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Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 0 comments

I’m the guy who, as much as possible, likes to eat anything. I eat all kinds of vegetables and I’m willing to try any dish once. If I like it, then it’s sure to be on my list of comfort foods: pizza, a quarterpounder, a zinger. The only thing that’s stopping me from being a true foodie is that I can’t eat shrimp because I’m allergic to it. And people keep telling me I’m missing out on a lot by not being able to eat shrimp. To add to my woes, I’m also lactose intolerant.

So when I got an email from publicist Gwen Cariño about Carnation Milk and Appetite Magazine’s Family Food Trip, which would have a stop-over in Dagupan before heading to Baguio, I was having second thoughts. The “milk” part was a deal-breaker but I thought, maybe I could just eat the dishes that CAN’T possibly have milk or any dairy products in it.

But when I saw the feast Dagupan’s Lenox Hotel had prepared for us, all my apprehensions went out of the window. Set before fellow foodies like me was the best meals Dagupan had to offer. Standouts were the Malunggay Soup, Belly Burst with Rujak, and the Peppercorn Crablets. The soup was just a wonderful color of green and tasted the way I expected it to be—sweet, not too thick, and just had a very, very small hint of spice for contrast. The Peppercorn Crablets were very crunchy and not as spicy as I had thought it would while the Belly Burst with Rujak (Dagupan is known for its milkfish and they even have a bangus festival) was so fresh I could have sworn the fish used was captured minutes before we arrived.

With our tummies full, we then set off for Baguio (according to my food writing mentor Christine Nunag, I fell asleep daw on her shoulder—swerte ang dala nun! You’ll be blessed forever haha!) where we stayed at the Manor Hotel. Upon arriving, it started to rain so whatever plans they had for us for the afternoon were pushed for the next day. That gave us time to rest and prepare for Chef Billy King’s dinner.

All the hype the organizers made regarding the meals that night was right on target. I’ve had seconds of the Gratinated Broccoli and Cauliflower and the Steamed Sole in Berlinoise Sauce, which both went well with the Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto. The Sole, again, tasted very fresh and I couldn't begin to tell you how delightful the sauce was. So I won’t. Just try it for yourself. I believe there were a total of eight different dishes that night, not counting the salads, the soups, the sushi, etc. and I even had a few shrimp—not minding that rashes could break out any minute. There wasn’t one meal that I didn't like.

Of course, what would a meal in Baguio be without wine? I sure had my palette cleansed by a glass or two but what the heck, it’s my first food trip and Carnation, and Appetite Magazine, have done themselves right. I couldn't believe that the meals had Carnation milk used in them, which only made the eating all the more memorable. With food so good, not just in taste but I believe, in its healthy goodness, it would make anybody forget their diet, lactose intolerance, or even allergy to certain foods. Or in my case, a combination of all three.

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