Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Azalea Baguio After Summer Group Getaway (Day 1)


2015 started great for me. For the past years, I have neglected my blogs (ended up closing a few) due to a number of reasons, but when I celebrated my birthday last May, my only prayer was to make this year my best year ever. Of course, prayers do work, but it would be up to me if I would continue to sulk in one corner or help the universe do its purpose to make my year a great one. So, when I found out about this getaway, I was very grateful to have been selected to be one of the attendees.

Our getaway started last Friday, the 26th of June. I opted to go for the 10am ride thru JoyBus - the deluxe coach of Genesis Bus. On the bus, I was with fellow bloggers - Athena, Lou, Jing, Angie and Marco. It was my first time to ride JoyBus and it has been a smooth ride up north, especially that the bus took SCTEX and TPLEX, which allowed us to travel in just four hours! If you want to travel to Baguio (or back to Manila from Baguio), I highly recommend you take any of these deluxe buses. There were no stops, the bus has its own rest room, the seats are spacious and comfortable (you can fully recline it, too), and passengers were also given snacks (a small bottled water and a pack of sandwich crackers) and blanket.

From the bus terminal, a van from Azalea Residences picked us up going to the hotel. I have seen the hotel's signage from the road the last time I traveled to Baguio, but it was just my first time to see the place. I was in awe at how beautiful it is, but I wasn't able to take pictures because of the rain.

A welcome drink and welcome letter was waiting for us in the room. Prior to the trip, we already chose who our roomies would be, and I was in the same room with Jing and Angie. We were given the two-bedroom suite, and I decided to occupy the smaller room (with single size bed), because it was near the kitchen - making it easy for me to get water from the fridge should I wake up in the middle of the night, and also because the smaller bedroom has no big windows - nothing to scare me while sleeping.

Some bloggers traveled earlier that day, so after dropping off our bags, we hit the road to meet them at Casa Vallejo. This place houses my favorite local book store - Mt. Cloud Book Shop.

Seeing fellow bloggers (the ones who arrived earlier than us) enjoying a great time over drinks and pastries made me a little jealous - that I should've opted to travel earlier, too. When I first went to Hill Station a few months ago, I have always wanted to try their pastries, but because time wasn't enough then and now, so I will definitely look forward to this chance. :)

By 6pm, all bloggers for this getaway were already present. We are a mix of lifestyle, food, and travel bloggers from Manila and Baguio - some are considered pals, while some I just met for the first time. Right then, I knew this would be one awesome getaway.

For dinner, the Azalea Baguio team took us to Café Yagam, where we sampled four Cordilleran dishes, as well as two Cordilleran drinks - Sagada coffee and the tapuey (rice wine). More details about this very interesting and culture-rich dinner will be shared in the next post.

Since some of us met for the first time today, we had a little get-to-know slash talent night after dinner. We were given a picture each, and we had to look for the other half of the picture. I was paired with Baguio-based blogger Chiki, and we performed a short performance of Sia's "Chandelier," I sang, he danced.

The dinner was our only activity for today, but we were told to rest well because tomorrow's activities will definitely drain our energy.

More stories on the next post!

*** Jenn ***

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Globe Lumpia House - Raon

Even if my sister is a devotee of the Black Nazarene and would often visit the Quiapo Church (with me sometimes), we only heard about Globe Lumpia House when it was featured on the morning lifestyle show, Kris TV on ABS-CBN. Well, food trip has never been something we don't usually do because we either go there already full, or that we would just eat at the nearby fast food chains after the church visit, so when we heard of this food place, we set up to find it and try it out.

Funny though, we never asked anyone where the store was located and my sister and I actually explored the entire Raon, but we weren't able to find it. Tired and sad, we decided to return to Plaza Miranda to eat at a fast food and that's when we saw the shop - it was basically next to Quiapo Church!

The store is small, and they only offer take-out service. They don't have any tables and disposable plates and utensils, and the only bench provided was for the customers lining up for their turn. If you visit this place on a Friday, be prepared to wait in line.

