Balay Cafe: Your Home Away from Home

“There’s no place like home.”

When Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz wanted to go home, she only had to click the heels of her pretty sparkling red shoes and say those words, and voila! She’s home sweet home.

 Sadly, it doesn’t happen in real life. Especially to students who had to leave their home towns to venture in to big cities, like Cebu (based on Philippine standard :D), to get a university education.

But that sadness can end there.

Because Balay Cafe has just officially opened to serve students, teachers, employees, food lovers and even non-students right inside the University of San Carlos – Talamban Campus. And I was fortunate enough to be part of the event.

Balay Cafe Logo

April 8, 2016 marks the day the cafe opened its doors to serve the public with their student-budget-friendly delectable food, hot drinks, chilled frappes, desserts — yes, there’s ice cream!

Balay Cafe Menu

Slices of leche flan

Balay Cafe's home-cooked buffet

Balay Cafe

Guests where given taste of the different kinds of food that the establishment will be serving along with several mouth-watering drinks, such as frappes, hot drinks and many more.

Apart from the delectable, home-cooked gastronomical line-up Balay Cafe has in store for its patrons, it’s also designed to offer a safe and fun refuge for students who, after a long tiring day at school, need a respite. Or a place where they can study and hang-out with their friends with comfort.

From the outside, those who are unacquainted with it will think it’s just another one of those student dormitories. Once you walk in, though, you’ll be amazed at how the owners have transformed an old canteen in to one with bistro-like ambiance. While  it has retained its open-air design,  the cafe now comes with modern amenities and sophisticated light fixtures to help create that fancy feel without losing its homely vibe.

Colorful glass chandeliers

circle table with floral centerpieces

Round dining table with floral and precious stone centerpieces

large centerpiece with embellished amethyst rocks

A chat with Ms. Charo Barro, the chief financial officer of Kintar Group of Companies, the company that brought to us Balay Cafe along with two other Cebuano-themed cafes (which I hope to visit someday soon and blog about them), revealed that they opened the cafe not with just the students in mind but also for women and micro food entrepreneurs.

She wants to provide an avenue for food vendors who can’t afford to open their own restaurants, karenderyas (or eateries), or even food stalls to sell their products by way of consignment with Balay Cafe. For Ms. Barro, this kind of arrangement is her way of giving back to her community. And to make sure that diners will have a wide variety of food options to choose from.

Some photos I took during the event:

Balay Cafe event host

The effervescent event host during the opening.

Balay Cafe owner with USC-TC president

The lovely Ms. Barro with the USC school president.

Owners of Balay Cafe

Taken during the blessing of the cafe.

wine glasses and wine bottle

Charro and I

Charo and I.

The cafe is open 24/7 to cater mainly to students living in the surrounding dormitories. But outsiders can also dine at cafe. All you need to do is inform the guard where  you’re heading and leave an ID if requested.

Another reason this cafe is worth checking out is that  it can also host your events if you prefer a place that’s more intimate and private. The cafe also has a small air-conditioned room for small private events, meetings and business functions. It also has Wi-Fi connection so you can dine at chill while surfing the net.

Balay is a Cebuano term, which means house. And so with Balay Cafe, it offers not just good food and a safe environment, but it also offers an experience of home in every way possible.

For inquiries and event bookings, you can check out Balay Cafe’s facebook page. Just send them a message, and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible. If you have questions or if you want to share your experiences with Balay Cafe, let me know at the comment section below.

Dayun Kamo!
(Welcome, please come in.)

 

The Buzz Cafe: Mixing Business with Pleasure

One of the things that I love about my job is that every month I get to meet with this amazing people and talk not just about work but also about other things just to unwind after a stressful week. Of course, the highlight is sharing stories over good food.

The Buzz Cafe image collage

For last week’s meeting, we went to The Buzz Cafe of the famous Bohol Bee Farm. Apparently, they opened a branch here, which got us really excited. We don’t have to travel to Bohol to taste their famous ice cream and buy their organic stuff.

