Monday, May 30, 2016

Weekend at Canyon Woods Resort Club

A friend suggested that instead of going back to Fontana in Clark, Pampanga for our annual summer outing, why not go somewhere closer to all of us. Taal Vista was our first choice but since we were a big group, getting rooms that can accommodate us on a summer weekend seemed like an impossible task. After searching for the available hotels on our preferred date, we all agreed to check out Canyon Woods Resort Club, which is located in Laurel, Batangas. As anticipated, traffic in Tagaytay is getting worse by the day so instead of the usual 2-hour road trip, travel time now usually takes 3 hours or even 4 on really bad days.

Check-in was fast and as soon as we got the key cards, all 15 of us took the elevator to our respective rooms at The Peak, the condotel that you can rent out from Canyon Woods unit owners. Other facilities that guests can enjoy include the use of the swimming pools, fitness gym, tennis court, basketball court, fun center, mini theater and golf course for an additional fee.

The Peak has a total of 167 units available for non-members of the club. Types of rooms that you can lease include a studio suite, one-bedroom suite or the penthouse that offers a panoramic view of Taal Lake, depending on your budget and requirement. Our junior suite has 2 double beds, an air conditioning unit, cable TV, refrigerator and toilet and bath. The room was clean, old but well kept and has working hot shower, my condition if we're staying in any Tagaytay or nearby hotel.

Even if the resort is positioned on higher ground, the hot weather was still commanding for a dip in the pool. All ladies are required to wear swim caps that you can also rent at the resort for Php50.00 for the day. Likewise, the kids had a blast at the playground right beside the swimming pool.

Because of its proximity to Manila, Tagaytay has been a favorite destination for people from the Metro and neighboring towns. As a result, hotels and results are always full especially on weekends. We were all relieved and happy stumbling upon Canyon Woods, though technically is still part of Batangas, is just a short drive from Tagaytay City. No honking cars to wake you in the middle of the night, no parking problems and no fighting for space at the pools, only calmness and order. Just the occasional snoring of my nephew sleeping on the bed next to mine.


Canyon Woods Resort Club
Diokno Highway, Brgy. San Gregorio
Laurel, Batangas, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 817-8076 / 840-2290

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cebu Food Finds: Rico's Spicy Lechon

We made sure to leave Crimson Resort and Spa early to give us ample time to have lunch at the most-talked about Rico's Lechon before heading back to Manila. I first heard of Rico's from the now defunct morning show Kris TV, when they visited Cebu and tried the famous spicy lechon before it became a household name. From then on, Rico's has been on the top of my list and lucky enough, they just recently opened a branch near Mactan Airport.

The restaurant was packed when we arrived. Theme of the interiors was old Cebu with a twist, a perfect depiction of what Rico's is gaining popularity for. After waiting for about 20 minutes, we were finally seated where we excitedly browsed the menu to check what other dishes they offer.

What we ordered

Cucumansi Quencher - Php70.00

The staff recommended Cucumansi Quencher, short for cucumber + calamansi. It was my first time try to it and though the combination sounded weird, it was surprisingly delicious and refreshing!

Plain Pandan Rice - Php30.00

Dinuguan - Php180.00

We overheard the customers from the other table raving about Rico's Dinuguan so CS made sure to include a bowl in our order to verify if it is true. The sauce was delicious and tangy but a bit watery and the innards was 3/4 meat and only 1/4 fat, just the way we wanted it to be.

Spicy Lechon - Php210.00 (1/4 kg)

The star at every table at Rico's! One order of spicy lechon just for myself and another order of the regular version for CS to make sure we don't fight over that crispy glistening lechon skin. Be warned though that when they its spicy, its mouth numbing and head itching level of spiciness. If you want the milder version, specify it when you order so the staff can get you the meat far from the bones where the chili pepper is concentrated.

Verdict: All the reviews I read before I actually tried Rico's lechon does not lie! The meat is tender and delectable, there's no need to ask for anything else to dip it into. And the skin? It was divine! It was crunchy and has paper-thin fat (read: less guilt) that you can barely taste it. Anyone who's going to Cebu must include a visit to Rico's in their itinerary. Only the grease from Rico's lechon to graze your lips or you've never been to Cebu at all!


Rico's Lechon
Mactan Promenade, Airport Road
Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines
Tel.: (6332) 239-2830

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Crimson Resort Cebu: Eat. Swim. Sleep. Repeat.

