What a lovely surprise from my city’s loveliest and friendliest neighbor!
Mercedes Bakery just handed stressed bar reviewee me a care package with a few of their best-selling products to try out as well as a box of their unreleased Matcha Chookie series!
Now I know I’m not supposed to be gorging on food with processed sugar in it because of the diet I’m maintaining but… it’s already right in front me… and can you really say no to a treasure chest of sweets?! (Yes, I can but I don’t want to hahaha)
I’ve never been much of a big fan of eating pineapple because its acidic juice kind of stings my tongue the more I eat it but Mercedes Bakery’s Pineapple Crumble is an exception. I want to eat pineapple as long as it’s in the form of their pineapple crumble! This product is a Mercedes Bakery original and the first to become the city’s pasalubong and snack favorite from the store. Perfect to pair with brewed coffee or tea in the afternoon!
As with their biscocho, I run the risk of eating a whole bag by myself in one sitting if I’m eating it while multi-tasking. It’s not too sweet and the crunch when you take a bite definitely keeps you busy. I should keep a pack of biscocho in my bag all the time haha!
And finally, they gave me my all-time favorite… Mercedes Bakery’s signature Chookies!
Ugh, I love their chookies to death. I love the classic choco chip the most. I could down a dozen in an hour without realizing it and even if it makes me sluggish from the sugar crash just before Jiu Jitsu training, I have #noragrets. These chewy cookies are just so heavenly that even though I know how sinful it is to be binging on more than two pieces in a day, I’m taking the risk. The owner of the bakery also knows how much I love matcha and let me try out their matcha chookies that they’re experimenting on (and most likely will be releasing sooner or later for public consumption!).
The matcha series they let me try has three flavors: Dark & White Chocolate, White Choco Espresso, and the Smatcha (Smores Matcha!). The series is not as sweet as the non-matcha based chookies but the matcha flavoring is not as strong as others would assume so I would recommend it to people who want to eat chookies that are less sweeter! The white choco espresso has quite the caffeine hit though and I didn’t expect it. I ate two of the Espresso flavor and I could definitely feel like I just drank a shot of strong espresso. My favorite is the Smatcha out of all the three!
If someone would ask me what would be a good pasalubong from Cagayan de Oro City, I would definitely recommend adding Mercedes Bakery to the list! Or! If you’re looking for a great gift for friends and family, a bag of chookies would be enough to put a smile on their faces. It’s not too obvious how much I love the chookies.
P.S. They ship their chookies outside of CDO now!
For more info, you can visit Mercedes Bakery’s website HERE.
More photos of the goodies they gave me can be found HERE!
A tiny island in my province that has so much to offer. If you want a quick escape from the concrete jungle that the City of Golden Friendship has been turning into, the Island of Fire should be in your list!
It’s a few hours away from my city and can be reached via a boat ride from the port of Balingoan (which is a 2 to 3-hour drive from Cagayan de Oro City). My family and I visit the place at least once a year. It gets crowded during summer vacation in the Philippines which is scheduled at the end of March till first week of June, but summer doesn’t really leave the country so you won’t really miss anything if you visit the island during non-peak months.
The most recent visit was due to my dad’s profession (had to attend a court hearing) but since my mom and my sister wanted to tag along, we decided to stay for a quick 2-night stay. We booked an entire home via AirBnB called “Ila Vicente” located in Catarman, Camiguin. It’s a bit far from the usual touristy Mambajao but it was well worth it. In all honesty, we spent more time at Ila Vicente than going out to explore the island (partly because, like I’ve mentioned, we annually visit the place haha). I mean, who wouldn’t? Just look at this place!
You can ask their in-house staff and the owners, Willy and Vicente, to whip up your meals for 175php/head. It’s way economical and less stressful than having to go out to find a good restaurant to satiate your hunger. And believe me, the food Tita Willy and her staff made was one of the reasons we stayed put at Ila Vicente than go out hahaha! She makes sure all the main ingredients used are fresh and up to her visitors’ tastes. This is what I love about the island life! Here are a few photos of what they served us:
If you want some fresh air, you can laze around their spacious payag or ask the staff to call in a local masseuse. You can also request that you take your meals at the payag, too!
