Pagudpud for Good Food

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The municipality of Pagudpud known for the white sand of Saud Beach, surfing at Maira-ira / Blue Lagoon, and being the take-off point for seeing the most breathtaking sites in Ilocos Norte such as the Kabigan Waterfall, Wind Turbines in Bangui and Kapurpurawan Rock in Formation in Burgos. What I didn’t expect was that some of the best dining in the region could be found in Pagudpud. We stayed at Kapuluan Vista Resort, which is located by the Blue Lagoon, as opposed to the bulk of the beach resorts in Saud, which is closer to Pagudpud town proper. It’s an eco-friendly surf resort complete with an organic garden which they use for their made-from-scratch meals.

Kapuluan is proud of its signature Alma’s Margarita, which is offered as a welcome drink upon checking in. This was seriously the best Margarita I’ve had (and I generally don’t drink cocktails), so I promised to enjoy more of it later that evening.

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For lunch, I wanted something “light”, so I ordered their kilawen, which is a unique perspective on the traditional Filipino version of ceviche. This had a more Japanese approach, as tuna is marinated not only in vinegar but with some sesame and soy as well and not overly sour. This was very refreshing and the interplay of salty, sour and sweet flavors between the kilawen and the margarita was delightful.

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A. ordered a special veggie empanada, which was a far cry from the traditional Ilocano-style empanadas from Vigan and Batac popular throughout the region. This was closer to the pastry-like Spanish-style empanadas which are more common in Manila and other parts of the country. It was another interesting twist to a local favorite. I tried a bite, and I didn’t miss the longanisa at all. I also tried to steal as much of the crunchy, crimped edges as I could.

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Another interesting restaurant in the area was Bergblick, which serves German and Ilocano cuisine as well as some creative “fusion” dishes. Their Pinakbet Lasagna was interesting, with the seasoning and flavors veering toward the continental side than the usual bombastic barrage the Filipino palate is used to.

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“Ilocano Express” was supposed to be a take on the traditional fiery Bicol Express, but with Bagnet. While this was an excellent dish, it just seemed to be a Pinakbet with Bagnet topped with green finger chilies. Pino Restobar in Manila does a version with wing beans that I enjoy more. Again, it isn’t the wisest idea to order Bicolano food in Ilocos, but this dish was worth it, as the serving was huge, the vegetables were fresh, the bagnet was well-cooked. I knew from the moment the waitress set this down that I couldn’t finish my entire plate (well, this was closer to a platter, really), so I set some aside to share with our tricycle driver-cum-tour guide. We asked him to join us, but he shyly said no.

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The main reason I wanted to try Bergblick was not to try German food in Ilocos, but to pair Ilocano food with German bier. They had Oettinger Hefeweizen available, and it was perfect to cool down from the afternoon sun and to cut through the richness and fat of the bagnet and pinakbet sauce.

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We returned to Kapuluan after an afternoon of touring just in time for the tail end of happy hour, where cocktails were on a buy-one, take-one basis. Aside from their addicting Alma’s Margarita, we tried their version of the Pagudpud Sling, which, if I remember correctly, was like a basic pina colada (white rum, coconut, pineapple) but with cranberry juice as well. I found the latter too sweet, so I stuck with the Margarita.

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For dinner, I was still on a dinakdakan high from the previous night’s encounter at Eagle’s Nest in Laoag City. Kapuluan’s version was just as good, with creamy pig brain but with thin, well-grilled but still juicy, lean strips of pork bits instead. The regular order came with a cup of rice and a side salad, para healthy.

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For dessert, we shared Kapuluan’s butterscotch bananas a la mode. As with many items in their restaurant menu, the butterscotch is home made is in some of the best I’ve tried – rich and think, almost decadent, but far from cloying.

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For breakfast the next day, we tried some of the new items on their breakfast menu. She had the vegetarian huevos rancheros (with organic eggs and homemade pita bread).

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I had bagnet fried rice with KBL (kamatis, bagoong, lasona) and scrambled eggs. The bagnet turned out to be flakes of what was probably last night’s unsold stock (which is what anyone would do at home or in a restaurant), and was quite enjoyable. This was a hefty breakfast to start our last day of touring the province.

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We also tried their locally-grown organic hot chocolate, sourced from the nearby town of Adams. This was mild, smooth and not too sweet, as opposed to the more robust tablea of Batangas. After a hearty breakfast, we decided to forego lunch and head off to nearby Burgos before returning to Laoag for our flight home.

 

Pagudpud made for a wonderful stay. Beautiful sights, awesome food, great drinks; the sun, sand, wind and water. I’ll definitely be back. And I’ll probably have all my meals at Kapuluan Vista Resort.

For a more vegetarian-friendly take on eating in Ilocos, check out this post in our affiliate blog, Wonder Away.

 

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