Stilts Calatagan in Batangas

Summer is here again and before school lets out and the beaches get crowded, the husband and I trooped to one for my birthday weekend. We had been looking for a pet-friendly beach so that our ten-year-old labrador retriever, Bishop, may experience how it is to frolic in the sand while he is still able to. When I saw that a friend was a fan of the Facebook page of Stilts Calatagan in Batangas, I looked at their photos of the place and saw that they are open to bringing in pets. I was excited for my babies!

It took about 3 hours from our house in QC to the resort via the Tagaytay-Nasugbu highway.

These lovely trees lined the road along a hacienda in Batangas owned by Enrique Zobel
These lovely trees lined the road along a hacienda in Batangas owned by Enrique Zobel

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Epicurious in Manila

It was a Sunday afternoon and the husband and I had just finally finished our Christmas shopping. We decided to grab a bite to eat before heading home. Shangrila Mall is our favorite mall but since we had moved out and away from Kapitolyo, this was our first visit here in 4 months.

Since we were mostly familiar with the original mall, we wandered off into the new wing until we almost reached a dead end – or so we thought. From afar, I saw a funky sign “Epicurious” and knew instantly that we had to try it out. I knew I had heard that name before somewhere.

Epicurious Manila is a combination of deli + bakery + cafe + shop for foodies/food lovers. My husband and I love meat and so it was a real treat to see all kinds of meat and cheeses on display. They can serve you slices of ham and cheeses of your choice in a platter, or they can choose for you. It’s like Santis except that Santis does not have a sit-down area for meals. Continue reading Epicurious in Manila

Shipping A Vehicle Via 2Go

My Mom had been living with us here in Manila for the past 4 years, and she had recently gone back to Bacolod to be in familiar surroundings. With that, we arranged for her things to be shipped as well as her car. 2Go seems to be our only option so we had her stuff shipped last week via sea, and had a booking for her car to be shipped. This is my experience (almost) shipping a vehicle via 2Go.

Typhoon Henry had just left the country, trailing after Glenda, and we found out that another one was coming in named Inday that day. Undaunted, husband and I made our way to Manila North Harbor at Pier 2 to deliver the car. 2Go Rolling Cargo requires that the vehicle to be shipped must be brought to the pier 24 hours before booking. We had already called for booking a week before as advised by their Customer Service people who were very helpful.

We were already familiar with the area as we had gone there at least 4 times before – 3 times to drop off and pickup our helpers who came in from Bacolod, and once when we almost saw the Manila Galleon exhibit (The queue was too long that we decided to just eat at the nearby Shakeys instead. LOL!) .

It was raining on and off but we were thankful that there was ample parking although the entire garage was muddy (“kaka-semento lang po kase”, explained the person there. I did not see how that accounted for the mud but meh). We were already worried about getting home from the pier because there was no public transportation at all from the inside so we would have had to walk a kilometer to exit the area and hail a taxi outside. In the rain!  Continue reading Shipping A Vehicle Via 2Go

Steveston Pizza at UP Town Center

The husband and I were on our way back to Pasig from the new house in QC one morning and we were taking the usual C5 route along Katipunan. It was already lunchtime so we decided to drop by the UP Town Center. Ayala’s newest mall along Katipunan boasts of new restaurants, one of them Shrimp Bucket that we have dined in twice already. This time we opted for something else.

The sight of prosciutto from a window poster made me convince him to dine at Steveston Pizza. I love prosciutto! It always reminds me of those vacations I took long ago in Hongkong Goldcoast. My sister would take home pizza from the local restaurant and the pizza was divine because of the saltiness of the prosciutto. When I asked my sister about it on my next visit, she said the place had shut down after a drug bust. After recovering from shock at the news, I had since been on the hunt for the best prosciutto pizza. I have not found it yet and it’s been years.

So there we were at Steveston (the name is a little tricky to pronounce)  and there was nothing on the menu but all kinds of pizza. Oh, and cesar salad and chicken wings. I liked how you can watch them put the pizza together at the bar next to the cashier.

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Takashi Japanese Restaurant at Pioneer Center

We love Japanese food (and I, particularly, ramen) and within the Kapitolyo area, we are big fans of Ramencool. We have also tried Cafe Juanita’s Haru. When we saw the newly opened Takeshi Japanese restaurant at Pioneer Center we decided to have our early dinner there.

takashi4 Continue reading Takashi Japanese Restaurant at Pioneer Center

Palm Beach Resort in San Juan, Batangas

My nephew was visiting from Bacolod and we needed to get away from the scorching heat in the city, so we booked an overnight stay at a nearby beach. Batangas is the closest to “nearby” as we can get, and so I scoured TripAdvisor for resorts with the best reviews. Palm Beach Resort in San Juan, Batangas came out on top. We made reservations via Agoda for a junior casita with an extra bed.

