June 20, 2017

Pizza Volante at Wright Park

Pizza Volate - Wright Park, Baguio City

People associate Baguio City with it's year-round cooler temperature than any metro in the country. But for me honestly, Baguio City is all about food. With it's mild and cool climate, perfect for growing the freshest produce, Baguio City boasts of its high grade greens and veggies which makes every single food item a magical ingredient.

We were supposed to go to the Ilocos region in celebration of my cousin Judy's birthday, but we decided to cut our trip short and visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan. After we heard mass and said our prayers to Mama Mary, we decided to go up the Cordilleras and have lunch at Baguio City. Baguio City is nestled atop the province of Benguet, in the Cordillera mountain range, the reason why it has way better temperatures during these hot months, also the reason it is dubbed at the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

My friend Myrcel at Pizza Volante

Located roughly 246 kilometers north of Manila, we reached Baguio City in search of Lunch. Yes! We drove all the way up (5,000 ft altitude) just for a good and hearty lunch. Quickly, we have decided to have it at Pizza Volante. Around 9 years ago, me and my brother Wilson went up to Baguio and have tried Pizza Volante on their Session Road branch so I suggested we try their food the their place just in front of the famous Wright Park, near the Mansion.

The place is cute with a log-cabin inspired store with quite a few outdoor seats. We opted to be seated outside to enjoy the beautiful cool afternoon that it was. It was around 2 in the afternoon but the temperature is a perfect 24 degrees. Our kind server asked us for our orders and just as usual, we ordered all the same thing. But aside from our steaks, we also got a plate of pasta and a pan pizza for sharing.

Our hungry Birthday celebrant Judy waiting for Lunch

Note: Since the restaurant is located just across Wright Park, where horseback riding is an popular activity, we recommend taking the indoor tables.

But since the stench that time was not that strong, we seated comfortably on the outdoor seats, chatting right after we said our orders. We all ordered Porterhouse Steaks - all three of them had theirs Medium Well and mine, my usual Medium Rare. Let me run you through the dishes we had that lunch time.

Pasta Putanesca (Php 225.00)

Spaghetti Pasta topped with sauce made of Tomatoes, anchovies, black and green olives, and topped with parmesan cheese. Since this is a pasta dish, let me start with the noodles. It was a borderline of good and soggy. The consistency was passable but I have to be honest, it does bother me every time I chew on it.

But the sauce was another story. It was seasoned well, just perfectly to bring out the real taste of its ingredients. I also have to commend the amount of time that they used to cooked the sauce because the tomatoes and olives are not too chunky (I hate sauces with undercooked veggies - it's a sauce ok, not a salad). So overall, I think this was a good dish, but yes, the mid-soggy noodles were a bit bothering to me.

Porterhouse Steak - 250 g (Php 229.00)

So this was our main course, four plates of this one, each for one of us! This was a little disappointing for me. This one was served cold. I mean, not the cold cold from the fridge of course, but way colder than how you should serve a newly cooked meal. For the price of 229 pesos, which was super cheap for a 250 g steak to be honest, it was okay. But still, even for a low price, they should have done better.

Served with gravy, corsican rice, and mixed vegetables, I thought I was the only one with the cold steak since I ordered Medium Rare, but even for my friends who ordered it Medium Well, they did have the same findings. At first I thought it was the weather that it made it so cold so fast, but I don;t think it is since as our kind server handed us the plates, we started to dig in.

As per the menu, this were grilled over Lava rocks, so maybe I thought this is how it ends up when you cook them in that way. But I'm sure they can do so much better than this one. I think they should cut the steak proportionally too as to distribute the heat evenly , because my steak in particular, has a big flap of meat over the other so when I opened the fold, it was too rare on the inner parts where-in I can still see the shiny silvery things aside from the expected bloody finish.

10 inch Half Marengo - Half Kenny George (Php 269.00)

From a disappointing dish, let's move on to our last dish that did made me smile. Really, their pizza is their forte. From the perfect texture of their cheese (not just because of a high grade cheese but because of the perfect amount of time to melt it) to its amazing dough, this is a delight! I mean, just take a look at that photo above. You can see how perfectly kneaded the flatbread is on its crust. Not too thin but not too thick. And unlike the steak, this was served on a better temperature (still not perfectly hot though to tell you the truth).

Note: You can order your pizzas half-and-half (half of a flavor and half of another) on their 10 inch pan pizzas.

This oven-baked dish really saved the day for me. If not for this pizza, I wouldn't have written this article about our lunch at Volante but hey, I guess with this, they can do a better job on their other dishes, and not just with their Pizza.

