It was the first time for me to take a real vacation after this whole pandemic shook our world. I chose a place that was reachable by car with the least hassle but with a lot of new food finds. It wasn’t difficult to choose Baguio. Weather is cool (between 16 and 23 degrees). Having to wear a sweater at night makes one feel that one is in another country. Plus the occasional smell of pines brings me to another world.
With all the safety protocols clearly stated, all we had to do was register online, get a QR code, and take off. If you’re not completely vaccinated, then at least an antigen test is required. I was fully vaccinated and, with my QR code on my phone, off we went.
It is a four-hour easy drive to this beautiful city. Once you exit the end of TPLEX, drive a few more kilometers and hit Marcos Highway going up. We were stopped at the entry point and asked where we were billeted. Our venue had its own triage or checking center. We arrived at the parking lot of the triage, where we showed our QR codes and vaccine cards. And that was it.
Once checked in and refreshed, we had our first meal at the Japanese restaurant of the Baguio Country Club (BCC). Food here I know is great under the supervision of BCC general manager Anthony De Leon. Every time we have culinary competitions for Luzon, BCC always bags all the top honors. I loved our warm, authentic meal at the Japanese restaurant. We started with agedashi tofu. Prawn tempura was well made with the batter crispy and tasty. I also loved the kani salad with Japanese mayonnaise . My simple futomaki was also a winner. With iced-cold San Mig Lite in my hand, I thanked God for blessing me with a nice and simple break.
The next day, instead of partaking of the breakfast buffet, we did the coffee shop. “Pinaalis ako. Bawal nakatsinelas. Maski leather (I was shooed away, No slippers allowed, even leather slippers. Rules are rules). We had a great meal nevertheless. Of course, being in Baguio, they had the freshest veggies, so Caesar salad it was, a roast beef sandwich with gravy on the side (I loved the crusty bread), and the club sandwich. All very good. I dream about these.
Another discovery was one recommended by Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat. Hatch Coffee serves a unique and delicious grilled ube cheese sandwich. Yummy. Their iced horchata is also a must. I missed their hamburger sandwich, which I heard was also good. Call! We just walked in and took a chance. Mali (wrong)!
Another discovery was one recommended by my producer/ foodie friend Jenny Celdran—Gypsy Baguio. This place specializes in Asian cuisine. I wanted to order everything. We ended up, having the smoked duck with Sagada salad (delicious!), the Taiwanese beef noodle, which was also very good. But the real find that evening was a most delicious Malaysian prawn laksa. Outstanding! The broth was mildly thick, had this distinct coconut milk taste with the fresh bean sprouts, fish cakes, and noodles. Baguio being Baguio, everything turned cold in a second. I would have preferred my soup to be piping hot with the chilly and rainy weather when we visited. But I will definitely be back! A must visit place.
Of course, we had to go to Good Shepherd. My new find was an accident. My sister from San Francisco was craving for peanut brittle. They had none but the nice lady recommended the kasoy brittle. It’s better. Boom! We almost finished one jar in a few minutes. Ang sarap men!
Driving back, I planned on stopping by Eveybody’s Café at Nepo mart, only to find out it had closed. Bwisit talaga si COVID (Damn this COVID). But his San Fernando original branch is still open. We ended up at Bahn Mi Vietnamese Eatery in Angeles. Loved the fresh lumpia with peanut sauce dabbed with sriracha. Bahni Mi. Not bad.
All in all, it was a pleasant four-day vacation with a mix of new discoveries. I would love to do that drive once more. As long as you follow all safety protocols, you’ll have a grand time. I did!