batac Riverside Empanadaan and Kapuluan Vista in Pagudpud

 Our family went on mini-vacation in Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte a month ago (I soo miss those good times. sob. sob). From Vigan on our way to Pagudpud, we stopped over in Laoag to have lunch. We met with our company bureau chief in Ilocos Norte and she brought us to this very lovely foodie place called Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant. Being there was both a culinary and visual treat. Saramsam is housed by Balay de Blas, one of the establishments in Laoag City offering good accommodation to travelers to the North.
Saramsam is famous for its Pinakbet Pizza. Pinakbet, for those who are not in the know, is a vegetable dish that the Ilocos Region is known for. It usually has squash, string beans, okra and eggplant and some amount of fish bagoong (in some provinces, bagoong na alamang is used). Saramsam apparently rode on its popularity and offered one of its signature dishes, the Pinakbet Pizza. Its best when drizzled with some fish bagoong and a few drops of 
chili oil (which is really hot!).

Pinakbet Pizza (P200, small; P375, large)
Aside from the iconic Pinakbet Pizza, we also ordered a lot of other things:

Saramsam Pasta (P160.) - something new - a pasta dish with chunks of sweet, ripe mango. Tickles the palate.
Ylocano Fresh Pancit (P115) - good but a little salty.
Canton Guisado (P115)
Creamy Chicken Pesto (P150)
Tuna Pasta, P150.
Chicken Pesto Pizza, P200, small; P375, large)
Pepperoni Pizza, P185, small)
Tropicale Pizza, P200.
Salamagui (tamarind) juice, P185 per pitcher. Sweet and a little sour. Yummy and refreshing!
The Menu


At the lobby of Balay de Blas
Reception area. To the right is the entrance to Saramsam

The following day, while in Pagudpud, lunch was at Kapuluan Vista Resort and Restaurant where we had: 
Menudo, P250.
Dinuguan, P300. (There's bagnet on top!)
Chicken Afritada, P250.
Beef Caldereta, P300.
Pancit Bihon, P180.
Grilled Pork Steak, P275.
Iced tea, P40 per glass.

Food here is good (though prices are a little steep). But another thing I like here is that they have several dogs roaming around - all poodles which are sooo cute.

The beach at Kapuluan Vista Resort
After three days, two nights in Ilocos Norte, we proceeded to Baguio City. After leaving Pagudpud on our way to the summer capital, we stopped by Batac for breakfast. As we had been in Ilocos for five days and still not having the chance to eat Ilocos empanada, we didn't let go of the opportunity to finally have it at the famous Riverside Empanadaan (I thought it was 'Empanadahan' but it's not. Hehehe.).

There are several stalls inside the huge eatery and we chose Glomy's Empanada for our viands and rice. We ordered:


Surely, we didn't forget the reason we're here - Ilocos empanada! We bought from another stall, though. Unfortunately, I fail now to mention the name of the stall 'coz I forgot to look (sorry!). Also, I've no idea how much the viands cost each, I didn't care to ask because by the looks of it, they're quite cheap. Haha! I paid less than a thousand pesos for all the viands, rice and drinks. My sister paid for the empananadas, though and I failed to ask her how much (In Manila, a special Ilocos empanada - with longganisa - is priced at P50, 
while the ordinary - without longganisa - is P40.) .

For those who haven't eaten an Ilocos Empanada, its orange dough is crunchy on the outside. Inside, you'll find strips of green papaya, one whole egg and one Vigan longganisa. Pour some sukang Iloko (Ilocano vinegar) into it before taking a bite. So good! No wonder this delicacy is popular even in Manila.
Of course, I didn't forget to "document" the making of empanada. I think it needs some skills. Haha! It's a joy to watch and a bliss to eat. :-)

Inside Batac's Riverside Empanadaan

Ilocos Norte is one unforgettable place to visit because of its wonderful sights - the beaches and windmills - plus the delectable food.
I would certainly want to visit a second time someday soon.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Vigan eats: Cafe Leona, Hidden Garden and Kucina Felicitas

On the last week of May, our family spent six days traveling to the North for a mini-vacation. What a blessing from the Lord to be able to see wonderful sights in Vigan on the first leg of our trip, and in Ilocos Norte and Baguio City afterward. We stayed for two nights in Vigan - which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site - making the rounds of interesting places and grabbing the chance to eat Ilocano dishes. We enjoyed bagnet, pinakbet, warek-warek and the funny-sounding (for us Manilans) eggplant dish poqui-poqui. We so relished the culinary experience! The kids were eating bagnet for three days! Breakfasts were at Villa Angela Heritage House where we stayed for three days, as brekkie was included in our accommodation. Meanwhile, lunch and dinner were at Cafe Leona, Hidden Garden Lilong and Lilang Restaurant and at Kusina Felicitas.

Cafe Leona is on Calle Crisologo, where most of the Spanish colonial houses are found. 
Here, we had:

Bagnet, P250
Sisig, P160.
Pinakbet, P160.

Tower of iced tea, P225.

We liked everything we ordered at Cafe Leona. I particularly loved the bagnet and pinakbet. I hope to come back here for coffee on a quiet afternoon (just myself. Haha!) as the place seemed to me the perfect venue for a good cup of joe.

In and around Cafe Leona:

American (or Caucasian) and Japanese tourists are here, too, as we dine


Here we learn who Cafe Leona is named after

Lunch on our second day was at Hidden Garden Lilong and Lilang Restaurant. As the name implies, plants and trees are everywhere, which they also sell. I bought ashitaba plant here, which many say, is almost a cure-all plant.

These were what we had for lunch:

Dinengdeng, P140.
Sinigang na Bangus, P180.
Warek-Warek, P160.
Poqui-Poqui, P100.
Bagnet Sisig, P220.
Binagoongan Rice, P130

From left: Melon Shake, P80; Mango Shake, P80. and Buko-Banana Shake, P100.

Picture-perfect places inside Hidden Garden:

Pictures of menu are seen as you wander in the large garden. They make you grow hungrier as you walk around.

Hidden Garden is a visual delight for nature lovers like me, who find bliss around plants and trees. The food is quite good too. Service, thankfully, is very friendly. Hidden Garden is in Barangay Bulala, Vigan City.

Meanwhile, on our last night, dinner was at Kusina Felicitas, which is inside Grandpa's Inn, housed in  a 100-year-old building.

Molo soup, P125.
Fried Chicken, P410.
Adobong Kangkong with Tokwa, P115
Cookies and Cream Cake, P140./slice
Mini Kisses Cake, P140./slice
We also ordered Tinolang Manok but I wasn't able to take a good picture of it. Sigh..Anyway, I liked everything here, too. My family and I raved about the Adobong Kangkong 
with Tokwa. Yummy! 

 Entrance to Grandpa's Inn and Kusina Felicitas

Inside the restaurant

Grandpa's Inn reception area
  Anyway, Kusina Felicitas belongs to a trio of restaurants being ran by the owners of Grandpa's Inn (I suppose. Haha!). The other two are Cafe Uno, which is right beside Kusina Felicitas, and Uno Grille, which is across the street from Grandpa's Inn. When you're dining at either of these three restaurants, you can order dishes from the two others at the same time. Our cake desserts, in fact, came from Cafe Uno.
Kusina Felicitas inside Grandpa's Inn is at 1 Bonifacio St. Corner Quirino Blvd., Vigan City.

Hope you could try these restaurants when visiting Vigan City. Happy eating!