***

Will I go back to Volante the next time I visit Baguio City? Probably yes! Will i order steak again, maybe I'll pass on the steak. But Pizza? Definitely! They still have a lot of pizzas for me to try which really gave me a hard time what to choose - Sardines and Mushroom Pizza, Chili con Carne Pizza, and Pizza Putanesca to name some of their works of art.

See more stories about their own places on earth at Our World Tuesdays

Never Stop Tasting!
Steve

Food Photograph credits to my best friend Rjay Miranda

June 17, 2017

Jusangjeolli and Jeongbang Waterfalls - Jeju Island Series Part 3

Striking a Pose by the Jeongbang Waterfalls

On our third day at South Korea, and also our third and last day in Jeju island, we decided to visit the nearby spots on our hotel. We were staying at Days Hotel Jeju Seogwipo Ocean located at the southern part of Jeju island province. We fixed all our things on our luggage so that when we get back from our short morning nature trip around the city, we'll be ready to go to the airport to board our evening flight back to Seoul.

First up, we decided to visit the Jusangjeolli Cliff. Located about 20 kilometers west from our hotel, the cliffs are one of the famous attractions in the south of Jeju. Tourists flock to see the basalt rock formations on the side of the sea. Since Jeju is an island formed by prehistoric volcanic eruptions, this unusual landscape is one of its products.

Ate Judy, Me, and Kuya Wilson at Jusangjeolli Cliff

We rode a cab that took us straight to the attraction. We passed by beautiful condominium complexes and university buildings that are built aesthetically. Everything was paved beautifully and everywhere you look, plants and trees are just growing together with the city's urbanisation. In about 25 minutes, we arrived to our destination.

It was amazing when we arrived because there was no entrance fee during that day, this is because of the month-long Spring Festival that the city is celebrating. It was a big thrill because this means that other attractions will also be free of charge because of this celebration. They call this month-long occasion as the "April Spring Scent".

Free admission that day due to "April Spring Scent"

We walked just a few feet away from the entrance and the springtime breeze from the ocean just started to embrace us, and then there it is. We are standing on a wooden structure built above the beautiful towering basalt rocks as the wind blew so strong! I was holding on to my glasses since I kept on switching from sunglasses to my corrective lenses but my cousin Judy did not escape the joking breeze when she dropped her sunglasses. Don't worry, it was not on the cliff side, but on the safe side. We waited for the other visitors to pass by us before I dived and reached for it.

Read about the first part of my Korean Adventure here: Roadmap to Jeju - Jeju Island Series Part 1

My Mommy and the amazing view of the Jusangjeolli Cliff.

After a few more pictures and breathing in the fragrant ocean breeze, we walked all the way up. I love the spring weather! The sun is up high but it doesn't feel harsh to my skin because the cool wind brushes it off.

Just before we left, I saw a tent with an elder Korean guy tending a table with an array of beautiful postcards. I checked each of it and read from its info that the photos were taken by just one name. Then I asked the man and found out that all these photos are taken by him. They are amazing photographs that feature the variety of scenes all around the island of Jeju.

All these postcards and photos are taken by the kind Korean man beside me

I bought a few cards as souvenirs and a few gifts to some friends abroad and then we decided to go to our next attraction. We wanted to see a waterfall but we can't really decide which waterfall to visit since there's quite a few even in Seogwipo itself. Finally, we decided that we will be visiting Jeongbang Falls which is just about a mile away from the hotel. So we walked all the way out from the attraction park to the highway and took a cab all the way to the waterfalls.

See more of Jeju Island including Udo island, Seongsan Ilchulbong here: Udo Island and Seongsan Ilchulbong- Jeju Island Series Part 2

We arrived at the heart of Seogwipo and into the seaside where we were dropped off by our cab. We walked all the way inside and reached the beginning of the stairs that descents from the top, all the way to the base of Jeongbang Waterfalls. Even from the middle of the stairs, you will already have a picturesque view of the waterfalls that cascades all the way to the open sea.

Jeongbang Waterfalls

It was majestic! When I was younger, I always feared waterfalls, especially the force and the sound that it makes, it scares me for real. But then I grew and with it grew my love and appreciation for this beautiful body of water that just brings out life and energy to a destination.

There were a lot of tourists that time when we arrived there just past noontime but its beauty is just enchanting. It is the very first waterfall that I have seen that shares a view with an open sea so it was quite astonishing just to be there, stand silently, and just feel the presence of God's creation.

Right after a few pictures and video shots, we decided it was time to go back to the city and grab some lunch before we head back to Jeju International Airport to catch our evening flight going back to the mainland. It was a quick, fast day but these spectacular sights just made all of it extra special.

See you again, Seogwipo!