Aside from just hanging around Ila Vicente, we did manage to visit the Beehive Camiguin and Driftwood Cafe which is also located right in Catarman (woohoo!). The cafe is right beside the sea, is vegetarian-friendly, and also sells a wide array of local products from fresh fruits to coffee. The decoration and design of the cafe make me feel like a hippie mermaid that decided to have a bit of out-of-the-water food for a change. I definitely recommend trying this place out and gaze out into the sunset while you much on healthy goodness!
We also went to check out Tuasan Falls and the Old Church Ruins out of my mother’s insistence that our short island stay wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t visit at least one body of fresh water and a known tourist destination.
After roaming around under the heat of the sun though, I needed something cold for recovery. I needed ice cream! A quick google search made me find an article talking about the ice cream at The Northern Lights being one of the best in the island so we set out to look for it. It’s a bar and restaurant that’s more known for its pizza but also makes home-made ice cream. It’s in Agoho, Mambajao so we had to go around the island to get there before heading back to Ila Vicente to call it a day. I ordered 3 flavors to-go, Mango, Avocado, and Chocolate. That blogger wasn’t kidding when it said the ice cream was good, creamy and not too sweet, and at 15php per scoop, who am I to complain? To my Zero-Waste Warriors, please forgive the use of plastic; I didn’t want more processed sugar and unnecessary carbs from having to eat the wafer cone (plus they didn’t have anything else to put the ice cream inside for take away).
Aaaaand that’s pretty much all about our short trip to Camiguin!
If you’re interested in booking Ila Vicente for your stay, you can book via AirBnB by clicking HERE.
For more photos of the food we ordered at Beehive Camiguin & Driftwood Cafe, click HERE.
I’ve been looking for a good spot to chill for a few hours in the city that not only serves good coffee but the ambience relaxes me enough to help me absorb everything that I’m reading. I chanced upon an article posted by Misfit CDO that featured Bowerbird Coffee PH and after going thru the write-up, I definitely needed to check it out. I recently paid a visit with a good friend and Jiu Jitsu teammate, Mikee.
The cafe is certainly a ways away from where I live and the places I usually hang out (it’s in Lane 101, Masterson Avenue, Upper Carmen; behind the new Hall of Justice) but after visiting, I’m quite sure I’d still frequent the place. It’s small but it doesn’t feel cramped; it’s quite decorated but the area doesn’t scream for attention. The owner and resident barista makes you feel like you’re a returning customer even when it’s the first time you’ve ever stepped in her dainty bower. She makes sure you enjoy your drink and is willing to make you another without charge if you’re not satisfied. You sit there, sip your coffee, and take your time.
Mikee and I decided to try their specialty coffee and I ordered the Spanish Latte while she had the Toffee Crisp. We’re not exactly keen on sugary drinks anymore since it leaves us with a sluggish feeling as an aftereffect especially during BJJ training days (even though I have a sweet tooth. Sad!) but we’re happy to report the drinks we had were not too sweet and tasted really great!
Check out the short video I made from my visit at the Bowerbird Coffee PH:
If you’re in Quezon City (QC), everyone will tell you to trek that magical street they call Maginhawa. The local government has been basically endorsing this area to tourists thanks to all the cafes and restaurants that dot the sides of this long strip of asphalt and concrete.
I’ve recently transferred residence (albeit, temporarily) from Cagayan de Oro City to QC since I’m reviewing for the Bar Exam for November 2017 at UP (I graduated last March 2017! Yay! Go me!). Best part is I live 15 min away from Maginhawa street huehue! I’ve started checking out some of the popular places at Maginhawa last Sunday and the first on my mini series is a little about “The Lost Bread“.
