Author: oggie

Bayani Brew: More than a declaration of independence from sugary brews

Three flavor variants from Bayani Brew

What’s in a drink?  I mean everybody’s got to cool down especially in this hot weather and in what looks like an extended summer.

I try to drink like a liter and a half of plain water daily but if I crave for a bit of flavor, I’ll steer clear of sodas save for occasions when there’s no safe drinking water or strangely, after long mountain hikes (I know it’s not healthy but hey, this is just very rare).  I also tend to favor either fruit juices over soda or if I want a bit of variety, I’d have some tea brews every now and then.  Thing is, a lot of ’em tea brews are loaded with sugar.  Flavorful, yes.  Healthier than soda, ummm not really.

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Caja: A Hidden, Homey Eating Place in Bontoc with a Marvelous View and Interesting Menu

Most of the eating places in Bontoc town proper and Illi are located on the main road, much like the arrangement of restos and cafes in Sagada.  Even if you’re new to the place, it’s fairly easy to spot them, each one just a short walk, after alighting from the bus or van from Baguio or Banaue.  Thing is, the main avenue can be noisy at certain times of the day, and if you’re looking for a quiet place to eat, relax, chill or meet a date, it’s a tricky proposition to find it.  Well, good thing there’s Caja.

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Barkin’ Blends Dog Cafe: Lettin’ the Dogs Out

We actually heard about Barkin’ Blends Dog Cafe last year when it was about to open.  Busy-ness plus the travails of commuting kept us from visiting until last Sunday when your Happyfoodies found themselves in the Katipunan area within barking distance (pun intended) of the cafe so we dropped by for an afternoon of coffee and canine company.

It actually came as a pleasant surprise that the cafe has already celebrated its first year anniversary as we felt that while as a dog lover we dig the idea, we don’t know if the novelty would wear off after a few months.  Sure, it was a swell idea when it first came out, a concept that you’d probably read about in Japan or Singapore where the high costs of keeping pets or strict housing rules has created opportunities for creative pet lovers to build a business around a petting zoo type of establishment.  We haven’t reached that state yet, we think, though keeping a dog is no joke – costly in terms of vet care, food, grooming and we never believe that dogs are just some form of status symbol for showing around; rather, they’re friends to care for.

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Balai Pandesal, Dropping by at the 24/7 Pinoy bakery

The Balai Pandesal branch at Makati dela rosa walkway

Who’s to argue that the pan de sal is the quintissential Pinoy bread?  Its popularity may have waxed and waned through the years but it has remained a mainstay on the Filipinos’ table for generations.  Embedded deep into our culture, it has also become some sort of an economic barometer, shrinking in size and puffing in price with economic downturns.  I remember years ago when every neighborhood bakery rode on the hot pan de sal craze, then slowly diminishing in popularity.  It didn’t really go away, though, even moving from being a breakfast fare to an all-day treat.  Which is why probably the people behind Balai Pandesal built its business around this Pinoy staple.

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The Coffee Library in Baguio, Vietnamese coffee and cuisine come to the highlands

The Coffee Library Baguio

Your Happyfoodies trudged to the northern highlands for the days leading up to the new year with an overnight stop in Baguio.  By chance, we got billeted in a hotel on a quieter street parallel to the always-busy (read: noisy) Session Road and chanced upon the barely month-old The Coffee Library on the ground floor of the Rex Hall Student Residences along General Luna Street.  Needless to say, it was a serendipitous find.  Yes, it is eye-catching, with tasteful touches of ethnic crafts, mix of red brick and warm wood, even vintage “padyak” (foot pedal-powered) sewing machines converted into tables, but how was the food, you may ask.

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Satinka Naturals: Organic Eating and A Piece of the Mountains in the City

The shop looks rather nondescript from the outside save for a simple, elegant signage that announces “Satinka Naturals” and a blackboard that says, “A piece of the mountains in the city”.  Well, the second one got our attention.  As is common with some other establishments, the promise can be just that – a promise premised on purely commercial purposes, just enough to pull in a customer for the first time but not for a return visit.  Happily, Satinka Naturals’ advertising sign is not mere rhetoric.  In fact, the more often we visit, the more delighted we are in discovering, not just healthful foods, but also nuggets of health wisdom from its owners, Satinka and Shaller, who both hail from Kalinga.

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A Week on YummyDiet: How 1800 Calories Daily Can Taste So Good

It’s a week after a week-long photo assignment down south and I was back to attending meetings and presentations aside from writing.  Hardly a good time to try out a 1800 calorie daily diet.  I didn’t even remember weighing myself for a before and after comparison, not that I’m overweight but on hindsight, that’s well and good.  In my busy-ness, I wasn’t even really keeping track of what the courier delivered every night for eating the next day — I merely made mental notes of what made a nice impression on my palate.

I must admit, I never really had any inclination to go on any sort of rigid dieting as I’m blessed to have a fast metabolism though as someone who used to be ACE-certified in Lifestyle and Weight Management, I’m no stranger to diets.   Five days of 5 meals daily (3 main, 2 snacks) would be too much to detail in this short post/review so I opt to instead list my impressions on the offerings that are more memorable than the others, as well as my general impressions.

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Teddy’s Bigger Burgers: Beefy, Beefier, Beefiest

Teddy's Bigger Burgers Monster Double

The past few years, we’ve seen the rise of the burger from fastfood outlet obscurity — playing second fiddle to the omnipresent bestseller, fried chicken — to being a star of its own.  For how can you explain the sprouting of burger joints locally, each one trying to outdo the others by tweaking with the burger variables — the beef, the serving size, the fillings, even the bun.  We like to call them gourmet burgers and like everything that’s referred to as such, they also carry a hefty price tag.

We’ve tried several of these gourmet burgers in the recent past so an invite to try Teddy’s Bigger Burgers was something we couldn’t ignore.  In the “burger wars” being waged, how will this Hawaiian import stack up to its beefy competition?  Was the “burger buzz” generated by its coming (and the hefty price) mere fluff or does it live up to the hype?

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