Thursday, April 07, 2005
mixing business with pleasure
On March 29 to April 1, I was requested by our client to attend a workshop on Tagaytay. Since all the other attendees were males, they didn't mind (I actually felt that they encouraged it, even) that B tag along with me (it saves them from having to take care of me.) B wasn't too ecstatic about the idea but he perked up when I told him that he can bring the XBox and the DVD Player. (We're done saving the world as wolverine and cyclops. We also saved Shrek's swamp as Fiona and Puss in Boots. Shrek was a real sissy.)
B and I drove to Tagaytay on a warm Tuesday morning (he did the actual drving, I attempted to give directions.) Like any other trip to the south, we stopped at the gas station along the expressway. B got coffee from Starbucks while I ran to the convenience store to buy my Raisinets. Unfortunately, they didn't have stock so B had to endure the rest of the drive with a grouchy wife.
When we reached the rotonda in Tagaytay, we stopped at 7-11 to ask for directions (I was useless in giving it) and to buy essential supplies (san mig light for B and vodka ice and smirnoff ice for me.) Finding the mixed drinks at a little lower than Manila prices cheered me up. (But I'm not an alcoholic. Really.)
We arrived at the Tagaytay Vista Hotel at around 1. Checking in was a breeze as the client already made arrangements with the hotel. The hotel room was spacious and nicely furnished. It had cream walls with dark wood furniture and a king-sized bed. It also had a clean-looking tub. Happy b!
As we walked to our room, the partner in charge of the account sent us a message and invited us to have lunch at the cafe as they had lots of leftovers. B and I pigged out on the not-so crispy pata, the deep-fried happy-to-be-dead-looking tawilis and the decent meal of the hour, chicken pork adobo. the sinigang na hipon would have been perfect had it not given me allergies just a few minutes later. They also served kare-kare which was as orange as elmo and as burnt as B during our adventure cruise in Samui. But, since the meal was free, we were happy. (Ang kukuripot!!!)
After my presentation, I was excused from work, so B and I explored the nearby towns. We literally went down a hill to Santi's were we bought a bar of hazelnut chocolate and a few hundred grams of Emmenthal cheese. The bar of chocolate didn't even get past Santi's doors as the glutton that I am devoured it in a few seconds.
A few minutes of driving also brought us to the Olivarez Center. It had a tiny supermarket, a bowling and billiard hall and a few small shops and an internet cafe. It was the biggest shopping place in Tagaytay. It didn't get my heart beating faster, though.
As the sun hid behind the shadows of the mountains on the horizon (play the Marlborough song here), B and I made our way to Massimo's. We ordered the hot artichoke dip, tomato soup, Ceasar's salad, garden salad, pizza and hanging tenders.
We loved scooping the creamy artichoke dip with the toasted bread that they served with it. The dip was so yummy - it had the perfect blend of artichokes and melted cheese. We also loved the salad that they served - my Ceasar's salad had freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and real bacon chunks. Each crisp leaf was also lightly covered with the perfectly flavored sauce. It was the best Ceasar salad I ever had. I also enjoyed the tomato soup which was sour in a good way. B and I shared the hanging tenders which was well-cooked (which for us means, medium well and not well done) and perfectly seasoned. True to its name, each bite was so tender and gave a burst of flavor. The mashed potatoes that went with the meal was so creamy that it caressed our tongues. We completed the meal with molten chocolate cake and panna cotta. Had it not for the perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness, as well as the teasing presence of both hot and warm temperatures, I would have wiped the molten chocolate cake directly to my love handles, the fat would eventually go there anyway. As for B's panna cotta, it was so light that we were fooled into thinking that it didn't pack any calories. It was the perfect-first-out-of-town-after-the-honeymoon meal for us.
After a small chat with the owners and watching lizards eat mosquitos at their porch, we happily drove back to our hotel with our satisfied tongues and over-worked tummies.
Unlike our first day where I was able to get off from work early, the second day was a reminder that I was in Tagaytay to work and not to go off galivanting in the countryside. We finished at a little past 7 pm.
B and I valiantly tried to reach Antonio's by 7:30. Unfortunately, it was so dark after the Mendez junction that we missed our turn. We asked for directions from locals who each had their version of the way to Antonio's (I guess there were lots of residents in Tagaytay named Antonio.) After reaching Nasugbu, making frantic calls to office mates and friends, we finally found the road leading to Antonio's. It was the perfect setting for a horror-movie - the road was dark and empty aside from the occasional black cat that would stare at the car's headlights before crossing the street. The road was long and winding and it led us to a huge wooden gate that had a huge closed sign. Damn.
