Finally, I can say that Charley's is one of the best places for group food trips! It is unique because of its Equestrian farm setting -- think beautiful horses as an ambiance, cool Batangas winds, and good food by no other than Mr. Popit De Leon (P800/head). I can't believe that we are in Lipa, Batangas and we have to thank Charley Leviste- Antonio's family for opening up their gorgeous Lipa farm / house on weekends to the public. I have so much things to say about Charleys so this will be a trilogy series on the best of Charley's.
First, I was pleasantly surprised that Poch, who initiated this Food Trip to Charley's, was able to confirm 16 participants to this food trip. Not even the controversy surrounding the Levistes of Lipa can stop us from going last Saturday. It was a mix group of the who's who of McCann Erickson (great people) and my most admired foodie bloggers (I'm also a fan of foodie bloggers). I was so excited because I'm able to meet Joey of 80Breakfasts, Christine of Ramblings from a Gypsy Soul, Wysgal of Rants and Raves, Mila - the watergirl, Tessa, Mrs. Carlos Celdran, Socky of Tennis and Conversation, and Eileen, the OrangePixieGirl -- all in one event. This is like a marketman's EB but I like this setup better because it is more a personal EB of sorts and more time to get to know one another.
Even with this group of 16, it was hard to get to know each of them since I had to balance my passion for photography and talking to each one of them. I wished that there is a part 2 and more! Some readers ask how to get invited to these events, well I don't know... Sometimes, it just happens -- like this one. We were also limited by the maximum allowable at Charley's which is 20, so we can't invite as much people to this food trip. This is like a friendster gathering where you invite a friend and later on you find out that he is a friend of a friend. Somehow, we are all connected at one point and the 6 degrees of separation holds true.
Back to Charley's... Overall, We had a great time! Nothing can beat great company, perfect unique ambiance and good food by a Les Roche trained Chef anytime of the day. We were glad that we cancelled our Bohol/ Dumaguete trip and we were able to join this food trip to Charley's. As for the food, everybody agrees that the Fresh tomato soup and the Crepe Suzette cooked in front of you with the aroma embracing the entire room are the hands down killer food. The Mahi-Mahi was a disaster (sorry to say this) but it was supposed to be seared but mine felt raw and mushy. The Batangas Beef Stewed in Rosemary and Wine with Rice Pilaf was yummy because of the sauce and the magic spell of the rosemary. You'll find yourself asking, can we have an extra white rice?
Popit told me that when he cooks in Charley's, he is obliged to use the organic Herbs from Charley's garden. This is the secret in most of the food -- the fresh tomatoes, the basil in the soul, the rosemary in the beef stew, and the lemon grass in the Ice Tea. In the end, Charley also sells them and my wife bought fresh Basil leaves for P20/ bunch . The next day, I'm enjoying pesto pasta prepared by my wife -- super delish!
Thanks to Popit and Charley's for the Wonderful Time!!
Bloggers On A Road Trip by Tennis and Conversation - Know the story on how this food trip was organized.
Lunch at Charley's by ramblings from a gypsy soul - Check out Christine's love for the horses!
Saturday's Lunch @ Charley's , Lipa, Batangas - Wysgal's account on last Saturday's awesome lunch.
I read your entry about Viaje del Sol -- and great timing, too, since my
wife and I are planning to drive there this weekend. You mentioned that if
we needed tips I can email you. I was hoping you can help me out with the
itinerary. Like where should we start? And is there a need to call in
Thanks and I hope to hear from you soon.
