Now this is a new alternative to Tagaytay! It’s also about time that we have a new alternative other than hidden valley in alaminos or Villa Escudero in San Pablo. There are alot of places to visit in San Pablo, Laguna and Tiaong Quezon. I’m glad that they decided to market the place together and not really compete with each other. Ugu and the daughter of Patis Tesoro along with others started to create a brochure and marketing for these destinations called Viaje del Sol. There is a trend now where artist are starting to venture in secret dining places which was started by Sonya’s secret garden. I realized that the culinary tour is just a start for me to explore the wonderful places in Laguna/Quezon area.
My next target places are kinabuhayan cafe, Patio Verde and Carlito’s workshop. There are alot of information in the brochure that I did not scan anymore. Let me know if you need more information or tips around this places. Email me at [email protected] Till our next adventure 🙂
This is not part of the culinary tour anymore but since this is on the way back to Manila, we decided to check this place out. Kusina Salud is an enchanting country home of renowned fashion designer, Patis Tesoro with menu by Chef Paul Poblador of Salud! Bistro in Baguio. It is located in Brgy. Sta. Cruz, San Pablo, Laguna. You won’t miss this on the way to Villa Escudero because there are big signs special on the road going to this place.
Now, at this point, we are all still full and we just decided to drink tea, coffee and eat deserts. Yes, we tried the avocado ice cream and it is a clear winner! It tastes like real frozen avocado in ice cream form. The coffee and tea is also good 🙂 Eating in Kusina Salud at night, does not do justice to the beauty of this place. For sure we’ll go back here specially during Sunday lunch where they have a nice buffet for P500 net.
Great Food, Great Shopping, Great Ambiance, Great Culinary Demo!
This one is off the charts! Ok, I might be exaggerating here but all of us in the tour really raves about this place and some does not even want me to blog about this. I think I haven’t seen alot of news about this place and one of the secret hidden treasures in Manila, indeed 🙂 Ugu’s pottery garden makes Sonya’s Garden an ordinary salad and pasta place. The only catch here is that this place is in Tiaong, Quezon which is about 2 hours outside manila, just past Villa Escudero in San Pablo, Laguna. This is the last and final stop of Tina’s culinary tour.
What makes this place special is that all the architecture and the entire place was built by the owner, Ugu himself. They are a family of artists so some of the family members created native products and jewelry sold in a small nice shop. They are of course expensive but they are nice 🙂 Ugu is well known for his pottery and his products are being used by hotels, etc. There is a pottery gallery where we can buy his works. Although I would suggest that you buy during special sale sessions. There are three sale sessions: first, is the pahiyas sale on May 15 (this would be too crowded); second, on his even birthdays August 14 discounted depending on his age (42% this year); and lastly during the first Sunday of October (Oct. 2 this year).
The food is mind blowingly good even just for merienda. We ate suman with moscovado sugar, sweet ginataan, and fresh buko juice. Although Tina said the sago gulaman would have been the best but was not available. Also, you get to use Ugu’s own pottery plates and glasses set on a weave (banig). Even the cracker’s served was really great and its origin remains to be a secret.
The tour culminates with a culinary demo of “Kulawo” which is banana heart. Now, this is a banana heart that tastes like inihaw na baboy but with a texture of tuna. We can’t believe it either that banana heart can taste this good. At least for this, we know what the secret is which is in cooking the coconut shreds with carcoal as shown in the above left photo. You gotta witness it and taste it to believe it. This demo would exceed your expectations. BTW, I have the recipe for those interested, just email me at [email protected]
Ok, now maybe I raised your expectation already but that was not my intent. My intent is really to share with you that Philippines is sooo beautiful that you just need to explore it. BTW, if you plan to go here, there are no signs along the national highway because Ugu wants it to be a secret. I made a mental note of landmarks along the national highway in Tiaong which is the Ebreo Castillo Agri Poulty Supply, Lusaca highschool, and old Petron Station.
Here is the contact number:
Telefax: (042) 545-9144
Mla. #: 250-8416
A good way to complete the culinary experience is via an afternoon drinking session with Philippine’s own Lambanog. Tina provided a perspective on Quezon’s drinking session rituals or “Tagayan” after the tour of the ancestral house. The lambanog tastes like vodka + tequila in one, and it is very smooth — I liked it! We should start to patronize our own Philippine product. BTW, after the session, we get to take home the bottle of Lambanog 🙂
Sariaya has the best broas in the Philippines period. Villamater’s broas is crispy all throughout and according to Tina, the secret is in the pugon cooking throughout. Too bad, they don’t want to provide a demo on how to bake these sariaya goodies. Villamater’s bakery is just down the street from the ancestral house, and next door, you can buy home made pastillas (see middle picture above). During our trip, their special pastillas de potato was sold out 🙁
This ends of Sariaya leg, and we are all excited with our last pottery garden stop!
