Tuesday, April 24, 2007

G.U.S. NITPICKS!! (v. 13)


Firelake Grill is one of those so-called "destination" restos that have sprouted up in Tagaytay in recent years. Surprisingly it has been around for two years already, as it hasn't had as much publicity as Antonio's or Sonya's Garden, etc.

On this Good Friday lunch, the resto was quite packed. Check out the gorgeous interiors below:

Charming, no?

On to the food.

The free bread bun was pleasantly warm, not hot; and quite a good-sized piece of bread, i must say. I wanted to ask for seconds (and thirds. . .), but thought better of it.

I ordered the lamb chops (see pic above). It was quite flavourful and tasty, although could have been cooked a bit longer. Overall, i'd say it was very good, but definitely not as good as the lamb chops at Antonio's (still no.1 in my book!) and Verbena at Discovery Country Suites.

My sister ordered the fish fillet (i think it was a barramundi) with pasta. I felt it was good, above average, but not really spectacular.

The staff was helpful, efficient, cheerful, even a little "familiar" in the case of this guy David. But he did recommend we order the Blackened Beef Salad with Asian greens, Thai chili dressing and blue cheese (not pictured), which proved to be quite fantastic!

We skipped the desserts, though, as they looked over-elaborate and guaranteed to give one a stomach ache, at least in my opinion. Instead, we had this cheesecake at Burger Bar by Massimo's nearby. It was one of the best cheesecakes i've tasted, its sweet crust in delightful contrast to the sour cream cheese. We gobbled it so fast, we didn't even have the chance to take a picture of it. :-d So, i guess a visit to the original Massimo's is in order.

Firelake Grill also has a fairly extensive list of soups, salads, pastas and steaks. Not cheap, but with its nice interiors, good food and overlooking view of Taal Volcano, it's well worth the drive from Manila.

(Firelake Grill is located at the Cliff House complex, around 100 meters away from the Tagaytay rotunda. It is IMMEDIATELY after Yellow Cab Pizza, on the left side of the road)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

(Conclusion of the Shanghai series)

While riding a taxi (the drivers in Shanghai absolutely don't speak any English, by the way) on the way to the business meetings, etc., we passed by this. . . .ahh, i'm not quite sure what to call it, so let's call it IT for now.

So what is IT? I asked the taxi driver, the hotel doorman / bellhop / concierge, the president of one of the Chinese companies we deal with, anybody. . . and no one really knew! (Or perhaps i just didn't understand what they were saying in Mandarin, haha)

So what is IT? Here's my theory (and i'm convinced i am absolutely right):

This is a ultra-high-tech satellite dish the Chinese government is using, to spy on and intercept classified information from US and Russian satellites in space.

Why? Because the Chinese government is in cahoots with the leaders of Planet Mars. They will give the classified info to Mars, who will use it to conquer other planets in galaxies far far away.

And what does the Chinese government get in turn? Proven technology from Mars to stop global warming (remember, the reason Martians are red is because they have been deep-fried by UV rays for centuries, and they're still alive and kicking), which will make them dominate Earth.

The Martians are coming! Soon! With vengeance in their red eyes!
Don't say i didn't warn you.

(Part 2 of the Shanghai series)

Picking up where i left off in my previous post, my brother and i were at Xintiandi, this resto/commercial complex which literally means "New Heaven on Earth" in Mandarin.

This place is pretty popular, quite a tourist trap. What makes it unique is that it preserves the mid-19th century Shikumen-style buildings . . . think red and black bricks, gray flagstones, narrow lanes, etc.

We eventually decided on this fine-dining Italian resto named Luna. It has a live band (of course, it was a Pinoy band!) and bar area on the ground floor; and a more cozy, subdued lounge dining area on the second.

Check out the interesting mural on the wall, below:

And check out this porkchop with mushroom risotto i ordered, below:

Looks a little hideous, doesn't it? :-d But believe me, this
porkchop was nothing short of fantastic! Not only was the portion quite generous, the meat was tender and didn't have that big slab of (admittedly) tasty fat on its side; and the accompanying sauce was sweetish, and perfectly counterbalanced by the mushroom risotto.

As i would say in my mangled Mandarin, "Wow!"

(The Xintiandi complex is at the Puxi side of Shanghai. Check out www.xintiandi.com for full details not only of the shops and restos, but also how the Shikumen architecture was preserved and redeveloped into what it is today)
(Part 1 of the Shanghai series)

In case you have been wondering where Mother Lily got those horrid cheongsams for her never-ending Mano Po films, wonder no more. She obviously raided Shanghai Tang's 1960s collection, haha.

Seriously though, while having some difficulty deciding which resto to eat in at the Xintiandi complex
[one of my friend Mike-mike's most fave places in the world, by the way; but that's another story :-D], we stumbled upon this Shanghai Tang store.

In the 1920's and 30's Shanghai was called the "Paris of the East". So, "Shanghai Tang", the clothing store, aims to evoke that elegance and charm of fashionable Shanghai in the 1930's, by mixing traditional Chinese designs with modernity. Sort of like "East meets West", i guess..

Well, enough of the blurb. The merchandise is exquisite, with lots of color and intricate design, yet definitely wearable without looking like someone from the 30s. The men's line is obviously more basic / less frilly, but what i particularly liked was the way they put in small details (i.e. fine stripes, knotted buttons, etc.) on typical plain short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts, so you end up with looking classic, yet with a rather hip edge.

Alas, these things are expensive. I don't know about you, but paying something like RMB945.00 for a short-sleeved shirt, or RMB995.00 for a long-sleeved shirt, or heck, even RMB485.00 for a colored T-shirt with this funny Chinaman design. . . .hmm, maybe when someone brings in a Shanghai Tang franchise to Manila, and copycat designs start sprouting up for PHP150.00/shirt.

Well, the courteous and excellent English-speaking staff did give me a calling card listing their different locations. So it wasn't a totally wasted shopping exercise :-D

(Shanghai Tang has stores in Hong Kong, Singapore and New York. Check out www.shanghaitang.com for their collections)