When we got their, we had to wait several minutes before they could seat us because their restaurant was packed during the busy lunch hour. But it was worth the wait.

We were seated at a long farm table with upholstered banquettes and chairs, giving our whole dining experience that provincial feel. A look at the entire dining place and you can say it’s pretty cozy. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls brighten the room, illuminating their beautiful upcycled decorations on the walls.

The food doesn’t fare behind as well. Although the price is a bit pricey, what you’ll eat is organic. And the taste is just delish. A feat you’ll enjoy dining at another classy restaurant only healthier. So for health-conscious individuals, The Buzz Cafe should be in your radar.

Here’s a video montage I created about our recent visit in the place. I hope you like it. You can check it on my YouTube channel, too.

The Buzz Cafe MenuIMG_9383

IMG_9384

IMG_9385

IMG_9386

IMG_9441 copy

The Quintessential Bathroom Groupfie and Selfie. 😀IMG_9440 copy

Full-length selfie

IMG_9435 copy

My OOTD. 😀IMG_9443-1

Top: H&M
Maxi Skirt: Charlotte Russe
Sandals: Nicole
Studded Crossbody Bag: Aldo
Bird’s Nest Necklace: Drea Drazz Handmade Jewelry

 

One of the Best Sundays Ever!

Great food is best shared with great people.

So even though you’re on a diet, making the decision to make the day a “Cheat Day” is easy.  No qualms at all.

Besides, nothing is better than free food! Hahaha!

So I’ve been a two-day cheat day (not a first but not definitely the last, for sure) as November 7th marks the death anniversary of my mom. It also marks the second anniversary of the Yolanda devastation.

And to commemorate the occasion, we had a simple gathering with the rest of the fambam. I would’ve taken pictures of the feast for food porn’s sake, but then I’d prefer to concentrate on satiating my hunger after having a no-rice diet for the rest of the week. Anyone who’s been holding back would really understand.

Then on Sunday, I had no qualms again on declaring it a cheat day because my bro decided to surprise me with a mouth-watering chocolate mousse cake.

Yup. Who could resist it?

I definitely couldn’t. This delectable beauty was simply calling out to me to eat it. Hahaha!

Then at dinner time, as if my diet isn’t already ruined yet, the hubs and my siblings drove out of town just to eat Korean food. Imagine we had to cross one city just to reach Lapu-Lapu City. It was a 2-hour drive the most just to spend a few thousand pesos to satisfy our cravings for anything hot and spicy. There goes my allowance for the week. hahaha!

Regardless, the time and money spent was worth it.

Unlimited ssambap. Unlimited greens. Unlimited banchan (Korean side dishes). Unlimited water, too! 😀

Of course, the day wouldn’t end completely without receiving a gift from the hubs. 😀

Such a beautiful day, indeed. I wouldn’t exchange it for anything.

By the way, in case you’re wondering what’s all the fuss about this particular Sunday, it marks my 23rd year here on earth.

Happy Birthday to all the Scorpios out there!

P.S.
23 isn’t really my real age. 😛

P.S.S.
We had our Korean dinner at Mori Restaurant in Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan Cebu.

 

5 Reasons I don’t Mind Moving to Iloilo City

June is a special month for Josh and I.

It’s the month when we tied the knot.

Yes, I’m a June bride. 😀

Anyway, this month, we celebrated our 5th year anniversary.

Yes, we’re five years strong, and getting stronger, and might I add, crazier. hahaha!

And what better way to celebrate than to experience something new.

So two weeks ago, I flew to Iloilo City where hubs is currently assigned. Although, he’s there for work, being there is something new for both of us (so that counts).

Anyway, I had a great time during my four-day holiday. We didn’t do anything ultra special. We just did some touring around the city while shopping on the side (yes, unbelievably, I find the prices cheaper there than here).

My overall impression?

If ever we’re migrating to some place and it wouldn’t be Davao City, then it’ll probably Iloilo City. Yup, that’s how I like the city. Although, the four-day trip isn’t enough to get to know a place that well, there are several factors that I like about the city.