With its secluded location, dining out became an unpopular option for both CS and myself. Even with Crimson's free shuttle, we chose not to leave the comforts of the resort and just try as much food as we can from Crimson's four restaurants and bars. Our first meal at the resort was the afternoon snacks on day one while we wait for our room. The view from our table somehow made up for the slow service at Azure Beach Club. Menu varies depending on the time of the day.

On the table

Complementary chips and nuts were placed on our table while we scan the menu. Coming from JPark Resort, it was a comfort seeing totally different sets of dishes that we can choose from.

Club "A" - Php450.00

CS ordered Club "A", which is Azure's clubhouse sandwich. It comes with sesame marinated chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato, cheddar, egg and ripe mango in whole wheat bread. Each order is also accompanied with green salad and raspberry vinaigrette and homemade chips on the side

Tuna and Unagi Cheese Pizza - Php550.00

Still craving for more Japanese goodness, I opted to have Tuna and Unagi Pizza. The thought of having tuna sashimi and unagi with wasabi cheese on a pizza is enticing enough to order the whole thing even if we just had lunch two hours prior. It was unique and delicious but could do better if more unagi was added and not just a few pieces here and there.

Dinner that night was also at Azure Beach Club. Fresh seafood will greet you as you enter the restaurant, now this is the reason why I gain so much when on vacation!

Grilled Sugpo

As fresh as it can get! You can choose how you want your seafood to be cooked but I just like mine grilled with a pinch of salt and pepper. I would love to order more but it was pricey at Php1,200 for only 6 pieces. CS had braised lamb shank which was big enough for sharing. The lamb was tender and savory, perfect with the fragrant basmati rice it was nested on.

Braised Lamb Shank - Php880.00

Breakfast the next day was at Saffron Cafe, an all-day dining restaurant that caters international cuisine. The warm smiles by the staff and the smell of freshly-cooked waffles welcomed us as we made our way to our table. Apart from pancakes and waffles, there also an egg station, pastries, rice porridge, cereals, noodle station, cheese and cold cuts, hot meals, pasta and fresh fruits.

Breakfast selection was decent and the staff were quick to replenish each dish so even if the restaurant is full, waiting is just minimal. Staying in Crimson Resort and Spa is probably the best decision we made in this trip -- the impeccable quality of food and the commendable staff (except for that afternoon snack at Azure) easily made this one helluva summer getaway.


Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan
Seascapes Resort Town, Soong
Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines
Tel.: (6332) 401-9999

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mati's Meat and Bread at Filinvest, Alabang

It has always been our unwritten rule that whenever CS and I go out, he lets me choose any place that I want to try almost all the time. Since we don't frequent the Alabang area that much, I picked up my phone and googled the best restaurants in the city. One of the names that kept showing up on the screen is Mati's Meat and Bread, not related with Don Galo's famous Mati's Tapsilog.

A lot has changed since the last time I visited Festival Mall. Back in college, my friends and I would usually hang and watch movies here after class so I was really surprised with the major renovations that has happened since then. One of the newer attractions is the River Park, a nice and quiet place to unwind with several restaurants overlooking the river including Mati's with its relaxed and homey ambiance, a far cry from the noise and chaos inside the mall.

What we ordered

Vince's Chicken Arugula Salad - Php225.00

To start off, we ordered Vince's Chicken Arugula Salad minus the arugula which was not available that time. The staff told us that the arugula delivered to them had holes in them so they returned it to the supplier. As a substitute, he recommended that they will replace the arugula with lettuce instead. I found the vinaigrette dressing too sour but loved the tasty grilled chicken.

Bia's Four Cheese Pizza - Php360.00

This has got to be the thinnest pizza I've ever seen in my life! It sure felt like biting into crisp wonton paper with cheese on top, a rip-off considering its priced at Php360.00 for 8 slices.

Bianca's Creamy Vongole - Php290.00

I initially wanted Nikki's Rosemary Chicken but it was out of stock so I just settled for Bianca's Creamy Vongole. The pasta was firm and the sauce was creamy and delicious as advertised. But more than that, I enjoyed the toasted focaccia bread it came with! If only it had more clam meat than the shell, then this dish would be an 8/10 in my book.

We should probably ordered any of Mati's steaks which the restaurant is known for because I find all these dishes expensive for its quality and size. I bet that we could get better and bigger servings of the same dish from some other places so for now, Mati's Tapsilog is the only Mati's for me.


Mati's Meat and Bread
Unit B2, River Park
Festival Mall, Alabang
Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 847-2273
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