Friday, January 14, 2011

Marco Polo Dinner Buffet

It's been a long while since I last posted in this blog, a few life-changing events happened that made life less boring. Anyway, I'm back. That means I need escapes once again. Yesterday was one of those fortunate days. We were invited to dine at Cafe Marco (Marco Polo) for their dinner buffet. Although it's not our first time, yesterday stood out than the other times we were there. Because of on singular dish that was outstandingly good.

different kinds of bread

I started with an appetizer of Mango-Shrimp salad which I jazzed up by adding baby alfalfa, a cherry tomato, feta cheese, and a dash of bacon flakes for that heart-stopping cholesterol-filled finish. After i devoured all the appetizer on my plate, I headed out to the main course. The usual entrees were able to reach expectations like the pan seared tuna and the prime rib roast. But the star of the night was the Beef Mignon wrapped in bacon which came with a sweet lite soy-based sauce.

mango shrimp salad with alfalfa sprouts, feta cheese, bacon bits, and a cherry tomato

prime roast rib with grilled potato and gravy

two pieces of the beef mignon and partly hidden is the pan-seared tuna

That made my night, and although the dessert did not measure up, the glorious beef more than made up for the shortcoming of the dessert which made for an outstanding dinner.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Flavor of Tiny Kitchen

Little restos have been sprouting in the city. Of course there is the now ubiquitous and always full Lachi's. The newest sensation (for me!) is Tiny Kitchen. I am using the term new quite loosely here because I know they've been around for a couple of years. It's just that I only discovered it a few months ago. The place is really small, I think there are about 5 tiny tables. I am just lucky that I have not yet waited too long for a table. Not yet anyway.

Tiny Kitchen, from what i gathered, started as a bakery. They still have bakery items like focaccia and lady fingers which are my favorites from their oven. For their savory dishes, I think they specialize in Mediterranean cuisine specifically Italian and Spanish. They have paella (I haven't tried it though), a variety of pasta dishes, chicken and fish (specifically maya-maya) dishes among others. The last time we were there , we tried their maya-maya with rosemary, gambas (see photo), and salpicao.

Except for that one nosy and overbearing food server, I love everything about Tiny Kitchen. I really love the subtle flavor of the food (herb-y rather than salty), I like that the portions are not tiny but also not oh-my-gosh-can-I-finish-this big like Trellis (another new resto that we tried). Waiting time is not at all long and the prices are reasonable. I won't say that this is the best resto in Davao but they are definitely growing on me. Tiny Kitchen is currently my favorite.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kadayawan 2010

This post is a bit late but I really want to share some of the images I took while watching the floral parade in the recently concluded Kadayawan festival. It was a memorable day for me because an old man proved to me that there is still goodness in people. I left my car parked not knowing that the passenger windows behind the driver's seat (both windows!) were wide open. If the old man who promised to guard my car did not do his job or he himself took advantage of the situation, he would've gotten my MacBook and some camera lens which were all just lying in the car. I thanked the heavens for the old man while I had a hard time grasping the fact that I was a very blessed man.

But enough of my "emo" on Kadayawan, here are some of the images I saw on that day.

a kid perched on his father's shoulders

this kids were just having fun while they are being paraded all over town

the papier-mâché version of UP's Oblation

float decor, reminiscent of Kublai Milan's statues in People's Park

Melissa Ricks was a thing of beauty

LBC's women

Young men in uniform (DMMA's cadets)

After I recovered from my open-car incident, SM was the next on the agenda to take pictures of the flowers in bloom in the showcase of the Davao Orchid Society.

violet vanda

interesting flora

a little bouquet of red flowers

the queen of all Philippine flowers, the Waling-waling (Vanda sanderiana)

white phalaenopsis

interesting flower (I don't know what this is)

purple dendrobium

yellow dendrobium over a man-made creek

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wild Berry Gardens

Whenever I go to Bukidnon or just feeling like I want to breathe the cool fresh mountain air, I usually go to BUDA. And when I am in BUDA I take my lunch at the Wild Berry Gardens. I only found out about this charming little spot through a Facebook post of one of my wife's friends. I used to only go to the Seagull in the Sky's coffee shop in BUDA so I was excited to come across Wild Berry Gardens.
Wild Berry Gardens is located in a community of Lorega. Lorega is a mountain barangay of Bukidnon's Kitaotao municipality. It is right smack on the border between Davao City and Bukidnon. This quaint little establishment is actually hard to find because it is not located along the highway. One has to take the small dirt road right immediately after the Quarantine Station. Wild Berry Garden is such a lovely place. There is a sense of warmth in the place. The ambiance provides an interesting backdrop for the cool mountain breeze. The owners designed it themselves including the little details like the sunflower mailbox to it's western inspired decor inside the Nowhere Cafe (that's what they call their restaurant).
Wild Berry Gardens also offer overnight accommodations for those who want to experience how it is to spend the night in the mountains. It's very cheap although it is also a very basic accommodation. But the rustic look makes the entire place appealing. As the name suggests, they have wild berries and strawberries in their garden. They actually make jams out of these berries for guests to buy.
What impressed me most though is their cuisine. Their menu is also as simple as the place but the simplicity is what is genius here. Most of the time, while waiting for my lunch, I order their Shot Gun Willy. This is the name they call their chili con carne served with hot pan de sal. I usually have it served in one of the cottages in their garden.
My favorite item to order is the pork tenderloin tips. They also have crispy hito in their menu (both in pics). Wild Berry Gardens is the little mountain resort that could beat the big resort in Buda like the Seagull in the Sky.
Wild Berry Gardens is a better option because it is rustic, quaint, and most of all, the owners are very friendly and accommodating. Their hands-on approach in running this little mountain resort makes one feel very welcome. And this is the reason why I keep coming back.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Unblogged Escapes in Black and White

