Another pasyalan day for my cousin Butchie, my mom and me. Today, we scheduled the whole day to be spent in Tagaytay.
Our first stop was Ilog Maria. Butchie is an avid fan of their honey shampoo, soaps and lip balms. His visit to the Philippines will never be complete without buying some honey bee potions from Ilog Maria. All their products are organic and the honey is harvested directly from their farm located on site. My cousin is absolutely addicted to the stuff. He bought like a year's supply of shampoo, soaps and lip balm plus some royal jelly. Mom and I just couldn't resist buying some virgin honey, bee pollen and some really fantastic smelling soaps for ourselves.
Our next and main destination is Sonya's Garden. It is a beautiful garden restaurant, bed and breakfast and spa destination for the weary Manilenyos and tourists alike. Despite getting lost once, fog and rain blanketing our path, we remain steadfast and enthusiatic about our journey.
We finally reached Sonya's Garden. The restaurant is set inside a florishing flower greehouse. White gossamer curtains adorn the ceilings and windows, capiz and stained glass windows serve as walls and dividers, antique multi colored chandeliers also adorn the ceiling, white floring inlaid with travesia, or railroad wood planks make the place truly charming and familiar. The place is quite soothing and inspires guests to relax, take their time, have a leisurely lunch, have long conversations with your companions and generally be lazy the whole afternoon. There are even some outdoor sofas and beds that you can lie on. Well, maybe not on a rainy day like this.
Aside from the meandering flower, herb and lettuce gardens, Sonya's is famous for its Green Salad (pictured above). The salad is composed of freshly harvested lettuce and arugula with a choice of mango, jackfruit (when in season), edible flowers (when in season), broad beans, carrots, eggs, cucumber, pineapple, honeydew melon and turnips. Drizzled with the restaurant's secret dressing or balsamic vinegar, if you prefer something non creamy. I suggest to forego your diet and stick to the secret dressing. It's really really good and don't scrimp on it either.
They also serve freshly baked wholewheat bread from the restaurant's panaderia or bakery with homemade dips of pesto, kesong puti (local goat's cheese) marinated in olive oil and spices, anchovies and tomato tapinade. The bread is always served piping hot. We ordered extra servings of the wholewheat bread and the kesong puti because they really do go well together.
For our main course, we were served pasta with two kinds of sauces: sun dried tomato and chicken cream with mango. Toppings include salmon belly sauteed in olive oil, shitake mushrooms, black olives, capers and grilled vegetables. I personally prefer the sun dried tomato with a healthy healping of shitake mushrooms and grilled vegetables. The pasta dish is not that exceptional but the combination is a bit unusual, don't you think?
For dessert, a slice of home-made chocolate cake, turon and carioca (fried sweet potatoes then stewed in honey). All desserts are reminiscent of our childhood in different eras. I particularly don't remember having carioca, buy my mom does :-) He he he. Very comforting and familiar. A second helping of everything never hurts anyone :-)
Sonya's only serve the above set menu, for as long as I can remember. Menu variety isn't one of their strongest points. But everything is refillable. I suggest you get double extra helpings of their salad because it's really fresh and delicious.
To wash everything down, Sonya's serve bottomless freshly squeezed dalandan juice (local oranges) and tarragon tea.
After our delicious and very satisfying meal, we explored the rest of the property. Our first discovery was the Panaderia. The Panaderia (or bakery in English) offers guests freshly baked wholewheat breads, the secret salad dressing, broad beans and a host of other baked goodies and snacks.
Our next discovery is The Greenhouse. The Greenhouse is a bigger venue than the restaurant. It is often used for large gatherings like weddings and parties. The place certainly is very suited for a country wedding reception. White billowy curtains adorn the ceiling, antique multi-colored chandeliers and rose petals give an interesting contrast and whimsy. Several patches of lettuce can be found at the far side of the Greenhouse, hence the name. Very charming. We couldn't resist taking a few pictures.
Sonya's also has a gift shop called the Country Store. The quaint little store is filled with gossamer curtains with shells (similar to the ones used in the dining areas), soaps, dishes, postcards and a lot of curio stuff. It's interesting despite even though we didn't purchase anything.
The three of us also checked out the massage room and the cabanas. The cabanas were occupied and we couldn't take any pictures inside. Sonya's offer reasonably priced pampering packages. Maybe we'll try that next time. For more information, you can go to www.sonyasgarden.com
What a very satisfying and lazy afternoon. We slept almost the entire drive back. Kain, tulog, buhay baboy talaga! (Eat, sleep, really living the life of a pig!)
Before finally going home, we stopped by Insular life in Alabang to get a hot cup of Alamid coffee and some macaroons. I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but I do love coffee alamid.