Saturday, September 28, 2013

Thai Me Up and Fil Me Up!

On our first night in Cagayan de Oro - the second leg of our Camiguin/CDO/Bukidnon tour, we had our tummies filled up with Filipino-Kagay-a-non cuisine at Thai me up and Fil me up!

Well actually we weren't able to try their Thai dishes but we were accommodated at the Thai Me Up part of this joint restaurant.

Thai Me Up was first conceived in 2009 by Jan Michael Uy and his wife Margie.  With a branch at Centrio Mall in CDO, they are now serving more plates to their original branch in Capistrano St.  But this time they are not only serving just Thai dishes but also Filipino faves made ala Kagay-a-non

Our dinner was a spread of Cagayan's heirloom dishes at their function room ornamented with Thai figurines, photos and whatnot.

But what really got me in a tizzy was the design of  Fil Me Up!  If the Thai rooms made me wish to have experienced the culture of Thailand, Fil Me Up! elicited the Filipino culture I grew up with.  However, I need to mention that a classy, shabby chic element into the design was apparent.

Memories of my lolas old furnitures in our vacation house in Bohol conjured up.  Like these pair of chairs but have been painted in  cute blue hue.  How about the capis shell shed lamp on the corner?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Green Pastures: Organic Eating Had Never Been This Goood!

As we live in the world of instant society, the quicker we get things done, the fancier.  News are fed and trended through social networking portals, shopping is done easily, without even leaving the comfort of your home or done while working and credit cards are way the cool money nowadays.  Information at our finger tips at the speed of light, with e-mails working way faster than postals, ample resources are accessed in the net, thus researches are easily manageable that what it used say, 20, 30 years ago.

Even our food have merited from the changing times.  Instant noodles, instant cookies, instant canned viands, instant fruit juices, to name a few.  I grew up in that kind of world, where "Sinigangs"are flavored artificially from sachet, scientifically made to resemble "tamarind paste."  Pancakes are premixed and all you need is water and just to cook it.  What they call juices are bottled up and lined on grocery alleys.  Breads are engineered and mass produced, filled up with preservatives t last a month.   I guess all these are but usual, since everything is fast-paced and coping up with the changing world is becoming tiresome.

With all these, have you ever stopped and asked how our food products are prepared, stored and sourced out?  I've given a lot of thought on these ever since my daughter had her diabetes awaken. As a mom who is very much concerned of the family's health (yes, admittingly, I'm a health freak), I have given much attention to what I give my kids.  As much as possible I veer away from using taste enhancers and tried to make a stir about how such preserved food can harm our body and give us cancer to some extent.   Joining Eat and Cheat Cancer book project as a writer made me more heedful to cancer giving components and cancer-fighting ingredients.

Cooking at home with natural ingredients is one way of making sure what you are getting is nutritious.  But how about dining out?

In choosing where to dine, there are several factors I would usually consider- accessibility (depends on where I'm located),  costs, ambiance, the whole theme of the restaurant and lastly, whether they consider using organic ingredients on their menu.  Must I admit that at times we are drawn to fast-food chains.

In our last visit to the new wing of Shangri La mall, Bhogs and I stumbled upon Green Pastures.  Let me just re-word the restaurant's name for this post, I think I found my greener pasture when it comes to feasting on.
Let me call this place an organic shack, the new baby of Chef Robby Goco who is zealous in providing dishes using all-organic ingredients and novel food preparations.

Green Pastures probably have been derived from my revered Bible verse from Psalm 23 - " "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures."

Can you picture yourself on a mattress of soft, green grass, cool shade under some tree, no noisy street traffic or worry from dangers or problems, just peaceful rest, and no fear.

Don't you want that in your health and lifestyle as well?  Why not look for a greener pasture when comes to dealing with food.  As Chef Robby told us why he chose the name of his new restaurant, "each one of  us has our green pasture."   But for him, there was a yearning for a more pleasant meal, a better life, one that promises to be healthier but does not sacrifice on the valuable taste - the greener pasture.

