Draft Gastropub Rolls Out
Exciting New Menu Items

The new Triple Threat Sandwich on the menu of Draft Gastropub combines roast beef slices with Hungarian sausage and slow barbecued pulled pork

The new Triple Threat Sandwich on the menu of Draft Gastropub combines roast beef slices with Hungarian sausage and slow barbecued pulled pork

IF you love good food and you love beer, and your idea of a fun and exciting night out with friends is munching on delicious savory bites in between sipping your favorite beer and carrying on a nice, light conversation, then you’d love to hang around Draft Gastropub. One of the most “happening-est” places in the metro, Draft is located at The Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, where the night is constantly young for party people, and it recently rolled out new menu items for its second quarter specials, all crafted by its celebrity executive chef, Carlo Miguel.
There are actually five new dishes on the menu—Chicken Pie, Meat Pie, Triple Threat Sandwich, Stracci and Beignet.

Draft Gastropub at The Fort Entertainment Center

Draft Gastropub at The Fort Entertainment Center

The cozy and comfy interiors of Draft Gastropub

The cozy and comfy interiors of Draft Gastropub

Chicken Pie

Chicken Pie

Chicken Pie (Php380) is a savory pie filled with delicious happiness, as it combines chicken, mushroom and double-smoked bacon fillet, served Tiger Style with mashed potatoes on top, mashed peas and gravy smothered on from the top. It’s a light meal in itself because if you finish it on your own, it can be quite filling.

Meat Pie

Meat Pie

Meat Pie (Php380) looks like the twin of the Chicken Pie. Chef Carlo’s version of a pub favorite, Meat Pie is a beef and pepper pie, served Tiger Style, also with mashed potatoes, mashed peas and gravy smothered on top.

The indulgent Triple Threat Sandwich

The indulgent Triple Threat Sandwich satisfies cravings and hungry tummies

Triple Threat Sandwich (Php480) brings the juiciness and exquisite flavor of roast beef into a huge gourmet sandwich, as it brims with the triple combination of generous roast beef slices, Hungarian sausage and slow barbecued pulled pork, topped with caramelized onion and coleslaw in a soft burger bun. It is served with a basket of fries and ketchup.

Stracci

Stracci

Then there’s Stracci (Php350) for pasta lovers. The homemade stracci pasta is amazing because it makes use of spent grains from beer brew. Traditionally, spent grains that result from brewing beer are used only as fertilizers, but Draft has found creative culinary uses for them, first incorporating them into freshly baked breads and cookies and, now, into fresh pasta as well. The newly rolled out Stracci on the menu is just that, fresh pasta made with spent grains, cooked with shrimps, chorizo and chili, and tossed in butter, Parmesan cheese and herbs. Perfect combination!

Beignet

Beignet

For dessert, Beignet (Php220) is what’s new. A simple dessert, the Beignet is twice-cooked ciabatta-shaped ‘doughnut’ without a hole, tossed in confectioners’ sugar and served with a warm dark chocolate sauce. It is expected to become as much a crowd favorite as Draft’s signature desserts Sticky Date and Toffee Pudding (Php245) served with butterscotch sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, Classic Baked Cheesecake (Php325) with a choice of strawberry or blueberry to go with it, and Draft Banana Split (Php340) which is a platter of caramelized bananas with homemade chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fudge brownie, three scoops of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and walnuts drizzled with Leffe beer salted caramel.

Sticky Date and Toffee Pudding

Sticky Date and Toffee Pudding

Angry Drunk Mussel Pot

Angry Drunk Mussel Pot

Speaking of beer, Draft offers a number of dishes that have been cooked with beer, including Leffe Dark Beer Bacon and Onion Soup (Php295), which is onion soup with mozzarella and Cheddar cheeses on sourdough toast; Angry Drunk Mussel Pot (Php780), with the mussels steamed with Hoegaarden Beer, bacon, chili, onion and fresh parsley, and served with frites, aioli and sourdough bread; and Beer Barbecue Chicken (Php450), which is lager marinated barbecue chicken, served with frites side salad and Berk’s barbecue sauce.

Running Draft Gastropub is The Distillery Group, which is the pioneer in European-inspired gastropubs in the metro and specializes in high quality comfort food served in a pub setting. It primarily serves premium quality European draft beers, fresh brews and imported booze which are some of the best in the metro.

