road trip: camp benjamin + don limone

Back in October, my good friend Ar and I went on a sisterly date bec the rest of the girls were busy with domestic duties –laundry, store-keeping, mopping, cooking, feeding the kids and probably keeping a close eye of the husbands. 😀 And just bec Ar and I have minimal issues like that it’s always a go esp when Ar’s Saturdays are free from boring board meets.

It’s a carefree day, which I love, there was no itinerary to follow. We really didn’t plan anything but days before our “gala” I scouted a few restos around. I don’t want us to settle to the usual and besides I want someplace where we could hangout long, ideally away from the coveted and crowded Tagaytay.

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I checked Camp Benjamin in Alfonso, I’ve been seeing friends on my timeline visiting the place. I eventually got curious esp that the pictures I’ve seen were farm-like.

Camp Benjamin. <excerpt from the official site>

It started with the dream of its founders and funders to give their best to the Lord (notwithstanding their earthly possessions and talents) to attend to battle-weary souls in a secure, relaxing, farm-like and yet modern-looking camp. The goal is to nurture them back to uncanny strength, vigor and conviction — ready to serve the world again much like the Benjamins’ of old and the “Benjamins” we see today serving people with a warrior’s courage and a servant’s heart.

For all that enters its gate, CB is anchored on two-pronged vision of wellness and transformation – a learning facility at its core and a place for physical restoration. It uses as much organic methods (farm life if you may) as it could to restore people’s health and strength while at the same time showcases advances in technology that inspire the mind and makes the world a better place to live in.

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I guess with the camp’s vision alone, I’m sold! 🙂 I’d like to spend some time at this place and have a peaceful sojourn. I wish the girls and I can spend a night getaway again. Anyway, we arrived at CB around 3pm, we headed at Mon’s Restaurant bec we’re up to a late lunch or consider it as an early dinner, either way in our case. Mon’s is a fusion of modern and traditional taste and accordingly ingredients are locally grown and sourced from a nearby farm, probably at the neighboring Win Farm.

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We ordered a full set and probably the house specialties. On our table (sorry no close-up photo of Crispy Kare-Kare and Ginataang Puso),

CHICKEN ADOBONG MANOK SA TABLEA
Classic Chicken Adobo cooked in thick Cocoa sauce

CRISPY KARE-KARE
Crispy Boneless Pork Leg served with sautéed organic vegetables and rich peanut sauce

GINATAANG PUSO NG SAGING
Spicy banana heart in coconut cream sauce wrapped in lettuce leaves

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Amongst, I fancy the chicken adobo and funny how the cocoa sauce didn’t really taste strong despite the thick depiction. I got a little skin of the boneless kare-kare so I can’t really tell how it fare. The ginataan dish was excellent bec the gata was heavy the way I like it. Really, I enjoyed the meal but not exceedingly impressive for me bec I was feeling under the weather that time and my palate was bland. Nevertheless, I love Mon’s because of its hill side location, it’s literally a breath of fresh air, homey feel I love. We skipped getting dessert at Mon’s although I was eyeing to try the Bibingkrep, next time.

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By the way, Tatang G was with us bec ya know I can’t drive besides his presence add a little fun around. Hehehe. Before leaving Camp Benjamin, Ar and I checked the nearby Shalom Hotel, I was wondering if we could peek in at their hotel rooms, unfortunately hotel was fully booked.

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We decided to drive to Tagaytay for dessert, I was considering Twin Lakes but before we hit the main road I asked Tatang G to drive towards Tagaytay proper. We ended at Don Limone. At last cheesecakes!

Don Limone Grill in Tagaytay is easy to miss if you’re not really familiar because the signage along the road was unnoticeable. If you’re coming from Tagaytay-Mendez crossing, it’s on the left side of the road right at the junction where the road splits going to Mahogany Road. The restaurant itself is tucked inside a small residential compound, an insanely quiet neighborhood. I remember when ze husband and I attempt to dine one time, it was early morning because I was thinking of breakfast but they open only until 11am so we left unhappy. This time we arrived almost 6pm, I thought the restaurant would be packed by early diners but lo and behold we were the only guest until we left at around 8pm. A bit weird on a Saturday night eh?