We were 5 in the party and were in high spirits on our way out of Manila. The map on their website was clear so we didn’t lose our way, but it was a long drive. Travel time was about 3.5 hours via Star Tollway.

The highway was undergoing major repair between the length of SLEX and Star Tollway so we were slow-moving at times, and traffic was expected in the towns leading up to San Juan since it was a Thursday. What took us by surprise was the mandatory “tourism” fee of P20/person when you reach the town. They say the fee collection is for the preservation of the natural beauty of the area for tourism. Shouldn’t the local government be taking care of that already from the taxes? Anyhoo, we didn’t let that spoil our day. Besides, we were greeted by a young vendor of suman with a wide smile and a very cheerful, albeit very loud, voice. That instantly lifted our spirits. Continue reading Palm Beach Resort in San Juan, Batangas

Birthday at Tagaytay: Bag Of Beans

Bag of Beans, TagaytayI was curious as to why my friend Aileen was surprised that I hadn’t heard of Bag of Beans so when we went to Tagaytay for my birthday weekend, we made sure to stop by the place. Thankfully, the original Bag of Beans was right at the corner before turning towards Wilson’s Place.

We went there for drinks after lunch at Breakfast at Antonio’s. The café’s façade was quite deceiving. From the outside you’d think it was a quaint little coffee shop. We were wrong.

There were two large outdoor parking spaces for the customers that seemed to keep pouring in despite the fact that it was a Friday. The place was undergoing renovation when we got there, and the server informed me that they were having the buffet room redone. Buffet room? Continue reading Birthday at Tagaytay: Bag Of Beans

Birthday in Tagaytay: Puzzle Mansion

Puzzle Mansion, TagaytayWe’ve passed by the signs pointing to Puzzle Mansion so many times during our many trips to Tagaytay but we never got around to going to the place. All we knew was that the place literally was a Guinness record-holding mansion full of puzzles. During this latest trip, as luck would have it, Puzzle Mansion was on the way to Wilson’s Place where we stayed.

We headed off to the mansion a little before lunch. From the main road, we had to go further in and passed by these pillars that signaled the mansion was near.

We reached a guard post and a man was making a sign for us to make a left. We didn’t anticipate what we saw next. The blue and white structure can be seen from afar, but the concrete road leading to it was very steep. I Puzzle Mansion, Tagaytayknow the husband hesitated going down the incline in his beloved project car, but we already made it that far and so we had no choice. The trip downhill wasn’t so bad, it turned out.

We were led to a dirt parking area which I guess they were still trying to build because there was no way they can get more people to visit what they now consider a local tourist attraction with that kind of garage.

The fee to enter the mansion was Php 100 per person, and we bought our tickets from the makeshift restaurant by the parking area that also sold coconut pie – a famous delicacy we were told. We saw this bit of Filipiniana parked outside the building. It was really eye-catching as it matched the building’s exterior colors of blue and white. Continue reading Birthday in Tagaytay: Puzzle Mansion

Human Heart Nature Delivery

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a LBC package just now from the Human Heart Nature delivery service when I placed my order just yesterday. The products were tightly and packed and sealed in a brown box and were wrapped in HHN paper inside to keep them secure.

It has been a challenge trying to find their products at the stores near my place and they would usually have the conditioner and not the shampoo or vice versa. So it was just great when I found out that they now ship right to my doorstep. And so quick to arrive too! I didn’t waste time to share the good news with my friends and family, especially because they also ship to the US. Their customer service is great as well. I placed the order in the late morning and a few hours later, I received a personal email from their agent letting me know that they ran out of the Mandarin Citrus scent for conditioner and can replace it with Lush Vanilla or just send my original order for me with no extra shipping charge when it becomes available. Talk about service! I didn’t mind getting the Lush Vanilla so I opted for that instead. Continue reading Human Heart Nature Delivery

Birthday in Tagaytay: Breakfast at Antonio’s

Breakfast at Antonio's, TagaytayWe wanted to try out the different restaurants around the city while we were staying in Tagaytay for my birthday weekend, and Antonio’s was on top of our list. Unfortunately, we found out that the theme is fine dining and reservations are required. We were in our shorts and summer tops, and couldn’t wait for a month to get on their list.

And then there’s Breakfast at Antonio’s. It’s the laid-back option offered by the owner/s of Antonio’s and they serve all-day breakfast. We were there at lunchtime and we tried their very short menu for high noon. We were not disappointed.

My husband enjoyed their very tender pork ribs while I had their roast chicken with a very large side of roast potatoes. The chicken’s sauce was oh-so-yummy made up of mushroom cooked in cream and chardonnay. They marinated the chicken in orange juice, rosemary, thyme and all other good stuff that I can’t remember now, and slow-roasted for 2 hours. It was heavenly. I barely touched the potatoes because I hadn’t realized that I had ordered half a chicken. I had their pineapple-and-blueberry smoothie and it was good too, although a little too sweet for my taste. Continue reading Birthday in Tagaytay: Breakfast at Antonio’s