When I found out that my friends and I were going to Tagayatay (Cavite, Philippines), I quickly nominated eating at Antonio’s for lunch. Because everybody, and I mean, everybody has been saying amazing things about it, all through the years.
The day we drove up to Tagaytay though, was a Monday. F for failed research, because Monday actually happens to be the only day Antonio’s is closed for general cleaning and maintenance. None of us knew this, so we had to unanimously vote for a substitute- Sonya’s Graden. Of course “unanimous” only means that I practically had to plead and hard- sell the case to a car full of carnivorous males.
Sonya’s has been a reputable organic farm/bed and breakfast place/spa/restaurant/private garden for years in the Philippines. And you know how I do love looking at lovely things. I loved every delicate detail they put into that place. Very quaint. Very charming. Very green (as in we literally ate inside an air- conditioned Green House).
They started us off with cold glasses of fresh Orange juice. This suited everyone just fine, because the day had become sunny and windy outside. It felt like afternoons from childhood summers gone by. Then they placed this clay bowl of clear sauce and rose petals. I, being the occasional airhead, dipped my spoon and had a taste.
“It’s… it’s a different kind of vinaigrette, I think… Different, but not bad…” I said
… a few minutes later, I was informed that it was actually some form of natural “hand wash.” My very nice friends, who knew all along, laughed their asses off.
No wonder my mouth smelled like rose water… because it really was just that. F for failed information.
It was so funny, though- you had to be there. HAHAHA!
They served the salad right after that rose water incident. And all those vegetables were said to have come from Sonya’s private organic farm; from all around the restaurant. Everything was fresh and light! I loved the ripe mangoes with the salad. I packed on the parmesan cheese, just because I only have a college dude’s appetite that way.
I think my favorite part of the whole meal would be the freshly- baked bread from their own Panederia (a Spanish word which directly translates to bakery – thank you Google Translate). We had this after the salad. I think in more proper culinary terms, they would call this the Antipasto, or Entree or the thing “before the meal”?
I don’t completely remember everything they served with and for the bread (please see the photo above), but I do know that there were black olives, cured tomatoes, some kind- of- liver pate, white cheese, etc… So, so yummy with the hot roll… I could literally eat this everyday- sans liver, of course.
Another funny thing happened when the pasta came. So everybody was saying how they were surprisingly full with the previous courses… don’t undermine the power of fiber and vegetables, because in huge amounts, they can get you full… and the guys, in particular, were saying that they couldn’t have too much pasta anymore, etc.
So I helped my self. I really helped my self, if you know what I mean: I could have eaten pasta for 3 people, and that’s the embarrassing truth. This was my kind of place, after all, so I really pigged out (anti- vegetarian pun unintended, haha).
What the boys didn’t say, was that they were actually just saving room for the main course- for some steaks or sausages or something for the carnivore…
What they didn’t know, was that the pasta was the main course. I’m sorry!
For dessert, we had Turon (Turron in Spanish: thinly- sliced bananas with jack fruit, wrapped in spring roll wrappers and fried in brown sugar) and Sweet Potatoes fried the same way, but without the wrappers.
After eating, we walked around a bit to get a look- see.
The feel of the whole place- Filipino Martha Stewart meets Spanish Antique Road Show meets Mother Earth- was all encompassing. Even the restrooms echoed these very themes!
Don’t you just love touching Capiz shells?
The fresh roses floating on clay pots drove me insane. I didn’t know whether I wanted to take them all home, or dip another spoon in them to taste. Just kidding, they really made me smile.
If I had a garden and an abundance of flowers in it, I would probably do this. Every- freakin– where, I swear!
At the sight of the cozy little pavilion- slash- day bed, the girls went: “Aaaaw… that’s so nice…”
Guys: “Do you think anybody’s had sex there already?”
Me: “What the f*ck guys, thanks for ruining the moment!”
Of course they were hysterical with laughter, these boys.
They had these herbs for sale, too. I really wanted to buy, but good luck with Singapore Immigration, right?
When you eat at Sonya’s Garden with friends, the girls are bound to gush at the lovely lunch. The boys? They only say: “It’s a trap!!!”
*Tagaytay is merely a 55 km (34 miles) drive south of Manila. Bring a light jacket, as it gets a little windy and chilly most times of the year (20 degrees Celsius and much lower at night and dawn).
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