Since we came here for dessert I didn’t bother to check the Mediterranean courses they offer, it’s a bit pricey for me –say lamb chops and lamb shanks, ridiculously expensive! We had the set dessert menu because there is no other choice I think. P400 for a slice of any cheesecake and refillable coffee, kaya sulitin na lang natin sa kape! We got Limoncello, New York and I think Bailey’s (?), we got different flavors so we got to share and taste each, I’m forever partial to NY cheesecake so tapos ang laban. There were also chilled wines, asked for the dessert lines if you’re pairing it with cheesecakes. We had a good chat here bec we own the place, I picked the corner near the bar bec I thought it’s a bit isolated and relax. And bec there were no other guest who came by, the staffs were very attentive. I’d like to go back at Don Limone and sample their espetada and baklava but probably on a daytime bec the place gets a bit creepy at night. Ask Ar and Tatang G they felt spirits would pop anytime and scare the three of us.

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In general, it was a great Saturday with Ar bec we were able to get loose of the weekday hang-up. I look forward to our next meet-up and gala and road trip. ♥

 

 

MON’S RESTAURANT at CAMP BENJAMIN | Alfonso-Maragondon Road, Bgy. Taywanak Ilaya, Alfonso, Cavite | M. 0977-134-9078 or 0919-955-2758 | T.  (046) 683 – 6971 | monsrestaurant@weleadgroup.com

 

DON LIMONE GRILL | 4870 General Emilio Aguinaldo Mendez Crossing East, Tagaytay City | M. +63 9328732316

 

 

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charito by bag of beans

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Oh Sundays and the rainy month of August! My favorite city gets more appealing every time it rains because it’s colder, and fog gets thicker. I don’t know with you but I love the foggy weather, I love the blur scene because I find it rather romantic instead of haunting. So, whenever it rains I look forward to driving along the ridge of Tagaytay and sit down for hours and have a good meal and coffee at past midnight.

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During the first Sunday of August, we visited Charito, the newest branch of Bag of Beans or the high end of it all? I’m not sure about this but once you walk passed through this new dining place there’s this feel of grace. It’s too pretty to describe and every corner prove charm. I easily fall. Well, there’s really nothing special that night, there was no occasion or something like of a celebration, we just wanted a good meal after Sunday mass and I think we hit the spot.

Oh Charito! By the entrance we were greeted by the courteous staff and seated us right away. Whew! Thank God for the big space despite the flock of guest that time. We were seated semi-outdoor which I think was just right because we get to enjoy the cold breeze and fresher scent of nature. The same al fresco tables would be perfect during the day because there’s a good view of Taal and the mountains and all the greenery around. I need to check it during the morning I think, next time maybe. The menu was very simple yet limited at the same time, there’s more food item at the original branch, no pizza at Charito for instance. Because I’m so wowed at everything in Charito, I felt the need to eat something not just good, should be grandeur and expensive so I would totally fit in. 😀

I wanted a good rice meal at first but later on decided that mashed potato was rather perfect to complement the fine dining echos.

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Nanay had this Grilled Pork Chop “Bob Style”, it’s a thick slab of marinated pork grilled to perfection. Yes, it’s thick at almost an inch and big, so its P450 price is sulit. This is good for sharing. By the way, ask for extra mushroom gravy sauce and enjoy your meat.

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Ze husband was on his ever uncooperative self, always wanting something different when in fact I thought all of us were getting an entrée. He had Capricciosa, pasta dish with shrimps, garlic, olive oil, sundried tomatoes, bell peppers and basil. Well, at least he didn’t end up complaining about the food because he finished his in no time.

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I got my favorite of course, Baby Back Ribs –slow braised pork ribs with barbeque sauce. The size was half slab so I’m not sharing. Hehehe. 🙂 Kiddin’ aside the meat was tender, fall-off the bone the way I love it. The buttered garden vegetable was perfect, I suggest you try any of their entrée to enjoy these generous serving of veggies.

