About Me

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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cafe In The Sky: Much More Than It's View

I heard that mornings here can be warm, and that you get a better, cloud free view in the AM
With a good use of taxpayer's money, Baguio City has become a mere 3-4 hours away from Manila. As a result, our city's been inundated by more tourists, even during the off season.

my eldest and his girl, enjoying the uber windy outdoor seating :)
A favorite tourist haunt is Mt. Cabuyao (where the teleserye Forevermore is shot). 

Our family headed up to a place we could actually call our "backyard" as we are a couple of minutes away from the said location.

Arriving at the top of Mt. Cabuyao on a Saturday afternoon, was another story. Countless cars were parked along the roadside, making traffic a bit horrendous in the area. We decided to just let the kids hike to the fictional barangay of La Presa, but not after we enjoyed the scenic Cafe In The Sky.

Opened less than a year ago, the owners of the said cafe made a fortuitous decision to take advantage of the beautiful scenery at the top of the mountain. Combined with the owner's f and b (food and beverage) know how (a merger between the owners of Kubong Sawali Grill and Luisa's Cafe), this restaurant was a charming destination indeed!

feels like heaven :)

Here are my thoughts on the place:
1. Ambiance -  a warm and cozy respite from the cold winds blowing at Mt. Cabuyao.

2. The Menu -  meals and snacks, cold and hot beverages...smart choices for a newly opened restaurant who does not want to risk maintaining too big an inventory.

3. Price - everything's 200 pesos and below, except for the bottles of wine and other hard beverages!!

**NB: for your reference, here's a look at their MENU.
4. Service -  because of the open kitchen plan, you could see that the line cooks were hard at work, efficient and methodical in their approach to cooking. The service crew's performance leaves a lot of room for improvement though. Case in point: while we trying to call their attention, a group of waitresses and waiters who were probably 2-3 feet away from us pretended not to see or hear our group, shying away from dealing with the customers. The speed of service could also be looked into

5. Food Presentation -  just like any home cooked meal, except for the Ala carte meals, which resembles how one would fill their plate at a buffet line.

6. Food Portioning - average to bordering on generous

7. Taste - I had my doubts...but overall, our family ENJOYED the food at Cafe In The Sky! Tasty, cooked to order, well seasoned, well prepared and very filling, the food managed to make everyone smile, despite the heavy lunch we had at home, a mere hour ago. The pancit canton was delish! It had the Chinese style chicken after taste (not the Chowking variety, but the one slow cooked in anise, soy and 5 spice). Here's a look at what we ordered (minus the assortment of brewed coffee, hot chocolate, green tea and sodas ordered):

skyrolls: think meaty meat sauce, ham bits and cheese, wrapped in a spring roll wrap and cooked til the cheese is all nice and gooey

a large order of Pancit Guisado

non greasy  French fries. Cooked as if they were air fried :)

Same as the plate of noodles above, but featured separately, as my eldest swears this one was tastier than the other :P

After wolfing down their snacks to stave off the cold, the kids headed out to visit the television set of La Presa. Phil, MAX and I just hung around and took pictures of the view from Cafe In The Sky. Blissful and peaceful, it was a lovely afternoon at Mt. Cabuyao.

cloudy one minute..

and a bit clearer, the next
BTW, should you want to linger and see the sunrise or get there super early to see the sunset, Cafe In The Sky also doubles as a bed and breakfast. Check out their Facebook page to see their rooms (located below the restaurant).  

Also, should you not have your own vehicle and would want to head up to the place, cab rides can be pre arranged (around 500 one way, or so I heard from a cabbie. You could still haggle). Jeeps are few and far between, so may end up walking down the mountain to the main road waaaay below. For private vehicle owners, a minimal environmental fee of 25 PhP/ person (children, in our case, were exempted) is collected midway up the mountain.

Pappy feeling the cold at Cafe In The Sky's balcony

Come and visit Cafe In The Sky. It's worth the trip up Cabuyao :)

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sage Advice: A Restaurant Review

I have been struggling with the worst case of writer's block ever. Despite the numerous possible topics, I couldn't for the life of me, pick one, blog about it and move on to the next.

That being said, I am now taking baby steps. For this edition of The Mediocre Wanderer, I shall be reviewing a restaurant that a couple of blogs and TV shows have featured and declared A-OK; Sage

Before the holiday season kicked in and swamped Baguio with traffic and tourists, we had a bunch of friends over from Manila.

As our house could never be party central with it's children to space ratio, we decided to all meet up for dinner in the said restaurant. Here are my notes on the place:

1. Ambiance: warm, casual, comfy and cozy. Perfect for family and friendly gatherings.
2. The Menu: diverse, a little of everything for everyone
3. Price: everything below 300. Affordable with a capital "A".
4. Service: efficient
5. Food presentation: well done!
6. Food portioning: generous! and finally,

7. Taste: how do I try to say this without sounding like the only reviewer who seems to think that I shouldn't settle simply because the food is mura (inexpensive)?

a. the bestsellers like the creamy bulalo were just so-so. They're not bad, but they're not THAT good that I must have em again either.

Since we were a big group, we got to order a whole lot from the menu and rated em as such: callos (our 6 year old looved this trip dish...who would've thought?4/5), Shepherd's pie (3/5), buttermilk-brined chicken fried chicken and waffles (our friend loved the chicken but it was a tiny piece, so I guess it's 4/5), creamy bulalo (3/5), this prawn dish, barbecued spareribs, chicken ballotine  (all probably 3/5, as no compliments or complaints were mentioned) and basil shrimp pasta (which no one got to eat as the uneven merging of two tables caused the haphazardly balanced glass of water to spill. It was the staff's fault, but they charged our friends for the food despite the fact). One of us also got those cute sisig shots :)

b. If you have a sweet tooth, SKIP the oreo cheesecake and the oreo shake. The oreo cheesecake, while picture perfect, tasted like bland, white, firm jello. What cheesecake were they even talking about here? I could taste the oreos coz goodness knows just how one could only mess up oreos.

Don't even get me started on the shake. While shakes are normally topped off with a dollop of whipped cream, I was baffled as to how the "whipped cream" managed to stay in shape despite our son's constant sipping. Turned out to be sugar icing! I mean, who DOES that?!

It was an hour to closing time when we arrived so we had an hour tops in the place. I do not in any way hate Sage. Despite all the good reviews it got from various sources, I'd like to think it was the place, the presentation and most especially the inexpensive prices that made people overlook the fact that the food wasn't all that and a bag of chips.

Maybe I'll just settle FOR the bag of chips, the next time any of my out of town buddies come by, instead of going to a place that's been hyped up this much. My friends actually enjoyed the food at Good Taste, despite it's CDE ambiance more than they did at Sage. Maybe I caught them on a bad day.

Post Script: It's not bad, but I don't think I'd recommend Sage to a fellow foodie (and my standards are seriously mediocre). I'm sorry if you love the place.

PPS: Check out their Facebook page to see their menu and location: https://www.facebook.com/sagebaguio/photos_stream

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours.