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Monday, June 18, 2018

Rustic Mornings by Isabelo

Six years ago, I went to Isabelo Garden Restaurant for one of the most memorable dinners I ever had. On the same year, Portia Dee Baluyut (the owner) opened Rustic Mornings to cater to walk-in customers during the day while keeping Isabelo Garden open for dinner and for reservations only.  Eventually, the owner closed Isabelo Garden and focused on Rustic Mornings.

I remember that the garden looked almost magical at night, but it looks just as majestic during the day. My friends and I got seated in the outdoor area, but there's an indoor area if you prefer a more private space to dine. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


I wish I know the exact words to describe how I felt when I heard the news that you were gone. I keep on wishing that it was a horrible joke, but at the same time, I have to accept the truth. 

Tony, why?

I cannot remember when I started watching your shows, but I remember you drinking a bottle of San Miguel Pale Pilsen while eating sizzling sisig in Pampanga and lechon in Cebu. On how I badly wish that I can take Augusto's place. 

In a world where the most mediocre people disguise themselves as celebrities when all they can do is use Photoshop and Snapchat filters heavily, you showed that even the most admired people have flaws. In fact, that is exactly what you did until the end. 

Although I don't agree to everything you say, I admire your courage in calling things as you see them, not caring about going against the grain or calling bullshit on outrageous food trends. 

I can still see how your eyes twinkled when you finally met your culinary hero, Chef Paul Bocuse. At one time, you'd eat the finest dishes with the most renowned chefs in France and you'd be cooking food for your crew while sailing on a boat in the middle of Borneo the next. 

One day, you're walking the streets of New York and be somewhere in Congo the next. I could imagine how fulfilling your job was, that I wished that I could have your career. Didn't I realize the exhaustion and the pressure that comes with the work you did. Or the danger. Or the lack of stability in the other aspects of your life due to being on the road most of the time. 

Tony, I wish I knew you knew how you inspired foodies and travelers like me to go see the world. 

I wish you knew how you inspired me to experience the world and to speak my own truth. 

Tony, thank you for shining your light on the world when you are stuck in the darkness. 

Your stories will continue to live on. 

Photo from alux.com

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