 

(Draft Gastropub can be found at Unit C, The Fort Entertainment Center, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; with telephone number 0917-8195830; G/F, Greenbelt 2, Ayala Center, Makati City; with telephone number 0916-4697436; and Molito Commercial Complex, Madrigal Ave. corner Alabang Capote Road, Muntinlupa City; with telephone number 0917-8087927.)

 

Posted in Restos Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Diamond Hotel’s ‘Culinaria Filipina’
Features Chefs Myrna and Jill

Boneless Chicken Inasal crowned by Pork Barbecue

Boneless Chicken Inasal crowned by Pork Barbecue

TWO of the country’s top chefs are featured in Diamond Hotel Philippines’ Filipino food festival, Culinaria Filipina, which is ongoing at Corniche restaurant until Sunday (May 29, 2016): Chef Myrna Segismundo and Chef Jill Sandique.

Chef Myrna Segismundo, who takes care of the culinary side of the food promotion, was managing director of Restaurant 9501, the exclusive executive dining restaurant of ABS-CBN Corporation. Now she does consultancy and recipe development for food companies and restaurants, and takes on a lot of guest chef stints in hotels and resorts both in the country and abroad.

Guest chefs Myrna Segismundo and Jill Sandique

Guest chefs Myrna Segismundo and Jill Sandique

Rellenong Alimasag with Coco-Aligue Sauce

Rellenong Alimasag with Coco-Aligue Sauce

Prime Roast Beef Tagalog crowned by shrimps

Prime Roast Beef Tagalog crowned by shrimps

adobo spaghetti-IMG_3370

Adobo Pizza

Adobo Pizza

For Culinaria Filipina, Chef Myrna features a wide array of traditional and contemporary Filipino dishes ranging from appetizers and soups to main dishes and carvings. Appetizers include Kesong Puti, Cherry Tomato and Pako-Lato Salad; Trio of Kinilaw (Salmon, Oysters on Half Shell, and Shrimps); Silken Tokwa’t Baboy; Nilasing na Hipon; and Crispy Kangkong. Chef Myrna’s most popular main dishes are Boneless Chicken Inasal, Pork Barbecue, U.S. Beef Ribs Kaldereta, Rellenong Alimasag with Coco-Aligue Sauce, Crispy Binagoongan with Burong Mangga, U.S. Beef Tenderloin Morcon a la Emilia, and Pork Estofado.

For the carving of her Cycle 1 menu, Chef Myrna featured Prime Roast Beef Tagalog, Caramelized Onions and Basi Wine Sauce, which is a Filipinized version of the classic Roast Beef. For Cycle 2, she used rack of lamb, yes, but gave it a Filipino glaze and garlicky taste with her Roast Rack of Lamb, Calamansi-Guava Glaze, Garlic Smear and Stewed Tomatoes.

Chef Jill Sandique, who fills up the dessert buffet spread with yummy cakes, mousses, desserts and other sweets, owns Delize, whose specialties include Pistachio Sans Rival, Concorde and Pavlova. She is trained in different cuisines, including Filipino, Thai, Malaysian and Moroccan, but it is in the pastry world that she is hailed as one of the best. She also does culinary consultancy and conducts a lot of cooking demonstrations as well as cooking and baking classes for client companies.

Chef Jill Sandique (third from left) with family friends, from left: Ric Acorda, Teresing Lorenza and Celsa Acorda

Chef Jill Sandique (third from left) with family friends, from left: Ric Acorda, Teresing Lorenza and Celsa Acorda

Tableya Cake

Tableya Cake

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

Crepes Samurai

Crepes Samurai

Mango Tiramisu

Mango Tiramisu

Queso and Kapeng Barako ice cream

Queso and Kapeng Barako ice cream

Every day at the Culinaria Filipina lunch and dinner buffets, Chef Jill’s Tableya Cake, Ube Mousse Cake, Dulce de Leche Cheesecake, Crepes Samurai (mango crepes casserole), Mango Panna Cotta, Brazo de Mercedes, Malagos Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta—Single Origin 65%, Suspiros de Macapuno (or Langka) con Natilla, and Peanut Chocolate and Muscovado Coconut Masi were constantly replenished because they disappeared so fast.

Lunch and dinner buffet at Diamond Hotel Philippines’ Corniche is priced at Php2,288 nett per person. For reservations, call 528-3000 extension 1121 or email restaurant_rsvn@diamondhotel.com.