***

Never Stop Being Amazed!
Steven

June 5, 2017

Cafe 506

Cafe 506 (Photo by my best friend Rjay Miranda)

Celebrating my 27th birthday, my High School best friends asked if I have something to do that Sunday afternoon? I just got home from a trip to Tagaytay with my dad, brother Wilson, and cousin Judy when I said I have nothing going on after lunch. So they told me about their plans of visiting our friend at the hospital in Cavite City and we'll have lunch thereafter.

It was quite a talk before we finally decided to have our lunch at Cafe 506. Located at EPZA Diversion Road, Kawit, Cavite, Cafe 506 has a wide array of delicious goodies on their Menu. It was probably my 3rd or 4th visit that time and I can see how they continue to improve and add more dishes to their list.

Happy 27th to Me (Cafe 506 - June 4, 2017)

I would have to say that the place feels homey and nice. I'm sure they can further improve the overall feel of the place especially with the lighting. I know how lighting is a challenge for cafes especially during the daylight, if ever they want to let their guests have that certain feel of a cozy ambiance despite the strong sunlight but there are ways I'm sure.

The greeter led us to our table. The place was not packed on that Sunday afternoon but there were a few groups enjoying their meal as we passed them by going to our table by the east window. Our waiter took our orders and we were so happy when our food arrived after about 15 minutes. Here are the dishes we ordered, of course I took a taste test of each and every one of my friend's foods HAHA

Kim Cheese Rice Bowl (Php 198.00)

My best friend Rjay ordered the Kim Cheese Rice Bowl. This dish is probably their own take on the Korean Bibimbap. Although without the usual vegetables that are present on the traditional Bibimbap, they stir fried the rice on Korean Red Bean paste and rounded it all up with Korean Style Barbequed Beef. To finish it all, Fried egg on top!

The taste of the rice is definitely Korean. The red been paste was very present to the stir fried rice and I have to say, the sweetness and saltiness of the beef complimented the dish's overall taste. To be honest, it was a little too tasty for me because I would really like the taste of the beef (especially the fatty parts) to shine through but it has been overpowered by the seasonings of the beef.

Pancit Palabok (Php 98.00)

Now to me, this one is THE BOMB! Their Pancit Palabok, which was my friend Faith's order, tastes perfect for me. Not too bland, but not too salty, which is usually the problem to anyone's Pancit Palabok. This particular dish needs extra care when it comes to the seasonings especially the amount of Fish Sauce that has to go to its sauce. A little more than the right amount of Patis [fish sauce] can turn your Palabok into a bed of salt.

But this particular one, I have to say, is seasoned perfectly! The noodles on the other hand is boiled to its correct firmness. If I have to go back, I'll definitely order this one.

Pritchon (Php 160.00)

Our class Valedictorian Ferdie Ray decided on the Pritchon. It is the traditional Lechong Kawali or Deep Fried Pork Belly, served with garlic rice and fried egg. Nothing very special about this dish but I have to commend the correct amount of time it took them to fry this up because it is both cooked well and the skin is perfectly crispy.

Beef Lasanga (Php 188.00)

Our dear driver Myrcel (she's also one of my best friends of course) opted for the cafe's Beef Lasagna. It looks so good and oozing with so much cheese, I mean, who doesn't love cheese? The pasta was cooked perfectly, just like the other noodle dishes we ordered, but here's my take on the taste though. They tend to go on the sweeter side on this one, and I may say, it was too sweet for my liking.

For me, if you are to make beef dishes, it is of prime decadence to bring out that natural savory taste of beef. It is a taste that I can only find in beef, which is very crucial as to working on dishes that showcases it. In our family of self-taught cooks, we have a saying that if you don't know how to bring out the flavor in beef, then better to use pork instead (pork is relatively cheaper than beef in my side of the world). Maybe they added too much sugar or the sauce based they used is more on the sweeter side. Over all, it wasn't that bad, but I've tasted a lot of better lasagnas than this one.

Longganisa Pomodoro Pasta (Php 150.00)

From a not so good pasta dish, let's move on to another pasta dish. This one is my choice and I have to say, I am proud of what I decided on. Their Longganisa Pomodoro is amazing. The dish was perfect, well, at least for my own set of taste buds. They used Penne pasta on their Pomodoro but they made the dish their own by using Longganisa for its meat component.

Longganisa, for those who aren't familiar with it, is a native Filipino sausage. Usually made of pork, it is popularly served fried for breakfast with rice and egg. What makes it different for it's cousin, the chorizzo, is the fact that it's cased slightly loose. Though both cased on sub-mucosa or animal intestine layer, most longganisas are not pressed as tight as the chorizo which is a lot more firmer.

