5 April 2003
This day started like any other…we got up at a relatively decent time (Paul and I at around 8.30 am and Stan at around 9.30 am), had breakfast, bathed Paul, then had lunch. On Thursday, Stan made plans with a highschool friend to meet up in Tagaytay supposedly to have dinner. He mentioned that since we’d be there beginning the afternoon, we might as well make plans to go to Nurture Spa for a massage for each of us.
So on Friday, I managed (I wonder how, since I hear these places are booked to the max!) bookings at Nurture Spa for two body massages and then for dinner at this place called Antonio’s. Both we’ve read from newspapers. So after lunch on Saturday, we rushed out to begin our “Hedonistic Day”.
The drive to Tagaytay was mostly uneventful (it was a little slow because of the traffic) with bursts of overtakes (reminded me of how Stan drove in our “before Paul” days). We got to the ridge at around 2 in the afternoon…but then, we still had to look for Nurture Spa…
Since we were early, we mosey-ed on, driving through Jollibee for a Cheesy Twirl for me. We headed for Nurture afterwards since we figured that it would be nice to look around the place. Turned off at a corner from Recuerdo’s Craft’s on Aguinaldo Highway then followed the very narrow main road. We followed it, and followed it, and followed it…I couldn’t believe how in deep we were! There was a spattering of concrete houses, some children playing…as the road stretched on and on, we actually wondered where it was!
Finally, we arrived at place where there was a sign that pointed to the left–we were there at last!
Nurture Spa attendants were all in Balinese inspired outfits. They greet you with a “Welcome home to Nurture Spa” complete with a gesture with both hands. Immediately, you feel home…at least that’s what I felt. Their lobby area, largely made of wood, had a nice comfy couch with huge soft pads, throw pillows and footstools for people who were waiting.
We were brought from the lobby into the area behind their “mess hall”. The place looked so serene. Nurture Spa was built on a hilly terrain and I’d say that the lobby and mess hall areas were the highest points. We were looking down at the entire place from there. I could see open huts with huge chairs, which I assumed were for treatments. There was a little pond with a fountain that I saw on our way down. Somewhere in the middle there was a hut with two long benches for people to sit, drink and just while the time away.
Beyond the treatment area were the huts for people who wanted to stay the night. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take a look at them since they were all occupied. They were in an area that had a gate–it reminded me of the little village in Gaul that had not been captured by Julius Caesar. =)
We were shown to the hut where our massage would be taken place, but since we were early, we were given one of the “meditation huts” to wait. It had a huge (well, huge enough for both of us) reclined chair/bed which we used while waiting. We read until we were called upon by the therapists who were supposed to massage us.
They gave us a straw bag (bayong) each. It contained a towel and a sarong (for me) and shorts and a shirt (for Stan). We were advised to put these on so we can do our steam bath…when we were ready, they opened two areas covered only by curtains to reveal two “steam boxes” on either side of that hut. First time I saw those things! I was made to step in and only my head was exposed. To be truly honest, I felt it was really funny. It was the first time I did that; maybe we should have had pictures taken! Hahahahaha!!
During our steam bath, our therapists had asked us what oil we wanted, and we both chose “harmony”, a blend of lavender and eucalyptus.
After a ten-minute steam, we were asked to take a shower before we begin the massage. This was when Stan and I had to go our separate ways, me, to the ladies’ area, and him to the men’s.
The massage area was really quaint. It was like the top of a nipa hut with a room. There were four relatively wide massage beds, covered with sarongs of several colors. At the foot of each bed was a little wooden chair, to place bags of the guests or for the therapists to sit on, I really don’t know. There were to huge windows looking out into a place full of greens–mostly trees. Makes one really feel like he’s close to nature.
The massage was “okay”…I told Stan that I suppose the ambience made up for most of it…I could say I’ve had better. I had a relaxing time, though…
When I was done, my therapist left me there to rest a bit. She only called me when Stan was already waiting for me downstairs. I quickly (well, as fast as I could, since I was so oily!) dressed up then went off to meet him.
As we left the massage hut, we were pleasantly surprised to find our friends were still there, hanging out in the hut in the middle! We sat with them and chatted a bit. It was nice to watch the sun go down. We had to leave before it was too late since they were returning to Manila to catch a show and we had to go find Antonio’s where we were going to have dinner.