 

(Diamond Hotel Philippines is located at Roxas Blvd. corner Dr. J. Quintos St., Manila 1000; with telephone numbers (632) 528-3000 and 305-3000.)

 

Posted in FoodBiz Tagged , , , ,

Shangri-La Plaza’s ‘Gourmet Strip’
Is On for Two Weekends

Kimono Ken's Mixed Sushi

Kimono Ken’s Mixed Sushi

IF you weren’t able to catch it this weekend, do not worry. Shangri-La Plaza’s Gourmet Strip is still on at the East Atrium next weekend, May 28 and 29, 2016.

Held as part of the mall’s 25th anniversary celebration, Gourmet Strip is a food fair featuring a number of the mall’s well-loved restaurants, which specialize in various cuisines. For the weekend affairs, the East Atrium promises to be a fantastic gathering for lovers of good food to enjoy their favorite bites in an indoor picnic setting. Sampler-sized portions of new offerings as well as crowd favorites from each of the participating restaurants will be served during the weekend gatherings. Diners can also avail of special promotions and discounts offered exclusively during the weekend events.

Representatives of some of the participating establishments with Shangri-La Plaza's EVP and GM Lala Fojas

Representatives of some of the participating establishments with Shangri-La Plaza’s EVP and GM Lala Fojas

Representatives of some of the participating establishments with Shangri-La Plaza's EVP and GM Lala Fojas

Representatives of some of the participating establishments with Shangri-La Plaza’s EVP and GM Lala Fojas (center, with glasses)

California Maki by Akira

California Maki by Akira

Arya's Middle Eastern spread

Arya’s Middle Eastern spread

Ribs by Epicurious

Ribs by Epicurious

Happy Cream Puff's assorted flavors of gourmet cream puffs

Happy Cream Puff’s assorted flavors of gourmet cream puffs

Kimono Ken's Rainbow Platter

Kimono Ken’s Rainbow Platter

Kimono Ken's Shake Sushi

Kimono Ken’s Shake Sushi

Kimono Ken's Spam Maki

Kimono Ken’s Spam Maki

Squid Balls on skewers by Planet Grapes

Squid Balls on skewers by Planet Grapes

Watami's offerings

Watami’s offerings

Zao Vietnamese Bistro's Chicken and Pork Satay

Zao Vietnamese Bistro’s Chicken and Pork Satay

Taking diners on a gastronomic adventure are Akira (a Japanese restaurant specializing in sushi and teppanyaki), Arya (which features Middle Eastern food), Cibo (Italian restaurant of multi-awarded chef Margarita Fores), Epicurious (a restaurant and deli shop under The Cravings Group), Happy Cream Puff (a wonderland of cream puffs in different flavors), Kimono Ken (Japanese restaurant serving everything Japanese), Planet Grapes (a great place for friends and colleagues to meet and enjoy food and wine), Recipes by Café Metro (Pinoy food sprinkled with Asian favorites), Watami (specializing in Japanese cuisine), Wild West Roadhouse Grill (best known for ribs and grills), and Zao Vietnamese Bistro (which offers light and healthy Vietnamese fares).

Balboa specializes in pizza, pasta and steaks

Balboa specializes in pizza, pasta and steaks

Sausages by Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant

Sausages by Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant

Cyma's Souvlaki

Cyma’s Souvlaki

Green Pastures' Farmhouse Salad consists of shredded kale, chopped Romaine, roasted chicken, mambo goat cheese, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, corn, ripe mangoes, grapes and tomatoes

Green Pastures’ Farmhouse Salad consists of shredded kale, chopped Romaine, roasted chicken, mambo goat cheese, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, corn, ripe mangoes, and grape tomatoes

Green Pastures' Avocado Greens Salad is made up of mexclun, konbu roasted chicken, avocado, corn, grape tomatoes, red onion and tortilla crisps

Green Pastures’ Avocado Greens Salad is made up of mesclun, konbu roasted chicken, avocado, corn, grape tomatoes, red onion and tortilla crisps

Green Pastures' Chasu Misoba Salad consists of mixed greens, cold buckwheat noodles, corn, 8-hour roast pork, avocado, roasted carrots, leeks and scallions

Green Pastures’ Chasu Misoba Salad consists of mixed greens, cold buckwheat noodles, corn, 8-hour roast pork, avocado, roasted carrots, leeks and scallions

