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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#NcDFoodTrip: Benitta and Flora's Bakery Cafe in Buhi, Camarines Sur

Buhi, Camarines Sur - Known for the smallest fish in the world called Sinarapan and the ever tasty Tilapia, this town is actually keeping up to what are also available in a city. Buhi can still be considered a quiet town. Natong (laing) and Bicol Express cooked in the Buhinon way or Rinconada way has a distinct taste than those being served in prime cities here in Bicol. Fishing and farming are the main sources of livelihood of Buhinons. Everytime we visit our relatives, I always look forward to the goodness of cooking of our relatives and the forty-five to an hour drive away from Naga is always worth the wait. Sometimes, in order not to be left out in some aspects, businesses in Buhi started to evolve. 

A few weeks ago, we drove to Buhi to gather our harvested sacks of rice. We traveled after lunch and we really had no plans of staying too long. But since we seldom go home to this place, my father was asked to stay for a few rounds of drinks. While we were waiting, I thought of visiting this new cafe in the downtown area together with my sister. My fellow Bicol Bloggers visited this cafe  a few months ago for breakfast before heading to Legazpi, the cafe is called Benitta & Flora's Bakery + Cafe.

The cafe is located near the parish church. The street fronting the main gate of the church is the street leading to the cafe and it's only a few steps away. The bakery has two levels, dominant with black and dark orange facade with a round signage outside the vicinity.

The first thing that you will notice are the wall arts around and the accented brick wall (which I think are tiles) which are typical in many cafes these days.

On the left are the breads and pastries available  for any occasion. I have seen on their FB that they also accept made to order cakes for weddings and other special occasions. The place is fully air-conditioned with high ceiling.

The second level is very spacious and is very ideal for group dine-ins for meetings and other occasions. Every corner is again filled with wall art especially the rear end near the comfort room.

Most of the wall arts are about coffee, coffee and coffee. 

The part where there is a tower is actually a door to their kitchen I suppose. 

The food and drinks are very affordable and unassuming. On a personal note, everything is priced just right for the locals. 

Burgers starts at P110 to P135. Sanwiches start at P85 to P95. Appetizers from P50 to P70. Pastas from P90 to P100. All-day Breakfast for only P65. Rice Meals with chicken and pork bbq as the two choices at P150. Cold drinks starts from P40 to P80. Hot drinks at P40 and the French Pressed Coffee at P195. Milkshakes from only P80 to P85. Need I say more that the prices are really very affordable?

We ordered the Creamy Carbonara and Aglio Olio plus the Nacho Fries for our snack. I just hope that the fries was well drained, it was a bit too oily. The serving size of the pasta is ideally good for one. The creamy carbonara has a poached egg on top with white sauce and bacon bits. 

The Aglio Olio is one of their classic pastas with garlic, chili with a slice of foccasia bread. I can rate the taste of the food that we ordered as 3.5 stars out of 5. I was just looking for more spices but then I'm not complaining much because the prices are way so affordable. I still enjoyed the food in general. And hey they still have a lot more offerings on their menu that's why it's too early to judge them as a whole.

I had the Tarragon Tea which is only for P50.
"A tarragon herb, also known as dragon wort, is a very popular culinary herb used as flavoring agent, especially in the Mediterranean cuisines. This aromatic perennial growing herb is rich in phytonutrients as well antioxidants that help promote health and prevent diseases."

Cookies 'N Cream Milkshake for only P85.

I'll give the drinks a 4 out of 5 stars. 

I was amazed with this group of kids who dined at the cafe. They ordered cupcakes and just plain water but I could hear and see their joy while coming in to this joint. These are kids having the simple joys of life with the company of peers.

So there, if you happen to be in Buhi, this place is a must-visit. This is the very first cafe in town so don't forget to drop by! Congratulations Buhi for having Benitta & Flora's Bakery + Cafe!

Benitta & Flora's Bakery + Cafe
Facebook: Benitta&Flora's Bakery and Cafe
San Buena, Buhi, Camarines Sur
Contact No. 0917 913 2866
Email: benitta.floras@gmail.com

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gift Shops in Naga City

Naga City - Holiday shopping is fun and easy in our city. When we do have malls which provides everything we need, sometimes we also need to find some items handcrafted and locally served by our fellow Bicolano businessmen. Here are a few shops that you can consider for the holidays or any other special occasions.

