Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Newbie Runner's Nightmare

I consider myself a newbie runner, even at my age. I just started running around three years ago and it was my dream then to join the Milo Marathon... not the full marathon, just the 3K or 5K fun run. I know that for my age, my body has it's limitations and I can only push it to do so much. I know, I should have started running at a younger age... didn't know I would love it this much.

I got discouraged after about more than a year of running. Milo runs were always on a Sunday, and I wasn't available. Then I got heel pain, so I stopped running for a while. Then I developed other illnesses including hypertension. My doctor advised me to exercise at least 150 minutes a week, so I started walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I wasn't satisfied with walking, so I started short jogs in between walks... then I was back to running :)

Opportunity came for me to join a fun run that wasn't scheduled on a Sunday! The 8.0K Unida Family Fun Run scheduled on Wednesday, November 30, 2011. This was in celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the Unida Church in 2012, and the proceeds of the fun run was towards missions. So I registered for the 5K event. 

It's race day tomorrow and I'm trying to keep myself calm lest I be overwhelmed by my excitement. I decided to just rest today and sleep a little longer because I know I will have very little sleep tonight and need to wake up at 3:00am to prepare for the 5:00am race. I woke up this morning at 5:00am then went back to bed at 6:00am... and started dreaming~

I dreamt that it was already race day! It was still dark when we made our way to the race venue and. upon arriving, I asked the registration staff if my runner friends were able to register for the race. It didn't seem odd to me that the race venue was not at CCP complex, but was at a hilly place similar to Ultra in Pasig. I had just come from a seminar the day before and, horrors!!! I realized that I didn't have my race bag, which had my race bib, running shirt and shoes!!! I looked for the race organizers... along the way I saw the 8K runners already running their race... okay, my event was 5K, so I still had a bit of time. I explained my situation to the race organizers, and they agreed to let me run. So off I went to find my family and see if I could borrow a pair of running shoes. Then I heard a gunshot... oh no!!! It was for my event and I was nowhere near the starting line... I saw the runners on the next street parallel to where I was, so off I ran looking for a path towards the starting line, hoping I could still join the race...

Then I woke up... whew!!! You can just imagine my relief that it was all just a dream~ Now I'm packing my bag for tomorrow, but it will just have my race kit, slippers, a change of clothes and a towel... I'll be wearing my running gear to the venue tomorrow. I already attached my race bib to my running shirt :) Yeah, my nightmare is probably just due to my excitement... hoping it won't happen in real life~

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Soothing Mind and Body at Sonya's Garden

I've heard many nice things about Sonya's Garden in Tagaytay, so when my brother invited my sister and her family to visit the place, I begged to tag along.

The drive from Manila was long and tiring, but upon reaching the place, we immediately felt the calm and restful ambiance. Trees, trellises and flowering shrubs are strewn all over the place, lining the pathways and adding freshness to the cool Tagaytay air.

Our first stop was Sonya's Sensuous Spa. I decided to try Sonya's Signature Massage... which was described in their website as "a compendium of Sonya's favorite massage strokes that maintains pressure and focus typical of Shiatsu while executing relaxing Swedish strokes that improves blood circulation combined with stretching movements of a Thai massage."  

The room I was led into had a single bed and a shower room, where I showered and donned the provided sari. The massage was really soothing and relaxing, and I felt all the hard knots on my shoulders and back being softened out by the firm yet gentle pressure of my masseuse... I loved it~!

After our relaxing massages... it was time for lunch~! We had the Set Lunch (Eat All You Can). Healthy, healthy, healthy!!! Salad greens, bread, pasta and dessert, of course!
A lovely stroll around Sonya's Garden grounds was perfect after that hefty lunch. We requested to view one of their available cottages for "Bed and Breakfast"

The interiors look relaxing enough to spend the night... no tv, no wifi... just savor the peace and quiet with your loved ones and leave your stresses behind. Walk the garden pathways and admire the fountains, flowers, shrubs and trees.
Last stop... the Panaderia and the Country Store~
A variety of handcrafted souvenir items can be found at the Country Store, I just didn't fancy buying any at the time. I heard that the Spanish Bread at the Panaderia was good, so I bought a pack as pasalubong for my family. The next time I come here to Sonya's Garden, I'd love to have them with me.