I am in awe at how fast their staff was! The whole process of assembling a fresh lumpia creates a mess as you can see, but believe me, they tidy things up after finishing one order.

For 18 pesos, each lumpia is very affordable that sister and I ordered six - two for each of us in the family.

Since we were already hungry, sister and I still went to the nearby fast food chain, ordered some food and ate one of our lumpias.

I find it really delicious; I then realized why people would make a beeline to this store and endure the long wait, but I found the garlic a little too overpowering for my taste. Also, the sauce was way too little for the lumpia, but we were lucky that our request for some free additional sauce was granted.

The lumpia wasn't as grand and elaborate as the other Chinese-style fresh lumpia we buy, but it we felt we got more than what we paid for. It was a good tasty treat, and we definitely will buy again - this time with a microwavable container to protect the lumpias while traveling.

*** Jenn ***

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

XXXV at Conti's

Our birthday has to be the most special date in our lives, but when I turned 35, I told my sister and mother not to bother with any kind of celebration (on the day itself), because I knew we would travel to Enchanted Kingdom a few days later, and I would rather use our money there instead.

However, just the day after, us three girls went to Trinoma and while we were thinking where to eat lunch, one restaurant came to mind - Conti's.

It has always been a "dream" for sister and I to dine there, because of the many raves we have read and heard about the restaurant. They offer a wide array of dishes, thinking what to eat was quite difficult (such is the case when we dine at a restaurant for the first time), but in the end we chose these -

Chicken Mac & Cheese
Sister's food. She loves mac and cheese, and seeing this on the menu paired with chicken, she thought it was a good value for money - compared to eating "just" pasta and garlic bread. The mac and cheese was okay for me; I am not into this pasta, so I couldn't really say if it was exceptional or not, but I truly did love the chicken. It has a subtle hint of citrus, and the rosemary added more flavor to the chicken.

Roasted Beef Belly
My choice. I actually had a difficult time choosing what to eat, because I am at a point now that I am not really craving one particular food at a time - I usually just go with the flow and eat whatever is served to me. I based my decision based on its first I wanted to order a chicken meal then a seafood meal then this, and this felt like the most practical to eat.

The beef belly is juicy and fork tender, and the serving was big, too. I was able to share some of the beef to my mother and sister, and still had more than enough on my plate for me to eat. I loved the almond pilaf, too, but I wasn't a big fan of the horseradish dressing. I just gently scraped off the dressing and ate my beef belly as is.

Pastel de Lengua
Mommy's choice. At first she only wanted to try their Sotanghon, because a friend once told her it was delicious. Flipping the menu more, she felt this would satisfy her more, and it did! The lengua chunks are tender, the sauce - though not as thick as we expected - was seasoned well, and it did pair well with the Paella rice.

Mango Bravo
Even if it wasn't my birthday, this would definitely be a part of our meal. I have longed to taste this cake, and it was so good, I nearly cried (no kidding). It was love at first taste, truly foodgasmic! I love the different layers that give different flavors and textures to the cake... and because it is still mango season, the mango chunks are very sweet and refreshing. On one hand, I felt bad that this was an expensive cake (160 for this slice), but on the other hand, I felt that it was a good thing for it to be expensive, because if not, for sure I am going to hope to eat it nearly every day. I think I just found my favorite cake.

Overall, we had a great dining experience. The staff are courteous and efficient, and we didn't wait very long for food to be served. If there is one thing I didn't like, it would be the location - because we still had to exit the mall to reach the restaurant. But then... for good food, the extra walk under the heat of the sun was worth it.

*** Jenn ***

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Jenn, the Foodie

I come from a family who loves cooking and eating. I never had any formal training in cooking and that I taught myself how to cook based on the handed down recipes, but I could say that I can cook good food. In 2008, I started documenting my food trips for my travel blog, and since I have quite enough to start a food blog, might as well put all those food trips in one location. Thus, a food blog is born - thanks to the new Friendster Blogs. However, due to several problems, I was left with no choice but to pack bags again and move here instead. Here's the permanent address, promise! Enough talk, let the food trippin' begin! {Know More About Me}