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A Whiff of the Highlands in White Plains
With the oppressive heat of summer, everybody dreams of nippy weather with thoughts of Baguio immediately coming to mind. Sweater weather, pine trees, strawberries as red as rubies, and a strong cup of Sagada coffee – these are some of the elements that make a visit to the country's summer capital a must for every Filipino.
Fortunately for those living in the metropolis, one need not have to drive all the way to Baguio to get a whiff of its highland charm. In Katipunan Avenue stands a charming little hideaway where one can take a few hours to chill, and be treated to a selection of delicious dishes besides.
K&L Cafe is the inspired creation of sisters Karen and Loren de Guzman. From the high windows and the woodworks to the little knick-knacks that line the shelves, K&L Cafe has the unmistakable feel of a Baguio residence. As one leafs through the menu, more treasures from the highlands maybe savored. There is, for starters, Burnham's Grilled Butter Corn, which is corn on the cob grilled to golden perfection, the kind feasted during one's carefree childhood.
Session Salad with Strawberry Wine shines the spotlight on the region's freshest produce from cucumber, lettuce, and Sagada orange, mixes it up with candied nuts and Feta cheese, and tops it off with Strawberry Wine.
“We're bringing Baguio city closer to Manila, from the ingredients to the theme and feel,” says Karen. The sisters, who spent their childhood in the city of pines, had been running the popular pastry brand Blushing Cupcakes since 2006. Karen, who had always had a fascination for cupcakes, taught herself to make these delicious concoctions before everybody else developed a hankering for them. When Loren finished school, she joined Karen to make the brand even better.
In 2014, they were presented with an opportunity to open retail outlet in Katipunan Avenue. The interiors, which were characterized by magnificent woodwork, would not match the fun, girlie concept of Blushing Cupcakes. So instead, the sisters tapped into images from their youth, and decided to create a concept revolving around a city they so love.
Mornings are particularly busy at K&L Cafe, says Karen, with diners feasting on the Log Cabin Breakfast with corned beef hash, two eggs, bread, and jam, Muscovado and Table Pancake, and the Ultimate Red Velvet Pancake. Fast favorites, the ingredients of which the sisters sourced from up north, are Tuyo in Olive Oil with Red Egg, which is a totally unforgettable entree with the richness of the tuyo lingering in one's palate till long after the last bite, and Longanisa Up North, with red mountain rice from Sagada and two kinds of longanisa! How's that to start off the morning?!
K&L Cafe also pays homage to beloved family recipes which have been passed on from one generation to the next, including Daddy's Bourbon American Ribs, which is crazy tender to the bite, and Mommy's Pasta, which whips up olive, capers, tomatoes, basil, and feta cheese into an incredibly comforting meal. The sisters are particularly proud of Lolo Nena's Adobong Puti, a signature family recipe of adobo cooked only in vinegar, which the girls grew up with.
Of course, K&L Cafe has a fine selection of desserts, including their popular cupcakes, and a lip-smacking Strawberry Shortcake when those ruby red fruits are in season. A corner is devoted to pasalubong items, from coffee to delicacies, so one can literally bring a piece of Baguio into their homes.
Every two months or so, K&L Cafe introduces new entrees into their menu to excite their diners' palates further. The latest of these creations is the Sinigang na Bagnet with Strawberries. It is spectacular how the bagnet retains its crispness as it takes on the comforting sourness of the sinigang. The absolute surprise comes in how the strawberry adds a dollop of freshness to the mix, making the beloved sinigang into something short of divine.
K&L Cafe is located at Ching Santos Building, 138 Katipunan Avenue, White Plains, Quezon City (02) 2345965