We all need a short break from city life now and again, and Tagaytay is always a great place to escape to since it’s only an hour or two away from Metro Manila. And while the fresh, cooler weather of the highlands is one of the biggest reasons people head up to Tagaytay, the scenic view of Taal lake, the various garden restaurants, and food that is popular in the area – such as bulalo, tawilis at Mahogany market, macanata at The Good Shepherd, and mushroom burgers – are also quite the draw.
Whenever I find myself escaping the noise of the city for the serene quiet of the highlands, these are 6 of my favorite pasalubong items I like to bring back for myself, my friends and family:
1. Suman sa Lihiya
I have only recently discovered my love for all things suman – made with boiled glutinous rice is cooked in coconut milk, flavored with lye water, and wrapped in banana leaves, these timeless favorites are best enjoyed with desiccated coconut flakes. There is a green house near Taaleña behind Tootsie’s with a bright neon sign points you in the right direction and sell them at around Php 100 for two, if I’m not mistaken. They also sell ube and yema pastillas, which is pretty good, but the suman is what people line up for. I always ask for extra latik with mine since I have quite the sweet tooth.
This all season fruit comes from the verdant hills of the highlands, and you can see hills of the prickly leaves covering parts of the countryside. They say there’s no pineapple sweeter than the ones grown in Tagaytay, so stop by one of the stalls by the side of the road for a taste and pile ’em up high in your car for a week long supply of piña coladas, fruit shakes, and smoothies.
3. Kapeng Barako
The perfect chill reliever from the cold mountain air, drop by Bag of Beans Coffee Shop or Gratchi’s Getaway and get yourself their Arabica roast, Liberica roast or Civet coffee. Kapeng Barako is a kind of Liberica coffee which was first introduced when the Spanish brought coffee to the Philippines, planting bushes in the highlands, giving us a very rich coffee culture compared to our other Asian neighbors.
There are a couple of colorful flower stands that line the road up to Tagaytay, and although orchids and roses are usually the most popular choice, I personally go there for the beautiful yellow sunflowers. I have one blooming on my windowsill that I’ve named Happy.
5. Buko Pie
Synonymous with Tagaytay, The Original Buko Pie may not look like much, but what they lack in their packaging they make up in big flavor. Another popular pie place is Amira’s Buco Tart Haus, who also has other delectable delicacies on offer like nilupak.
6. Fresh Herbs
Head up to Tagaytay with trays of planters in your car at the ready and load up on fresh herbs for your kitchen windowsill or garden for when you get back to the city. Sweet basil, tarragon, dill, mint, and oregano are in abundant supply and sell for around Php 100 a piece. Talk about pasalubong that just gives and gives!
What are your favorite souvenirs from Tagaytay? I’d like to know, so share them below!