Pasto's Bianca Pasta has a pesto base and assorted seafood toppings

Pasto’s Bianca Pasta has a pesto base and assorted seafood toppings

Pasto's Arrabiata is penne pasta with smoked bacon in a mildly spiced tomato sauce

Pasto’s Arrabiata is penne pasta with smoked bacon in a mildly spiced tomato sauce

SumoSam's Green Chicken for sampling

SumoSam’s Green Chicken for sampling

SumoSam's Sweet Rock Shrimp Tempura

SumoSam’s Sweet Rock Shrimp Tempura

Other participating establishments are Balboa (for pizza, pasta and steaks), Brotzeit (offering German sausages, food and beer), C2 Classic Cuisine (Filipino food with a contemporary twist), Cyma (the definitive Greek restaurant by Chef Robby Goco), Ganso-Shabuway (specializing in shabu-shabu), Green Pastures (Chef Robby Goco’s healthy and organic restaurant), Matgaine, Pasto (for pizza, pasta and panini), SumoSam (for Japanese cuisine), TWG Tea (high-end tea salon serving lots of unique luxury tea varieties), and Wicked by Cravings (a dessert place).

To add to the excitement, Gourmet Strip also features a pasta workshop by Balboa where diners can try their hands in making their own fresh pasta, as well as a tea appreciation class by TWG Tea on May 28.

“The Gourmet Strip is a culinary revelry that will delight friends and families as they explore and experience the extensive selection of good eats at the Shangri-La Plaza,” says Shangri-La Plaza executive vice president and general manager Lala Fojas.

She adds: “We’re proud of the variety and quality of restaurants we house here at the Shang, and the Gourmet Strip is an excellent way to highlight these dining destinations. Through this event, we are hoping that more people will know about and get a taste of the fine dining choices the Shang has to offer.”

Posted in FoodBiz Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Experience New Zealand 2016
Ongoing at Glorietta May 20-22

Ceremonial toast led by New Zealand Ambassador David Strachan during the opening rites of 'Experience New Zealand 2016' this morning

Ceremonial toast led by New Zealand Ambassador David Strachan (center) and New Zealand Trade Commissioner Hernando Banal (extreme left) during the opening rites of ‘Experience New Zealand 2016’ at the Glorietta Activity Center this morning

IF you happen to walk pass the Glorietta Activity Center in Ayala Center, Makati City, this weekend (May 20 to 22, 2016) and there’s a lot of buzz going on, don’t be surprised. It’s Experience New Zealand 2016 that’s ongoing.

Put together by the New Zealand Embassy, the three-day event showcases the best of New Zealand’s food and beverage and gives Filipinos an opportunity to learn more about traveling to New Zealand and studying there, too.

A lot of New Zealand products are already available in the Philippines, such as kiwifruits, oysters, mussels and other fresh seafood, as well as lamb, beef, milk, cheese, cream and other dairy products, chocolates and ice cream, and the premium Manuka honey.

Participating in Experience New Zealand 2016 are local companies who import and distribute New Zealand products. These include New Zealand Natural, Sonrace Inc., Goodman Fielder International Phils. Inc., Fonterra Brands Phils., Don Revy Phils., Federated Distributors Inc., Equilibrium Intertrade Corp., Elite Fruit Marketing Inc., Alexanrey Enterprises, Manuka Health New Zealand, Ecostore, and MyOwn Meat Shop.

New Zealand Natural Ice Cream in Go Green and Honey Pokey flavors

New Zealand Natural Ice Cream in Go Green and Honey Pokey flavors

New Zealand Natural is the leading premium ice cream brand in New Zealand. It specializes in ice cream without artificial flavors or colors, which is now available in scooping stations located in major malls in the country.

New Zealand's signature flavor, Hokey Pokey, this time in a Whittaker's chocolate bar

New Zealand’s signature flavor, Hokey Pokey, this time in a Whittaker’s chocolate bar

Peanut butter in a chocolate bar? Why not?

Peanut butter in a chocolate bar? Why not?

Almonds combined in a Whittaker chocolate bar

Roasted almonds in a Whittaker chocolate bar

Sonrace Inc. has brought Whittaker’s chocolates to the Philippines, where its many different variants can be bought from major supermarkets across the country.

Meadow Fresh New Zealand Pure Milk in Full Cream variant

Meadow Fresh New Zealand Pure Milk in Full Cream variant

Goodman Fielder International Phils. Inc. is the Philippine representative of Goodman Fielder, Australasia’s leading food company that manufactures and markets a wide range of products, including Meadow Fresh Milk.

