Friday, February 25, 2011

Lunch Buffet with a View to Boot at Taal Vista Hotel

After hearing Mass and walking around the beautiful and peaceful Caleruega, Mom and I got hungry. It was past lunchtime so we decided to go back to Tagaytay. After a traumatizing dinner at our hotel, Mom wanted something grand.

I remember Mom raving about Taal Vista Hotel's yummy kare-kare in their buffet. She wanted me to try it so off we went to the posh hotel which was brimming with hotel guests and families coming in for their famous lunch buffet.

There was a group performing traditional Filipino dances and it gave the dining hall a very festive mood. It was interactive, and they even had this foreigner dance the tinikling (a traditional Filipino dance where a girl and guy dancer cross over bamboo poles to a fast beat).

Their buffet table was only small and offered only a few dishes. Although they did have a salad bar, with this really cute OWL made of vegetables. Then of course the dessert bar, which offered halo-halo, fresh fruits, and assorted sweets.

Mom let me take first dibs on the buffet. I tried their Cream of Mushroom Soup which was THE BOMB (sorry no photo again, I was happily slurping on it already!)! So unlike the mushroom soup Mom had for dinner the night before. Yum-o!

For the main course I only had the beef kalderata which was really good. I especially loved this because it was SPICY, but not enough to burn your taste buds, just a bit of a twang. I also had their lechon, a favorite among Filipino delicacies. It was carved right in front of me, and it was still warm! Cholesterolific!

And lastly, I had the freshly made Ebi Tempura. It was just sad that the shrimps they used were thin and small.

Since Mom was more adventurous, she found more stuff on the buffet table than I did. Mom also had the beef kaldereta and the ebi tempura, but she was able to find seafood with tahong and shrimp. She also had a piece of chicken, which I found delish!

For dessert I fell in love with their mocha and chocolate cake. It wasn't too sweet and I had to stop myself because I was about to get another slice.

Since the dance group already left, we were entertained by this trio who walked around the tables singing requested songs. It was so cool because some of the guests started singing along with them. Fun!

Being in Tagaytay, it is a MUST to have your picture taken with the famous Taal Volcano. Good thing the volcano has stopped its volcanic activities, it was threatening to erupt late last year.

The day was really perfect with the sun high up in the sky and sky with a powder blue hue. And the sprawling lawns of the hotel was just to irresistible to shoot. The kids were having a grand time running around the grass, screaming, shouting, laughing, while playing tag.

It was a great bonding with Mom! It was the kind of trip we both needed, just relaxed and unhurried and most of all FAR from things that both give us headaches (ha!). Excited to have another trip with Mom soon! :)

Taal Vista Hotel
Km. 60, Aguinaldo Highway
Tagaytay City, Cavite
Tel. Nos. (046) 413-1000 and (632) 886-4325

Communing with God and Nature @ Caleruega

Since it was Sunday, Mom and I had to go hear Mass. We asked the receptionist at Alfonso Hotel about the mass schedules and gave us two churches. But since Caleruega was nearer, we opted to go that very popular retreat place.

After our yummy breakfast and checking out, I drove for about 15 minutes to the place. A minimal entrance fee of P30 each was asked of us, and off we went to the Transfiguration Chapel.

Since it was a family day, the place was packed! Had a hard time taking pictures of the place WITH NO people in it. Here are some shots that I took.

Gotta love those rolling hills, it was so pretty! And the perfect blue hue of the sky complimented the greens. How can you not believe in God when you see perfection?

Ooohh and Mom kept taking photos of these "flowers" that looked like berries. Can anyone please tell me what this is? :)

It was such a lovely, lovely place. Their tagline, Close to nature. Closer to God. is really fitting. Caleruega also offers retreats for huge groups. Plus they also hold weddings here. Totally perfect since the place was beautiful and oozing with God's gifts.

Since Mom fell in love with place, she already expressed that she wanted to come back here and stay for a night. It's nice to sit around and just reflect, and restart a connection with God. I totally recommend Calereuga to those feeling lost, confused and heartbroken. It's a perfect place to talk to God, plus it's close to the city!

