29 July 2012

Leslie's Forest Garden Restaurant (Noveleta, Cavite)

Leslie's Restaurants are considered an institution already. I have dined and passed by them for the longest time already. They have several branches but I have just tried their most famous Tagaytay branch and the one in Calamba, Laguna. And I love each experience. Good ambiance and most importantly, good food.

My dad and I went to Kawit, Cavite earlier to visit relatives. We were in for a treat as we will be having our late lunch at Leslie's, courtesy of Kuya Mark, my cousin. I have not tried this particular branch yet so I was happy with the choice.

Let's see what they had to offer:
Tea Shake. I loved this! My drink! It's blended iced tea topped with blended ice and iced tea granules at the very top. The granules gave this drink an extra sweetness that I loved the most. I really like this. That's all. So refreshing! 
We got the SET MENU C consisting of the ff:
Egg Drop Soup. Served hot and just right. There were many chunks of the egg which added to the rich texture of the soup and I liked this. 
Lechon Kawali. Sinful sinful but well, sinfully good. Deep fried to perfection, very crispy and its sauce is, no doubt, the perfect combo. I think I just had 1 chunk..or maybe 2. =)
Kare-Kare. A usual order that I never get tired of. Just the sauce of this one is enough to be the viand on its own. Honestly, no need to add the bagoong but of course, I did add because it seems not to be complete without it. But again, the sauce was well flavored and good on its own. You can even taste the grounded peanuts which means, they cooked this without the shortcut. Good job!
Pancit Sotanghon. Lots of verggies in it, which was something that I really want. And the added fried garlic on top enhanced the over-all taste. My dad said that he found it a bit salty but for me, it's just right. I've had several helpings of this simple dish. 
Pinakbet with Lechon Kawali. Lechon Kawali overload! I've had 1 chunk of the meat from this dish. I did not eat much of this veggie dish as I find the sliced vegetables a  bit too large for my liking. I got intimidated, I guess. Haha! But the flavor was great! 

My only  reaction/comment.. is about the service. Our waitress was still a bit new, I guess, as she cannot recite our orders correctly. We had to repeat it twice. But what she lacked in that area, she made up for positive character and smiling service, so it was not all negative. Even when they served the soup but did not give us right away our bowls and utensils. Anyway, the food made up for it also so we were all satisfied and happy and so full!

Overall, I'm going to come back definitely in this place. Without a doubt. =)

RESTO FACTS: 
Leslie's Forest Garden Restaurant
CEPZA Diversion Road, Noveleta, Cavite
Tel No. (046)438-7089
lesliesrestaurant.multiply.com

23 July 2012

Negros Occidental Revisited

Negros Occidental is a province full of promise to tourists, both new and recurring ones such as me. Not really a tourist because this is my province but I admit, I have not explored the place yet to the hilt. Slowly but surely, that's what I want to achieve.

So for this particular short visit, I said to myself I'm going to visit some places that are a bit near the city. Or in the city itself.

Sharing my photoblog:
VICTORIAS CITY
About 34kms away from Bacolod City, going Northward, about 40mins travel time on a private car and 50mins to 1hr on public transportation. Home of the once glorious Victorias Milling Company (VMC) that was the biggest integrated sugar mill and refinery in the world. And inside the VMC compound is the St.Joseph the Worker Church or more famously known as the Church of the Angry Christ.
The quiet Victorias City Hall on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Looks old and abandoned but not
Scorching sun is draining the life out of these pretty yellow flowers
You will be surrounded by this scenery anywhere you go.
There it is! Finally! The Church of  the Angry Christ
The facade is very simple and unassuming.

There is the famous mural of the Angry Christ painted by international artist Alfonso Ossorio who was an abstract expressionist who was born in Manila but his affluent parents hail from Negros Occidental also.
I did not find it 'angry' enough, instead I just admired the colorful mural. It was my first time here so I said a short prayer and asked for 3 wishes. That was taught to me by my mom who was also with me here. This trip by the way is our short adventure as a mom & daughter tandem.

The church is surrounded by greenery so it was a bit cool when we were there. Nice.
Of course, a trip here in Victorias City is not complete if you don't visit this antique VMC Locomotive otherwise called the "Iron Dinosaur'. It's a landmark in itself. Another check in my checklist! =)



BAGO CITY
About 20kms away from the provincial capitol of Bacolod City or 30mins travel time. We took a contracted taxi ride going here for P500 coming from the city. They have a twin falls here called Kipot Twin falls that I need to visit next time I will be here in Bacolod.
St. John the Baptist Church. From the outside you might think it small but wait until you get inside. The church was constructed in 1891. This trip here was a special one as my uncle will officiate the fiesta mass, this will formally mark his transfer here at Bago City as their parish priest. 



