Just spent the past week moving two kids, one dog, two helpers, one husband and an entire container van filled with memories from Manila to Saigon and boy, am I tired!
This is our family’s 5th move and yet, it hasn’t gotten any easier. Infact, this time was MUCH harder for me both emotionally and physically. My 40s is a year and a half away. My attachments to people get stronger with each year that passes. So yeah, I was a wreck when we left Manila.
But I must say, it feels good to finally all be together again in one place. The hubby had to move to Saigon much earlier than everybody else and that was just way too hard for everyone. Now that we are all in one city, we can all heave a sigh of relief….at least until our sea freight comes in.
Here in Vietnam, everything (and I mean everything) is delivered via motorbike. With our beds still floating at sea we have had to buy temporary mattresses and yup, they were brought to the house by the trusty “Se om” (motorbike in Vietnamese).
Despite the general chaos, a sense of calm fills me when I see this house that will be home for our nomadic family in the next few years.
For as long as there’s wine and junk food- those have been my two basic food groups these past few days, I can deal with anything- emo tween, stimming child and everything else in between.
For now, I take deep breaths in my little corner in this home while I wait for the madness to settle down.
If you told me before I left for Baler that I’d be surfing, climbing trees and inhaling massive amounts of suman in just two days, I would have told you that you were insane. But that’s exactly what I did.
We took the Joy Bus (Genesis Bus’ luxury coach) from it’s terminal in Cubao at 12:30 am. The ride was short and sweet. I kept slipping from my seat while struggling to stay snuggled up in my blanket. By 4:30 in the morning, the bus stopped and we got off. We got into tricycles and were whisked off to Aliya Surf Camp- our chosen home for the next two days.
We were all secretly hoping we would be able to check into our rooms and sleep before starting the day but that was not to be. I guess surfing makes people really tired and sleepy. Not a single room was vacated until after 1 pm that day. We were in for a LONG morning. So, we decided to eat breakfast first. When we got back to Aliya, we changed into our “surfing gear” and decided it was time to hit the surf.
I wasn’t so sure if this was something I wanted to do but I figured, why not? I was there, the waves looked scary…I mean inviting and we had no hotel room to sleep in. Besides, at P350 per hour (for both the board and an instructor), it was a pretty good deal.
I cannot swim to save my life and that was the first thing I told my instructor. He said, “Ok lang yan ate, mababaw lang ang tubig dito.” First thing he made me do was to master the moves while still on land. “Pag sinabi kong ready ate, lagay mo yung mga kamay mo sa may dibdib tapos ipasok mo yung kanang paa mo sa may tuhod.” Huh?!? With only 4 hours of broken sleep, I must say I was feeling pretty “slow.” After a couple of attempts, I think I finally got it down pat. Time to go in.
My first, few attempts weren’t pretty so, obviously, they weren’t documented. And because this is MY blog, I’d only post photos of the times when I actually got to stand up on my board. And yup- I was able to do just that- 4 times without killing myself or anyone else beside me. Yay me!
For non-outdoorsy, wimpy old me- this was definitely a MAJOR achievement. I thought I’d be spending most of my time getting hit on the head by the board while being pounded by waves. I’m proud to say that I managed to stay afloat most of the time.
Surfing really does make you hungry. So after a full hour of surfing, we decided to eat a hearty lunch at a nearby resort.
After a relatively healthy meal of grilled chicken breast and vegetables, including this refreshing “Pako (Fern) Salad” we thought we deserved a treat. So, we ordered dessert. A few minutes later, this came out:
I am not normally a big fan of suman (sticky rice) but this- this was more than just suman. It was heaven on a plate served with Coco Jam and Peanut Butter. We ate more of this until we couldn’t eat anymore. I am not ashamed to admit that there were more sumans in our future during our stay in Baler. Ha ha!
We walked back to Aliya and were happy to find out that we could finally check in. Some of us napped while others tried to catch up on emails (guilty!). After a couple of hours resting in our airconditioned rooms, the gang met up at the balcony. We ended our first day with a few beers while watching the sun set.
Tomorrow, I will take you on a tour of Baler, up a tree and into one of the coldest waterfalls I’ve ever swam in. Stay tuned!
