SPOONFUL - The Best of The North

Last weekend I was in Ilocos and I had the grandest time! Beauts iful rivers, lagoons, waterfalls, rock formations and sand dunes were just about the few things I was with during this trip and I must say Ilocos has something to offer.

But one thing Ilocos is also known for is it's famous bagnetlongganisa and empanada. Bagnet is the Ilocano version of lechon Kawali though bagnet is a bit dry like chicharon. It is usually dipped in sukang iloko or bagoong isda. Longganisa, on the other hand is cured meat encased in pig intestine or hog casing. Most provinces have their own versions named after the city it originated or where its popular. Ilocos has its own vigan longganisa named after the city of Vigan in Ilocos Sur. Empanada is a meat pie and the ilocano version uses its own vigan longganisa with shredded papaya, mung beans and fresh egg. It is then fried and dipped in sukang iloko.

So I was in Ilocos and I couldn't bear the thought of not having them. Yes there are bagnets, longganisa and empanadas here in Manila but I believe it is different here and authenticity is a big thing when it comes to food.

So there are a lot of places in Ilocos where you can get them but where is the best? Lucky for me, the tour guide that we had has been in Ilocos for for quite some time as he also grew up in Ilocos. He showed us the best places to eat and discover Ilocos gastronomically.

Let's start with bagnet.

Almost all restaurants in Ilocos have bagnet. So you can easily enjoy it but we Filipinos love to bring home food as pasalubong or just to have it in the comforts of our home. In Vigan, there is this place beside the butcher's shop where you can get bagnet frozen. It's like the manufacturing plant of bagnet in Vigan.

Coincidentally, they also sell longganisa!!

The bagnet is about 380 pesos per kilogram which is about 20-30 pesos cheaper if you buy it from supermarkets in Ilocos. The longganisa is sold by dozen. And since the store is beside the butcher's shop, you can be assured the meat is directly transported after butchering to processing. I forgot the name of the store but it is very near Calle Crisologo in Vigan so I believe it would be easy to find.

And now to the empanadas!

During our last day, I had an empanada in Paoay. It was really good but there was nothing special to it. So when we were in Calle Crisologo in Vigan, my sister and my father had another empanada (I couldn't have another one since I was so full and I had a splitting headache). According to them , the one they had in Vigan was far more delicious than the one in Paoay. They said this was meatier and pie crust was less oily than the first one we had.

Calle Crisologo is a bustling merchandise street. Look for Irene's Vigan Empanada for one of the best tasting empanadas in Ilocos. They also serve beef, chicken and seedless (no mung beans!) empanadas.

If you are going to Ilocos, make sure to visit these places and try their food. I beleive that one of the best ways to learn about a place is by tasting its food and boy did I learn about Ilocos so much!


When we went to the beach we wanted to have seafood for lunch, so our tour guide (he really knows Ilocos) took us to a small shack near the Patapat Viaduct to buy the freshest seafood! The Patapat Viaduct is a long stretch of highway which connects Ilocos Norte to Cagayan Valley. And along that highway is this lady who sells lobsters, curachas, squid, and fish! The best thing about it is that our tour guide has been buying from her ever since so we get to have discount! We spent about A thousand pesos for 2 kilos of lobster, 2 kilos of squid a kilo of Lapu-lapu and a kilo of curacha.it was one of the best deals ever!

These are jst about the juiciest and freshest seafood I have had! I am glad to have discover this mini haven! You should too! The stall is located near the beginning of the highway and its just about the only stall there so  it's hard not to miss it.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, post them below or on twitter @iamthebluedevil