Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Merriment and Feasting at Balai sa Laiya

A couple of weeks ago, we packed our bags for a weekend at Laiya Batangas. Our destination- Balai sa Laiya Beach Resort. It was about a two-hour drive from the Petron Gas Station at the SLEX (southbound lane) which was a decent enough run considering we conditioned ourselves for a four-hour trip. Nobody in the car became twitchy-impatient during the trip, not even our four-legged passenger, my sister's newest canine acquisition, who as of yet still doesn't have a name.

The view at this resort is quite stunning. The white sand, though suspiciously rough at the feet, is always kept pristinely clean by the industrious resort staff. The water is clear and inviting, the wind, crisp and pure, and the surroundings, peaceful and quiet.

Cast among the backdrop of age-old fruit-bearing tamarind trees are the cottages, which, for an additional Php600 can be air-conditioned if you so wish it to be. The cottages have their own private toilet and bath with sufficient water and provision for warm water can also be arranged. Quite notable is the bamboo-slatted floor which particularly disconcerted my sister as she was prone to dropping small knick-knacks from her person. These knick-knacks could easily fall through the slats and while a metal sheet lies beneath, it is quite tricky retrieving the fallen articles considering that the gaps are too narrow for a hand to go through.

I packed four bags of Doritos for something to munch on during the long car-ride. Which I later realized was a big mistake. They do not serve any pica-pica-type food at the resort. No sisig, calamares, camaron, chicharon, and the like. Just some selections of your usual run-of-the-mill sandwiches- tuna, chicken, ham, egg... and several choices of libation- canned juices, soft-drinks, and beer. What saves Balai sa Laiya for me though in the food department is their buffet meals. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner here are always a feast. Thank you again, chef! I easily noticed the abundance of fresh, choice seafood in their seafood chowder, it tells me it never occurred to them to scrimp on the quality of their ingredients. The mango crepe quite simply took my breath away. The tocino for breakfast while I normally would stay away from it, made me go for seconds. And those are just among my favorites. Wait until you try the food here for yourself.

More pictures of Balai sa Laiya at Digital Format.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Extra Dark Chocolate by Dove

A couple of days ago, my brother and mother brought home a whole bunch of dark chocolate bars. Gifts from a balik-bayan patient of theirs. Lucky them! One is Cadbury Old Gold Dark Chocolate (haven't had the pleasure of trying this one yet but I'll keep you posted), the rest bears the mark of my current favorite chocolate brand, Dove.

Since then, I had been plotting to bake something out of it (I have realized that I enjoy my chocolate more as an ingredient in my baking concoctions than having my chocolate straight up). Use it to make chocolate chunk cookies perhaps, or maybe some brownies, how about a rich, moist chocolate cake?

Imagine biting into the silkiness of Dove chocolate in your cookie... now isn't that something to pine for?

Until yesterday, opportunity presented itself. I had left-over cream cheese frosting from the batch of red velvet cupcakes I made for some of my friends who came over the office to visit. I didn't want to let all that wonderful frosting go to waste so I decided to make chocolate cupcakes. I melted some of the Dove Extra Dark Chocolate, stirred it into the cupcake batter and- viola!- instant chocolate heaven.

Dove Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Shavings

The sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting, while not usual, paired surprisingly well with the chocolate cupcake. For an extra treat, I shaved some Dove Extra Dark Chocolate and sprinkled them on top of the frosted cupcake. Take it from me, it's bliss!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cupcakes by Fleur de Lys

Fleur de Lys is a cozy little patisserie along Tomas Morato in Quezon City, right beside Popular Bookstore. Like a fly, I am drawn instinctively to anything sugary so while my companions duck into the bookstore, I snuck into Fleur de Lys sweet enclosure. They serve coffee, some sandwiches, and pasta, I think and manifold sweet offerings like pies, cakes, cookies, and gourmet cupcakes. Now, if only I had not just eaten lunch yet...

Not wanting to walk away empty-handed, I picked two cupcakes to take home- red velvet (foreground) and vanilla pistachio (background).

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