As repeat visitors to Sagada, we at Happyfoodies were both overjoyed and saddened during our recent visit. Saddened because a) Misty Lodge’s restaurant is closed as Chef Bogan is attending to her mommy duties in Manila, b) Masferre Restaurant has taken off our favorite Kamatis Bagoong at Lechon Kawali in favor of a menu more oriented towards foreign guests. But on a bright note, we chanced upon a new, welcome addition to the eateries lining the town’s main street: Sagada Brew. It was actually the recommendation of Wanda, our kind hostess at Rock Inn Farm, to try out the new place (talk about very friendly competition). It was also a blessing to come on an off-peak season where a lot of eating places are closed for repairs, which helped directed our feet to this shop.
When you mention ‘casino dining’ to people, most would not have a clue where to begin. In fact they could be forgiven for thinking it would involve a game of poker at www.gamingclub.com/au/casino-games and a take away. However, since the rise of the land-based casino, the casino restaurant industry has seen an increase. Most of today’s land casinos offer more than just gambling with many having at least one restaurant. With casinos in Vegas being some of the best in the world, it stands to reason that there would one can find some great restaurants here as well.
One of life’s hidden blessings is living a short walk away from nice eating places. It doesn’t always have to be fancy, swanky places or franchises of big chains. Personally, we at Happyfoodies are big fans of small establishments, hole-in-the-walls and mom-and-pop operations whose offerings defy their size and relative obscurity. Stumbling upon BonBanhmi along Mayapis in Makati is a good example, a small nondescript shop operated from the house. If it weren’t for the small sign, it’s fairly easy to miss. The giveaway sight is the usual display counter. For an eating area, it has a converted garage furnished with monobloc tables and chairs. But if the place is simple, the food is anything but.
It’s not everyday that you can dine surrounded by the very herb plants that season your food. But at Cocoon Boutique Hotel‘s rooftop restaurant, that’s what you experience exactly with every meal. Call it an organic experience but for those old enough to remember, this is what our parents and grandparents used to do way way back when most houses still have backyard gardens and seasoning as well as whole ingredients are plucked from just outside the kitchen, not the nearest supermarket.
When your Happyfoodies got an invite to sample Top Torikatsu, we were a bit skeptical. The market is stuffed with quick fixes and instant food that are just that — quick to prepare but admittedly, short on taste. It seems that if you’re always in a rush, you’ve got to put up with less than tasty meals.
We’re no strangers to vege-meat and it’s wonderful how far this meat look- and taste-alike has come to resembling the real thing sans the animal fat. Nature’s Original is Silang, Cavite, is a very good stop enroute to Tagaytay. Well, if you like curiosities and mementos like mugs and coffee, it can be a destination in itself. Their sisig (imitation fried pig’s cheeks, P88) is wonderful, garlic-infused, a bit spicy and has a good texture that’s, well, close to pork. Cooked in olive oil, it’s sisig that’s actually healthful for you. And while you’re here, feel free to grab a mug or two of their coffee (P50) — it’s that good, with a lingering nutty flavor. We paired ours with the Spanish bread bought from the neighborhood panaderya (bakery) right across the highway — ah, the joys of simple living and eating.
Vegetarian and Natural Food Center
Km. 53 Gen. Aguinaldo Highway, Brgy. Buho, Silang Cavite
Mobile Number: 0917.7389982
It’s way off the main road and open only for lunch and dinner three days of the week. But the gathering buzz on Bawai’s is proof that good news do travel fast. To paraphrase Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams”, if you cook good food, they will come. And visitors do hie off all the way here to dine. We visited one hot Sunday afternoon as part of a small contingent of Summit Ridge’s Tagaytay weekend getaway.
The location is actually in Silang, Cavite. To get there from the ridge, we head back to the rotonda and make a turn near the Aguinaldo highway and head through a smaller road, passing through hilly terrain planted to pineapple. We take another turn on a smaller road and stopped at a non-descript, two-storey house that looked nothing like a restaurant.
Coming in, we espy a garden at the back where an alfresco dining area beckoned under the shade of trees and a profusion of plants. We were ushered to the upstairs dining area instead, greeted by the pleasant aroma of something delicious simmering. The place feels more like a home than a restaurant, The dining area isn’t much bigger than those found in other ancestral houses, with several tables that can accommodate no more than a dozen diners at any one time. Well, the diners ahead of us seemed to be in a jovial mood — always a good omen in any eating place.
When the temperature in the city goes up, heading off to the highlands becomes a very appealing proposition. For Metro Manila folks, that’s either Tagaytay or Baguio. Well, your Happyfoodies had the pleasure of hieing off to Summit Ridge in Tagaytay for the weekend, partly to gorge on food, and to balance the weekend with some healthful activity.
Let us count the ways: an hour of badminton, an hour of yoga on Saturday, a little bit of Zumba come Sunday (pardon us as two left feet couldn’t do justice to those flashy dance moves and as far as your Happyfoodies are concerned, the booty is meant to be used as final repository of digested food, not for those impossible-to-mimic booty shakes).
Hmmm, sounds like those activities may mean we have some serious caloric deficit to make up for. While spending the weekend in Tagaytay have almost always come to mean bingeing on food (Bulalo and Crispy Pata come to mind), alcohol, and sleep (or all three for those with Bacchanalian inclinations), the C2 Classic Cuisine (C2 in short) restaurant in Summit Ridge have a more sensible alternative – a healthy menu. The idea is sans fanfare: use whole foods and cook them simply so you get to taste their healthful, wholesome goodness.