1. They have great food. 


At affordable prices. We went to have lunch at a small bakery, called JD Bakeshop, that also serve delicious meals. We thought it would cost us more than Php300.00, but we paid less than that. Plus, I love their pastries. We tried their Brazo de Mercedes and it was the best I’ve tasted.

Then come the famous batchoy. Best one I’ve tasted so far.
And did I mention affordable already?
Josh took me out to dine at the top of Injap Tower, and besides the view and the date, the food is delish!

2. They have a rich history.

 
If Archaeology was available here in Cebu City, I would’ve taken it in college and become an archaeologist. And I would’ve been traveling, digging and unearthing historical treasures instead of blogging.

Yes, that’s how fascinated I am with history.

So when I got here, my heart swooned with how the city is peppered with old architectural structures, like the Molo Church and the Jaro bell tower.

They’re just so beautiful to look at. I bet they would really look lovelier if the sun was out at the time I took these pictures.


Lost in my own wanderings while Josh was at work, I couldn’t help but wonder what it must’ve felt like living in the era when these structures were built.
My guess is it wouldn’t probably be as romantic as I would like to think, what with no plumbing and being under Spain’s colonial reign, but I bet these structures looked magnificent without the decay. Also, the parks would probably look lush with greenery, and the air clean and fresh.
3. They have a cool esplanade.
 
It would be nice if we something like this here in Cebu. With a safe walkway like this, I guess people would opt to walk or ride their bike more often than taking the jeep.
Speaking of which, the fourth reason I like Iloilo is …
4. They have wide highway with bricked pedestrian and bike lanes. 
If we have bike lanes here, I’ll probably lose the belly fat in three months’ time or earlier than that. Haha!
5. They’re urbanized with a relaxed ambiance.
 
Although it’s a bustling city, it’s not quite there yet. People here are less anal-retentive than most folks in large urban jungles.
So there.

Getting to and from Iloilo City from Cebu is easy as it’s pretty accessible. The easiest, of course, is by plane. The next would be by boat. It has a 12-hour travel time through either Cokaliong Shipping lines or TransAsia. The hardest would be by bus as you’d have to travel via Bacolod. From there, you’d have to hop on a ferry to Iloilo City.

Regardless of the mode of transport you choose, though, going to Iloilo City is well worth the time, effort and money.

Go see it for yourself. 😀

 

Satisfying Cravings at Pancake House

Big fan of peanut butter and chocolate? 

 

Then you’ll love Pancake House’s newest addition to their menu: the Reese’s peanut butter pancakes.

 

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited at the family restaurant’s launching of their newest addition to their menu, the peanut butter pancakes.
It was an intimate gathering with fellow bloggers to sample their new pancake flavor. And boy did I make the right decision to come.
I ordered two pancakes topped with a medium-sized Reese’s peanut butter cups with a spoonful of creamy butter and sliced bananas. But the icing on the cake, or rather pancakes, was the melted peanut butter and chocolate filling in the second pancake.
At first, I thought they’ll just top the pancakes with chunks of peanut butter chocolate cups, but no. The actual serving was better than what I expected.
And the taste? It was absolutely delish.
It wasn’t disgustingly sweet, but not too bland as well. It was just right for my taste. And I must say the pancakes pair well with bananas. I think they helped balance the flavor so you can really enjoy the meal without feeling guilty that you had too much sweets in one meal. Haha.

Surprisingly, when I was down to my last bite, I was already full. Normally, two pieces of pancakes are not enough. I’d have to eat, like, three to five pieces before I can feel full in the tummy. But on this occasion, I’m glad I ordered only two. Otherwise, I would have a hard time finishing my share.

As a matter of fact, I was completely satiated with my meal that I even went with the rest of my afternoon without snacking while doing my errands. And mind you, it was a hot day, and I had to jump from one city and back. And didn’t stop for a break. At all. 

So, if you want grab a bite of this mouth-watering meal, head over to Pancake House. It’s available in all their branches. See you there!

