Casa San Pablo: Inns, Coconuts and A Cooking Tour

Together with the Breakfast Magazine team and fellow bloggers, I got to visit a quaint country inn at the heart of Laguna last May 26. Owned by the husband and wife tandem of Boots and An Alcantara, Casa San Pablo is a cozy compound filled with Baguio-like pine trees, sprawling lawns, rustic pieces and a view that will surely charm any visitor.
Welcome to Casa San Pablo Casa San Pablo Stairs

Our group endured over a 2-hour drive from Taft Avenue, Manila to San Pablo City, Laguna. However, the butt cramps I suffered during the long ride was well worth it as a refreshing sight of Casa San Pablo's swimming pool greeted us after reaching the gates. And after crossing a wooden bridge, the view can't get any prettier.

Casa San Pablo Pool

Luscious greens, palm trees, lounging chairs, portable hammocks, and an overflowing dose of country charm abound Casa San Pablo. With beautiful and interesting things to see in the area, this inn is definitely an ideal getaway for urban dwellers craving for a peaceful spot where they can relax, unwind, recharge or simply get inspired.

Seats at Casa San Pablo Fields Casa San Pablo Hammocks
Casa San Pablo Open Field
Country View Country Door
Casa San Pablo Alcantara Home

Aside from solo travelers and couples checking in to get some peace and creative energy charging, families, friends and even companies can also have a great time at the quaint and artsy Casa San Pablo as this country destination also offers indoor and outdoor activities perfect for a leisurely bonding session and even fit for team building.

The Rooms

Being a bed and breakfast spot, Casa San Pablo has 18 unique rooms which can accommodate a total of 120 people a night. Among the rooms, our group only got to see two -- miniature car collection-filled Room 2 and stand-alone romantic suite Room 12.

Casa San Pablo Room 2 Casa San Pablo Room 2 Twin Beds
Collector boxes of Hot Wheels mounted on Room 2's walls
Casa San Pablo Room 12
Large oil painting by Malyn Banayog welcomes guests to Room 12

Although we weren't able to see the rest of Casa San Pablo's accommodations, I was very impressed at how each room has its own character. With Mr. Boots being an avid art collector, I'm sure the other bedrooms are as witty, rustic and unique as what we've seen. And if you're curious, every room isn't only filled with art pieces and retro antiques, they're also air-conditioned and have both clean bathrooms and water heaters.

The Kulinarya Tour

After a short introduction to Casa San Pablo and a quick tour of its rooms, we finally got down to business, the reason we were invited to the place -- the Kulinarya Tour.

Coconut Tree An Alcantara

Mrs. An Mercado-Alcantara filled us in with stories of the coconut plantation living and rich culture in San Pablo, Laguna. After which, we're off to an interactive walking tour to learn the various stages of coconuts. Of course, with a spoon in hand to sample the fruits.

Coconut Flower Coconut Flower Nuts
Coconut flower buds; Sap can be made into coco sugar, lambanog and vinegar
Mura Alangani and Buko
Mura (Very Young), Alangan (Tween Stage) and Buko (Ripe); My favorite stages of the coconut
Fresh Buko Juice Coconut Meat
Fresh buko juice and coconut meat can't get any fresher than this!
Old Coconut Dry Coconut
Mature and Old Coconut; Produces coconut oil, copra and coconut seedling

The walking tour was definitely fun, informative and very interactive. Our group learned a lot about the stages of coconuts, as well as the uses and products that coconuts provide. True enough, a coconut is a tree of life as it has tons of uses at every phase.

The Merienda

After the tour, we thought we'd be eating lunch already. However, we were only served some snacks as it was revealed that we have to cook our lunch using coconut products.

Buko Pie

Our afternoon snack was quite filling though as we were served with yummy, freshly-made Buko Pie (I know, coconut-related still!), as well as some Hot Asado Pandesal.

Asado Pandesal

Both these treats were so good and so enjoyable. I think the only thing missing is a hot cup of thick and rich native tsokolate and I'm already in heaven. For the meantime, a cold glass of Calamansi Juice is a refreshing alternative, especially after the walking tour.

Calamansi Juice Slice of Buko Pie

I know this post is already image heavy. However, I can't help but share with you these nice pieces I found in the dining room we've stayed in for our afternoon snack. A rustic chair and a potted plant, these really bring out a peaceful and homey feel.

Rustic Chair Potted Plant

The Native Cooking School

After a nice afternoon snack, it was time to start our cooking session which is included in Casa San Pablo's culinary tour. With a new-found understanding of coconuts and their numerous uses, we had to whip up dishes with coconut as an ingredient.

Casa San Pablo Native Cooking School

Of course, it would be crazy if we just went straight to cooking as most of us are rookies in the kitchen, or have never tried cooking using coconut products. So first, we were shown how to cook three dishes which we have to replicate.