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After dinner husband and I both have coffee to kill time, thought it was too early to drive home despite its being Sunday because we’re taking a day-off from work the following day, hehehe. I had Café Latte only while ze husband had his usual Bottomless Baraco.

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I scanned menu for dessert and settled for Chocolate Mousse. If you’d ask me, this is the part where Bag of Beans always fails me. Dessert is always a miss. I wish they’ll just commissioned good cakes if their chefs can’t make a fine one, please.

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Just so you know how charming in white Charito is, I took some photo other than my photo don’t do much justice. I highly suggest the place for family weekend, girl bonding with your closest and date night with your loves.

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Charito I fell for you. ♥

 

 

Charito by Bag of Beans | Reservations are accepted : Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway, Tagaytay | T. (02) 483-1279

 

café breton at the cliffhouse, revisited

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Every mention of Café Breton brings back the nostalgia of circa 2007 –heydays in Makati, memorable wedding of my dear friend Tata, the good old days with lesser challenge and early stages of my married life. I remember the last visit in 2010 at the Greenbelt branch; it was Tata’s send-off again after her short vacay here in Manila. And in 2013, I got the chance to visit this branch in Tagaytay for the first time, beating the Monday blues was my drama if you remember that moment. Yes, I’m the other extreme of ze husband who loves Tagaytay better when there are only a handful of cars around; I never liked the jam-packed coffee shops and restaurants. While ze husband finds it boring when Tagaytay seems like a ghost city of sorts. Anyway, it may be the reason why we attract, we’re opposite in so many ways. Char!

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Back in July of last year, I was able to make excuses and visit Café Breton at the Cliffhouse once again. Actually, I just want to kill time, some quiet time other than the kiddos of course were in tow. I told the bigger kiddo that crepe was divine at CB and perfect for coffee but the smaller kiddo, knowing how he would purposely order something out of the ordinary, he had a tall cup of milk.

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Butter and Sugar Dessert Crepe for me and Ala Nutella for SAM (not in photo)

While SAM and I had cappuccino and caramel and crepes.

I remember us also getting these favorites –Breton Mozzarella Burger and Egg Casserole

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Breton Mozzarella Burger. Juicy all beef burger patty with sautéed onions and mushrooms with a mozzarella surprise

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Egg Casserole. 2 eggs coddled in cream, drizzled with gruyere, topped with mushrooms sautéed in garlic on a bed spinach, served with buttered toast strips. I wish they could serve more bread toast. This became an instant favorite too! Oh, how I wish gruyere is cheap so I can always copy this recipe at home.

It was the hearty meal and homey feels at Café Breton that keeps me going back.

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I don’t know with you but I love lounging around, I love to be idle on Saturday afternoons, I really love to do nothing but spoil my butt and sit for hours and people watch. I love the smells after each rain –fresh cut grass and pines, I love it when my world slows down and I don’t need to dash something off. Oh life.    

 

Café Breton – CliffHouse Tagaytay | Km. 58 General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway Maharlika East, Tagaytay City  | T. (046) 483 2110

 

 

buon giorno, revisited

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Not the first time to review Buon Giorno at the Cliffhouse in Tagaytay however, the second visit last January was far more remarkable because we got to celebrate SAM’s birthday there. The lady preferred Italianni’s but the last time I checked the nearest is Nuvali, on a Sunday night, hello Samantha! We asked her again and she remained warts and all with something as authentic as Italianni’s, I dunno who suggested but we found ourselves driving right away at the Cliffhouse for that Italian fix.

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Buon Giorno in Tagaytay is quite a charm, the atmosphere is love and the food is divine! ♥

Because we arrived dinner time, we have to wait for a few minutes before we got a good seat indoor. The al-fresco dining wasn’t a good option during the cold months unless you want to eat cold pizza, cold pasta and cold meats. I wanted to savor dinner slowly, please.