Sonya's Garden is located at:
Barangay Buck Estate, Alfonso, Cavite, Philippines
(near the vicinity of Tagaytay City, Philippines)
For reservations, call or text the following numbers:
+639175329097 / +639175335140 / +639175231080
Email: info@sonyasgarden.com

Friday, November 11, 2011

Disappointing Dish at Pancake House

I try to avoid writing negative reviews, but sometimes I just can't. I like Pancake House and, having dined there on several occasions and being satisfied with the food, I come back to try other items on their menu. In fact, I raved about their Black Forest Gurt a couple of months ago, although I mentioned in the same blog that I was slightly disappointed with the Healthy hunger-buster Spicy Chicken Fillet on Brown Rice Pilaf.

Now, another dish that is supposedly delicious has become for me a big disappointment. I was enticed by it's huge appealing poster...

A dish inspired by the Junior MasterChef Pinoy Edition show...

Fish Burger with Malunggay Sauce & Caramelized Ginger served with Brown Rice Pilaf. P235.

The poster picture and description looked appetizing, so that's what I ordered.

Here's what the dish looked like when placed before me... not like the poster picture at all~  The fish burgers looked pale and had the same color as the brown rice, and they scrimped on the caramelized ginger and malunggay sauce.
Now for the taste... I didn't like the fish burgers at all. It tasted sour, like it was doused with too much vinegar to mask the fishy taste. I couldn't recognize any fish flavor, though I'm sure there must be fish somewhere in between the batter... they were fish burgers after all. It was just slightly fried, probably to keep the juices intact, but it would have been better if they fried it more to reduce the vinegary taste. 

The malunggay sauce was also a disappointment. I was expecting the slightly bitter taste of malunggay, which I love... but it didn't taste like that at all... just a regular cream sauce colored green, and not even enough to dip all the fish burgers in. The caramelized ginger tasted okay, though there was just too little of it to add flavor to the dish.

I think this dish calls for a major makeover... I wonder if they really followed the recipe from Junior MasterChef Pinoy edition. This one would give the show a bad reputation. 
Picture taken from Pancake House facebook page
Would go back to Pancake House? Yes, but this dish is definitely out of my list.

Here's what a negative review could do... either turn you off, or spark your curiousity to try it... 

Had this dish at Pancake House, SM Marikina. Has anyone tried this dish at other Pancake House branches? I would love to hear from you.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Rai Rai Ken ~ Ramen Deal-icious!

We had been eating an assortment of snacks and pearl shakes at the cemetery while watching a pair of guys assemble a tent nearby my father-in-law's grave... funny how when one would attach a pole to a connector, another pole disconnects somewhere... and they both struggled at this till 2 more guys came in to help them. We didn't realize how much we'd eaten because we were distracted by the scene before us... picturing out in our minds how they should have assembled the tent with less mishaps, jokingly whispering among ourselves that All Saints Day would be over before they would have that tent up, LOL~ But they were able to setup the tent, at last, with the help of others... just in time for lunch. 

Every year, we go to the cemetery on November 1 to bring flowers and light candles at my father-in-law's grave, as his death anniversary is exactly on that day. We usually go in the morning then have our lunch at a nearby mall. SM Masinag had just opened this year, so we decided to go there for lunch. And there we stood in the middle of the mall, deciding where to eat. None of us were really hungry with all that snacking we did at the cemetery... I just wanted to have a bowl of soup myself... so I suggested we take a look at the ramen offerings at Rai Rai Ken.

We haven't eaten at Rai Rai Ken before, so I was excited to try out their ramen and dumplings. We were in luck! They had a promo on their Ippin Ryori... Order any of these new Ippin Ryori and get 50% in all Ramen...

So we ordered a Niku Nira, which was a vegetable dish of kuchay, bean sprouts and pork slices, and Niniku Gyoza, steamed pork dumplings.

