Enough with this fasting! I have obligingly posted the sights and structures, I may now proceed with the grand-tastic portion of my ILOCOS SERIES: Food!
Sorry epicurean seekers. The highlight of my Ilocos food trip was not the empanada.
Instead—drum roll please—the envelope reads: P-I-Z-Z-A!
As biased as it may sound, being the constant proponent of #pizzanight, it was the pizza that gave me the gastronomic bliss, the shivers and the *sigh* moments. But I am getting ahead of myself.
I would like to tackle 2 places where the celebrated local pizzas have graced our dining table: Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant (Laoag) and Herencia (Paoay).
Saramsam Ylocano Restaurant was the first destination because it was in my #1-to-eat list, and because it has pizza and pasta, which I can’t bear to live without.
Let me add the word “fusion” so as not to label me a boring blog which shuns gastro-adventure.
The fact that an Ilocano restaurant serves pizza is a telltale sign that it’s got some fusion fares worth tasting. And that maybe brick ovens are the kitchen norm up North. Perhaps—I didn’t ask for a tour.
Saramsam moved to Balay da Blas and has a strict reservation-cum-starts-serving-at-7pm-only scheme, so patrons had to wait outside till the clock struck 7:00. Being deviants—tired and lazy deviants to be exact—we asked to be seated inside, as we waited for the clock to strike 6:59.
That’s when we ordered the Poque-Poque Pizza (LARGE), Saramsam Pasta and Pork Dinakdakan (not mine).
The Poque-Poque Pizza, in its 11-inch glory, was a crazy-messy-lovely sight to behold. It’s got mozzarella cheese, deconstructed tortang talong (eggplant), onions and tomatoes, hence the shambolic appearance.
The waitress instructed us to pour chili oil and their diluted bagoong(fish paste) sauce—and what wonders these did! Imagine that I do not eat bagoong, but that watered down condiment just turned the pizza into an exotic surprise! Seriously, they all went together—fish paste salty, creamy cheese and that smoky eggplant.
I finished 75% of the entire plate.
The Saramsam Pasta was a combination of basic kitchen ingredients like red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, shrimps (a bit small for me), ripe mangoes, and last but not the least, cilantro. That cilantro added to its oomph factor and turned this pasta into a summer pasta fare.
The components fused into a harmoniously sweet and salty affair—that complemented the awesome pizza.
Lastly, this Dinakdakan was not mine (it’s pork) but looks just picture friendly and tastes (as I was told) just as remarkable. A perfect pulutan to go with beer!
Herencia Café is hard to miss; it’s in front of Paoay Church and posters are abundantly strewn in the nearby streets.
Its claim to fame is serving the “First” Pinakbet Pizza—and I am not quite sure if being first actually translates to yummy, delicious, to-die-for or just hmmm-kay.
A sucker for pizza though—you guessed it—this was a mandatory destination.
Let me be clear though. Despite my vegetarian tendencies, I’ve never been a fan of the pinakbet-bagoong tandem. But, to yield to foodie adventure, we had the pizza combination: ½ Pinakbet and ½ Mushroom (boooring, I know)—for a hefty premium of P70.
I chose the Mushroom Pizza because other options were MORE boring like Tuna and Does Queso (2-cheese) Basil. Imagine, 2-cheese! Sadness.
The Pinakbet-Mushroom half-and-half was a splendid cheesy sight, but my bias told me I would like the mushroom more. Correct.
After Saramsam’s Poque-Poque Pizza episode, my pizza expectations went Paoay sky-high, but the Pinakbet Pizza’s toppings were not as copious (compared to the photo). I could count the sitaw (stringbeans) and ampalaya slices, and they could not possibly be a significant source of the day’s recommended veg serving.
It was a bland offering, despite another watered down bagoong condiment on the side. I highly enjoyed the Mushroom Pizza, though with just button mushrooms (and a wee onion slice), this fared badly as a foodie adventure. Just comfort food variety.
The Pasta Ilocana looked glorious with its cheese and longanisa toppings.
Please note the olives. Olives in Paoay–cool!
The Tuna Pomodoro Pasta was a creamy-milky affair, but loaded (or redeemed) with chunks of canned tuna. This gets another comfort food award, and went well with the mushroom pizza. If you hate the cloying feeling of too much creaminess, go for the Pasta Ilocana, if you eat meat anyway!
All in all, attempts at the gastro-adventure fares backfired as I found solace in my comfort food staples of tuna and mushroom.
Ah well. It must be the heat.
Still, pizza is pizza and #pizzaisthebest.
Stay tuned for the last food post of the Ilocos Series, D-E-S-S-E-R-T-S and MORE!