It’s a mini series because I can’t spend too much time thinking about what I’m supposed to say regarding the places I’ve visited/will be visiting as I have tons (read: TOOOOOOONSSSSSS) of books to read in preparation for the bar exam and I’m just typing what comes out of my head right now during my allotted 30 minute break.
The place is relatively spacious and it has a second floor but wasn’t open for public use then (probably cleaning time? dunno). I liked the interior: minimalist with a bit of an industrial vibe. Every low-key hipster millennial would silently approve of. There’s also that mural (see photo at the very top of this entry) which just screams millennial for me hahaha! Seriously, look at it for a few seconds and tell me you’re thinking the same thing as well. As to why it’s called “The Lost Bread“, I heard it’s a direct translation of pain de perdu (the bread used in french toast. Ayt let’s move on).
Anyway, I think it’s safe to assume the place is known for their overshakes and french toast (although they do serve full meals and other drinks with pretty names and cool presentations). In my personal opinion, their menu is the total opposite of the restaurant’s interior design; the food they serve are whimsical, playful, and vibrant, whereas, the place is mute and a tad mechanical.
I have to apologize, though, as I did not take photos of their menu since I was too busy ogling and appreciating the food styling used. Pretty eyecatching! My friend, Pawi, ordered an overshake called “The Carousel” which was a strawberry milkshake decorated with peppermint cotton candy, a huge marshmallow lollipop, some merangue on biscuits, sprinkles, wafer sticks, and I don’t know what else was in there. When I saw it only one thought came to my mind: BEHOLD, THE EMBODIMENT OF DIABETES.
Look at that thing. It ain’t cheap, either (295PHP). I, on the other hand, wanted something that had little to do with sugar since I shut down easily nowadays (aka get sleepy and lightheaded; I’VE CHANGED LOL thanks to JiuJitsu) when I have too much, and decided on ordering their Hot Matcha (160PHP).
I was so wrong about this not having any sugar. It had this small ball of cotton candy placed on top of the cup to act as the warm beverage’s sweetener (who tf likes sweet matcha? *gets beaten up by everyone who loves it*). So you had to pour the matcha drink on top and in the middle of the cotton candy. Actually, it looks pretty cute and the idea is quite interesting. I was a little apprehensive about the cotton candy turning my matcha into some overly sweet drink but, thankfully, it did not. A bit disappointed though as the drink is a ‘latte’ and not really ‘pure’ matcha green tea.
Look at that RBF and messy hair hahaha. The sugar was kicking in, tbh. On the other hand, Pawi liked his Carousel Overshake but said it was a bit runny and less creamy than he had expected it to be. Nevertheless, he felt somewhat satisfied.
My final thoughts on “The Lost Bread” for this visit:
If you want cool and Instagram-worthy photos, this restaurant is good. The way their products are styled and presented is impressive.
It’s not a cheap place, though. While their blue icecream is only 90PHP, the rest of the menu ranges from 160PHP to 300PHP. Better visit when you’ve got extra cash to burn.
Hot Matcha was a miss and I am not very keen on trying the Overshakes because, hello, sugar overload in one mug haha.
I will probably visit again to try out the ice cream and the meals.
When someone talks about Japan, one would automatically think about shrines, kimonos, sakura, and sushi! And, when someone asks which part of Japan I love the most, I would always choose the old capital, Kyoto.
The Western Capital
Kyoto, which means “capital city,” used to be the capital of Japan before it was moved to Edo, later known as Tokyo, in 1868 during the Imperial Restoration.
It is interesting to note that during World War II, the United States of America originally planned to bomb Kyoto but dropped the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki instead because they considered Kyoto too beautiful to be destroyed.
Dress Till You Drop
During our recent stay in the land of the rising sun, we took a day trip to Kyoto to mainly visit Fushimi Inari Taisha. While we were there, I thought we might as well walk around in kimono during the trip. Kimono literally means “a thing to wear” but now refers to what we regularly see as Japanese traditional clothing.
