Rustic mornings in the garden

Published January 27, 2022, 1:00 PM

by Sandy Daza

BREAKFAST TOGETHER The author and his family at the restaurant

Before the pandemic, my Bible group would meet every Wednesday evening. We were divided into two groups, taking turns in preparing the food. Serving delicious food every week proved to be a challenge. The other group had a graduate of the reputable Swiss culinary school Les Roche. I was always excited whenever it was the turn of Yvette Mapua’s group to serve food. No fail, it was always unusual and tasty. One evening, they came with a surprise that floored me—they served breakfast food. It was your simple tapa, tocino, longganisa, scrambled eggs, and sinangag (garlic rice). I had one of the most memorable and unexpected meals of the year that night.

I love breakfast food! I can have it any time of the day. When my family and I lived in Vancouver, I enjoyed the humongous portions of Denny’s breakfast. The photos were so enticing, one could not help but swallow in anticipation just looking at them. It was an almost weekly routine to go there after Sunday worship with the entire family.

Whenever we would cross the border to Seattle, another favorite breakfast place was IHOP. I love the stack of pancakes with melted butter on top, syrup trickling down the sides. Both these US brands opened here in the Philippines but the portions are nowhere near the ones abroad.

Here in the Philippines, my family’s go-to breakfast place is Pancake House. Each of us has our favorites. Franco likes the fried chicken, Ali the chocolate waffles, while Arturo and Danielle love both the spaghetti with taco on the side and beef tapa. I get the same thing every time. Waffles, tuna macaroni salad, or sometimes the taco salad. Occasionally, we would have their fantastic Pinoy breakfast.

One day, Franco came home with his fiancé Ban and told me about a breakfast place they visited in Marikina, Rustic Mornings by Isabelo! I know the place but I had not been there in decades. The chef and owner is a friend of mine from the Lifestyle Channel, Chef Portia Baluyut-Magsino. She had a baking show and she was one of the winners in a culinary competition on the channel. Her show ran for a couple of years too.

I remember the place to be well-decorated living up to its name rustic mornings. So, I set an appointment with my kids. We left the house at 7:30 a.m. to be at Rustic Mornings by Isabelo in Marikina as soon as it opened at 8 a.m. It was a weekday and the place was packed. We were all so excited that without even planning it, each of my kids had already browsed the menu even before we got there. It’s in the genes. We all love looking at menus.

The newly re-arranged restaurant was set in a vast garden. Each table, surrounded by plants, was isolated from one another. The weather was cool, perfect for breakfast.

The newly re-arranged restaurant was set in a vast garden. Each table, surrounded by plants, was isolated from one another. The weather was cool, perfect for breakfast. We all zeroed in on the food. Franco, Ban, Arturo, and Aya shared a breakfast platter that consisted of a stack of pancakes, sausages, bacon, and scrambled eggs. On top of the fluffy and delicious pancake was a ball of butter. Danielle had the banana and kiwi smoothie bowl. I ordered a churros waffles and a spinach, mushroom, and Swiss cheese omelet. The portions are massive. They reminded me of the serving size in the US, of Denny’s and IHOP. No one in Manila serves food this way. I simply love it.

The pancakes were fluffy, light, slightly crispy outside, and moist inside. With a dab of butter and syrup, patay ka na (You’re dead)! The bacon was neither shiny nor oily. Just the way I want it, it was firm and crispy. The sausage skin snapped when bitten. It was simply delicious. The churro waffles were the best I have ever had here in the country and abroad. I love that it was huge, crispy, firm, and tasty. I spread the soft butter all over, poured some syrup, and enjoyed every bite. I regret offering everyone to have a taste. That’s how good it was. But it was so big I needed help finishing it. I also kept on looking at the other tables because I saw an order of Pinoy breakfast and the portions were also epic. Arturo is focused on that in our next visit.

I relish the outstanding breakfast food with the people I love most in the world. What can be better than that? Thank You, Lord!

I had to text Chef Portia to congratulate her on the winner of a restaurant, and well-planned and executed menu. I know she is a great baker too so her pastries are my next target. When I enjoy something, I become makulit and tell everyone. I have sent many friends their way to try what we had as a family.

I would love to surprise my Bible group and take them there. I am certain everyone would take delight in the breakfast food.

Happy eating!

Rustic Mornings by Isabelo is at 11 Isabelo Mendoza St., San Roque Marikina. Tel. no. (02) 8425 8610.