Saturday, October 20, 2012

Josephine's at Tagaytay

My vacation is coming to its last leg meaning soon I will return to my reality which is work and taking care of several important things. The thought of returning to work in time for month end is definitely terrifying as I will most likely have to shackle myself to my desk. Then there are those tasks I have postponed before I left which I now regret! Enough of my public vent.

Yesterday my uncle and aunt took my bratpack including my cousin and nephew to Tagaytay. It's considered a beautiful provincial area not as populated as the city but is very much a tourist attraction due to its mountains and the Taal Volcano. We had lunch at Josephine's Restaurant where we ate clam soup, a vegetable dish called Pinakbet and steamed Tilapia. I thought the soup was good the vegetable dish was alright and the Tilapia I feel was a bit over cooked as it was not as moist as how my mom at home makes it (maybe I just miss home). The Pinakbet was alright, I avoided the bittermelon, but supposedly there was no meat (which I was not looking for).

This restaurant was very much a tourist hot spot as it had very high ceilings with glass windows from the floor up which showcased a picturesque view of the Taal volcano. Service was decent there were several waiters running around everywhere but I thought it was really funny though how none of the waiters knew the correct WIFI code ... maybe they just didn't want to give it to us. The restaurant was already decorated in Christmas decor since the Philippines start Holiday celebrations once September hits! They even made/served a typical Filipino Christmas treat called Putoboomboom (I spelled that phonetically) right onsite -- I thought this was neat. It's made of sticky rice with coconut shavings and brown sugar. They also had an onsite ice cream street vendor right at the entrance of the restaurant (my sister bought one and was not stricken with food poisoning).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Yes, I am a brat. I've spent a majority of this vacation shopping. And in the process of being in the brightly lit fake lights I've been distracted. Distracted from the culture, the people and the events around me that I know I need to face.

This morning I woke up fairly moody. Yesterday I had a good two hours during my mani/pedi to quiet down and think about everything. Usually when I arrive in Manila I'm faced with the mental & emotional conflict due to the extreme culture shift from Vancouver. And this time around I know I have tried to distract myself as the last time I was in Manila two years ago my Lolas and my cousin were still alive. I haven't let myself stop to really reflect because being the emotional sop that I am I would probably be in tears for the whole day. But this morning I woke up and I missed my Lola.

Before I get carried away with my emotions, my travel pack and I were brought to lunch at Pepper Lunch at Alabang Town Centre where I had these yummy salmon steaks on a sizzling plate. And then for dinner we ate at Max's Restaurant with my brother's godfather. There was so much food I didn't take photos. Yesterday was a very bad eating day - that may be why I woke up emotional today.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Everyone has expectations. Sometimes its just difficult to keep up with them especially when you are the one being expected to do something.

I've booked a three week 'vacation' in Manila primarily to attend my cousin's wedding. In the last week during and leading up to my vacation I feel like I have had to work more than relax. I absolutely love spending time and catching up with family but when the days are composed of having to see so many people primarily out of custom it begins to be frustrating. There are people I want to see but then there are those who I am forced to see. By forced I mean to say that they are imposed into the schedule. Maybe it's just because I am a brat that I am writing about this but I have yet to fully experience ... freedom. I've felt confined to so many expectations that I can say getting lost at the Mall of Asia yesterday was probably the most freedom I've had in a while (which I of course killed a good portion of my trip budget).

Anyways, enough with the whining. Last Sunday, I went to Red Box Karaoke at Greenbelt 3 with the cousins on my dad's side. Prior to this my sister and I stumbled upon happy hour at Dillinger's Steak & Brew right beside it where we had these twinkie sized mozzarella sticks! It was definitely massive and cheesy --- we washed it down with shots of grey goose (yes that is as gross as it sounds).

On Monday my travel pack (siblings, brother's girlfriend and I) went through the Mall of Asia. We decided to gather our strengths prior to the excursion and have lunch at Burgoo. Maybe it's the restaurants we choose to go to but the salads are far from appetizing. I had a shrimp caesar salad. I guess that was my own fault though as I was never really into caesar salads but I was starving and ate it anyway. For dinner - after our 6 hour shopping expedition - I had a shrimp congee (rice porridge) at Luk Yuen. It definitely brought memories from the previous trips I've had to the Philippines with my family.

As this blog finally comes together, I realize that I am a brat for complaining about seeing family. I almost feel disgusted that I can come from such a position where I can replace a family visit with the need to feel relaxed. All I have to do is look outside to be reminded of how fortunate and blessed I am to have family and be as well off. Is it not normal to have expectations of how a vacation should be?

Saturday, October 13, 2012


It's not very often we are faced with strict customs in Vancouver. From what I've experienced, cultural traditions in Vancouver are fairly flexible. And then you fly twelve hours over the Pacific Ocean to Manila, Philippines --- a completely different world it seems.