Photo credits: My sister-in-law Brenda, Missy Diva Travels
It was a sweltering hot Saturday morning but I didn’t mind one bit. Woke up early, packed all my wines in a cooler and headed towards Massimo’s Farm in Tagaytay. This was my stop.
The Moveable Feast team set up their signature drink and nibbles for guests to enjoy- it was the perfect “intro” to the Italian spread prepared by Chef Hazel Lu-Galvez.
Of course, I used the time to set up my little “sustainable wine station.”
5 1/2 Twists in the house!
Because it was going to be a hot afternoon, Jenny Pascual of Moveable Feast, Chef Hazel and I decided on a wine list that consisted of refreshing whites and roses.
All the wines were imported by Il Biancorosso from Cantina di Gambellara- the first ever cooperative winery from Vicenza in the North of Italy. Based on the importer’s recommendations, I chose to go with this particular Cantina because it practices sustainable farming- ensuring less impact on the environment by finding ways and means to keep grape growing and wine production gentle on mother earth. Really, there could have been no better wines for that day’s lunch.
I had the chance to talk about the wonderful wines for about half an hour before lunch. I started us off on Lessini Durello Spumante- a refreshing, slightly sparkling wine made with 100% Durello grapes. It was crisp, light and citrusy. Perfect on its own and was also wonderful with that day’s Antipasti of baby vegetables with Bagna Cauda and Pizza Margherita.
Up next was the Valfonda Pinot Rose- a sparkling wine made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes- with berry notes and a light, refreshing finish. This was served only during tasting but was quite a hit with the “happy” guests.
The last wine to be tasted was a Pinot Grigio/Garganega Blend- slightly “thicker” than your usual Pinot Grigio, this wine was citrusy with some bitter almond notes towards the end. Among the three that I presented for tasting, this was my favorite.
Here’s another look at 5 1/2 Twists lovely nook at Massimo’s that afternoon. I LOVED IT!
After all that wine, the afternoon went by in a lovely, tasty blur. I wish I were able to take more photos of the scrumptious meal that was served but, just like the wine, those went pretty quickly. I did manage to catch snippets of the Antipasti and the Dolci, though.
I was so grateful once again to be in the company of people who believe in slowing things down and enjoying nature’s bounty in the most natural way possible.
Of course, no Moveable Feast would be complete without the Farm Stand. I hoarded quite a lot of things from here.
I would add another line to the sign above: “Drink well, often and much.” Ha ha!
Thomas, Massimo’s Farm’s resident dog, couldn’t be happier that day. Isn’t he just adorable?
To the folks at Massimo’s Farm, The Green Grocer, Calido 100% Natural Coconut Sugar, Sweet Spring Country Farm, Chef Hazel and all of Moveable Feast’s volunteers and staff- a big thank you for a wonderful Saturday under the sun!
It was a very cold, early Easter morning and dragging myself out of my warm bed wasn’t easy to do. But I was told that if there was one thing I shouldn’t miss while in Sagada, it was the Kiltepan sunrise. Reluctantly, our group of 4 bundled up and took a van to the view point and waited…
It was this dark when we arrived at around 4:15 am. As the sun slowly peeked through the horizon, the people gathered in Kiltepan held their breath.
At this point, our fingers were freezing from the cold but the promise of seeing the sun on Easter morning warmed us up a bit.
It really was worth the wait. My iPhone photos don’t do it justice. Just take my word for it when I say it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Still gives me goosebumps up to now just thinking about it.
So, after that 2-hour vigil waiting for the sun to rise, it was time to head back to town, freshen up and get some breakfast. Siyempre, after all that (and being the Pinoys that we are) we had to have a group photo taken in front of our inn. Tadah!
Armed and ready for the long bus ride to Baguio, we trekked to the terminal and waited for our bus to arrive. More than the length of time we would be spending on the bus, I was more worried about getting sick while on the road. I have horrible motion sickness and the road from Sagada to Baguio was winding all throughout.
Look at me, all smiles after my dose of Bonamine…
Fortunately, Bonamine worked! I spent most of the 5 1/2 hour journey fast asleep. Waking up only when the bus driver would make sudden stops to let other cars thru a narrow road.
When we finally got to the terminal in Baguio city, we were starving (as usual)! We flagged down a cab and headed off to one of our favorite spots in the city.
Cafe by the Ruins is just as good as I remembered. It has lost some of its rustic appeal but the food was every bit as yummy.
