Saturday, February 6, 2016

Starbucks-ing in Tagaytay

Eons ago, I saw a picture of Starbucks Tagaytay on Facebook and absolutely fell in love with it even if I am not a big Starbucks consumer. When the girls and I traveled to Tagaytay last weekend, one of the things on my "places to see" list is this Starbucks branch. However, the problem was... where? The thing is, there are three Starbucks branches in Tagaytay that we know of, but because I have only been in Tagaytay twice (mid 90s and 2009), so I have no idea which one to visit.

On our first day, we checked out the branch near Cliffhouse and Leslie's. It was in a good location, but not the branch I was looking for. Since the other branch is located in Summit Ridge, my sister said maybe it was along the road going to Picnic Grove, and after our stroll to the place the day after, I finally got to see it!

This truly is the most beautiful Starbucks branch we have seen!

This branch has two floors - ground and lower ground floor, and there are also tables available outside for smokers and those who would like to have pictures with the view of Taal Lake. None of us smokes, but of course we went for the table at the balcony so we can have a good view while we sip our drinks.

Us three girls shared this piece of Cheese Ensaymada, which tasted so heavenly! They warmed the bread before serving, so the cheese melted a little, and it made the taste better, in our opinion. My sister chose to go with Green Tea Frappuccino, while my mom and I shared a medium glass of Apple Berry Freeze, because we weren't really thirsty, we just wanted to soothe our dry throats after walking around Picnic Grove. I also took the time to catch up on reading.

The balcony sure has a great view of the lake, and the volcano can be seen from here, too...

...but if you want a better view of the volcano, I suggest you visit the Starbucks branch near Leslie's. Unfortunately, the view couldn't be directly seen... you need to walk a little, but it did offer a good view - perfect for selfies and food pictures. This picture above is zoomed, but even from the view deck, you can get a clear and good view of the volcano.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tagaytay Mahogany Beef Market and Bulalohan

When I told friends we planned to go to Tagaytay, Eunice and Rexy both told me to go check out the Mahogany market and try their Bulalo. Us three girls just ate Bulalo for the lunch the previous day (at LZM Restaurant), but before traveling home, we decided to eat lunch here and check what the rave is about.

Going there is easy, as there are a lot of jeepneys. If you don't know the directions, you can always ask around or ask the jeepney drivers. You don't have to worry about getting lost because people are very friendly and they will tell you when you reached your destination.

If you come here to eat, the food court style eatery is located at the second floor of the market. During high noon (and dinnertime for sure), be prepared to wait for your turn, because so many tourists come here to eat; it was already past 1PM when we arrived and we had a difficult time looking for a vacant table.

The long stretch of the floor is home to different concessionaires, but they do offer similar dishes, so if this is your first time here, or if you are a part of a very big group and one eatery cannot accommodate you all, it is just fine to try any of the eateries and still eat "the same" food.

For this food trip, we ate at Nanay Deling Special Bulalo and Gotohan, and we ate:

Crispy Tawilis
Tawilis is a kind of fish that is exclusive to Taal Lake. It is for this reason that we wanted to try it out. I am not sure if this and the fish used in making Tuyo (dried fish) are the same, but this Crispy Tawilis is simply delicious! Very crispy, but it didn't taste burned or overcooked. It goes well with vinegar dip, and could be eaten as is or with rice.

PS - Can someone teach me how to make this dish? I know it is "only" fried, but I truly am wondering how they made the fish crispy and dry (no soft meat) without overcooking.

Crispy Crablets
Another crispy dish to go well with our bulalo soup. Nothing really exceptional... but munching on it is quite addicting! Next time we will try the Crispy Shrimps.

My friend Rexy told me the Bulalo here might be a little expensive, but the thing is, this Bulalo was actually cheaper than the one we ate the previous day. It was a little sad that we weren't given the bone with massive amount of marrow, but it was okay, we were given a big chunk of beef meat that made it truly worth it.

Tagaytay is a windy/chilly place, and it was very easy for Bulalo dishes to get cold and for the oil and fat to harden. What I loved about this place is that they served their Bulalo in a food warmer (same to the chaffing dish used in catering), so the Bulalo stays hot while you eat. I also loved that this had a lot of vegetables.

