Sunday 29 December 2013

Spices: Mamou

To end the year, I would like to post about one of the great meals I had this year. I've always heard that Mamou is a good resto to dine in but I never really made a big effort in dining there. We were looking for new places to try out until we saw Mamou, one of the established restos in Serendra that even has already open another branch in Rockwell.

Upon being seated a basket of warm dinner rolls and butter was served.

Complimentary Bread Basket and Butter

Wine prices are kind of steep, we settled for a bottle of French wine from the Haute Medoc region,  a 2008 bottle of Viviers de Carrone.

2008 Viviers De Caronne Haut-Medoc - Php1750

To start we had the Tofu and Smoked Fish Spring Rolls. The crispy fried spring rolls was filled with tofu, ubod or heart of palm and tinapa or smoked fish, served with sweet chili sauce and vinegar. The simple and ingenious creation was delicious, the combination of the flavors and textures complimented each other so well.

Tofu and Smoked Fish Spring Rolls - Php210

Mamou serves a couple of pasta dishes, we had the Mamou's Linguine Vongole. Written below the menu on each pasta dish was the phrase 'served al dente'. I didn't have any expectations whatsoever on the pasta until I took a forkful and tasted it, I was blown away on how good it was. The linguine pasta couldn't be any better, it was perfectly al dente. The clams were plump and fresh and the flavors of the simple garlic and oil sauce was spot on. After eating the Vongole, it made me want to try out their other pasta offerings. It's definitely one the best cooked pasta dishes I've tasted in the metro.

Mamou's Linguine Vongole - Php365

The Beer Battered Fish with Malt Vinegar was cooked really well. I enjoyed how light and crispy it is, it just had the right amount breading plus the fish inside was moist and flaky. One has a choice between potato wedges, rice or mashed potato to go with the fish. The dish was also served with two dips, the malt vinegar and tartar sauce. I know that you have to dip the fried fish in the dip or squeezed the lemon wedge to bring out its flavors. But I would have wanted more flavors directly from the fish instead. Nonetheless, Mamou's version of the fish and chips is pretty good.

Beer Battered Fish with Malt Vinegar - Php295

The key to a great tasting key lime pie is the balance between the sweetness and the tangy sourness. I've tried a couple of key lime pies before and Mamou's version ranks high among the best. It just had the right amount of sweetness and tangy sourness, crust is thick yet it crumbles and I like how they serve the schlagsahne or whipped cream was served of the side.

Key Lime Pie with Schlagsahne - Php185
From how the menu looks and what I tasted, Mamou 's food is simple and straightforward, nothing really fancy. And for me, this is what makes food taste great, the resto prepares and cooks food the way it should be. I'm looking forward to dining here again, I'll definitely will try out their pasta dishes and maybe try out the resto's pride next time, their dry aged steaks.

Address: Ground Floor, Serendra, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
Tel. No.: 856 3569
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*** A Very Merry Chirstmas and A Prosperous Happy New Year Everyone! Cheers!***

Monday 9 December 2013

Sights: Beach Camping Adventure in PADRE BURGOS, QUEZON

When the weather got really hot and humid during the summer season this year, it was off to the beach. Just having a weekend to spend on the beach, we decided to look for places in Quezon which was relatively near. After scanning and browsing the internet, we ended up going to Padre Burgos. The idea of being able to check out different islands charmed us.

Borawan Island, Padre Burgos

Journey begins by riding a 3 to 4 hour bus ride from Buendia to Quezon Grand Terminal. From the terminal, we proceeded to look for a bus bound for Unisan. We told the conductor to drop us at the drop off point going to Borawan Island and he recommended to hire a boat at May Ann Store.

May Anne Store
We got dropped off right in front of the store and met Tess. She entertained us, gave us the rates and details on what to expect on the island. Aside from the boat, they offer everything that one will need if you plan to spend the night on the island like food, water, utensils, candles, etc. There are also different places you can stay in if you're not up for spending a night on an island. Here are the rates for the boat.