We had a really late lunch that it actually was “linner” (a term my daughter uses for a late lunch/early dinner). After feasting on fresh salad greens, longganisa, rice and kesong puti sandwiches, we had these incredible scones for dessert. Ha ha! I know, who does that? Well, apparently we do. Anyway, I wish there were good scones here in Manila. If you know of any, please message me. I’m quite desperate.
At this point, one of my sister’s Baguio-based friends picked us up from Cafe by the Ruins and took us on an “express” tour around his hometown. I had not seen Baguio in 4 years so I was just astounded at all the changes. I knew Shoemart was there but I had no idea that they had a mini version of the Fort up there, as well. May R.O.X. pa. Too bad I forgot to take photos. I was just so surprised to find a lot of the Manila stores in the City of Pines. As a kid, we would go up to Baguio to take some time off. Now the busyness seems to have followed us up into the mountains, as well. It makes me feel sad that the Baguio of my youth is gone. Whatever happened to a car-less Session road?
With all the “new” places out of the way, we then proceeded to the other Baguio “haunts.” And I mean that literally. Baguio has always been known to be “nakakatakot.” As a kid I remember the stories we would hear about the haunted rooms at Teacher’s Camp or the souls that continue to roam in the burned down Pines hotel. Just to scare ourselves silly, we drove by these places and more! We stopped by the site of the former Hyatt hotel, cruised down the street where the famous “white lady” would allegedly lead motorists astray and of course, we stopped to take photos “outside” Laperal Mansion.
My siblings did the actual tour during their last trip to Baguio in December and had some pretty creepy experiences. As a result, none of them wanted to go in with me. So, picture na lang sa labas!
Our final stop in Baguio was at Hill Station. A restaurant in the famous Casa Vallejo hotel, Hill Station is known for its lavish buffets. Since were were full from our late lunch, we settled for drinks and dessert instead. We ordered a pitcher of Fresh Strawberry Margarita to share. Oh and of course, we had to have a slice of Apple pie and a serving of Death by Chocolate. Yum!
At this point, the alcohol, the long bus ride and the activities of the past 4 days were beginning to catch up with me. I was so tired and sleepy and wanted nothing more than to just head home. We paid our bill and took a cab to the bus terminal to wait for our ride home to Manila.
I wasn’t expecting much from our “deluxe” bus but I was pleasantly surprised. There was wi-fi on board, which was of no use to me since I immediately conked out the moment we took our seats. But what I did find especially useful were the reclining seats, blankets and pillows. By the way, there was also a “stewardess” on board whose only job apparently was to announce the stops. ”Ma’am, Sir, Cubao na po tayo.” Parang glorified “conduktor” lang (ticket collector) with makeup. Ha ha ha!
So that was our 4-day vacation in the highlands. Hands down, it’s one of my most memorable trips to date. I am so looking forward to the next one. Baler- I hope you’re ready for us!
If you’ve seen photos of my brother, then you’ll know that he is just about the healthiest and fittest person you’ll ever meet. He constantly reminds us of how much fat, carbohydrates, protein and sugar our bodies need on a daily basis given our level of (in)activity. He is also quite a slave driver at the gym. BUT when vacation time comes, all bets are off! He made the pronouncement himself- Sagada was going to be all about FOOD! So, let the eating begin…
On our first morning, we were all looking forward to having pancakes at Masferre.
Masferre is an inn and a restaurant owned by Eduardo Masferre- the father of Philippine photography. It’s also home to some of the best pancakes to be had in Sagada- or so I was told. Unfortunately, the pancakes and I weren’t meant to be. Since we were there during peak travel season, they were dishing out breakfast “turo-turo” style (this is a pinoy term for pointing at prepared dishes in a glass showcase- quick and cheap!). Not to be deterred, my brother redirected us to Bana’s.
Bana’s is constantly on top of travelers’ lists when it comes to coffee in Sagada. It is actually a rcoffee-oasting facility and is also home to Civet coffee. It also serves breakfast and that was what we came for. The place is not fancy- as are most places you’ll find in the Mountain Province. But what it lacks in ambience, it makes up for in food quality. I had a really filling breakfast here. I ordered Bana’s Favorite- toast, home made orange marmalade, butter, home made bacon and two eggs- all for P150! I washed it down with 2 cups of really good coffee! It hit the spot and was exactly what I needed before our morning trek.