Back to the dish, they made their Pomodoro sauce a fusion of all the tastes that we want. Sour from the tomato sauce, sweet from the longganisa, and yes, spiced by Chili! I would not actually recommend this dish to people who hates (and fears) spicy food but to those who love it, oh you have to try this one! Never to forget is the Parmesan cheese sprinkled over the delectable sauce that seals the deal with it's savory goodness.

From L-R: Marvin, Faith, Ate Judy, Ferdie Ray, Myrcel, Me, and R-Jay

Ate Judy and Marvin ordered their burger entrees served with their homemade shoestring fries and dip. We had a great time at lunch together and we all enjoyed our food. One thing that we love to do when dining out (which others think is weird) is we love to taste all of each other's dishes. It's a way to enjoy the restaurant and to know which dish we will actually order the next time we visit the place with our family or friends.

***

My Birthdays are never complete without spending it with these amazing people! Everytime I add up a year to my existence, I also add up another 365 days of laughter, tears, expeiences, and memories with these amazing set of weirdos friends. I am now 27 years old, which means I've been friends with these people for almost 23 years now, we've all been classmates since Kindergarten up until we graduated high-school, and we have no plans of breaking any ties for as long as we live.

Cafe 506 is located at:
EPZA Diversion Rd, Kawit
Cavite, PHILIPPINES
Phone: (046) 443 7581


Never Stop Friendship!
Steven

June 3, 2017

"They Say" Episode 4: Fast Food


No matter how many calories our favorite 'value meal' has, we can easily admit that fast food, at times, equates to comfort food. Oh that greasy burger, slices of cheese, and who will ignore that crispy french fried potatoes! Not me of course.

The Philippines has a wide variety of Fast Food chains both local and international that offers all kinds of goodies that we love. Whether we order it a-la-carte or by value meals, these places just gives us the sense of inner happiness with the very first big bite of that Big Mac from McDonald's or a forkful of that Jolly Spaghetti. One more thing that any Filipino would love to debate about is which chain has the best Fried Chicken.

I asked a few of my friends on what for them is the best fast food chain ever in the Philippines. Check out their answers below:

Jayson S
Jollibee

"Jollibee is Pinoy. The default go-to place for the hungry. Their food items are affordable, tasty, and sulit. Chicken Joy with Palabok [is my favorite from Jollibee]."

Kathleen L
Burger King

"I eat there two to three times a month. I'm good with their whooper burgers, even the cheeseburger is promising for starters. It's also worth mentioning their apple and orange juice for those who want to negate soda in their diet. Burger King is inventive when it comes to burger, from providing a wide variety of options, to serving their customer with freshly made burger. I love their flame grilled and juicy patty."


R-Jay M
Jollibee

"Even though I was a "McDonald's kid" before, I can't seem to get away with Jollibee. I guess it's because the menu is a diverse mashup of the Western and some Filipino comfort food. My favorite is non other than the Chickenjoy which just hits the spot! I usually go there averaging from 2-5 times a month."

Mark Gabriel L
McDonald's

"For me, the choice boils down to these two: McDonald's and Jollibee. It took me a while to decide which, for me, is the best fast food because I really like the both of them. What I love about Jollibee is the simplicity of the Yum and the pasta sauce of Jolly Spaghetti. I like the Jolly Hotdog and the Cheesy Bacon Mushroom Yum as well. However, the "overall" ambiance of Jollibee stores is a major turn off for me. It often feels so chaotic and sometimes gross. McDonald's on the other hand is cozy. What I love about McDo is their Double Cheeseburger (after taking off the pickles) and of course, the Big Mac! I like crispy chicken sandwich and McSpicy Chicken Sandwich (but they stopped selling this, I think). I like McDonald's fries more than Jollibee's. Jollibee's fries are bland and dry. Before I stopped drinking softdrinks, I used to order McFloat. Now I just order their orange juice or pineapple juice (rarely though). Having said all of these, McDonald's is the best fast food chain."

Ralph John S
Burger King

"My favorite fast food chain in the Philippines is probably Burger King! I usually order their signature Whooper, and of course with a large side order of onion rings. I usually eat there once a week since it's just 3 blocks away from where I currently live."


Jane G
Jollibee

"I believe the best fast food chain in the Philippines is Jollibee. It is the best because you would see the people falling in line and even willing to wait just to have a taste of their food, not to mention they are now global! My favorite items from Jollibee is their TLC [Tomato-Lettuce-Catsup] and Choco Sundae."



Never Stop Eating! 
Steve

THEY SAY is a segment on my blog which features a little survey where I asked a few of my friends and readers about a certain subject. A Topic is started and they would respond in the way it applies to their lives and experiences.