A week after our dinner date at QiWellness Living, MrC and I escaped for a quick pre-anniversary lunch at Taal Vista. It was a great time to be there because Chef Fernando Aracama was in the house. He was Cafe Veranda’s guest chef on the first weekend of the hotel’s Culinary Gems: A Festival of Filipino Flavors event.
We arrived just in time to catch the opening ceremonies. Instead of the usual ribbon cutting, Chef Aracama and Peggy Angeles of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. (and my seatmate at lunch!) broke a clay pot over an arrangement of fruits and vegetables. I’m not sure if this is symbolic, but if it is, it probably means something nice. Lol.
The boys and I had lunch at Cafe Veranda during our weekend staycation at Taal Vista last year. I was excited to see what the hotel’s Executive Chef, Edwin Santos had prepared, and of course how Chef Aracama’s creations would accent the Filipino food buffet.
As always, Chef Edwin did not disappoint. Everything from the hotel’s signature Lumpiang Ubod to the Brazo de Mercedes were so delicious. Chef Aracama’s Ilonggo creations we also extremely good. I couldn’t get enough of how tasty all of his dishes were. I couldn’t get enough of the Beef Adobo sa Tuba and the Sigarilyas Gising Gising Style.
I started my meal off with a plate of assorted appetizers. My favorites among everything I got was Chef Aracama’s Malunggay Dip and Pan Tostado, the Salted Egg Brulee, and the Ginataang Langka Triangle.
Plate #2 was loaded with all of the Aracama dishes that I found interesting – Kalkag Fried Rice, Sinanglay na Isda en Papillote, Chicken Inasal, Beef Adobo sa Tuba and theSigarilyas Gising Gising Style. I would seriously have gone back for a second helping of the exact same plate if I had the space for it in my stomach.
Yes, I had a third plate, but it was a small one. I had forgotten to get Porchetta Negrense during my second round at the buffet, so I took a bite off of MrC’s. It was so good that I of course had to go get a few slices for myself. The husbandry had his with the uber delicious vinegar that they were serving that day, while I opted for the lechon sauce. I was expecting the usual lechon liver sauce, but this one had an extra hint of spice and a bite of sourness to it. Oh my golly, so good. I also had some Dinuguan and Puto, a Filipino meryenda favorite that I can never skip, no matter how full I already am.
I wish that I could have eaten some more but I was just about ready to burst. So, it was time to end things with a selection of sweet desserts. Chef Aracama’s Chocnut Ice Cream was the highlight of my sweet treats. I split a Buko Panna Cotta (also by Chef Aracama) with MrC because I just couldn’t finish one whole on my own. It was one of those non-jello-ish panna cottas, so I was happy. And, I couldn’t say no to Chef Edwin’s Frozen Brazo de Mercedes, because it really is superb.
The promise of an amazing cultural show and excellent Pinoy food is a really great excuse to make the trip up to Tagaytay for a special lunch or dinner meal. Chef Aracama’s weekends at Taal Vista Hotel are over, but there are other celebrity guest chefs lined up who will bring their unique interpretations of Filipino cuisine to Cafe Veranda. Here’s the schedule so you can decide which weekend to visit:
Chef Sau del Rosario – September 27 & 28 (That’s this weekend!)
Chef Babes Austria– October 4, 5, 11 & 12
Chef Edwin Santos – October 18, 19, 26 & 26
Chef Bruce Lim – November 1, 2, 8 & 9 (I am definitely planning a visit on one of his weekends)
Chefs Jackie and Rolando Laudico – November 15, 16, 22 & 23
THANK YOU so very much, Celine Arenillo and Treena Tecson for having me and MrC over at Taal Vista again. We love celebrating anniversaries and birthdays with you guys hehe! Thanks also to my fun to kwento with seatmate, Peggy Angeles for letting me know which dishes I really ought to try. See you guys (hopefully) this Halloween!
The Culinary Gems Festival of Filipino Flavors continues on until November at Taal Vista Hotel’s Cafe Veranda. Saturday lunch and dinner buffet, and Sunday lunch buffet costs PHP1350 nett per person. For inquiries, you may call +632 917-8225.
When you are married with children, date night is always something to look forward to. Do you guys agree? I totally do. And so when I was asked to join a few blogger friends in an amazing date night at QiWellness Living Tea House + Bath House in Tagaytay, I was beside myself with excitement.
