Until last weekend, I never really liked Boracay. My experience of the island had mostly been huge crowds, sweltering heat and bad shopping. It turned out that there is a right time to visit Boracay to really appreciate it. Never go in the summer; rather, go off-season when the weather is friendlier and the crowds are thinner. I just came home yesterday after spending a long weekend in the island and I loved every moment of it.
Not a lot of people go to the beach during the Habagat season when the southwest winds blow, the weather is often humid and rains fall in torrents. But the September Boracay trip with friends from U.P. College of Law was planned and paid for as early as February and, despite the threat that it might rain non-stop, we went. It did rain occasionally but that was a benefit rather than a drawback because every rainfall cooled the air and lolling by the sea sipping mojitos and piña coladas became the ultimate pleasure there could ever be.
And then there was the food. We walked, we took tricycle rides, rode on scary lifts and hopped over puddles to get to where the good food was. And we feasted.
On our first day, there was Aria Cucina Italiana. We ordered individually, I lost track of the names of the dishes that were chosen but we shared what each ordered so we were all able to taste every dish.
Aria is not the kind of pseudo-Italian restaurant one often finds in the city with the over-stylized plating, small servings and horrible prices. While it is true that food at Aria is not cheap, the serving portions are very generous and the ingredients that go into each dish are the best kind.
The must-try list includes the insalata di salmone affumicato e rucola which counts among the ingredients two of my favorite things in the world — smoked salmon and arugula; the pasta al fume with creamy tomato sauce that is made subtly sweet by brandy and contrastingly salty with the addition of emmenthal cheese; the pasta boscaiola with mushrooms and ham; and, of course, the pizza — thin crust and baked in the traditional Italian wood-fired oven.
After a fantastic meal, we moved next door to the gelato stand. So many flavors to choose from, I can’t even recall now what I ordered.
But I remember eating my gelato while walking back to the hotel.
Glorious first meal after arriving in Boracay on Friday.
What did we eat on the following days? Each meal deserves a story of its own and all those stories will get written in the coming days.