*Updated 24 Nov 2017

1. Glam Theme Boutique - located at DSI Building along Magsaysay Avenue, fronting Tapsi Terminal. They have lots of apparels from partner brands for men, women, ladies and kids. From rugged to casual and elegant style, bags to shoes, accessories and many others, they might just have the things you need for your loved ones or even for yourself. If you end up hungry, GTB has an in-house cafe called Cafe 91 ready to take your order. Click HERE for a complete review about Glam Theme Boutique. 

2. Phi & Piks Boutique - From the latest trends in fashion to gift ideas, abubots, crafts, stuffed toys and more. This boutique just got everything. They are located at #30 Jordana St. San Francisco, Naga City (at the back of Lucky 9 Convenience Store). Phi & Piks has re-launched their collection last October and so far they have the widest of collections from different partner brands here in Naga. And oh they also have a wall art right outside the boutique and is awesomely perfect for your ootd's!. Click HERE for more photos of Phi & Phiks. 

3. RCD Wax and Candles - Candles are always a good idea for friends who love aroma therapy. RCD is the FIRST and OLDEST large-scale commercial brand for candles in Bicol, developed in Naga City. RCD candles are made from premium, all-natural, eco-friendly and smokeless wax.  Visit them at Cathedral st., Ateneo Avenue for displays and retail offers. Call 473-1852 or sms 0917 7272639 for more inquiries. Click HERE for more photos of RCD Wax and Candles.

4. Style Hub Boutique - Now currently located at the 2nd Level of Robinsons Place Naga as of August 2017. Another boutique which is very near the big schools and universities like Ateneo, USI, CamHigh, Central and Parochial is located at JP2 Atrium, Bagumbayan Sur, Naga City. For a quick gift shopping haven you can always count on Style Hub Boutique at prices very affordable for students and young professionals. Click HERE for Style Hub's full review.

5. Stef Express Designer Shoppe - This shop is your ultimate source of imported, original and designer bags, perfumes, watches and apparels straight from US at a very competitive price. Also check out their fresh stocks of imported goods and chocolates for your inaanaks this holiday season. Now they have a second branch located at the ground floor of Matt's Tourist Inn along Panganiban Drive, Naga City. First shop is at 7 Units 1B and 1C Buenavita Bldg Jacob St. Naga City. In front of USI Jacob Gate and Mamitas Resto. Store hours is from 10 AM to 6:30 PM every Mondays to Fridays and 12 NN to 5:00 PM every Saturdays and Sundays. CLICK HERE for the latest stocks in the shop and HERE for my previous blog post about Stef Express Designer Shoppe.

6. Gikan Collective - Gift items that are locally produced and handcrafted will surely put you in awe. Gikan does not only offer unique products they can also help you discover or harness your talents and creativity. They are located at Caritas Caceres Compound, Liboton St. Naga City.

7. Urbana Clothes by Maryline - For a dose of uniquely designed and tailored ready-to-wear clothes URBANA is the place to be, located at 32 Barlin St. Sta. Cruz, Naga City. Urbana caters to the needs of the modern Filipina. If you love Naga and Bicol, we should also love our local clothing lines. So if you are a Nagueña, you should also wear #Nagueña and that is, #URBANAClothesbyMaryline. Click HERE for more info.

8. Scent Swatch Bicol - Let's admit it, branded perfumes are expensive and not all of us can actually purchase them. Glad to have found an alternative here in Naga and it's wayyyyy more affordable but giving you almost the same and exact lasting scent inspired by the branded ones. Scent Swatch perfumes can be delivered to you via courier or by meet up here in Naga City.

Scentswatch Bicol can definitely be your source of your favorite scents. Let me describe it by saying: If I can't smell the perfume anymore because my nose has adjusted to it, people around you can still smell you wearing it. Thanks Scentswatch Bicol for this new discovery!! ❤ Scent list is available at their Facebook account.

This is very ideal too as your Valentine gift for your loved ones! Just send them a message HERE for your orders or contact them via mobile SMS/Viber: 0935-390-5685 or 0939-501-2916.

