April 22, 2013

The Search for the Best Empanada

Everyone I know who has toured Vigan told me to try Vigan's famous Empanada.  The best place to get them, they added is at Irene's located along the well photographed Calle Crisologo.
So there I was, 5th or was it 6th in line with all the other first timers of Vigan Empanada.  When it was my turn, I ordered the best seller.  It would take another 30+ minutes to finish my order and since the house was packed (and it was too hot to eat there anyway) we decided to do takeout  (and eat elsewhere with airconditioning) and go on pasalubong hunting as we wait for our order.

I ordered six (6) pieces of empanada for 2 kids and 2 adults.  Vigan's empanda is indeed different and special.  It is nothing like the empanada we have in Manila. Filling is quite heavy and a lot more oily.  Taste is unique.
My family finished all six empanada in one sitting, so I would say they liked it. However, I am not sure I would go as far as to rave about it and keep coming back for more. 
I think..., I love that I was in Vigan and I was able to try their premier empanada more, than I did in the actual eating.

Isdaan sa Gerona Tarlac ~ fish sighting :P

 Isdaan in Gerona Tarlac is a perfect family breakfast-stopover for a North Luzon road trip.   Skip the NLEX fast food and treat your kids to a fine meal at Isdaan Floating Restaurant for a change. 

Isdaan is huge and has just about everything you look for in a local restaurant.

(1) Bahay kubo on stilts. Plenty of koi fishes in the pond and uniquely decorated restaurant -  to feast your eyes on or take pictures as you wait for your order. 

(2) Singing waiters and waitresses in Filipiniana costume. Balikbayan and foreign tourist are sure to enjoy. 

We were led a kubo that stands on stilts over

(3) Cool photo opps with manong guard...
the Hulk...

some... huge monkey statues...

a couple of carabaos! 


and famous personalities - statues (such as Michelle Obama, Barrack Obama, Cory Aquino, Erap Estrada) - sure feels like we were in a museum!

(4) freebies for the kids (balloons, goody bag filled with candies and fish food to feed the Koi fishes)
 (5) fish feeding was the highlight of this stop over!

Kids were asked to wear life vest, for safety pre-caution.
The pond as we were told is about 10 feet deep...
(6) an innovative activity at Isdaan is the Tacsiyapo wall - cool way to release stress and anger!
(7)  good food 

Food is great and price reasonable,  we ordered their traveller's meal and budbod (rice toppings). 
The experience was like a step in a theme park.  My kids absolutely love Isdaan and while they would normally hurry us (my husband and me) with our meal, we had to beg them to go, when it was finally time to leave. 

Verdict:  A+

(04593) 12196

April 16, 2013

What happened to my CHOCO-LATE Batirol?

I was so excited, when I finally saw the signage heading to my favorite choco-late shop in Baguio ~ CHOCO-LATE de Batirol. 

I remembered the first time I went there as a newly wed (with my hubby)... I so LOVE the old fashioned way they make their choco-late! 

It was an absolute MUST in our agenda, in our last Baguio visit.

We were led into a semi-private seating and I began going through the menu, as I try to recall my favorite orders from our past visits.

On the top of our order list is the famous cocoa drink for my hubby and myself and choco-banana for the kids.  Since it was almost dinner, we ordered an all-day tocino breakfast meal for my eldest son and chopsuey meal with steamed rice for sharing for hubby and me.

The chocolate was exactly as I remembered - rich and creamy (delicious)! Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the chopsuey and breakfast meal I ordered.   The chopsuey was overcooked and the breakfast tocino tasted like an over the counter tocino bought from SM.    As for the choco-banana, my kids sipped a little and left the rest. I was so disappointed.

I was more shocked to learn, we have to shell out P1000 for 4 drinks, an all day breakfast meal, chopsuey and steamed rice.  Really not worth it. 

I so wonder what went wrong...is it me?  Maybe I've set the bar too high! Haizz...

Next time,  I will just order the hot choco!  For a decent meal for half the price, I would simply head straight to Mile Hi just a few blocks away.

A Charming Country Styled Hotel called Camp John Hay Manor

I have always wanted to stay at Camp John Hay Manor (CJHM) eversince I can remember.  I wanted to see first hand what so many, have been raving about. 

That opportunity finally came last Holy Week, when my family decided to do a North Luzon road trip, with a Baguio stop over before heading to Vigan.

As I was welcomed to the hotel's elegantly designed lobby - I began to see why travellers fall in love with CJHM and keeps coming back. 
CJHM carries with it, the charm and allure of old Baguio.

The hotel interiors ~ beautiful!

My boy doing the usual bed test!!!


Bath spic and span as expected!


Well stocked minibar. Prices surprisingy lower than what I expected.

We stayed in a forest view room, despite recommendations from bloggers to get a room with the garden view. 

I have not seen the garden at night  (although I can attest to its beauty in the morning) so I would not be able to compare, but I confess to falling in love to the tranquility of the night and spent hours looking at and smelling the pines. 

The forest view room we stayed at is located away from the lounge area near the hotel's garden (but I could hear some loud music from the hotel lobby vibrating through our room walls until almost sleeping time) I could just imagine, how loud it might have been for those with rooms facing the garden. 

