Life in America is an ube cheesecake

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Seeing family is like chancing upon a Fil-Am ube cheesecake at Cafe 86 in Pasadena. Sometimes it’s there, and some days you see ube leche flan cupcake, like this week, I was able to touch base with Ericke, and two days later, with my beautiful cousin Samantha, who celebrated her birthday last week. Failed to attend any of her 3 parties ‘coz I was working that weekend. God, please create another weekend for those who work so others can have their weekends always.

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Ericke’s office is in Pasadena, so she’s tried the new Asian fusion Fig Sprout that specializes in roasted chicken. I regret I didn’t take 1/2 ‘coz it was truly so delicious with the mint sauce and herbed rice. I am not a fan of chicken, but this one’s rare, like saying I have so much respect for El Pollo Loco. Ericke had Coco Pasta, very Asian with coconut cream, lemongrass, and so good that it was telling me to have my own full serving.

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Before working another long weekend shift, had one more spontaneous date with Samantha at Market Provisions, a quaint restaurant in the LA Fairfax District near her office in Beverly Hills, and then she dropped me off to go walking down Rodeo Drive.

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In my head debating whether to get rigatoni with crab and shrimps or linguini with lobster. Happy I listened to the waiter.

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Life is an ube cheesecake, enjoy it when it’s there.

Vista del Lago: A restaurant amid nature

Vista del Lago

Visiting the newly opened restaurant overlooking the Paoay Lake brought mixed feelings. I grew up partially around the area in Nagbacalan. I miss the days when life was so basic, my yaya Cion would ask her brother to paddle me around the lake, in complete serenity, something still so vivid to my memory. I was a very curious child and she absolutely tolerated my whims, like trekking or sledding in the forests til sundown. I still smell the aroma of freshly cooked tilapia from the dalikan.

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Vista del Lago is a breath of spring away from the flatness of life in the city. Owner Chef Eric Asuncion was not around, but manager Al Suguitan was helpful with what to order from the temporary, sweet and short Semana Santa menu. I wanted something light, so the homemade tortillas with salsa and tomato banana salad were perfect for sharing with Brandon. The tea made with tarragon from their own garden was a nice complement. Though Vista del Lago’s cuisine is eclectic and fusion, Ilocano details persist, like the tortillas were very Ilocano in taste, really so familiar at first bite, evocative of the crunchy Ilocos Norte cascaron minus the sugar coating. Brandon and I liked ’em. The beautiful salad’s Ilocano twist is the boiled saba that had a nice bite to it. It came with carabao milk cheese. The flavors on this one are very subtle, I thought some tiny bits of salty cheese like feta would add contrast.

Vista del LagoMirrorCeilingStripeySpaceAmid NatureVista del Lago Semana Santa MenuTarragon TeaBeautyIlocano TortillasThe BarVista del Lago BarTortillas and SalsaTres Leches

The only dessert as of the moment, tres leches, a not too sweet concoction of cream, ripe mangoes and sponge cake, was excellent.

The place is relaxing not only because of the expected gorgeous view. The design is a little restrained, making it very homey, you’d get the feeling that you are just at a friend’s house. I envy the bar. And the garden, with all the herbs they grow.

Vista del Lago is coming up with a wider menu soon. I hope you can visit the place also

Ader Office HoursChanced upon the group of Laoag City Hall employees.Summer LightA piece of the churchRagadera, Kallugong ken PaypayIlocano FlavorsLeavesCactusSkyviewGardenDelicate PinksPicture 1017HerbsLakeviewVista del Lago

Vista del Lago Restaurant National Highway, Paoay Lake, Paoay, Ilocos Norte Contact Al Suguitan (manager)  0917 729 3074 / 0998 989 9274 Open from 11 Am to 9 PM.

Garden Photo by Brandon Tan
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015

The art of lunching at Cafe Luna

Hotel Luna

Raine and I headed to Vigan by a Partas bus. The spontaneity of something can be so major.  Like sunshine and rain.

The nice seafood paella, albeit spicy, and beautiful baby brazo de Mercedes at Hotel Luna’s Cafe Luna were incidental. We just took photos and talked for hours.

Sunshine and RaineA BenCabA BenCabPop of PinkUntitledBaby BrazoPink FrostingRaineRaine (2)PaellaBaby BrazoGaraponHalo-Halo

BTW, they have everyday halo-halo buffet for just 125 and up.

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

Mouthwatering Vigan Pipian

Pipian

Ilocos is so huge that there’s no way one can explore the two provinces in one weekend. Not even in a lifetime for some. Like I just discovered Vigan’s take on the centuries-old chicken pipian that traces its roots back to the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade, from 1565 to 1815. We had it at Kusina Felicitas inside Grandpa’s Inn on our way back from Dagupan 2 weekends ago.

I’ve been raring to try pipian after I sampled Chef Nic Rodriquez’s epazote plant (pasotes) in his Bistro Candon backyard. The minty, slightly citrusy epazote is a staple in traditional Mexican cooking, lending aromatic flavor to mole sauces. Apperaing similar to the achuete-tinged Vigan pipian, the Mexican pipian is made from a more complex recipe, customarily including different spices, ground squash seeds, nuts, cilantro, chili peppers, among many others. Though Vigan uses ground rice as a thickener in the same manner it is used in kare-kare, I realized how strange it was described to me by a waiter at a restaurant in Laoag as arroz caldo-like, add to that a seemingly unenthusiastic expression on his face when I asked if he would recommend it to me and my foreigner guest.

After rabidly falling for the chicken pipian at Grandpa’s, I’m absolutely endorsing it as a must try Ilocano dish, the one in Grandpa’s to be clear.

Epazote
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013