Happy Fiesta! 
Holy Water basin. Looked so old already. 



BACOLOD CITY
A revisit to these places that I have just passed quickly before.
Cathedral of San Sebastian located at the city center. It was built from 1876-1885.

According to http://heritageconservation.wordpress.com/2006/07/27/bacolod-cathedral/, The coral stone church, now covered with a thin layer of cement, is classical in temper. The slender bell towers flanking the fa├žade give an eastern European look to the church. The entrance to the church is through a portico composed of three arches of equal dimensions. Flanking the main door is a statue of the church builder Fr. Ferrero. The church interior is simple and chaste, its pleasing appearance comes about because of the pleasing modulation of arches and pillars rather than ornamentation. This feeling is accentuated by the unadorned gray faux vault, minus the figures painted by Lago.





The Centennial Bells

Just across the cathedral is the Bacolod Plaza Bandstand and Gazebo. A must visit and going here is nothing to worry about. Located at the heart of the downtown area, public transpo is very easy to get by.
The Bandstand that has the names of the famous composers inscribed in the circle at the sides of the roofing: Beethoven, Wagner, Haydn and Mozart. It is a clear attestment to the early Bacolodnons familiarity with European culture. This is a place where activities of all sorts are being held. I remember before that I attended an event here for Maxipeel, way back in my GMA 7 days. It was constructed in 1927 to complement the weekend cultural activities of the early Bacolodnons.
Per Wikipedia, The plaza is a trapezoidal park with a belt of trees around the periphery and a gazebo at the center. Scattered within the trees are four circular fountains.
There! These are the places that I visited during my short trip here. Of course, done already with the food trip part. Visit it here again, Bacolod Foodie Scene .

02 July 2012

The Bacolod Foodie Scene

Bacolod City..The City of Smiles. In Negros Occidental. That's my province!

For people who would like to visit this kind provinces, there are so many things that the locals are very proud of:
1) The people. Hospitable, kind and a fun-loving bunch!
2) The tourist spots. Just a bit outside the city is Talisay's Ruins, Silay's ancestral houses (3 of them are museums), Mambukal Mountain Resort, beach resorts such as Punta Bulata and Jomabo Island.
3) The food. The famous chicken inasal, need I say more? The popular pasalubong also like Piyaya and Biscocho, Napoleones and more! But more importantly, the foodie scene has grown. Aside from the usual commercial fastfood places, there are restos here that gives Manila's food scene a run for its money. That's a fact! And so affordable too!

Here are some of the places that we've tried last June 22-26:

1) BO'S COFFEE
Address: Central City Walk Robinson's Place Mandalagan, Bacolod City
Though there's a lot of Bo's Coffee branches in Manila, I have only tried it maybe once. Funny that I appreciated it Bo's more in Bacolod.
Almond Torte. I loved this! This was not my original order, this was my mom's, but when I got a taste, I immdeiately liked it. It was like Sansrival, that's why I loved it. Soft and bit gooey and just the right kind of sweetness.
Supermoist Choco Cake. For chocolate lovers, this is a good choice for you. The name said it all.
Mixed Berry Classic Freeze. I loved it! Just a bit of that sourness. Perfect with a cake combo because it does not overpower the taste, it just cleanses your palette so you can appreciate more of your cake and drink.
Caramel Froccino. My usual safe order. Anything that has caramel. This was good, a bit strong on the coffee side but still good. Perfect heat buster that day especially if you are having it al fresco!
 2) MOOON CAFE MEXICAN-INSPIRED RESTAURANT
Address: Central City Walk Robinson's Place Mandalagan, Bacolod City
Cozy and casual.
Was not able to try their Coolah Coolers. There's always a next time, like this coming October. Haha! I heard its good!

Quesadilla Veracruz (P165.00). Toasted whole flour tortilla stuffed with sauteed shrimps, onions and cheese..topped with salsa fresca served with sour cream. Subtle taste, the salsa is the culprit in giving this quesadilla a kick. It was really stuffed inside. We took home half of this. Really filling!
Mexican Baby Back Ribs (P220.00). 500grams of grilled pork ribs marinated in herbs. Served with rice, buttered vegetables and baby back sauce. If you ask for extra sauce, it's for free. Nice! I really loved this dish, the meat falls off the bone and there's more meat than bone. A winner! At this price, that's a double winner! =)
The baby back ribs' rice. Here in Manila, you can get an order of good ribs at P300+ minimum.
Bacon & Mushroom Pizza. (P150.00). A duet of bacon and mushrooms, combined with generous mozarella cheese. Very hearty and yummy. They sure are very generous in their ingredients and that's key in appreciating a great resto.
Mother & daughter tandem.
The unique ceiling fan. Too bad, it's a blurry pic. They're cute!
We stayed until closing time. A great dining experience. 2 thumbs up! 
3) MANG INASAL
Address: Osmena Highway cor. Montinola St. Victorias City, Negros Occidental
Halo-Halo (P49.00). The oh-so-Pinoy dessert! Beats the heat anytime. With a scoop of ice cream, you can not go wrong with that. Realtively cheap, yet very very good!
Turon Split (P39.00). A revelation. I did not know Mang Inasal have this in their menu. The turon, or banana fritters, is  still warm and crispy and when combined with that ice cream, its a sure treat. Very very cheap also. A must-try! 
4) LEYLAM SHAWARMA
Address: Level 3 Robinson's Place Mandalagan, Bacolod City

