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Mangan Taku Food Crawl: A Taste of Cordilleran Fusion Cuisine

Updated: May 10, 2021

Whether you're just visiting Baguio City or you've lived here all your life, chances are you haven't spent enough time exploring the food scene. Take it from someone who lives there, where culture and tradition are deeply rooted. Baguio City is a melting pot of cultures.

A journey to the Cordilleras can be turned into a culinary adventure, whether it be trying a variety of ethnic dishes or tasting native wines. Whenever you hear “Cordilleran Food”, what would be the first food that comes into your mind? I'm pretty sure it’s Pinikpikan. Nowadays, a lot of chefs are reinventing or recreating traditional Cordilleran dishes with a “twist”.

Trip Quest Travel and Tours, the pioneer of culinary tourism in Baguio City, was invited as one of the guest speakers during the Mangan Taku "Food Conversations" last April 27, 2021 at Wright Park. Their "Exciting Cordilleran Culinary Escapade Tour" which was introduced last December 2020 in support of their advocacy to boost local sustainable tourism and local products/businesses amidst the pandemic.

Mangan Taku Food Festival was first introduced in the Cordillera Region last April 2019. Mangan Taku is a Kanka-naey word that means “let us eat”. Since the month of April was declared “Buwan ng Kalutong Pilipino” or Filipino Food Month”, it was the perfect time to launch Mangan Taku this year. It was focused on the different indigenous cuisines from the Cordillera provinces: Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.

After one year of not celebrating the food fair due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival is back with a vengeance. The food fair kicked off with the Mangan Taku Chef’s competition wherein chefs created their own versions of Cordilleran dishes. The dishes they served had a twist or had a blend of local and indigenous ingredients. 5 winners had the chance to join the Mangan Taku Food Crawl that was set on April 29 to May 2, 2021 where the chefs showcased their winning food entry to the invited guests for tasting and appreciation.

Here's a peak of the winning dishes. Looking at the photos already makes me hungry. Yum!

Day 1 Lunch

Pako Salad Ya Tapey Dressing by Chef Dasalla.

Made with locally sourced fresh produce, featuring Pako, Fresh Kesong Puti,

Candied Tomatoes, Cured Eggs, and a sweet and tangy Tapey Dressing.

Shredded Pinikpikan in Lemon Grass Skewers served with

Heirloom Rice and Blood Pudding by Chef Dasalla.

A classic dish served untraditionally.

Chef Dasalla's plating are a work of art. It it almost too good to eat.

Day 1 Merienda (Snack)

Cordilleran Ramen by Chef Reinoso.

Served with Kiniing, locally sourced Mushroom and Watercress, and chef's own Red Rice Noodle.

Yes, noodles made of Red Rice. Such an innovative way to create the noodles.

Chef Reinoso's Kiniing was smoked to perfection. The Kiniing resonated in the ramen's broth, which was the star of the dish and also tasted divine. A deeply satisfying bowl of soup.

Day 2 Merienda (Snack)

If you could translate culture and tradition into a dish, the Di-Ket Naraman coupled with an unexpectedly refreshing Tanggero cocktail by Chef Charlynne Palaez Macalalag would be it.

Di-Ket Naraman - Kiniing, Pinunog, Pinikpikan, and Egg

folded in Balatinaw cooked with Coconut Milk and Peanut Butter.

Tanggero Cocktail - Rice Wine with Strawberry Chili and Soda Water.

Day 2 Dinner

For dinner on Day 2 of the Food Crawl, Chef Miko Dy presented us with this menu. So we read it and afterwards, he told us to eat it. In my mind, I was thinking if he was serious. How can I possibly eat this menu? But believe me, it is edible.

After eating the menu, we were served this bowl of micro greens with edible flowers on a bed of rocks and dirt.Ok, it looked nice but Chef Miko already asked us to eat the menu and now he's asking us to eat dirt. Believe me again when I say it is really edible.

This is the winning dish. Native Pork bound in Pinikpikan Skin, Farse with locally sourced Wild Mushroom, Cordilleran Buo, 3 kinds of Heirloom Rice, Kinnakey, Pinuneg Powder, Dinnanaw Powder, Tapey Reduction.

No tricks here. Just food.

For me, the dessert was the highlight. Different textures of Strawberry. Strawberry Sorbet, Meringue, Butter Cookies, Compressed Strawberry, Strawberry Powder, Fresh Strawberries, and Strawberry Vinegar. Mouth-wateringly good.

Watch out for our upcoming Culinary Experience: A Taste of Cordilleran Fusion tour. It would be selfish of me not to share this experience with everyone.

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