Thursday 30 June 2011

Sights: PAMPANGA's Hot Air Balloon Festival

I remember back then, I was a kid who wasnt fascinated with baloons. I didnt get the point of having to hold on a 'floating toy'. But last February at Pampanga's Hot Air Balloon Festival, I found myself glaring with glee at the gigantic hot air balloons.

Hot Air Balloon Festival

Before the balloons took flight there were Para Gliders prancing around the skies.

Para Gliders

As the balloons took its form, I found myself excitedly running from one model to another to take a closer look. When the hot air balloons took flight and filled the sky, it was a simple and pleasurable spectacle.

Hot Air Balloons takes the Sky

Some of my favorite hot air balloons...

APirate Kid inside a Barrel


A Mushroom House for Elves

Farmhouse with Farm Animals

Darth Vader!!!

Cute hot air balloon scale models.

Balloon Replicas Souveniers

There were was still a full day of scheduled events that follow but we decided to leave to start our Pampanga's foodie trip.

Price: Php150 per person
Location: AFP grounds inside Clark Freeport. Pampanga

Travel Tip: Pre-purchase the tickets, lines can really be long at the entrance. Be sure to be there early, you don't want to miss the balloon take-off.

Friday 24 June 2011

Spices: La Tienda

When somebody asked me where to have good Paella, the first restaurant that came to mind was La Tienda. An institution in Makati that serves one of the best Paella found in the country.

The resto has an old and classy ambiance. Be sure to wear something decent, no shorts and flip-flops. The resto follows a proper dress code when you want to dine there.

Inside La Tienda

Make sure to order your Paella as soon as you arrive, it has to be cooked and prepared for 30 to 45 mins before it is served.  While waiting for our Paella, we ordered Tapas and nibbled on the complimentary bread and breadsticks.

The Spanish Chorizo tasted great, it was juicy and bursting with flavor. I was eating piece after piece of this succulent treat.

Chorizo Frito Php 210

The Patatas Bravas (fried potatoes with tomato sauce) was uniquely delicious. I've never tasted tomato sauce prepared in this manner. When the dish came out, I though the potatoes where squash because of its color. The sauce was infused with different herbs and the most important component, paprika.

Patatas Bravas Php 320

This was my first time to try Gazpacho, a chilled tomato soup. I really dislike toamto juice so I was a little worried on how I would like the soup. The soup tasted like a cold version of the patatas bravs' sauce. The soup might taste weird for some but I liked it. It was refreshing and different.

Gazpacho Php 200

When the main attraction was served, not only did it looked awesome, it also smelled beautifully. The Paella was absolutely fantastic. The rice was cooked perfectly and the flavors hits the right spot. As what the Spaniards say, the Paella was "enso un punto". I was with someone who was recently been in Barcelona and she said the Paella was like the one she had back there, now that's what I call authentic Paella.

Paella Mixta De La Tienda Php 645

La Tienda

La Tienda
Address: 43 Polaris St., Bel-Air Makati, Metro Manila
Tel No: (632) 890-4123 

Thursday 16 June 2011

Spices: CAGAYAN DE ORO Deliciously Affordable

It is given that prices of food in provinces are way cheaper compared to Manila. Sometimes this also translates to eating ordinary food. But  Cagayan De Oro's restaurants served one delicious meal one after the other.

Our first meal was in Sentro 1850, a casual dining restaurant that serves Continental-Filipino dishes.
Upon checking on the menu, we were surprised on how cheap each dish were. Most dishes were under Php300.
Address:  Don A. Velez St. (near Divisoria)


The Grilled Swordfish was the first to be served, it came with rice and lemon butter sauce. Just looking at the grill marks made me excited. The fish was cooked to perfection, it has a char grilled flavor outside and a soft and moist center. This was the unanimous favorite among all the dishes we ordered.

Grilled Swordfish

Ima's Lechon Kawali(Deep Fried Pork Belly) was huge. In Manila, lechon kawali is usually served in bite size portion so when this dish came my eyes widened as this huge chunk of a meat was placed in front of us. The dish would have been perfect if the skin was left in the fryer for a couple of minutes more. But still it was delectable and appetizing.

Ima's Lechon Kawali

I had low expectations with the Roast Beef when we ordered it. When I saw how the slices of beef still has a pinkish colored center, I knew that this restaurant definitely knows how to cook good food.

Roast Beef

After dining at Sentro, we headed ot Divisoria. Every Friday and Saturday, make sure to visit this area, the whole place turns into a festive foodie haven. Rows of food stalls occupies the streets with the aroma of Barbecues fills the air. There are a variety of grilled items to choose from. Chicken, Pork, Tuna, Squid are the main staple. Prices would range from Php50 to Php100.


