Tuesday, March 29, 2016

One fine evening at La Cocina de Tita Moning

Happy Easter everyone! :) Our weekend had been very hectic and so I'm only able to update you now. 

Today's post is an exciting one for me for many reasons. First - after much coordination, texting here and there, the Urban Champs brokers were able to finally (finally!) set a date and push through as we planned. Second - This one is a most romantic kind of affair (and not the kind you're thinking of haha), it's actually a bridal shower for our dear friend, Jel, as much as it is a celebration of this group's unexpected friendship. Third - a special dinner set at La Cocina de Tita Moning. Well I can leave it at that. Or...I can share more about this wonderful place and you get to salivate over our feast! Hahahaha :)

I've always believed that I'm an old-world kind of gal. I enjoy looking at old ancestral houses from afar and wonder about the history not only of the structure but the people who live and work there. How did life treat them? Was life simpler back then? Yup, I've always thought so. But I guess that kind of changed the first time we had dinner here (back in 2009?). Look just how grand everything was - from the Legarda mansion, the wide patio, all the eclectic collections of silverware, radios and camera equipment. It is really a surreal to get a glimpse of how life was back then. Makes me really want to time-travel and just see for myself just how much fun and glam this Manila district was back in the day.

But things change and unfortunately for us, La Cocina de Tita Moning will only be operating until the end of May 2016. Our group asked why and they said the owner/s were selling the property (personal property not included) for PHP 90 Million. It is really sad to see the seeming close of a bygone era. Yes, like how we still see the light from long dead stars. [Mental note: I should read that book.]

Melancholic thoughts aside, all we can do is to make the most of their last 2 months here. I mean, if I had that much money I'd probably purchase the property myself. Or maybe just have dinner there every night. Hehehe :)

So I hope you stay awhile and enjoy this simple retelling of a fabulous experience. Oh, and prepare to take in all the photos. As in I have posted lots!

First you have to travel to San Miguel district inside the Malacanang compound. You can pass through the gate near St. Jude or the one near Hospicio. Once you find the rotonda (which is actually triangular if try to find it via Waze), make a turn and La Cocina should be a few meters on your left.

Since this is a by-reservation only place, there is ample parking outside and inside the premises. The first thing you would notice once inside the La Cocina compound is the patio (and how there is not too much open space in Metro Manila). There is a small garden to the right which I did not dare venture to anymore. Well, mainly because I knew that welcome snacks and drinks would be waiting by the patio :)

The patio is something that I absolutely love about this place. For now this is what they use as a holding area as guests wait for their other companions. This is where you enjoy some snacks before you head off to the short tour and before you experience a gastronomic explosion in your tummy.

I don't drink but I guess this is also a good place as any to have your round of beer or a few glasses of wine. We spotted some diners here too who (and I'm making a guess here) might have ordered the dishes prepared for the day and not necessarily the set menu.

The lights and the entire set-up just ups the whole romance factor. I wonder, just how many brave men proposed on this spot?

From here you can also enjoy the architecture of the Legarda mansion.

And because this is essentially a garden, we can't help but have some bugs and some mosquitoes. Hence, this ubiquitous 'katol'.

The staff are really something. They are friendly, warm, accommodating. They made us feel at ease, no, really at home. And they seem to really know we wanted pictures. Lots and lots of them..Haha joke lang! :)

I did not notice it before but they have some antique furniture up for sale. Some really old aparador / cabinets / armoire go for PHP 250,000 - 450,000. Wow!

I know I'm posting lots of photos but believe me, it is really a different experience when you are there in person. Bring your friends, your significant other, your parents and even you grandparents. I'm sure they'll really have a fun time reminiscing.

The library and personal study of Don Alejandro

A man of many talents. Look at all these photography kits and lenses.

The guide shared that most photos in the house were taken by Don Alejandro himself.

Standing through the waves of time

The next part of the tour is probably the creepiest one for me. It is Dr. Alejandro Legarda's home clinic as an OB-GYNE. What makes me "Afraidy Aguilar" of this area are the jars filled with fetus. And a real person's skeleton.

On the flip side, this cements the fact that this is indeed a multi-faceted household and that probably too much socialization activities have been going on here in its hey days. Probably much too much for my personal temperament.

Now we move on to the second floor. I love the flow and shape of the stairwell. I can almost imagine a pretty debutante in cascading gown being introduced through a ball. Or of how many rushed steps it has taken to quickly meet someone. And let's not forget, heavy steps taken once you bid someone goodbye.

Paintings by masters like Luna and Hidalgo.

The radio room


And now the room of the kids..who are probably grandparents themselves by now. So much art deco details. It also holds pretty mementos like gowns, ballerina tutus, and wedding boxes of photos.

Writing about it now and I hear Meryl Streep's Slipping Through My Fingers song...

This is really a wonderful place and I do hope you would visit before they serve their last dish in May..And of course, they do a much better tour of the place :)

That wraps up the tour of La Cocina de Tita Moning.  Uhmmm...yep, I know I promised to share with you our meal. And I will in my next post :)  Oh and hopefully a more cheery tone, perhaps? Ugh it just makes me feel sad just thinking about not getting to visit and eat here anymore...Waaaaahhh!!

Dinner at La Cocina de Tita Moning....to be continued ;)

To make a reservation, call La Cocina de Tita Moning

315 San Rafael Street, City of Manila, Metro Manila


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