May 2010 in Batangas and Manila

The Lipa Basilica in Lipa, Batangas

Taal Volcano as seen from Tagaytay

Me @ the Manila Ocean Park

The famous Manila Bay sunset from the breakwater behind SM Mall of Asia

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Camp Sabros: More Than the Zip Lines

I just came back recently from an overnighter in Camp Sabros. Camp Sabros is this small mountain resort in the mountains of Kapatagan in Digos, the capital of the province of Davao del Sur. Kapatagan is known as a food basket for this side of Mindanao because it is the leading producer of vegetables in Davao del Sur. On the onset there is nothing patag (Cebuano for a flat surface of land) about Kapatagan; Camp Sabros after all nestles 4000 feet above sea level according to my GPS. But once one has a visual of Kapatagan from Camp Sabros, it will become apparent why it is named so. Kapatagan is actually a wide plateau, hence the monicker

Kapatagan as seen from the road to Camp Sabros

Camp Sabros, in my opinion is known for 2 things. One would be the zip line, the other is the amazing view. There were 3 zip lines and 1 cable ride there. The shortest of the zip lines is 380 meters, the next is 400 meters while the longest is 800 meters. I tried all of them including the cable ride. The daunting 800 meters is the most exciting because it reaches to amazing speeds and because it is quite long, it takes a long time for the breathtaking view to end.

My friends Marky, Mae, and Jake on the Cable Ride

That's me on the 800 meter zip line

But of all these things, it is the breathtaking view of the highest mountain in the Philippines and on a clear day (it was when I was there) the view of another notable mountain are the reasons why Camp Sabros was a hit for me. Mount Apo, together with Mt. Talomo, is an imposing backdrop towards the south of Davao City and this is my first time to see Mount Apo up close. The view was so good, I can see the steam from Apo's sulfuric vents quite clearly. Towards the south, South Cotabato's very own Mt. Matutum can be seen.
Mount Apo

Mt. Matutum

Add to all these things the chill of the mountain air and the company of good friends, all of these made Camp Sabros unforgettable. Thank you to Jhoi and her HR team for bringing me along. Can't wait for the next escape!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chicco di Caffee is OK

I've been seeing this new coffee shop in town, Chicco di Caffe, for a long time now because it is right smack on my route from the office to our house. I've heard it's somewhat jazzy bordering cool radio ad a lot of times. But I've never really been there. So on one idle night at the office, me and one of my supervisors decided to try it out. Besides we had an excuse, we need to surf non-work related websites to get some pics for our office event.

Upon entering the coffee shop, you can see that they have all the elements of a cozy coffee shop. The lights are not bright, which is good. I ordered a hot cafe mocha and a rocky road brownie.

The coffee, was also good. I was not disappointed. The rocky road brownie, I like very much. Although it fell off my fork and it was a mess to eat because of that, in the end, it's the taste that counts. And it was good.

Chicco di Caffe has nailed all the elements of a good coffee shop. If this coffee shop started during the time BluGre and Basti's Brew started, I would say, it was outstanding. But it came at a time that we already have a clear idea what a cafe should look like, hence I would say the look is more "formulaic" than innovative. I still feel that BluGre is cozier and a lot classier. Chicco di Caffee is ayt, it's ok. But only that, it's just ok. The coffee is ok, again, just ok. To borrow Simon Cowell's line, I am not jumping on my seat. But yet again, ok is good. Betten than Kangaroo and Yellow Haus.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Unblogged Escapes

Fireworks and ticker tape explosion @ the Eraserheads: Final Set concert

Borgy and Jingay @ Feliz Beach Resort, Matina Aplaya

Jean, A-an, & Joanne @ Matina Town Square

Mt. Apo (center) as seen from High Ponds Resort, Binugao, Toril

The Globe @ SM Mall of Asia

My cousin Nin on the foreground with IMAX (MOA) in the background

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Coffee Shop in the Sky

I've been wanting to go an a road trip, for catharsis. I don't want a long road trip, just a short one. Just for a change in scenery, albeit, for a while. When one of my close friend whisked our house guests to Buda, it gave me an idea. The mountains on the border of Davao and Bukidnon is the perfect destination for a short road trip.

I asked two friends from Sutherland to join me, Paul and Jake. Our destination was the Seagull in the Sky coffee shop. It was just an hour and a half drive from the city but the scenery is so much different that one would think that it's no longer Davao City. We arrived in Buda at a little past 6 o'clock in the evening. It was not yet really dark but the wind was blowing really hard on the mountain top. It was cold and the quaint coffee shop was an inviting sight to see.

We immediately orderd coffee, capuccino for both Paul and Jake while I had a French vanilla latte. We also ordered for clubhouse and tuna sandwiches. We went out to their outdoor tables as we are going to smoke. The wind was blowing really hard and it sends chill to our bones. The wind had the pine trees in the area create some really scary but cool noises. We lit up and when our order came, we immediately started sipping our coffee to combat the pleasant but really cold wind. The coffee although was on an interesting plate, it was just average, nothing spectacular. The sandwich was not bad but there was also nothing to gush about. But I guess when people go to this coffee shop in the sky, they are not there for the coffee and the food, they're there for the place itself.

We spent less than an hour in Buda then we headed back to the city. The trip back was not that eventful aside from our talk about how spooky the dark highway had become. I wish we'd arrived earlier to spend more time there.

French Vanilla Latte and Tuna Sandwich

Twilight-ish Pine Trees

The coffee shop in the sky