Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Herencia Cafe ...Ilokano Fusion that works

When it comes to food, I don't like fusion --
I think it's an overused word.
It also usually doesn't work, is more pretentious than
progressive and often leaves much to be desired.
What I do like though is inventiveness and finding new
ways to cook a traditional dish, yet retaining its
integrity and over all taste.
Herencia Cafe has become a culinary landmark in
Ilocos Norte and it is in their kitchen where I think
some sort of "fusion" works.
Take pinakbet, that standard of Ilokano cuisine.
Herencia made pinakbet contemporary by using
it as a topping for pizza.
All the ingredients are there -- the bitter ampalaya,
the tomatoes, the ilokano string beans and yes, the
fish bagoong. Blended with cheese, piled on top of
a crisp pizza crust -- it's a new way to enjoy this
traditional favorite.
On this road trip, we stopped at the new
San Nicolas branch of Herencia Cafe.
In addition to the pizzas, we ordered their traditional Ilokano
fare. My favorite is their fish soup,
naleng ta ikan -- sour like sinigang,
so simple yet so good.
We also could not resist an order of poqui poqui -- while it did not
seem to match our other orders, this creamy eggplant dish
is another favorite of ours.
Herencia Cafe is near the San Nicolas church and is by the
plaza and the police station.
Because we were early for lunch, we had the place to ourselves.
I wandered around to the back and
caught the cook in his kitchen where he gamely posed
for a photo -- by the stove where Herencia's culinary
magic is made.

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