A bamboo pole about two meters long was served on our table. Our waiter opened the lid and revealed what’s inside. Pinakbet. My least favorite food of all time.
Oh man. Dining at a place called Pinakbet Farm, I should’ve expected this. Tsk.
Coming from the abel loom weaving in Caoayan, a town which used to be part of Vigan City, we dropped by Pinakbet Farm; a small restaurant overlooking one of the tributaries of Meztizo River. Tables and benches are neatly arranged on a pavilion-type open-aired setting. Wood dominates the theme of the restaurant; and with the breeze wafting in, it makes for a very rustic and provincial ambience.
On the left of the dining hall are fish pens set along the river. While waiting for lunch, a few in the group decided to try fishing. The activity is free of charge and you can even buy the fishes you catch and have it cooked. How much? Lower than the current market price, one of the staff told me.
Pinakbet Farm came about as tourism from Vigan City started to boom. Thinking of capitalizing from the tourist run-off of its neighbor, the owner of Pinakbet Farm decided to put up a restaurant that visitors would find unique and appealing. Her hunch proved to be spot on as the restaurant is receiving a good turn-out even during off-season.
After finishing the refreshing lemongrass welcome drink, our lunch promptly arrived. I was dreading it a bit, knowing what’s in store. I never did like pinakbet, even as my parents, try as they might for me to eat it when I was a kid, were terribly unsuccessful in making me.
But of course, I wasn’t about to cop out and be a killjoy on this one. Dutifully, I took two handfuls of pinakbet and plunked it down my plate. I was about to eat it when one of the waiters arrived and offered some grilled tilapia and lechon manok. I could’ve hugged her right there and then if not for the pinakbet on my hand.
We were given no utensils to use, so we attacked our lunch boodle-fight style. Using our hands to eat, I tried a few bits of the pinakbet and—surprise, surprise—actually got to like it. Well, a little bit. It wasn’t as bitter as I expected it to be. The secret, I later learned was that they use smaller ampalaya (bitter melon), which is grown right in the farm. The fish and chicken sides also went well with the pinakbet.
My dish kept getting refilled until I finally surrendered. For Php200.00, it is an awesome deal.
For desserts, pieces of balikutsa sweets were handed out. These are candy-like goodies made from sugarcane molasses. They are very, very sweet and kinda sticky to the teeth. Besides desserts, these candies are also used as sweeteners for coffee. With that said, I started to wish for coffee there and then.
I thought we were going back to our van right after lunch but was surprised to find the staff preparing for a cultural presentation. Since everybody seemed in the mood to relax a bit before going, we all sat back and waited for the show to start.
The group started off with singing the very catchy Pinakbet Song, acting it out, and singing more traditional novelty songs. What’s really nice about it are that the actors are all staff of Pinakbet Farm, mostly newly grads. And although I cannot really understand most of what they’re singing since it was in Ilocano, I still enjoyed it and found it to be really entertaining.
Address: Nansuagao, Caoayan, Ilocos Sur
Contact Number: (0927) 564-0202
GPS Coordinates Map: 17°32'37.7"N 120°23'41.8"E