Since we’re celebrating a milestone for our young lady, sweeter sixteen (and I feel much older by now, hay!), we ordered a lot and wiped everything with so much gusto.

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We had sorts of pasta dishes and pizza, time to drool a little 🙂

Fettuccini Alla Carbonara. A classic Roman pasta rich with cream and eggs. The birthday celebrator finished this plate all by herself, no sharing on this day for her.

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Spaghetti Vongole e Gambarretti. Spaghetti served with clams and shrimps. I shared this with everyone because there is so much food; I can’t actually pick what to eat first.

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Pescatore Alla Puttanesca. An assortment of seafood on spicy and peppery tomato sauce. Somebody wolfed down this pasta plate in a minute that fast, whew!

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Al Margherita. Tomato, mozzarella, basil. Blissful simplicity. Who doesn’t love oven brick pizzas? It was freshly made, I wish I’d learn how to pair my pizza with wines, say a fuller-bodied white wine, or champagne, oh sparkling would be a nicer choice I guess. 😀

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Hawaiian. Ham pizza with sweet and sour bits of pineapple. This is for the kiddos. And Mini Burgers and Fries. For the kiddos again. (no photo)

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Baby Back Ribs. Meaty and tender pork ribs complimented with special barbecue sauce. I’m an avid fan, I’m overly please everytime you’d served me a full rack baby back and salad, Sicilian please.

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Risotto Crimoso con Salmone Affumicto e Asparagi. Creamy risotto with smoked salmon and asparagus. Probably this one was a trial and error. We don’t normally order risotto because it’s an acquired taste tho you can start with the less complicated flavors like mushroom and bacon. I’m no expert yet to probe the best risotto so far, but this one at Buon Giorno was impressive and tasty. I love its creamy consistency.

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I cannot attest the authenticity of Buon Giorno’s Italian cooking other than it pleases our palate, a comeback is a must. By then, let’s date over with wine. And I really love to learn, how to be a wine connoisseur eh?

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P.S. It was a happy birthday for our young lady. Like what we’ve been telling you don’t settle as the better option, always be the best. And may you learn to value most the people who love and trust you. ♥

 

 

Buon Giorno Caffe and Bistro-Tagaytay | 4 Cliff House Tagaytay City, Cavite | T. 046 483-2102

 

 

a september to remember

September went by so fast; I can’t catch up especially on this blog because ever since August I tried to lure myself to more work to keep me occupied. In a way I felt I succeeded in distracting myself, I felt relief despite the many issues creeping around and I felt sleep was always available without too much effort this time.

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Anyhow, this was how I started and ended September. ♥

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A good brunch to commence the first week of ber months. We’re all first-timer at IHOP, the famed US restaurant for its breakfast plates and pancakes. At past 10am on a Sunday, the place was already packed; I believe most were joggers and walkers around BGC. I was a bit sick that morning because my tummy hurts, so despite the many offers at IHOP I limited mine to omelette.

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Create Your Perfect Omelette –Spinach and Jack (cheddar cheese), it’s a huge omelette! I’m guessing three eggs all in, how’s that? Hello cholesterol! I missed the last part which says, plus one delicious side so I was served three buttermilk pancakes. I’d like to ask, is it the default side if the customers do not have a specific request or they’d assume I like pancakes better than hash browns, toasts or fresh fruits? Had I known the choices I’d go for toasts or fresh fruits. Well, there’s always a next time.

Ze husband dearie went to order from the Filipino breakfast meals, Pinoy’s favorite silog meals in short. He had Beef Tapa (apology for the absence of photo but you can check his IG), very generous serving of tapa with garlic rice and two sunny side up eggs. I love his plate other than I’m really controlling myself not to fork any from his plate, oh beef!

My sister Che was our brunch date that time, she had Sunday work so before going on her 1pm shift she spends time with us. She got herself the Breakfast Sampler; I’m assuming dinner would be the next meal after her big plate.