Compared to the trek to Tappiyah falls, the way to Echo Valley was much tamer. The only part that was a bit of a challenge was going down to the Hanging Coffins- but even that was not so bad. Our guide, Harry, explained that the Kankaneys (the indigenous people of Sagada) are known to have a very close relationship with nature. So, even in their death, they want to be buried with it- not under it. That explains the existence of such coffins. Not just anybody can be buried there, though. They need to have made significant contributions to their communities and must have lived long lives (90 years and up).
From here, we walked around the town and tried to explore a little bit. But of course, our feet led us to this place for an early lunch.
I would be lying if I told you that eating here didn’t give me the creeps in the beginning. I mean, initially there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with eating Pinikpikan for lunch. As the website defines it- ”Pinikpikan is a very flavorful chicken dish from the mountains of the Cordilleras. Derived its flavor from the coagulated blood, burned feathers, and Etag, a cured and aged meat.” I have no problem with the words “flavorful chicken dish” but definitely had issues with “coagulated blood” and “burned feathers.” The way the chicken is slaughtered is just so…inhumane that I found myself enjoying this dish a LOT less. Maybe ignorance really is bliss, in this case. Moving on…
To take away the vivid images I had in my mind of chickens beaten until they’re black and blue, we headed out for dessert. I had been reading a lot about this Lemon Pie from Sagada and I wanted to have a slice. I ended up having one slice of the lemon pie and another slice of egg pie- they were both very, very good! Not too sweet, just flavorful enough to allow the natural tartness of lemon and creaminess of the egg to shine through. Hands down the best thing I’ve ever eaten during this trip…Oh wait, there was the blueberry muffin from Gabay pa pala. That was so good, though, that we failed to take a photo. Gone in literally 30 seconds!
All that eating made us tired and sleepy (haha, I know right?) so we decided to walk back to our home away from home. We stayed at St Joseph’s Rest House. Rooms here are very simple but are quite an upgrade from our Batad accommodations. St. Joseph is a warm and friendly place run by people who are passionate about their town. I would gladly recommend this place to anybody looking for a place to stay in Sagada. You may call them at: +63 74 443 5644 for bookings and inquiries. Look for Andrea- she was so helpful and unperturbed even in the middle of peak season travel.
We all woke up refreshed from our long nap and decided to go to our dinner destination half an hour early. We had reservations for 7 pm at the Log Cabin for Chef Aklay’s famous Saturday buffet. Word of warning: make it a point to reserve seats a few days ahead. The seats go really fast- at P390 per head, I can understand why. If you do plan to go, here’s their contact number: +639205200463. You may call or text for reservations.
(Photo from: http://www.visitsagada.com/2011/02/02/log-cabin-bar-and-cafe-saturday-buffet-with-chef-aklay)
I had no idea what we were in for- all I knew was Chef Aklay is known for preparing food based on what is fresh that day. One thing about almost all the food that I ate in Sagada- everything tasted clean and fresh. Pure, unadulterated and not overly seasoned.
Chef Aklay didn’t disappoint. We were served a buffet of watercress salad, focaccia, gazpacho, steamed vegetables, sliced porkloin and roasted chicken. There were some cakes for dessert, too, but I was too full at the end to even enjoy those. What I did eat a lot of was the bread.
I can’t even begin to describe how good this was. I am not usually a big fan of focaccia. Truth be told, I’m not even sure if this version is close to what the original focaccia is meant to be. BUT I don’t care! I loved that I could taste butter with every bite. It didn’t need to be heated/toasted for it to be enjoyed. For me, that is the true test of good bread. 8 slices later- I was still wanting more but I stopped myself.
We practically had to carry our bellies out of the restaurant after our meal. We were THAT full. Normally, after bingeing, there would be some twinges of guilt- but there were none of those this time. We were just happy to have eaten good food, prepared with love by Chef Aklay.
Up next: Sunrise at Kiltepan and our short-but-sweet half day trip to Baguio :)
After a good night’s sleep (despite the beds that felt like wood on our backs) and a full breakfast, our group began our trek to Tappiyah falls with high hopes at 7 in the morning.
