26 May 2011

Americano at Cafe del Sol, Boracay

After that amazing omelet and great coffee find at Real Coffee, we had just a few hours left before flying out of Boracay, our white sunny, white sand, clear sea haven for the last 3 days. I thought I was done with coffee, but after all the shopping and sunbathing there was just this one more stop I wanted to make. Cafe del Sol. We'd passed that conveniently-located cafe so many times, whiffing the inviting aroma along the way, it would be a shame to not even have a taste of their coffee.

Although all the pastries looked so delectable, I could still feel my breakfast, so I opted to pass. What could they have that I couldn't get in Manila, anyway?

So coffee it was going to be, and coffee it was... I ordered an Americano, thinking I could sit outside and bask in the sunshine one last time, but all the tables were filled, so I plopped down the comfy two-seater couch at this one and only table inside the place to take a breather before heading back to the resort for a quick nap before packing up.
I ordered an Americano to-go, just in case we didn't find a seat.
My coffee, creamed-up.

While not the best I've tasted while on this particular vacation, their coffee had the right strength, flavor, and temp. I liked it enough to linger and enjoy, Ok, those are three sharp moves this place has made, and it's no wonder they're a hit in station 2.  Too bad I was leaving soon after.  I love Boracay, and I'm glad Cafe del Sol does, too *wink*

Real Coffee at Real Coffee & Tea Cafe, Station 2, Boracay

During my recent 3-day vacation on Boracay island, I had the opportunity to get my fix in several places, even in Starbucks! But I thought, why go all the way to another island -the world-renowned white sand beach- just to have the same things you enjoy everyday where you live? Where's the beauty of traveling in that?
So,ok, I had my standard grande soy mocha, but just that one time.

Apart from that one fix, I tried to get coffee only in places that are unique to the island. A friend who has been a frequent visitor for years, and knowing my love for the beverage, suggested a visit to Real Coffee. I totally missed checking out the place during my trips (for work) last year, so I swore I won't go back home this time without having tried their brew and breakfast.

My husband I decided to have brunch there on our last day. We were told it was on Station 2 (the more commercial and populated area), but very close to Station 1 (where the beach is not as crowded, and places more posh). We almost missed it, because several establishments have mushroomed and crowded the area, so it was a real mish-mash. Thank God we saw that relatively teeny-tiny sign, because we were already famished by then.

Go into a narrow alley where...
a larger sign tells you you've arrived.
It's a hut dominated by a bar/work station, made cozy with books,
photos, mismatched dishes, and artsy lamps.
Put up by a mother-and-daughter (Ms. Leigh and Nadine) team from San Francisco, this cafe has a cult following of Boracay residents and regulars. It's been around since 1996 (as the sign says),when the beach front was less cluttered and commercial. I think what really adds to its appeal is the mix of bamboo and rattan seats, barstools, wooden tables, and counters, make the cafe more ideally beach-front than most establishments' metro-looking appointments. Icing on the cake would be the pictures of past and fave customers displayed on an area above the kitchen prep/bar showing just what a "pioneer" this place is, Boracay-wise.

After a quick browse of their menu, I decided to order Real Coffee, a concoction of brewed Baraco and Arabica with a shot of Espresso, the latter, brought in from wherever the owners traveled to last, according to the staff. It was different, full-bodied with a kick, but very good. Good enough to jumpstart my day and a perfect match to my breakfast omelet of tomato, onions, and cheese, buttered toast (they bake the bread themselves), and mango jam. The omelet was heavenly - the eggs perfectly browned outside, but creamy, cheesy and moist inside, and the veggies cooked just right.

The place is known for their Calamansi (Philippine lemon) Muffins, which I had ordered for delivery to my resort-hotel during one visit last year. Since I didn't find it quite what people raved about, I opted not to have it this time. It didn't matter, because I finally tasted their coffee and discovered their omelet. Those were enough reasons to make a promise to myself:  another visit to enjoy the same breakfast, though at a more leisurely pace, and perhaps take a book to read while enjoying another cup of coffee, another time soon.

