Certified foodies remember places best because of the sampled food. The weekend adventure led us to Café Bossa in Candon City, Ilocos Sur because of Lino’s memory of homemade ham that he sampled here during one trip. Thus, we were led to the stop because of perfect gastronomic GIS or geographic information system.
Sapsapuriket was new to me. In the land of bagnet and longganisa, it was time to try this distinct Ilocos dish that was described as minced chicken in garlic and ginger stewed in blood sauce and garnished with crispy bagnet accompanied by a cup of plain rice. This is not for those who have weak tastebuds for spicy food. The sliced green chili peppers and ginger made the tender chicken bits burn the tongue with delight. The smoothness of the blood sauce gave the meat a pleasant finish. This is oily too and coats each spoonful of plain rice like fried rice. This is a must try in these parts of the country for its unique provincial preparation.
Barbequed chicken with tzatziki sauce with Java Rice was perfectly roasted with candied ends. Soft and juicy on the inside, the chicken thigh and drumstickare dipped or topped with the yogurt and cucumber sauce that neutralizes the sweet and salty flavor of the chicken. The java rice is colored with annatto and lightly flavored with turmeric. This is almost similar to the Mediterranean chicken dishes that are stewed then baked or roasted. A large serving that is filling for big appetites.
Lemon pork chop with bacalao rice was new too. The crisp and crunchy pan-fried lemon infused porkchop smothered in sweet-sour sauce was different. The pork was rolled in corn starch or some kind of crumbs to give it a crisp and crunchy finish. The dip heightened the lemon flavor in the meat. Bacalao fried rice had bits of dried fish that gave it the salty flavor. This worked well with the crispy meat.
Breakfast is served the whole day too. The ranchero breakfast had baked beans, ham, chorizo, and egg. The Bossa homemade ham and chorizo were part of the meal. The tender slices of ham made from pork belly and the chorizo that had ingredients other than garlic were memorable to the tastebuds. These were foodie memories that made the Café Bossa a destination for Lino. The baked beans were made with white beans perfectly sauteed and baked with bits of pork. Slices of grilled bread accompanied this protein loaded meal.
The charm of Candon is in the movement to preserve old heritage houses that have lower levels for storage and second floors with high ceilings. The architecture was functional for those days when agriculture was a source of wealth and horses were part of the lifeways. This café is on the road level of an old house and uses the charm of exposed tiles and chipped plaster as part of its ambience. There are two areas, air- conditioned and without. A setting for private dinners for a dozen or more is also available.
When travelling through the Ilocos Sur area, Candon should be an interesting stop for the preserved heritage homes that are found in different parts of the City. Most of all, this gastro adventure should also be added, Café Bossa. — Nonnette C. Bennett