Small Treats: Halo-halo!

mwtwhitekabigting'sCredits to LivE‘s Sing for Spring Kit:  Papers- PP3-PP7; Elements- Birdoodle, Twill2_delight and Twill2_enjoy.

A popular Filipino dessert that is a mixture of shaved ice and milk to which are added various cooked beans and fruits.  My all-time favorite!  Kabigting’s halo-halo is Arayat’s pride; its unassuming façade (which even looked closed) reveals nothing of this sweet delight.  After breakfast at Abe’s Farm, we headed towards the town of Arayat, further away but we just had to have our halo-halo fix.  Who says dessert has to come after meals?  If I have my way, dessert comes first.

Pastillas.  That’s what makes their halo-halo different from the rest.  A different version from different towns and regions makes this Filipino dessert interesting.  One can use anything under the sun (that’s edible, of course), from fancy ones with tons of ingredients to something as simple as pastillas, mashed beans and corn.   The sweetness of the milk candy contrasts well with the saltiness of the corn.  The mashed beans add the texture and the result?  Delightfully refreshing.

Ice.  Ice is important too.  What always ruin my halo-halo experience are big chunks of ice.  Their smooth-shaved ice blends perfectly with all the other ingredients.

So if you find yourself in Magalang, make the effort to drive further and enjoy a serving of their simple yet excellent halo-halo.  It will make your day.

For more awesome worlds, go to That’s My World.

Chillin’ at Abe’s Farm

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A spur of the moment road trip had me thanking my lucky stars for that long weekend initially unwelcomed.  It was a hectic past few months with our planning season up in full steam and planning for any long weekend was not part of it.  But at the last minute, my friends and I decided to make the most of the long weekend and a trip to Abe’s Farm ensued.  Chillin’ at Abe’s was just what I needed to recharge for more slaving away to come.

A “no pressure-whatever” kinda weekend kicked off with a leisurely drive to Pampanga, stopping along the way for a relaxed breakfast,

Cottage-Kitchen

followed by a delectable Cajun lunch at Cottage Kitchen before finally arriving at our destination where we had our dessert or shall we say mid-afternoon snack.

abe-dessertClockwise:  Turon with langka and ube (banana roll with jackfruit and yam); Sticky rice with mango and ice cream; Tsokolate Eh (native chocolate); pepper lights that added charm to the dining area.

Yes it was mid-afternoon when we got to Abe’s Farm… I told you, no pressure.

abe-exterior

What used to be the private rest house of Larry J. Cruz is now a resort (of some sort) albeit with limited accommodation.

abe-dining-room

The house, built using a lot of indigenous materials, holds many of LJC’s personal belongings.  In fact, the rooms in the house are off-limits.  “It is only for family when they come visit”, we were told.

abe-inside

We felt so at home, watching TV at the “sala” while waiting for dinner as if it were our own home.  When it was ready, we were ushered to the dining room.  Yes, pampered in the truest sense of the word.

Abe’s Farm opened its doors to the public just before his passing a few years ago.  I remember the first time I set foot on this beautiful rustic house nestled at the foothills of Mt. Arayat was during one of his birthday celebration – no I do not know him personally then but my friend G does.  I tagged along.  Last year, I unwittingly found myself there again, this time a less private affair.  While in Magalang (looking for another restaurant), we noticed several “Abe’s Farm” road signs, we were curious – could it really be the same Abe’s Farm?  We decided to follow the signs and yes, it is one and the same.  We ended up having lunch there but couldn’t stay the night.

Ifugao-ulog

This time around, I made sure we spent the night — in an Ifugao hut, no less.  A real hut transported from Banaue but with modern amenities such as airconditioning and lights.  A nice compromise considering Pampanga is not exactly Banaue, temperature-wise.

pool

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the poolside reading, chatting and chilling out, away from the hustle and bustle of the metro.

relaxClockwise:  Sungka – a natve boardgame; where I spent the afternoon reading; my tamarind juice – yum!; what’s left of our wine after dinner.

And best of all, we booked ourselves a massage at Nurture Spa at the other end of the lot.  After dinner we trekked to the other side for that blissful massage which sent us to dreamland in no time.

nurture-spaNuture Spa in daytime

If only we didn’t have to trek back to our hut… it was nice to know that they do have rooms available as well.  So does it merit a next time?  How can I say no to that?

Please do check out more wonderful worlds here.

Abe’s Farm
Barangay Ayala, Magalang, Pampanga
+63(45)865-1930
+63(915)592-5501
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nuture Spa
+63(918)8888SPA
 

Getting there:

From Manila, take the Angeles Exit on the NLEX (45 minutes from Balintawak tollgate). Follow the Magalang Road leading to the town plaza (15 minutes).  From there ask directions to Barangay Ayala (less than 10 minutes).  In Ayala, go past a resort n the left, proceed to Livestock Village (2 minutes) and you will see the Abe’s Farm sign on the corner.

