HILL STATION, BAGUIO CITY: FINDING CALLOS!

On christmas eve, at around 9 o’clock in the evening and after we have celebrated at home, I had this weird craving for callos.  I remember trying it at Hill Station in one of my meetings and so I talked my wife into driving out that evening to find — callos.  I was concerned that Hill Station might not be open that night considering that Filipinos usually close their businesses during the 25th of December but lo and behold…

hill station open
Tada! Hill Station at Casa Vallejo is open!  The Resto closes at 10pm and their bar at 11pm so this still gives me an hour to have that mouth-watering callos!

I knew it, people these days dine out during Christmas instead of going through the hassle of preparation…

festivity at hill station
From the main entrance of Casa Vallejo and before gracing the imperial staircase to Hill Station, we caught sight of this seeming festivity! It felt like they were all waiting for me so I waved my hands all the way down and celebrated with these families (KKB style).

Hill Station was surprisingly full, I surmise these are tourists who came to my beloved Baguio City to celebrate Christmas with us.  Since the dining hall was, let’s just say filled to capacity,  we were fortunate to have 2 available seats at the farthest corner of the hall.  We were ushered to sit in an area that is a little bit dark and so I was joking to my wife that we looked like an “aliping sagigilid”. I then requested to be transferred should there be a vacant table for 2.  After a few minutes, here we are…

wife and i hill station
My Pia Wurtzbach and I, transferred to a more lit area @ Hill Station.

And so the quest for callos began…

looking at the menu
Hmmm do I look worried here? I am troubled about the fact that I might not see callos on the menu and not because of the price! (hint, hint) I stayed calm and voila! Saw SPANISH CALLOS there!

Before we asked for the staff to take our order, I gave my wife a quick briefing and reminded her that we already ate at home and that she is full and that we were just there for the callos and not for anything else.  I told her that we need to stick to the plan and focus on the goal and so she ended up ordering…

HOME MADE POTATO CHIPS w/ AIOLI.

potato chips hill station
Hmmm, yes, POTATO CHIPS. But these are not ordinary potato chips, these are HOME MADE POTATO CHIPS WITH AIOLI DIP. I told my wife to take note that not all potato chips have aioli, and that we don’t see aioli everyday, whatever that is.

But before we were served the golden HOMEMADE POTATO CHIPS w/ AIOLI, the staff brought us…

WHOLE WHEAT BREAD w/ DUKKAH and OLIVE OIL, let me show you a picture so you won’t think that I’ll be using the DUKKAH and the OLIVE OIL on my face because they sounded like they were lifted from a spa menu…

whole wheat bread hill station
When I asked the staff about the powdery thing beside the olive oil, I initially heard him say “dukha dip”. Dukha in Filipino means poor, so I almost said “Are you giving this to us because you think we are poor?” But I kept my cool and asked him again, “what is it again and can you spell it for me please?” He then repeated himself and spelt it as Dukkah or Duqqa. Duqqa is an Egyptian condiment consisting of a mixture of herbs, nuts, and spices. It is typically used as a dip with bread or fresh vegetables for an hors d’œuvre.  So I was relieved, I thought he was being judgmental.

Let me show you how a “non-dukha” will eat the dukkah…

Step 1:

step 1 dukkah dip hill station
You have to dip the whole wheat bread in the olive oil. I wonder why they call it whole wheat bread, when it was served to us, the bread was already sliced. (wink wink)

Step 2:

dukka dip hill station
After bathing the whole wheat bread with some olive oil, now let the whole wheat bread in all its wholiness dive into the dukkah dip as deep as possible to achieve the intended taste. (ano daw?)

Step 3:

look at the camera hill station
Make sure that you look your best, look at the camera and tell yourself, or if you are not alone, tell the group- “This is how a non-dukha eats a dukkah”.

Kidding aside, after gobbling all the whole wheat bread, my most precious spanish callos is now served…

SPANISH CALLOS

callos hill station
You can order Hill Station’s Spanish Callos with garlic bread or garlic rice. Obviously, I ordered mine with garlic rice plus extra rice. Their spanish callos was so tender that my oohhhs and my aaahhhs while eating can be heard across the room but nobody reacted because it was just me, an ordinary boy, eating his Callos, spanish callos rather. Callos is a stew common across Spain, and is considered traditional to Madrid. In Madrid, it is referred to as callos a la Madrileña. It contains beef tripe (tuwalya) and/or chickpeas (garbanzos), blood sausage and bell peppers. Chorizo sausage may also be used. Another simple recipe of Callos is boiling the tripe until tender, slicing it into strips and cooking it in pork and beans with bell peppers.

Know what, I did not only enjoy my food at Hill Station but I also learned some Baguio City trivia from their menu, here you go..

 

Trivia No. 1

From India to Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, little towns were carved out of the mountainside as places of rest and recreation. Baguio was one of the last hill stations to be established in Asia during the Americal colonial period in the Philippines.

hill station is a town located at a higher elevation than the nearby plain or valley. The term was used mostly in colonial Asia, but also in Africa (albeit rarely), for towns founded by European colonial rulers as refuges from the summer heat, up where temperatures are cooler. In the Indian context most hill stations are at an altitude of approximately 1,000 to 2,500 metres (3,500 to 7,500 feet); very few are outside this range.

Trivia No. 2

When the American government in 1909 was building up Baguio City, the hired workers stayed in Casa Vallejo, then known as “Dormitory No. 4.” It had sawali partitions inside and was wood and galvanized iron on the outside.

Trivia No. 3

In 1928, Casa Vallejo was leased to Salvador Vallejo, a Spaniard who came with the Spanish army at the turn of the century, married here, never left. He renovated the building and opened Vallejo Hotel. Our small function room, perfect for meetings, is named after the founder.

Okay, let’s get back to work, here is the verdict on my Hill Station Experience:

PRICE:  Well, it depends on your budget, if you are on “dukha mode” like me then the prices are a little bit high for your current financial situation. (lol)  The resto’s market are from the middle class to the upper echelons.  It is not a resto where you can eat everyday, otherwise you’ll end up selling your priced possessions just because you ate spanish callos.

LOCATION: They have 2 branches, the one where I had my Spanish Callos experience was at Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City – few steps away from SM Baguio. They also have another branch which is a thousand steps away from SM Baguio so you choose, but the address is – HILL STATION BISTRO, Ayala Land Technohub, Camp John Hay, Baguio City.

PARKING SPACE:  They have a parking space behind Casa Vallejo but if they are full, you will end up parking by the road side and risk being issued a ticket by the Traffic Management Bureau which is also a few steps away from where your car is parked.  But to give you peace of mind, I have not been issued a ticket even once just by parking along that area, but who knows, you will be the first one. 🙂

AMBIANCE:  If you are in love, the place is romantic.  I enjoyed being with my wife there.  It was like valentines on a christmas eve.  The environment is very stylish and sophisticated even if the place used to be a run down building, the owners were successful in reviving it to its present glory.

CUSTOMER SERVICE: I would say – excellent for that evening.  Even if they  were full, they’d take care of you as if you are their only guest.  The staff obviously know how to work with grace under pressure.

Now, will I recommend this place?  Because of their Spanish Callos – definitely, YES!  This place is iconic here in Baguio City so if you are a tourist, try their Spanish Callos! Haha. I have yet to try the rest of the menu.

Until the next spoonful folks!

P.S.  My wife felt like she can’t leave Hill Station without trying some of their desserts and so she ordered their New York Cheese Cake:

new york cheesecake hill station
The sweet syrup looked like ketchup in the dim lit room but my wife said it was actually yummy. 🙂

 

 

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