For the exhausted urban dwellers in Metro Manila, a weekend getaway in Tagaytay City is always a good option. Imagine taking a bite of freshly baked pan de coco and sipping a cup of warm chocolate made from Cavite tablea while the fresh mountain air kisses your cheeks—here you can leave your worries, your deadlines, and your stress behind and just chill with nature.
It takes a little less than two hours to get to Taal Vista, the Grand Dame of Tagaytay’s getaways, which will reward you with the most majestic view of Taal Lake from its view deck, or from one of its lakefront rooms. The trip to Taal Vista itself is a preview of the gustatory delights that await you in Tagaytay. Rows and rows of pineapple plantations announce their presence early on, the sweet fruit being the primary agricultural produce of the city. There is buko pie (get yours from The Original Buko Pie Shop which does not scrimp on coconut meat and is not too sweet), dried tawilis and ayungin, and of course, the ubiquitous bulalo, with some restaurants offering not one but two “utak” (bone marrow)—sinful as heck but worth every mouthful.
Taal Vista houses the charming restaurant Taza, whose name is derived from the Arabic word taaza which means fresh. It has recently been named again as one of the Best Restaurants of Tatler Dining.
Taza takes its claim of freshness seriously. Some of the herbs and vegetables that are used by the specialty restaurant come from Taal Vista’s mini farm while the rest are sourced from Baguio. The freshest bounties from the sea are delivered almost every day from Iloilo. Beef is sourced from Bukidnon, which is carving a name as a ranch country where local producers have successfully raised Wagyu cattle that are guaranteed hormone- and enhancer-free and as tender and intensely marbled as its Japanese counterpart in the hinterlands of Mt. Kitanglad.
Taza uses free-range pork and chicken that were raised with only natural feeds, sans hormones and antibiotics. Cheese comes from the Davao-based award-winning Malagos Farms while dairy products, including kesong puti, are from Laguna. Black rice is sourced from Mt. Kanlaon in Negros, the perfect place to grow the best varieties of the heirloom rice which is known for its high fiber content, nutritional value, and antioxidant properties.
Here you can order Taza’s four cheese pizza—a delightful medley of Laguna kesong puti and mozzarella, Pato quezo de bola, and homemade ricotta. The restaurant also serves duck and mushroom lasagna which showcases Tagaytay mushrooms—oyster, shiitake, and button—topped with béchamel sauce and parmesan cheese, and short rib ravioli in red wine, ricotta, and parmesan.
For Taza’s main dishes, there is Moroccan chicken which is served with couscous; homemade bacon that is cured for 10 days and comes with a side of apple-mango compote; grilled Iloilo prawns; and the restaurant’s showstopper: 1.2-kg Tomahawk Bukidnon Wagyu with four kinds of dips—chimichurri, au poivre, béarnaise, and pink sea salt.
Of course, when you have had your fill of all the good food Taza (or Taal Vista’s buffet station, Veranda) has to offer, you can burn some calories by visiting Sky Ranch, a mini amusement park with the iconic 63-meter-high ferris wheel aptly called The Sky Eye, which will give you an uninterrupted view of Tagaytay and even its neighboring provinces. Or if you don’t feel like leaving the hotel, soak in the scenery of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano from the view deck and take a selfie with Taal Vista’s giant hashtag.
Before you know it, the weekend is over, and you have to make that trip back to Manila, thankfully recharged from the respite Tagaytay has to offer. Don’t forget to bring home a box or two of Taal Vista’s pan de coco and cheese bread—a little delicious something to remind you to schedule your next staycation ASAP.
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