Before going on this trip, the only thing I really read about was this particular trail. I knew that it was going to be a tough one. I have no issues with endurance but I do have a fear of falling and slipping. Believe me, when you’re walking in the middle of rice paddies or near cliffs, this fear becomes quite crippling. But the stunning scenery that surrounds you while walking takes your mind off the fear…at least for a few minutes.
My kuya (older brother in English) and our resident “trainor” made sure we made several stops to properly rest and refuel. He had nuts and banana chips with him which he rationed out to the rest of the group every so often. The rest stops were also good opportunities to take photos- and we wouldn’t be Pinoys if we didn’t do just that.
The trek to the falls took us around an hour and a half. Perhaps even longer. We paced ourselves because we were trekking with a sister who’s had some health issues months prior to this trip. We were very proud of her for pulling through, though. After a long trek thru slippery rocks under the blistering heat of the sun, we finally saw this:
You have to believe me when I say that seeing this magnificent view of Tappiyah falls made us forget exactly how tired we were and how difficult it was to get there. We made our way down to the falls like excited little kids.
Nope, that shirtless, buff dude is NOT Piolo Pascual. Kuya ko yan. He he he! Peace, JB!
While my kuya was basking under the Batad sun in his shirtless glory- the only thing I could really afford to show off were my newly pedicured toes. The water felt wonderfully cool against my feet.
No bikinis for me. I just rolled up my cargo pants and got into the water.
After spending around 10-15 minutes in the falls, we decided to head back to Hillside Inn. The trek back initially felt more difficult (due to those steep stairs we had to manage uphill) but it actually was shorter and more manageable. We were even able to shave off at least 20 minutes from our time and before we knew it, we were back to where we started. After all that hard work, we knew we deserved a hearty lunch. So we headed to Simon’s for some Batad style pizzas!
The pizzas had these biscuity crusts that were prettily crimped on the edges. Eden cheese was used so don’t expect buffalo mozzarella or parmegiano reggiano ok? But the vegetables- oh the vegetables! They were the sweetest and freshest I’ve ever tasted in my life. Our favorite was this tomato, garlic and onion pizza. It was more than enough to energize us for our trek back to Saddle Point. Yup- more trekking was in store for our motley crew.
Funnily enough, there were options offered to the weary traveller once you get close to the end of the trail.
You either take the stairs of death to make it back to Saddle point earlier…
…or you take the easy way out (not really!) by going the long way- avoiding the stairs but walking a little bit more.
So, yeah we took the “long cut.” As my kuya said- we had nothing else to prove. We had conquered Batad- and we have the pictures to prove it!
So after all that trekking, our “tour group” has had enough! We hired a van to take us all to Sagada. Before taking off, though, we just had to stop at the main view point to have our photo taken with the Banaue Rice Terraces as our back drop. A fitting end to a really memorable time in Batad.
Next up: our food adventures in Sagada! Stay tuned :)
It was exactly the kind of trip that I would never have planned on my own. I have never been the “outdoorsy” type and my idea of a vacation includes hotel rooms with private baths. To say that I was going outside of my comfort zone with this one was an understatement. But I’m glad I did it. For the first time in my travelling life, I let somebody do the planning for me (https://www.facebook.com/missydivatravels?fref=ts). All I did was enjoy the ride.
Our journey began Wednesday night (right before Maundy Thursday, so you can imagine the traffic along the way). It was a long but comfortable bus ride from Manila to Banaue thru Ohayami (around P600 per person). I was asleep the whole time, covered from head to toe with a thick gray shawl that I used as a blanket. It was COLD. The AC was on full blast. If you decide to go to Banaue using this particular bus, please be prepared for winter weather for at least 10 hours. We were on the road from 10:30 pm to 9 am.
There were a total of 2-3 bus stops (not sure exactly) but I managed to sleep through them. The secret was not to drink water at all. I got off the bus in Banaue and was treated to this:
After oohing and aahing for a couple of minutes, we settled into a cafe for breakfast. Then it was off to Saddle Point in Batad. We arranged for a private transfer to Saddle Point- but don’t let the words “private transfer” fool you. It was a dilapidated Tamaraw FX that refused to start the moment we entered. After a couple of encouraging words and a lot of tapping noises, our kind driver, “Mang Joe” got the vehicle to start. We made a few stops a long the way to pick up some friends who wanted to ride with us to Batad.
