I’ve worked with the Monday Chefs several times. I met Chefs Mon Urbano and Day Salonga through Adobo Queen, Nancy Reyes-Lumen. My first project with the dynamic duo was in 2012, the publicity for the launch of “The Malunggay Book: Healthy and Easy-To-Do Recipes”, which they authored. Last year, I did PR for Cazuela, their restaurant at the Sapphire Bloc in Ortigas Center. I also represented them for a restaurant they previously owned.
During meetings, they’d frequently talk about Chef Day’s hometown in Laguna and the projects they have lined up there. In 2013, they opened Ted’s Kitchen which eventually expanded to include Ted’s Bed and Breakfast and Ted’s Warehouse Event Space. A few months ago, they added Aurora Filipino Cuisine to their roster of businesses. They’d always invite me to visit, I always say I will. But I never got around showing up. Until last Saturday.
Sharing my experience through photos and captions.
My friend, Cris and I rolled into Ted’s property in Santa Cruz before 10am.
Chef Day suggested that we tour the grounds before it gets too hot. We started with Ted’s Warehouse Event Space where Chef Mon joined us for this photo.
They were in the middle of preparing for a wedding when we arrived.
This area used to be a rice mill then a factory for handicrafts. Now it’s a venue for celebrations.
Ted’s Warehouse Event Space can seat 250 people. An additional 50 can be accommodated in the adjacent courtyard.
With our welcome drinks in hand (Apple Basil for me and Calamansi Tarragon for Cris), we followed Chef Day to Ted’s Bed and Breakfast.
This is Ted’s Bed and Breakfast’s reception area. See that ramp? The entire compound is wheelchair-friendly.
Shown here is half of the cluster of cottages. So charming ‘no?
This is what you’ll find inside.
Had to inspect the bathroom, of course.
We explored the rest of the property and found this perfect spot for an afternoon siesta.
Aurora’s Garden has a screened gazebo occupied for small get togethers.
There is another similar structure which also serves as a function room near the outdoor event area identified as Ted’s Birdhouse.
Here’s a peek at how it looks inside. It’s full of antique pieces!
The compound is peppered with cool vintage collectibles. I am impressed by how their family managed to keep them all. Seen here are fuel pumps from Chef Day’s lolo’s old fuel station. If you’ve been paying attention, I’m sure you can guess what brand it carried.
Mixer and cash register used by their lola many moons ago.
We swooned at the smell inside their bakeshop. Sobrang bango! It made us want to order everything!
Here’s a list of what they offer.
These goodies are made by Chef Day’s sister, Gel and their mom. The Brazo de Fernando is a personal favorite. I found it to be really special that I just had to recommend it to Vangie Baga-Reyes of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Apparently, she enjoyed it too because it landed in her book, “Best Desserts 2”.
Presenting the Brazo de Fernando: yema enveloped in soft chocolate meringue. I like how the texture is perfectly in between mushy and gooey. It’s not too sweet so you can easily wipe out a slice. Cris did! Haha!
When we finally settled inside Ted’s Kitchen, it was around 10:30 am.
We sat by the window.
We were saving lunch for their other restaurant so we just chose something light. It was so hard to decide, I wanted to order more than just merienda. Having tried Chefs Mon and Day’s cooking so many times, I knew everything would be yummy.
We ended up with the best-seller, their Angus Burger. Syempre, masarap. Juicy and flavorful. I regret sharing it with Cris. I could’ve finished one on my own. #swapang
From Ted’s, Cris took over the wheel and drove to Liliw for tsinelas shopping.
We parked at the St. John the Baptist Parish Church also known as Liliw or Lilio Church.
Beautiful red brick architecture. If I understood the signage correctly, this is the reconstructed version because it was damaged by an earthquake in 1880 and burned in 1898.
Spent a few minutes inside to say our thank yous.
Then we walked down the street lined with footwear stores. I failed to take photos because I was too busy checking out slippers and fanning myself. It was scorching tagaktak pawis hot. It threatened to rain but I am glad it didn’t. A downpour would’ve been more difficult to deal with.