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Breakfast Sampler. Says two is the magic number! That’s two eggs, two crispy bacon strips, two pork sausage links, two piece of ham, two fluffy buttermilk pancakes and golden hash browns. Pancakes again?

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Had I known we had many pancakes already I should have skipped ordering another one for…dessert. 😀 Strawberry Banana Pancakes that looks luscious however, it would have looked better if the strawberries were fresh. I have to say my honest opinion about their pancakes, not the best in town though especially that my standard of a good pancake is that of McDonald’s only –slightly chewy, well it’s me.

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IHOP wasn’t really that impressive based on my first time experience, prices were a bit overrated too other than ze husband and I would still welcome a second come back, maybe soon after?

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*Moi obsessing to paella nowadays 😛

Then, a month after Tatay’s passing away we squeezed a family day out at Josephine’s, one of his favorite restaurants in Tagaytay. Read here.

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Mid month my consolidator from SG visited Manila and invited us over dinner at Dad’s Megamall, it was nice seeing Mr. Tay once again and his pretty daughter, Clara. Guess what? I’m visiting him in return tho it may delay because of the current changes at the workplace; I know it’d turn out fun and exciting, I can’t wait! 🙂

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Back at the office, we had a staff birthday, Mel is part of the new bitches este batch I’m currently training. Happy Birthday Kelly! just because I thought she has this big resemblance with the charming and beauty Kelly Misa.

We also got to observe Tatay’s 40 days last September; a simple merienda cena was prepared for the neighborhood and relatives. Took this opportunity also to attend to legal matters and other proceedings including the unfinished house. I still miss Tatay everyday, his unselfishness and even his grumpiness. Sigh!

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And because September 25 was declared a holiday I was able to make time with my high school girls, the two boys were extra just don’t mind them, hehehe, peace Greg and JMV. We visited Alma after her recent open surgery plus it became a belated birthday surprise for her. I miss the girls and the chitchats, and tho we’re all settled and been living differently now we still hang out like yesterday because I’d like to believe that we’ve invested a good amount of faith to one another. We don’t mind the distance, the shortage of time spent and even if we don’t do meet ups regularly, we’re assured that we’ll always have each other’s back.

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Thank you for the friendship LEARA (Lecel-Elna-Arlene-Rosavilma-Alma), I love you girls! ♥

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Holidays also became the avenue for the maternals meet ups and get together and because we have regular bingo games at home (after Tatay’s death), it’s not so hard to pull everyone together especially if there’s a pledge to eat out later on. So we did, one time at McDonald’s Taal Vista at midnight after the black out game. Hmmmnnn, Mer-Ben Tapsilog next or let’s do a repeat of 7-11 order-all-you-can.

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*random weekend night at 7-11 

On the last Sunday of September, we’re able to squeeze a day out once more with Nanay, Che and the kids had a party to attend then. After Sunday mass at The Little Souls we visited The Dining Room at Gourmet Farms. I thought the second time’s a charm, not in all occurrences I assume now.

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I love The Dining Room’s because of its all white walls, high-ceiling, big windows, wooden fixtures; it’s everything I love into dining spaces. There’s this feel of quietness and nostalgia, overall pleasant in my opinion.

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Menu was limited, so we thought we made a good choice and started with their Salad Buffet. Tho a bit pricey for Tagaytay’s abundant harvest of fresh greens if I may say. At P400+ for this plate, I can have too many greens already at the supermarket.

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Oh, thank you for the complimentary lettuce chips and dip.

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Nanay had a warm rice meal, Herb Baked Chicken, a pretty entrée.

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While ze husband and I each had a pasta plate –Classic Carbonara and my favorite Vongole.

I don’t know if it’s just us, we even jokingly assumed that the chef that day must be on his day off because both our pasta dishes were salty to our palate. The carbonara was permissible because of its generous bacon however, the Vongole was a different story.

I had to silently return the plate because I can’t stand the saltiness; it was like biting my tongue. The replacement came after a few more minutes, still salty but tolerable this time. I didn’t finish the plate tho, al dente is far different from uncooked, I fear my stomach will hurt later on.