IMG_3652Fonterra Brands Phils. is quite known, since it imports and distributes the Anchor brand of butter, cheese, cream and milk, among others.

Jules

Mills Reef and Pebble Lane Wines

Toi

Toi Toi and Jules Taylor Wines

Toi

Squawking Magpie Wines

Don Revy manufactures and distributes beverages from Australia, Chile, Europe and New Zealand, including wines and spirits. From New Zealand, it carries quite a number of wine brands, such as Jules Taylor Wines, Pebble Lane Wines, Toi Toi Wines, Gladstone Vineyard Wines, Rabbit Ranch Wines, Mills Reef Wines and Squawking Magpie Wines. In the Philippines, these brands are available is supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores and wine shops.

Palm Corned Beef

Palm Corned Beef

Federated Distributors Inc. sells Palm Corned Beef and Palm Liver Spread. Filipinos particularly love Palm Corned Beef, which is made from 100% premium quality beef from New Zealand, where livestock is raised on natural green pastureland.

Phoenix Organic Juices

Phoenix Organic Juices

Charlie's Spirulina Drink

Charlie’s Berry + Acai drink

Charlie's Raspberry Lemonade

Charlie’s Raspberry Lemonade

Equilibrium Intertrade Corp. brings in The Better Drinks Co.’s unique juices, smoothies and carbonated non-alcoholic drinks. Two of the top New Zealand beverage brands are Phoenix (organic juices and organic sodas) and Charlie’s (quenchers and fruit fix).

Zespri Gold Kiwifruits

Zespri Gold Kiwifruits

Elite Fruit Marketing Inc. makes it possible for Filipinos to enjoy Zespri Green Kiwifruit and Zespri Gold Kiwifruits and, now, also Enza Apples, Jazz Apples and New Zealand Persimmons.

Sweet Nature honey products

Sweet Nature honey products

Alexanrey Enterprises Inc. imports and distributes a wide range of food products. From New Zealand, it has brought in Tastemaker Vinegars, Nanric Road (fruit jams, fruit pastes, jelly, sauces and mustard), Sweet Nature honey and honey products, and Red Seal teas, toothpaste, molasses and Manuka honey.

Manuka Honey

Manuka Honey

Speaking of Manuka honey, Manuka Health New Zealand sells effective natural health care products, such as Manuka Honey, Royal Jelly, Propolis liquid and capsules, Bee Pollen granules and capsules, and Manuka Honey skin care products.

Ecostore is all about healthy body care products that contain no toxic chemicals.

MyOwn Meat Shop is the importer and distributor of premium meat (including lamb, beef and chicken), seafood and vegetables.

During the opening rites of Experience New Zealand 2016, a lot of products of participating brands were incorporated by event caterer Bizu into delicious appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and drinks served to New Zealand’s trade partners and media friends.

These included Corned Beef, Caramelized Onions and Hollandaise in Pain au Lait Roll (using Palm Corned Beef); Roasted New Zealand Bone Marrow with Crostini (using ANZCO Bone Marrow); Smoked Salmon with Dill Pistachio and Meadow Fresh Cream Cheese Mousseline (using Meadow Fresh Cream Cheese); Wild Mushroom Carbonara (using Anchor Cream); and Baked Stuffed New Zealand Mussels with Blue Cheese and Bechamel (using Tally’s Mussels and Meadow Fresh Milk).

Baked Stuffed New Zealand Mussels with Blue Cheese and Bechamel

Baked Stuffed New Zealand Mussels with Blue Cheese and Bechamel

New Zealand Natural Ice Cream Profiterole

New Zealand Natural Ice Cream Profiterole

Whittaker's Macarons

Whittaker’s Macarons

The desserts also showcased the products from New Zealand, including New Zealand Natural Ice Cream Profiteroles (using New Zealand Natural Ice Cream) and Whittaker’s Macarons (which had chunks of Whittaker’s chocolates hidden within the French macaron.

Experience New Zealand 2016 also features Philippine Airlines, which now flies the Manila-Auckland route four times weekly; ANZ Philippines, a fully licensed universal bank; Philippines-New Zealand Business Council, whose membership comprises Filipinos and New Zealanders who work or have business interests and pursuits in each other’s countries; Education New Zealand, which is New Zealand’s government agency for international education; as well as Tourism New Zealand, which markets New Zealand to the world as a visitor destination.