I'll be adding up a few more shops, so stay tuned. If you have suggestions, feel free comment down below so that we can help our fellow Nagueños look for good options.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Cafes in Naga: Single Ancestry

Naga City - We thought we already know everything about coffee, but we don't. Single Ancestry enjoins all coffee lovers with the sole purpose of elevating the coffee and café standards in Naga. Coffee is a serious business in our city and our homegrown brands outnumber the internationally or nationally franchised coffee shops. For me, we Naguenos know how to somehow patronize what is really our own. It's actually interesting to find out why Naguenos love cafes and being in the academe, a research / study is always the best answer to that. Perhaps for the time being I would just like to explore more about our mushrooming cafes around the city and deal with research later on haha. So little time (with a full time day job) for so many coffee shops.

Single Ancestry is located at the newest Petron Complex along Magsaysay Avenue together with other brands like AJL Chicken Bacolod, Coldshack, San Mig Cafe Avenue, Air Space Restaurant and a pharmacy to date. This cafe celebrates the origin of coffee and any other products they serve with stories significant to the contribution of the growing local economy.

Wall art may be old but it was last year when restaurants especially cafes brought in the concept of calligraphy and doodle in stores. The concept is that, from time to time, art works will vary and will somehow give an entire new look and feel for customers. Even menu boards became "changeable", doing away with the usual signboard that lasts for a few years. Just to name a few, Que Pasa Naga and Don Rodolfo's Cafe has showcased local artists and their love for art. It is with much pride that we value the talents of our fellow Nagueños and Bicolanos too.

Talking about wall art, Single Ancestry is also a haven of wall art. Three local talents brushed their way in completing the walls of Single Ancestry, Yvette, Harley and another artist (sorry I forgot the name =( )

Wall Art by Yvette Ducut. Photo from Single Ancestry FB
The whole place is relatively spacious with a high ceiling. Semi-industrial type interior with light bulbs complementing the wall art gives an open and free feeling to customers. Bricked-wall up until the eye level on the sides and wall art above the head level. Chairs are a bit heavy because it's made of water pipes painted in black and hard wood.

The walls are probably complete with art already. The time I took this, there was still a white wall.
They also have a stack of goodies for sale near the door.

Let's lay down the food and drinks on the table, but please don't expect too much, I have only tried a few of their drinks and food. The top of my list is the STARBURST Tea. For me, it's the BEST TEA in the city. I'm not exaggerating but it really is. 

Photo below is the starburst. Just by opening the container, the aromatic smell can fill the space at a certain distance. The smell is not too strong, but it tickles your senses, it's fruity and flowery but it's tea that you won't get in a bag. Just by looking again at this photo, I can still smell how good it is. 

Starburst comes in hot or cold. 

Everything is proportioned well from the water to the tea to achieve its optimum taste. 

Coffee is their specialty. Many says that the best coffee should not have any artificial sugar in it. Quality coffee from quality baristas who has already earned so much prestige and training from their past experiences. 

They have a good Matcha too. 

Art on your coffee here in Single Ancestry is ordinarily exquisite. When exquisite latte art becomes ordinary, it only means one thing, the baristas are really good at it. 

They also serve cakes and pastries, pasta and a whole lot of other dishes which I've been seeing on their Facebook page. I heard they serve good nachos too. I was not really satisfied with the pasta that we ordered (photo below), I hope the other pastas are. 

Beer in a cafe. Yes, beer! But not your ordinary kind of beer. Single Ancestry offers the Nipa Brew to us Naguenos which is an all natural and locally manufactured craft beer in the Philippines. From When In Manila, "Beers are brewed by a team of young, innovative, and passionate individuals with background in biology, chemical engineering, and mechanical engineering, among other facets of science that are necessary to achieve the perfect beer formula, from creating an unadulterated recipe to coming up with attractive packaging." True to Nipa Brew's expertise and passion, it's one of the BEST beers I have ever tasted. Though any craft product will require a little extra from our pockets, this is one good product for the road. As the beer runs down through your throat, you'll know why it is priced the way it is. Together with Bicol Bloggers, we were able to try the Tropic Haze, which I learned that it is the flagship beer of Nipa Brew. If my memory serves me right, one bottle is around P250 give or take. Craft beer's shelf life is shorter than the usual commercialized beer, basically because it's all natural and that is pretty much understandable. 

