After our 2 nights in Pagbilao, we headed towards Tayabas, where our next hotel (Nawawalang Paraiso) was. After bringing our stuff to the room, we headed for St. Michael’s Basilica in Tayabas Town Proper.
It was a beautiful church, one of the best I’ve seen in the Philippines. But it does some need restoration. There were a lot of devotees in the Church at that time, some were dressed up in old Filipiniana “Baro’t Saya” as they call it here in The Philippines. Natural light lit the church but I saw a beautiful chandelier up on the 2nd floor where the pipe organ was. The murals on the ceiling were very detailed and colorful.
For lunch, we headed to Kamayan sa Palaisdaan, a well known food destination in Tayabas. They had 2 branches now…one was so full, I was number 10 on the line and it just looked like a market place in there (this was the one closer to Lucban). When I saw a sign by their kitchen saying “PAKO OUT OF STOCK”, I got up and left because there was no way I am going to miss out on wild fern if it was ever available in a restaurant.
So we decided to go back to the Kamayan sa Palaisdaan Resort (where they have cottages and pools), where they set up a restaurant with small dining huts on the side of the hill.
It was totally full that day and knowing that it was holy week, Mig and I prepared ourselves for the longer-than-usual wait for food because of the amount of people. Glad the beers came early because it took them about an hour and fifteen minutes for the food to get to us.
Ginataang Tilapia (Tilapia with Coconut Cream) – This fish in coconut cream was really delicious. The coconut cream had a yellow tint to it, probably because of some turmeric, and they added mustard leaves to the dish which gave it a little bite. It was very creamy and you can taste the ginger and natural sweetness of the coconut cream.
Ensaladang Pako (Wild Fern Salad) – This was just delightful. You don’t get this at all here in Manila restaurants…if ever there was, it would be seasonal. This is because this kind of small fern only grows by the side of cool rivers and streams….and I mean cool waters…the water in this area is supplied by the great Mt. Banahaw. Anyway, the ferns were so crisp and fresh…the color was a beautiful deep green. The leaves were young but they were all opened. The mix of the salted egg, tomato and onions had a wonderful effect on the dish overall. But what I liked most about this dish was that the dressing was simple made of calamansi (small Philippine lemons), sugar, and salt…it was so simple and yet so delicious!
Steamed Alimango (Crab) – This was steamed straight with salt. And it was so good since the flesh was very firm and sweet. I was quite surprised by the quality of this crab knowing that this area was inland.
So far, the one hour and fifteen minutes was definitely worth it. We also enjoyed the wait since our little hut was situated on the side of the hill so we had a nice view and a cool breeze that kept us busy. We also admired the funny looking statues as well as the nude statue of a woman that served as our washing area. Mig and I stayed longer for a few beers to enjoy more of the cool breeze and scenery before we went back to our hotel. Filipino food ROCKS!