Warmth emanated from the hearth as its embers crackled and hissed. It was a cold December evening, and evenings doesn’t get much colder in the Philippines than in Baguio City. We were at a residence-turned café, found on a lonely road en route to Mines View. We were at Café Yagam and we’re here for two things, their coffee and Cordilleran cuisine.
|CAFE YAGAM IN BAGUIO CITY|
Away from the maddening crowd of Baguio City, Café Yagam sets its ambience right before you get there. Twisting and climbing our way across a pine-laden road, we turned left and followed a narrow path that seem to lead nowhere. We held our route until a small sign told us we’re finally at our dinner place.
|CAFE YAGAM HAS A RUSTIC FIREPLACE!|
The atmosphere is laid back, made more so by the café’s fireplace. Not a fake cutesy one, but a real hearth with burning logs on it. We made ourselves comfortable while we waited to be served, checking the numerous knick knacks, travel magazines and books lying around. It instantly felt like home.
|BOOKS AND OLD LUGGAGE BAGS AT CAFE YAGAM|
|CAFE YAGAM’S RUSTIC INTERIORS|
Its interior is quite spacious, filled with low tables and even lower chairs. It was a bit of a trouble for us weight-challenged individuals, it’s simply hard to sit low with a cute tummy, hehe.
A small stage is set on one of the walls; apparently they have blues nights too.
|THE MAKINGS OF A COFFEE|
Initially, we thought of simply having our coffee at Café Yagam, our dinner at Le Monet in Camp John Hay. But after checking their menu, we found it quite intriguing; they serve authentic Cordilleran dishes like pinikpikan with etag, pinuneg (blood sausage) and binungor (spicy vegetable stew).
|AL FRESCO DINING SPACE|
They do have the usual café fares like pastas, burgers and nachos, but we wanted something different. Since we’re at the Cordilleras, why not eat like its people does? And so it was decided, we’d have our dinner here too.
We ordered bowls of pinikpikan (Php200.00), a serving of pinuneg (Php200.00), coffee (Php65.00) and desserts, inanchila (Php65.00) and kiniwar (Php40.00).
|PINIKPIKAN WITH ETAG AT CAFE YAGAM|
Serving time was average. Soon steaming bowls of pinikpikan arrived on our tables. The aroma alone made my mouth water.
Pinikpikan with etag is smoky chicken stew with salted cured meat. The chicken is prepared by hitting it with a stick until its blood coagulates and it dies; a very old tradition at the Cordilleras. The etag on the other hand is cured meat popular in the Mountain Province, usually used in small portions to add flavor to soups and dishes.
|CAFE YAGAM’S PINUNEG|
Not soon after, our pinuneg arrives. It looked like a darker kind of sausage and comes with a dip of vinegar mixed with shallots, onions and red chili. This dish is gaining popularity among the Igorot tribes and is made from minced pork and curdled pig blood.
It’s interesting to note that this dish isn’t really a traditional Cordilleran cuisine, having found its way among the tables of the north fairly recently.
The two dishes complemented each other quite well. The pinikpikan was ideal for Baguio’s cold weather and Café Yagam’s version of it was quite flavorful too. The chicken meat, as is usually with such dish, is a bit hardy but is rather good. The pinuneg on the other hand, has a very strong and pungent taste. The dip helps in taming it a bit, but I can safely say it’s not for everyone; an acquired taste.
|COFFEE AND DESSERT AT CAFE YAGAM|
After finishing our dinner, coffee and desserts arrived.
Café Yagam prides itself for sourcing its beans from the Cordilleras and for supporting the Cordillera Green Network, an environmental non-profit organization that introduced coffee as an alternative cash crop in the region.
|CAFE YAGAM AT BAGUIO CITY|
Their coffee are always freshly grounded and customers are given the choice of choosing their own roast (light, medium, dark), brew (paper drip or French press) and strength (light, medium, strong).
We requested for a medium roast, French-pressed, medium coffee. It was perfect.
And if you can add something to perfection, it would be Café Yagam’s Cordilleran sweets, inanchila and kiniwar. Dark steaming coffee plus sweet sticky rice desserts laden with ladek? Eat, sip and be merry indeed.
Address: 25 J. Felipe St., Gibraltar Baguio City
Contact Number: (0921) 256-5677 | (0946) 455-0364
Open Hours: 11:00AM to 11:00PM Everyday
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GPS Coordinates Map: 16°24'57.4"N 120°37'15.2"E