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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
As repeat visitors to Sagada, we at Happyfoodies were both overjoyed and saddened during our recent visit. Saddened because a) Misty Lodge’s restaurant is closed as Chef Bogan is attending to her mommy duties in Manila, b) Masferre Restaurant has taken off our favorite Kamatis Bagoong at Lechon Kawali in favor of a menu more oriented towards foreign guests. But on a bright note, we chanced upon a new, welcome addition to the eateries lining the town’s main street: Sagada Brew. It was actually the recommendation of Wanda, our kind hostess at Rock Inn Farm, to try out the new place (talk about very friendly competition). It was also a blessing to come on an off-peak season where a lot of eating places are closed for repairs, which helped directed our feet to this shop.
When you mention ‘casino dining’ to people, most would not have a clue where to begin. In fact they could be forgiven for thinking it would involve a game of poker at www.gamingclub.com/au/casino-games and a take away. However, since the rise of the land-based casino, the casino restaurant industry has seen an increase. Most of today’s land casinos offer more than just gambling with many having at least one restaurant. With casinos in Vegas being some of the best in the world, it stands to reason that there would one can find some great restaurants here as well.
One of life’s hidden blessings is living a short walk away from nice eating places. It doesn’t always have to be fancy, swanky places or franchises of big chains. Personally, we at Happyfoodies are big fans of small establishments, hole-in-the-walls and mom-and-pop operations whose offerings defy their size and relative obscurity. Stumbling upon BonBanhmi along Mayapis in Makati is a good example, a small nondescript shop operated from the house. If it weren’t for the small sign, it’s fairly easy to miss. The giveaway sight is the usual display counter. For an eating area, it has a converted garage furnished with monobloc tables and chairs. But if the place is simple, the food is anything but.