We finally got to Saddle Point- with only one mishap- we had to get off the vehicle at a particularly steep portion of a hill so that Mang Joe could drive up. We stretched our legs, used the pay toilet and rented these sticks to prepare for our trek to Hillside Inn in Batad. The sticks are being rented out for P10 each. It was the best P10 I’ve ever spent.
All smiles pa kami dito- this was right before the 412 steep steps from Saddle Point to the start of the trail.
The trek to Hillside is a fairly easy one. It could take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your level of fitness. A word of warning- dress appropriately. I know that not a lot of us have trekking shoes and pants sitting in our closets so regular workout clothes would do. We saw way too many people (mostly Filipinos, the foreign tourists were prepared) in short-shorts, flats and designer bags. HELLO! Trekking nga diba? A backpack to hold all of your clothes and necessities for your stay is enough. Another tip- you can pay a “porter” (soshal!) to carry your bag for you all the way to your rest house in Batad so you can concentrate on the trail ahead. The fee starts from P200 and can go up depending on how heavy your bag is- so make sure you PACK LIGHT.
There are a couple of rest stops along the way but I didn’t really feel the need to stop (naks, fit!). Instead of resting, I took some decent photos with the help of my trusty iPhone 4. I was just amazed at all the natural beauty that surrounded me. Ang ganda talaga ng Pilipinas!
Upon arriving in Batad, we stopped at the Batad Tourist Information Center to pay P50 each. This is also a good place to get your guides for the activities that you’re planning to do in the area. For us, it was really just the hike to Tappiyah falls. You can negotiate with the guides as soon as you settle into your inn.
We chose to stay at Hillside Inn because we were told that it had the best view of the terraces. By the way, Hillside is NOT a hotel. Infact, there are no hotels in Batad. Accommodations are very basic and most of the time, toilets and bathrooms are communal. So, if you’re squeamish about these things, I suggest you stay in Banaue instead and just do a day trip to Batad.
After freshening up, my siblings and I did the one thing that we’d been looking forward to doing ever since we started this trip.
We grabbed one of the best tables in the house and drank a celebratory bottle of good Italian red. This was the best part of day 1- sitting down, chatting about life, making fun of our older sister (we love you, Ate Odette), talking about our younger sister who failed to join us (we love you, Rio) and just relishing the fact that we were about to embark on a wonderful journey together.
After a simple dinner, we watched the moon rise over Batad and settled into our rooms to get ready for a full day of trekking the next day.
Stay tuned for Day 2- our long and arduous trek to Tappiyah falls.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to get flak from a lot of wine “connoisseurs” out there when I say that price, label or branding have nothing to do with how good a particular wine is. But it is true! Yes, I admit I have (at one point or another) been swayed by scores (90 points and above only please, thank you!), ratings and Robert Parker’s effusive endorsements. But at the end of the day, I realize that wine is only as good as your taste buds say they are.
Last night, I was invited to a tasting of North Italian wines by a very low-key Italian importer named Massimo of Il Biancorosso at Locale Gastro Bar in Ortigas. The whole event was devoid of pretension.
No ISO glasses, no sniffing, swirling or “retro nasal” tasting. The only one doing this was me- the official wine nerd.
For everybody else, it was all about pure, and unadulterated enjoyment of wines from the North of Italy. It wasn’t an issue whether the wines were a DOC (Denominazione do Origine Controllata), DOCG (Denominazione do Origine Controllata e Garantita)or god forbid, a lowly IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica). All that mattered was everybody was having a good time. It was quite refreshing for me, for a change, not to have to worry whether I was having the “correct” cheese to pair with the right kind of wine. People were just having way too much fun jumping from one wine to another.
Massimo is from the North of Italy- thus he knows the wines from that region like the back of his hand. His principle in bringing in wines is to find ones that are good, not very common and reasonably priced. There were the usual Amarones but there were also a lot Nebbiolo-based wines produced outside of the Barolo. Without the DOC or DOCG stamp, these wines were big in taste, not in price.
I wanted to start off with the Spumante (Italian sparkling wine) but it wasn’t cold enough yet (ideal serving temperature for sparkling wines would be 6-8 C) so we were served a rose instead. Solo 10 Rose is a blend of Merlot and Garganega grapes. It’s an easy drinking wine- perfect on its own. No bold, lingering flavors here. Just a fresh, fruity, young wine with 10% alc. Not bad at all but not something I would seek out.
