The Bacarra that I know

Bacarra Plaza

A little north of Laoag is the balikbayan town of Bacarra. It is also the home of the Leaning Bell Tower, the Museo de Bacarra, the crispiest empanada, Petrina’s Pastries and Delicacies, popular for cassava cake topped with dulce de leche and cheese, and the endearing distinctively big Ilocano accent.

Visited the newly redesigned plaza. Plazas in Ilocos, both in Norte and Sur, are getting updated, one after the other. Elements such as fountains are cool additions, especially that the climate in this side of the country is dry most of the year. Lighting has become also very important, and residents are liking the idea of promenading nowadays. I myself have discovered a newfound respect for my own city’s Aurora Park. If I’m not mistaken, young Bacarreño architect, Jeff Acob, has contributed to the new design of the plaza.

Bacarra MunicipioBacarra PlazaBacarra PlazaBacarra Plaza

The centuries-old Bacarra Bell Tower (on the right) would have looked like the mini bell tower inside the plaza if it were not badly damaged by natural disasters.

Bacarra PlazaBacarra PlazaBacarra Tower - miniBacarra Crispy Empanada 3

If you are an Ilocos empanada lover, Bacarra’s crispy empanada is one of the best empanadas I’ve ever had in Ilocos. There are only two makers in Bacarra. Both of them have makeshift stalls in their homes along Rizal Ave. Alicia’s Empanada, in particular, the first one if you’re going in from the east, is different because the shell is paper thin, yet so crispy and able to hold the filling. We tried the one with papaya and malasado (half-done) egg, because they ran out of longaniza and we liked it so much that I ordered one more without egg. Surprisingly, the papaya has that sauerkraut crunch sameness that makes it stand on its own, I came to note. I heard about this place from locals.

Bacarra Crispy Empanada 5Bacarra Crispy Empanada 4Bacarra Crispy Empanada 2Bacarra Crispy EmpanadaPetrina's EnsaymadaPetrina's EnsaymadaEmsaymada

Petrina’s dulce de leche-filled ensaymadas are good when you crave for ensaymadas here in Ilocos.

I’m excited about the coming year, what about you?

Photographed by Reny and Blauearth
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

Petrina’s cassava cake, leche flan and that familiar carrot cake

Cassava Cake

Brandon drove me to Bacarra to scrutinize Petrina’s. Paul, my dear friend from Adams, has been egging me on to visit the shop. A tiny bite of their insane cassava cake left me hanging for quite a while. It was closed on Good Friday when I first went. A few days ago, another guy friend asked me to compare the Petrina’s carrot cake with another one that’s quite popular in Laoag. So in demand right now, from the grapevine, the 14-month old pasalubong shop is the object of desire of a rich and famous personality in Ilocos.

I got stoked to dig deeper into the sweet stuff.


A generous layer of caramel goes on top of pure yellow Ilocos balanghoy, the diket kind, which means there is a kilnet factor that adds up to the special quality of their cassava cake. The challenge is on how to make it stay soft for 7 days even with refrigeration, said Albert Tugade, the husband of baker Coney Orprecio, who was at their commissary somewhere in Bacarra.

Coney got her training in baking, cake decoration and other short courses from prominent culinary figures such as Heny Sison in a span of two years. For 12 years, the business was home-based; she took orders and made cakes for other people, before the husband and wife team put up shop in the balikbayan town of Bacarra.


Petrina’s was given a grant for product enhancement and packaging improvement by the Department of Science and Technology through its Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program.

Currently, they are able to grate 1.2 tons of cassava in a month. Other than setting up a bigger store in Bacarra, as they want to preserve the novelty of being a traveler’s pit stop for pasalubong shopping, the couple’s focus is product development.

Leche Flan

I bought Brandon his favorite leche flan. It looks rather ordinary from afar. Up close, the  syrup is a beautiful amber color. The texture is unlike jello. It is the real deal, much like tocino del cielo, rich but not too sweet.

A customer at the store suggested the ensaymada, but unfortunately they ran out of them. Another friend swears by the choco-banana loaf.

Carrot Cake with Buttercream FrostingCarrot Cake

You might have seen this twist to carrot cake before. Coney likes to add freshly grated carrot. If you like it without stringy carrots like I do, it is as good because she uses only quality ingredients like walnuts, cream cheese, etc. The buttercream frosting has a tempered sweetness.

I’ll tell you about the ensaymada when I go again. Remember Petrina’s on your next trip to the north. You won’t miss the pink flags:)

Desserts (carrot cake, leche flan and cassava cake)Petrina's Pastries and Delicacies

Petrina’s Pastries & Delicacies National Highway, Brgy. 22 Bani, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte (8 kms north of Laoag City) Contact Nos: 077-676-0161 / 0922-815-9203

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014