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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Lunch at Cafe Juanita

As customary for me and my friends from The Bank, we went out for lunch on a payday yesterday. It is like our little way of treating ourselves without spending too much. We usually go to places we have not dined in together and those which are a short walk away from the office (for after all, you only get an hour’s worth of escape).

This time we went to Café Juanita at the Burgos Circle – a place here at The BGC where restaurants, cafes and little shops are side-by-side in a rotunda. The Circle is a few blocks away from our office so it is perfect to walk away all the extra calories without sweating it too much!

It is my first time in Café Juanita and let me tell you about its interior. Their décor is very colorful and a mash-up of different cultures and time periods. Upon entering, I already noticed the crocheted seat covers which are colorful and remind me of the old same things in our ancestral home in San Juan where I grew up.

We were ushered to the second floor which is bigger than the first and I immediately saw the wooden altar at the first landing and I just love it! Looking up (for the stairs are very steep), I saw many different lamps hanging from the ceiling – an explosion of colors, textures and materials. It was like you were a jungle of pretty flowers minus the clutter.

Yes, some might say the colors and knick-knacks placed everywhere can seem like clutter but I saw the liveliness of the place but at the same time its homely ambience. We chose the little corner (for it was just the three of us) and I immediately investigated the numerous ceramic figurines on the shelf. Some of these were similar to what we used to have in San Juan. Memories of my childhood soon flooded my thoughts and emotions as I was lost in it while looking and admiring the collection – which, to my surprise, is also for sale – but for a bit pricier cost than what is reasonable (must be old, then).

Then we have to get something to eat for this is, after all, renowned for their good food. I had Grilled Tofu in Pesto Salad (diet ako walang kokontra) and my friends shared sisig together. I only had a tiny morsel of their sisig and it was spicy so I could not really comment on it but my grilled tofu was really good!

At first, the serving seemed small (kahit naman salad lang ako, gusto ko medyo Italianni’s-style serving) but I was happy to note that I felt full after devouring the yummy meal. The grilled tofu was put on top of a plate-full of pesto and sprinkled with almonds. Beside it are crisp lettuce leaves and small ball of shredded carrots and sliced mango. With a glass of fresh mango juice (which I noticed was not very sweet so no artificial sweetener was used which is good), I was good to go. My lunch set me off by little more than P400 for my salad and juice and I think it’s worth it.

Their attendants were also very warm. We initially reserved seats for five but only the three of us pushed through and they did not have any problems with that. I’ve experienced frowns in other places when to turn up with lesser people than actually reserved so Café Juanita’s attendant’s ever-present smile earns points from me. They were even kind enough to replace some of our chairs (for they were pretty small). The attendants are standing nearby, ready to assist you but they did not appear pushy as others do.

Café Juanita also has al fresco dining and the area is pet-friendly so I guess James and I can bring the girls with us (and besides there is a fabulous dog shop nearby).

So I will be definitely coming back to Café Juanita very soon (and I might even procure some of their little pretty things to remind me of my childhood)!

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Last Saturday, while playing with my dogs and waiting for my afternoon siesta sleep to kick in, I heard the long, guttural voice of a man that whatever he might say, that voice surely means one thing – taho!

Taho, or soycurd pudding for the uber sosyal, has been part of Filipino culture. No one, I mean no Filipino can ever say that he or she has not had tasted taho ever. Even those living in super-rich villages where Manong Magtataho is not allowed to sell his goods, would have grown curious of the wonderful snack (or breakfast when I was still in audit – yeah, so while some yuppies in Ayala back when I was still a junior associate were holding cups of Starbucks coffee and drinking while walking, I was holding a cup of taho, gulping while walking!) and tried it as some specialty stores sell it.

When I was a kid in San Juan, Manong Magtataho was an elderly Chinese man who was still strong enough to hold two containers of taho – taho on one side, sago or tapioca, and caramel on the other, balanced by a thin but sturdy piece of wood. He would always stop by our house because me and my two siblings would be ready with our mugs for our morning’s supply of taho. My brother would always have the taho, just the taho, he said the caramel would ruin his teeth. Whatever! My sister would have the taho and lots of sago. And me? You guessed it irght! Half taho, half caramel! I would always eat the taho from the top until I reach the pure caramel at the bottom (it settles as it is heavier) as opposed to others who mix the two together with a spoon.

Then one day, Manong Magtataho no longer came. The news was he was too old to carry the heavy stuff. We also grew out of the taho, favoring what was trendy then – the fruit shakes with sago.

Then last Saturday, I remember the familiar taste. The familiar sweetness. Before, my mugfull of taho would only cost my mom P5, now it cost me P30! And Manong Magtataho in the Village no longer carries his tubs – he now has a bike!

Let this post be a toast to one of the greatest childhood experience of every Filipino, a salute to the industrious, enduring and well-loved magtataho!

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