25 May 2011

Espresso at Lemon Cafe, Station 2, Boracay

It rained on our second evening in Boracay. Fortunately, we were done with our early evening dinner of tapas and wine at Dos Mestizos, and were going around just getting a vibe of the cultural mix and commercialization of what is today's Boracay beach front, hunting for some items to take home to the fam, when it poured. Even more fortunately, it was just a 15-minute interruption of the idyllic evening stroll.

To stay under a roof, we decided to stop for a coffee, choosing the closest uniquely Boracay coffee place we could find, and that was at Lemon Cafe at D'Mall on Station 2 (the most commercial clustering in the most populated among the island's stations).

The place carries Danesi coffee, and I chose the first item on their bev list... the espresso. It was very strong, of course, but very welcome during that short damp period.

Although the pastries looked inviting, we opted not to try out any, since we wanted to relish the sensations from our tapas experience earlier that evening.  There was quite a melee when the rain began, with people running for cover, parties breaking up, and groups suddenly texting each other for every member's whereabouts. It wasn't a very pretty sight, so I took another shot of the place early next morning.

Nice and bright. Next time, on a better day, with people in better moods, I will have another coffee in Lemon Cafe.

Brewed Coffee w/ Breakfast at Palay, Asya Premier Suites, Boracay

Finally, a vacation without the kids for the hubby and myself; the first since our honeymoon! We didn't want to waste any time so we caught the earliest flight out and was in the beach resort Asya Premier Suites before 9am. We were still in time for their buffet breakfast at their Palay restaurant. Asya has very good coffee, designed and delivered fresh periodically by Boyd Coffee Philippines, so that was first on my list.

My first vacay coffee w/ buffet spread choices of frittata, toasted cheese bread, and fruit
...then a refill with my main breakfast, Eggs Benedict.

and yet another one at the beach front, while waiting to be checked into our casita. Coffee, my vacation read, the sun, the sand....
For our second day, we knew we just had to have breakfast at the same place.
The view from our casita. Palay is somewhere past the pool area (Adlaw  lounge/bar and the beach)

 Coffee #1 bright and early. This time, I was having an American Breakfast after my buffet treat.

our view from Palay
Coffee #2 and #3

By then, after updating our kids online, we were ready for our second day of enjoy the white sand and clear waters, and exploring the shores and restaurants of Boracay.

24 May 2011

Early Morning Americano at Esspressamente Illy, NAIA Domestic Airport Lounge

We were at the relatively new NAIA Domestic Airport, having already checked in at a little past 5am, with about a couple of hours' wait till our flight out to Boracay for our little holiday at the beach. Probably still in that illy mode (or was it mere coincidence?), I chose to have my early morning brew at esspressamente illy among all the other cafes and restaurants (chai cofi, Mrs. Fields', Cinnabon, etc.) lined up at the departure lounge.

I had a muffin to go with my Americano, and wifi to help while the time away. It was an exciting trip, the first without the kids for the hubby and myself since our honeymoon, so it was important that nothing spoiled the trip, especially this early.  

We had fun waiting, even if the comfy chairs and tables had some crumbs and water rings from the guests waiting before us. Maybe it was the reason we were there, maybe it was the company I was with, or it could have been the rare early morning cup, but it was good coffee; they did not disappoint; esspressamente illy just won some more stars from me.

21 May 2011

Caffe Lungo at Segafredo

After spending enough time waiting and shopping at the Podium in Ortigas four evenings in a row --well, almost because there was a break between the last two-- I had enough time to have coffee at the mall's Starbucks, Figaro, NYPD pizza, Cafe Breton, and Cinnabon (I'll pass next time). By the 4th day, I felt the Segafredo Zanetti Espresso bar calling out to me from its lonely spot on the 2nd floor.

I've had coffee here before, but it was never this empty, so I wondered if their coffee changed or if they weren't such an attraction anymore, but then that wasn't a fair assumption, since the entire mall just had a few patrons. And I was right. After warming up the barista with friendly chatter, I found out that weekday evenings were not their strongest periods. People usually had their coffee there after lunch or on weekends. The rest of the day and evening, they lose the crowd to the more accessible Starbucks and Cafe Breton.