After having a quick breakfast at the store, we were off to the first of three islands that we visited. Puting Buhangin beach was the furthest so the boatman recommended that we head there first. Our boatman told us that there was an undergoing dispute on the ownership of the island. There was an entrance fee of Php50 collected as soon as we docked. The beach was already packed with people when we arrived. Sand was grayish white in color and the water was clean and clear.

Puting Buhangin Island

This island is also known as Kwebang Lampas or literally translates to Cave Beyond in English. This is one unique natural feature about the island that I really enjoyed. You make your way in from one side of the cave, walk atop rocks in knee deep water and you can choose to make your way out on the other side.

Kwebang Lampas

It's exactly what we did, we entered form the cave opening near the shore, exited on the other side and swam all the way back to the shore. For non-swimmers, one can opt to go back from the entrance, water was deep and it was a good five to ten minute swim.

Cave Entrance

Passing Through the Cave

Inside the Cave

Before heading back to the shore, we snorkeled around the area, there were only a few fish and it was evident that the locals practiced illegal fishing before. The sea bed was filled with powdery white crushed rocks and corals.

The next island we visited was Borawan, an island known for the huge rock boulders. Among all the islands, the locals seemed to deem this as the main attraction of Padre Burgos. Borawan Island was indeed beautiful, the boulders looks so grand and magnificent.

Borawan Island

The Magnificent Rock Boulders

I've read people actually doing rock climbing here but I'm not sure if it's still allowed nowadays. We did manage to climb atop this one though.

This island used to be bare with nothing on it but when we visited, it saddens me that the island has been turned into a commercial zone. Huts, bathroom stalls, shower areas were built around the short shore.  Though the island looks clean because it's well maintained by a staff, I would have still wanted to see and experience Borawan pure and unadulterated.

As expected by our boatman, the island was packed with so much people. And because of it's short shore, the island felt too crowded. Here are the rates for Borawan Island.

We didn't like the crowd so we decided to camp out in Dampalitan Island since this is the biggest among the three island. I got to admit compared to Puting Buhangin and Borawan, the sand and water in Dampalitan is not as nice but it has its own charm.

Dampalitan Island

Just like the other two island, there is also an entrance fee of Php30. One can pitch their own tents, rent tents or rent a nipa hut. It's best to bring your own tents since the tents and huts for rent depends on the availability. Spending the night there with your own tent would cost Php150, renting a tent cost Php250-300 and renting a hut cost Php600.

Pitched Tents on the Island

Huts for Rent

We were warned beforehand to only swim around the netted area because sea urchins are all around and there are a lot of jellyfish that swims near the shores. We found the netted area too small so we ventured out into to the open, luckily for us we didn't suffer any jellyfish stings.

When the low tide sets in before sunset, make sure to make your way to rocks on the left side (facing the sea) of the island. It was nice walking atop the rocks and spotting sea dwelling creatures in cracks, crevices and under the rocks.

Just a few steps away, you can also see mangrove tress from this area.

The whole island has only two bathrooms which is shared by everybody so don't expect it to be clean. There is no running fresh water, you have to buy it at the small store near the bathrooms. Sold in different water containers prices of water ranges from 50php for a small pail to 350php for a big drum. Don't expect water to be always available, they do ran out.

Bathroom Area

If you're planning to spend a night here, make sure to bring lamps and flashlights, there is no electricity on the island and it gets really dark at night. Bring drinking water and food, you can't really be sure if the store has enough food and bottled water in stock. Prices would also be really expensive. Also make sure to put on insect repellent at night.

The Only Store on the Island

Beach camping wouldn't be complete without setting up a bonfire. We bought chopped branches for 30php from the store and shared the bonfire with the local children.

Enjoying the Bonfire

The next morning we took a dip again before leaving the island. Since it was high tide, I enjoyed the water more compared from the afternoon before. Before noon, we were picked up by the bangka and we headed back to May Ann store where we ended our beach camping adventure with a nice long shower and a full meal.

Taking a Dip in the Waters of Dampalitan

Beach camping is not for everybody, it can be tough for some specially when one is used to the comforts of a room. I've beach camped before and I personally feel that I can only spend two nights beach camping max because I would need a clean working toilet. But it's definitely one nice experience that's worth doing over and over again.

Beach Camping at Padre Burgos