BAGUIO – If there is one food item that best evokes the romance of Baguio City, it has to be the strawberry. Although imported strawberries are now readily available in Metro Manila supermarkets, this hasn’t stopped our love affair with the Baguio variety every time we visit this mountain city.
If you’re in Baguio City this weekend for the grand Panagbenga flower festival, here are six ways to enjoy strawberries.
Strawberry Shortcake from Vizco's. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
When it comes to cakes and pastries, I’ve always believed that the shortcake best highlights the flavor of strawberries, instead of the more common cheesecake and fruit tarts. So I’m not surprised that when it comes to Baguio desserts, the No. 1 on the list of many foodies is the strawberry shortcake of Vizco’s, a cafe along Session Road. (It now has another branch in Camp John Hay.) This cake is one of the best-sellers of Vizco’s and at less than P100 a slice, it’s perhaps the single-most value-for-money item in your Baguio food trip.
Strawberry Romance from Cafe Will. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
One of the better venues for live music in Baguio is Café Will on M.H. Del Pilar St. (off Legarda Road). You can opt to order a strawberry daiquiri here or, if you don’t take alcohol, have some dessert. Strawberry Romance is basically an ice cream dessert, smeared with strawberry sauce and topped with a wafer stick, which you can enjoy with a cup of coffee.
Pork sinigang with strawberries
Pork sinigang with strawberries from Mines View Park Hotel. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
At the Zenz Bar and Restaurant of Mines View Park Hotel is a rather unusual dish that uses Baguio strawberries as the souring ingredient in the Filipino classic sinigang. The red fruit certainly added a bright color to the dish but more than aesthetics, the dish actually works, giving the sinigang a very clean flavor that highlighted the meat. This is top-notch sinigang that works so well as a soup. (For dessert, the restaurant offers a strawberry crepe, if you want.)
Strawberry taho from Manong Taho. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
At the food court of SM Baguio is a taho stand called Manong Taho that sells a strawberry flavored taho. This is your basic taho but using strawberry syrup as a sweetener. I also found street taho vendors selling strawberry taho during the open-air night market on Harrison Road. Baguio City, it seems, has truly embraced this flavor as its own.
Strawberry body scrub
Fresh strawberries to be used for scrubs. Photo from the Facebook page of North Haven Spa
I saw a poster of this unique spa service when I went to Hill Station. North Haven Spa is also located at Casa Vallejo and supposedly promotes traditional massages from the Cordillera region. This extends to the products used for their scrubs, which includes mountain rice, Benguet coffee and strawberries.
Strawberries and Cream
Strawberries and cream and Strawberry juice. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Of course, sometimes the best way to enjoy strawberries is to eat it fresh. Surprisingly, I only found the basic strawberries and cream at the Strawberries & Ice Cream kiosk at the Filling Station in Camp John Hay beside the Le Monet Hotel. This establishment specializes in everything strawberries, such as ice cream and parfaits. It was but fitting that I had my last meal in Baguio here – a cup of strawberries and cream and fresh strawberry juice. No frills and just pure strawberry goodness.