Some pleasurable thoughts about Chele Gonzalez’s Samira at Anya

The expression “getting away from it all” has never been more truthful than when I recently had a weekend break at Anya Resort in Tagaytay, located in the deepest parts of this mountain resort haven, but not too far either as to get lost — just enough to make one feel removed from the hustle of the noisy and overcrowded metropolis.

And yes, everything here is fresh, all in the midst of modern amenities, of course. It’s like being away from the city and yet enjoying its 21st century contraptions.

Anya is homey, to start with, with a lobby that looks familiar, designed not to impress but to make one feel relaxed, with an occasional sculpture and painting on the wall that blend well with the rolling terrain one has an ample view of from where one sits and ponders life’s puzzles.

Anya, too, is a paradise for a book lover like me, with its own second floor library allowing one solitude and a heart-to-sinew talk with oneself.

Yvette Fernandez, Sunshine Puey and Theresa Leung.

My recent first visit was even made more memorable because Anya’s famous restaurant, Samira by Chele Gonzalez — yes, the same cutting-edge transformative chef — gave us, his guests for the weekend, a sampling (okay, make that a feast) of his latest concoctions using the best of Tagaytay’s fresh produce alongside his distinctively chosen spices, blending them to please, excite and shock the palate in the most pleasurable way.

CHEF Chele Gonzalez sharing the secrets of his culinary prowess.

These dishes are new as in newly created, and not adapted or copied or borrowed, but then, to even think that the renowned and celebrated chef was merely giving us a new version of the same old fruit salad (banana, if you will) would be a mortal sin, sacrilege at its highest.

Grilled Tenderloin
Glagge Premium Oyster with Compressed Pear.
Charcoal Grilled Lobster served with Lobster Rice, Lemon Butter sauce and Tagaytay Green Salad.

And yes, Chele Gonzalez is very friendly and witty, if a little bit damn sure of his talent not by announcing it to the whole assembly but by simply feeding you till you burst at the seams, if you know what I mean; and indeed, his gift for creating masterpieces is akin to the masters, if you get the drift again.

Besides, there is something very out-of-this-world with his dishes, like they were food from the heavens meant for gods but mislaid in transit from the chef’s orbit and ending up on the table of the most privileged mortals on this side of the universe. Indeed, privileged, if one thinks of how beautiful Anya is and how luxuriously “Sensurround” this whole culinary experience is.

Well, what can I say? I am winding like a river and maybe we should blame it on Chef Chele Gonzalez who inspires one to wax poetic and so, I must add, I think that I shall never taste dishes as delicious as those created by Chef Chele, never mind if this doesn’t rhyme.

Cheese Ice cream with Forest Berry Couis, grilled Strawberries, Lime Meringue Chips and Pickled Mint.
Duck Pate Terrine

Take a look at the photos if you can’t go yet to Samira at Anya and you will understand what I mean. Enjoy while you imagine degusting!

AUTHOR enjoying his breakfast by the Anya garden.