December 8, 2023

Burgers, fries, and wings are the signs of the times, if you ask me. These are not of the fast-food edition but a recipe of owner and entrepreneur, John Rivera, 40.
There is also the coffee craze that may make Itogon a coffee haven as an aftermath of the Typhoon Ompong tragedy. Happy new year folks! Here’s to new finds in our little city.
A great fan of burgers, I use hamburgers as a benchmark for comparison for some restaurants. I like mine made from good ground beef and in good buns or bread. Recently, I got an invitation to try Yummy John’s Grind and Grill along Marcos Highway. The hole-in-the-wall type of joint only sits seven in these Covid-19 protocol times. Stools facing the walls aren’t made for group conversations, so I suggest to go in threes. Ideally, order take out or have it delivered if you want to have a meal with a group.
These burgers are John’s own concoctions of ground beef that are made into half inch patties when cooked. Made of pure beef, they’re filling and have almost the same texture as the old Camp John Hay 19th tee and Mile Hi burgers. The burger buns are soft and reduced to a wafer while eating a double patty. The lettuce and slice of tomato give it another texture. I am sure when the lettuce returns to reasonable rates, a more generous serving is given. To mention that the bun comes from the oven of Chef Miko Dy at Bistro Lokal. The sweet buns are topped with oats and sesame seeds for the added fiber.
The chili con carne with red beans is also a recipe of John who is a commerce graduate and likes burgers, chili and wings. The quarantine brought about by Covid-19 made him decide to convert the former shoe laundry shop into a snack bar. Those who know their chili will enjoy this topping for burgers and hotdogs here.
The wings are tender and juicy inside and crisp outside. Similar to the other chicken wings outlets, it is the sauce and garnish that makes the other flavors different. Honey sriracha will always have its sweet and chili appeal. There are teriyaki, hot buffalo, and garlic parmesan toppings too.
My best loved part was the fries that was sour cream flavored. The medium sized Buguias potato was fried crisp and chewy on the inside. This is the local starchy kind of potato that is quite different from the commercial counterparts that are dry. If you ask me, no need for the ketchup or mayo. It is best as is with the sprinkled flavors.
This is a delicious snack or meal that is a must try. Find him on Facebook and order this bundle of goodies.
Coffee from the Cordillera is always good. My Kalinga memories are of the thermos pots that are presented when you visit any household there. In the 90s, one would wake up to the scent of the beans being pounded in the big mortars and boiled in large kettles mixed with just the right amount of brown sugar.
In the Benguet areas, the coffee beans are already ground but also drift in the morning air from the households. There are differences in the taste of the beans.
Of late, I was introduced to the Itogon coffee. This tin that weighs 250 grams has medium brown whole beans. It is not shiny and black like those sold at the market. The aroma is not as strong as the Arabica of Kalinga or the Robusta of Benguet.
The label, Athena, reads Foundation for Sustainable Coffee Excellence. This group processes the coffee beans from Sitio Sanuyao, Itogon, Benguet. The cupping notes state that this has a dark chocolate and cherry, medium acidity, and medium body. This process is how the cupper finds the roasted beans. Indeed, this is a medium bodied coffee because it is not burnt to bring out the bitter taste and strong aroma that mountain folks enjoy. The varietal description is mixed Bourbon and Typica which are varieties of Arabica.
Henry and Sons, the company, says that they wanted to impact and empower the people of Itogon through the coffee industry. This is a more sustainable livelihood, according to them because the development of coffee farming and agri-tourism is eco-friendly. They say this proudly local industry could be the long-term solution against poverty.
The coffee addicts who like different kinds of beans might want to support this local product and boost the production of the special Itogon coffee cherries. Henry and Sons is on Facebook.
Discovering the local gastronomical gems has become a weekly adventure. These are the experiences that might make you smile. Happy eating and drinking.