After weeks of planning, MrC and I almost didn’t make it to our Tagaytay dinner because the kiddo had a slight fever after football class that day! It’s a good thing that after a long nap, a couple of doses of Biogesic and a long bath, Little MrC was feeling better, and was okay to be left at home with my parents. Phew. It would have been really sad missing the QiWellness Living experience. I mean, you get there and you’re just completely blown away by how gorgeous the place is.
We were greeted by a loud gong right when MrC and I entered the red door. I have to admit, nagulat ako. I actually jumped a little coz I wasn’t expecting it. Waiting for us at the receiving area were the the wonderful owners of the place, Ken Tuason and Rita Sanson, who were both so gracious and accommodating the entire evening. Ken explained that QiWellness Living is made up of two main areas – the Bath House and the Tea House.
The Bath House
We took a short tour of the bath house while waiting for the other bloggers to arrive. This area is described as a sanctuary of relaxation, rejuvenation and renewal, bringing effective traditional and holistic healing practices in a modern setting through massages and hydrotherapy. If you are a massage-lover in search of a quick escape, I think you ought to try it here. You can check out the list and prices of their massage services and other treatments here.
To be honest, I have never had a massage in my life. I think, though, that this would be a great place for my first time. I would love to relax in the hot and cold yin yan pools afterwards! It seems like a great way to enjoy the beautiful the view of Taal Volcano.
The Tea House
In between the top floor receiving area and the bottom floor bath house, you will find QiWellness Living’s Tea House. Here they serve 6-course and 8-course yin yang menus, multi-course degustations that change seasonally over spring, summer, autumn and winter. They also have ala carte items for lunch and dinner, which are served with the soup of the day and a salad. You can also try their dimsum selections in the afternoons. If you wanna check out their menu offerings, click here.
I was (of course) really happy that the ABC girls were complete during our quick Tagaytay escape. I knew that MrC would enjoy himself even more with the other husbands around. I feel so lucky to have met these ladies that I click so well with. Our husbands click, and our kids click, too, so it’s always a great time when we’re together.
The 8-course Summer Yin Yang Set Menu
For our dinner date, we were served the 8-course Summer Yin Yang Menu (PHP2,380 + 10% Service Charge, inclusive of VAT) paired with white and red wines. What an absolute treat. Our meal started off with Toasted Mantou. We usually have this with condensed milk on the side for dipping. This time, it came with a pat of butter on the side. I don’t like butter, but I gave it a try anyway. I think that the bread is better off on its own, thankyouverymuch. Everyone else happily ate theirs with the butter, though, so maybe it’s just me.
Our first course was Money Bag of Foie Gras and Green Apple with Chestnut Purée. This was one of my favorites. There were big enough pieces of foie gras in the dumpling that you could actually taste them, but they weren’t too big to the point of being overwhelming. I liked that the dumpling pastry was thick and chewy.
For our second course, we were given Tuna Tartare with Pineapple and Pickled Shallots. I love raw tuna, so of course this was something I enjoyed, too. You get a little bit of sweet and sour when you pop the little ball of tuna into your mouth. And yes, I really popped the entire thing into my mouth. I did chew slowly and savor every flavor in it, though.
My absolute favorite was the third course, Lettuce Soup with Poached Egg and Shiitake Mushroom Dumpling. At first, I found that the soup was on the acidic side. And then I popped open the poached egg, and once the yolk mixed with the soup, everything became really creamy and velvety and rich. The mushroom dumpling was also really yummy, and went very well with the soup.
Next we had one of the prettiest salads I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Too bad my photo doesn’t do justice to this Endive, Roquefort, Walnut, Roasted Pear Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette. The vinaigrette dressing was on the sweet side, and totally complemented the bitter greens mixed in with lettuce leaves and flower petals.
After the salad, the first of the main dishes started arriving. The Pan-Seared Sake-Marinated Scallops with Avocado Purée, Radish and Ebiko was really good, to the point that I wanted more. Ging sat next to me at dinner, and her husband is allergic to shellfish so she got to eat his share. Lucky girl hehe!
Dish #6 (and yes, we were counting them down as they were being served) was Pacific Black Cod on Buckwheat Noodles with Orange-Teriyaki Glaze. I like fish, so I liked this. The cod was perfectly cooked, flaky not chewy. The noodles were nice, too. This was sort of like a very sophisticated Chinese pancit.
