Over Rated Baguio Eats

Baguio nights are typically cool, even in Summer, especially in the John Hay Air Base area, one of the few un-deforested places in the city. Forest Restaurant, on the way to the old Loacan airport, benefits from the cool air because its log-cabin ambiance has an air of genuine about it. The ambiance is great and that’s all about it.

The food is bad.

My first time at this restaurant, two years ago was a huge disappointment. I had ordered their Chef’s Salad to go with their ribs. My host’s tone of voice was a bit excited to show me the place and have me taste its food, but my main course, baby back ribs,  was a huge letdown. The meat was far from tender (no falling-off-the-bones -tenderness here) and the sauce was too sweet.

This time, it was my turn to host, and I had selected Mario’s, of many Baguio memories of good food in the city. However, when my guests arrived to pick me up, they had another idea and the wifey had suggested we go to Forrest. Well, I thought, maybe the first time was one of those rare things. Forrest, after all, was in many lists.

I ordered the Forrest salad with three dips. My  first mistake. The salad was nothing more than crudités and lettuce on a plate topped with peanuts and raisins (que horror!), nothing more. A child attempting to be creative would have done much better. My friend ordered lamb, tough lamb. He was healthy and had great teeth but his teeth were no match for the tough lamb – it was probably mutton – sheep, not lamb. The wifey got Salpicao but had to return it because it was grossly undercooked and over spiced. So much for a foodie must go.

We swore that was the last we’d go to Forrest.


The Best This Week: Eighteen in Scout Rallos

I was looking for a place to eat and had stumbled upon a  group of new places to eat at Scout Rallos,  in from of the plaice where I used to live. There was a Mother Graham Coffee House, and beside it Eighteen. I was after serious food, and EIGHTEEN was the place it seemed.

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A block of roast pork was featured prominently on Eighteen’s posters.  The menu had pasta dishes, some promising meats and a good list of wines. The waiter suggested the roast pork. My friend cḩose the Beef Bourgignon. The pork was perfectly roasted and resting on a bed of potatoes. It was crisp on the outside and tender inside, aS you bit, you sensed a mildly sweet sauce that complimented the perfectness of the roast.

I tasted my friend’s beef Bourgignon, and it reminded me of my first beef bourgignon in Paris in 1986. I made a mental note to try it the next time. Eighteen is an intimate place that is worth a try if you hate large crowded spaces.

Chad chose Chicken Parmigiana

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Spicy Chicken Drumsticks

This recipe is perfect for a lazy day of cooking when you don’t want to whip up something quite complicated and you have a pack of chicken drumsticks in the freezer. You can substitue the siracha with any sweet and sour chili sauce.

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1/2 cup  honey
1/2 cup  brown sugar
1/3 cup Chinese Black vinegar
1/3 cup Lee Kum Kee light soy sauce
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
black pepper
1kg chicken drumsticks, skin removed and discarded
coriander leaves (wansoy)
toasted sesame seeds

In a sauce pan add the honey, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sriracha and season to taste with black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and simmer for 5 minutes, until the sugars have dissolved and the sauce is beginning to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
In the bowl of a slow cooker, add the skinned chicken drumsticks and pour the sauce over. Move the chicken around a bit with tongs to coat completely. Put the lid on and cook on high for 4 hours, flipping chicken a couple of times during the cooking process. Just before serving, sprinkle with torn cilantro leaves and sesame seeds.
Serve with steamed white rice and your favorite veggie and devour!

French Onion Soup

(from Belleville restaurant)
Serves four

1/4 cup butter
3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup red wine
6 cups beef broth
1 French baguette, sliced into big croutons
8 ounces sliced Swiss cheese or gruyere
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in a four-quart saucepan. Stir in sugar. Cook onions over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir in flour until well blended with the onions and pan juices.

Add water, wine, and beef broth; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Cut four one-inch thick slices of bread from the loaf and toast in the oven until browned (about 10 minutes). Reserve the remaining bread to serve with the soup. Ladle soup into four, 12-ounce, oven-safe bowls. Place one slice of toasted bread on top of the soup in each bowl. Place Swiss cheese slices on each toasted bread slice.

Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake for three minutes or just until cheese is melted.