Saturday, April 25

The Cafe Mediterranean Experience

Since it’s my birthday, Tita Ting treated us out to an authentic Greek Mediterranean experience. Together with Gil, Ms. Ruthie (also a birthday celebrant and granddaughter of the late National Artist Levi Celerio) and Tita Ting’s son Byron, we went over to The Café Mediterranean at Greenbelt 1 here in Makati.

It was our first time (except for tita Ting and Byron), and we were so excited since we have heard a lot about this Middle Eastern cuisine and it was tita Ting’s personal favorite. The place is a not so big yet not-so-small cozy café with authentic designs, paintings, warm-colored walls, clunky wooden tables and chairs and a great Mediterranean ambiance with soft Greek music being played on the background. We had a hard time ordering as if we’re reciting excerpts from their Mediterranean menu (It’s tongue-twistingly fun! Glad the staffs were very well trained and educated about everything on the list. Lol!).

Since our goal was to pamper our taste buds, why not start with the Sampler plate of Hummus, Baba Ghanoush, Tzatziki, Falafel and Tabbouleh together with the whole-wheat pita bread for a glorious perfect dip! (Café Med’s original Garlic sauce is also available for additional taste!)

Hummus-Classic garbanzo & sesame dip from the Middle East.
Baba Ghanoush-also know as “moutabal”, an eggplant and tahini dip
Tzatziki-Cucumber, yogurt and mint dip.
Falafel- Crunchy garbanzo croquettes
Tabbouleh- Tomatoes, flat-leaf-parsley & cracked wheat.

We also had Tabbouleh Salad with chicken and cucumber, which is my personal favorite. (It’s crunchy, it’s tasty and guiltlessly delicious!)

True to the essence of a healthy Mediterranean diet is Mediterranea Pizza- a thin crust pizza topped with sundried tomatoes, black olives, grilled eggplant, zucchini and anchovies. It goes a lot more delectable with the Café’s special hot sauce, which is, believe me… really HOT!! !

For those who have sweet tooth as Gil, you will definitely love Baklava- the classic Mediterranean pastry with layers of filo, pistachio and walnuts. It’s crunchy on the outside yet chewy and filling on the inside.

The café is also known for Gyros or Greek sandwiches (it is also called Gyro Café or Gyro Mediterranean). They have also substantial courses as kebabs, pasta with Mediterranean touch and entrees like moussaka and lamb stew served in either pita, buttered rice, rice pilaf or couscous. Then, why not have Moroccan mint tea afterwards for a whole all-Greek experience!!!

We really had a great time and swear to come back again! I’ve asked for a leaflet and still recited some of their authentic dishes on our way home. Come everyone!! Repeat after me:

Prosciutto e Pomodoro Secchi…
Quattro Formaggi…
Tartufo al Cioccolato…
etc etc etc…c”,)

Thursday, April 9

twenty five

It’s my 25th birthday today.
I’m trying not to think about it since yesterday, but seems this is one thing I cannot control. I was touched receiving a txt from gil just after the first wink of my eyes this morning, to quote:

“Zeby happy bday po..I love you so much! I wish u happiness in its true sense. Not of silver and gold, but of faith and love. Thru hardship and ease I will hold your hand and keep you by my side. Don’t forget to smile to others, it drives away bad mood and wrinkles. c”,) I will always be here for you….”

I just can’t help but cry. That’s one of the many things I love about him…the sincerity, the warmth in every word and the passion were there. I was just so blessed having him…my most precious gift ever!

You know what, I never really like celebrating birthday at all! I’m not accustomed of being greeted by everyone aware of the event. I’m not used to having the attention of everyone. It’s nice being remembered by people. But that’s far off my personality maybe.

Another thing is that, I’m not sure if I had made it! I have reached my 25th year on earth yet I have this feeling that I have not given my full potential yet career wise speaking thus I can’t feel the utmost benefits of it in return.

Whatever it is, I’m glad to be blessed with another year on earth. May the good Lord shower upon me good health, inner peace and happiness. May He continue to use me as instrument for the welfare of the people around me. And so, may God lead me to the career I’m longing of having, if this isn’t the right one yet.

my 24th bday bash

I remembered being surprised by Gil’s family on my birthday last year. Gil was in Japan then and since I have no one to spend my birthday with (I only have my brother with me, the rest is in Quezon province), I decided to spend the night with them together with my brother JV and Tita Lally, our office keeper and a second mom to Gil.

