The four-day vacation (Ilocos road trip plus overnight stay at my hometown) before my training resumes ruined the
healthy disciplined diet I have subjected myself under. It was one super-cheat day multiplied by four. Months of minimal empty calories and being soda-free straight down the drain. In 96 hours I gained 3 kilograms, not to mention the emotional turmoil and guilt. But instead of sulking any longer, I decided to pick up, dust off and forgive myself for the slip (I’m trying to get back on track, eyes on the goal). In fact, I have moved on enough to be able to reminisce all those calories I’d gladly consume over again, whether worth it or not. Extra weight can be lost but starving yourself on an adventure that might never happen again well, might never happen again.
The Sisters Royal Bibingka was something I bought just because I blindly followed the crowd. During my journey to Laoag City, I was awaken by yet another stopover. This time, almost all passengers lined up for the counter so I joined the bandwagon.
I bought a box of 8 for 80 pesos (as far as I can remember) and I planned on sharing it with the group once I meet them (the box only has seven because I ate one while still on the bus). I really like this version of bibingka, the taste is not too flavorful and the consistency is chewy. I like it so much I ended up eating four pieces, so much for sharing. Also, it’s a nice pasalubong because it doesn’t spoil even after a week.
Since I was too late for Vigan, my friends just bought two kinds of Ilocos Empanada for moi. The first one was from Plaza Salcedo and it was bad (not to mention more expensive). The color of the wrapper was light yellow and it only contained shredded cabbage and egg for filling, practically tasteless. Meanwhile, pictured below is the Ilocos Empanada they bought somewhere along the road on their way to Laoag. This one had orange wrapper.
And the fillings included a perfectly 75%-cooked egg, shredded papaya, bean sprouts, and ILOCOS LONGANISA! Even though it was oily and it’s been seating inside a plastic for many hours, it was still certified noms. Too good I instagrammed it. lol. I guess the deliciousness of an empanada sometimes depends on the color of the wrapper.
Since we were on the road most of the time, we weren’t able to follow the regular hours for meals. In fact, I don’t remember having a definite breakfast, lunch or dinner. We just ate when we’re really starving and then subsisted on a pile of junk food in between. One morning though, we grabbed some breakfast at Dap-ayan ti Ilocos Norte, adjacent to Ilocos Norte Capitol. We asked kuya Noel (the driver) what dap-ayan meant and the closest Tagalog word he could come up with was “puntahan“. I tried utilizing Google and found out that the Ilocano word actually means “a place (used to be village store) where people gather for meetings and small talks”.
And what else do you have in Ilocos but Bagnet. Yes, Bagnetsilog (Bagnet + Sinangag + Itlog) for breakfast. Nothing like clogging your arteries to start your day. We found this rather expensive at 85 pesos. We waited for close to 30 minutes, the plate was extra oily and the bagnet wasn’t even crunchy. I prefer good old Stoop’s along Vito Cruz.
To trick the customers into thinking that they are eating something healthy, a plate of tomatoes swimming in bagoong is served. After the meal, someone told Cha that we can buy bagnet by the kilo in a nearby public market for a very cheap price. Ah, no thanks.
After roaming around Laoag City, we were so happy when we spotted Puregold. You see, for the past day, we’ve been spending money on bottled water. Average price was 30 pesos for a liter and a liter, in this weather, wouldn’t last 2 hours. Imagine the cost of this very basic commodity.
And so we bought as much water as we could, by the gallon, if only it was possible. Besides, we need this compound to flush our system of all the salt from all the chips we’ve been munching on. Never forget to bring water on a road trip. They’re even more expensive than car fuel in some places.
Instead of eating, we just ordered pizza for take out. Though the restaurant is famous as the birthplace of Pinakbet pizza, I was a carnivore for most parts of my life so I chose Bagnet and Longganisa pizza.
The crust was thin and the cheese was delicious. Add the unique toppings and hot sauce and you have something that is a must-try when in Ilocos. Seriously, I can finish a whole box by myself. While we were eating it on our way to Pagudpud, Cha said I should have bought more boxes which leads us to my only complain, the price. This 12-inch goodness costed 450 pesos (because there were two flavors. Regular pizzas are approximately 370 php). After hearing the numbers, Cha and I agreed that we should just try recreating this at home.
Our first meal in Pagudpud composed of overpriced and dry barbecue, generic adobo and overpriced rice. Not something worth taking pictures of. Not something worth remembering, actually. Because of that, we sort of splurged on our next meal. Paluto establishments are very common in Pagudpud, you just order the seafood and tell the kind of dish you want out of it. The price of your meal will depend on the kind of fish you’ll order. Some meats aren’t exactly cheap but most fishes are quite affordable.
For breakfast we had Parrotfish and Maya cooked sweet and sour and grilled (not sure which is which) plus lobster. The fish was fresh, none of the unpleasant muddy taste some of those sold in the city have. It was my first time to eat lobster and though it was okay, I don’t think it’s practical, the most expensive and the least amount of edible parts. Besides, I cannot distinguish the difference of its meat with that of a crab’s, better order crabs.
And our last stop was none other than our humble canteen in Isabela! Cha expressed a sentiment during our trip. She said she haven’t tasted our Mami ever since graduating from high school. Wow! That’s 5 years! So I treated them to a dinner of Mami and Halo-halo before we parted ways.
This has been our source of income ever since I was born and up to now, I am still curious and amazed on how this simple joint is able to provide for all of our needs. I like our new location better, more pleasing to the eyes (especially in terms of cleanliness but still not as clean as I want it to be) and it’s right in front of our house (though our home has been turned into an extension of the kitchen and bodega).
For the next two days, I ate as much of our products as I could because I sure missed preparing my own food and by preparing, I meant putting how much ingredient I want without fear of extra charges. These are foods I have eaten almost every day ever since I can remember and these are foods I will continue to eat. No kind of diet will stop me from patronizing 3 Sisters.
This, my friends, was my dinner before my trip back to Manila and I savored every single bite.