Home on the Ridge
Sure, there's plenty of eating places in Tagaytay but most of us have been and there are many cooks in the house (grill masters too). Fresh meat and veggies are cheaper at Mahogany (the market) than in Manila and the women just have to do the whole haggling thing - like a fix! So we mostly ate in, except when it is bulalo time.
Incidentally, my friend says roast bone marrow is a big thing in the States. I think I'll try this one soon.
There are a lot of famous bulalo places in Tagaytay but we are a big group so we went to Leslie’s. We had sisig and inihaw na tilapia and pancit and chopsuey and crispy fried chicken and leche flan besides. .I am stuffed! It was a set meal and we got three sets to feed us all. It was too much, even. Everything was good and the place was packed. Daddy Lim kept saying very good and that he was very happy. It was his first in a long time to be out with the clan and make new memories with his daughter in a place he hasn’t been to in decades. Like I say, old places are as new after a long absence and time has changed us all.
I got to take home the bulalo bones for the pitbull. Seriously, my arm ached from the weight of those bones and the pit made short work of grinding it down to nothing.
Other meals we had grilled liempo, Chef Cheng and Elise’s pok chop (secret recipe) and barbecue to dip in my suggested onion studded vinegar sauce. There was mangga with bagoong and paella from Cafe Lupe (yep, leftover but better, the flavors deeper) as well.
Tagaytay has added on girth like its foodie visitors hehehe. Lots of building going on and everything Manila has, it seems, got squeezed among the old haunts. We had Razon’s halo halo at Robinson’s, because my friend hasn’t had some in years. We went all touristy at Taal Vista, the famous view site which upgrade did away with the kitschy souvenir store, people underfoot and in your pictures! Now you have to eat at the markedly subdued, elegant cafe and hotel restaurant to do that. I like the change, although it occurs to me that it might be elitist for some used to the old way of coming in solely for the view and the photo opp, not necessarily to buy or eat anything.
I love the cafe and the cushy sofa by the working fireplace, where we sat sharing blueberry cheesecake, nachos and Avocado cheesecake. I’ve had Avocado cake (chiffon base, iced,with pistachios) at Lia’s Cakes in Season back in Manila so I figured the cheesecake won’t be too different. It was! Not bad different, but waaay different particularly to my friend who found it “weird” tasting. Avocado has an aftertaste. Cream cheese does too but I suppose the hint of lemon or calamansi (I think there was mint too) made it even “weirder”. I liked it though. Btw, prices are reasonable – worth the picture taking and private contemplation of the caldera front and center. On a fogless day, you might even see into the maw.
I didn’t do any cooking in Tagaytay but shabu-shabu is a good bet for chilly nights up there.
Pardon me for cheating and keeping it simple. We don't have a hotpot or hotplate to keep the broth simmering, which you need to swish-cook cleaned, raw thin strips of pork or beef cut sukiyaki style -very thinly. Ask the grocery butcher, frozen meat is a lot easier to thin slice. The pork we used is thicker than it should be because I made do, sukiyaki cut pork wasn't available at the time. Yeah, yeah, I pushed it hahaha. I figured I would just parboil and the swish cooking will complete the process
You will want to swish at table because it is fun to see the meat lose its translucent raw blush and turn pale cream in the heat. I set the "hot" pot on silicone pads. When the pot starts to cool I put it back on the stove to reheat. Back and forth it goes. Tiring, yes, but I do it! McGyver will pat me on the head.
Anyway my broth is water, a beef cube or two and some strips of good quality nori (what you wrap sushi with). Sometimes I put leeks in there.When we've had our fill of meat I throw in Chinese cabbage strips, vermicelli noodles and shiitake mushrooms for noodle soup after. Simple right?
What's kind of tricky is making the condiment for it.
chilis big enough to fit the pointy end of the chopstick and you push the chopstick through the chili and tuck it into the holes you made in the radish. See?
Then you grind the chili studded radish and you get a hot, pale peach toned mush that's really good with my makeshift sauce. Warning: the chili juice however little gets in your hands will sting and burn whatever you touch.
Kikkoman soy sauce laced with a tinapa flake broth (my sub for dashi stock). You just simmer water with a few flakes of tinapa. You take the flakes out and simmer the tinapa broth with Kikkoman, rice wine, mirin (preferred but if you know how the sauce should taste you'd know how to make the substitution work) or sake with a bit of sugar. That's it! You are ready to fish out a piece of meat, pile on the spicy radish, wrap a small piece of nori around it then dip in the sauce. Love!
At least we do : )