This time, I tried the Cafe Lungo, or long extraction of espresso coffee, a.k.a. Americano (about P90.00). It was just right temperature and consistency, and was full-flavored. I loved that they have maintained the mod Italian look of the Segafredo brand, from the standing umbrellas (which, on a bad day, might make you wonder, "but inside a mall?!") to the table tops, which have images of the ubiquitous high fashion coffee scene in Milan, perhaps.

I loved their coffee, and even if they are just an open area with a small service counter that doubles as food prep and display/order area almost tucked under the stairs, I love that they are right smack where one would suddenly feel tired of walking all over the mall to check out fashion boutiques, health and beauty outlets, lifestyle shops, and bookstores. While enjoying your cup of brew, you might also suddenly remember a drugstore item or two you could have forgotten about, since they happen to be in front of Watson's. If it weren't for the bright white lights and the openness of the Segafredo space, I'd almost say it was cozy. Almost.

I'm getting tired of having to wait for an available seat at Starbucks and sometimes having to walk to the far end of the entrance for a cup of Cafe Breton's caffeine fixes. For a quick fix, this is a great cafe to hang out in.

11 May 2011

illy brew at Chelsea Market and Cafe , Serendra, the Fort

I mentioned in my last entry that there were several restaurants that carry and serve illy coffee, and I've never been disappointed. Especially right after I found the esspressamente illy outlet in Power Plant Mall, I assumed illy can't be bad anywhere. So I chose to meet a friend over coffee at this restaurant in Serendra, the Fort (Global City), Taguig called, Chelsea, where they also serve... yes, illy.

My friend and I decided to share a (huge) slice of their banana cream pie or cake, and order our own favorite styles of brew. She got hers first, and after adding her cream/milk and having a sip, kept adding more milk. She thought it was quite strong, but only perhaps because she was not a coffee lover. So I tried my brewed coffee. Yes, it was strong. Very bitter and kind of thick, even after adding milk AND a bit of water. See below.

My forlorn cup of coffee. So strong, yet looking so defeated :(
So was it the coffee variant used, the manner by which it was prepared, or just their own style that made the coffee so unenjoyable? I don't know for sure. I may have to try it again some other time, but for now, I'm not looking forward to doing it quite yet. The food may be very good at this restaurant, and they do have quite a wine selection, and it's not easy to get a table for dinner and after on most nights. For coffee, though, if it's always the way it was that afternoon, I just think it was too expensive to try again soon just to find out for sure.

10 May 2011

Americano at Espressamente illy

The past couple of months I've been at the Power Plant Mall in Rockwell, Makati, I opted to have coffee where we dined. But having the time to stroll around for the first time in a long period, I just noticed just the other week, that Figaro, the good old fave coffee break place in the middle of the mall, was gone and in its place, a fabulously inviting chic cafe: espressamente illy. I was not able to resist.  

While I know about illy since a number of restaurants serve this coffee, is what's on its website: "a unique blend of high quality coffee originating from Trieste, Italy, made from 9 types of pure Arabica beans A careful balance of ingredients from South and Central America, India and Africa creates the unmistakable illy flavor: always identical in any espresso cup, wherever it is drunk around the world, and what I've tasted and liked, so far. This particular visit would be the first time I've had coffee in an espressamente illy cafe. 

First of all, I was impressed by the design of the place, which actually called out to me from an upper floor. Red and silver/grey -- how could one miss this place? 

Cove-like booths/banquettes
The view from the other aisle

It was the aroma of their freshly ground and brewed coffee that eventually pulled me in.  Having had a couple of coffees by that time, I decided to order an Americano. 
My mid-afternoon Cafe Americano

True to the promise of illy, the Americano was a blend of acidic, sweet, and bitter notes, and tasted very good without the milk (first sip), after the milk (next sips), and even with sugar (my last sips). I'm happy, too, that the order came with a little biscotti. And -- the place had wifi connection. Pleased with my find, I now know where to get my fix on my next visit to Power Plant Mall.