 
 

Trip to Cagayan de Oro and Back (Part 1)

When your hubby is away for a month or so on a work assignment, what do you do?

a. Do you mope around waiting for him to come home?
b. Do you plan activities with your BFFs almost every night?
c. Do you use your credit card to buy out-of-budget travel tickets just to see him?

If you ask me, I just chose letter C. Simply because I miss hubs. Now, his being away wasn’t the first one. He was gone to General Santos City in August but didn’t have the chance. This time, however, was different. With a long weekend last month, I just couldn’t pass up the chance to fly and see him and check out Cagayan de Oro City at the same.

 

Although I wasn’t feeling very well during the trip, it was worth it. Plus, I felt a lot better after the trip. It was really good to see him and my BFF who moved there way back. Sadly, as most trips must come to an end, I had to fly back home after  a three-day stay.

My very good friend, Reasol. My partner in crime since I was 8 or 9 years old. Yeeez, we go waaay back.

wefie at a chapel just to prove to my bishop I’m not totally inactive. Ha!

wefie before going off to see a Denzel Washington movie.

Not the kwek-kwek I was expecting. Epic fail. Craving unsatisfied.

In case you’re curious, hubs and I just spent our days eating and sight seeing. I must admit, though, that there wasn’t much to see in the city. You’ll have to travel to the city’s outskirts if you’re looking for adventure. My adventure is where the hubs was so no exciting photos of beaches and mountains and stuff. Sorry.

 

In case you’re interested, traveling to Cagayan de Oro City is fairly easy. Just book a flight to Languidingan Airport from Mactan International Airport. Once there, take a v-hire or bus to Cagayan de Oro. Travel time is an hour and a half, depending on traffic and the destination you’re going to. V-hire costs P200.00. Once in the city, public transportation consists of jeepneys, taxis, and relas (their own version of tricycle). But if you want to explore the city, go on foot. That’s what we did. It’s a small city so places are not really that far to go.

 

The last time I went to Mindanao was when I went to Davao to serve a full-time mission. I was able to set foot in the region after seven long years and it feels great even though CDO City is not my mission area. For some reason, Mindanao and its people will always have a special place in my heart.

 

And that’s about it. I have to go because, as of this writing, my brother just invited me to have dinner at my other brother’s home. I shouldn’t miss family bonding time, should I? 🙂

 

Food Trip at Lemon Tree Fusion Restaurant

This post is long overdue, but I just got to share this new restaurant that hubs and I are loving as of the moment. Last month, June 18th to be exact, was our wedding anniversary. And as most couples do, we just had to celebrate it.

Josh took me to this new restaurant, called Lemon Tree Fusion, across the street from our village. I’ve been dying to go there since they opened, and I’m thrilled that the hubs didn’t question my choice of restaurant. Being the accountant that he is, he tend to be very, shall we say, careful with our expenses. Thankfully, he was okay with it.

And we never regretted it.

Every single dime we spent were totally worth it. We even went back there a second time to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday two weeks later because we love the food.

The restaurant is a fusion of Asian, Italian and Mexican cuisine, which is really delicious. We later learned that the chefs they hired were from the best restaurants in the city. No wonder they food tastes great and mouth-watering.

Besides the food, I also love the ambiance. The interior design is simple and no-fuss, which I really liked. The tables are arranged in such a way that diners are given enough privacy. It’s less cramped than Casa Verde. The lighting is less straining to the eyes, too. I wouldn’t really say the indoor dining area is romantic, but there is soft music playing in the background so it’s okay. It helps drown the conversion so you don’t get to be heard by eavesdroppers, but not too loud that you have to raise your voice to talk. But that’s not all. They also have an al fresco dining area at the back with purple lighting.

The price range is quite reasonable. It ranges from P100 to P500, but if you look at the portions, you’d say it’s actually cheap. Josh and I ordered olive pasta and seafood pizza on our anniversary dinner and we were stuffed. So yes, it’s really reasonable.

Here are some pictures from the two dinners we had at the place. Enjoy! By the way, the Pane pasta is creamy and superb, so you might want to try it. It’s delish!

