Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Art of Doing Nothing

Before Elizabeth even made that phrase popular during the Italian leg of her journey to self-discovery, there’s already Sonya whose garden seemed to lure every visitor to well, do precisely nothing  because it’s an art.
 photo from here

Because I like to travel and I like to eat, on a Saturday afternoon, I dragged my two friends to Sonya’s Garden. See I am trying to infuse a lot of fresh leaves and vegetables in my system, so there. This was not my first time in the garden, but this was my first time to take photos of the food. And also, this was my second time to go to Sonya’s Garden via public transportation and thought, why not blog about it?

More on the commuting experience on later posts. So first, Sonya’s Garden. Upon arriving here, I can feel my pulse rate and my mood mellow down. Ahh. I can spend a day or two here writing away. Their set menu is standard for dinner and lunch and costs 610 pesos for an eat all you can healthy feast.


Assorted fresh greens: lettuce, arugula, shaved carrots
Turnips, pineapples, ripe mangoes, melons, cucumbers, shaved boiled eggs, crisp broad beans, jackfruit and Sonya’s secret dressing.

Freshly baked wheat and sesame bread with dips (basil pesto, mushroom pate, black  olive tapinade, white cheese in olive oil, anchovies, bruschetta tomato toppings and green peppercorn in olive oil)

Pasta with choice of two  sauces (red one and creamy chicken with mango one) with salmon belly, ratatouille, capers, olives, pepperoncini, mushrooms, grated parmesan cheese

And how could I forget, dessert! Wasn't able to take good photos of them but they were good! Small slice of chocolate cake, turon, camote and tarragon tea which I loved! (remnants of the dessert below)

I love it! I am a sucker for these kinds of dinner spread. I am hoping to find a similar concept near Manila and to people reading this, I hope you can recommend me one. However, any restaurant can take pride of a having garden. Or to claim to serve only organic. It made me realize that what makes Sonya’s distinct is its location, location, location. And coupled with Tagaytay/Alfonso’s cool temperature and the lush surroundings, I can almost believe that what they serve me are real organic food.

Going to Tagaytay and finding myself infront of an immaculate spread is more than enough. What sets this set meal apart from other buffet is the experience. Life stands still, work worries and personal issues seem to blend with the clear air and rose oil scented atmosphere. Clearly, what transpires in Sonya’s garden is the art of doing nothing and just…chilling.

The garden? Well it is a garden. It looks wild, lush and fresh. And it transports you to a story book chapter where you’re a kid again and you’re being looked after by a stern governess. (Regression alert). My friend says it transported her to a place where she is being proposed to by a guy whom she likes. We all have our own issues.  

You can also visit the panaderia for cheese hopia, macaroons, fresh bread and others. Also there is a country store where you can bring home a sample of Sonya’s secret dressing for 400 pesos for a large bottle, and 200 for a smaller one. I bought the smaller one along with a little jar of crispy broad beans for 100 pesos. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

The most romantic place is the place where I’ve moved on

To say “I love You”, one must be able to say “I”  - Ayn Rand

I was by the window seat on the plane. Watching the pavement move quickly until it only becomes a little gray blur in the background. Nothing new with traveling on a plane. But that day was different. I was alone.

Through glassy eyes, I saw outlines of cities and towns down below. And then after an hour, there it was. They say it’s the heart of the Philippines. Little did I know that this place will be that place where I can wander about freely, carelessly like a little girl lost in a park. Like nothing hurts as much. A place where nothing is impossible. Now that I look back, I knew that that place - that place where I can breathe and recuperate - it’ll always be Iloilo to me.

People fall in love for so many reasons and these are reasons which cannot be explained.

People fall in love for the first time.  And that first one - it’ll always be memorable. The first cut is deepest, said some tearjerker song. People might think traveling alone was unusual, and might even be whimsical.  But both can make you feel excited, out of your wits or just plain happy and content.  The first travel on my own felt similarly. Deep, exhilarating . And just like being in love I lost a lot of sleep just thinking about it.

But love is a little more risqué. Logic is worthless as long as you are happy. As long as you wake up at night beside him. Or when you hear him say your name.
But unlike travel, some love affairs do not always end well.
After traveling, reminiscing every little milestone and beautiful landmarks or temples and churches you documented is heartwarming. Makes you feel excited to travel again. With love, all you have are wonderful memories that could bring a smile on your face if only it didn’t hurt too much.

After my plane ride, I went straight to the cheapest hotel in town. It was cheap yet efficient, one thing I can recommend - the Ong Bun pension house. I rode jeepneys and cabs. I went all out about town. Iloilo is a bustling city. A major city where business and commerce has been ingrained to the city’s history. And yet presently, business keeps growing every day. Vibrant, moving and active. People move on. People walk and pass by me as if telling me to take that step and move.

The next day in Iloilo, I did an Elizabeth Gilbert and ate, prayed love my way around town. Downing one too many of them cheap but oh-so-good oysters for fifty pesos a bucket, and eating authentic Inasals and  putting an end to Ted’s and Deco’s competition for the best batchoy in town (Deco’s for me).

I went to various churches. But the one that stood out, majestically around the bend is this church which stood out like a queen. Santo Tomas Villanueva, that church which is more commonly known as Miag-Ao church. My heart skipped a beat. It was like a vision.  So soft with its intricate carvings yet so tough with its impenetrable pillars. If I were with him I’ll show this.

Whether I say it straight out that I traveled here after a heartbreak or I should just let it subtly unfold feels immaterial to me now. He and I were over. Time to take that step forward to the unknown.

Ours is over. And traveling alone for the first time here in Iloilo, another love affair 
has begun.

This is an entry for the 4th Pinoy Travel Blogger’s blog carnival: The Most Romantic Place hosted by Aleah of Solitary Wanderer