Great Ancestral house and a cultural highlight for the tour :)
After eating soo much already at this point, we were looking forward to the Tagayan that Tina promised us in this ancestral house. I’m not really fan of old buildings or structure but I was quite impressed with how this ancestral house was maintained. Of course, the tour guides who just comes in just for us was dressed in barong and saya which transports you back in time.
I let the pictures of this ancestral house to do the talking of how it feels like to be in that house. Frankly, there’s a creepy feel to it, and I cannot imagine living in this house 🙂 This reminds of La Cocina de Tita Monings house. Too bad, they are not serving food inside the house though– if ever food is arranged it is at the back.
The interesting part of the house is the cellar which is where the people would hide from Japanese and there are clothes, beds, and products from that era. Check out the old bottles of consumer products during that time from old coca cola bottles, to baby oil, etc.
The great part is the escape from the cellar as you can see my brother is escaping through a narrow opening 🙂
I do not mean to use alot of superlatives but this is how we felt about the food. It’s alot better than Exotik Restaurant in Laguna. But you need to make sure you have a reservation specially during lunch time. You eat in kubo huts in the middle of a fish pond where there are lots of Tilapia.
Our lunch started with a serving of fresh buko juice and we were glad that all the food was pre-ordered by Tina 🙂 She ordered fresh tilapia, spare ribs and ginataang kuhol — all of them was very delicious. I can’t restrain myself from eating the spare ribs or the ginataan sauce or the fresh tilapia. Truly superb in all aspects and this is the perfect lunch I imagined in a culinary tour of Quezon province. Lastly, the dessert was equally good — it’s like inipit made out of flour and pumpkin with sweet sauce.
At this point, we are all satisfied and we are starting to feel that the tour was worth it. But the best is yet to come 🙂
There were a few sidetrips along the entire tour which are worth noting: Pahiyas Samut Sari, Lucban
Buying pahiyas inspired products is perfect during offseason. We bought a weaved pandan throw pillow worth P120.
Graceland Estates & Country Club, Tayabas, Quezon
It’s has a nice clubhouse, sports facilities and amenities plus the main attraction of man made lagoon. All in the heart of Tayabas, Quezon.
Earth Keeper’s Garden, Tiaong, Quezon
Nice and cozy country feel ambiance. Worth noting is the dining area amidst the forest — really nice.
This one is really really awesome healing church and rosary hill!
This is one of the places that I would surely go back. This shot is taken while it is raining outside so we did not have a chance to savor the beauty of the place. When we are approaching Kamay ni Jesus, we just saw Jesus Christ statue on top of the mountain. Later we realized that it was a rosary garden where you have to climb 200+ steps as you pray the different rosary mysteries. As you can see in the bottom, there is the last supper and on top, the crucifixion. The Field of Faith never came close to the beauty of this rosary hill.
Kamay ni Hesus features a healing church with Fr. Joey Faller giving a healing mass every Monday and Saturday 9.30am. Approximately the place is just around for a year but there have been some pilgrimage already to this place. When we arrive there are still alot of construction going on in the parking lot. This is still in Lucban and would definitely be in our next itinerary when visiting Lucban.
After breakfast, we went on the culinary demo by Milada Dealo Valde (Ka Mila), owner of the koffee klatch and head of the Quezon provincial tourism council. Did you know that Kiping is made from Rice Galapong and can be eaten like kropek? Yes, it can be fried or grilled and perfect with a vinegar dip (see yellow kiping below). We liked the grilled one alot better 🙂 As you can see my focus is still food and not really how to make it. I guess I have admitted to myself that I don’t like cooking so I leave it up to my wife and her friends to figure out how to make it. BTW, kiping is the popular decoration they used during the pahiyas festival and almost all the houses in lucban knows how to do it.
The next demo was about the longganisa lucban or according to Mila, shortanissa because I began to be shorter than they used to make it. She stressed on using no preservative, using oregano, and making sure that it is air dried. Also, according to her, a longganisa without fats would be dry and that it why they still used pork with fats normally the neck part of a pig. My wife had a chance to pack a longganisa and it’s not an easy task — you need to have patience 🙂
Special for my blog readers, I have the recipes for making both so just email me at [email protected].