We rented our kimono from Yumeyakata, a kimono rental store with probably the cheapest rate (3,500 yen per person or 6,500 per couple) in Kyoto and is located in Hosai Building around Gojo-dori.
I couldn’t really take photos while we were inside because it’s not allowed and it was too hectic in there. To check out more details on how to rent a kimono from Yumeyakata, please click HERE. It’s best you book online because a lot of people use the services they offer and get a slot on the day you’re planning on going because they will refuse walk-in customers if there are too many clients during that time.
After about an hour inside (yes, it takes that long to get you dressed in a kimono), we had our lunch at Yayoiken which is near Hosai Building and right after, headed off to Yasaka Shrine. One would never understand why some would call the kimono an impractical kind of clothing when it’s such a beautiful and elegant thing to wear… until you actually wear one while walking a wore one while in a busy city like Kyoto. Trust me, it is a little bit difficult to walk around wearing Zori (traditional sandals but not the Geta kind) and wrapped up in so much clothing. Indeed, it is what you would call a ‘fashion over comfort’ moment.
Let Your Prayers Be Heard
On our way to the kimono rental shop, we stopped by Higashi Honganji Temple. It is a 750 year old buddhist temple and is one of the world’s largest wooden structures. Sadly, when we went there, part of it was under construction and only a little of the whole area was open to the public. However, the prayer hall was open during that time and we could see the monks doing their daily prayers. Visitors could also join if they wanted to. Others who would rather watch from the outside could check out everyone praying through peepholes on the doors (kind of sounds like a naughty thing to do. Oops! hahaha).
Higashi Honganji has a brother next door, Nishi Honganji. We wanted to go there but due to time constraints, we opted not to and just save it as another side trip for the next time we come back.
Yasaka Shrine is in the Gion district and is practically a few meters away from the bus stop. Just take the 100 or 206 bus and alightat the Gion bus stop OR take the train and alight at Gion Shijo station. It is a pretty famous shrine and is quite convenient to go to so there’s always a swarm of tourists there. The queue at the Honden (spirit hall) was so long, we figured we could just ask another God in another temple to hear our prayers. We went to around Murayama Park which is right beside the shrine grounds and bought icecream at a small shop run by an elderly Japanese couple.
We walked around Gion after our break at Murayama. I was a little disappointed to see majority of the areas being modernized and you couldn’t really catch a glimpse of a REAL geisha or maiko around the area (or you can’t tell because some kimono rental shops offer ‘geisha or maiko’ packages. So watch out because you might be taking a photo of another tourist instead of a bona fide geisha/maiko!).
We made a short visit to Kenin-ji Temple, considered to be one of the most important Zen temples in Kyoto, but quickly left to catch a train going to Fushimi Inary Taisha.
Side note: We didn’t really plan on going to Kenin-ji Temple; we got lost and found ourselves there. Hahahaha!
Anyway, to get to Fushimi Inari Taisha from Kenin-ji Temple, you just have to backtrack to Gion Shijo Station and ride the Keihan Line to Fushimi Inari Station. The walk from the station to the shrine would only take you about 5 minutes (or 10 minutes if you’re wearing a kimono like me).
Fushimi Inari Taisha is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirit of Inari, the protector of grains or harvest. A lot of businesses pay homage to Inari as it’s also attributed as a protector of wealth and prosperity. The shrine grounds is huge and the red torii look amazing in person! The main reason I wanted to go here was because it was used during the filming of Memoirs of a Geisha and where little Chiyo was running around.
While the Go-Honden was at the base of the hill, you can go up to the top to see the main shrine. At Fushimi Inari Taisha, you’ll notice a lot of foxes instead of shishi (lion-dog) guarding the shrine; they’re considered the gods of the harvest. If you walk around, you can find a lot of food stalls that stell various traditional food such as the famous kitsune noodles, yakitori, and of course, takoyaki!
I bought an omamori (protective/good luck charm) for studying at Fushimi Inari Taisha because you’re never desperate enough when you’re in law school hahaha!
