Nonnette C. Bennett
Long before the restrictions due to the pandemic, there was one pizza that was only on messenger, Anchorwheel.
At that time, one got a little impatient because you had to give the shop a little headway to deliver your order. Now, we have learned to order ahead and wait for these at the appointed time.
There is also a new kitchen in town, Tastebuds, an appendage of sorts of Luisa’s Café by Chef Lon. This space has adjusted to the limits of this time.
Anchorwheel is a food for the homebound. My first encounter was with the dynamite pizza topped with the green jalapeño peppers filled with cheese and wrapped in bacon on top of chewy mozzarella cheese, a tomato saucebase, and a crusty chewy pizza crust was at Stella de Guia’s house while we wrapped Christmas gifts for the hospital patients.
The delicious tongue fire sticks that topped pizzas were new then and today, the pizza is better and tastier. The cheese and spice that oozes out of the jalapeño with each bite of the dough is not for the mild-mannered eaters. No need for chili sauce or dried peppers because it is built in.
Smoked meat/kiniing pizza is another original offering from these parts. The locals have learned the art of preserving pork by hanging slabs over a firewood hearth until the fat turns opaque over time to give it a taste of the smoke. This copies smoked bacon but is better because it is thicker and has a bolder flavor, the best to go with mozzarella and slivers of bell peppers. The onions and bell peppers are nicely baked with the kiniing which turns translucent. This is different from other pizza experiences.
Pepperoni pizza has a pillowy bed of mozzarella and cheddar with the tomato base and salami on chewy crust. This is like other pizzas that one gets to taste but this is filling, and the difference is that it doesn’t have the dominant taste of oregano that pizzas have. This has a special touch and flavor that Anchorwheel gives it. They also sell garlic sauce which is like no other to go with their meaty pizzas.
The must try is the Nutella pizza. It is Nutella filled pizza crust dough baked like a layered pie. This is a sweet tooth’s best friend that combines gooey and chewy in one. If you like licking your fingers while eating or wiping the plate clean with bits of crust to enjoy each drop of Nutella, you must try this.
In another part of town, at the University of Baguio parking lot is a tiny food shop called Tastebuds by Chef Lon. Testing the waters in the local food business, Marlon Wong, from the Luisa’s Café family, has opened his own kitchen that opens from 10a.m.to 6p.m. He is giving the family menu a personal touch.
The fresh lumpia is the new edition in Tastebuds made with homemade crepes, a piece of lettuce, and filled with sauteed ground meat, fresh carrots, potatoes, turnips, and beans. This has a sweet and salty sauce made from soy sauce and corn starch that is nicely topped with fresh finely chopped garlic. Perfect for a snack but only on Fridays.
Beef brisket rice is offered here with potato wedges and a fried egg to top it. The beef is cooked in star anise that gives it a sweet scent and stewed in a sweet soy gravy. The potato wedges are a nice addition to the rice and fried egg to temper the rich beef flavor.
Combination rice has everything in it. A piece of chicken drumstick, slices of asado, and slices of lechon kawali come with a cup of rice, steamed highland vegetables, and a fried egg on top. Typically, a meal from these parts of the country, with the Chinese flavors of sesame and oyster sauce, this is a working man’s meal.
Bihon/mami noodles is unique at Tastebuds because the mami noodles are from the Luisa’s Café recipe. The freshly made mami noodles paired with rice noodles sauteed with pork, shrimps, and fresh mountain vegetables are always delicious. This has its Wong template that one doesn’t get from other restaurants hereabouts. The crispy fired garlic topping, and fresh green onions make this even more special.
Shanghai lumpia comes in a small serving here too with the flavorful combination of ground meat rolled in a rice flour wrapper and deep fried until crisp . The secret is always in the orange sweet-sour sauce that goes with it.
All these must end with the brewed coffee that is also from the Luisa’s blend.
There you have it. Baguio’s own pizzas and a filling meal stop that you can find only in our hills. Enjoy the adventure with these foods.
Nonnette C. Bennett