Friday, January 11, 2008

Tagaytay: Paradise for the Soul - and the Stomach

I was very happy last night to receive a message that my mother will be flying to Manila from the province. We were just together for the holidays, but the fact that meeting all over again still excites me. It is because her trips to Manila always include going around – and my favorite is that Sunday family trip to Tagaytay.

With my brother Enrique, or Elay ( at the driver’s seat running at the fastest gear, we have all car windows open to fully breathe the mountain air. Tagaytay is a semi- mountainous place a few kilometers down south of Manila, and for many city- dwellers, this is the perfect weekend retreat. Characterized by clean, winding roads, colorful blooms, roadside restaurants, pastry shops – and many, many more! – this is definitely one of the best places on earth. Then who can miss the picturesque Taal Volcano – the smallest and only volcano in the world surrounded by a lake...

Now, what makes this place the ultimate haven for food people? While there are many commercial and specialty restaurants manned by brilliant chefs around, what truly fascinates me is the abundance of produce on the roadside. Along the Silang Highway are corn fields, and beside these fields - just along the road, are nice people peddling boiled corn. You can buy without going down your vehicle, and these gracious people will treat you like a VIP.

Then going up Tagaytay, there are long strips of food stalls (sigh, I could have taken better pictures) selling farm- fresh fruits. In the summer, you could actually smell the nice fruit enzyme vapors drifting in the air. Jackfruit, bananas – the very pretty bananas, citrus, native mangoes, peanuts, papaya, mangosteen- and much, much more. Then in the market are farm- price produce also, ultra- fresh, colorful…. Wow. We get nice mushrooms, lettuce, watercress, radishes from the market stalls; a great assortment of native sweets – and even brooms.

For the restaurants, if we are not having a freshly-brewed barako coffee- and- kakanin at a mom and pop’s humble coffee shop along the road (and ask them the favor as well, if we can temporarily leave our car on their side garage so we can walk to view the Taal Volcano- we were very lucky at this), we are charmed by the old- school cafeteria ambiance of the Mushroom Burger. They have an honest window display of the mushrooms which they use in their recipes. (That’s my sister Victoria and friend Janet there who did the modeling). In the market also, they sell the best bulalo (Philippine version of the British boiled beef), sinaing na tawilis (tender, freshly-caught small fish of the sardine family from the Taal Lake then cooked in natural spices), and awesome traditional dishes. Still along the beautiful roads, are the exceptional pastry shops where you can get the best apple crumbles this side of the planet, coconut pies, fruit preserves, and tarts.

I can write many things here about various experiences in the paradise-like Tagaytay, celebrating the most honest pleasures of life, but I’ll just leave this message here at the end of my post: “See for yourself." :)


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful week-end getaway this must be. I took a mini-vacation just looking at the pictures, paradisiac indeed! I love the view from the top of the hill with the islands in the distance.

The fruit stalls are incredible. I LOVE mangosteens but they're almost impossible to get in the U.S. I had them a few times while in Hong Kong and I loved them so much I smuggled some back to NY. Worth going to jail if you ask me! :-)

Are those mushrooms in the window? For mushrooms burger?... Now I want a taste of that! err...Do I sound like a little kid in a candy store?...hahaha Okay I'll stop! Ciao

elay said...

i miss mushroom burger..i'll settle for that one in west avenue - that way i won't be driving so many miles out..

but of course that tagaytay branch would still be the better choice..the view, the environment, the cool air..

foodhuntress79 said...

Elay, the Mushroom Buger at West Ave has been renovated- they moved next door! I haven't asked though if they have that portobello burger I told you about...

Zen,yes- mushrooms. Btw, I have similar experience with fruit- smuggling: dragon fruit and plums from Mainland China. I was expecting the authorities to confiscate my luggage - haha- but they didn't. Who can help it?!


Liza said...

OOoh we love going to tagaytay too, gustung-gusto ng mga kids ko jan. At yung sinaing na tawilis fave ng mom ko. Suki rin kami jan sa mushroom burger hehe.

Re: hunter soul, honestly hindi ko rin alam iexplain eh, but did you take the quiz? If you didn't, try taking the quiz, try clicking on the link below my peaceful soul image.

pusa said...

thanks for this post, its been a long time since i went to tagaytay.. maybe time to revisit :)

thanks again for dropping by at my blog

Sidney said...

The biggest advantage of Tagaytay is its proximity to Metro Manila.

Sidney said...

You have an interesting blog. I will add you to my links (when I have time!)I need to clean up some old links and add some new ones.

foodhuntress79 said...

Thank you!

Liza- yes, will take the quiz one of these days :)

Pusa- more fresh air in the mountains than the city :)! your page really rocks!

Mr. Sidney - welcome to my humble page, monsieur. Always a pleasure to view your posts also!