Valentine’s day in the time of Coronavirus doesn’t have to be a sad, sterile affair. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to enjoy a lovely meal and support local businesses – with masks and face shields on, of course. As always, if you’re heading out to dine or shop, don’t forget to comply with contract tracing measures, and wash your hands often. Be considerate to people on the job, too – we’re all adjusting to this new reality together, after all.
The local business we decided to check out this hearts day was the aptly named Bistro Lokal. On the 13th and 14th of February, they took reservations for a four-course dinner, complete with drinks and live music. We went on the 13th in an attempt to avoid the crowds and traffic.
We started off with egg mollet – for the uninitiated (like I was before looking it up), that’s soft-cooked eggs, somewhere in between soft-boiled and hard-boiled. It was an interesting combination of textures, with fried tofu and fried potatoes adding a bit of crunch to the mix. There was also a small amount of tinapa powder in there – a pleasant surprise. As someone with great enthusiasm for anything and everything cheese, I was tempted to inhale the parmesan crisp in one go. I crushed it and mixed it in instead, which was probably how it was intended to be consumed.
The second course was smoked pork belly and greens sandwiched inside some sourdough mantou. This one was a bit heavy for an appetizer, but so good that it disappeared pretty quickly. It’s packed with fresh flavors and the bread was heavenly.
Bistro Lokal has a variety of breads to offer, from buns to rolls to bagels, and I’ll definitely be heading back to sample some more. They also have both sweet and savory spreads to pair with your bread of choice.
Due to Baguio being a landlocked city, it’s not always easy to find good, fresh seafood. That’s why we opted for Pacific mackarel with clams for the main course. We got a generous serving of mackarel, charred just enough on the outside, and quite soft and flavorful on the inside. The fish was accompanied by a couple of local clams and sat atop some vegetables, then garnished with alfalfa. It was a real treat for someone who hasn’t been near the ocean in more than a year because of travel restrictions.
The dessert was not your typical rice cake – but it was wrapped in a piece of banana leaf, which added to the slightly smokey flavor. Bistro Lokal’s Bibingka and Cream features three-day fermented rice bibingka alongside some banana-leaf-flavored panacotta and strawberry sorbet. The bibingka was soft and fragrant, and a nice match for the other two components. Whereas the panacotta was creamy with a subtle flavor, the sorbet was a good balance of sweet and sour. Everything was topped with a drizzle of fermented brown calamansi syrup, which tied everything together well.
Although not all the dishes above are available on their regular menu, there are many more exciting things in store at Bistro Lokal in the coming months. Head over there to see (and taste!) it for yourself.