There were around 30-40 bottles of wine on offer that evening and I wanted to be smart about tasting so I chose the ones that appealed to me the most. After the first Rose, I moved on to another blush wine that seemed interesting- Ca’de Santi Nebbiolo Rose. I am a big fan of the Nebbiolo grape from Piemonte but have never had it as a rose wine before. This one had a little bit more bite than the first rose. With hints of fresh red fruits and spice both on the nose and on the paalte. I loved this wine! I would serve it as an aperitif or even pair it with light fish dishes.
There were a couple more wines after this, including the sweet sparkler Recioto di Gambellara Spumante. I am not a big sweet wine fan so maybe that’s why this wine didn’t stick with me at all. But the importer said this is a big hit among Filipino drinkers. Definitely worth checking out for under P700 a bottle.
For me, the stars of the night were the Lunediante Garganega Durella Sauvignon (white, P795) and the Argione Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon (red, P1250). I would go back for these two wines alone.
The first is a dry white wine made with “dried” grapes (Garganega, Durella and Sauvignon Blanc). With 13% alcohol, this packs quite a punch but is quite elegant with a lot of fruit, almond and butter flavors. I loved this on its own but was also quite good with the various white pizzas being passed around.
The second one is a blend of two well-known grapes from the Bordeaux region, Cabernet Sauvignon being the more dominant with some Cabernet Franc. But that’s where the similarity with your left-bank Bordeaux blends ends. This wine is totally done Italian style- rustic and earthy with lots of spice that just persists in the mouth. I loved this one with the Angus meatballs that were being served that evening. I loved it so much that it went home with me. It will be joining me and my siblings over the Holy Week break in the mountains of Sagada.
My WSET training often makes me a stickler” for rules- always mindful of the proper “order” in tasting wines. Always the apperetif first, followed by light bodied whites, to be followed by roses, then reds and ending with luscious dessert wines. In the wine profession, there is a place for such order. But in the real world, where people just want to unwind and “have a drink” it matters less when to drink what. It’s all about having a great time. And last night, that was exactly what’s on the agenda.
Il Biancorosso wines may be ordered online. You can contact them directly at email@example.com.
To be very honest, I never really gave much thought to where my food came from until I became a mom. During my younger days, all that mattered to me was that the food was good, (relatively) cheap and fast. Of course, now that I’m pushing (ahem) 40, I have started to pay more attention to what I feed my family. Yes, I try to go organic as much as possible but more than that, I try to make better choices when I am outside of the house. Whereas before it would have been much easier to go for McDonald’s (which I still love, by the way- just can’t eat much of that stuff anymore), I would actually consider going to a restaurant where I know I will have healthier options.
I have also learned to appreciate the whole idea of “slowing things down.” With my chaotic, fast-paced life, the idea of eating leisurely holds a lot of appeal. So imagine my excitement when Jenny Pascual of Moveable Feast asked me if I wanted to be one of her partners in her first ever farm-to-table experience. Being a new sommelier and a relatively “young” food enthusiast, I wanted nothing more than be a part of this passion project of hers.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was going to be in very good company. Malipayon Farms, Chef Eugene Raymundo, The Farm Organics, Commissioner’s Farm, and Calido Coconut Sugar were all going to be a part of it!
Well, the experience of being Moveable Feasts first sommelier was indescribable! We all met up at the Commissioner’s Farm where this beautiful set up greeted us- courtesy of Jenny and her wonderful volunteers.
I immediately got to work and put my wines on ice. That afternoon, I chose to bring Gunderloch Riesling (Dry) 2011.
Guests started to trickle in and they were happy to munch on these yummy, organic pesto and lettuce chips. I had to taste them and they were heavenly!
When most of the guests were onsite, Gejo Jimenez of Malipayon farms warmly welcomed all of us. You could tell, by the way he spoke, that this was one man who truly loved what he did. He very graciously took us around his property to give us a glimpse of his life’s work.
Seeing all kinds of organic vegetables and micro greens growing-ready for the picking definitely inspired me to start my own micro garden myself. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to go to your backyard and pick some basil for your home-made pesto or tarragon for tea? Sigh…
The farm tour made us hungry. So, off we went to the lunch site- sunscreen and all!
Chef Eugene Raymundo had his work cut out for him that day- he had tables filled with hungry people to feed. Well, I must say, he didn’t disappoint.