Oh yeah, more jumping!!!

Loved the seating in the balcony, just perfect for an after dineer coffee with hubby as the kids cozy themselves  watching tv.
Price is quite steep compared to other Baguio accommodations, but a night stay is really worth it.

Loving Azalea Residences

I was truly amazed at how much more we got for only a little over P2,000.
I initially reserved a deluxe room with no view, but got an email from our booking agent, that we have been upgraded to a with view room (talk about luck!), inclusive of  "buffet" breakfast for two.
It was a true bargain!   
Charming escape in Baguio

I was pleased to see the place.  Room was huge, decent and new! 
The room has a kitchenette - a working kitchen and comes complete with utensils and dinning wares.  There is also a full size refrigerator, glass stove tops and microwave oven. 
The place is  perfect for vacationing big families who wants to save a little by cooking instead of dining out.

Our deluxe room (with kitchenette, dining and seating area).
Bathroom was basic, but spic and span. They were likewise fairly generous with the toiletries.

This grand fountain was a hit with my kids! 

Play ground was small, but my boy ain't complaining. 

Lovely well kept garden surrounds the mini play ground!

The view from our room.
Azalea Residences Hotel's location is a little difficult to find and we got lost looking for it. 
Tip: The hotel is located on the other side of the Botanical Garden. Also don't hesitate to ask for directions, locals will be more than happy to assist.
Since it is located outside Baguio's center, it is free from noise and pollution. Azalea's Location is ideal for some real quiet R&R.  Getting around is not a problem, since taxis are plenty and may even be coursed through the hotel front desk.
Food was just okay,  there were few choices, but we are fine with that.  With the money we spent, we weren't really expecting much.
If you are looking for  a safe and clean place to stay, while in Baguio ~ without having to shell out that much cash,  Azalea is highly recommended!!!

Azalea Residences is located at #7 Leonard Wood Loop, Bgy. M. Roxas, Baguio City 2600, Philippines | Phone Number: +632 579 4890


April 7, 2013

Ocean Park Manila

I accompanied my four year old son during his school Manila Ocean Park (MOP) field trip last November 2012.
The park boasts numerous atractions, which will surely keep your kiddos busy and occupied ~ you would be begging your child to leave, when it is time to go home.
The park has 15 Attactions:
  1. Aquanaut Voyage
  2. Shark Encounter
  3. Jellies Exhibit
  4. Fish Spa
  5. Glass Bottom Boat Ride
  6. Revolution - Musical Fountain Show
  7. Marine Life Habitat
  8. All Star Bird Show
  9. FantaSea
  10. Penguin Talk Show
  11. Bird of Prey Kingdom
  12. Back of the House
  13. Swimming
Since we were there for a school field trip  ~ we were only able to see:  the Oceanarium, Trails of Antartica, Jellies Exhibit and the Penguin Talk Show (which was a big hit with the kids). 

Welcome to the Oceanarium :D

Sorry, camera flashes strictly prohibited inside the Oceanarium..
Posing with the sharkies :P

There is an activity corner at the Oceanarium - my kiddo ain't taking a rain check :P


MOP has a spectacular view of Manila Bay. I am sure the view is better at sunset!


On the way to the Trails of Antartic!
Pakitang gilas si Mr. Penguin.  My kiddo's eyes were glued to the baby penguins as they swam.

Temperature freezing... brrr!

Ma look, its Santa :P


My kiddo quite amazed to see jellies for the first time :P


I was too engaged with Mr. Penguin, I forgot to take pictures - I got this one though!  My kiddo enjoying the show!!! 
 A trip to MOP is educational  and entertaining!  We would definitely be back.
Next time will bring the entire family and stay at the H20 Hotel to make the most of MOP!
MOP: Rated A for kiddos and kids at heart  :D
Address:Manila Ocean Park behind Quirino Grandstand Luneta Manila
Trunkline: +63 2 567 7777
Facsimile:+63 2 567 2309

April 6, 2013

Cafe' Sabel - Feed your Senses...

Once inside, it is simply impossible not to stay and dine!~
Paintings that decorate Cafe Sabel's walls are sure to keep your eyes busy, if not inspire you to start an art attack yourself!

Something to feed your eyes!
Food choices are plenty and would say quite healthy.

We had a fish fillet, a pork ribs and a mushroom chicken meal, plus extra order of the vegetable lumpia.    Followed by halo-halo (which was a bit too sweet for my taste) for dessert.

"Sarap" we finished everything!
With my youngest hagging the fish fillet meal (ang takaw!)

The restaurant's windows invite you to beautiful garden below and a scenic view a mountain across.


Wow - Speechless!  A pond with tens of swimming ducks surround a kubo!   It would sure be nice to have a view like this in my backyard (wishing)...

There is just no stopping my youngest from conquering the grounds below...


My boys love these ducks!  They were sad they couldn't take one home...

Peace and quite :)
Move away from your usual Baguio itinerary and try something different.
Visit Cafe' Sabel.
Cafe' Sabel is located at BenCab's Museum 
(refer to my related Blog about BenCab Museum).