Friday, June 19, 2009

Foodfest in Baguio

I went to Baguio last Friday with my sister Alma and 2 friends from our book club, Czar and Marie--- all gormandizers. Not even an hour after getting off the bus, we went in search of merienda. We had lumpiang shanghai, each roll the size of a baby's forearm, steaming bowls of arroz caldo with big chunks of chicken, a tureen of pancit molo soup, plates of tokwa't baboy, laing and rice to quell our ravenous cravings. Green tea flavored melon seeds sustained us until our next modest meal of chapati and hummus, downed with cups of strong coffee. Looking back, it seemed that all our thoughts were of food. We made plans for the next day: breakfast somewhere close to the hotel, lunch at Oh My Gulay along Session Road, merienda at O' Mai Khan across Burnham Park and, anticipating that we'd still be full come dinnertime, beer at Chill Out Bar later in the evening, where we can order rice if the pulutan did not suffice. Having decided on those, we mapped out our itinerary and arranged trips to Tam-Awan Village, the strawberry fields, the Good Shepherd convent and the market around the foodfests, figuring out the least circuitous routes. Later in the evening, we headed for Chill Out Bar earlier than we had planned, because we were all hungry so soon. We ended up with two platters of delicious isaw, barbecue, french fries, grilled tuna, half a buttered chicken and two buckets of beer. Gluttony got the better of us, causing us to forget that we were there primarily to drink and we had to--- short of physically--- restrain Czar from guzzling up all the vinegar (the pulutan, after all, tasted infinitely better with vinegar than beer) on the table and point out to him the right bottle to hit. Satiated rather than drunk, sloshed with cholesterol rather than alcohol, we went back to the hotel only to emerge minutes later craving for coffee. It was Czar's bright idea to make a dash for it at 11:40 p.m. because Starbucks, though it was within walking distance, took last orders at midnight. And dash we did, at least for the first minute; we discovered that we couldn't keep up the pace, and definitely not uphill. We egged Marie on, because she had the longest pair of legs in the group, and we theorized that what ground she could cover in a single stride took us three. Fortunately, she made it in time but, not knowing our coffee preferences, had to stall the barista until we came in. I got there next, sweating profusely despite the chilly night air, gripping the counter for balance because I didn't trust my knees. Ate Alma followed, dragging in a breathless Czar who had attached himself to her bag. Luckily, the baristas had exemplary communication skills--- they were fluent in the local dialect, Filipino, English as well as sign language--- the latter being the only manner by which we could place our orders. We spent the first few minutes at our table waiting for our lungs to regenerate. Czar broke the silence by commenting that Ate Alma turns a pretty shade of pink when exhausted, to which she replied succinctly, breathlessly and laced with disdain: "High blood." I think it was all that isaw...

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