The hand-made menu is just interestingly unique.

 

 

I nice way to relax our tired feet.

 

 

It would be really nice if my office chair is like this.

 

One happy husband ^_^.

 

Complimentary appetizer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pane Pasta

 

 

 

Me and Glacey (the restaurant’s manager)

We were fortunate enough to meet my close friend from high school here. She happens to be the manager, and I must say she really did a good job. I was really happy to see her after a long time. And she works really close to my house. Lol! I guess hubs and I have more reason to dine here again.

P.S.
The restaurant is located at Salinas Drive, Lahug. It’s beside tree shade spa. And just a tip. Be sure to reserve a table as that’s what they would recommend. Also, if you walk in, don’t find a table immediately. Instead, check out their three dining areas first before deciding on where you want to seat. That’s what my friend said. They want their patrons to choose where they want to sit.

Thank God for Friends (Part 2)

The crazy friends: Amor, Dara, Reasol, Janice (she would’ve sat beside Reasol if she came. bleh!)

 

La Vie Parisienne’s dining area
Hubs who had a hard time following our girl talk.
Ate Jo, the official photographer
Al fresco dining area with Angel Moroni in the back drop
The famous Pink House

 

Ate Jo’s former primary kids except Amor (who is adopted)
The world of Pizza house
I found it weird to see a pan of pizza with sunny side up.

Hubs and I. Aint he a cutie?

La Vie Parisienne’s dining area at night. Ain’t it lovely?
Selfies ^_^
and more selfies ^_^

One of the things that I’m grateful is the assurance that no matter where life takes us I’ll always have friends to keep me sane.

Last week, I had the chance to meet up with one of my oldest friends, Reasol and Amor. Actually, Reasol and I go a long, long way back. During our primary days to be exact. My family moved into this uptown part of Cebu City, and she was the first person I became friends with at church.  Amor, on the other hand, well, we only became friends during our youth days thanks to stake youth conferences. She attended a different church ward that’s why. But when her family moved and went to the same church we do, well, things have never been the same.

We’ve since moved on with our lives, found love and a new family, but we’ve remained friends, even though we keep in touch mostly online. Last weekend was the perfect time to get together again before Reasol sailed back to Mindanao.

It was a fun time. Too bad our other friend, Janice, wasn’t able to make it. We met up at the French bakery I blogged about a few months ago. At first, I thought we were just going to catch up for an hour or two, but it lasted well until past dinner time. We just chatted and ate. Then chatted and ate again like there was no tomorrow. hehehe.

I don’t know when we’ll see each other again, so it was great that we had the chance to meet up. To Reasol and Amor, God be with you till we meet again.

Cheers to friendship!

Thank God for Friends! (Part 1)


The aftermath of a sumptuous meal.  ^-^

Radissons Blue hotel Lobby


“To be with old friends is very warming and comforting.” ~ Ian Zeiring

That’s what I felt when, after a long time, Charo, Ann and I got together again after, I think, five years or so. This time, we met again with our hubbies.

For a bit of history, the three of us met at the MTC — not the training center LDS peeps know so well. It’s a medical transcription training center where we studied five years ago for six months. I don’t really recall how we started hanging out. All I know is that they’re good people, they’re fun to be with, and we shared the same frustrations when we transcribed medical reports from doctors who had heavy accents. They’re really good friends, in short. And that’s why they were short listed on my wedding guest list. Ha!

I was fresh from my mission at that time, but I’ve learned a lot from them. They’re not LDS, but their deeds are more Mormon-ish than most of the people I know at church.