Before leaving Manila, I psyched myself that I won’t be buying anything. But I ended up with all these. I couldn’t resist, 3 for P100.
It was past 2pm when the thrill of seeing and trying all the tsinelas subsided. Then the hunger kicked in. I knew it would take us at least an hour to get to our next meal so I bought myself some Uraro to munch on the road.
We hadn’t gone far when we caught a glimpse of a church tower. We headed towards it and found ourselves at the St. Mary Magdalene Parish, dedicated to the heroine of love. Hmmmm… interesting how it beckoned us.
According to a sign on the wall, it was constructed in 1854 and stands on a hill of solid rock.
Inside, I prayed for loved ones. And for my love tank to always stay full.
My food tank was running on empty so I was grateful that we did not have any difficulty finding Aurora Filipino Cuisine, another restaurant owned by Chefs Day and Mon.
After taking our orders, Renel (one of the waiters) invited us to tour the Salonga Ancestral House.
This was the home of Chef Day’s grandparents, Fernando and Aurora which was opened as restaurant last December 2016. The smallest kid in the photo is chef Day. So cute!
Among its numerous visitors then were government personalities gracing the town of Santa Cruz, Laguna’s seat of power.
The house was originally constructed in the 1920s but had to be rebuilt in the 40s after most of it was destroyed by a fire.
In the 1950s-60s, part of it was converted to Auring’s Beauty Parlor.
Check out the electric hair curler from the 50s.
Our super late lunch started with Chicharong Salmon (P165.00), crispy Norwegian salmon belly.
Served next was the Minanok (P85.00). It is labelled on the menu as a must-try and was recommended by chef Day. It’s puso ng saging (heart of banana) cooked in burnt coconut cream served with maruya (plantain fritters). The combined flavors results in something that tastes like chicken. Kaya Minanok ang tawag! Like the previous dish, this falls under appetizers but we ate it with rice. I’m no vegetarian but I enjoyed this immensely.
Tiya Auring’s Sinugno (P275.00) was our main course. Whole Cavinti tilapia cooked in coconut sauce over charcoal fire. According to Chef Day, Laguna cuisine uses a lot of gata (coconut milk). Unlike the Quezon style, in Laguna, they like to tweak their gata – like giving it a burnt taste or by adding other flavors such as guava.
Dessert was Kesong Puti Cheesecake (P150) Winner!
Our meal was interrupted by marching band music. We left our table to watch the Santa Cruzan. How lucky for us to catch it!
I’ve always wanted to wear a dress as big as that! Life is short, must get to it soon!
When Renel went on break, AJ took over the kwento, enthusiastically pointing to little details (like this cash register) and sharing tidbits of information. Everything we ordered was fantastic, the staff was equally awesome. They were so eager to serve and share and accommodate — you can tell how genuinely proud they are of Aurora and their job. I wish there were more people like them. Happy waiters always make happy customers.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a sewing machine repurposed to a table but I always appreciate the resourcefulness and creativity. And look at those old tiles! Ganda!
While watching the Santa Cruzan, another church tower caught our eye. The Immaculate Conception Parish Church or the Santa Cruz Church was our last stop.
Thank you po for a wonderful time in Laguna!
It was an easy two and a half hour-drive from Alabang to Ted’s but the return trip took us almost five hours. Los Baños traffic was horrendous. “Eh summer capital, madaming bakasyonista,” explained a man on a motorcycle who we chatted up while at a standstill.
Overall, our Laguna trip was a wonderful experience.
Ted’s Kitchen / Ted’s Warehouse Event Space
(049) 501 6858
KM 83 National Highway Brgy. Duhat
Santa Cruz, Philippines
Ted’s Bed and Breakfast
0917 544 0820
Aurora Filipino Cuisine
(049) 523 9014
P. Guevarra St.
Santa Cruz, Laguna
Chefs Mon and Day are also part owners of Commissary Kitchen.