I like how the diner was conceptualized.   It resembles a barn or a farm shed, with wooden planks as dividers and pulled up windows.  There were ample seating outside.  With the rainbow colored chairs popped out everywhere giving sort of a fun character against the quaint brown shed on the middle.

We sat in front of the open kitchen, front row seat of the cooks show!  Along the side of the kitchen is a wall studded with indoor plants, which Bhogs had been planning to incorporate in one of our rooms.

Next is studying the menu.  We both found it very interesting and every dish is unique in some aspects. Another plus factor of Green Pastures is their cheerful staff.  We were a bit unsure what to get. to be honest I was kind of giddy to try everything but don't know where to start.  Good thing our wait-staff was very knowledgeable and she told me everything I needed to know about their offerings.  I was  enamored by how the theme was thought of and how everything were properly executed, down to the very last detail.  The cheeses, mustard, mayonnaise, buffalo butter and some other condiments are home-made.  Ingredients are all-organic.

When we say “organic,” it refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed.  There are specific requirements to be met and maintained in order for products to be labeled as "organic."  For us consumers, it means less pesticides, fresher and locally sourced produce (means economic sustainability for our country).  Organic farming is better for the environment, as I've read, this kind of practice in farming reduces air, water and soil erosion and are safer for farmers and surrounding environs.

Now, catching up on our daily greens?  We hopefully started with a salad but the list of their salad choices were overwhelming.  Good thing the staff greatly recommended Pinoy Eggs which is served with kale salad.
Pinoy Eggs, seemed catchy enough!  It's a soft boiled egg encrusted in shredded house-made longanisa, oh, how can I forget, they use free-range duck eggs.

We both loved it!  It even made us wonder how they were able to roll the soft egg in the crunchy and savory crust and fry it to perfection.  It went pretty well with the tangy dressed salad.  Something really new and unique.
Then we had a soup.  Not just your average soup though.  Their rehashed version of Italian minestrone is perfect for kids and babies, and to those who is in a special diet.
The Green Pasture Minestrone is a clear soup base with chopped zucchini, squash, canellini beans, greens and parmigiana.
After the wonderful aperitivo, we ordered 80/20 Burger, pronounced us "ey-tee-twen-tee."  Here we go...It is an open faced burger (my kind of burger!) made of 80% Wagyu beef and 20% double smoked organic pancetta (bacon) topped with house-made stracciatella, sliced tomatoes and greens.  The juicy burger patty, and the whole sandwich  may look expensive for others with a cost of  P 425 but knowing that you are getting high-quality products that won't give you cancer or allergies, I wouldn't mind, plus the fact that it really is that good, plus it is served on a big llanera of oven-fried fries richly-flavored with herbs.

Stracciatella are thin strands or odd shaped left-over fresh mozzarella or burrata soaked in heavy cream.
I'm one big fan of  burgers and would love to come back for their other burgers on the menu like the Vegetarian Burger That Doesn't Suck! and the Blue-ribbon Burger.

To end our snack sweetly, we were given a cold bowl with  "MilkEggsHoney."  I would exchange the traditional leche flan for this!  It is a layer of organic honey comb, home-made Greek yogurt and citrus curd. It's the sweetest sunshine to end all desserts.  A curd is a mixture of  egg yolks, sugar and butter zested with orange and lemon juice and with a sprinkle of lime zest.  It's a blast of crunch, silken, nutty, sugary and tangy in one bite.

So, if this is not a place where the grass is greener, maybe this is a restaurant next to heavenly.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cagayan de Oro: The City of Golden Friendship

Explore Mindanao: Check!
Zipline: Check!
White water rafting (braving the rapids): CHECK!
Boodle Fight: CHECK! Check!

   Cagayan de Oro is undoubtedly the new city to look forward to when comes to economic growth in Mindanao.  As a capital city of the province of Misamis Oriental, located in the northern part of Mindanao, an upswing in the business side and tourism need an applaud.   In my recent visit to CDO, the progressive city is teeming with infrastructures, malls and food establishments, not to mention factories, shipping yards and the people  who stood up against the tides of  setbacks.

   After our Camiguin escapade, we took an hour ferry ride from Benoni wharf to Balingoan, Misamis Oriental and drove to Cagayan de Oro city for one hour and a half.  The journey was long and tiring, but I didn't mind, I was enjoying the sight of the rural areas and observing the locals we would pass by.  Sights that are not always seen in Manila gives relaxation don't you think?  You get to see lush fruit bearing trees, old houses, "kubo" (nipa huts) and fruits stands here and there.

   Noticeable as well are the big rural transit buses northbound to Butuan (P210, 3½ hours) and Surigao (P300, six hours), southbound for Davao (P400, seven hours) and westbound for Iligan (P100, 1½ hours). The bus terminal by the way is at Agora fruit and vegetable wholesale market, a couple of kilometers out of town.

   Now in the city, I was able to get a load of some key infrastructures.

Paseo del Rio Center

   A sprawling 12 hectare development is said to boost the economic standing of not only CdeO but the Northern Mindanao as well. It's near the downtown area which soon confines a five-star high rise hotel, the largest and most modern convention center and an avant-garde mall that covers the first three floors of the hotel and convention center.   Envisioned as  "the new city within the city" is now finishing up on it's first phase project and will be opened on the 2016th.

   Here is the model that will soon be the finished project.

 Limketkai Luxe Hotel

   Right next door to the famous prominent Limketkai Center (mall) is its sister hotel, Limketkai Luxe Hotel.  The hotel will soon have their soft opening before this year ends, in time for Christmas.

   Talking about the mall, it has gone several face-lifts to accommodate the diverse customers of Limketkai.   I found it very peculiar finding Rustan's, Robinson's and SM Hypermarket housed in one mall.  Now they are bringing in more high-end and imported brands to cater to the "can afford" citizens and tourists.

   Limketkai Luxe Hotel on the other hand is a premier hotel that is the finest when comes to service and facilities and will soon be a dwelling for both business and leisure travelers.

   It will feature 213 contemporary guestrooms including 12 executive suites and 16 club executive suites and will provide exceptional room features.

Tourist Destinations You Shouldn't Miss in Cagayan De Oro

Macahambus Cave

   The  Macahambus Cave is a historical landmark and an adventure spot at that.  It is said to aid Cagay-anons to win the war against the Americans (1900).  When going inside make sure to bring a flashlight with you.  There used to be a light from the kerosene lamp but have damaged a part of the stalactites so decided not to have one anymore.
   The walk into the cave is short and a  veranda awaits you on the other end on the cave.  The river which borders Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon meanders below the gorge.  The sight isn't that stunning for the water looked murky, for it had rained all night when we got there.  The same river will challenge us with its rapids and cold water.
  You can go back in the cave to go back to the highway or trek up on the side.

White Water Rafting in CDO

   Many come to CDO for the thrill of white water rafting.  It is what it's known for!  A total of 14 major rapids will enthrall you and leave your breath hanging and heart stomping.  

   Early morning, we were picked up by Bugsay's group on a jeepney.  We first paid a visit to their office to fill up a waiver and pay for our adventure.  Oro Association of Rafters (OAR) is the core org that monitors the six rafting companies operating in the city, with Golden Friendship Whitewater Rafting, Red Rafts, Great White Water Tours, CDO Bugsay River Rafting, 1st Rafting Adventure, and Kagay Whitewater Rafting as members.  They are color-coded so you can easily identify which group you might bump in to.

   CDO Bugsay offers 4 different packages according to difficulties and number of rapids: Advance course (P 1000), Beginners Course (P 700), Advance II Course (P1200) and Extreme Course (P 2000).  For a first-timer like all of us, we had the Beginners Course, which is a 12 KM. river stretch with 14 class 2+ rapids and scenic views along the river, which usually takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours of river run.

   That's me on the left, geared up and ready to paddle for my life.  On the right photo is a photo of one of the guide giving us introduction to the adventure.  He taught us the different ways of managing the waves, how to use the ore, what to do when someone falls over and things that should and shouldn't be done during the course.  No he didn't scare us.  But I admit, I pretended to be a toughie.

   Almost to the half-way.
   Our package included a "boodle" fight for lunch.

   Relaxing while waiting for our meal.

   A Boodle Fight is a gathering where food  is served on banana leaves spread over a table and eaten with bare hands.  On a shaded part of river, one raft was turned over to make as a table.  The boat riders themselves cooked and set it up.
   Another first for me, though a bit hesitant at first, I shamelessly attacked the spread of  four different viands, steamy rice and sliced pineapples from Bukidnon-the sweetest kind of them all.  Everyone joined in except of course the guys from Bugsay, since they brought their own meals.  Every dish was flavorful and guess who won?

  Tadaah!  Hahaha! Need I say more?

   Just so you know, no one from our group fell!  I also enjoyed the  scenery along the river.   The anecdotes and jokes told by Arman, our boatman and the flight of the sparrows, as we glided along still, peaceful water. We all had extreme fun adventure and have more guts to face another one, maybe I could come back and try the advance course.
   Let me share you this quote to get you perked up for some more adventure.
"Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting.”
- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Stellar Accommodation From Seda Centrio Hotel

   Our group stayed for two nights at Seda Centrio located at the heart of the downtown area, corner of C.M. Recto and Corrales Avenue.  Our stay would have been splendid if only we have more time to spend in oour room than sleeping.   Our four-day Caimiguin-Cagayan de Oro-Bukidnon tour was jam-packed so we only stay at night in this savvy hotel.  My review on the hotel is seen  HERE.

   To see our itinerary for the Caimiguin-Cagayan de Oro-Bukidnon tour, kindly click HERE.

   To see places on where to eat, when in CDO, kindly click HERE.

Monday, September 23, 2013

An Overture to My Northern Mindanao Adventure

In the tragic course that befell Zamboanga for two weeks now, Mindanao have been placed on the boil with issues concerning safety.  With a 495.4 km distance from the city of Zamboanga to Cagayan De Oro, with at least  seven hours of drive, the conflict in Zamboanga is far from affecting the peace in the northern part of Mindanao including Camigiun Islands.

During the heat of the conflict I was on a four-day trip to Camiguin-Cagayan de Oro-Bukidnon.  No trace of conflict from what is menacing to Zamboanga.   What beckoned was the adoring beauty of the islands, the tranquil and invigorating experiences and the modern-day development of that part of the country.

The top photo was taken from Camiguin airport as a welcome party to tourists and aircraft passenger from Cebu.

View my post about my Camiguin Island tour at the link below:

Camiguin: The Anticipated Interlude

Our trip in Cagayan de Oro is such gawk-worthy, with easily accessible tourist destinations, exceptional hotel accommodation and a vast choice for food that are very affordable.
The 2011 typhoon Sendong and the city bombing have put Cagayan de Oro in devastation.  Now, after two years from the said typhoon and months since the threatening city incidence, it seemed there are no more traces from the debilitating occurrences. Of course, tragedies as such is still painful to remember for the Cagay-anons.  The city actually has a memorial wall for losses during Sendong.

Read on my CDO escapade at the link below.

Cagayan de Oro: The City of Golden Friendship

In the last day of our four-day familiarization trip, we chanced upon these locals lighting up some candles for their loved ones who died during the calamity.

But there is a lot more to the trip, something that have changed me a lot, which add to my character, which I faced with saved up courage.  I was finally able to conquer my fear from zip lining and riding the rapids.

Let me share you the itinerary we used for my first Northern Mindanao which I had shared with some media people and officers from Dept. of Tourism.

First Day

05:00 a.m.    Group assembly at NAIA Terminal 2 (after checking-in)
06:00            Departure Manila-Cebu Phil. Airlines
07:15            ETA Cebu
09:35            Cebu-Camiguin via Cebu Pacific Air
10:15           ETA Camiguin
10:30           Proceed to the Provincial Capitol
                    Courtesy Call on Governor Jurdin Jesus M. Romualdo
11:15          Leave for Bahay Bakasyunan
                    Check-in / Freshen Up
12:00 nn       Lunch at hotel
1:00 p.m.     Depart for Brgy. San Roque, Mahinog
                   Boat Ride to Mantigue Island (depends on weather condition)
2:20            Boat Ride to Brgy. San Roque, Mahinog
2:40            Mobile to Taguines Lagoon for:
                    Camiguin Zipline, Mahinog Aqua Sports
3:25            Leave for Sto. Niño Cold Spring Resort
4:00            Experience the cold spring
4:30            Mobile to Bura Soda Water Park
5:30            Proceed to Brgy. Bonbon, Catarman
                   Visit the Old Church Ruins, Sunken Cemetery, Walkway to the Old Volcano
7:00           Dinner at Ardent Spring Resort
                  Tour of the facilities
9:00 Return to the hotel / Rest Over Night

                   Read about my Camiguin experience HERE.

Second Day

5:00 a.m.   Coffee then leave for White Island Tour
6:30           Breakfast  at Hotel
                  Check Out
8:00           Leave for Benoni Wharf
                  Board RORO ferry to Balingoan Port
09:00         On board the ferry to Balingoan Port
10:15 Arrival / Transfer to Cagayan de Oro City
12:00 nn Lunch @ Fil Me Up Restaurant
1:00 p.m. Check-in at Seda Centrio Hotel
1:45          Mobile to Cagayan de Oro City Hall
2:10          Courtesy Call on  Mayor Oscar S. Moreno office
2:45          Cagayan de Oro City Tour (City Developments):
                 Limketkai Hotel Construction Site/ Paseo del Rio Construction Site/
                 Tune Hotel/ Pure Gold/ Seda Centrio Hotel
6:00          Dinner
                Back to Hotel
                Rest Over Night

Third Day

6:30 a.m. Breakfast at the Hotel
7:30         Macahambus Cave tour
8:30          White Water Rafting with Bugsay
1:00 p.m. Mobile to Del Monte Pineapple Plantation
2:00          Mobile to Dahilayan Adventure Park Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon
6:30         Dinner
                 Kagay-anon Restaurant (ostrich delicacy)
9:30         Back to Hotel
                 Rest Over Night

Fourth Day

6:30 a.m.   Breakfast at the Hotel
8:00 AM – 12:00 NN Cagayan de Oro City Tour (History, Culture, Arts and Products)
Plaza Divisoria
St. Augustine Cathedral
Gaston Park
La Castilla Museum, Liceo de Cagayan University
Museo de Oro, Xavier University
Pasalubong Center, Monster Kitchen, Vjandep
General McArthur Marker
Museum of Three Cultures
12:00 nn Lunch at Panagatan Seafood Restaurant
1:30 p.m. Mobile to Laguindingan Airport
3:00          Check-in at airport
4:20          ETD Cagayan de Oro City – Manila
5:50         ETA Manila (NAIA Terminal 3)

This is just a guide you can use when planning to do the same feat.  One thing I will make sure of though when you try the same Northern Mindanao tour - Adventure is more fun in Mindanao!

Deets on the trip will be updated now and then for there are so many things that needed to be written and shared about the trip.

French Chef Jerome Langillier and Kitchenworks

 Last September 6, I was able to attend an inauguration kitchen demo for Kitchenworks at the East wing of Shangri La mall.  Chef Jerome Langillier, 2009 champion of the World Cup of Pastry showed us how to make Pear Friand.  A friand is a tiny French cake that is soft and a little crunchy on the edges.  I was also able to sample his Pear Vanilla and Lemon Macaroon.

KitchenWorks is a newly opened store showcasing global brands that have stood the test of time, modern convenience for the modern cooks and chefs with colorful looking utensils, cookware and kitchen accessories.   The brands showcased are France’s De Buyer; Switzerland’s Kuhn Rikon, Spring and Swiss Diamond; Germany’s Rösle; Italy’s Barrazoni, Mori and KnIndustrie; and Japan’s Shun.


Address:  L/GF Shangri-la East Wing, Mandaluyong
Contact Numbers:  654-1302
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