Kitchen Lab: A fresh modernist approach to local cuisine in Laoag

Tare roasted pork in uni dashi with squid ink onion chips

In the thick of editing, or rather emptying my closet for the chance of a lifetime move to Los Angeles, where my parents, siblings and a daughter reside, an invitation to Kitchen Lab arrives. Before I embark to another world, I left Monday open for the opening and VIP degustacion of 15 signature dishes. Perhaps, my last big meal that will be one of the things reminding me of home. A part of my heart says just a vacation, but my head says live another dream (we’ll go back to the move some other time).

Kitchen Lab

Kitchen Lab at The White House breaks out of the box. Speaking as a local, customarily, Eating Out in Laoag is revisiting favorite kitchens. It maybe the scruffy Dawang’s or mousy Tayamen’s or a friend’s home. But on “mucho” days, it’s something like driving out to Fort Ilocandia’s Red 8 or Bergblick in Pagudpud. Because I will eat anything, I was more eager to see what Irwin Pascual, one of the brains behind the modernist fine dining restaurant, would come up with. The only son of a Chinese couple (Pablo and Vicky) who are great cooks, he is an ardent epicure, born that way I think. He says, he is stimulated by nostalgia — like the scent of burning grass hovering around the neighborhood while growing up. A diploma in culinary arts just might injure the raw juice running in his veins. Making it more interesting, his business partner, Dr. Jonathan Noble, is also self-taught. The younger members of the creative team, however, Chef Abbygail Siy and Chef Miko Quimora, are diplomaed from De La Salle-College of St. Benilde.

The White HouseKitchen Lab at The White House

Kitchen Lab is the entire second floor of The White House, a head turner after all these years. There were about 30 of us at the opening. I shared a table with (Laoag Councilor) Jeff Fariñas and Charisma Ursia and photographer/blogger Marianne Pasion, who can be the best eating companions/food critics because there was never a dull moment even if the tasting got protracted.

UntitledPicture 901Irwin Pascual and wife Valerie.Chef AbbyKitchen LabWine DisplayKitchen Lab OpeningBurgos gamet butter with chorizo pepper jack roll

The food: Chorizo pepper jack roll with Burgos gamet butter, uni on a cookie, grape with blue cheese, sous vide egg with jamon Iberico, crispy and flaky indigenous mushroom with pickled salad in buttermilk, smoked Pasuquin tuna tartare in ginger and yogurt emulsion, scallop in hay aroma, two-way prawn with milk foam and tukmem (tulya) inspired by the Ilocos Norte coastline and the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, roasted pork in uni dashi with squid inked dehydrated onion chips, charcoal crust Wagyu beef in beet elements, and three desserts, namely spiced lemon sorbet, malt ice cream with toasted quinoa and goat cheese ganache and chamomile ice cream on blueberry bugnay gelee are part of the dishes they’ve created which will be available for a year. Degustacion is by appointment only, but I heard steaks, etc. is available everyday. Fresh ingredients are locally sourced while special elements are sourced abroad. Quality is never sacrificed it seems, so for a multi-sensorial food experience, the price is not ordinary. I sense a slight OC-ness in a charming, passionate kind of way.

The selection is impressive. The presentation may not be traditional, but details of home float to a degree. Take out the aesthetics, the flavors will take you to different places. I pictured California with the piece of grape with blue cheese, I was in China after that first bite of roast pork, I was reminded of childhood sick days by the perfect “malasado” egg, the juvenile cookie smeared with familiar slimy sea urchin evoke contrasting decades, the malted milkshake parallel, fleeting moments, one after the other — it is what degustacion is all about.

62°C Egg and Farm Elements

To me, the Wagyu “butcher shop mess” brought me to orgasmic proportions following the sensory buildup.  A little scorcher, the fried prawns were a bit overdone, and the cookie could have been less sweet if it were to be paired with uni for more contrast. What else? Well, the tuna tartare and 62°C egg were bitin, and I wish the lemon sorbet and the ice cream were made available everyday of the week.

Uni on a CookieAccents and ElementsKitchen LabPickled Salad in buttermilk with crispy mushroomKitchen LabSmoked Pasuquin Tuna Tartare with a dollop of ginger and yogurt emulsionJeff Farinas and IrwinNostalgia of scallop in hay aromaTwo-Way Prawncharcoal crust Wagyu beef with beet elementsMalt Ice CreamGoat cheese ganache and chamomile ice creamMigo and AbbyChefs Miko Quimora and Abby Siy and partners Irwin Pascual and Dr. Jonathan Noble in photo below. Thanks and congratulation to you, guys!Kitchen LabKitchen Lab Opening

To the one person very close to my heart during my Flickr and blogging years (and always), you make me feel ageless, hahah, fearless, and I hope to still have that photo exhibit with you one day. Love you, Marianne Gaces Pasion!