This serving of Bulalo was more than enough for us three to eat, so in the end we decided to just eat the Bulalo and after a few nibbles of Crispy Tawilis and Crispy Crablets, we asked the staff to pack it for us to take home.

Best thing about dining here? Free bananas! Tagaytay is also known for the Senyorita bananas, and every table has this pile of bananas for diners to eat for free. Of course, you can only eat as much as you can while you're there, so even if it's free, it's a common courtesy not to take them home.

If you plan to eat here, others dishes you can try are Crispy Pata, Beef Caldereta, Kare-Kare, Dinuguan, Chopseuy, Chicharong Bulaklak, Pinakbet, Laing, and Sisig. Make it part of your Tagaytay experience and you will not regret it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Weekend Eating | A Stay at Taal Vista Hotel

A Tagaytay trip has always been a plan for us because it is relatively near and that we still haven't really explored the place as a family. The main reason for the delay was that we couldn't find an affordable accommodation. Our mantra has always been, "find an affordable, but decent accommodation so we can spend more for other things." We still haven't reached a decision where to stay, when mom told us one of her good friends suggested Taal Vista Hotel.

Shocked was the initial reaction because of its price. On their website, a room in this hotel is about 7 - 8 thousand pesos, very expensive for us. What made us decide to go for it was its location and also because we were given a good discount as well.

We arrived around lunch time. After eating at LZM Restaurant, we immediately checked-in so we could rest.

The place was really magnificent! Seeing the beauty of the place was enough to make us feel we made the right choice in staying here.

The room had two single beds, but the room also had a big couch, where my sister decided to sleep on. Things to know - the room had Cable TV, hot and cold shower (with the usual items - soap, shampoo, lotion, dental kit, etc), fridge, hair dryer, as well as flat iron (and ironing board). There were also a good amount of electric sockets for you to charge your gadgets.

But, the best thing about the room was this awesome view of Taal Lake.

That afternoon, we roamed to different nearby places, and because we ate early dinner and we got back at the hotel quite early at night, too, we decided to go to the garden / view deck to enjoy the chilly Tagaytay weather.

The next morning, nature had a wonderful "Good Morning" message for us.

Part of the accommodation was free buffet breakfast for two. Since we are three in the group, sister and I used the free breakfast ticket, while mom decided to pay for her own meal because she could use her Senior Citizen ID to avail the discount.

I wasn't able to take a lot of pictures because I don't know... the break I took from blogging somehow lost my "photography instincts." Anyway, some pictures I took:

The buffet had different stations -
  • Pancake / Waffle - which also had a good selection of maple syrup, fruit jams, and other toppings.
  • Salad - with different kinds of dressing; this is also where one could get different fruits for dessert.
  • Egg - they do have ready made scrambled eggs, but should you want to have an omelet with your choice of ingredients, you could ask the cook to prepare it for you.
  • Cereal - of different kinds and different other toppings.
  • Meat - selection that day included Beef Tapa, Pork Sausage, Bacon, Chicken Tocino. 
  • Congee 
  • Bread - of different kinds (croissant, white sliced bread, whole wheat sliced bread) with packed butter, cheese slices, cream cheese balls, and packed jams. This is where you can get pastries (ensaymada, muffins, etc). 
  • Drinks - different kinds of fruit juices and water (regular and infused)

Upon choosing our table, we were immediately asked our choice of drink. I went for coffee, while my sister and mom went for hot chocolate.

My choice of breakfast was all-protein. I personally loved their Pork Sausage and I was glad they offered two kinds of bacon (soft and crispy). Of course, I went for the soft bacon. Unfortunately, I didn't eat all of the Beef Tapa because I just ate beef yesterday. My mom ate the rest of my Tapa. The egg... I am glad the cook took my instruction for cooking the yolk well. Aside from this plate of food, I also ate two kinds of pastries and a small plate of fruits.

Their breakfast buffet was (I think) at 800+ pesos, so it was a good decision that mom paid for one meal using her SC card. Though expensive, we figured the whole stay at Taal Vista Hotel was fairly priced. A little computation - 5,500 for the stay (with discount), 800 x 2 for the breakfast... that would be 5,500 - 1,600 = 3,900 for the actual stay in the hotel.

We were very happy with our stay at Taal Vista Hotel. Too bad we didn't bring any swimsuit, but we did decide that the next time we travel to Tagaytay, we will stay here again.

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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}