I have with me a ‘bilao’ of Pancit Malabon and a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts (part of my 1-month supply doughtnuts given to 1st 300 customers during the Krispy Kreme’s Ayala Branch opening). Speechless, I was amazed seeing bandehadong Pork Hamonado (Nay’s specialty), pininyahang manok, fried bangus and tilapia and a birthday cake on the table. Obviously, it was Gil’s idea but Nay and Tay said they were really going to cook something for me as their birthday present even without Gil’s request.

a birthday feast! =)

surprised and speechless! :)

Amber's Pancit Malabon

Gil called up during the dinner (the loudspeaker was set on so that everybody could join the conversation). How I missed him then! Imagine yourself spending your special day with his family, in their residence and later, having his room for the night without him around…whoooaah! The feeling was terribly unbearable!

miss you zeb! (I was actually talking with him on the phone!)

from left: tay,nay, me, tita lally, gil's siblings glen and she =)

The feeling of being loved by your significant other’s family is indeed overwhelming! I have found my second family in them, the feeling of not being away from home at all…

Gil gave me a Canon Ixy 910IS digital cam as his birthday gift. =)

Tuesday, April 7

Our Baguio Travelogue (Day 3)

We woke up early today thus we’re able to go out of the hotel at 8:00am (early huh?). We only have the whole morning to visit the rest of the places we haven’t been to, as listed on our itinerary. We had a light breakfast, had read few pages of the newspaper the hotel had supplied and were off to the street again.
Our first destination is the famous Mine’s View Park. We had the usual taxi pictorial and Gil made it a point to capture everything along the way, including the Session Road, the SM, Baguio townhouses, the pine trees etc. Upon reaching Mine’s View, there’s this souvenir stall, which has an Igorot statue complete with a Welcome to Baguio-Mine’s View Park banner. I asked Gil to pose in front but the stall personnel assisted us and handed us Igorot scarf, headgears and the rest of an Igorot’s accessories, and were instructed to pose on the platform provided. It’s fun! Gil liked the idea, and so the people who saw us followed. Only donation is required, any amount will do.
We walked along a winding stoned stairway towards the viewing deck. From there you’ll have a spectacular view of the nearby valleys and mountains of Baguio. Gil really enjoyed the place. He was really into nature thus this is one of the best spots for him. We had various pictures taken and spent an hour maybe savoring the mists and splendid view of the place.

There were still ponies for photo ops for only P10/shot. It’s fun Gil tried one (his first time ever horse experience! lol). We had one picture too together (he was quite trembling! LOL!) :D Mine’s View were also known for its quaint shops displaying Baguio’s best delicacies and handicrafts. We’re able to have some as ‘pasalubong’.
Some minutes away from Mine’s View is the Botanical garden. From the gate itself are Igorot groups garbed with their native costumes and regalia, always ready to take pictures with you, of course for a fee! As you enter, you will be welcomed with a narrow trellis of plants pathway. Since Botanical garden is also called an Igorot Village, you will find native huts of typical types as those of Igorot dwellings in the Cordilleras. Aside from numerous flowers and trees, there was also the Artists’ Guild, Green House Effect Gallery, Igorot statues, souvenir shops among others. We enjoyed walking around but it’s getting hot, and we still have more landmarks to visit. Thus, we’re off to our next destination- The Burham Park.
Since we’ve stayed at the city proper, we decided to put Burnham Park on the last part of our list in case we ran out of time. The park is located at the heart of the city and was named after Daniel Burnham, the city planner (thru the instructions of Gov. Wright). We had leisurely stroll around the man-made lake and climbed-up the view deck for our photo ops. It is still the most favorite place of the crowd wherein countless of activities are possible as boating, biking, mere strolling, picnics to name a few. Cheap silver accessories were all over the place thus we had some for our brothers as ‘pasalubong’. We never had the chance to try boating as much as we want for we only have few hours left for Orchidarium and public market for more souvenirs items.

We’re glad we’ve asked a young peddler for the Orchidarium’s direction (if not, we’ll be heading on the opposite direction). The Orchidarium is a part of the Burnham Park and showcase different varieties of ornamental plants. The orchids and flowers alike were so soOo lovely and the landscape is breathtaking. These plants were being sold in public or you may just enjoy taking pictures of them. It’s fun, it’s lovely…and it’s so getting too hot already! (Few minute before 11am).

We hurriedly went to the market for our last shopping bash (Hurriedly, but mind you…we just walked!). Since we went there several times already, we already have in mind what to buy and to which store in particular. We had 3 kilos of fresh strawberries at P110.00/kilo, strawberry jam of 3 bottles for P100.00 and 4 packs Legua de Gato for only P100.00 and we’re done! We bought Japanese cakes along the way to munch up while beating the 12:00nn checkout time of the hotel.
We came back to the hotel at 11:30am, 30 minutes left to have a quick shower, pack our things up and all! Just in time, everything’s ready! (We will miss this room, the bed, the tub and everything else!) We just waited at the lobby for the hotel staff to check the room (and had some sort of pictures again!), and off we went to the Victory Liner terminal.

