If you’ll remember, I hopped on a Partas bus to experience Chef Nic Rodriguez’s cookery in the town of Candon, almost the center of the province of Ilocos Sur (story here). Just this afternoon, I hoped to catch him at his very new Rufino’s Cafe at the Arte Luna museum in Paoay. I missed him. Nevertheless, My friends and I sampled his fresh lumpia with sweet potatoes and lechon baka (roast beef) in pita bread and two of his famous desserts.
At his Bistro Candon garden, he showed me how to make fragrant taburkik bagoong. A special blend that is churned only with a piece of molave oar. I was surprised to see several bottles on the pasalubong shelves. Chef Nic said the fish is seasonal, so demand is hard to cope with. I got a bottle for some apple mangoes which are abundant in Laoag right now.
I loved the pita sandwich with ranchy dressing. The beef was very tender and not dry. His old-fashioned chocolate cake was so good the first time I had it in Candon. I had the whole big round cake to bring home, in fact, so my eyes were only for the brazo de Mercedes. One wasn’t enough. Like Chef Sandy’s famous line, “Sira ang diet!”
Rufino’s Cafe is walking distance from the UNESCO Wold Heritage Paoay Church. The cafe has a very Ilocano ambiance. Service is warm, though it seems the waiters are still learning the ropes.
Not related to Rufino’s, the cafe, something was just so turn-offish at the government structure’s comfort rooms. There is a particular restroom with a post that said: reserved for the ___ (the position of the public official). Making weight or call it by any other name:(
Photographed by Gilbert and Blauearth
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