Baguio’s chill and cuisine

 

IT HAS been four years since I last stepped foot on the pine needle carpeted paths of the country’s summer capital.

 

Baguio's famous winding road
The long & winding road to Baguio is busiest at summertime

 

A quick stop, that one night was the only detour that my traveling group has agreed to. It would not only break the long hours needed to ply the Sagada-Manila route, but it was also the chance to feast on the food and shop for Baguio necessities—fresh fruits and vegetables, and the Everlasting flowers and famous walistambo for those who wanted it.

When summertime comes, expect an exodus of tourists taking to the winding road to seek solace in the cooler temperature of the Pine City.

 

Sunrise over the Sierra Madres seen while driving to Baguio City
Daybreak. The sun rises over the Sierra Madres.

 

The cold weather of Baguio was one of the reasons why my friends and I (I just tagged along actually) drove to the Cordilleras. Well, to be able to wear a scarf and tour a foreign guest is just secondary to the visit’s main purpose.

 

After hours of driving, we arrive in Baguio City
Finally, Baguio. The speeding jeepney said so.

 

With all the excited exchanges about food and where to eat, it was easy to conclude that feasting was on the top of the list.

Luckily, my friends did not disappoint me, the three days and two nights together were spent dining out and revisiting the flavors that we’ve missed.

 

Baguio food trip gang
Heading to Baguio for a food trip with Bebet, Menggay, Boy & Lulu.

 

The touring and shopping filled in the time in between restaurant visits.

The Manor Hotel was our designated sleeping quarter. Its location at the Camp John Hay is the oldest hotel in Baguio City that is preserved.

 

Everyday Baguio scenery from the The Manor's window
I wake up to this. The view from the my room at The Manor at Camp John Hay

 

The hotel sits amid hundreds of pine trees and its refreshing scent riding the crisp highland breeze, and the tranquility reminded me (and will remind anyone) of what feeling of Baguio City was way back in the 80s on my first visit.

Except for one breakfast taken at the restaurant on the early morning we arrived, the rest of the meals were enjoyed elsewhere.

Weight gain was inevitable.

Café by the Ruins has a new branch in upper Session Road, which makes its famed cuisine more accessible, I was told.

 

Cafe by the Ruins' new branch
The new branch of Cafe by the Ruins at Upper Session Road & its interior viewed from the upper floor

 

It has two levels, an open kitchen with an area where they make their fresh pasta noodles (exclusively for house use) and baked bread on a regular basis.

 

Cafe by the Ruins make their ingredients fresh daily
Bread is baked daily & pasta is made exclusively for house use at Cafe by the Ruins, Upper Session Road branch

 

The take-away section displays freshly baked bread, locally made dips and sauces in jars, teas and even Malagos chocolates.

One must try is the fresh pasta dishes; from the bread section, the ensaymada; and the omelet with fresh cheese.

 

Delicious specialty of Cafe by the Ruins in Baguio City- the ensaymada
Must try at Cafe by the Ruins- the ensaymada

 

Delicious Omelet with goat cheese at Cafe by the Ruins in Baguio City
I had this twice- Cafe by the Ruin’s omelet with fresh goat cheese.

 

If you’ve dined at the Hill Station then you must have already listed your favorites.

 

The colonial look for the Hill Station restaurant in Baguio City
Colonial. The Hill Station’s dining hall

 

Grand staircase of the Hill Station in Baguio City
The grand staircase, the view from the opposite side of the hall

 

On the table were plates of specialties my friends singled out from the menu. I can’t eat the meat dishes but the poultry had flavors that left an impression on my palate—the Crispy Duck Flakes served with Laing saGata and the Cambodian Coriander and Garlic Chicken, which brought back fond memories of eating out in Siem Reap.

 

Hills Station in Baguio, view from the dining room
A refreshing view while dining.

 

Chaya Japanese restaurant is a residence turned dining place.

 

Chaya Japanese Restaurant in Baguio City
Inside Chaya Japanese Restaurant. A residence turned food establishment

 

I left the place full but only one dish that stuck in my mind is the Matcha Ice Cream, very much the flavor I tasted in Tokyo that balanced the mild bitterness of green tea and hint of sweetness.

 

Chaya Japanese Restaurant in Baguio CIty serves good Green Tea ice cream
For a taste of Tokyo, try the Matcha Ice Cream at Chaya Japanese Restaurant

 

For some reason, Mario’s is a must stop place. My friends missed the Caesar’s Salad and the steak.

I went for a Chef’s creation, Three Mushroom Pasta with black truffle oil and bacon (took this one out), and a Casa Special, the Pollo Iberico.

Suffice to say, I didn’t have an early night of sleep because of the amount of food intake.

The tourist with us must see the sights, which we also enjoyed—the Summer Palace, Mines View Park, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Atonement, the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) campus, a drive by at Burnham Park, and the BenCab Museum.

 

Popular attraction in Baguio City- the BenCab Museum
When in Baguio. Must stop. Always. The BenCab Museum.

 

One must never leave the place without shopping for the Baguio necessities. Yes, my friends made sure they took home those jarred goodies from the Carmelite monastery and from Maharlika, the fresh vegetables, baskets of freshly harvested strawberries, and of course, the walistambo and a souvenir lei of Everlasting flowers for the French tourist.

 

Delicious, fresh Baguio strawberries in season
Luck was on our side- the season blessed us with sweet, juicy & large-sized strawberries

 

Good Shepherd foodstuff in Baguio City
Ube & strawberry jams, peanut brittle & chocolate oats. Going home with a “heavy load”

 

Baguio;s famous flower- the Everlasting
Forever a Baguio trademark, the Everlasting flower
 
 

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