The Kilawin na Tuna (Tuna Ceviche) was absolutely top notch. Fresh Tuna soaked in a sweet, sour and spicy vinegar concoction.

Kilawin na Tuna (Tuna Ceviche)

After Rafting, we ended in a restaurant that provided shower rooms for customers who dines there. The resto serves mostly grilled foods that costs roughly around Php150 to Php200. We ordered the Dory Fish and Shrimp Combo, the Lechon Baka (Roasted Calf) and the Tuna Belly. All the meals included rice and a siding of Atsara (pickled papaya).

The Restaurant at the end of the River

Shrimp and Dory Combo

Lechon Baka (Roasted Calf)

Among the three dishes, the Tuna Belly is the only one worth its price. A thick cut of grilled tuna with just salt and pepper on. Yum!

Grilled Tuna Belly

That night we headed to La Vetta, one of CDO's must-visit restaurant. A French-Mediterranean restaurant that exudes a casual fine dining vibe. It would only cost around Php400 and above per person to partake in beautifully prepared and great tasting food.
Address:Rosario Arcade, Limketkai Center

La Vetta

The place looks simple for a fine dining resto. For me this is can be considered as an advantage for it won't intimidate people to enter and dine here.

Inside La Vetta

The Pizza tasted ok. The crust was not to my liking.

La Vetta's Pizza

The Salmon Pasta tasted awesome, it was light yet flavorful. Pasta was al dente and the salmon was cooked perfectly, it was soft and moist.

Salmon Pasta

The Red Grouper dish came with a side of mashed potatoes plus a little cute muffin on the side. This dish didn't even last for 10 minutes on the table. We wolfed it down with enthusiasm as it was divine and delicious.

Red Grouper

I was wondering why the Beef Carpaccio was served in the middle of our meal when it was to be an appetizer. After eating a piece of the cured meat drizzled in olive oil with Manchego cheese on top, I instantly knew why. The Carpaccio didnt taste like it came from the chiller, the chef let the meat set for a couple of minutes before serving. And for Php195, this was a steal!

Beef Carpaccio

Since I have been to Cowboy Grill before, I was excited to be back again. The restaurant is found in Bukidnon near Dahilayan Adventure Park. I've never eaten at a restaurant that serves good quality steaks as cheap as here. Steaks costs less than Php300.

The Ostrich Steak was still juicy and succulent like before. For those who are wondering how Ostrich meat tastes like, the texture and taste is similar to beef but a little more tender.

Ostrich Steak

The Lamb Chops serving was huge. I wanted my lamb chops medium rare and I wasn't disappointed, the meat was still pinkish inside. What impressed me was that it was served with mint jelly and honey-mustard, condiments that suits lamb chops well.

Lamb Chops

Though the Babyback Ribs was not 'fall off the bone', it was still decent and seasoned well.

Baby Back Ribs

On our last night in CDO, we went to Kagay-anon to have dinner. I saw different ads and billboards all around CDO, I had high-expectations but it failed miserably. Among all the restaurants that we've dine in, this was the most disappointing.
Address: Rosario Arcade, Limketkai Center

The Seafood Soup barely had seafood in it.

The Ostrich steak was overcooked and drowned in gravy.

The Crispy Tadyang ng Baka (Beef Ribs) was tough.

The Bicol Express was the redeeming dish but still it wasn't really that good.

The worst part of dining here is it was really pricey. Our bill costed Php1,300 for three people.

After having a disappointing dinner, we went out to a wet rainy evening. We were walking around trying to look for a place to keep dry when we came across Missy Bonbon.
Address: Rosario Drive, Limketkai Center

As soon as we stepped in Missy Bonbon, all of us felt warm and comforted. The place is magical, it felt like entering grandma's kitchen. Yellow light fills the place with rows of hanging lamps and big cozy yellow lounge chairs around the corners

Inside Missy Bonbon

Lamps hanging from above

Even the comfort room looks so lively.

Missy Bonbon's Comfort Room

The restaurant/bakeshop serves different kinds of breads, pastries, gelato and meals.

Bread Spread

The Gelato was nice and creamy. I would highly recommend the Bailey's Gelato, this is the first time I've tried an alcoholic gelato and it left a good impression on me. The Gelato has a hint of alcoholic taste. A cup costs Php60.

Going around the bread display, the chiffon cake with cheese on top caught my attention. I bought one to try and as I took my first bite I was blown away on how wonderful it tasted. I stood up and took all the remaining pieces to take back home. Soft buttery chiffon cake envelopes a creamy caramel inside topped with cheese. I can go back to CDO for this treat alone.

Chiffon Cake with a Caramel Center sprinkled with Cheese on Top

There are still a lot of interesting restaurants in CDO. I wish I had more time to try all of them so it only means one thing, I'll definitely be back.