Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bean Hunt at Amadeo's Best

Our hunt for great coffee beans takes us to a small shop on Aguinaldo Highway at the heart of Tagaytay City where they sell Coffee made in Amadeo, Cavite.

The traditional Philippine Barako coffee is sold under the label "Exotic Blend." A one pound (454g) bag will cost you Php170 (US$4.00) for ground coffee. It is foil wrap and has a recommended shelf life of one year, though it actually stays fresh longer than that. Beans are available at Php200 (US$5.00) for 1lb. (454g).

The also sell the so called "Mountain Blend". This is a mixture of Arabica, Robusta and Barako beans. It is priced a bit higher than the Exotic Blend, being priced at Php200 (US$4.50) per pound for grounds and Php230 (US$5.00) per pound from beans.

The last blend they carry is the Cavite Blend, which is a mix of Robusta and Barako, beans at Php200 (US$4.50) per pound. Beans are available at Php230 (US$5.00) per pound.

Monday, June 18, 2007

One Destination

One Destination is a commercial area located on Tagaytay Ridge which houses ten cafe's and restaurants. One Destination is one of the most popular tourist spots in Tagaytay City, especially for domestic tourism. It has a great view of the Taal Lake and the Taal Volcano, and is the spot we chose to start this blog.

Most of the establishments in One Destination are actually common in Metro Manila. This detracts a bit from the charm of the place. But a cup of Mocha on the ridge seems to taste better than it does back in the urban jungle.

List of establishments in One Destination:

Cafe Lupe
Carlos Pizza
Junzi Oriental Cuisine
Mile Hi Diner
Pancake House
Teriyaki Boy
The Grill by Antonios

Mile Hi Diner

Carlos Pizza

Starbucks Coffee

One Destination Parking

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Breakfast at Antonio's

Near the western edge of Tagaytay City is a small restaurant and cafe named "Breakfast at Antonio's." Antonio Escalante, the proprietor, is probably the best known chef in Tagaytay City. He owns two other establishments, the Antonio's and "The Grill, By Antonio's."

Breakfast at Antonio's is situated on the steep ridge of Tagaytay City overlooking the town of Laurel, Batangas. It is a quiet spot located far from the commercial areas of Tagaytay City and gives an excellent view of the Taal Lake and the volcano that it holds. A mix Filipino and Western cuisine is serve here, and the food is excellent.

For Php265-295 (around US$6) you can have your choice of Pork Sausage, Bacon Strips, Farmers Ham or Spanish sausage served with a two eggs and a French panini. For a bit more (Php325, about US$7) you can have one of their Sausage & Scrambles combinations, where you can have your choice of a Schublig, Hungarian or Italian Garlic Sausage served with scrambled eggs served with cheddar cheese, a house potato and a French panini.

The viewing deck at Breakfast at Antonio's gives a nice view of the lake.

Taal Volcano was obscured by the mist durig this visit

They also serve lunch meals starting from Bacolod Grilled Beef Spareribs at Php320 (US$7), to their house specialty, Boiled Black Angus Sirloin Steak, with eggs, a potato and a panini at P950 (US$21).

The prices are on the high end. Not the kind of place I can afford to eat in on a daily basis. An 8-ounce cup of coffee here cost as much as as 16-ounce cup at Starbucks. But this is, fine dining at its best, well worth a 60km drive from Manila, just to have a meal.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hotel on the Ridge: Taal Vista Hotel

Taal Vista Hotel

Taal Vista, means view of Taal. The Hotel that bears this name has an excellent view of the Taal Lake and Volcano, being perched on a steep at an altitude of 600 meters over the lake. Construction of the Tagaytay Vista Hotel started in 1937, making it one of the oldest structures on Tagaytay Ridge.

Taal Vista Hotel has its own backyard garden, with an excellent view of the lake...

... and the volcano (far right).

Originally a lodge, it was later expanded a reclassified as a hotel. It was renovated a few years ago and a new Tagayatay Vista Hotel is presently under construction adjacent to the existing structure.

The Taal Vista Hotel has 128 guest rooms with all the amenities you can expect from first class hotel (how many stars). Accommodations for two, with breakfast included, can be had for as low as Php4,500 (about US$100) per day, plus 10% service charge and 12% Value Added Tax. The most expensive accommodation in the hotel is the Imperial Suite, which is priced at P16,200 (about US$360) per day, but that price includes accommodations and breakfast for four.

The hotel also has its own restaurant and cafe, swimming pool, spa, gym, game room and an indoor children's area. If you feel like a little gambling, Casino Tagaytay Filipino is located right across the hotel. The ground floor of the hotel is covered by WiFi for those who need to stay connected while on vacation. The hotel is also within the coverage of the major local carriers 3G networks.

The "Lobby Lounge"


The hotel also has two ballrooms and six function rooms. The larger ballroom can accomodate up to 700 guests. It is a favorite spot to for holding conferences and seminars. Last time we were there, there where four such activities. The nice thing about having a conferrence or seminar in this place rather than in Metro Manila, is that it makes for much more relaxing environment, but being near enough to the metropolis to keep travel costs down.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Bean Hunt at Bag of Beans

Tagaytay City, Cavite, is known for its beef and coffee. Actually, little, if any, of the beef and coffee sold in Tagaytay is actually produced there. Most of the coffee sold in Tagaytay is produced in the neighboring towns of Amadeo and Alfonso, and the adjoining Province of Batangas. Notably, Amadeo is known as the Coffee Capital of the Philippines. Being a popular tourist destination for both local and foreign tourism, it is a key distribution point.

We get our coffee beans there too. One good source of Coffee Beans is aptly named "Bag of Beans". Bag of Beans is a small cafe located just after the Tagaytay Public at 3650 Aguinaldo Highway, Mendez Crossing West, Tagaytay City.

One of our favorite blends is Bag of Beans' own Excelsa (Baraco) Blend which sells for Php184.80 (a bit less US$4) for a 500 gram bag of ground coffee. Baraco coffee, is a type of coffee grown only in the Philippines, particularly in the provinces of Batangas and Cavite. It belongs to the species Coffea Liberica.

We are fond of the rich strong taste of the Baraco Blend. On every trip, together with the Excelsa Blend we pick-up a bag of Josefino brewed Barraco and Tropical Blend coffee. A bit of variety is always good.

Josefino brewed Baraco is produced in Alfonso, Cavite, and retails at Php156.80 (a bit less than US$3.50) for a 400 gram bag, ground. Tropical Blend is produced in Amadeo, Cavite. It is made from roasted and ground excelsa, robusta and arabica beans. Tropical Brew retails for PhpP120 (a bit less than US$3) for a 500 gram bag.

Bag of Beans also carries their own Arabica Robusta Blend for Php235.20 (US$5) for a 500 gram bag. If you perfer beans to grounds, they carry those too, and they sell for Php5-Php11 (US$0.09-0.19) less.

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