I think every time I come here I experience culture shock, the intensity of it varies per trip. This time I traveled to Manila (my birth home) with my siblings and my brother's girlfired so the intensity wasn't too high ... or maybe I've started to become accustomed to the poverty and shanty homes that line the busy streets? I hope not. Immediately after arrival we were faced with 'Customs'. I was a horrible travelerand I didn't check the expiry date on my passport therefore risked deportation. Since I made it within the two day grace period, I was allowed into the country (I hope they will let me return home)!

Upon arriving at my uncle's place we were greeted with an abundance of food -- a Filipino norm. I hit them with a surprise of my being vegetarian after I had of course nibbled on what I could for breakfast ... which was plenty since there was a plethora of food to choose from.

It's been very difficult when we go out as I can't just have a random salad. It's hard to find a healthy quick bite, like an apple, while my siblings and cousins eat a pizza. I've been carrying around a bag of nuts -- although peanuts are on my 'do not eat' list.

My cousin's wedding at the Sofitel Hotel was pretty amazing though! She had a SALAD BAR ... yes, not just one salad but various kinds AND there were steamed vegetables ... which almost looked to be garnish for the roast lamb but I took them anyway, hahaha. I guess that's all I have to blog about for now. My lack of photos stem from my lack of motivation to take photos of my food (a combination of both the humidity and jet-lag).

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Vegas Havoc

Last May I had the opportunity to travel to Vegas with a few of my great friends and while what happened during that time is not what this blog talks about I would like to say that I don't regret a thing.

Anyways, one of my very vivid memory of Vegas was going to the Wicked Spoon  at the Cosmopolitan Hotel for a lunch buffet. First off let me say that I was entranced by the rain of crystal chandeliers that hung from the ceiling. It was almost maze-like trying to find this buffet within the Hotel and this definitely was a random non-preset destination from what I remember. I think we waited about fifteen minutes until we were able to ransack the buffet tables ---except when I say ransack I mean walk elegantly in a dainty manner. This buffet was super cute as everything was served in small dishes --tapas style. There was also a wide assortment of pre-mixed salad and I remember having some kind of salmon sashimi come in a this little cup (I have no photo or vivid visual description for you but it was yummy and pretty. I should have taken a photo of everything but at the time I was not food blogging and could not rationalize taking a photo of food versus eating food.

Dessert was the only time I took photos as they were sooo pretty! Sometimes I wish I could bake/cook/make (?) dessert that didn't taste like a spoon full of sugar or rocks that broke your teeth --- but then I'm sure would become obese. Anyways I took a photo of this dessert selection (only 1/5th of what was available) and I took a picture of a plate. I think I tried to sample every pretty dessert available. And I realized that similar to my dating experience this summer the desserts were pretty and sweet but when it gets down to it there was nothing substantially valuable in them.

 Wicked Spoon on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Return of the food whore

I've recently rediscovered my blog and have decided it was time to make my return. This time it will be much more fun as I am an eight month old fish eating vegetarian =)

While I think back a few months to remember what I've eaten I realize that it's pretty difficult to find pretty vegetarian dishes (by think back I mean scroll through the photos on my phone) --- or maybe that's because I rarely make any haha. Below is the only kind of breakfast I can make! Notice the lack of any stove top effort.

During the summer months my most favorite place to eat was at Save On Meats and it was usually a couple of minutes after they opened on a Sunday morning. It was my most favorite breakfast place, especially after a night of intense partying. And since I am the only crazy one among my group of friends to wake up before 8am after a night of mishap, I usually would stumble across the street to my very own booth for a nice private breakfast.

Situated in Vancouver's Gastown (right off the corner of Hastings & Abbott), the Save on Meats diner is a super economical and eccentric food joint -- it costs less than an arm to eat here. While I want to typify the patrons who go there, myself included, I can honestly say that there are a wide assortment of people of different walks of life who have enjoyed the diner's food. In the morning the cops are there, you can find a young family, a cute gay couple and then me!

Their breakfast menu is by far my favorite, or maybe it was because I was obsessed with eggs bennies at the time. They don't have a vegetarian eggs benny special but it was very easy to ask them to substitute the bacon for a slice of avocado on a tomato benny. It was so yummy that every morning I was literally face planted on my friend's window waiting for the diner to open. I've tried them during their non breakfast times pre and during my current vegetarian binge and I was not impressed. Prior to being vegetarian I believe I tried their tuna melt -- this was a bit too salty for me ( I just noticed that I could very well eat this post choice). And another time I had their vegetarian chickpea burger ... I remember thinking it was not too great and quite large! I've also had their salad and I thought it was over tarted (haha not a word I know).

Their service has always been decent, my expectations for service at this hipster-esque diner may not be too high but the waitress has always been friendly. They have appeared on a popular television show called the Gastown Gamble on the Oprah Winfrey Network ---not sure what ever happened to that channel. I would definitely go for breakfast ... not sure if I would recommend it during lunch or dinner (vegetarianly speaking).

Anyways, I hope my future posts will be much more fun to read and not so mundane as I am vacationing in Manila in the next few weeks!

Save On Meats on Urbanspoon