I would recommend that you go to Fushimi Inari Taisha during the early morning because by the afternoon it is full of people, locals and tourists alike.
Cats sleeping near the altars, cats playing around in the shrine grounds, cats eating near the stone steps, cats meowing on top of shilled roofs; cats everywhere! It’s amazing to see how these stray cats are so used to people visiting the shrines they spend their lazy days away hahaha!
Are You Gonna Stay the Night?
Truth be told, I felt bad for not booking a night at Kyoto beforehand. There was so much to see but you couldn’t really see all of what the place had to offer in just a day.
You cannot comprehend its full beauty and how humbling Kyoto is if you don’t spend at least two or three days in the vicinity. If you’re visiting the Kansai area, please do take your time in Kyoto. It is an experience you will never regret and forget!
Everyone who knows me personally knows I have a sweet tooth. Not just the oh-I-like-cake-and-chocolate-a-lot kind; I am more of the SWEET-MOTHER-OF-JEEBUS-THAT-CAKE-IS-WHAT’S-MISSING-IN-MY-LIFE-TODAY-SO-HELLO-DIABETUUS kind. Thankfully, my friend owns a pastry shop in the city and she’s always there to be my enabler (is this a good thing or a bad thing? Ah well, as long as I get my sugar fix! Mwahaha!).
Jana’sSweet Spot is owned by Ms. Jana Caiña Abellanosa, a nurse-turned-phenomenal-pastry chef. While still practicing her profession as a nurse and medical researcher, she decided to enroll at Monster Kitchen Academy to spice up her life. Who could blame her, right? Ms. Jana is young, passion-driven, and simply put, just amazing (and I’m not saying this as a friend!). She graduated at the top of her class at Monster Kitchen and even bagged a few awards at the annual Kumbira Festival that’s held in Limketkai Mall during fiesta month. From taking small-time orders online until she finally opened a physical store at Capistrano-Akut Sts. in Cagayan de Oro City last 2014, Jana’s Sweet Spot has made a name for itself and is a place you should never, I repeat, NEVER bypass if you ever find yourself in CDO.
Jana’s Sweet Spot is known for its cakes, cupcakes, and silvanas which are made by none other than the owner and shop manager herself, Ms. Jana. You can be assured that there’s always a huge dose of love and dedication poured into every delicious creation crafted by Ms. Jana’s hands.
I keep going back for the shop’s silvanas! It is an absolute delight; a bite of heaven in soft chewy oversized cookie form.
Recently, though, Jana’s Sweet Spot has upgraded its menu and now serves crazy shakes! They come in different flavors such as chocolate, mango, strawberry, vanilla, and banana. I personally love the banana and chocolate flavors and they are called “crazy” for two reasons: the toppings range from huge cookies to tiny colored candy sprinkles and Ms. Jana doesn’t use whip cream… she uses butter cream instead! Now isn’t that a treat for sweet-toothed monsters like me?! Why yes, yes it is.
annual fiesta DESSERT-all-you-can buffet
In line with the fiesta celebration the city prepares for, Jana’s Sweet Spot also commemorates such a special event by holding a buffet where you can stuff yourself with everything the pastry shop has to offer for one whole day and guess what? It’s for only 100PHP per person! You read that right! 100PHP FOR EVERYTHING IN SIGHT AT JANA’S SWEET SPOT! Provided, though, that you don’t take anything home and you don’t share your food with a friend (come on, guys. A true friend knows not to share food at a buffet). The buffet is still on going today, August 26, 2016, and will end tomorrow, August 27, 2016, at 8:00PM. Make sure to visit Jana’s Sweet Spot today or tomorrow and try everything out for only 100php!
Jana’s Sweet Spot
Address: Capistrano-Akut Sts., fronting Cosmopolitan Building, Cagayan de Oro City
One really random night, after watching a bit of anime to soothe my weary soul from all the insults and quips I have been enduring from law school since the first day I enrolled, I dreamt about gallivanting around the Land of the Rising Sun; “soaring, tumbling, freewheeling!” (in the words of Jasmine from the Disney movie, “Aladdin”) with not a care in the world for codal provisions and jurisprudence. The next morning, I woke up in an apartment near Kami-Shinjo Station in Osaka. Like what the-? Did I just really transport myself to Osaka, Japan while I was asleep?! OH. MY. GOD.
