Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Random adventures in food

 My aunt sent us a big slab of smoked salmon and I thought I'd make a salmon and cream cheese spread just like the one Chef Jessie Sincioco of 100 Revolving Restaurant makes.
 I made the first half of the salmon as instructed in the box, cooked in butter and lemon. It was okay, but I added lots of fried garlic for an added kick!

For the sandwich spread, I bought cream cheese and spring onion.
 I just chopped the salmon up and added the cheese and spring onion. It was good, but not as good as Chef Jessie's.
 One of my favorite restos when I'm sick of the usual fast food is Bacolod Chicken Inasal. The food is always flavorful and the prices quite reasonable. I love their Batchoy (solo with egg, P85)
Lemonade at P59 to slice through the MSG :D 
I've also tried their chicken combo meals and I left feeling very satisfied. In fact, the only thing I didn't like is that their buko pandan dessert has kaong or nata de coco bits. I'm a purist. Just the coconut and gelatin, please!
Another old reliable is French Baker. I always went here back in my college days when I felt like I deserved a reward. They are a tad pricier than most fast food restos, but the food is consistently excellent, just don't ask me if they're really French!
 You can order anything on their menu and I bet you'll be satisfied! Mama ordered the steak sandwich (P110) and she said it was excellent.
 I always order the Burger steak. The beef is so juicy  and the serving is so generous! Really worth it at  P125!
They've also jumped onto the cronut bandwagon but my mom was hesistant to buy a lot for fear of being disappointed. We really shouldn't have doubted French Baker. This was one of the best I've tasted! And at just P68, the best value for money! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day at Italianni's plus some other restos

 We haven't been to Italianni's in quite a while but thanks to a gift certificate from Twinx, we found the perfect opportunity to use it ---Father's Day!

We always order the spinach and artichoke dip (P525).

 Incidentally, a gift certificate for this dish was also what led us to Italianni's the first time we went here! That was sometime in 2000 or 2001, in its original location, before it moved to Greenbelt 2.
We were given the complimentary bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to which Jon asked "Is this for free?" We've been coming back ever since.
Caesar's salad for sharing (P450) 

They've changed the plating so much so that the meals couldn't quite fit out table for four. Mama had to distribute the contents of each dish just so we could have room for the next dish.
Detail: a sign that says the salad is organic

We also had the Farmer's Bundle for P1345 which consisted of:

Baby back ribs--quite tasty and fall-off-the-bone soft;

herbed chicken--- nothing special, just ok;

and the pasta in olive oil and garlic. good, and just a wee bit spicy.  

Mama also ordered the Seafood and vegetables (P450)  which has assorted cuts of fish, mussels and clamsin white wine. Very nice, but made even better by the rice that came with it (So Filipino!)
We also had bottomless/unlimited servings of iced tea and dalandan juice at P105 each.

All in all, the bill came up to P2,365 after they deducted the gift certificate and the senior citizen's discount. Still quite pricey for our taste. The food is still very good  but if you want value for money, check out North Park. It's a chinese reataurant that serves top-notch food at reasonable prices

Shanghai chicken (P283)

Sweet and sour pork (256)

Chow mein (P300)

Ampalaya con carne (Bitter gourd and beef) P234

 No picture of the yang chow fried rice and delicious jasmine rice
The total bill for a group of 5 was just a little above P2,000.

Meanwhile, if you want dessert, Nathaniel's delicious buko pandan is now available in Alabang! 
We went there recently to buy dessert and also try out their merienda meals
Sadly, their non-specialty items are disappointing
The lasagna was good enough, very cheesy (P100)

 But the pancit guisado (P70) and miki bihon were very salty! Maybe so customers would order drinks or their puto pao?
Miki-bihon (P70)

Luckily, my lomi was quite good  but pricey at P95. 

My advice, stick to the buko pandan and maybe try their siomai. The buko pandan juice at P50 is also quite refreshing.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mother's Day in Cristina Villas, Antipolo

 I had never spent the night in Antipolo and we hadn't gone out for summer yet so I thought, why don't we combine our annual pilgrimage, our summer vacation and Mother's Day in one trip?
 We rented a van from a family friend and got my Tita Lita and Tita Ester as well as my sister and her family to come along.
Unfortunately, all the cheaper hotels were already fully-booked 2 weeks before Mother's Day. We had no choice but to reserve 2 family rooms at Cristina Villas. My officemate from Antipolo recommended this place and said that its not so near the city so it's more peaceful. The weird thing is, they do not maintain their facebook page and they don't have an active website, so all your queries about room rates and rules have to be directed to their landline phone number.

Another weird thing is that the standard rooms cost P3,500/night with breakfast for 2.  But their family room costs P4,500/night with breakfast for 2 people only. You have to add P600 for every additional person in the family room! How weird, right? Breakfast is included as well as towels, soaps and shampoo. Bring your own toothbrush and toothpaste.

The weirdest thing of all is that after I had paid the 50% deposit though BDO and sent my receipt via email, when I checked in on Saturday after lunch, they asked me how much did the person i talked to say the rooms were... what?  Does it mean you can haggle for a lower price than the published rate?

 Anyway, they did allow us to check-in earlier than 2PM. What I really regret is not asking them if we could bring food inside the hotel. Because the answer is a resounding YES! Most hotels don't allow this, but Cristina Villas has a very relaxed attitude about food in their rooms and in their resort.

 In fairness, our family rooms wer spacious and looked very clean and new.  But they were undergoing renovation (during the peak season?) and we had the bad luck of being on the third floor and there was an unpleasant, rusty odor on that flor that permeated the rooms.  Fortunately, my parents and aunts were on the 2nd floor and didn't have to endure the smell, though we got used to it.
Nope, this isn't part of our room. This is the common area verandah of the 2nd floor.
 The beds have pull out beds underneath. Another piece of advice, they will charge you a refundable fee of P1,000 for the remote control.
 The place is huge with lots of pools to choose from. But if you're looking for peace and quiet, look elsewhere. The resort offrs day tours and night tours at P150/person so the place is always full on weekends!
 Also note that the way to the pools require lots of climbing up steps or steep paths, which is very tiring for senior citizens.
 They also close most of the pools from 4-6pm, which is also around the time their day tour guest have to leave. This can be a bit frustrating for the hotel guests like my dad, who had to keep on transferring to another pool as the lifeguards kept telling him the pool was closing down for cleaning.

 The do have impressive bathrooms/changing rooms for the day tour guests.

 View of the sun as it sets over Manila

 But their restaurant is disappointing. The menu is limited and not all that varied. Mostly fried stuff that tasted bland and uninspired. I think it's because they expect people would bring their own food to save money.
It's just too bad our driver had to go back to Manila so we had no choice but to eat there. All the restos were just too far away, or too expensive like Viex Chalet.

 I did like their selection of books and magazines
 They also have cakes, coffee  and chicken pies

 On Fridays and Saturdays, they have movie night on the viewing deck. But it's really just a projector with a whiteboard as the screen.
 Our free breakfast choices were wither lonnganisa, tocino or bangus, plus coffee or iced tea. Tapa wasn't available.

 While waiting, you can try feeding the fish jist outside the resto.
 The viewing deck early in the morning.

 Their topmost pool has a man-made waterfall that spills down to a small infinity pool.

 View from above.
 Further up you can see a treehouse  and a bridge made to look like it's made of branches.
Crisitna Villas is just ok. Their rooms are new and clean but their staff needs more training. They have a great view and their pools are nice, but next time, I'll try the Eugenio Lopez Center for a few pesos more.
Day tour rates and published cottage rates


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