Kitchen Lab
The White House
P. Lazaro cor. Llanes Sts., Laoag City, Ilocos Norte
For reservations contact Joel Baptista CP No.: +63 9998841701

Photos of and with author by Marianne Pasion
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015

Heard from the kids: Li’l Ranchos

Li'l Ranchos

New on western Rizal Street, Li’l Ranchos is literally a little food spot turning up burgers and tacos. My first tasting was takeout stuffed bell peppers. But when Alex and I went to check out the place today, they were not available.

The staples: Burgers and pancakes among Filipino-style tacos, quesadillas and nachos. Rancho Burger, decked with cheese, bacon and pineapple, is only 95 pesos, and a plain burger called Super Beef Burger is 45. Glazed potatoes and pesto pasta are other options. The selection of fresh fruit shakes includes yacon, dragonfruit, avocado, strawberry, and lemon infused drinks. But they also offer beer.

Li'l RanchosLi'l RanchosRancho Burger

Prices are very affordable. I didn’t see anything above 100 pesos. With its price, the burger was satisfying, but super messy to eat (you’ll need a bib, promise). The quesadilla, however, was incomplete. The tortillas were like thinned out pancakes and it came without salsa.

The menu is more suited to the younger crowd.

Li’l Ranchos Rizal St. cor. D.M. Castro Ave. Laoag City (east of Papa Pau’s)

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015

Korean beauty products I can’t get enough of

Picture 685-2

I’m having a relationship with Korea. Yes, it’s been sealed. Other than the fact that I’ve been seeing Korean hairstylists every chance I had in the past two years, my respect for Korean beauty products has turned to love and devotion. My beauty regimen had always been monotonous. My vanity kit can actually be narrowed down to just face powder which already contains sunscreen, concealer, blusher, brow powder, brown eyeshadow and warm pink/peachy pink lipsticks. Three Korean beauty products that I’d buy again and again are TonyMoly Timeless Ferment Snail BB Cream, Etude House Play 101 pencil in brown and Etude House My Lovely Cookie Blusher in #7 Rose Macaron. It’s not the manic kind of love, hahah, I’m not even close to cushion compacts.

Picture 713

I haven’t reviewed TonyMoly Timeless Ferment Snail BB Cream. It sounds freakish, but I got it because among the various brands and formulations I tested, it didn’t make me too white nor grayish. It comes only in one shade and self adjusts which is just perfect for my coloring. It has a high SPF of 45. It contains snail slime, touted to be regenerating, well, we all know how Koreans are so radical when it comes to beauty and skincare. It’s not too thick, but evens out and literally brightens my complexion. BB creams or blemish balms contain moisturizers, so expect some midday shine. On hectic days, I just dust a thin layer of my trusty Ben Nye Banana powder over it, smudge brown Etude Play 101 pencil and dab Rose Macaron on the apples of my cheeks. I’ve noticed a significant improvement after using this BB cream in terms of feel and appearance.

I tend to be a loyal consumer when the connection works.

Picture 682-2FOTD details: TonyMoly Timeless Ferment Snail BB Cream, MAC NC30 concealer, Ben Nye Luxury Powder in Banana, My Lovely Cookie Blusher in #7 Rose Macaron, Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Dark Brown, MAC Espresso eyeshadow, Play 101 49 pencil, NYX Soft Matte Lip cream in Antwerp.

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015

Prof. Leonor Briones and the Manila Concert Choir in a lecture and concert in Ilocos Norte


Former National Treasurer Professor Emeritus Leonor Briones of the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance will be in Ilocos Norte on July 16, 2015, 1PM, to conduct a public lecture at the MMSU-Batac Teatro ILocandia. The lecture is titled “Balancing Fiscal Autonomy with Responsibility and Accountability“, and delves on the red flags in the financing provisions of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Here’s the chance to ask Prof. Briones relevant topics like the BBL and the 2015 National Budget during the meet-and-greet.

She is bringing with her the Manila Concert Choir to perform in a concert following the lecture. Now on its 63rd year, the Manila Concert Choir explores the power and language of love conveyed through songs in times of conflict and struggle in a performance entitled “Love in the Time of Revolution and War”, in homage to the resilience of the human soul in finding beauty in life’s harshest of times.

An evening gala sponsored by the City Government of Laoag is also slated at the Laoag City Auditorium on July 17, 2015 at 6PM, free of charge.

© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015