Monday, January 19, 2009

Cafe by the Ruins


[Pan de sal with fish roe pate and strawberry jam with butter]

Whenever I am in Baguio and if I completely had my way, I'd eat all my meals at Cafe by the Ruins, one of my favorite restaurants of all time. To the chagrin, and sometimes embarrasment, of my husband, particularly when I want to be there first thing in the morning, and to which I respond nonchalantly (what's the fuss? they open at 7AM!). After all, I've taken countless friends, and former boyfriends, there before him.

Cafe by the Ruins subscribes to my ideal eating philosophy - use local produce, serve only what's in season, exploit the maximum potential of fresh vegetables, go whole/organic, low salt/seasoning- and msg-free, nothing canned/bottled/processed (except jams made in the premises), no softdrinks and alcohol (but make wines available).

Food served is not just for temporal nourishment, but is geared towards satisfying cravings of a higher plane. The location, and structure (and the restaurant's name, yes?), of the restaurant alone make for a deeply philosophical conversation that occupies the time before food is served (service is not fast, it takes time to prepare good food, yes?).


[Rosemary garlic ciabatta with herbed cheese]

It always puts my spirit at ease, when I'm at the "Ruins." So I always insist on having breakfast there, for a stupendously refreshing and relaxing way to start the day, as much as for the warming cup of native tsokolate, the excellent newly baked breads paired with molasses-sweetened jams and other whimsical spreads, and the fresh fruit platters that once contained slivers of the creamiest avocados I've ever eaten, and always showcases the mountains' bounty - wild blueberries and raspberries, Kalinga oranges, etc. - whenever they are in season.

The traditional hefty Filipino breakfast platter - meat or fish, eggs and rice - is also available in the mornings. My son couldn't forget the tinapang bangus he had, which says a lot, because he's used to the best - Bonuan bangus (milkfish).

The longganisang hubad is also a favorite - meaty (as opposed to fatty) and seasoned well (not sweetish). Servings are large and are good enough for two, just order an additional cup of rice, and perhaps an egg.

Rice served is whole, mountain variety (red or brown), and each rice platter comes with a cup of fresh fruits and a steaming mug of brewed Cordillera coffee.

The cafe's menu has remained the same throughout the years (no change in the last decade or so that I've been eating there). There are daily lunch and dinner specials (full-course meals), in regular or vegetarian options. In between the rice platters (some of which are featured below, plus the breakfast items I've mentioned) are assorted nibbles - sandwiches, soups and salads, appetizers.

If we had to eat somewhere else during the course of our stay in Baguio (our favorites are enumerated here), I make it a point to eat breakfast at the Ruins, or have my last meal there, so that the soothing mountain atmosphere stays with me for a bit longer even if I had already descended to the lowlands.


Long-life Tofu, lightly battered fried tofu stuffed with chopped marinated shiitake mushrooms


Marinated fresh whole shiitake, fresh watercress and lettuce with balsamic dressing



Sinigang na Baka, beef ribs in soured broth



Lengua, sauteed ox tongue in pastry cup


Named for someone's mother, this is tapa (marinated beef) stripped into floss and fried to a crisp, served with mountain rice and a salad of chopped onions, tomatoes, lettuce


Cafe by the Ruins
23 Chuntug Street
Baguio City
Tel. No. (074) 4424010/4464010
Website
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Related Posts
Lunches at Rose Bowl/Sizzling Plate
Vizco's Strawberry Cake

Dishes at Cafe by the Ruins that I've recreated
Forest Stream Soup
Adobo sa Mangga
Shiitake-Potato Omelet

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