I have the craziest cold intolerance in the world. I could be wrapped up like a burrito but would still feel the chills in the night, on a very normal day, in Manila. So imagine me on a 13-degree night in Baguio City; cranky, depressed, grumpy. And then the warmth of Café Yagam embraced us as we settled on its fireplace. I was to ready to defrost.
Café Yagam is that cozy, homey café that’s perfect for hanging out when you’re in Baguio. This quaint old house turned into a café was our rendezvous that night. We were having the perfect staycation at Le Monet Hotel inside Camp John Hay and wanted to hang out somewhere. Somebody suggested this café and so we went out to check it.
We all settled into the receiving area and felt at home right away with the chill ambience of the café. Low wood tables with low chairs, books lying around, the regulars sipping their coffee while enjoying the heat from the fireplace (real, hardcore, logs-on-fire fireplace), the smell of brewed coffee and the works; it was home indeed.
We were here for the legit Cordilleran food which is hard to find in Baguio nowadays. The gracious host (felt like my long lost aunt) offered some of the bestsellers in the house and everyone agreed to have Pinikpikan with Etag (200 Pesos) and Pinuneg (200 Pesos) that night.
Pinikpikan with Etag is a popular Cordilleran dish with very traditional roots. The pinikpikan (chicken stew) is similar to your old school Chicken Tinola with a twist. The native chicken is usually hit with a stick until the blood coagulates as it dies (it’s an old tradition, don’t get mad at me). The chicken is then put to an open fire so as to easily remove its feathers and then the stewing follows.
|Pinikpikan with etag|
Everyone agreed that the pinikpikan was legit. There were first-timers in the group and they enjoyed it to bits. I was more into the etag and the broth. The cured meat enhanced the flavors of the dish. I couldn’t imagine pinikpikan without it.
Next was the pinuneg or the Cordilleran blood sausage. This is your good old sausage with a twist; minced pork and curdled pig’s blood (blood tofu or blood pudding in other terms). I generally don’t adore sausages like others do but this one has a unique pungent taste that was balanced off by the vinegar-based dip (with shallots and red chilli). Others raved about it, others were not a fan at all. It was actually a like it or hate it kinda dish.
And then someone mentioned coffee! The coffee preparation was very engaging. We were personally asked by the host on its three elements; strength (light, medium, strong), roast (light, medium, dark) and brew (paper drip, French press). I wanted my coffee to be strong, dark and… The host assisted me on the paper drip versus the French press issues. She expressed that the oil from the coffee can be lessen using the paper drip thus, giving it a smoother taste. While the French press maintains the coffee oil thus, giving it a robust taste (and I wanted that). Fact about me; did you know that I don’t put sugar on my coffee ‘coz I really wanna enjoy its purest, bitter state? Moving on…
Our coffee arrived with some surprises; Inanchila (Kalinga sticky rice with ladek) and Kiniwar (sticky rice, tagapulot and ladek). The attendant (in a very cute outfit) brought the treats on our tables and again, shutters were abused.
|Such a cute outfit|
|Team Red Horse|
25 J. Felipe St., Gibraltar, Baguio City
Contact Numbers: (+63) 921.256.5677 | (+63) 946.455.0364
Open Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily