The Ilocos Sur adventure, part 2.

Aka.: more Ilocos food trippin’.

Useless trivia about me: I am not a fan of empanada. I find it too oily for my taste.

I was not too keen on trying Vigan empanada because I thought it would be just like the ones I’ve tried, ie., the Malolos, Bulacan version with the flaky crust that’s too oily, or the commercialized ones being sold in malls. Fortunately, my cousin bought one for us to sample. And just in time, too. She bought in on our last stop before leaving Ilocos Sur.

Whadya know, Vigan empanada is different from the ones I already knew. It has more veggies than the usual empanada, and the meat is actually Vigan longganisa which I totally love. The crust is not oily. Dipping it in sukang Iloko (Ilocano cane vinegar) will lessen the umay factor. I love it! One of things that is worth returning to Ilocos for. :thumbup:

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And speaking of Vigan longganisa, this was our first breakfast in Ilocos:

My only complaint about Vigan longganisa is that I wish it’s bigger. Nakakabitin eh.

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I absolutely must return to Ilocos region just to try one of these specialty pizzas, particularly the longganisa poquipoqui one.

Or if anyone can point me to any restaurant within my region or in NCR where they serve it, please do.

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Weeks ago, I discovered something in one of our visits to Concha’s Restaurant.

It’s called balikutsa or balicutia, a local candy which is a sugarcane bi-product that is also being used by Ilocanos – and Concha’s – to sweeten their coffee or tea (according to Mr. Google). We loved how it gives brewed coffee a caramel flavor.

You can bet that when I saw it being sold in pasalubong shops in Ilocos, I just had to get some.

No, the correct word is HOARD lots of it.

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Of course, a trip to Ilocos won’t be complete without… BAGNET!!!

I actually brought home two kilos of this. And I’m regretting it a lil’ bit. That’s just too much cholesterol, right there.

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Ilocos region is a haven for foodies. Although some of our more ‘alta’ companions were complaining about the food – probably because they’re not used to eating pinakbet instead of bagnet in one of our food stops, which is just too sad – my tummy was fully satisfied. There’s just too many things to sample, and I really wish I could spend more time in the region just to take photos and eat.

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PS: the link to my blog entry for Top 10 Places I Want To Visit Before I Die appeared on this entry’s related posts, so I clicked on it. Apparently, Vigan, Ilocos Sur is on my bucketlist. I totally forgot about that. :hihihi: Well, that’s one item checked off on that list…

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The Ilocos Sur adventure, part 1.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the province of Ilocos Sur for the first time. It was a actually a religious pilgrimage, but I also took it as an opportunity to travel and experience the local color, and of course, the food.

In one of our stopovers, one of the pilgrims whose roots originate in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur, served us the morning snacks. It wasn’t exactly a morning snack; it was served at around 1:00pm due to delays in our itinerary. Me and my family were actually hesitant to eat because we know that buffet lunch is coming. Must save space on our tummies, ya know. :naughty: However, we saw the others enthusiastically sipping on hot soup and since we have nothing to do but wait, we decided to queue up.

First, we were handed this variation of the sumang antala (a local rice cake), which I was hesitant to try as I’m not too fond of this kind of suman if it doesn’t come with ripe mangoes or sweetened beans.

But the others were raving about how different it was from the suman we know, so I took a bite. Unlike the usual sumang antala which has a bland flavor, this one is quite tasty. It’s a nice mixture of salty-sweet like inangit (sticky rice), but a bit sweeter and a lot stickier. It was nice. :thumbup:

And then, when we reached the top of the queue, we were served this noodle soup:

It’s kinda like a cross between mami and sotanghon soup, but with Ilocano miki (egg noodles) instead of sotanghon (glass noodles). The soup was light and tasty, which is just right especially if you’re so hungry and your stomach craves for something to warm it up. Then the locals said, “mas masarap po yan kung may sili, try n’yo po!” (it will be much tastier if you add ‘sili’ on it, try it!). The ‘sili’ refers to this:

It’s Ilocano cane vinegar mixed with the local variety of chili peppers. I sprinkled some on my soup, took a sip, and…

…WHOA. :whoa: What sorcery is this? Is this what soup heaven feels like? The soup by itself is quite tasty, but adding the vinegar-chili concoction gives it a whole new level in tastiness. It gave the dish a whole new character. It was soooo good that despite the anticipated buffet lunch – which also did not disappoint – I asked for another bowl of just the soup with chili vinegar.

Later on, I learned that this dish is considered as street food and can be sampled at food stalls in Vigan along with empanada and okoy. It’s simple food that warms the soul.

This trip was supposed to be a religious experience, spiritually. I never expected it to be a religious gastronomical experience, as well.

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