Chef Nic Rodriguez sets up shop in Paoay


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.

Taburkik Bagoong ni Chef Nic

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.

Rufino'sLechon Baka in Pita Bread

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.

Fresh Lumpia with Sweet PotatoesChocolate CakeBrazo de MercedesRufino's Cafe 2Rufino's Cafe

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
© Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

The Lake House

The Lake House

There’s that one white house that catches the eye of a visitor of the legendary Paoay Lake. Only a true lover of nature and serenity would want to build a house around it. The lake is a national park, making it a classic, idyllic location, insomuch as residence owners benefit from the laws governing the protected park.

Stark white from afar, but a pale shade of dove grey up close, the lake house sits on an area measuring 1611 Sq m.

Let’s scrutinize life inside the lake house.

VerandahHorsesThe Lake House

The lake house is actually the vacation house of Fil-Am Mrs. Josephine Lazo Carlson, who happens to be mom of my first cousins May, Jonas and Samantha on the Abad side. She lives there three months in a year.

The minimalist design is inspired by two worlds. The architecture is American, designed by a Filipino US-based architect relative of Tita Josie, and the decor mostly contemporary native, with a couple of vintage accents like the Lazo family piano.

PhotographsWaterLiving SpaceVintage PhotosContemporary Native TouchesSunlightDining SpaceIlocano SaladLauyaIlocano Lunch

My friend Jay Ramos and I lingered lengthily after a sumptuous Ilocano lunch of bagnet with KBL, lauya, ensalada and pindang a bangus from Pangasinan prepared by the hosts.

We’re moving into the hot summer season, but it was breezy out there today. The northerly lake is a natural relaxant. Jay chair-napped. You  know on one of those butaka sweet lullaby chairs.

MonochomeCrispsBird Watch

The Paoay Lake National Park is a feeding point for migratory birds. Mayas and kannaway are omnipresent.

The part closest to the lake is home to free-ranging native chickens. They add to the charm of the abode. The children are usually up on their paddle boards when they are in town.

To the owner, home is where the heart is and it is the Paoay Lake. It was love at first sight.

The Lake HouseDriveway
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014