We were early for the 1:10pm scheduled time, of well, at least for me! lol! (Then was only past 12nn). We remembered we haven’t had lunch yet, and so we looked for something to indulge with. Glad to find Maxim’s Tea House on the terminal’s mini food court upstairs. I had Shark’s Fin Siomai meal while Gil had Pork Siomai meal. But since we’re the last one on the line, it consumed a lot of time before we were being catered. Just in time that we went downstairs, the 1:10pm bus was already there. The result? We munched the lunch out all the way out of Baguio proper, yes, in the bus! (We enjoyed though, imagine the smell of our food and the sauces in a closed air-conditioned bus! lol!)
Seems the picture taking was not over yet because we still had some before we we’re drown to a not-so-deep sleep. The trip back home took about 8 hours because we arrived home past 9:00pm. Nay, Tay, She and Glen immediately had their share of strawberries and we were still able to see the pictures of our tiring yet exciting Baguio trip before Gil accompanied me back home for we still have office works tomorrow. c”,)

home-sweet-home! :)
How was the trip? It’s amazingly good! But since it was an itinerary-based trip, we’re always on the rush to follow things through. Nevertheless, we’ve had the best Baguio getaway ever, together…hand-in-hand. c",)

Monday, April 6

Our Baguio Travelogue (Day 2)

The set alarm of 5:30am turned out to be 7:30 (as expected!) I never had a sound sleep though because my legs were aching that I need to keep my feet up on the wall the whole night. I also asked Gil to turn the aircon off for I was already chilling. Nevertheless, I was still the first one to get up (he’s still snoring out loud! haha!) I woke him up and asked him to ask for a pitcher of cold water and hot water refill. Water came in just a few minutes while I was still in the shower, in time for coffee and cup noodles preparation when I came out. After his shower, we had a simple breakfast of Gil’s yakisoba and my jjamppong, together with hot instant coffees. Few minute more before 9am and off we were on the street.

Since we turned left last night from the hotel (and knew already what’s in there), we turned right this time and headed for the direction the hotel staff have said when Gil inquired. We we’re surprised to know that few blocks away from the hotel is Baguio City Hall. And that in front of the city hall is the Rizal Park and then the Burnham Park (small world!) We’re so glad we ended up in a hotel accessible to everything in Baguio! In front of the city hall is the jeep going to our first destination today: the LA TRINIDAD STRAWBERRY FARM.
Equipped with our map, we thought that the La Trinidad Strawberry Farm was a bit farther than the PMA (thus we preferred jeep over taxi) but we just paid the minimum fare of P7.50 each. We were dropped by the highway thus we just followed the signboards. It was our first time there and it was not exactly what I’m expecting, though I was amazed to see how the strawberry farm looked like. Together with the strawberries were lettuces. The plan was we would pick strawberries. But since it was a bit hot already (we believe we got our sunburn here!), we decided to just take pictures and try the strawberry ice cream instead (Yum! Yum! You’ll have to chew tidbits of strawberries on it!) We’ll have fresh strawberries from the market tomorrow since we have lots of places to visit still today. It’s hot though…. but we did able to return to the highway where we ride another jeep going this time to BELL CHURCH.
The location of the Bell Church or Chinese/Taoist Temple is not that easily visible (not until you asked the driver to drop you there!). It is located at the border between Baguio City and La Trinidad, Benguet and not usually included in a typical Baguio itinerary. That’s why, though I’ve beenhere for the nth time, itwas indeed my first time (and Gil of course!). From the highway, you would not think a heaven-like compound was lying beyond the hallway. The walls were written with Chinese characters and as you climb upstairs, you would be surprised to see the intricately designed arches, pagoda roofed temples, bells, dragons, lotus and fishponds along with several gods as Buddha and artifacts of the Taoist faith artistically set all over the hill. It was our personal decision not to enter the main temple anymore to give due respect to the church’ believers. It was indeed one of the best tourist spots in Baguio I’ve ever been to (and Gil too!) thus we never wasted a single minute taking pictures of every angle of the place! It was really a beautiful and colorful experience being here!

We were supposed to visit next Tam-Awan Village but since we haven’t had
enough research about it (and that no one along the vicinity knows how to get there), we decided to return back to the city proper for lunch. We commute again and were dropped in front of Baguio City Hall. Since we were there already, why not have a stopover at the place? So, we crossed the street and took pictures of the hall situated up the hill. It was somewhat similar to Manila City Hall with the big clock on top, only cleaner and fresher in the eyes.