I don’t know if the instances that day was an isolated one, probably a miscalculation other than I think The Dining Room which is synonymous to Gourmet should be very cautious on food preparation because they need to live on what they preach, freshest, finest and healthy eats I guess.

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Anyhow, I’m apt to make a comeback sometime and try their pizza, let’s see how they’ll fare.

Oh September, you’ve been a busy one. October went by so quick yet full of treats as well. And yes, it’s November now, it’s Christmas Day in a few weeks time, while everything is happening so nippy there’s this rip of sadness I can’t always cover up. How can you celebrate Christmas without the happy colors this time eh?

 

 

P.S. Our Astro Boi is turning a year old this month, he’s been a healthy pup and adorable and obedient to Momi and Dadi.

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His disability was never a concern because he’s a happy pup, we’re wishing him a life long filled with happy memories only. 🙂

 

IHOP | Fort Bonifacio W. Global Center, 30th St. cor. 9th Ave., Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, 9th Ave, Taguig, Metro Manila | T. +63 2 6875611

The Dining Room | Km. 52, Aguinaldo Highway, Buho, Silang Cavite | T. +63 46  8651064 Look for Fernan or Albert

 

family weekend | happy b-day P

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In March, we marked Kuya P’s 8th birthday but since it fell on a weekday most of us have work –the kids have school, the parental were likewise busy with errands except for the dogs who probably don’t mind the supposed celebration at all. So, that weekend the fambam went out to an early dinner to have a little party for our baby boy. Kuya P despite his built is still a baby. 🙂

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For a change from the usual pick we drove towards Skyranch and took our chance to explore the new line-up of restaurants we haven’t tried yet as a family. I decided for Uncle Cheffy because I’ve been craving for bbq ribs and UC’s won’t disappoint I was thinking.

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Uncle Cheffy at the Skyranch was spacious –perfect for big groups like us, modern yet minimalist and well-ventilated, except for the rays of the afternoon sun that’s naturally coming in at some part of the resto. Because I’m not new to UC, I can pinpoint right away what I want other than we have kids in tow plus we have seniors so we need to consider their preferences.

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We had Mini Ukoy with Visayan Sauce, this one I think from Kuse menu which is another restaurant of the Uncle Cheffy Group. It was crispy and flavorful, everyone loves it.

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Grilled Prawns & Pomelo Salad in Roasted Sesame Vinaigrette, a personal favorite only that I was a disappointed with the small serving and undersized prawns. I think restaurants who’d consider branching out should also consider standards, like quality and quantity among others because regular customers would normally compare. Considering also Tagaytay’s abundance of fresh and cheap lettuce harvest I was expecting a generous serving of greens.

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My much raved Pork BBQ Ribs, we got a whole order to share. The best part of ordering this dish is it already comes with a big bowl of rice.

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Because UC is known for their oven-bricked panizza I didn’t skipped getting one tho I’m not really impressed with their version because I’m forever partial to C’ Italian.

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I already forgot the panizza flavor we got, it’s cheesy but was lacking the crisp and it’s too messy to roll plus there weren’t any alfalfa sprouts. 😦

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For the kiddo we had an order Spaghetti Alejandro, kiddie style because we requested to adjust the flavors for it to be kid friendly.

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Pancit Lucban from Kuse menu, I know aside from our Mini Ukoy appetizer this seems not to blend with the rest of our orders but this tasted good according to the parental.

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As an added treat to our birthday boy he was allowed to enjoy few rides at the bordering Sky Ranch.

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It may be a simple birthday celebration other than the happiness from our birthday boy was genuine.

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In a few years from now he will start to go out with boys of his age, gone are the days he’d bug us about Tagaytay and Starbucks, he would soon transform, so while he’s still child-like and clingy we’ll savor every moment there is. Happy Birthday Kuya P! ♥

 

 

Uncle Cheffy & Kuse – Skyranch | Skyranch, Tagaytay City | T. +63 9053013480