As an added treat, visitors of Experience New Zealand 2016 get a chance to win a Manila-Auckland-Manila round-trip ticket. For those who purchase Php2,000 worth of items sold by accredited booths inside the Experience New Zealand 2016 fair grounds, a raffle stub is given. There are five draws, scheduled on May 20 at 8:00 p.m., May 21 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and May 22 at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

New Zealand Embassy officials with the Kapa Haka group that performed traditional Maori song and dance numbers during the event

New Zealand Embassy officials with the Kapa Haka group that performed traditional Maori song and dance numbers during the event

Posted in FoodBiz Tagged , , , , , ,

A Road Trip to Lucban, Quezon
for the ‘Pahiyas’ in a Nissan Sylphy

One of the decorated houses in Lucban, Quezon

One of the decorated houses along the parade trail of the ‘Pahiyas Festival’ in Lucban, Quezon

ALL roads led to Lucban, Quezon, for its annual Pahiyas Festival yesterday (Sunday, May 15, 2016). A harvest feast held every May 15 in honor of San Isidro Labrador, the patron saint of farmers in the Philippines, the Pahiyas Festival draws crowds of tourists yearly because it happens to be one of the most colorful festivals celebrated in the country. Houses are decorated with fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and kipings, which are leaf-shaped rice wafers in various happy colors, in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. And a procession bearing the image of San Isidro Labrador makes its way around the upland town which sits right on the foothills of Mount Banahaw.

I always marvel at photographs of the Pahiyas Festival that appear on newspapers and magazines, and I have always wanted to personally witness the celebration. But I have never been there—until last year. It’s a road trip that I have often talked to my husband Raff about in the past, but it never materialized because he says it’s too far to drive round-trip and there weren’t many places to stay in overnight, either.

Last year, the Pahiyas Festival looked like it would pass me by once again. But working on a special project that necessitated trips to major Philippine festivals to chronicle them in photographs, I felt restless in the days leading up to May 15, 2015. I wanted—and needed—to catch it, but I did not know how. Should I coerce Raff to drive up to Lucban in our AUV that’s not quite roadworthy to take such a long trip? Looked like it was the only way.

I was agonizing over how to talk to him and say it nicely so that he would agree, when my mobile phone rang. I reached for my phone and read the message, which came from good friend Nana Nadal, a professional PR practitioner who handles top accounts. She was handling the PR of Nissan Philippines, she said in her text message, and, wanting to introduce new ideas and innovations to the traditional way of promoting Nissan cars by lending them to motoring journalists for road tests so they would write about their experience driving such cars, she thought of tapping lifestyle journalists, too. Why not lend cars to lifestyle journalists so that when they write about it, it would show a different perspective—the experience of not-so-car-savvy people actually enjoying a ride in a Nissan car. Her client said yes and, guess who she thought of first for that lifestyle angle? Me! Would I want to borrow a Nissan Sylphy for a few days and then write about it?

I could not believe my eyes as I read the text message. Was this an answered prayer? But I had not even asked God, and yet His answer came first? Awesome!

I texted Nana back, telling her about plans for me and Raff to drive up to Lucban, Quezon, for the Pahiyas Festival but that our AUV wasn’t in proper condition. Would it be OK to take the Nissan Sylphy on that road trip to Lucban? She said yes, that would be a good angle for a story. A few exchanges of text messages later, she made the formal request to Nissan and followed through with arrangement details. She had barely a few days to get that car to me in time for the Pahiyas Festival, but, as she usually did, she pulled it off. Two days before Raff and I were to go to Lucban, the car was delivered to the house, and the papers that came with it said it was to be with me for eight days. Eight beautiful days! Oh, wow! I glanced at the silver gray baby snugly parked in the garage and told myself: “This baby is mine for eight days!”

When the Nissan driver left after leaving some basic driving instructions, I texted Nana that the car had arrived, and she suggested taking it for a spin in the area to familiarize ourselves with its features before that long drive to Lucban. We did—and were completely awed.

The Nissan Sylphy was not only a handsome baby. It had a spacious interior that ensured utmost comfort for both the driver and the passenger(s). Elegantly designed, the sedan had a clean ergonomic dashboard, sleek leather seats with a pump-style height adjuster that allowed Raff and me to adjust our seats to our comfort levels, and snugly fitting compartments for drinks and snacks on the doors.

