PlurkLakbayan 09 – The Paranacue Tour

It’s been a running joke. That Plurkfiestas always happen at northern Metro Manila, to the consternation and detriment of plurkers based down south. (For this post’s purpose, south refers to southern Metro Manila area that can be reached by the South Luzon Expressway or SLEX).  But it cannot be helped. Traffic at SLEX is just horrible, even on weekends. So some plurkers have been planning of going south. Actually, there was a PlurkLakbayan Alabang edition last December 2008, but no plurker from the south joined the trip, so another one is needed.

Taking advantage of a needed business meeting in Alabang, Gareon invited plurkers Jenijenjen, Juned, and me to Alabang and Parañaque for some food trip. This time, we made sure that a south-based plurker will join us, and Jayvee consented to be our tour guide of sorts he he.

Two hours late, no thanks to the infamous SLEX traffic, Jayvee met us at Cafe Año for a very late lunch (at around 2:30 pm). We wanted to try Kanin Club (which we had tried last December at Sta. Rosa), but they close at 2PM, so no dice. Anyway, food at Cafe Año is good, though they can be a bit pricey. I got their Pork Belly Adobo for Php 385. The pork was cooked adobo-style then fried. It was served with rice, achara, and a slice of tomato (which I gave to Jen). I was afraid that the pork was tough, since most fried pork tend to be tough; I was surprised it was very tender. Since this is pork belly, those who watch their blood pressure should probably avoid this dish. Though I can’t blame you if you order this one – it is sinfully delicious.

Anyway, Gareon got lengua (delicious – I took a bite); Juned got a bowlful of callos; Jen got a pasta with a big green pepper (the kind that you put in sinigang) above the past; Jayvee got the beef salpicao, which Juned graciously devoured since Jayvee couldn’t finish it. We had chorizos and a cheese platter for appetizers. The blue cheese is scary, and it has a nasty aftertaste.

Gareon went off to his meeting, so the remaining plurkers decided to wait at BoNa Coffee Company. There, we found Seav waiting for us.

This sign was appropriate, specially for Juned.

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Anyway, this was not the first time we went to BoNa – the PlurkLakbayan Alabang edition started at BoNa. For the second time, the item I ordered wasn’t available (Vanilla Bean Smoothie). The barista instead recommended hazelnut smoothie. I kinda missed the bubblegum smoothie, though.

We sat outside, talking about anything. Juned was thinking of recording a podcast, but the ambiance was not perfect – there was construction going on, and then it was raining. The rain was a good excuse to go inside. Jayvee then suggested to Jen to install Games of the Generals for iPod touch (I had the misfortune of leaving my iPod touch at home, but I had the headphone in my bag, boo). So the two played via Wi-Fi, with Eugene advising Jen. Guess who lost.

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Gareon’s meeting over, we moved to the second leg of the tour. We had dinner at Twentyone Plates at BF, Parañaque. The restaurant was so named because they have 21 dishes to offer. The place was a house converted into a restaurant. The garage was converted into an al fresco style dining area, and some of the rooms inside were converted into private dining rooms, sort of like function rooms. We got assigned in the so-called Library room, so named because one of the walls have bookshelves. I’d rather call it the cellar, because there were more beer/wine bottles than books.

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For appetizers, Jayvee ordered this kimchi roll, which I had wisely avoided, since it’s kimchi (read: it’s spicy hot). For whatever reason, Gareon kept on breaking the rolls that he got using chopsticks, while the others did not. All of them liked these kimchi rolls; they are weird people, like all others who like spicy food.

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The next appetizer was this feta cheese, which was fried in olive oil, and four bread pieces. (Yes, there are four, but someone got hungry and took one; guess who?) I took a small bite of the cheese. Nothing extraordinary.

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I ordered this callos for Php 265. Cheap, only that it was bland; Gareon said it had no taste. Pity. Also, at this point my stomach chose to grumble and rumble. The toilet for men was somehow broken, and I was rather shy of using the facilities for women, so there.

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Jen got this spicy chicken thingie. Spicy. End of story.

Seav got this pasta dish, which he said was OK. The others got steak. What could go wrong with steak, specially if it’s very affordable (at Php 5++)? Well, Gareon and Juned ordered their steak rare, but only a small portion of their steaks were rare. Well, it’s still steak, so I am sure it’s delicious. For drinks, we got their bottomless iced tea. It was a mystery for us. The taste got better during the second pitcher. No explanation was offered.

Across the street, Gareon was curious about the Miracle Spa (who wouldn’t). Seriously. That got everyone interested in getting a massage, and I was the only holdout. I had to be taken with arms flailing and legs kicking, and I found myself at the dim lobby of Wensai Spa (don’t ask me how we got there and not Miracle Spa). Anyway, as compromise, I had a foot spa instead of a massage. It was my first time, and I found it calming. The masseur (the only one who was available at the moment, which says a lot about the popularity of the place) was courteous; he even asked me to tell him if I feel any discomfort. I think he knew it ws my first time, as he guided my feet into that tub. I almost fell asleep, but I was busy plurking.

Also, I took the opportunity to use their toilet (hihihi).

On our way to Twentyone Plates, we noticed that spa places were like sari-sari stores; there are plenty of them along that main road. The area must be the spa capital of Parañaque. Business must be good. Also, many of them cater to Koreans, evidenced by billboards in Korean.

Gareon got hungry after the massage, so off we went to Cafe Francais. The place was quaint; the building was concrete, but the table and chairs were old, antique-looking (but definitely not antique). Funny thing is, the non-smoking area was at the inner-most area; Gareon says this is expected, since the owner is a French man.

I was not in the mood to eat (what with the toilet episodes earlier), so I got an iced tea shake (at Php 145 pesos, not cheap); besides, it was almost 1AM. Jen got coffee, Jayvee fries and San Mig Light, Juned sausages and Cerveza Negra, and Gareon spaghetti with meatballs. Everyone expressed satisfaction with their food; Gareon said the spaghetti was good (count how many time the word “good” was used in this post).

The tour ended with us departing back to the north. Our thanks to Jayvee for playing gracious and very patient host. There will be a next time, I guess.

The trip home (and the trip going south) was laughter galore, with entertainment provided by Juned, with his interpretation of music blaring in the car. Jen had contributed to the laugh trip. Unfortunately, everything is off the record. Sorry.

Now the only remaining place to visit is the east Metro Manila.

PS: My only regret is that we haven’t tried Elfav. Maybe next time.

(All photos taken using Olympus E-420. All the pictures are posted at PlurkLakbayan 09 – The Paranacue Tour album over at Ovi.)