The heat didn’t deter this group from attacking each course that was brought to the table.
The fried kesong puti and blue cheese cakes with organic truffle honey and herb sticks kicked off the epic meal. No shame piece here! It was gone in minutes.
Organic salad greens with pili brittle and mushroom fritters in calamansi vinaigrette came next. It looked too pretty to eat but of course, we changed our minds after the first bite. Heavenly!
Wicked Gnocchi came next (trio of kamote gnocchi with arugula and baby prawns in crab fat sauce)- and it paired perfectly well with the Riesling that I brought that day. Riesling and crab is always a classic combination!
The main event was a slow-roasted, grass-fed rib-eye steak marinated in bagoong and garlic with garlic mash and Ifugao rice risotto with assorted mushrooms. The bagoong (shrimp paste) flavor was very subtle and didn’t drown out the flavors of the beef itself. I enjoyed this very much!
You’d think after all that food we won’t have room for anymore. Well, dessert came and of course, that was devoured in minutes, too. Feast your eyes on this Pan De Sal-Tsokolate Eh Pudding with Chocnut Cream.
All that food in my belly made me sleepy. It’s a good thing we could walk around the Farm Stand. I bought some local barako coffee that I now enjoy every morning at home.
The whole Moveable Feast experience was truly unforgettable. I can’t wait to do it again. And if you’re ready to eat, drink and be moved, then head on over to movefeast.com to find out about the next farm-to-table experience. Seats are limited so hurry!
When people read my blog for the first time, they always ask me- “What makes you a nomad?” When I tell them about the kind of life our family has signed up for (moving countries every 3-5 years), more than a handful of them say, “You guys are crazy!” On some days, like today, when the uncertainty of the future is looming ahead, I tend to agree with them. Yes, we are crazy but we are also quite resilient people. Upping and leaving (with your entire household) to make a new life for yourself in a new country where nobody speaks your language tends to do that to you. You can stretch us almost to the point of breaking but when you let go, we remain intact.
Almost 2 years ago, I wrote down this list (in my old blog permanent-nomad.livejournal.com) to remind myself why our life as a nomad family is a good thing. I thought it would be good to read thru this again just to remind myself what a blessing the past 13 years have been.
1. This kind of life has allowed our family to grow solidly together. Being in a new culture and environment every couple of years has made us depend on each other more than the average family. We seek each other out more- we enjoy each other’s company- we like to do things together- precisely because for the first few months, at least, we have nobody. And that results in a stronger family unit. I think that, alone, is reason enough but let me give you more.
2. Living in a different country, learning a different language and fully immersing ourselves in a different culture has made us more accepting of all kinds of people. My kids are growing up without any gender or race-biases. They learn- simply by living- that the world is made up of Americans, Chinese, Italians, Africans, Indonesians, Filipinos, etc. etc. And they are totally fine with that. They can relate to anybody and can live anywhere. It has made all of us a bit more flexible and a lot more forgiving.
3. The world is our classroom. People like us have to continuously learn new ways of doing things and relating with people. We can never allow ourselves to become stagnant. It makes us and our relationships with others more dynamic, more exciting. We take nothing forgranted. Each experience is new- and that is fantastic! There is nothing I dislike more than people who feel that they’ve “been there and done that.” I am just happy that I am raising children who, hopefully, will not be like that. Call it cliché- but it is true that nothing educates you better than travelling. That can be said of taking vacations alone. How much more when you’re living in a place- not just visiting it, right?
4. I feel connected to a much bigger world than the microscopic one that I live in everyday. In a small city like Manila, I come across people everyday who feel like they’re gods (or goddesses) just because they have the right surname or address. In reality, they are but a speck in the BIG universe. Having money, power and a big house in Forbes Park means nothing in the busy city of Hong Kong where gazillionaires make or break deals everyday. A Turkish fisherman couldn’t care less who does your hair or what bag you carry. My kids are growing up in that kind of an environment and I like it to stay that way.
5. We have friends and a home anywhere in the world. Of all the things that we have accumulated over the past 11 years of expatriate life, it is the people we’ve met and made friends with that we treasure the most. I am willing to bet that if you close your eyes and point to any part of the map, we will have a friend living there. It’s like the whole world is really our village. And there is nothing cooler than that.