The car runs on keyless technology. It has a push-button ignition; but if you’re worried about having just anybody entering the car and running away with it with just a push of a button, it will not happen. The keyless system’s safe and secure because you need to have the smart key, which works as a sensor, in your pocket up to a certain distance for it to respond to your commands. It is so intelligent that it can sense when you’re coming and, at a safe distance, already opens the doors for you. It runs on automatic transmission so it’s easy drive all the way, and since it’s automatic, it simply glides as it negotiates roadways, effectively cushioning the impact of sudden potholes. The car also has a spacious 510-liter storage compartment in the back, and the rear passenger seats can even be folded for additional storage area if needed. And the air-conditioning system is so efficient that it will keep you cold and happy even on the hottest summer day. Since May is still a summer month, the Nissan Sylphy’s strong air-conditioning system comes in very handy.

The Nissan Sylphy that went on a road trip to Lucban, Quezon, for the 'Pahiyas Festival'

The Nissan Sylphy that went on a road trip to Lucban, Quezon, for the ‘Pahiyas Festival’

The car comes with an ergonomic dashboard

The car comes with an ergonomic dashboard, telescopic power steering wheel and awesome air-conditioning system…

... and snug drinks and snacks compartment on the doors

… and snug drinks and snacks compartment on the doors

IMG_1556

Spacious storage compartment at the back

Spacious storage compartment at the back

IMG_1370Having familiarized ourselves with the car, Raff and I were ready to hit the road to get to Lucban, Quezon, and witness the Pahiyas Festival for the very first time. My first time, but not his. We loaded up the car with a cooler filled with drinks and ice cubes, as well as extra shoes and personal stuff, which, in total, only occupied a small portion of the very spacious storage compartment.

And then it was off. From our place in Cainta, Rizal, we made our way through Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Bicutan, Sucat and Alabang. On to Laguna (San Pedro, Biñan, Carmona, Canlubang and Sta. Rosa). I enjoyed the scenic view of Mt. Makiling with coconut plantations in the foreground as we made our way through Sto. Tomas, Batangas, then on to Alaminos and San Pablo City in Laguna, before reaching Quezon (Tiaong, Candelaria and Sariaya, straight to Tayabas). It was a smooth ride to Lucban, with the Nissan Sylphy just gliding along and the delightful air-con occasionally lulling me to sleep with a nice and cozy scarf over me. The temperature of the engine remained steadily cool, and at no instance at all did it threaten to overheat despite the long ride.

Reaching Lucban, we stopped at a gas station for some refreshments and chanced upon a kiping-decorated native stall that sold Quezon delicacies, including raw honey. I checked it out and decided to buy a bottle. Then it was back to business.

The centuries-old Church of Lucban first built in 1595

The centuries-old Church of Lucban first built in 1595, was ruined in 1629, reconstructed between 1630 to 1640, seriously damaged by fire in 1733, and rebuilt in 1738.

Another house that had been decked for the 'Pahiyas Festival'

Another house that had been decked for the ‘Pahiyas Festival’

Kids helping do last-minute touch-ups on the coconut decor

Kids helping do last-minute touch-ups on the coconut-and-vegetable decor

Giant flowers made of kipings (rice wafers)

Giant flowers made of kipings (rice wafers)

More serious decor work...

More serious decor work…

An eye-catching life-sized decor

An eye-catching life-sized decor

Young ones looking out from the second floor of their decorated home

Young ones looking out from the second floor of their decorated home

Chancing upon a pre-nuptial shoot...

Chancing upon a pre-nuptial shoot…

We got back in the car and traveled the rest of the way to the town proper. We parked at the Church of Lucban, which was a beautiful centuries-old edifice that was first built in 1595, and went inside to say a little prayer before proceeding on foot to the site of the famous Pahiyas Festival. Since Lucban stood at a high elevation, the air was quite cold and fresh so our walk turned out to be a pleasant one. Raff, who had been to Lucban before, pointed out how different Lucban looked from the time he was there, and he kept looking for the flowing creek where, he said, townfolks used to wash their clothes like in the old movies. Well, we found it, alright, but not in its original state. It’s more narrow now to give space to what we call progress (read: cemented roads and commercial/residential structures), although it still flows across the town in the form of canals. The flowing water in the canals still look kind of clean and clear, although you cannot be sure of its quality, of course.

