Monday, January 14, 2013

ilocos 2013: day one

As soon as our plane landed at Laoag International Airport on 5 January 2013, I could hear the bagnet calling my name. We hit the ground running, hard and fast. We dropped our bags off at our hotel, Palacio De Laoag, and drove to Fort Ilocandia for lunch.

Fort Ilocandia is still the only five-star resort facility in the Ilocos region, and it's as handsome as it was when I first visited almost four years ago. Maybe even more so.

Probably the most well-maintained hotel I've seen in the country.

We ordered the usual suspects: bagnet and pinakbet. No photos, though. I was too hungry.

But I did take some pictures of their cute gingerbread display. All of the must-see spots of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur provinces, in edible form.

Fort Ilocandia Resort. Are those supposed to icicles on the eaves?

The Kapurpurawan rock formation, the windmills of Bangui, and the lighthouse of Cape Bojeador.

UNESCO World Heritage site Paoay Church. The sinking bell tower of Laoag in the background.

After a thoroughly satisfying lunch, we went to Barangay La Paz. I had been to the sand dunes before and saw a tiny bit of the area on foot. This time, we went in style.

The best way to explore the sand dunes is by 4 x 4.

It was a short 25-minute ride, but we saw some fantastic views...

The city of Laoag and the river that runs through it,

The dunes rolling towards the South China Sea West Philippine Sea.

And experienced some hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping dips and turns.

Not obvious from the photo, but this was a near-90 degree drop.

At the end of our first day in Ilocos, we had dinner at La Preciosa Restaurant. I wanted to check if they still had the best bagnet in the universe.

La Preciosa's bagnet. Oh yes, the best the best the best! And the KBL is still to die for.

We ordered some dishes that I'd had before and missed dearly.

Sinigang na ipon. Tiny fish in sour tamarind broth. So fresh, the fish were still jumping minutes before it was served.

Poque poque. Grilled eggplant, egg, tomato, onion, garlic and fish sauce. Comfort food.

Plus, since we were a big group with big appetites, I was able to try new dishes.

Garlicky longganisa from Laoag. Better than Vigan's more famous version, IMO.

Okoy. Fritters made with dried shrimp and shredded cabbage. The dark sugarcane vinegar made this dish.

Baridubud, a variation of dinengdeng. Loaded with weird vegetables and freshwater clams as small a baby's fingernail.

Verdict: Honestly, I never thought that I would ever go back to Ilocos, but I'm glad I did. I had forgotten how good the regional cuisine is, and particularly at La Preciosa, my precioussssssss. The best restaurant in Ilocos. The best meal we had during our four day trip, and we had some very, very good food all throughout.

(How many times am I going to use the word "best" here? It is what it is.)

Happily, the bagnet was still sublime and the KBL-- tomato, fermented fish and shallot-- its perfect condiment. Actually, everything we ordered was "ridiculously tasty", as one of my travel companions remarked. But I was especially infatuated with the baridubud. I had wanted to try dinengdeng before, which I knew to be a clear-ish vegetable soup with a bit of grilled or fried fish thrown in, but this baridubud was truly amazing. Every ingredient was completely alien to me, and completely delicious. I could have it every day. I would go back to Laoag to eat this one dish.

Oh, and the carrot cake was pretty good, too.

I would recommend making reservations because the place is a bit small. In fact, I made sure that we swung by before lunch to book a table for dinner.

La Preciosa Fine Dining and Catering Services is located along Rizal Street, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. Telefax +63.77.7775130. Telephone Numbers: +63.77.7731162 and +63.77.7732159. Email: Their menu is on their website.

Related posts: Ilocos 2009
Fort Ilocandia Resort
La Paz Sand Dunes

No comments:

Post a Comment