Monday, February 19, 2007

Weekend Escape - Tagaytay


Every city girl needs an escape. It doesn’t always have to involve a plane ride or a visa…a quick car ride away from the city smog will suffice. Although jetting off to an exotic, far-off locale would be wonderful, sometimes it’s just not plausible. So you are stuck either dreaming of distant lands, or grabbing your backpack and trying to rediscover familiar terrain closer to home. I choose action over inaction…so C and I did just that.

We spent a fun and relaxing weekend outside Manila’s hubbub, in the city of Tagaytay. Tagaytay is set upon a ridge overlooking Taal Lake and Taal Volcano, a volcano nestled in the middle of the lake. The views are great, and the air clean (compared to Manila) and pleasantly cool. I, and probably most of the city of Manila, have no doubt been there a ton of times, but it is still a nice place to go. Aside from the views and escaping the city heat, you’ve got restaurants to visit, roadside stalls filled with fruits and flowers, and small farms selling organic herbs and vegetables.



We set off early Saturday morning to get there in time for one of my favorite breakfasts in Tagaytay – Humphrey’s Muesli at Breakfast at Antonio’s. I know, strange to travel so far for something quite ordinary…but I love its milky simplicity and that is all the reason I need. We also visited Manos Greek Taverna, a cozy Greek restaurant we had been to before. Manos is a charming Greek man and he uses a lot of products his mother (c’mon, you’ve gotta love this guy) sends him from Greece…including his own olive oil produced by his olive trees back home! I had the Chicken ala Corfu which was redolent with cinnamon and cloves, its flavor sweet and sour care of a veritable mountain of raisins and the juice of calamansi. Although there is no sugar added, the raisins make this dish very sweet…for someone like me it’s great, but if you are not into sweet in your savories give this one a pass. Instead, have what C did: Psari Skaras, a grilled tilapia marinated and basted (by Manos himself!) with a mix of olive oil, calamansi & lemon, and oregano from Greece. Sounds simple, but it was amazingly delicious! It was a tilapia that tasted of Greece...that is the best way I can describe it. Manos' grilled items are his specialties.

We also had our fill of the local specialties like tawilis (a small freshwater sardine found only in Taal Lake…nowhere else in the world!) and bulalo (bone marrow soup). We warmed ourselves with steaming coffee overlooking the lake and caldera. We browsed through little antique shops and bought local coffee beans and homemade bread. We bought fruits from roadside stalls…sweet-smelling pineapples that seem to grow wild along the countryside.



On our way back home we discovered a small garden called Jardinero’s (which means gardener’s), growing and selling its organic produce. Their bounty included various salad greens (including arugula, hooray!), flat leaf parsley, kohlrabi, squash, baby carrots, rosemary, different kinds of mint, rau rǎm (or Vietnamese coriander), chives, tarragon, cilantro, oregano, spinach, and more that I am sure I’m forgetting. Everything freshly picked as you buy them. They also sell native tomatoes, onions, and ginger. They even had cinnamon bark which they get from the province of Nueva Ecija. As if things couldn’t be more perfect, on top of all these fresh vegetables, they also sold chicharon! Out of place yes, but maybe a sign telling me to return? I guess it is sufficiently clear that I was quite pleased to come upon them!

A short while after, we stopped by the stall of Toscana Farms where I bought gorgeous red capsicums which I will roast and make into a salad. As I was waiting for the lady to prepare my change I noticed a small potted thyme plant. I had been looking for thyme everywhere, and all of my usual sources have been without for a while now, so I snapped it up. Never mind that I live in a flat with no balcony or plant box. At worst, I will at least have some thyme for a couple of dishes. And who knows, perhaps it will survive…sigh, I can dream

And dream I did as I dozed off in the warm afternoon sun that streamed through the car windows as C drove us back. We wandered, meandered, ate, napped, explored, shopped, relaxed, enjoyed…what’s not to love about weekends like these? A short and sweet getaway to recoup from a busy week past and help prepare for the one ahead!

21 comments:

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing that~ the photos are awesome.

Michelle said...

Looks like a fabulous weekend! :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Sandy! Thank you :) I'm glad you enjoyed reading it :)

Hi Michelle! Thanks for dropping in! It was a great weekend :)

paz said...

How good to know that you had a nice time. I could use a weekend escape like that, too. ;-)) Have a great week!

Paz

ces said...

ohh! i miss tagaytay! can we trade weekends? me there and you doing laundry and cleaning up here in the apt? lol!

christine said...

Wow, sounds like the perfect weekend! Good food, beautiful scenery, the muesli at Antontion's breakfast (!!!) and with the one you love, to boot. :) So glad you had a great time!

P said...

haha! was there too over the weekend. but didn't venture out as much as you did. burrowed under pillows and enjoyed the gift of s-l-e-e-p

Toni said...

What a gorgeous place, and the food looks and sounds terrific!! Makes me sit and and breeeeathe!!!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Paz! It's easy to escape...just go to the next town or city and pretend you're a tourist :) Have a great week too!

Hi Ces! Hmmm...you'll have to bribe me with some of your foodie creations! Hehe :) I'm a pretty good cleaner :)

Hi Nens! It was a great weekend :) Nothing fancy or out of the ordinary but still fun and relaxing :) And of course, as you mentioned, the company was good ;)

Hi Poch! Trust me, we also had our share of Zzzz's :) It's great to be able to get away from it all and enjoy a good readnap (reading and slowly drifting into sleep) :)

Hi Toni! Thanks! :) It's a nice enough place that is very accesible from Manila so it makes an easy weekend escape :)

Melting Wok said...

I am amazed at the greens :) I cannot imagine standing next to them, what beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing, cheers ! :)

dolphinstate said...

Tagaytay is a beautiful place! The second time I had the chance to visit, it was so foggy so it was hard to see the beautiful scenery.

dolphinstate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freya said...

What a wonderful break! The pictures and food look beautiful!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Melting Wok! Glad you enjoyed it :) I live in the middle of buildings myself so it's always great to be around greens :)

Hi Dolphinstate! Thanks for dropping in :) Yes, it is a nice place but sometimes overcome with fog...then it's time to snuggle over hot coco and forget the scenery for a bit :)

Hi Freya! Thanks! :) It was a nice break...it's always so great to slow down the pace a bit no? :)

JMom said...

I was there for the first time last month, and your description is perfect as is the place :) Too bad I couldn't buy any of the herbs and produce.

bea at la tartine gourmande said...

What a lovely getaway place!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Jmom! So glad to hear you enjoyed! :) Maybe next time you can sample the produce :)

Hi Bea! I was indeed a lovely place and I had an equally great time :) Sometimes you really need to just "get away" :)

Lorraine said...

Ooh, thanks for posting this. Tagaytay weather sounds heavenly just about now...

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lorraine! It really was perfect weather...I am melting in Manila already!

aremeses said...

I'm so envious, really need---must-go to Tagaytay!!!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Aremeses! Do go! Lot's of nice places to eat, cooler weather, and many small farmers selling good produce :)