Cooking Demo

After a brief yet very entertaining cooking demo and tasting, it was our turn to do it, cook-off style. We were divided into three groups with four members each, and I was very fortunate to get Paola and Patty from Breakfast Magazine and Jill as my groupmates.

Our Group

Cooking with these girls was a delight as we somehow all know a thing or two in the kitchen. We were the last group to finish cooking, but that's because we put extra effort not only in ensuring the taste but also with styling up our gustatory creations.

And after an hour of cooking and tons of sweat, may I present to you our masterpieces...

Kulawo

First dish on the table is an appetizer called Kulawo. This San Pablo delicacy is made of grilled eggplants drenched in a coconut milk, vinegar and onion mixture. This dish reminded me strongly of eggplant ensalada, but this is definitely better as it had a beautiful smokey flavor that goes perfectly with the vinaigrette's acidity.

Adobong Manok sa Gata

For the main dish, we had Adobong Manok sa Gata, a nice coconuty twist to traditional chicken adobo. Instead of soy sauce, the chicken is cooked in coconut cream. And although this take on adobo is less salty, I loved how the coconut cream brings out a fuller, more savory and meatier flavor of the dish.

Pinaltok

We also had Pinaltok as a full-course meal wouldn't be complete without desserts. At first, I thought I didn't know what this dish is. But apparently, this is Laguna's name for what is commonly known as ginataang bilo-bilo, sticky rice balls and sago slowly cooked in coconut milk and flavored with jackfruit.

Our Lunch and My Final Words

Our group's dishes are not just all presentation, but tasted good too. I'm not saying this because we made them, but we're also the ones who ate them. Well, the other groups also got to taste our creations and didn't say otherwise.

Dishes of our group

Along with the Kulawo, Adobong Manok sa Gata and Pinaltok we cooked, we were also treated with a hearty Chicken Sotanghon Soup and a sinful yet tasty Lechon.

Chicken Sotanghon Soup
Lechon Casa San Pablo

Being a rookie in the kitchen, this is actually the first time I got to take part in cooking a full-course meal. I admit, it was tiring especially since I sweat like crazy. However, I realized that eating something you've worked hard for is a lot more enjoyable and fulfilling than just eating dishes you didn't make yourself. So to my groupmates, thank you for cooking with me. I really had fun!

Bloggers Breakfast Mag at Casa San Pablo
Photo by Breakfast Magazine

And to Mr. Boots and Mrs. An of Casa San Pablo and to the Breakfast Magazine team, thank you so much for having me take part in such a fun, informative and interactive activity. I really enjoyed the view, the tour, the cooking and of course, the eating, so I'm sure there'll be a Casa San Pablo visit part two.


Casa San Pablo
Barrio San Roque,
San Pablo, Laguna, Philippines
(02) 211-2132; (0917) 812-6687
Official Website
Facebook Page
Twitter

46 comments:

  1. I've spent a night here, and I must say it was a wonderful experience. How ironic that it's in the middle of bustling San Pablo City, but the moment you enter its gate, it seems you're transported to a totally different place and time. Suddenly, you don't hear the traffic and the noise. It's so tranquil like a mountain resort. Oh, and the kulawo is delish!

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  2. This is such a relaxing place to say and it was a good cooking adventure. I always end up craving for food every time I visit your site. I was able to go to San Pablo years back for a few days of work and it was refreshing.

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  3. Wow! Awesome and relaxing place. This is a good alternative if you want have a vacation but wouldn't want to go too far. :)

    http://www.dekaphobe.com/

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  4. Believe it or not, I've been planning on celebrating my anniversary here with my beau this December.. but due to budget constraints, I've yet to book somewhere nearer.. Nonetheless, I've bookmarked this post of yours for future reference. Romantic place noh? :)

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  5. Wow!! The buko pie looks so good.. seems like it's loaded with fillings. And the pinaltok is one of my faves.. didn't know they call it pinaltok there.Hehehe

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  6. Wow, I miss San Pablo, I have relatives there and this place is new to me.The food is mouthwatering.

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  7. This place reminds me of Patis Tito Restaurant, also in San Pablo; even more so when you mentioned the Kulinarya Tour. I have a similar wonderful experience with Kulinarya Tagala last May, which took us to Laguna and Quezon.

    http://chitsblog.wordpress.com

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  8. Wish I could've gone!

    Rain didn't have a yaya yet eh.. hehe

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  9. wow, it looks like a very relaxing place! i think i might take my mom there, she loves resorts that are traditional and relaxing.

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  10. oh, wow! what a lovely place...:) such a lovely treat for you guys...danda nang mga cooks...ehehhe!

