Why taking Road Trips refreshes the Mind and Spirit

Kamana Sanctuary in Subic

by Lizette Barretto-Gueco, via FoodfindsAsia.com |

I love going on unplanned get-aways even in the middle of the week. Luckily, my hubby and kids when not busy with school or work have that same enthusiasm when an opportunity comes along. There is something about going on a trip somewhere; being in a different place where routines are forgotten that renews the spirit. It’s like rebooting the computer when it gets stuck.  Everything is fresh and new again in our perspectives.

When we were young, my Dad would pack all of his 9 kids, or at least the ones that were available, plus my mom and a yaya (if space permitted), in our family car. Oh the places we would go! In our young and easy to please minds, even just a trip to the mall to see a movie and have some ice cream or to visit our cousins in the outskirts of Manila, was always an adventure with my Dad on the wheel as captain.  During weekends or long holidays, we would go out of town. Our favorite places to go were Baguio to visit my Lola, Zambales, Tagaytay and Laguna.

The long drives were special times for me and my siblings.  In between each of us asking “Are we there yet,” we would sing round songs or along with the radio, count bridges, look for all kinds of animals along the way, do knock- knock jokes and riddles to entertain ourselves.

We always had a bet going on the time we would arrive at our destination.  Each one of us would guess the exact hour and minute that we would arrive on the doorstep of my Lola or whoever it was we were visiting. This game is something I’ve carried over to my own road trips with my family.  It always helps to keep our travel weary spirits up and in anticipation of wonderful things to come.

Our family Viber group
Family viber group with Chef Kenneth Cacho of ISCAHM

When someone suggested Pampanga on our family viber group, my knee-jerk reaction was to say, “Yes, I’m in.”  The young ones, young once and young at hearts also responded with an excited “Game! Let’s do it!”  This is not the first time we’ve done spur-of-the-moment outings. We’ve realized that the less it is planned, the more likely it will push through.  It is all part of the fun and adventure.  Planning is good too especially for longer drives and extended holidays. As long as there is one person or two in charge and the rest are willing to follow the rules, a relatively stress and trouble free holiday is guaranteed. That’s how it works for us.

So off we went on our road trip.  The older kids drove together in their own car while the rest of us followed in our separate cars in a convoy. How long it took us to get there did not really matter because of all the excited chit chattering and knock-knock jokes exchanged during the trip.

First stop was lunch at ISCAHM (International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management) in Angeles City.  It was timely that my cousin Bambi had just told us to visit the place and try the food since the school also caters for small groups of 10 to 20 people at the Chef’s table and a maximum of about 200 in the ballroom or the outdoor patio.  As soon as we got there, we took a tour of the campus. Chef Kenneth Cacho, who runs the school, met us in the culinary kitchen and told us more about what the school was about. I was pleasantly impressed by the whole facility which used to be a small resort in the heart of the city. The teaching kitchens were clean and orderly and equipped with the latest culinary and baking tools. The fragrance emanating from the herb garden was enticing enough to lead us to the Chef’s Table where we were to have our meal.

Lunch was from a degustation menu planned and prepared by Chef Kenneth himself. Started with their assorted freshly baked breads with 2 kinds of butter; my favorite one being the café de Paris. From the salad of Fiddle head fern with herbed cheese and smoked snapper dressed with a raspberry dressing to the Tomato and crab chowder, main course of Roasted Beef fillet with saffron risotto and to the dessert of fresh strawberries and ice cream on a cloud of minted meringue, it was a mouth-watering experience worth travelling all the way for.

It’s good to know that many talented future culinary masters from the Pampanga and nearby provinces, where food is very much part of their culture, will now get to benefit from world class culinary education right in their own backyard.  No need to relocate to Manila; thanks to ISCAHM.

Since it was too early to head back to Manila after our lunch, the kids, with still so much energy to burn, pleaded that we all drive out to nearby subic and visit the animals in Zoobic. Seemed like a good idea so following their lead, we were back on the road hightailing it to Zoobic.

It was fun visiting with the tigers and crocodiles but soon we were once again hungry. Kamana Sanctuary was nearby so we headed in that direction.

It was a great way to end our day.  The combination of the cool and salty sea breeze on our faces and the comforting food we were served at Kamana, got us planning another trip with the rest of the gang in the near future.  After taking a few self-wes, (actually a lot), collecting sea shells, to take home and trying to catch the sunset, we were once again inside our cars, wagering on the exact time to the minute we will be home and back to our respective everyday routines.

Chef Kenneth very kindly agreed to share his recipe of the Café de Paris butter.  It is fairly simple and easy to make although his recipe is very exact as that’s the way it’s done in a teaching kitchen.  The recipe that appears below is my own shortcut adaptation of his recipe. You can customize it according to your taste.  Try making this next time you have guests come over. Serve it with soft rolls or focaccia bread and it will surely be a hit.

Café de Paris butter

Café de Paris butter

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • About ½ tsp each of fresh Italian parsley, tarragon, marjoram, basil, sage and shallots, finely chopped
  • About 1 tsp of peeled and finely chopped garlic
  • A pinch of fresh grated horseradish
  • About 2 or 3 pcs of anchovy, crushed
  • ½ tsp of Dijon Mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of Cayenne or adjust according to taste
  • About 1/2 tsp each or so of lemon juice and brandy.  Adjust according to consistency and taste.

Whip butter until creamy.  Mix in all other ingredients. Store in a small container and refrigerate until ready to serve.



About the Author

Lizette Barretto-Gueco
Lizette Barretto-Gueco

Lizette Barretto Gueco is a regular columnist at FoodFindsAsia.com.  She writes about her life’s passions which are family, home, food, relationships and how they fit in perfectly in her scheme of things and in the circle of life.

Lizette is now a busy home based mom after working in marketing and the travel industry for some time. She also ventured into jewelry design while she was a partner at a prestigious jewelry store at Greenbelt 5. Aside from juggling family schedules and managing the home, she also finds time to bake and sell her sweet offerings from her home as well as indulge in her other hobbies like jewelry making and arts and crafts.  She is an amateur filmmaker, traveler, foodie, dreamer and lover of life.

Lizette is a graduate of AB Communication arts from the Ateneo de Manila University.  You can email her at lizbgueco@gmail.com