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Gastronomical Ilocos Norte, Part 2

A few places in the Philippines can compare to the stark simplicity and beauty of Ilocos Norte. The colonial houses, the brick pavements, the people’s hospitality, the rustic landscape and of course, let’s not forget…the food!

A few of the delectable native dishes of the Ilocos region are imbalictad, an Ilocano version of kilawen made of finely sliced lomo (beef loin), liver and papait (cow bile) that are stir fried for only a few seconds, dinardaraan (dinuguan) whose main ingredient is the smallest part of pork intestine that is fried until it’s crispy.
Unlike the watery dinuguan of the Tagalog, dinardaraan is cooked till the blood has curdled and the oil of the pork intestine has come out; longanisa, whose pleasant taste is brought out by its use of too much garlic and sugar cane vinegar (sukang iloko); yusi, a soupy and more acidic version of igado consisting of sautéed sliced pork, innards, liver, fish sauce, bell pepper and carrots whose broth comes from canned peas.

All these authentic regional dishes are being served to delighted guests at the 288-room Fort Ilocandia resort, now the most popular weekend destination in Luzon among North Asians, local tourists and expatriates alike.

The 77-hectare Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel Complex sits amidst sand dunes, which this part of Ilocos Norte is famous for, agojo (native pin) forest, and a two-kilometer stretch of fine sand beach facing the immense South China Sea. The hotel, which is just 10 minutes away from the Laoag International Airport, was built in 1980 and opened its doors to tourists in 1983. Inspired by the Spanish Mediterranean design, the hotel buildings are finished in red bricks reminiscent of the colonial past.

At present, six flights a week from Hong Kong, and three times a week flights from Shanghai, Quangzhou, and Taipei, plus Philippine Airlines’ four times a week flights from Manila, keep the occupancy rate at Fort Ilocandia in the high 80s even during the so-called tourist off-season.

A variety of restaurants at the five star hotel provide Filipino, particularly Ilocano dishes prepared by Ronquillo and his staff, to hungry guests—both local and foreign. Other well appointed food outlets offer authentic Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Continental, and Cantonese dishes prepared and served by over 100 staff of the hotel’s food and beverage department.

So, when the sky is grey and the air is nippy, the memory (and the delicious aftertaste) of that drizzly Ilocos Norte sojourn comes back as an unforgettable experience in my life.

Related articles : Ilocos Food Part 1 - Baguio - Vigan Ilocos Sur

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