Now it was my turn to endure the rest of the drive back to the main street with a grumpy husband. We decided to have dinner at Breakfast at Antonio's where we had a decent breakfast at dinnertime. The meal was uneventful - we could have eaten at Cafe Breton and we wouldn't know the difference. The good thing about the place was the food wasn't that expensive, they didn't use bags for my hot tea and we got to eat at the porch where gentle winds continuously caressed our faces throughout our meal. The whole time, we reminisced about our college years where we would go to Antipolo to drink. We'd go to the resto that had separate nipa huts with red bulbs as tables and menu's that said "Cole's Law". We remembered that we had so much fun over 10-peso beers and sisig.
Despite the not-so-spectacular meal, we went back to our hotel with a smile on our face, which was easily wiped out by the guards at the hotel when they refused to let us bring our half-eaten burger to our room. Hay. We went back to our rooms and a few minutes later, the resourceful B managed to smuggle in the burger! Ha!
Day 3 was good mix of business with pleasure. I had work to do but we were excused from the seminar oom at 5:30. B and I took the opportunity to go back to Antonio's. This time, we didn't get lost going there. But as soon as we entered Antonio's gate, we were lost in another world.
Going to Antonio's is like going through the dark woods to reach the Secret Garden. The place was truly worth the drive with its Asian-inspired decor, black and white photographs, Moroccan chandeliers, huge but not offensive vases of flowers and hundred of candles. The food was also excellent! When I got my salad plate, I was disappointed that it had that bitter arugula (which I hate) but puzzled that it had a tart. But as soon as I started eating the tart with the greens, I was amazed! the sweetness of the tart cancelled out the bitterness of the arugula but left a good flavor on the tongue. I was not surprized when I ate everything, including each arugula leaf. After the tasty soup, we were served our Rib Eye. It was a bit too well done but the tenderness and the subtle flavors more than made up for it. The seasoning perfectly highlighted the taste of the beef. Their flourless chocolate cake wasn't as good as Massimo's molten chocolate cake but their chocolate with mint was definitely a treat! It wasn't too sweet and the mint didn't overpower the chocolate. They also served herbal tea and perfect-tasting mojito's.
Unfortunately, this good eating experience came with a price. Our bill was at least P3000! Hay.
On the way back, we scared ourselves by sharing ghost stories while driving along the dark road. We had so much fun!
Back in the hotel, B helped us make the printer work and I reviewed a major agreement for the rest of the night while B perfected his basketball skills on the XBox.
If we didn't hear the news about the heat wave that struck Manila on thurday, we would have been eager to go back to Manila that Friday. Truth to tell, there was really nothing to do in Tagaytay but eat (unless you want to ride the depressed-looking horses next to the hotel). And so, after we wrapped up our workshop in the morning, B and I set out to look for another food adventure. We initially wanted to go to Marina's Garden but no one seemed to know where it was. We then set out for Hacienda Isabella but halfway there, we decided that we wanted to eat in a place with really powerful airconditioners as it was getting too warm. We didn't feel like eating in a garden setting.
So we ended up in Josephine's where we had mediocre fried chicken, bad tempura and good-but-not-great lumpiang ubod. From the way we complained about our meal, it was hilarious that when we finished eating, there was not a morsel of food left on the table! We wanted to take more pictures but it was oppressively hot outside that we decided to cool ourselves at the nearby Casino Filipino. We promptly lost P600.
By mid-afternoon, we were on our way back to Manila. We tried out an alternative route which led us back to the main highway. There we saw the hue sign of Ming's Garden. We were not really hungry but our curiosity won and we decided to stop by.
Ming's Garden had a huge nursery for seedlings and a cozy garden. I enjoyed their halo-halo which had unusual ingredients such as buko-pandan and smoothly shaved ice. Everything there was so easy on the eyes and the mist that automatically watered the plants lowered the temperature to a comfortable level. It was truly a perfect ending to our Tagaytay trip.
For B's version of our Tagaytay trip, you may want to visit:
Yes, he now has a blog (which is good because he writes really well), but he shares it with 2 other negative thinking friends. Read it at your own risk - as their blog address suggests, you can expect the blog to be full of complaints, curses, rants and have i mentioned negative thoughts?
More photos are posted at: