Category: Food Trip

Only last June, I was in Tokyo ( A Quick Break)  with my elves for a week. That was a fun holiday filled with many activities. 

This October, I’m back with my Sydney-based niece. Visiting more areas in Japan over 15 days to do justice to our JR Rail Pass. This is the summary of many blogs I’ve written on Japan. More blogs for posting, so drop in from time to time for blog updates. 




Lake Toya



Nakatsugawa (Nakasendo)


Hiroshima & Miyajima


And don’t miss this post on Japan’s gastronomic delights! 



Only in Japan 

Happy Travels, everyone. 

Why not?  Yeah, it’s cold but NOT “sufferingly cold”. And for Cebu Pacific’s basic return fare (Manila-Sydney-Manila) of only PhP13,000, how can you go wrong? Even inclusive of those add-ons (food, baggage allowance, seat assignment, etc), it’s still a steal at US$350 or so! Again, why not? 


Check out these links for the winter time I spent visiting family in Australia:

Of Roadtrips, Train Journeys & Flights

Back In The City (Sydney)

Househunting: Katoomba

A 3rd Visit to Watson’s Bay

Sydney’s Barracks Museum

Lake Conjola Weekend

Flaneur On The Loose

Bushwalking in Lake Parramatta

Mayfield Garden

Coastal Walk from Bondi to Coogee

Gold Coast 

Food Trips

The Grounds of Alexandria

Salt Meats Cheese

Dining: Cupitt’s Winery & Restaurant

Tandoori King

Donto Sapporo

Enjoy, mate!

Half the family. Six whole days. Five nights. A flight deal. An AirBnb find. A Disneysea dream. A shopping spree. A few discoveries. All within budget! 

Just tap on the topics below for blog photos and details. Enjoy! 

A Happy Place: Disneysea Park Tokyo

Twinnings In Tokyo

Tsukiji Market

Dining In Tokyo

Family Travel Made Easy

Food Coma In Spain

We landed in Sevilla for the first leg of our binge-ing here in Spain. No first-time visitors among us, and so the agenda centered on food. Right on the day of arrival, we hit 3 tapa bars in our neighborhood of Barrio Santa Cruz. What a fitting start before calling it a night. Next few days we continued with our “feast” and also found time to arrange a day trip to Ronda before moving to Madrid. This is our story of gluttony. 



Bar-hopping In Sevilla

Doña Elvira In Barrio Santa Cruz

La Brunilda



Ronda’s Puente Nuevo



La Pulperia de Victoria

A Birthday Lunch In Casa Botin


Casa Alberto

Mercado de San Anton

Solo: La Gabinoteca

Solo: Lhardy 

Solo: Bar Jurucha

Solo: The Little Big Cafe

Missing (In) Madrid


Do subscribe to my other blogsite “retirement suits me” for my latest blogs on our reunion and other adventures around Spain, Lourdes in France and Portugal. (














I am very, very sold on Mercado San Miguel off Plaza Mayor and Mercado San Anton in the Chueca District just off Gran Via. But this! A gourmet market in a converted theater — how original is that? 



I made a mental note of going back on an empty stomach and with company. Surely, there’s a variety of gastronomic delights and it’s more fun to enjoy rioja or tinto verano or cerveza or sidra with friends.  The delicatessen available on the ground floor or center stage offers many choices. I can just imagine myself enjoying tapas y vinos while a band is playing onstage. 



For senior diners, there’s a 2 Michelin star Chef running Arriba Restaurante on the 2nd floor where tables are set up with a full view of the center stage. Likewise overlooking the theater stage is El Paco on the 2nd Floor. Now this El Paco should suit serious drinkers! 



Platea Madrid is truly a gourmet experience. I can imagine crowded weekend nights here. It must go crazy! Drinks, tapas, international dishes to suit every whim! I hear there are other Michelin star restaurants in this food hall too other than Arriba. But who cares about ranking? I just love the vibe here! 



This gourmet food hall housed in a former theater is along Calle Goya 5-7, near the Plaza de Colon. You can’t miss it.  You bet I’m headed back!  



Spices of India. Masala. And I thought it was another spice. Rather, masala is a mix of ground spices. The very heart of Indian cuisine. And India is soooo rich in spices. Turmeric. Cumin. Pepper. Cardamom. Chilies. Fennel. Cinnamon. Caraway. Anise. Ginger. Coriander. And so much more.





Poori or Puri  Unleavened Bread. As puffy as it gets! With potato masala.

Poori or Puri Unleavened Bread. As puffy as it gets! With potato masala.


Chole. Chickpeas is love <3

Chole. Chickpeas is love ❤



I was quite prepared for the spicy cuisine. And I do like Indian food. One of my fav dishes is the ubiquitous Palak Paneer found on every buffet spread. That plus the dhal (lentils) and chole (chickpeas) paired with all types of flatbread. Naan, Poori, Chapati, Paratha of all types — onion, garlic, paneer, etc. And the chutneys!



Chutneys galore!

Chutneys galore!





All that bread. Imagine all that ghee. A couple more weeks here and I couldn’t slide into my pants. Plus the rice. Biryani? Basmati? Carbo overload. And don’t forget the okra — short, tiny, and crunchy. Loaded with uric acid, if you aren’t careful. Yay!



They look like doughnuts but these breads must be filled with ghee!

They look like doughnuts but these breads must be filled with ghee!





And how can you resist the curry? My fav is mutton curry, which I can’t get enough off. Rice or flatbread, the mutton curry is wiped clean off the plate or bowl. Soaking naan across the curry plate is yum! Just mind the spices. There were others, but I couldn’t get past a tasting portion without burning my tongue. Phew!




Indian "fried rice" was such a hit with me!

Indian “fried rice” was such a hit with me!




As for desserts, that uber-sweet, syrupy gulab balls should really push your sugar levels past the Diabetes 2 threshold. Tooooo much. I won’t mind not seeing them for a year. And the almonds? Freshly shelled and milky white not to be ignored. Other nuts like pistachio also found their way into some sinful desserts.








On our last day, our guide shared this home recipe with us. I tried it…. and ended up with a spinach dip instead. (I’m hopeless)

Palek Paneer (Spinach + Cottage Cheese)

Boil spinach until wilted. Osterize to make purée. Set aside.

In a pan, put veg or olive oil. Sauté cumin seed or put cumin powder; add finely chopped onions or onion purée. When browned, put garlic paste and bit of ginger paste. Put spinach; let boil. Add chili powder, salt to taste. Add cubed cottage cheese. Add tomato purée. Add little hot water to dilute.




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Thank you, Chikie, for some of the food photos


Slept after a leisurely walk around the pond and the pool from where the illuminated City Palace — now part Museum, part Hotel — stands in view across silvery Lake Pichola. After a gruelling bus ride from Johdpur through Raknapur to more quiet, cleaner Udaipur, I felt soooo rewarded with a most comfortable sleep. Can’t even recall if I managed to switch off the TV, but I do remember staring blankly from the room window and waking up to the same majestic view this early morning.



The birds woke me up as they chorused around the Lily Pond made even more famous in the 1983 James Bond film “Octopussy”. Too late for yoga lessons now as I went in search of my new friends. I can do with some stretching and more relaxation but it can wait till tomorrow morn. The Octopussy pond with all the chirping birds beckons and I promptly obliged.



Praveen and Lekha of Taj Lake Palace Hotel are my new friends. You know you get good service when you sit under one of those colorful umbrella tents by the pond and someone quietly serves you your double espresso without being told. You linger longer without going in to check the breakfast buffet and you’re presented with a bread basket, jams and marmalade. A menu was left on my table, where I easily picked Eggs Benedict to start my day. No one pushed me to get more from the sumptuous breakfast buffet. Praveen and Lekha knew I was savoring the moment. My friends either still asleep or stretching on the rooftop terrace while catching the morning breeze. Me? I enjoyed the solitude. Praveen and Lekha, good early morn companions, should there be any need for human interaction.



By the 2nd morning, I was ready for yoga lessons and a full breakfast after. Someone has already claimed my fav prized spot by the pond but I found a choice seat inside with a full view of the lake and this long boat in vibrant red nearly framed by the arched window. Post-yoga, I was famished. Couldn’t decide between an Indian brekkie or Continental fare, so I had both. Poori, that deep-fried unleavened bread, all crispy and golden, and all those excellent dips compete with my fav cheeses and cold cuts. Happiness. Gluttony wins!



Fresh Almonds for Brekkie! lavash and some cold cuts and cheese.

Fresh Almonds for Brekkie! lavash and some cold cuts and cheese.

My only regret here in Taj Lake Palace was dining in the same dining outlet for breakfast and dinner. There is this posh Indian Restaurant within the hotel that I should have tried. Plus I should have ordered a bottle of wine (rather than my beer) till I’m so drunk I’d crawl back to my hotel room via this long corridor mindful I don’t stray and fall into the pond. Pipe dreams!


Lovely morns at The Taj.

Lovely morns at The Taj.

This is a sequel to last year’s blog summary (IN AND OUT OF SYDNEY). Some favorite sites were revisited and explored further, and unlike the earlier blog, I’ve thrown in a list of food trips (including some from 2013 archives)  for you to consider. Have a good trip, mate!




Bondi Beach




Day Trips From Sydney


A Weekend in Lake Conjola

PARAGON CAFE: Oldest Cafe in Australia

BERRY As Pitstop On Way to Jervis Bay


Blue Mountains’ Many Walks and Lookouts


Leura and Katoomba in the Blue Mountains





Darling Harbour



In And Around The City

A Few Good Spots Around Sydney


Sydney Harbour Bridge 24/7


Bondi On The Pacific

Watsons Bay

Powerhouse Museum



The Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley

The Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley


Food Trips


Leura Gourmet Cafe


Heritage Bakery

NANDO’s Peri Peri Chicken


How About Some Burgers from Charlie?