The long road to Antonio’s
Stan heard about Antonio’s through some foodie friends whom he plays badminton with. He figured that it might be good to hit two birds with one stone and have dinner there since we were going to be at Tagaytay anyway.
The entrance to Antonio’s, he was told, was just across the two huge microwave radars on the ridge. The road was very narrow—your typical small barrio-type street. The way was long and winding, and there were a few forks on the road (we actually wondered, for a time, whether we were going the right way).
Finally we see a bright yellow gate to our left…this is it! The gate actually had a big sign that said “reservations only”! And true to that, the van in front of us was turned away since their names weren’t on the guard’s list.
Stan drove up the tight driveway into a little clearing where he parked the car. We alighted and entered through the main door. The foyer had several quaint old Filipino “lazy” chairs—those that reclined and had huge arms to rest one’s legs on. Overlooking the foyer was a breathtaking view of the rest of the place—the main dining areas, the deck and the garden below.
We were greeted by a waiter and were told to proceed to the deck and choose any table for two that was available. We chose was the one closest to the stairs coming down. Like all the other tables that could accommodate two to four people, there was a canvass umbrella that would cover us from possible rain.
Most of the place looked old—like those old houses during the Spanish era. Stan said that it seemed like a really old place that they converted, as opposed to something built using old wood—to create the effect that it was old in the first place.
All the main courses on came with a salad, soup and dessert. I decided on risotto plus foie gras and Stan asked for the 400 gm Black Angus steak. The offered us raclette for appetizers which we gladly ordered as well.
While we waited for dinner, we nibbled on the foccacia bread and herbed garlic they served. We discussed the massage we had and how “seemingly” close to nature we were that day. (Actually, we were just close to a lot of green things—trees, plants, grass…) Looking down from where we were seated, we could see a garden below that had a bench where people could sit and just hang around.
As the sun went down, we were served our appetizer…hot melted raclette…mmm, yummy! You could smell the cheese as the waiter was settling the hot plate down on our table.
The salad came soon after—a full plate of greens that included a bleu cheese tart, slivers of mango, and an extra order of foie gras for me. The dressing was a vinaigrette that was heavenly…nothing like the other vinaigrettes that I’ve tried before—some were just a little too tart, or a little too oily…this was just right. I cut into the foie gras and notice how perfectly it was cooked—just crisp enough on the outside and nice and soft on the inside…I took a bite and it was wonderful!!!
Both Stan and I liked the salad a lot. Him, more especially, since the dressing was to his taste.
I cleaned off my plate; Stan didn’t finish his since he said he started feeling like a cow already (too many raw greens!). We waited for quite a while for our main course; only to find out they had forgotten to serve us our soup (they brought it out while we were having our main course). The soup was nothing outstanding—I called it “sossy water soup”. (“Water soup” is what I call the soup that’s usually served in food courts.) I described it as “sossy” since there was froth on top…aside from that, it was pretty much water soup.
My risotto was quite good. It was tomato and mushroom flavored. It was garnished with four cherry tomatoes and shitake mushrooms, and again, an extra order of foie gras on top…heaven!
Stan’s steak came with his extra order of foie gras, some buttered veggies, and steak sauce that was a special surprise. It was not your ordinary run-of-the-mill au jus or gravy…it had a nice kick! Yum again! What was amazing was that Stan could not finish his entire steak! We were both so full!
Dessert was a chocolate soufflé that I could not eat anymore (took a bite to taste though). Instead, I had their tea, which was tarragon steeped in boiling. Nice touch to end a great meal.
Here’s the part that nearly killed us—our bill came up to nearly four grand for just the both of us. It was a good thing that we had cash, or we’d really end up washing dishes till next week.
We left with big holes in our pockets and a full and happy stomach at around past eight. We had a difficult time finding our way out, as there were no signs. But after a few turns, our hero was able to find our way back home.
Before we went home, we passed by our friends’ birthday celebration at Fraser Service Apartments in Makati. It was quite fun to see old friends. We chitchatted with people who we hadn’t seen for a year or so, and even though were really full, had a few slices of pizza! What a day!!!
At around eleven at night, we decided to call it a day. We said our goodbyes and headed home.
What a great day!