Directions on how to get to Caleruega: From Tagaytay City just go straight towards Nasugbu. A few meters away from the arch of Nasugbu, you'll see a gated community to your left called Everest. I think it has a hotel and restaurant. Just turn left and the guards will let you know how to get to Caleruega. FYI, the road going to Caleruega isn't smooth. I told Mom how ironic the drive was to get to Caleruega - the road to God isn't a smooth one. The road's got HUGE potholes, so just drive carefully.

Brgy. Kaylaway, Batulao
Nasugbu, Batangas
Tel. Nos. (043) 706-0348
Mobile Nos. (0921) 270-9890 and (0921) 830-4226
Look for Jackie, Melda or Roseanne

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Alfonso Hotel: Cozy But With Really Awful "Italian" Food

Hey guys! I'm really sorry but I've been bitten by the lazy bug, so I'm just writing my blog entry on our Tagaytay weekend getaway just NOW! Promise will try to catch up! :)

Remember I was telling you guys about Mom's project on the Ateneo Glee Club? Well now that, that's all over, Mom wanted some free time to not think about work and just relax. So last Saturday and Sunday I drove up to the chilly city of Tagaytay in Cavite. Everyone seems to be familiar with that place already. It's one of the most accessible places to go and unwind with friends and just get away from the hustle and bustle of city living.

And I think that's what Mom and I did, to get away from the city. We checked in at Alfonso Hotel, which technically isn't in Tagaytay anymore, but in the next town, Alfonso.

It was a very cozy place. Mom and I both liked it because it had multi-levels and it was just really bright. It was like a huge house, with plenty of rooms, it was just really pretty! :)

We liked the "art" on the walls of their lounge. I stayed here for a good part of the night after dinner just to get connected to their free Wifi! Breakfast would also be served here in the mornings.

Our room was 205, situated right up front near their restaurant. Everything was huge and spacious, from the bathroom to the sleeping quarters itself. Mom and I felt comfortable right away. Since I haven't watched TV in a long time (oh yes!) I just plopped down on the bed and watched, eventually falling asleep! It was just super relaxed! :)

When night fell, I woke up to a really bad case of the hunger pangs. I got lazy to drive all the way to Mushroomburger, which BOY I REGRET NOT DOING! So we just clambered up the steps to their restaurant called Il Gallo Nero, supposedly an Italian Trattoria.

Mom actually immediately smelled trouble. The owner of the hotel was some Japanese woman who married a Filipino dude, but then they start serving ITALIAN food. But being adventurous (and since Mom has basically supported and encouraged me to go on with my blogging) we decided to take a whack at it!

Since it was cold night, Mom ordered Mushroom Soup (no photo), when it arrived it was just so BLAH! And just like how it looked, the taste was equally as BLAH. It was bad, with a very watery consistency. There were no mushrooms whatsoever, and the soup had this grainy feel to it. I had no idea what it was! And it wasn't even HOT! Good thing we will eventually get to have REALLY GOOD MUSHROOM SOUP during out Tagaytay trip, but that's for later! :)

She also ordered this, I forget what it's called. It's thinly cut pieces of meat, filleted, and served with potatoes.

The potatoes were good. The meat was nothing special. Although it was soft and really easy to cut up and chew. But again nothing special. Blah!

I ordered their Carbonara, being a pasta lover.

Like their mushroom soup it had a very watery consistency. It wasn't creamy it was OILY! The noodles were soggy, and they didn't use bacon bits, they used ham chunks! I sat there staring at it for a while thinking of ways on how to save this meal, but no amount of Parmesan cheese could save this!

It was just sooooooo disappointing! As a person who loves food (and also a paying customer), I think it is only fair that they give us really good food. If not authentic Italian food, just good pasta or something. Inasmuch as I really abhore writing negative blogs on restaurants, it must be done! Check in at Alfonso Hotel BUT DON'T EAT HERE! Go to Mushroomburger instead (hahaha!).

Since it was a full moon, Mom and I decided to walk off our crappy dinner. We walked around the block and just checked out the rest of the hotel. Here's their other lounge right outside the reception area. Mom liked this place and she sat there for a while.

But in the morning, we had a really pleasant surprise. Their breakfast was really good! Just a little reminder, they do have free breakfast but only a meal of toasts and coffee. Since that was just plain stupid, Mom and I decided to "upgrade" our breakfast to these lovely meals.

