Make Your Day, Go to Tagaytay


Living abroad makes me miss my favorite quick weekend escape. That is Tagaytay City. It often took me 1.5 hours from Makati City if traffic was not bad. Double the time or more, if otherwise. Nevertheless, finally getting there was always worth it.

This small mound is not Taal volcano. It’s called the ‘Binintiang Maliit,’ one of the many small cones of the volcano. The actual volcano sits on a caldera surrounded by Lake Taal.
There came a time when I drove there not just on weekends, but every other day. I had to visit our mini-farm, Cabutihan Orchard, in Alfonso. We had a great variety of trees and plants in it. I’d often go home with bananas, mushrooms, coconuts, potatoes, banana blossoms, leafy vegetables of different kinds, chili peppers, mangoes, chicos, papayas, and more in the back of my SUV. Thanks to the hardworking “kuyas” (male caretakers) who diligently planted and cleaned the whole 2,000-square meter lot. (By the way, because we do not have caretakers anymore and we could no longer visit it, the lot is up for sale. It's a few meters away from Sweet Spring Farm, Senator Pangilinan's organic farm. It's not far from Twin Lakes and Sonya's Garden. Just message me if interested. Haha! Shameless plug.) 
We used to grow kapeng barako (rare local liberica coffee),

Our flagship product, the oyster mushrooms.
This is me. I miss farming and gathering fruits and veggies from the front yard.

One serene afternoon at Lake Taal. We came down here from Balay Isabel in Talisay, Batangas. It’s a good time to visit before sundown. There were street foods lined up and the smoke coming from the food stations would surely make you buy.

Our usual Tagaytay habit looked like this: Leave in the morning to have drive-thru breakfast anywhere near Sta. Rosa Laguna, have lunch at our favorite eating places, go to the orchard for the harvest, leave before dinner, and have it along the way or at one of our favorite eating places. Having lunch and going to the orchard could be interchangeable because they depend on our arrival time. 

One will never run out of food options in the city because everywhere you look, many places are offering different fares, depending on what you want to eat. We have lots of favorite food stops in Tagaytay. To name a few, and why:

  1. Mushroom Burger – for their mushroom burger steaks, mushroom fries, and sago
  2. Ribchon – everything there is gooooood!!! There is a story here. We were there exactly on its opening day and we did not know because it was unannounced. The owner was kind to each guest and asked them how the food was. So when he went to our table, he asked us about it, chatted a bit, and before we knew it, we were exchanging contact info. He said that our food was on the house because it was their opening day!!! Hahaha! Blessing! When we went there again, we gave two kilos of our fresh mushroom harvest to the owner. He introduced us to his chef who also owns Bayani Tapsi, a Filipino fast-food joint along Nasugbu Highway. Little did we know that the chef cooked some of the mushrooms and served to us his versions of mushroom tinola (so yummy!) and mushroom fries.
  3. Tagaytay Royale Country Club – for their spaghetti, puto bumbong, their buffet, and cakes
  4. Seoul Garden – their vegetable appetizers and the noodles selection
  5. Loumar’s – buko pie and tarts
  6. Carmela’s – banana cake and chocolate chip cake
  7. Sonya’s Garden – freshly baked bread and vegetarian dishes

We also have obligatory stopovers at Twin Lakes (because it’s near the orchard), Ayala Malls Serin, and at Robinson’s Mall for some quick cravings or for necessities. 

I had unforgettable events with family and friends in Tagaytay. I remember when I was a high school senior. My group of friends decided to spend one summer day at Picnic Grove. It was windy and cold. When it was time for lunch, we unpacked our foodstuff and prepared them on our picnic mat. I brought out the brownies I baked. The wind suddenly blew and left some of the brownie slices on the ground. Laughing at the situation, we chased all the brownies that flew and wiped off the grassy bits that clung to it. Oh, our precious brownies! 

As a family, we’d hang out and sometimes spend the night at Tagaytay Royale to indulge in its hearty buffet. It was our go-to place for swimming, playing bowling, or simply enjoying some fresh air and serenity. My son first knew how to swim there. We had so many happy memories. 

When we needed some change of scenery, we’d check in at Taal Vista Hotel, Potter’s Ridge, Windy Ridge, or just at our small house in the orchard. 

If you need a perk-me-up, a drive to Tagaytay City would surely make your day. When we visit the Philippines again, Tagaytay City is definitely not to miss on our list.    

The puto bumbong in Tagaytay Royale is to die for. These are sticky rice steam-cooked in bamboo and are eaten with brown sugar and fresh coconut grates.

Yummy bulanlang from Ribchon. The closest to the one I always had during my childhood days.

Spring rolls in Ribchon are the best.
This is the son’s favorite, mushroom sisig with egg. We’d usually have breakfast at Mushroom Burger or take-away for dinner if it is already late.
This is the crispy tawilis, the small fish variant endemic in Tagaytay only. It’s the city’s main fish product.

Crispy mushrooms from Mushroom Burger, one of our favorites there.