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The gypsy has arrived in the City of Pines

By MILLIE AND KARLA REYES, The Philippine STAR Published Feb 03, 2022 5:00 am

Karla and I finally managed to gather the courage to get out of the house after 22 months and it was a toss-up between Baguio and the beach. Birthday girl got her wish and it was perfect timing to enjoy Chinese New Year in the cool City of Pines!

We were cautioned to be careful, to follow safety protocols and restrict our sorties. But we could not pass up the chance to try chef Waya Wijangco´s Gypsy Baguio! As luck would have it, we spent a whole afternoon eating and chatting with her.

We were greeted by a homey and cozy ambience and curious me lost no time to start viewing the menu.

Chef Waya Wijangco resettled in the City of Pines to share her culinary treasures.

KARLA: Chef Waya and I met through our brief volunteer work for Frontline Feeders PH last March 2020. The group came together overnight to address the needs of frontliners who were constrained with movement within the metro due to the lockdowns and checkpoints. They also had very limited food options and food allocation due to the temporary closure of several food establishments. The supply from hospital dietaries was also restricted due to the limited resources during that time, as their first priority was to service patients.

Despite the lockdowns, chef Waya’s restaurant, Gypsy Maginhawa in Quezon City, became our group’s central hub for deliveries and dispatch. Chef Waya, together with her incredible team, voluntarily agreed to stay in, and that meant living away from their families to continue their selfless service and produce daily meals for frontliners.

Community development work is nothing new to chef Waya. She was once the head of a CSR program for IBM Global Foundation in the Indo Pacific. This allowed her to explore the local cuisines of Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, as she would live there for several months at a time.

Her work abroad, more travels and over 20 years of experience in the food industry have been her inspiration for her recipes and creations at her restaurants.

Gypsy Baguio entices you to “Travel the World on your Plate with Chef Waya.” It is a very apt thrust due to restricted travel these days but also a true symbolism of chef Waya’s years in the industry and gastronomical adventures.

MILLIE: For starters, we had crispy mushroom rolls made of fresh shiitake, water chestnuts, carrot shreds, kuchay and homemade sweet chili sauce. The menu was extensive, from appetizers to soups, salads and sandwiches, noodles and entrees for sharing.

Crispy mushroom rolls made of fresh shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, carrot shreds and kuchay served with homemade sweet chili sauce

What immediately caught my eye was the whole crispy catfish and mango salad and the salted pork belly, lightly brined and cooked with curry leaves, which chef Waya recommended we dip in sukang watwat. “Wat wat” is an indigenous practice of sharing life’s bountiful blessings. The vinegar is named as such as a symbolism of sharing blessings to everyone who partakes in the celebration.

Crab cake sliders with cucumbers and celery wasabi relish

She also made us try her crab cake sliders with shoestring kamote chips, which I couldn’t stop munching on.

KARLA: One item that both mom and I agreed on ordering instantaneously was the Indonesian beef rendang. We enjoyed it so much that we requested for two orders to be frozen so we could take it home to Manila.

Indonesian beef rendang with tender braised beef and spicy coconut sauce

Upon ordering, we overheard the other table, a party of four celebrating a birthday, order porchetta. So even if we knew we over-ordered, we went ahead and added porchetta to our list.

Porchetta, a one-kilo roll of pork belly sous-vided with lemongrass and other herbs and spices then fried to a crisp finish
Vegan adlai paella with green and red bell peppers, French beans, zucchini, and shiitake mushrooms cooked in vegetable broth

The porchetta was a one-kilo roll of pork belly sous-vided with lemongrass and other herbs and spices then fried to a crisp to finish. It was tender and very flavorful. Instead of white rice, we paired it with the vegan adlai paella with red and green bell peppers, French beans, zucchini and fresh shiitake mushrooms cooked in vegetable broth.

Dirty ube latte from Taguan Café, made with ube puree, coconut milk, ube halaya and shots of espresso

MILLIE: Although there were a lot of dessert options and a coffee place called Taguan known for its dirty ube latte, our tummies were too full and we couldn’t take in more. We vowed to come back to try other interesting finds.

Located at 6 Quezon Hill Road 2, Brgy. Quezon Hill Rd, Baguio City, Gypsy Baguio and Taguan Café is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For reservations and inquiries, call 0927-8517856.