Sunday, February 09, 2014

Ilocos Norte: Empanada, tupig & bibingka food trip

Even after my trip to Ilocos Norte, the taste of the crunchy and savory empanada is still vivid. I was finally able to complete my Ilocos Norte empanada experience by trying out the Dinardaraan (Dinuguan) Empanada at Johnny Moon Cafe and Elvie's Sweet Empanada near PLDT.

Johnny Moon also serves Bagnet Empanada and Sisig Empanada. But I don't think the bagnet meat is tasty enough for an empanada for you to notice it. So I really recommend the Dinuguan Empanada if you want something different.

And speaking of different. While most empanadas use the garlicky longganisa, Elvie's offers Ilocos empanada with sweet longganisa. The sweet taste of the longganisa plus the sour sukang Iloko makes a very interesting combination.

From Batac to Bacarra, here is my list of the best empanadas in Ilocos Norte.

I also didn't realize they took their tupig (glutinous rice cakes with coconut) quite seriously in Ilocos Norte. They even have an intense competition every year to determine who makes the best tupig. But those from Currimao and Sarrat are the ones which stand out.

I got to try the Sarrat tupig during a trade fair at the Ilocos Norte Capitol in Laoag. They use purple glutinous rice which is why the tupig is dark purple.

We drove to Currimao the next day to try out the tupig at Irene's Native Delicacies along the National Highway. They mix in margarine, milk and cheese to add flavor to the glutinous rice and coconut.

And instead of the usual tupig grill we see on the street, they cook their tupig by baking it in a traditional wood-fired oven.

In Currimao, they also make bibingka with glutinous rice and coconut, and topped with peanuts. The consistency actually reminds me of tikoy.

What other Ilocos Norte delicacies do you like?
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