We were thinking of having our favorite KFC chicken at SM (again) but along the way, we saw already a KFC chain. We remembered being in this place last night (when we we’re looking for SM). Meaning, we’re actually at Session Road last night, the end point of which is SM City. (Glad we’d familiarized the place already!). We had the KFC Session Road instead and indulged with our favorite ‘finger licking good’ Chicken and a sip of Strawberry Fritz. (What I actually love about KFC is their Sweet-Chili sauce, which is beginning to be unavailable in most branches. Hope not it to be faced out eventually).

On our way to the hotel, we thought of making vegetable salad but upon reaching the Baguio Market, we decided to have fresh fruits as strawberries and ripe mangoes instead.

The first half of the day was indeed fun and exhausting, thus we’re given the chance to take a nap after a feast with the fruits we bought. Since it rained hard that afternoon, we were able to continue the tour at around 5pm.

The taxi driver acted like a tourist guide on our way to The Mansion and Wright Park. We passed by the Teachers’ Camp, which is the usual lodging place of our seminars, and conventions way back high school. When we came to the place, we’re amazed with another strawberry product- the Strawberry Taho (It’s nice the Baguio people were able to maximize the use of their product) that is definitely a must-taste delicacy!
It was both our first time in The Mansion and Wright Park (and Camp John Hay later). The Mansion House-as we all know is the official summer residence of the President of the Philippines from Manuel L. Quezon to present and said to be an exact replica of the one found in Buckingham Palace in London.

Right in front of The Mansion is the ‘Pool of Pines’ or Wright Park named after Governor Luke E. Wright of Philadelphia. It was a beautifully man-made elongated shallow pool surrounded by flowers and trees. Upon reaching the end-point is the big gazebo (made-up of big trunks of trees), where we’ve had an amazing pictorials (lol!) From there is a walkway leading to a wide stairway made up of stones descending to the riding circle where ponies are kept. The colorful ones were soOo cute! We didn’t able to rent out one for we’re running out of time (few minutes before 6pm) and we still have Camp John Hay on our list today. (We we’re so going here again for that matter in particular!) lol.

We were dropped by the Mile Hi Center at Camp John Hay where cozy restaurants, CJH duty-free commissary and branded outlets are in store. We headed left passing along Camp Manor Hotel- one of the cozy hotels in Baguio. It’s cold indeed, it’s past 6:00pm and we’re beginning to feel dizzy for we haven’t seen any taxi or any means of transpo within the vicinity plus we rarely saw people strolling around. We managed to walk our way up and found the Statue of Liberty in a mini park, which is according to research is an exact replica of the original one found in Point De Grenelle Bridge, Seine River in France. Digicam’s battery warns low, it’s beginning to get dark and we totally don’t know where we’re heading. You know what? We ended up walking on the two-kilometer eco-trail, cold and afraid. The place is definitely nice and relaxing, but since it’s quite dark and we’re already in doubt whether we could find a taxi on our way out, we hardly appreciate the beauty of the place anymore.
We ended up in a row of restaurants and hardly saw Shalan ni Kabadjo horse back riding a stone’s throw away. There were still few people around the area but only private vehicles were there. We we’re waiting for few minutes already outside Starbucks when three people coming from the inside walked towards the left direction and so we followed. It’s been minutes of walking, and upon passing at Cap John Hay Trade and Cultural Center, a taxi came out but only to cater to the three people in front of us. It’s been a while before another taxi came. We were so much relieved! The experience of being lost at Camp John Hay that gloomy night and walking with no direction at all would definitely be one of the unforgettable experiences of this trip.

In order to fix things for tomorrows’ departure, we secured bus tickets ahead of time thus we went straight to Victory Liner Terminal. We were surprised to see piles of passengers again and were really thankful we thought of booking in advance. We were scheduled tomorrow, April 6 at 1:10pm.

Next stop is the Baguio Cathedral but since we’re stuck to a heavy traffic, we just walked and realized you can actually whirl though the whole city proper by mere walking alone. I was just in time for the homily (Gil waited for me outside). It was Palm Sunday then, I bought ‘palaspas’ and able to have it blessed after the mass.

Since tonight is gonna be our last night here, we thought of having a romantic dinner but since our legs were beginning to cramp again (imagine where we’ve been through today!), we decided to just take out Chicken Lauriat for me and Fish Fillet Lauriat for Gil from Chowking. He also bought a box of Pepperoni and Mushroom pizza from Yellow Cab. The romantic dinner turned out to be gluttony one! PIG OUT!! (lol)

I was so sleepy after that meal I couldn’t fix the mess anymore. Gil was with the tub preparing. I was so cold I knew I would never have a good sleep if I didn’t have a hot bath tonight. The hot water really helped! We actually slept over the tub without us knowing. And so we’re off to a very sound sleep. ZZzzzz…


Related Posts with Thumbnails