Then the houses pomped up with décor for the Pahiyas Festival started coming into view. Residents decorated the front of their homes as part of their own family traditions, decking it with fresh vegetables and fruits such as cucumber, patola, carrots, tomatoes, sayote, mangoes, corn cobs, bananas and eggplants, as well as coconut husks, palay stalks, buri fans and leaves. The traditional kipings were still there, although, as a resident intimated, their use had been kept to a minimum because very few people make them now and they have therefore become quite expensive.

The beautiful houses kept us busy. Raff and I clicked away with our cameras, shielding ourselves from direct sunlight by seeking refuge under the awnings of houses. There was a nice, cold breeze, so, unlike in other places where I would feel sticky all over after a few hours of sun exposure covering outdoor events, I did not. We took a quick lunch break in one of the local restaurants in the area, ordering Pancit Lucban, which was loaded with pechay, sayote, green beans, carrots and crispy pork belly strips with the noodles, along with a fish viand and rice. The restaurants around the area also sold one of Lucban’s most famous specialties, Lucban Longganisa. Since Raff and I were not meat eaters, we passed on this and got back to work.

By around 3:00 p.m., we were ready to head home. Should we take the same path back to Manila? The residents we got to talk to taught us a shorter way down Majayjay, Laguna, and this being a road trip, we decided to experiment. This was when the Nissan Sylphy once again showed the stuff it is made of. It glided beautifully up and down the slopes of the challenging terrain, responding well to the gentle and climb and providing needed power at sudden uphill turns. The Nissan Sylphy comes in three variants—1.8 CVT, 1.6 CVT AND 1.6 MT—and the variant that we were driving was the top-of-the-line 1.8 CVT, which was the most powerful among the three. The revolutionary machine’s four cylinders and 16 valves with X-Tronic CVT (Twin Continuous Variable-valve Timing Control System) made the challenging terrain a smooth, easy and comfortable drive.

The Church of Lilio in Liliw, Laguna

The Church of Lilio in Liliw, Laguna

On our drive home, we stopped by Liliw, Laguna, to visit the Church of Lilio, another heritage church that dated back to the 1600s, and do a little tsinelas shopping in the row of shoe stores that line the streets of Liliw not too far from the church. Liliw is, after all, known as the tsinelas capital of Laguna. The first time I was in Liliw was several years ago, and I was amazed with all the footwear options I found, from simple slippers to fancy ones, slip-ons and walking shoes to, yes, even high heels. This time around, I just needed a pair of thong-style slip-ons, so that’s what I got. We spent only a few minutes in Liliw and hit the road again.

On the way home, it started to get dark. That’s when the Nissan Sylphy showed off again. Aside from the sophisticated 6-speaker audio system powered by Sony XAV that provided the sounds and kept us entertained all the way home, the ergonomic dashboard also came with a fine vision combination meter, a Drive Computer Display that showed real-time fuel consumption and eco-zone indicator (Accelerator Pedal Guide). These, plus the telescopic power steering wheel, made the drive smooth and Raff’s job behind the steering wheel effortless.

Headlights

Xenon headlamp coupled with LED accent lamps

The striking LED tail lamps

The striking LED tail lights

The engine that powers the Nissan Sylphy

The engine that powers the Nissan Sylphy

The sedan’s stunning Xenon headlamp coupled with LED accent lamps, along with the outside door mirrors with power-folding and power-adjust features that are parallel to the sporty 17-inch alloy wheels, plus the striking LED tail lights, helped Raff see clearly throughout the drive. You’ve got to admire the clarity of its LED lamps, which make the way clear and visible at night.

Got home nice and safe—and in utmost comfort—with precious photos of the Pahiyas Festival.

In the remaining days of the Nissan Sylphy’s eight-day stay with me, the dashing baby accompanied Raff and me to our daily coverages as freelance writer (me) and photographer (Raff) for TV5’s www.interaksyon.com/lifestyle, Asian Dragon Magazine, Manila Bulletin’s Style Weekend and a few other publications. I had a cool and comfortable ride each day and got so used to the Sylphy’s presence that when it came time for the sleek sedan to leave, I said good-bye with a bit of a heavy heart. Oh, well, that’s life! Until we meet again…

Whether for a road trip or city driving, it surely rose to the occasion each time.

I miss you, Nissan Sylphy!

I miss you, Nissan Sylphy!

Posted in Travel Tagged , , , , ,