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 congratulations 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!

UntitledMarianne
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

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

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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

Faith in Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

I first met missionaries of the Redemptorists in Adams, Ilocos Norte, about 10 years ago. Last Saturday, I had the chance to celebrate with them the proclamation of the jubilee year of the 150th anniversary of receiving the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The Redemptorists are the custodians and missionaries of the icon first venerated by the public in 1499. The feast was celebrated worldwide, with The Holy Father Pope Francis granting a plenary indulgence (see story here). A mass and novena was held at the recently built St. Gerard Mission Center in barangay Bengcag in Laoag.

Known as the Holy Virgin of Baclaran, Our Mother of Perpetual Help is enshrined at the Baclaran Church, where droves of devotees congregate every Wednesday to hear mass and pray the Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Among the pastoral missions of the Redemptorists of the Philippines are care for street children, indigenous peoples and the urban poor, and prison ministry.

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

The first museum of natural history in Northern Luzon opens

Museum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos Norte

Visited the just opened Museum of Natural History of the Northwestern University Ecotourism Park and Botanic Gardens (NUEBG). On display at the museum is an impressive array of life forms curated by the one and only Michael Agbayani Calaramo. A living testament to the rich diversity of flora and fauna in the Ilocos provinces, the collection underscores the interdependence of species.

While touring the galleries, I could not help but brood on a growing local issue. Loosely defined laws and policies pertaining to environment and rapid development in the last year or so have become the biggest threats to local biodiversity and ecosystems. Worth significant mention is the recent loss of tens of thousands of life-supporting trees and destruction of natural habitats, in exchange for wind and solar farms, not to mention each company’s own set of transmission towers, and the imminent loss of another hundreds of evergreen trees (Casuarina equisetifolia) in Bimmanga, Currimao, for another solar plant project (read an ongoing petition on change.org here).

Museum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteNotable is Rafflesia manillana.Museum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos Norte

A member of Botanic Gardens Conservation International, NUEBG hosts 2,100 catalogued plant species and preserved plant specimens. The addition of the Museum of Natural History benefits biodiversity education.

Museum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteMuseum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteMuseum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteMuseum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteMs. Jo Quimpo of the the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society, Inc., an organization devoted to the conservation of indigenous Philippine plants and their natural habitats.Museum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteMuseum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NortePicture 526Museum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteMuseum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteMuseum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteMuseum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteMuseum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos NorteMuseum of Natural History, NUEBG, Ilocos Norte

Northwestern University Ecotourism Park & Botanic Gardens Museum of Natural History (NUEBG-MNH)
Gov. Elizabeth Marcos Keon Rd, Payas-Samac, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte

Photographed by Brandon Tan and  BlauEarth
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015