Friday, April 27, 2012

Indonesia's Snakefruit: Thankfully It Doesn't Hiss

This is a quick post--I've been so busy the past weeks I've been remiss with this blog.

Remember my post about practicing eating with chopsticks for my upcoming travels in Southeast Asia? I was already happy with two trips, then I heard the news that I'll be sent to Indonesia. I was trying my best not to look too excited.

Anyway, on our second night, a compatriot living in Jakarta showed us around. At the grocery, he pointed out an unusual looking fruit, aptly named the snake fruit. Intrigued I tried some at breakfast the next day.
They were the size of mangosteens.
You eat it by first peeling it with your hands from the pointy tip.
The fruit sections look like garlic cloves. It tasted like a dry, nutty guyabano, with a hint of durian. I'm not crazy about it. At the very least its interesting. I only tasted one--next time I'll give it another go.

More on my travel to Indonesia soon.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Baguio Quickie

I was born in Baguio, a city located in the higher altitudes of the northern Luzon. It is the country's summer capital because of its cool weather. My earliest childhood memories consist of our stay in a small mining community a few hours from the city--wooden fences, pine trees, shavings of ham, the night's biting chill. A few weeks ago we made a short trip to the city to check out The Suites of The Manor at Camp John Hay as a possible training venue.

A few minutes before entering the city proper, our van broke down. While waiting for it to get fixed, I played with my new phone and came across this.
It looks like a yellow aphid. A big yellow aphid. What do you think?

Good thing we traveled via Marcos Highway. Some parts were steep, but it is the fastest way on land to Baguio. Here is the view where our van almost conked out.
We arrived a little after lunch. We first ate at Le Chef of The Manor. Lunch was superb, as expected, what with Chef Billie King at the helm. Just my luck--I was only able to click at the dessert.
We then proceeded to check the rooms and conference facilities of The Suites, which was a hop and a skip away from the Manor.
Like I mentioned earlier, it was a brief trip. Work was done around 4pm. On our way back to Manila, we dropped by the town of Villasis, Pangasinan to check the market. One of my bosses buys his vegetables here whenever he's in the area. Since I live practically alone, I bought easy-to-cook items, like sweet potatoes, the kind whose meat turns yellow when boiled, and tuyo (dried fish).
I fell in love with the Suites, but I won't be returning or the seminar. On the same dates I'll be flying somewhere else. I'll write about it next time.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Cagayan de Oro the Second Time Around

This is my second post on Cagayan de Oro. You can read the first one here. We stayed at Mallberry Suites Business Hotel, conveniently located near a mall, and the rooms were not bad at all.
My friend alerted me that the steaks at the hotel's Rosso Steakhouse Restaurant were good. It's always full at night--it appears to be a popular dating venue.
On my first night i tried the Rib Eye Minis, medium rare. It was quite good, although some of the edges were tough. I paired this with a glass of shiraz.
The following night I tried the U.S. Rib Eye, again medium rare. It was tender all throughout, and very savory. Unfortunately they overcooked the meat.
By the way, rosso is red in Italian. The hotel plays the color game with its Cafe Berde, Blue Duck Bar, and The Tangerine Restaurant.

In the eve of my departure, I went to the popular Candy's, located at nearby Rosario Strip for for beer (look at how frosty the bottles looked) and relaxation. Their pizza was quite good too.
I brought some pineapples back at home, and they were delicious. CDO is near Bukidnon, home to the Del Monte Pineapple Plantation.
Next time I want to try more steaks, eat at Cafe Laguna, and see the museum.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Preparing for my Southeast Asian Travels

When the student is ready the teacher will come. For years whenever we dine at Japanese and Chinese restaurants, I resisted learning how to use chopsticks. I just didn’t feel the need. I’d always ask for “kubyertos”—for fork and spoon. My friends would protest, appeal to reason, and finally glare at me, but I’d just dig my heels in, deriving perverse pleasure from defying them. Lately, I have turned into a new leaf—I now eat lunch with chopsticks. Blame this on my impending travel to neighboring countries. I have been asking my colleagues for their stash, and in case those would run out I have on standby the steel ones, a gift from an officemate from her Korean sojourn.

Pictured here is my latest attempt at mastering the wooden utensils. I usually order meals with bite-size bits. Lunch is kilawin—a Kapampangan stew of pork meat, liver, heart and kidneys. Yes, I’m not a picky eater. I also like the Pangasinan version—higado—sweetish from bell peppers, but that would be something for my food blog.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cocooning at Marco Polo Davao

I’m a sucker for swanky hotel rooms. Well, at least posher than my home (smile). My idea of heaven is staying in a hotel, ordering in, and snuggling in bed with a book or watching travel shows or bad reality TV.

After months of back-to-back work-related travel, I decided to give myself a treat—a day off at Marco Polo Davao—using my Privilege Membership Club, having joined months earlier. I had my accommodation upgraded to Cabana View Deck, with free breakfast thrown in.

I usually wake up late, but early the next morning I snuck in the patio and watched the light break out from the dark sky, savoring the seconds that appeared to beat slower.