Glenn, OAP Reader
[Dear Awesome Planet #1] Best of the Philippines in 30 days
[Dear Awesome Planet #2] Golden Sunset Resort, Calatagan
[Dear Awesome Planet #3] My Favorite Blogs about the Philippines
[Dear Awesome Planet #4] Out-of-town Recommendations and "Not to Miss" Restaurants
[Dear Awesome Planet #5] a few photography and blogging questions
I had one of the most interesting and stimulating conversations with strangers lately which makes me love Philippines a lot lot more. Meet George and Amor Bondad, owners of Sitio de Amor in San Pablo, Laguna which is part of the Viaje del Sol group. My friend Luisa and I after visiting Tahanan ni aling Meding decided to check out Sitio de Amor because we are hearing some good stuff about it and they say it was featured in a Dec issue of cosmo magazine. This 4.7 hectares farm place is a budding private resort (turning into a public one) which is a hobby of the Bondad couple for 12 years now. I always like to see these places when they are young and you can see them transform into that beautiful resort. What I like about this place is its simplicity and honesty. Of course this is far from The Farm @ San Benito's landscaping and concept, but this is a better than your typical Pansol Laguna resorts. Best time to go is during the Rambutan Festival in August or in time for the cool weather in Dec/Jan/Feb.
This is the scene that would greet you as you arrive in this mansion in San Pablo Laguna directly in front of the Sampalok Lake. I was curious to check out this mansion cum hotel and restaurant which was described by the viaje del sol brochure as: " Tahanan ni Aling Meding is a tribute to the Borja sibling's parents, especially their mother, Meding, who kept hearth and warm, soothing and comfortable." One of my readers was also raving about the good filipino dishes they serve and that was enough for me to check this place out.
Just a side note: San Pablo, Laguna is a great alternative to tagaytay because it is merely 2 hours away. Imagine I already left manila at 10am and I was leisurely driving to this place and we still arrive at 12nn considering the traffic already in south super highway and in Batangas. Also, I tried to highlight the beauty of this mansion versus the scarry photos found in their brochure.
The verdict: Tahanan ni Aling Meding is San Pablo's version of Tagaytay's Josephine's or Leslie's. If you have a guest where you want them to taste authentic Filipino food at a homey Filipino Mansion ambiance, then this is the place to be. I love eating in their main dining area where you are served with good food with a hospitable service Filipinos are known for, while the Sampaloc Lake winds kissed your face through out your dining experience. Thanks to the Borja family for letting us enjoy their vacation mansion!!
I got an inquiry on Viaje del Sol on what to expect and how much would it costs. I decided to provide a link post for all my best post on this Viaje del Sol journey. I've visited here twice already and I'm going back for a third time to try out the new additions to the Viaje del Sol route.
Viaje del Sol Index
Sitio de Amor Conversations [Viaje del Sol]
[Viaje del Sol] Welcome to Tahanan ni Aling Meding
[Viaje del Sol Series.1] Breakfast @ Kusina Salud
[Viaje del Sol Series.2] Step into Nina's Kusina Salud
[Viaje del Sol Series.3] "Starbucks" stop @ Jay's Kinabuhayan Cafe
[Viaje del Sol Series.4] Postcards from Kinabuhayan Cafe
[Viaje del Sol Series.5] The Charm of Kubli Springs
[Viaje del Sol Series.6] Sumptuous Lunch @ Ugu Bigyan!
[Viaje del Sol Series.7] Ugu Bigyan's Pottery Garden Postcards
[Viaje del Sol Series.8] Carlitos' Workshop - Our Last Stop
Viaje del Sol Review
This our last stop of the tour, and unfortunately Carlito's was in Manila working on his exhibit in Megamall. BTW, his house is practically an exhibit of most of his works and I captured some more photos of his steel sculpture. Like an exhibit, It would be great if the host or somebody would be there to tour you around the exhibit to give you the stories behind the masterpieces. I posted earlier a mini-series on Carlito's Workshop:
Carlito's Workshop 1-- Intimidating House with Surprisingly Hospitable Host!
Carlito's Workshop 2 --Photogenic House with an Outstanding Garden :)
Carlito's Workshop 3 -- Carlito's Coffee
The only difference now, is that recently he is charging P100 as an entrance fee to Carlito's Workshop. Worth it if he is around to entertain you personally.