Of course not.
It took months of planning and preparation because I need a visa to even step foot there now.
Moving on, I stayed there with my family for about four (4) days. Note, though, that since this was a family vacation without a tour package (meaning, I had a set of middle-aged parents who are not used to long walks anymore, three  siblings of different ages wanting to see totally different things, and I was the tour guide… who always got lost), we couldn’t really cover everything everyone on the internet has raved about as the “TOP THINGS TO DO AND MUST SEE” when you’re in Osaka. Besides, I like to take my time to take in my surroundings instead of rushing from one point to another because of a darn list of places to go to.
We arrived at Kansai International Airport, also known as KIX, at around lunch time. After grabbing a quick bite at McDonald’s (for some reason, I find it funny yet ironic that the first thing that welcomes me at KIX is a cheeseburger and fries) we went to buy our Surutto Kansai/Kansai Thru Passes at the Tourist Information Center (I’ll discuss more about this pass in another post) headed to Umeda Station where my friend, Chinumi, met us. After that, we headed to our apartment located near Kami-Shinjo Station (we rented an apartment using AirBnB). The Kami-Shinjo area is, honestly, a little far from the busy parts of Osaka; it’s 15 minutes to Umeda and 25-30 minutes to Minami-Namba via train. However, I can’t complain because three blocks away from our place is a grocery store and a takoyaki shop that sells one of the best I’ve tasted during our stay.
(PSEUDO) UNDER THE SEA~
The train ride to Umeda Station from KIX took about 2 hours via the Nankai Train so when we got to the apartment, it was already around 5:30pm or so. After we were settled at the apartment, we decided to head for Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. We took a taxi (which I will never recommend that anyone do because it is expensive af) because the aquarium’s schedule for last admissions was at 7:00pm and taking the train from our place to Kaiyukan would take more or less an hour. PS We paid 3,000+ yen for a ride from Awaji Station.
For more info, please check back for the link on my main post on Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan!
HOW ABOUT SOME WINDOW SHOPPING AND A DATE WITH GLICO MAN?
For the rest of our stay in Osaka, we went to check out other places like Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori. Shinsaibashi is a shopping district in Minami (Namba) and has a lot of establishments. It kind of reminds me of the anime, Tamako Market. Shinsaibashi-suji has a Disney outlet and I bought my Mickey Tsum Tsum pillow there! While a little ways away from Dotonbori, and getting lost in the process, we also had a little side trip to Daiso, that famous global 100-yen shop we all know and love.
Gotta catch ’em all including Totoro!
The next destination was, of course, a visit to Yodobashi Camera! One of the largest chain stores for electronics in Japan with one humongous building which sells electronics (every kind that you can imagine!) as well as novelty stuff. It would take one whole day to see everything Yodobashi has to offer (and I’m not even exaggerating)! After our trip to Yodobashi, we checked out the Pokemon Center in Daimaru and Kiddy Land in Hankyu Umeda. All three are in the same neighborhood and are a few minutes away from each other. At the basement of Hankyu is Donguri Kyowakoku which sells official Studio Ghibli merchandise in Osaka (please check back for a separate post on how to get to the Pokemon Center and Donguri Kyowakoku in Osaka).
On our last day in Osaka, we took the limousine bus from Umeda Station to Kansai International Airport Terminal 2 where we were boarding a domestic plane to Tokyo. It’s best that you go really early because the bus ride takes at least an hour and a half to Terminal 2 from the train station.
Stay tuned for more of our crazy Japan adventures!
Next posts include A Daytrip to Kyoto, Our Stay in Tokyo, and other various much needed information you need to know before you head for the Land of the Rising Sun.