My review is obviously limited, but I loved the Starburst, the Matcha and the craft beer. Hope this helps as a birds eye view for your next cafe destination when you're in Naga. If you have tasted any of their offerings, please share to us your recommendations too on the comments below. 

More power Single Ancestry! Dios Mabalos!

Petron, Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City
Multi Cuisine
Serves Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Email: singleancestry@gmail.com
Instagram: @singleancestry
Contact No.: 0920 735 1379

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

#NCDfoodTrip: Captain Shawarma

Naga City - It's been a while since I ate shawarma. How many shawarma places do we have in Naga by now? Remember the authentic Shawarma along Magsaysay Avenue called Haidnor located in front of WestPark? A bottle of beer was always fun served with Haidnor's Shawarma in pita or on a plate. After Haidnor, I was a fan of Spice Eleven Shawarma, owned by  friends who opened some time in 2010. For a few years they grew several branches around the city. There "to-go" place beside Saint Joseph School and their first store at the food court of Nagaland E-mall were the two sources of the hottest shawarma in town after Haidnor closed its doors. I can actually eat one pita shawarma and shawarma rice in a box in just one seating, that's how I loved Spice Eleven Shawarma before. When they closed down business around 2015 due to other  priorities, from that time on I never tried any other shawarma in Naga not until last Saturday, November 12. Let's just say Haidnor and Spice Eleven was able to meet my standards in shawarma from Baguio. 

Here's a quick story how I learned to love shawarma. Being a kid before, I hated beef, basically because I hated the "off" smell which eventually leaves a strong aftertaste in your palate. As I age, I appreciated beef from time to time and hey, I eat burgers right? Since it's not tasting like it's beef I believe that fast foods' burger patties really has a lot of preservatives just to counteract the aroma of the meat. I learned how to eat Shawarma during my college  years in Baguio. When you want to eat shawarma all you got to do is go to Session Road. Shawarma stalls grow in number every Session Road in Bloom during the Panagbenga Festival. It's a comfort food in the cold weather of Baguio. From that time on I was able to outgrew my hate for beef up to the point of enjoying Bulalo. That was how I gained my-kind-of-shawarma. 

I found this shawarma place in ALDP Plaza Mall food court at Roxas Avenue (Diversion Road). Surprisingly the food court in this mall has a good foot traffic. Captain Shawarma is the only shawarma place in this mall and the rest are various stalls offering meals you can choose from. Trying to regain my craving for shawarma, I was able to try the Pita version and took home the Rice Shawarma. 

Serving Size is for the win! I must say, P50 for the Pita Shawarma with their kind serving is really something that I was not expecting. The main ingredients of the Captain Shawarma's Pita version are: tomato-cucumber relish, white onion, plus the white/garlic sauce. For other shawarma's being offered, cheese is an add on, sometimes they come in slices of the basic cheese, but for Captain Shawarma, it's a cheese sauce. The Rice Shawarma for only P60 also has a good serving size. 

Pita Bread is Homemade. Unlike other shawarma places, Captain Shawarma's pita bread is homemade. Meaning, we are assured that it's fresh.

If you want your shawarma more "garlicky" just tell the server that you prefer more white/garlic sauce than the cheese sauce. Captain Shawarma's beef is tender and thinly sliced making sure there's enough for your pita bread. This on the go meal with veggies and sauce is perfect for our fast-paced world or just a snack for a slow afternoon for us to savor the spices of Captain Shawarma's offering. 

Captain does not only serve shawarma in pita bread or in rice. They also Shawarma Fries, Nacho's, All Meat and Shawarma Platter at very affordable prices. For drinks they serve Magnolia's Healthtea because they want you to drink healthy. I know shawarma is so damn good with softdrinks, you can always purchase from the neighboring stalls. =P. I loved the pita version of Captain shawarma, after two years of not eating this delicious meal, now I can say I have regained my craving for shawarma. 

Captain Shawarma has two other branches in Naga. One is located along Ateneo Avenue and one is right in front of the USI's HS gate. With their pricing, it's still affordable for students considering that the serving is that of a one full meal. 

Thank you for having us Captain Shawarma! More power!

  • ALDP Mall (Food Court)
  • Ateneo Avenue (near Cathedral Street)
  • USI Branch (Fronting USI HS Gate)
Contact No. (054) 475 0090