Mom ordered their beef tapa.

She said it was good, and the meat was soft. She had no complaints about it, so I'm guessing she liked it.

On the other hand, I was busy eating my boneless bangus meal.

This was a real WOW! A nice save for that really crappy carbonara I had the night before. This was good! Their fish wasn't too salty, and with a little bit of ketchup, it made a perfect breakfast!

Oh and another weird thing with Alfonso Hotel although this is not related to food anymore, was that before breakfast Mom took a shower. But she had to wake me up because she couldn't reach the controls for the heater. It was too high up there! And it wasn't even making the water hot, so we had to call in the housekeeping guy who said that we really needed to call them to "fix" this thing. Which again was really plain stupid. Here you are ready to have a bath, but then the heater isn't working so you have to wait for a guy to actually make it work. Mom got a little pissed off she wrote on their comments and suggestions form!

Oh well! At least they were able to provide us a cozy place to stay in Tagaytay. Oh and we were able to book this way cheaper than their usual rates through I checked it out and they have the BEST DEALS on hotels! Superb!

Alfonso Hotel
Washington Avenue, Royal Tagaytay Estates
Alfonso, Cavite
Tel Nos. (046) 413-0770 or (046) 413-4077
Fax No. (046) 413-4076
Mobile No. (0906) 561-5292

Was talking to my friend Mariko the other day when we met up for lunch. I told her about the awful Italian food in a Japanese-owned hotel. Since the girl is half Japanese and sort of grew up in Japan, she told me that Japanese people actually LOVE Italian food. They love it so much that a lot of them have put up Italian "trattorias" to feed their love and passion for it. But they have tweaked the taste to accommodate a Japanese person's taste buds. Hhmmmm but we're not in Japan right? Hahaha!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good Burgers and then Some at Stackers Burger Cafe

Burgers are the ultimate go-to food when you're just hungry and can't really find a specific thing to eat. There's something about burgers that you just can't resist aand get tired of. From the simple burgers in our schools to the Jollibee Yum burger and to the sosy Brother's Burger, it's just really irresistible.

While waiting for Trency to finish up with her midterms on the day we were to hit Candaba, Mike, Amanda, and I trooped on over to The Venice Piazza at McKinley Hill. We wanted fast food because we weren't sure what time Trency would call. The final decision: STACKERS BURGER CAFE.

It was my first time to eat at Stackers, so I was grateful to see this "breakdown" of a Stackers buger. I think it's a great way to entice people to order their burgers and to give first timers a good idea of what's in it for them.

Their menu was pretty rockin' too. The layout was clean, and the photos can make you hungry. And it was all about BURGERS (uhmm...duh!).

So anyway, on to our orders. I was being weird, I have this knack for ordering something a particular restaurant isn't exactly known for. They were a burger joint, but I ordered Chicken Nuggets with Fries. Talk about being a non-conformist! :p

It was actually pretty good. The nuggets were freshly made, not soggy, and the outside was crispy. They also have a generous serving of fries. It's a good meal for those who aren't too hungry. It's filling but not to the point of hacking it all up.

Mike ordered THE MASSIVE. Although they could've done a much better job at making it MASSIVE.

Mike let me taste it, and it was good. It's like a McDonald's double cheeseburger, only Stackers made the beef juicier and fatter...not too mention twice the price! Mike had to to add like Php60 to get fries and a drink.

Amanda on the other hand got Buffalo Chicken Ranch.

This was a flop! The chicken was dry and a bit tough, obviously it was reheated or something. The precious few amounts of sauce in the burger did very little to wet the chicken and give it a little bit of taste. And like Mike, she had to add Php60 for her fries and drink. For something this blah, it was expensive!

Just to be safe, maybe you should just go for the Stackers Classics. I think those are the burgers they have perfected and can whip up during sleep. It can be pretty steep, so you just have to know what to order, cos you can end up really disappointed with it. They have really small drinks and a puny container for their fries, so for me, it's quite expensive.

I've got my eyes set on the Stack Cheese Burger, looed really good on their menu. I'll have that on my next trip to Stackers.

Stackers Burger Cafe
Ground Level, The Venice Piazza
McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio
Taguig, Metro Manila
Tel. Nos.: 403-6572 and 409-6843

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