Thursday, December 15, 2016

Love at First Bite: Foggy Mountain Cookhouse

Long weekends usually mean staycation but since R and I miss the cool (and kind of fresh) wind of Baguio, we decided to head to the land of ube jam and strawberries for a short getaway. We usually sleep in whenever we’re at the summer capital of the Philippines; but thanks to R’s love for Pokemon Go, he agreed to the idea of us eating out for dinner. I have a long list of restaurants I want to visit but there is this one place that I was very interested in. And after making the necessary arrangements, we found ourselves in front of the gate of Chef Babes Reyes’ home, owner of Foggy Mountain Cookhouse. 

Hello, Foggy Mountain Cookhouse!
Noted as one of the best local strictly by reservation only restaurants, Foggy Mountain Cookhouse requires at least one day heads up before diners drive all the way up to its homey establishment. 
I sent Chef Babes a message 4 days in advance as I was worried that the place might be packed given the long weekend. After half an hour of panicking, the friendly restauranteur replied confirming my reservation and inform me that I had to pre-order our mains at least a day before our reserved date as some of the dishes had to be marinated overnight. I sent him a message before the ordering deadline and chose Split Pea Soup (PHP175), Norwegian King Salmon (PHP700), Brick Oven Roasted Boneless Lamb Leg (PHP650), Pasta in Egg Sauce with Truffle Oil and Parmesan Cheese (PHP180), and Cookhouse Iced Tea (PHP150, pitcher).
I got a message from Chef Babes a few hours before dinner and was informed that his Norwegian salmon did not arrive and suggested that we get Smoked Salmon Carpaccio (PHP700) instead. Since R and I are both hardcore salmon lovers, we agreed.
With the help of Waze, we didn’t have a hard time finding Foggy Mountain Cookhouse. The location could look intimidating though to big cars or low vehicles as the steep and narrow road sure made us worry. Parking is limited and if unlucky, you’d have to back up when one of the diners leave before you. 

We were warmly greeted by the staff (and the neighbor’s cat) and were ushered to our table. 
After 20 minutes or so, our appetizers—mixed greens in orange vinaigrette and salted flat bread with hummus dip—were served.
Honestly, the appetizers look really sad with its poor plating. Taste-wise though, we enjoyed the flat bread with hummus. The greens were the usual crisp veggies with a slightly tangy dressing. 
Next served was our cinnamon pineapple iced tea which tasted like churros in liquid form. It was sweet and refreshing. I just didn’t like the slight rough texture of the drink because of the undissolved cinnamon. 

R and I both enjoyed the Split Pea Soup which we were told took 2 hours to make. 
The broth was thick and oozing with flavor from the ham hock stock and Italian garlic sausage. The grainy texture of the soup and the soft sausage cuts were simply delightful! I just had to pause from time to time as the soup was too salty for me. 

Soon, our mains were served and all looked so beautiful!
Described as the dish that will make non-lamb eaters love lamb, the boneless lamb leg sure impressed us. The succulent meat marinated overnight in Moroccan spices and drizzled with fresh mint and yogurt sauce made me joyously sing “Mary ate a little lamb.” 
The meat was cooked well and was not gummy at all. It also didn’t leave any foul taste in the mouth and the distinct lamb smell was masked by the generous serving of mint. It went so well with the Moroccan rice!
I couldn’t say the same though with the Smoked Salmon Carpaccio. The thinly sliced smoked salmon topped with capers, chives, balsamic vinegar reduction and extra virgin olive oil, served on a bed of greens, was just average. 
It was salty though that’s something you should expect from smoked salmon. However, I’ve had better smoked salmon, one of which even came straight from the box. R and I felt bad for going with this one instead of just cancelling.
But our frowns were quickly turned into smiles after a forkful of the pasta. The flat noodles with egg sauce with truffle oil and parmesan cheese was the highlight of our dinner. 
The sauce was creamy and flavorful yet not overwhelming or cloying. The noodles were al dente and each mouthful made our tastebuds dance like Michael Jackson. Our wallets too were happy as for PHP180, this dish was a steal! One bowl could feed and stuff three hungry foodies.
Last served was the pumpkin pie dessert and we loved it too! The soft, warm and subtly sweet pumpkin pie went very well with the torched marshmallow. It would have been better though if there were more marshmallows. 

We had a lot of leftovers that night and had it packed. After a couple of minutes, one of the servers approached us and asked if we didn’t like the food, with a worried tone in his voice. We quickly said no and told him that we got full from the heavy soup and the serving sizes were just too big for two. I was impressed with this restaurant’s passion to provide the best dining experience for its customers. 
Upon billing out, we got to have a short chat with Chef Babes and found out that the beautiful restaurant has been in business for two years now. As a person who used to import meat, he is an expert in finding the best meats for his restaurant. It was no wonder why the lamb was so good! He also mentioned that he conducts FREE CULINARY WORKSHOPS as his way of giving back to the society. He even provides the spices for the recipes he’ll teach. 
I will surely be back at Foggy Mountain Cookhouse when I visit Baguio again. For now, I’ll dream of that pasta in egg sauce and truffle oil, slow roasted lamb leg and pumpkin pie. 

Note: The friendly neighbor cat approaches all the diners. As a cat lover, I played with the cat and petted it while waiting our food. But it was part of the cat’s evil plan to get your food. It kept on jumping on my lap with hopes of getting some of our food. We had to ask the server to get the cat and keep it somewhere before the mains were served. Anyway, the lesson is… do not pet the cat no matter what.

Foggy Mountain Cookhouse is located at 172 St. Joseph Street, San Carlos Heights, Purok 24, Baguio City. For reservation/inquiries contact Chef Babes at +639 16 767 4687 or at +639 32 762 3639. 

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