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  11. I am so envious Sumi!!! Food looks great, cool place, and fun company - what a day!
    I had an event that same day and totally missed this food tour! :(

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  12. I love it! I remembered we were supposed to stay there for a team building with our Manila counterparts but the plan got postponed a couple of times. We ended up staying in the city nalang. Sayang, the place looks lovely. Perfect for a weekend getaway talaga.

    Ohhh, and I love the dishes you prepared! Nakakagutom.

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  13. This is like... about ten minutes away from home. Haha!
    I wanna take part on the next Casa San Pablo event! :)

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  14. Wow, this place looks like the perfect place for a getaway! And what an enriching experience as you not only learned more about the place, but you got to cook as well! (I'm pretty bad in the kitchen hehe) Kudos to your hard work! Great post! :-)

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  15. Wow! Nice place! :)

    Laguna is blessed with buko fruit kaya super sarap ang buko pies nila which is my favorite. My parents are both from Laguna and super love ko yung Bibingka Laguna style kasi they also put buko which is very very good than the usual bibingka! :D ♥

    The food you all prepared looks yummy! :)))

    http://spoonfulofstories.blogspot.com/

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  16. after reading this post i immediately browse their website hihi, I am very interested to have my family spend a weekend in their place, looks like a very relaxing place my family will surely enjoy, i want to lie down in their portable hammock lol

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  17. Hello Sumi. Casa San Pablo is just a perfect escape from the traffic-jammed Manila. I am loving the countryside feel :)

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  18. Several years back my boyfriend and I planned a weekend getaway there, but we weren't able to go. Maybe this is where we should be on my birthday. Thanks for this post for reminding me :)

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  19. Wow, this is a perfect place for me. Communing with nature puts me at my best state. A perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Very relaxing and the "duyan" wow..classic. I remember one in our house in the province.

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  20. Nice place. Will try to check this out next week. We'll be in laguna for my cousin's wedding.

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  21. Nice blog and photoes!! I'm your new follower...I hope you will follow me back if you like mine,kiss,Paolo

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  22. gusto ko yung ganyang concept, parang nsa country side ka talaga..., not to mention those yummy buko pies! you made me crave for them! hehe

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  23. Just reading this post alone made me fell in love with place. I love the rustic and artistic vibes of it. I wanna have my own place like this.

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  24. The foods look so elegant! It made me want to learn more recipes! Thanks!

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  25. Great experience.. now I want to be a food bloggie too to go to various places and experience the adventure you've had :D

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  26. Your shots are beautiful, sis! And I can't help but comment on your layout. So pretty! <3

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  27. wow!! i would love to have those buko pie!!! i really missed them much! and love those real zing photos! really great!! xx

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  28. I recall going there last year but with my fellow photographers on a "Prison Riot" by Sir Jo. ^_^

    Panalao talaga dyan and I might take my family there for a few days stay there soon. ^_^

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  29. wow! i so want to visit this. i hope i can include this the next time we go home. the kulinarya tour would ba great experinece. i lvoe buko pie!

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  30. I miss having buko pie! i'd love to try the culinary tour, i wish i could join something like this. looks like fun - cooking and eating!

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  31. I never knew San Pablo could boast such a beautiful place! Thank you for taking me to Casa San Pablo through your photos. You did an awesome job! And, the cuisine look so yummy! I want to learn native cooking too.

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  32. i'm reading this post and it's still breakfast. i really want a pandesal now. the place looks so homey, ate sumi. the place looks really good with so much greenery around.

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  33. The pools looks so inviting. :) I might consider this place for our next outing. :)

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  34. Nice place to visit and spend a family day. Hopefully we can go there too.

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  35. wooow! ang ganda ng place sis Sumi!! :D what a nice place for a family day <3 someday someday! :D

    xoxo
    Rhea Bue (Styles & Writes)

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  36. Wooooow! That's what you call "the life"! Amazing place sis! :))) Perfect for a barkada or family outing!! :D

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  37. I love the rooms! I wonder how much for an overnight stay? How much do they charge for the tour?

    xoxo
    MrsMartinez

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  38. love the ambiance of casa san pablo.. really a haven for those seeking solitude :) and i love fresh and pure coconut juice. my relatives used to make nata de coco. :)

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  39. Nice! The way you wrote/shot the experience was thorough that it made me reminisce.

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  40. i've heard lots of nice things about Casa San Pablo, and your photos prove them right :-)

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  41. I read through the whole post and it never bored me. That must have been a fun learning experience for you that day. The place looks very lovely and so homey. It'd be nice to bring the whole family there for a relaxing weekend, not so far from the city. :-)

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  42. Wow! Goodness overload!

    That's a great place to visit! I will definitely suggest this to my friends! Thanks for this! :)

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  43. the place really looks cozy :)

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  44. the place looks peaceful... ill include this in my getaway list :)

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  45. Charming house and tempting food!
    I must say, the photos are very creative!

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  46. So this is what I have missed.. :( Why did I have to be sick on that day?

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