PhotoHunt: Four

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Credits:  Frame – Akiloune kit so natural cadre

Taking a 4X4 off-road jeep makes trekking Mt. Pinatubo a walk in the park.  What used to be a whole day trek requiring overnight camping in 1999 (when we first trekked this beautiful landscape) is now down to 1 hour of 4X4 ride and about 45 minutes hike to the crater lake.  A far cry eh?

ph-4x4

This was taken 5 years ago when the service of 4X4s already existed but still required a grueling 2 hour trek to the crater and hours of rutty ride to the jump-off.  The experience however made the journey exceptionally memorable.

In June 1991, after more than 4 centuries of slumber, this volcano erupted so violently (coupled with an unfortunate tropical storm) that its ashes covered almost the entire island of Luzon and permanently changed the landscape of Pampanga, Tarlac and Olongapo.  Hundreds of millions of dollars in prime properties and infrastructure was likewise ruined.

pinatubo-crater

The crater lake as it looked in 2004.

 Source: http://park.org/Philippines/pinatubo/ and
 http://geography.about.com/od/globalproblemsandissues/a/pinatubo.htm

This week’s Photo Hunt theme is Four.  To join the fun or enjoy more entries, please click here.

Mt Pinatubo

pinatubo_web

Credits:  Jessica Sprague’s U&R week 2 layout and alpha kit.

A stunning landscape and a beautiful lake has made this sleeping giant into a favorite hiking destination, 17 years after its eruption.  Been there twice and I am awed both times at how a horrible event managed to turn a mountain nobody seemed to care about into something so spectacular.

Of Birthdays and Friendships

“Sing a song of Birthdays full of fun and cheer and may you keep having fun for many a happy year.” Anonymous

“Good fellowship and friendship are lasting, rational and manly pleasures.” William Wycherley

tablescape
tablescape

Every year, we celebrate without fail, growing closer through the years. We used to just meet up for dinner but lately our celebrations have become more special, more memorable, enjoyable. We have the fortune of having our birthdays close to each other (well, ok a 3 month span might be pushing it?) affording us to celebrate together and more recently a bit more grandiose as we can split the bill 5 ways. Now why didn’t we think of that earlier?

Previous years’ celebrations would bring us out of town, an overnight even. Each and every one of them special in its own way. Our love for each other triumphs over any arguments or disagreements (and yes, we have a lot of those). And these out of towns are our Mighty Bond.

Bale Dutung

Kapampangan fare
Kapampangan fare

This year’s birthday bash brought us to Angeles, Pampanga. To Bale Dutung, Claude and Maryann Tayag’s residence. Here, we celebrated our birthday in a grand way. A 4-hour lunch specially prepared by Claude himself while Maryann served and entertained us. It was such an experience, a first for everyone. The menu was mainly Kapampangan with a twist, Claude’s twist. There were more appetizers/starters than main entrees but the variety provided us a chance to sample more dishes. Truth is, the food was a little too much and by the end of the course, our bellies would only allow a few spoonfuls

Seafood Kare Kare
Seafood Kare Kare

of the Seafood Kare-kare, which unfortunately was so yummy. Oh and the dessert (christened Paradiso by the late Doreen Fernandez) was HEAVEN. We actually had to take a break before dessert. The hosts graciously toured us around their lovely home. Bale Dutung, meaning “House of Wood” (or “Wooden House”?) had Claude’s sculpted masterpieces tastefully scattered all over the house giving it so much more character. And the papers, magazines, books etc added to its lived-in charm.

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Special Mention

Paradiso - yum!
Paradiso - yum!

Can I mention again that the dessert was lip-smacking delish? It’s a little bit of crème brulee, yema (creamy candy made of egg yolks, sugar and milk) and halo-halo (it had a bit of ube, macapuno and camote) put together.  That combination + the bittersweet crunchiness of the caramalized sugar… perfection!  I heard that the secret to its creaminess (not so secret anymore) is Carabao’s milk! To. Die. For!  Can you tell I have a sweet tooth? 😉 Heard that they normally serve this only to larger groups as it is not easy to prepare and that milk is not always available.  So Mr. Tayag,  you just made one girl verry, verry happy!

Note:  will have to mooch pics from Irene– mine’s too blurred to post 😦 Gotta get a DSLR!  Promise to be back with more pics.

Update:  As promised, here are more pics… many thanks to Irene!

Deeply Honored

dsc_1553bThank you, my dear, dear friends for celebrating yet another year with me and may the friendship and the celebration continue till we’re old and gray. Love you guys!

Thank you too Claude and Mary Ann Tayag for opening your wonderful home to us. The food was exceptional, but the hospitality… matchless!  Thanks again… sniff!