Baguio City (bag-YO) is a four to six hour drive from Manila, depending on how fast you drive, the route you take, and perhaps most importantly, what time of the day (or night) you leave. It’s a popular vacation spot for almost everyone who wants a cheap getaway from the scorching Manila heat; at its warmest Baguio reaches only 23°C.
Just like every other Manila denizen, I have fond memories of Baguio. Aside from the cool air, there’s the smell of pine which invigorates my smog-fatigued lungs, lush greenery, strawberries, trips to the market to buy walis (brooms), fresh vegetables, visits to Camp John Hay and food, always plenty of food.
Because it’s cold in Baguio, food somehow tastes better there. I eat more vegetables there than when I’m in Manila. Actually, I eat more when I’m in Baguio, period. As a result, I always come back a few pounds heavier. Ugh.
The last time I was in Baguio was back in 2002 when my daughter, Boo, was just three months old. I only went back this past weekend, just three months away from her third birthday. As I’ve grown older, I find that my love for Baguio is waning: I find the drive too long, the city not as vibrant and magnetic, and so on. The magic is still there, I know, it may just take me a long while to find it again. But the food is still there. Oh, the food.
Bin brought me to this gem of a restaurant on Loakan Road called Forest House. Think country interiors and continental food. I enjoyed myself immensely. Bin recalled that they had good raisin bread, so of course we ordered a loaf of that. But as you can see from the photos, there is more bread than raisins. The bread was dry too. Thank God the bread wasn’t an indicator of the quality of the food to come.
This is a picture of the bagnet we had as appetizer. Bagnet is liempo (pork belly), which is boiled until tender. It’s left to dry and then deep-fried until crispy. Here, it’s served with atchara (native pickled dish made from grated green papaya and carrots), and a relish of tomatoes and onions in bagoong Balayan (fish paste).
16 Loakan Road
(074) 447-0459/(074) 304-4553
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links last updated Jan. 4, 2006