They obviously saved the best for last where the main dishes of this degustation were concerned. Our 7th course was a Striploin of Wagyu with Sichuan Pepper, Spatzle, Snow Peas and Truffle-Beef Jus. Spatzle isn’t at all something you would expect to find in a Chinese dish, so this was a pleasant surprise.
And finally, my favorite part in any meal – dessert. We were served a bow of Cardamon Custard, Strawberry Sorbet, Crumble and Soil. I love how Chef Jeff Ramirez did his fusion of flavors and textures in every dish. Everything’s so exciting, and this dessert was no exception. The sorbet was a little tart, the custard a little sweet, and the crumble and soil added a bit of crunch in every bite. It was a great way to end an excellent meal.
THANK YOU so very much, Ken, Rita and Jeff for inviting us over, and for treating us all to an amazing dinner. QiWellness Living is so beautiful! MrC and I really enjoyed dinner, and we look forward to coming back for our first-ever couples massage and a dimsum-filled afternoon. Thanks also to the amazing staff who took care of us, accommodated all of our requests, and answered of our questions while taking us around the bath house and tea house.
For TEA HOUSE inquiries or reservations call +63917-5226969 or email email@example.com. The Tea House is open from Wednesdays to Sundays 11:30AM to 2:30PM for lunch, 2:00PM to 6:00PM for dimsum selections, and 6:30PM to 10:00PM for dinner. Last order for the 6 and 8 course set menu is at 12:30PM for lunch and 8:00PM for dinner. Mondays and Tuesdays are available for group bookings and functions only.
For BATH HOUSE inquiries or reservations call +63917-5226969 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Bath House is open from Tuesdays to Sundays. Operating hours are from 1:00PM to 10:00PM. Last call is at 8:30PM. Special bookings for Mondays and Tuesdays, and morning bookings from 10:00AM may be arranged upon special request.
Overnight accommodations may also be arranged at the GUEST HOUSE. The package includes welcome cocktails, use of bathhouse facilities, reflexology for 2, Silk signature massage for 2, and traditional Chinese congee and dimsum breakfast for 2. Check-in time is at 2:00PM, and check-out time is at 12:00NN. The overnight package is for 2 persons only, and costs PHP15,800.
My week was literally half work, half play. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were super productive work days for me. I was able to submit a couple of articles, script edits, write a few blog posts and attend our PH editorial meeting for theAsianParent.com. Thursday and Friday were partly spent doing some house chores, but mostly I watched Mad Men. From late last week til the end of this week, I managed to watch all of the first three seasons. Yep, I’m hooked, obviously.
I think that the highlights of my past week came on the two Saturdays that bookended it. Both were spent in Tagaytay, my favorite quick escape. Last Saturday was spent discovering the gorgeous QiWellness Living Tea House and Bath House with my ABC loves (as in Alabang Bloggers Club – you will be reading a lot about this fun group in the coming posts), our significant others (or what I like to call the Prince Charming Crew), and a few other blogger friends from the south. We were treated to an amazing 8-course Yin Yang dinner, complete with Asian-inspired cocktails and glasses of wine. What a treat! It was just the date night that we mommies needed.
This Saturday (as in today) was spent with MrC. He and I went on an early anniversary lunch date at Taal Vista Hotel. If you’ve been visiting this blog for a while now, you’ll remember that we celebrated our 2nd anniversary at Taal Vista last year. We had the chance to catch the opening of Culinary Gems, a series of special lunch and dinner buffets to celebrate the hotel’s 75th year. Over the next few weekends, featured guest chefs will put their spin on local favorites as part of the buffet offerings.
I was beyond excited to meet Chef Fernando Aracama. Oh my gosh I just love this man’s cooking. Love with a capital L. I know for a fact that I will be dreaming about his Beef Adobo sa Tuba.
Blogging about both amazeballs Saturdays soon. I actually missed posting a few stories I had lined up for the week. Confession: It’s because I chose to watch Mad Men instead of writing. Maybe I should treat myself to an episode AFTER I finish publishing or adding a post to my queue. Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
How did you guys spend your week? Any interesting stories?
The boys and I had a lot to be happy about over the holidays. Because we were in such high spirits, our break from work and school was really a merry one. MrC and I wanted to keep the happiness vibe going, so we decided to book a staycation for our little family on the last weekend before our return to regular programming. Because Tagaytay has always been on top of our list of quick escapes, we decided we would go there. I chose T House since we’ve never stayed there before and I’ve heard such great things about the place from friends and family. I showed MrC some photos and he immediately said yes. A few text messages and a bank deposit later, we were all set!