WatervieW in Sydney’s Olympic Park


SUSHIRO In North Sydney


Two Skinny Cooks from Berrima (2013)


The Old Bakery Cottage In Berrima


Mira Japanese Resto In Manly Beach


Lindt’s At Cockle Bay Wharf


Nick’s At Darling Harbour


That Famous Robertson Pie


The Friendly Inn @Kangaroo Valley



Been here. Done that. Posted photos here and there.

When friends called to ask who arranged our trip, or that they didn’t know you can swim (in the pool) and go bamboo-rafting in Villa Escudero, I began to realize that many go there just for the lunch by the falls and the cultural performance. Some didn’t even bother to do the museum tour where one finds centuries-old carrozas (floats), religious icons, family memorabilias (Escudero family), the Filipino alphabet, currency and doll collections from all over the world, and so many other antique collections of the Escuderos.




Kundiman Singing+ Carabao Ride in Villa Escudero


Narrow Bamboo Rafts. Great for rowing! Villa Escudero.



In my earlier blog on Villa Escudero, I highly recommended this trip to balikbayans, foreign guests, or simply to families longing to show their young children how life was in earlier times. It’s both a nostalgic and educational trip for the young and adults. The statues to be found there may not look so appealing but they showcase many Filipino traditions and lifestyles. Here’s where you can recount those stories of your younger days to the little ones or those born and grown in foreign lands who only read about them. The statues leave better memories. They complement the stories!




Physical (Rowing) and Soothing at the same time. Villa Escudero.


Lunch is served! By the falls. Villa Escudero.



The highways make these trips a breeze. You can leave as late as 8:30am, driving through SLEX and ACTEX till you reach the boundary of Laguna and Quezon. Soon after you pass the boundary marked by a Welcome Arch, turn left towards Villa Escudero. You register and pay P1,400 for a day tour which includes a Museum Tour, lunch by the falls, carabao rides, use of facilities like swimming pool and bamboo rafts. Senior citizens get a hefty discount and pay only P1,000!




Cultural show at 2pm. Villa Escudero


Performers are ALL employees and their kin. Villa Escudero



Arriving way before lunch, we did the Museum tour then took the carabao ride to bring us to the lunch area by the falls. Lunch was platefuls of grilled fish, chicken and pork belly, caldereta (beef), salad and banana cues! After lunch and while waiting for the 2pm cultural performance, you can take a dip by the pool and/or take one of the narrow bamboo rafts and exercise those arm muscles amidst a grand view of the cottages and trees by the water. Soothing yet physical, the activity renders you longing for a glass of halo halo or young coconut juice to savor while watching the dancers perform on stage.




Villa Escudero dancers.


Cultural show’s choreography by national artist Obusan, no less!



The cultural show ends at 3pm. Early enough to drive a few more minutes from Villa Escudero to visit Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Workshop. Getting here was a challenge. The only landmark from the Maharlika Highway driving further past Villa Escudero was the Petron Gas Station and Iglesia ni Kristo on your right. Soon after passing them, take a left and look for Alvarez Village. Ugu’s workshop, gardens cum dining place is on your left. No signs, but easy to spot the red brick one-story house with a sprawling garden as soon as you enter the village.




Ugu Bigyan Pottery workshop. Tiaong. Quezon.


Patis Tito. Formerly Kusina Ni salud of Viajes del sol fame. San Pablo City



From Ugu’s place, we drove back towards San Pablo City to check out Sulyap Cafe. On our way there, we found a sign towards Patis Tito, formerly Kusina ni Salud. Really, finding these Viaje del Sol spots is quite a challenge. We had snacks here of suman (glutinous rice) and another forgettable “kakanin” and sat there watching how unkept the place was. Guess they spruce up the place only for big groups. I hope.




Patis tito. Ex-Kusina Ni Salud



By the time we reached Sulyap Cafe after missing several turns and U-turns, we were tired but still full from the merienda. We visited the art gallery inside before an intended supper there, but found the place too gloomy to spend dinner time there. Dark, gloomy, nearly haunted. Maybe the place is suitable for romantic dates. Not for us. So we chose to simply drive back to Manila instead.




Patis Tito


Patis Tito. Kusina Ni Salud. Viajes del sol.



The entire trip to Villa Escudero with sidetrips to Ugu Bigyan, Kusina ni Salud and Sulyap Cafe & Gallery lasted from 8am to 8:30pm. Not bad. It’s a good roadtrip….. Just arm yourself with a good dose of patience looking for these spots with hardly any markers. Happy driving!




Patis Tito. Resto and garden.

Ugu  Bigyan's Pottery Workshop.

Ugu Bigyan’s Pottery Workshop.

Sulyap Gallery Cafe. San Pablo City. Viajes del Sol.

Sulyap Gallery Cafe. San Pablo City. Viajes del Sol.