Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sagada in Food

Last January, I went to Sagada with several of my friends. Travel was a pain in the butt, literally! To get to Sagada, we had to ride a bus to Baguio (which took almost 6 hours from Quezon City) and from there, we had to take a bus again to reach Sagada. The bus ride to Sagada took another 6 hours and was quite dizzying as the road was almost always a zigzag.

View from the road to Sagada

When we reached Sagada, however, all the trouble of getting there was worth it. It is a beautiful place with very hospitable people. Except for a guide who tried to rip us off with sky-high tour prices (we went with a different guide, don't worry), everything went well.

Aside from the different tourist haunts like the Burial Caves (pictured below), what impressed me about Sagada is the food we ate. They were very affordable and they were all filling.

One of the Burial Caves in Sagada
Our first stop in Sagada was Masferre's. We were famished when we arrived and it was one of the first places we saw. We ordered Orange Chicken, Daing na Bangus and Chopsuey. While you wait for your food to arrive, you can examine the gallery of photos taken by Eduardo Masferre on the restaurant walls.

Masferre's Daing na Bangus

Masferre's Chopsuey

Of all the things we ordered, the Orange Chicken was a good surprise. It wasn't originally my choice, but I loved the orange sauce slathered all over the chicken. It wasn't too sweet and had a nice hint of the citrus instead of an overwhelming faux-orange flavor we usually find in fastfood fare.

Masferre's Yummy Orange Chicken
Our next stop in the afternoon was the Lemon Pie House. It is further down the main road and they have a charming place perfect for coffee or tea. They make amazing lemon pies. Even the pie crust is yummy. It has a slightly sweet flavor to it. There was even a guy who polished off 3 slices of the pie with his coffee. You can place an advance order for the day you leave so you can bring these specialties home. I brought their egg pies back home.

The Lemon Pie House

The must-try lemon pie
The furniture inside the Lemon Pie House
Our bellies full, we decided we would walk around. A nice spot to visit and take pictures at is the area near St. Mary's Episcopal Church. We also dropped by the Log Cabin, a place famous for its Saturday Dinner Buffet prepared by a French chef. It is by reservation only, and alas, it was too late for us to score any seats.

St. Mary's Episcopal Church
Sarah invades Sagada :)
For dinner that night, we headed to the Yoghurt House. The place was filled with foreigners. We all ordered sandwiches for dinner. I wanted onion rings in addition to the ham sandwich (I felt it would not be enough to sustain me till the next morning) but was told it was not available. Turns out it was a good thing because the sandwiches were humungous and were extremely satisfying. If you're on a diet, this is not the place to be. They don't skimp on food here (at least not on the sandwiches).

Yoghurt House's Ham Sandwich

Yoghurt House's Tuna Sandwich

A dog lounges on the steps of the Yoghurt House
Sagada imposes a 9 PM curfew, so after dinner, at about 8:30, we started heading back to Sagada Guesthouse (where we were staying). The road was a bit dark and I had my head down, watching where I was going when a local almost bumped into me. He was hammered! He was already on his (wobbly) way home at a time when elsewhere, revelers are just starting to party. Makes me wonder if their happy hour starts at 4 in the afternoon. LOL.

The next day started early for us as we were to watch the Sunrise at Kiltepan Peak. Coming in January probably wasn't the smartest idea, and we learned this the hard way: when we stepped out to meet our guide, it was freezing (at least it felt like that for me).

Good morning, Sagada!

Yes, it was very cold!
Breakfast on day two was at Cafe Bodega at Rock Inn. Rock Inn is outside the main town (Walk at your own risk! LOL) but we had rented a van for our tour so it wasn't a hassle for us. Breakfast was good but par for the course (though the sliced strawberries were a nice touch) but the coffee was amazing. Sagada coffee is of the Arabica variety.
Sagada Coffee

Tocino and Egg (with sliced Cucumber and Strawberries)
After breakfast, we continued with the tour, visiting the Sumaguing Cave.

A formation in Sumaguing Cave

This was easier than I thought.
Visiting the cave was exhausting, although the cold air made it bearable. So after heading back to the guest house and cleaning up, it was time for lunch. We wanted to sample a local dish called Pinikpikan (Cue the laughter from the boys - only a Filipino would understand why.). It is their version of Chicken Tinola. It was just so-so for me. And if I had known then what I know now about this dish, I would not have sampled it at all. Apparently, what makes this dish special is that they beat the chicken with a stick before it is killed and cooked. :(

After lunch, we went to Echo Valley where one of the guys shouted "Darna!" as he claims he couldn't think of anything else to say. The rest of the afternoon was spent just walking around and taking even more pictures.

For dinner on our last night, we headed to Salt and Pepper. It's a nice place with good food and big servings. We had Grilled Liempo, Salt and Pepper Adobo, Chorizo Rice and Daing na Bangus. I must say, the vegetables in their rice were cooked perfectly: crunchy and sweet.

Salt and Pepper Adobo

Daing na Bangus

Chorizo Rice

Grilled Liempo
On the morning of our departure, we shopped for pasalubong. We bought Tea Leaves, Coffee, Orange Marmalade (this is divine on buttered toast) and picked up our Lemon Pies and Egg Pies. Then as I packed my bags, I couldn't help but feel sad because I knew I would miss the place and the adventure it afforded me. But I rest in the fact that I know I'll be back.

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