Here's where you can try Cochinillo Asado, Beef Shank Bulalo in Tagaytay
MANILA, Philippines — Anya Retreat Resort in Tagaytay is a hub for wellness and wellbeing. And true enough, those who are undergoing health programs and procedures stay on a strict diet prepared for their specific requirements.
So when we were proffered a tall glass of kale juice, upon arrival, we thought we would be eating "healthy" throughout the media visit. But, surprisingly, we were informed that Anya, while preparing healthy food for stay-ins, also has an extensive menu of mouth-watering dishes for family and friends of the resort's guests who come to visit them or drop them off for their short treatments.
So we sampled the best dishes of Anila Poolside, Anya's all-day dining outlet, that prides itself of using all natural fresh ingredients. Farm produce from Beata farms of Silang, Cavite and fresh catch from Seatrace, a distributor of locally sourced seafood, are what all its F&B outlets use in their respective kitchens.
Appetizer options are a-plenty but executive chef Chris Leaning recommended three: two with seafood and another a staple in most Filipino gatherings.
The Anila Gambas & Chorizo Al Ajillo is a delectable plate of shrimps sauteed in olive oil and mixed with baby onions, sliced chorizo, garlic, chili, and parsley. The Deep Fried Chopitos, on the other hand, is a savory dish of tender baby squid coated in seasoning and served with a remoulade of mayo and lemon.
And for the fiesta staple, their version of Lumpiang Shanghai is a merry mix of vegetables, pork, and prawns in a spring roll cigarillo served with sweet chili dip. The slight zing will whet your appetite for the main courses that would follow.
The gustatory onslaught began with Cochinillo Asado, a whole roast suckling piglet prepared Spanish style served with its own juices. The maitre d' simply used a plate in cutting the entire baby lechon to serving sizes.
This was followed by another classic Spanish rice dish, the Paella, that was cooked with rich stock, sofrito, seafood, morsels of chicken, and served with lemon and aioli sauce. The Grilled Shrimp plate, which was full of chargrilled butterfly prawns, with a touch of brandy and served with lemon wedges, was the perfect pair to the Paella.
And since Anya is in Batangas, Beef Shank Bulalo is a must-try. The shanks were slowly braised in beef broth with local vegetables, corn, and potatoes to give its soup that bit of sweet after-taste. Careful though with the bone marrow bits. It's very delicious but quite deadly in amounts above moderation.
And for happy endings, we started slow with a platter of fresh fruits. Then we partook small slices of the very rich 5-Layer Jack Daniels Chocolate fudge cake, which is a multi-layered choco moist cake flavored with bourbon syrup, layers of chocolate ganache, and served with salted caramel sauce!
The other option is Chef Chris' mango tres leches, which is a chiffon sponge cake dripped with sweet marinade and topped with diced fresh Batangas mangoes and caramelized cashew nuts. This, we learned, is the signature dessert of the restaurant.
"Our dishes are prepared in small batches to retain the homey vibe of the restaurant. Anila Poolside's menu is a compilation of the best dishes around the world, as well as well-loved Filipino favorites. This is our main food outlet and serves our all-day dining clientele, the in-room dining, and suite dining service. We have barbeque nights on weekends where we get to also serve beer and pizza," shared sous chef Robee Javier, the junior head toque of Anya's upscale restaurant, Samira.