Our reunion was, indeed, a happy one. We’ve finally met Ann’s husband for the first time after hearing so many wonderful stories about him through her. We also met Charo’s mystery man, who I think, is making her happy too. Both of my girl friends looked great. They never seem to have aged as well. Charo looks blooming since the last time I saw her. Although she has two kids now, you could never tell she’s a mom. She’s got her hands full on a lot of things, like her hubby, her business and her kids. I wonder how she did it. Charo dear, it’s time to spill your secret. Hehehe…
Ann looked great too. She still dons the long hair I envied back in the days. She told us her hair care secret one time. I tried it, but I can never manage my hair. It’s like it has a mind of its own that frizzes all over the place. Hahaha! She gained weight since she moved to the US, but she looked healthy and happy as well.
Neither of us ended up as medical transcriptionists. After we got our certificates, we went our separate ways. Charo and I went on to work in our separate industries, and Ann went to the US. We just keep in touch through Facebook until we finally got together last week.

We had dinner at the the Feria at Radisson Blu hotel. Although it wasn’t my first time at the hotel, it was my first to dine at the well-known restaurant. They serve all-you-can-eat buffet with a wide variety of food. We kept saying, “There’s so many food!” There are so much of it that I only ended up eating just a few. They also have a sushi bar with all kinds of makis and sashimis to choose from. I tell you, my stomach wasn’t prepared for it. So just a tip: if you plan to dine there, don’t pass by their dessert corner without tasting their creamy mango ice cream. So heavenly! Mmm-mmm…

***

It’s a nice feeling to reconnect with old friends. It makes you feel that you’re not alone in this world. Even if you’ve gone on to separate paths in the road called life, you have this assurance that somewhere, you’ll come across a junction or corner where you’ll meet again.

Friends. They’re some of the things that I’m grateful for.

Birds of the Same Feathers Are Birds

“Birds of the same feather flock together.”

I think that’s how I would describe my friendship with Ate Jo, Marjorie, Janice and Reasol. We flock together whenever we come up with something crazy to do. I guest that’s what bonded us together all these years. In fact, we’ve been friends ever since I can remember. Of course, now that we’re married and all, we rarely hang out. Only Ate Jo, Marjorie and I get to see each other often because we go to the same church ward, so it’s easy for us to talk about, you know, what to do next and all.

 

On this particular week, all three of us were hungry, most especially me. They were up for something new to eat so I took them to this French bakery called La Vie Parisienne beside the LDS temple complex. They haven’t been there yet, and I was really craving their soft, crumbly croissants. At first, I think they find the place intimidating. I did too. But on my second time, I know that it’s really not.

 

As soon as we walked in, the scent of warm, freshly baked bread and croissant greeted us, making my tummy rumble even more. A French guy, I think in his 50s, welcomed us and handed us a basket with a big smile on his face. Knowing that the place is packed, we didn’t waste anytime and chose what we wanted so we could get a table quickly.

 

For someone who’s not familiar with the place, some would think that it’s a fancy French pastry shop with over-the-top prices. But as you can see, it’s not really that expensive. I must say that it’s kind of pricey for a piece of bread, thought. But once you taste them, it’s really worth it.

 

 We bought croissants in three different flavors, plain, cranberry and almonds. The latter is a must-try!
 

Because the wine cellar was already full, we just sat outside. I thought it was going to be really hot and humid out there, but I was dead wrong. The garden was cool and the ambiance is really nice. Posh, even. I think it would be more romantic at night.

 

Beside the bakery is the The Pink House Restaurant. They mainly serve French cuisine. So if you’re dying to try their famous escargot (a fancy name for snail), that is the place to go. Josh and I haven’t dined there yet, but we’re planning too. Hopefully, some time soon. If you can’t find it, I’m sure this guide will be a big help.

***

 

On a different note, I got a new calling. I’ll be teaching at our ward Relief Society class. It’s been a long time since I last taught, so I better start digging my already buried teachings skills. Lol! It makes me nervous thinking about the women I’ll be teaching. I know most of them since my teen years, but still, it’s kind of nerve-wrecking. Most of them have more life experiences than I do and are probably more versed in the scriptures than I am. Heck! They’re doctrinal knowledge is probably more expensive than mine. Ugh! What in the world was I thinking when I accepted the call? Oh well, since I’m already set apart, I just have to see this through. Maybe this will help me overcome my stage fright. haha!

 

Have a great week!