A small place that never runs out of customers. I know that I haven't tried this one yet  so since my mom and I are so hungry already and it's raining hard outside the mall, we decided to eat something first before we collapse of hunger. Just kidding! What made us try this was for the reason that I saw that they offer something that I have not encountered yet...
...and that is their Shawarma Noodles (P49.00). Honestly, nothing  very special but I find the noodles likable because it has a generous serving of veggies. The beef strips are a welcome addition also. Very pancit canton in taste. 
Since shawarma is not complete without its garlic sauce, I put some in my noodles. It became saucy, of course,  and okey. But I prefer it without. At least now I know what I prefer next time I happen to have one of this. 
5) CHICKEN DELI
Address: 8th St. Lacson Bacolod City (beside Negros Showroom)
An institution already. So many childhood memories here. Very spacious and unpretentious ambiance. What you see is what you get. Abundant service people to cater to their numerous customers. 
PechoPak w/ unlimited rice (P85.00 or P90.00). Breast with wing part. This place is now keeping up with their competitors by offering unlimited rice in their menu. Of course, when you get your meal, add a sprinkling of that chicken oil in your rice to super enhance the taste. It's good with or without it, but this is how it is authentically done. Eating with your hands is also a plus. 
Isol (P30.00). Or Chicken's Ass. Think twice before ordering this. Not for people with high cholesterol or high blood pressure. It is great-tasting but, .like what I've said, think twice. Me and my mom had a misunderstanding and she thought I ordered Isol but I said Baticolon (Gizzard). So we ended up with Isol and when we arrived home, her blood pressure has shoot up a bit. Lesson learned.  
Free soup. Always welcome to sip some hot soup to lubricate your  internal floodways, haha,  before  you munch on the heavy stuff. =)
The ever-present condiments. Sinamak (spiced) vinegar, chicken oil, and the soy sauce. Staples in your inasal experience. 
Love their chandeliers!
6) LORD BYRON'S BACKRIBS
Address: Block 8 Lot 7 Homesite Bacolod City
Baby Back Ribs meal (P150.00). This is the big winner! Delicious, fall-off-the-bone ribs with java rice and achara for only P150??!!. Yes, it is indeed true. I had one bought for our dinner at my lola's house. Someone has recommended it and I'm sure glad that person did. Thank you so much! Consists of mostly meat and not bone, well-seasoned and grilled and the sauce was great! I will have this next time again. 
7) MELY'S GARDEN RESTAURANT
Address: 6th Lacson St. Bacolod City
 A new place that just opened its doors this year only. On Sundays, they offer buffet for only P250/pax. We were supposed to try that but opted out because of a change in our schedule. 
A huge place. This is just the entrance area. They have several function rooms  for those parties that would like some privacy. 
This is the airconditioned area. The high ceiling gives it an airy ambiance and very cozy too.  We arrived early so not a lot of customers yet but as time passes by, the volume of people coming in is in droves. The waiters are very friendly, accomodating and particular to the needs of the customers. Bravo! 
Grilled Scallops (P180.00). Topped with garlic and butter. One of my many favorites. I always look for this when I'm in Bacolod. For Mely's scallops, I find this dish just alright. Not that exceptional. But it was good. 
Kare-Kare (P140.00). Only P140?? That was my reaction. I just wished there were more veggies put in. The ginamus, or shrimp paste was good, we asked for extra. Just the sauce alone is good as viand. 
I had no idea why I ordered Java rice. It's so out of place. But nevertheless,  it still got consumed! Haha! 
Sizzling Blue Marlin (P210.00). 300grams of tasty blue marlin! Very afordable especially if you compare it to Manila prices. Loved it! Cooked just right. Garlic bits did not overpower the overall taste of the fish. I even ate the onions,.  haha! I knew that I was going home straight so I did it. 
Happy mama and daughter. Foodie bonding time! =)
For this particular visit, I did not get to drop by any Calea branches, my favorite desserts place in Bacolod. But its alright. I can always come next time.

Surely, Bacolod City and the nearby towns are competitive in the foodie market. A visit here is always worth it. People are hospitable and the entire place is buzzing with life! =)
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