We chose 3 different ramen flavors: Shio Ramen, Chasyu Ramen and Kanton Men. Each bowl is large enough for one hungry person... but since we weren't, we decided to share. (The prices shown on the picture below are already 50% off the regular price).
While waiting for our orders, I took pictures of the place... and my family... hindi mukhang gutom kasi naka-ngiti pa lahat ~

The steamed pork dumplings arrived first... it was topped with garlic-chili paste and served with soy sauce. It was deliciously bitin! So we ordered another gyoza dish, but this time we chose the Shark's Fin Gyoza.

The Niku Nira was refreshingly crunchy and lightly flavored. This dish went well with the ramen we ordered.

Kanton Men, mixed seafoods Kanton style... shared by my sons Moji and Jeriel.  I asked how it tasted... Moji described it as like eating pancit canton with soup... I tried a spoonful, and yes, it was an appropriate description :D

 Mel and Hannah shared this bowl of Chasyu Ramen, or roast pork ramen. The broth was flavorful and the pork slices were very tender.

Sarah and I shared in the Shio Ramen, or clear soup ramen. It didn't look much like in the poster photo, but as soon as I had a spoonful, this was instantly my favorite... I loved the light clear soup, the freshly blanched vegetables, the perfectly cooked noodles, and the pork was very tender to the bite. 

I was very happy with our meal... I liked what I ate and we didn't spend a lot to have this deal-icious lunch... total bill: P667.50 for the six of us! We wanted to order dessert, too bad they didn't have any available that day... maybe next time.

Rai Rai Ken is located at the 2nd level of SM Masinag, beside the supermarket.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Goto Me ~ My Favorite Snack Cart

Monday is the busiest weekday for me.  It's the day I schedule my errands for the week... take the dirty clothes to the laundry, go to the bank, pay the bills, buy stuff that we forgot to buy or were not available at our regular grocery, and other things that need taking care of. But that's what I love about Mondays~  I get to go out by myself... meet people, greet the lavandera, the bank tellers, the shopkeepers... do some personal shopping, even try out different snacks.

I often go to Cherry Foodarama in Masinag, Antipolo for my Monday morning "extra groceries" shopping. I love going there... browsing the supermarket aisles and finding products that are new in the market... and when I get hungry, I try out the different snack carts available there... burgers, shawarma, noodles, panini, hotdogs, wafles, dimsum... and my favorite snack cart~ Goto Me!
Mel tagged along last Monday when I took the dirty clothes to the laundry and went to Cherry to buy some stuff. So I invited him to have a snack at my favorite snack cart. The counter was full so we sat at the table in front of the cart. Mel ordered the Combo 2: Goto special + Lumpia + Orange Juice, P60... a real deal! I ordered Plain Lugaw, P18 and Fried Tokwa P20.

The Goto Special is a medium-sized bowl of lugaw (congee) with half a boiled egg, shredded chicken meat & goto (beef tripe) strips, and bits of fried  garlic and spring onion.

The Lumpia (spring roll) is deep-fried in oil and they only fry it upon ordering, so the wrapper is crisp to the bite.

And there's spicy chili vinegar to dip the lumpia in.
Mel's combo meal~

My snack was a small bowl of plain lugaw sprinkled with fried chopped garlic and spring onion. I love their soupy lugaw... even if it didn't have any meat in it, it was flavorful... just right for a light snack.

Compared to Mel's bowl of lugaw, mine was just about two-thirds the size of his.

I love their fried tokwa (tofu) too... also deep-fried upon ordering, delicately crisp on the outside and soft in the center... with a salty-sweet-sour sauce of soy sauce, vinegar and onions.

It is the perfect pair for my plain lugaw.

And so for P98, I had a lovely snack date with my husband at my favorite snack cart~ inexpensive, yet deliciously satisfying!

Goto Me also offers rice meals. Their Dinuguan (pork blood stew) is good... I sometimes order that and take it home for lunch. They also have a new viand, Bopis (sauteed pork lungs and heart), which I have yet to try.

Goto Me is located at the ground floor of Cherry Foodarama, Masinag, Antipolo City.